Weekly Devotion
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Discover the Peace of the World

“As I watched, the Lamb broke the first of the seven seals on the scroll. Then I heard one of the four living beings say with a voice like thunder, “Come!” I looked up and saw a white horse standing there. Its rider carried a bow, and a crown was placed on his head. He rode out to win many battles and gain the victory.”

Revelation 6:1-2 NLT

“Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make people kill each other. To him was given a large sword.” 

Revelation 6:4 NIV
 

These two passages are not your typical “feel good” Christmas story passages. We are studying Revelation as the final section of our walk through the Bible series that began in January with the book of Mathew.

As we read Revelation, we are reminded once again what Jesus told his disciples in John 10 that “Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy.” Satan is the antithesis of peace. Throughout the book of Revelation, we see the destruction and violence of the end times before Christ returns. When Jesus came the first time he came as the “Prince of Peace” and shared a message of peace and love. Jesus demonstrated his peaceful nature by not starting an armed rebellion but rather gave up his life willingly.  His revolution came through words and deeds rather than violence. God came in the flesh and dwelled among His people and by doing so changed their hearts and minds forever.

We see in the end time passages of Revelation that Christ will return in final victory. There will be a new heaven and a new earth. Shalom (peace) will permeate this new world.  God will no longer allow violence. God’s presence will bring about peace and justice. “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.”  – Revelation 21:3 NIV. May we all long for the day when the Prince of Peace returns. May we all seek to live a life of peace like Jesus.
 
 

In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn



Discover the Love of the World

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.”
-1 John 1:1
 “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”
-1 John 3:1 
 
In the beginning, before existence, God was. Long before He came to this earth wrapped in flesh, before existence, Jesus was. Long before He was poured out at Pentecost, before existence, the Holy Spirit was. God as Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit existed as One in all eternity. Through Jesus, believers in Him have unfiltered access to God and have been filled with the Holy Spirit for abundant life and light. We could not reach or touch our holy God, but we could cling to and grab hold of a holy Jesus. Jesus is our example of light, love, joy, peace, and hope in this dark world.
 
The writer John states that God is love.  The concept of God is hard to comprehend, but when we experience the love of God in our lives, we start to get a glimpse of God. As a father and grandfather, I understand more fully the concept of love. My grandson was injured the other night. As he cried, it broke my heart; because he was hurting, I was hurting. Likewise, he was filled with joy with all his cousins around for Thanksgiving. His laughter was contagious. I found myself filled with love for him as he ran around our house playing games.  When he left the house, he said, “Love you poppa” and gave me a big hug. His love for me and my love for him parallels the love our Father, God, has for us.  His love was revealed to us through Jesus in a tangible way. May we experience that love fully this Christmas season.
 
Let us pray:
Holy and loving God, You pour Your love out into my life in ways that I can’t comprehend. ABBA Father, my mind has difficulty accepting the fact that You love me as Your son/daughter. Help me to trust Your promises regardless of my feelings. Please help me to accept and receive the unconditional love that pours out into my life. I thank You that Your love never fails even when I do. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
 

In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn



Discover the Joy of the World

“This one who is life itself was revealed to us, and we have seen him. And now we testify and proclaim to you that he is the one who is eternal life. He was with the Father, and then he was revealed to us. We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy.”
1 John 1:2-4 NLT
 
Joy is something that is always welcome, but rarely sought out. It’s sometimes seen as an elusive and passive feeling. It isn’t something that we achieve when we say to ourselves, “I’m going to find some joy today.” Yet it sounds natural to actively search for hope, love, or peace. These others are things that we can search for, but joy seems to be something that comes as a result. That’s why joy is such an oddball in our new sermon series: Discovering the Light of the World.

The Bible tells us that joy is only made complete through Jesus. Although we may find joy in our families or in helping others, it is incomplete. It’s tough to think that the great joy you felt when you first met your son or daughter and saw their first smile or laugh wasn’t complete. I don’t think that John here is saying that. John is saying that the joy is complete because the long-awaited messiah and savior, Jesus Christ, is finally here! There’s no more death! Death has been defeated! We can finally fully rejoice knowing that Jesus did all the work to ensure everlasting life!

That’s why complete joy is found in Jesus Christ. The darkness is gone, and the light of the world is here. That’s why we can find joy amidst the most sorrowful moments in our lives. We have hope in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Complete joy emerges in the meeting of hope and faith. When we hope for something better and have faith that something better is only found in Jesus, then we can have complete joy. We can live helping others knowing that it glorifies Jesus. We can be good fathers and mothers knowing that it glorifies our Lord. We can be who God created us to be knowing that he is for us, not against us. This joy is what makes life enjoyable. It’s our duty as Christians to share that light with others so that all may come to know complete joy. Amen.

 
Mark Schlasner


Better Together | Through Identity

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”

– 1 Peter 2:9-10
 

Identity is now becoming controversial in modern culture. There is a lot of discussion as to whether we are created a certain way or whether we are defined by our upbringing. Is it nature or is it nurture? One of my favorite Eddy Murphy movies – TRADING PLACES – takes a con man off the streets and makes him into a commodities stock trader, while at the same time ruining a man of “proper breeding. The movie ends by both realizing we are all by-products of our decisions. I would argue that our decisions about God define our identity.

 

In Christianity, our identity comes from a relationship with Christ Jesus. Jesus sees not only who we are but who we will become. Our identity is FOUND in Christ but also FORMED by Christ.  It is through the transformation process that our true identity is drawn out by God. Who we are created to be becomes dominant over who we are. Our identity comes from the understanding that we are children of God first and foremost. May we live in our identity in Jesus Christ this day. May we continue to grow in our identity so that we may grow the kingdom of heaven. 

 

In Christ’s Love and Service,

Pastor Paul Marzahn

 
 

Questions to Consider:

1. Who does God say you are?

2. What has been transformational in your life? 

3. Are you allowing who you are as a child of Christ to flow into what you do daily? Why/Why not?

4. How can you use your transformation to further the kingdom?



Better Together | Through Generosity & Service

“But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.”
‭‭James ‭2:18‬ ‭NIV‬‬
 
In our faith walk, generosity is something that can take time to develop. As we grow, we realize that living out our faith with good works is what God Intends for us. We don’t earn God’s love, but we respond to it by sharing it in tangible ways.
 
When our kids were younger, we wanted them to grow to be generous adults. We are now working on this with our grandson Bellamy. When we gave our kids an allowance, or paid them for doing chores, we put it in jars for them to see. We had four jars each with a specific purpose. One jar was for God -10%; one for long term saving – 20%; one for short term Saving – 30%; and one for spending – 40%. The four saving jars were to remind them to be good stewards and to be generous. Not everything they earned was for them to spend immediately.
 
Each week at church they would empty their jars and take it for the weekly offering. Sometimes Grandma Glady would add more to these jars :). The long-term savings became their college funds that helped out a great deal as they completed high school. The short-term savings were spent on larger goals the kids had for spending. For my son he saved up a skateboard and my daughters, “American Girl” dolls were a big item back then.
 
As they graduated and moved on to adulting, they continued to be good stewards. They all have continued to save, even through college. They all are good at buying what they can afford rather than putting it on credit. They all continue to be generous to a variety of charities. They all continue to serve and share their time to help others. I am not sharing this to claim we were perfect parents or that we have perfect kids. Far from it. Yet I want to encourage parents and grandparents to model good financial planning and generosity. I am challenging our CROSSROADS family to instill similar values in their children, nieces and nephews, and grandchildren. Seeds of generous living reap generations of plentiful harvest. May we continue to listen to the words of James and demonstrate our faith through good deeds. May we continue to share the love of God through generous living and giving.
 

In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn



Better Together | Through Honesty

I continue to reflect on how we are BETTER TOGETHER and this week we are looking at the importance of HONESTY. God craves men and women of integrity and honesty. In our relationships with one another, honesty is a key building block. King David was raising money for the new temple and he shared how giving to God is a test of integrity and honesty. He states in 1 Chronicles 29:17 – “I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things I have given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you.”
 
The Apostle Paul also teaches about honesty to the early church. He reminds them we are to be “sincere” to God and one another.  I love the Pastor’s heart shared by Paul to his church family.  He doesn’t preach at them and say, “you need to do the following.” Instead he includes himself as one who is still on the faith journey with them. He says we and the term “Let Us.”  (Let us draw near to God. Let us hold on to hope. Let us spur on one another. Let us not give up meeting together. Let us encourage one another.) Paul states in Hebrews 10:22-25 – “Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
 
David and Paul are both great leaders and both focus on the importance of faithfulness and integrity. Both made huge mistakes and yet confessed their sinfulness. They were honest with God and those around them. Both overcame their sins to be used by God in powerful ways. Let us follow David and Paul and grow in our honesty. Let us continue to hold on to the hope we have received in Christ Jesus.
 
Questions to Consider:
1. How would you define honesty? 
2. When is a time recently when someone was dishonest with you? How were you able to resolve it?
3. How does honesty strengthen our relationships? When is a time when you were honest lately? 
 

In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn



Better Together | Through Growing

There is much more we would like to say about this, but it is difficult to explain, especially since you are spiritually dull and don’t seem to listen. You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right. Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong.”
Hebrews 5:11-14 NLT
 
No one likes being treated like a baby. Often, babies don’t like being treated like babies. I remember how keen my daughters were to get on to solid foods after living for the first six months on milk. But when they were in their infancy, they weren’t ready for more. I can’t imagine them still drinking from a bottle in their twenties. Would definitely look humorous.
 
The Apostle Paul is talking about recognizing where you are at, but he’s not advocating staying on milk. He reminds us we need to grow up. He makes it abundantly clear, laziness stunts growth and arrests development. We may enjoy milk, but Paul challenges us to look at where we need to move to “solid food.” Maybe we are mature when it comes to worship, but we are still immature when it comes to financial giving or tithing. Maybe we are mature by being a part of a small group, but we need to grow in our daily reading of Scripture. Each of us has areas we need to grow and deepen our faith. May God help us as we evaluate our spiritual growth. May we all be challenged to move from “milk” to “steak” so we can grow as fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ.
 
 
In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn


Better Together | Through Example

“In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned.”
‭‭Titus ‭2:7-8 ‭NIV‬‬
 
Deb and I have been blessed by having our grandson Bellamy James living with us over the past year. He and his parents will be moving out in November into their own home. We will miss them. It has been a joy having them around. At 5 years of age, Bellamy has changed the dynamics of our home with his indoor soccer practice and daily creative play.
 
At supper time when we eat together, we share highs and lows of our day. We also share one thing we learned. We go around the table and each take our turns. I shared how much I enjoyed preaching with his grandma (Pastor Deb) on Sunday. As a low I shared how I cut my fingers with a chainsaw while trimming trees. I told everyone my learning for the day was copyright law on photographs taken from the internet. Bellamy was moving around a lot at supper but eventually shared with me about school stuff going on for highs and lows. But the thing he learned struck me right between the eyes. Bellamy learned that “if you have a phone you look at you don’t have to listen to people.” Wow! I wonder where he picked up that tidbit of information? Watching me? Watching other adults?
 

Setting an example is never easy. We have to be aware that others are watching us. People observe more of what we do than what we say. In the book of Titus, the leaders are being told to set an EXAMPLE by doing good. If we are to share our faith it starts through our actions. May our lives be good examples of how to live as Christ would have us live. May we share God’s love this week wherever we go to demonstrate His love in our lives.

 

In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn


Better Together | Through Honor

“Dear brothers and sisters, honor those who are your leaders in the Lord’s work. They work hard among you and give you spiritual guidance.”
‭‭1 Thessalonians‬ ‭5:12‬ ‭NLT‬‬
 
I’ve got to be honest, I’ve never preached from this passage before. But because CROSSROADS is walking through the One Year Bible readings I am challenged to preach on new passages. This passage reminds the church to “HONOR” those in leadership. In another part of Scripture, Paul states to show “Double Honor.”
 
“The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.”
‭‭1 Timothy‬ ‭5:17‬ ‭NIV‬‬
 
Many congregations have seen spiritual pain, hurt and wounds. Pastors and family are often caught in the middle of the “hand-to-hand” combat. They are unable to leave the field of battle, for it follows them everywhere. Families have broken up over doctrines. Friendships have ended because of disagreements in the church. Many clergy have seen ugly scenes of hostility and animosity. Pastors are always attempting to comfort, soothe, encourage, uplift, direct and gently admonish. Ministry is difficult work. When ministers are respected and appreciated for their hard work it can make a big difference.
 
A mentor of mine explained to me that caring for a pastor (and the pastor’s family) is like caring for the church. When we as leaders are healthy and supported, we can care for the needs of the church more fully. He also told me we model respect to our youth and children when we show honor to those in authority. Oxford dictionary defines honor as showing high respect; or demonstrating great esteem. This October is Ministry Appreciation month so take time to honor those who serve in ministry.
 

In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn

 

Actions To Consider:
Here is a modified list of ways to honor a pastor that was shared by LifeWay Resources.

1. Pray for your pastors every day for a week and send a note of encouragement to one of them.

2. Support your church financially and generously.

3. Find out the name of a lost person your pastor is praying for and covenant to also pray for this person.

4. Pray for the Holy Spirit’s fullness to be evident in the Sunday services. Come early to worship and pray with others for the service.

5. On Sundays in October, ask him what you can pray about for him this week. Then the next Sunday ask him how things went regarding what you prayed for.

6. Encourage your friends to join you in sitting closer to the front during October’s Sunday services.

7. Defend him or her against critics. Every pastor is imperfect and has some people whose expectations are not met by his ministry.

8. Take notes on your pastor’s preaching and teaching. Such a practice is spiritually healthy and demonstrates that you value what he says.

9. Listen and have an open heart to his/her ideas for change. Oftentimes, the value of that change may take months or years to be fully appreciated.

10. Tag your pastor in a social media post with the hashtag #pastorappreciation and tell your friends, family and fellow church members what you appreciate about your pastor.



Better Together | Through Prayer

“So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do.”
2 Thessalonians 1:11
 
Imagine for a moment that you are Jesus during His earthly ministry. You have been given the most important assignment that anyone will ever be given. What would you do and where would you spend most of your time? Most of us would probably jump immediately to teaching in the synagogues, performing miracles, and perhaps even telling the world that we were the Son of God. But not Jesus. While Jesus did perform miracles and teach in the synagogues, the majority of His time was spent with twelve close friends – His disciples. Even Jesus did not attempt to live the Christian life alone. He knew His work would be endlessly demanding, frustrating, and tiring. Jesus knew He would want time away from the crowds to pray and draw close to the Father. He also taught his disciples the importance of prayer and fasting. Jesus chose close friends to ministry alongside. He didn’t want to face the hardships or experience the joy alone. He wanted friends. He wanted community. I also believe, Jesus wanted to set an example for us to not do life alone.
 
The way that Jesus chose to live His life on earth is a model for all Christians who have come after Him. As fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ, we need real fellowship with other believers. We need the kind of fellowship that cannot take place in a worship service on Sunday morning, but rather the kind that happens by living life alongside one another and sharing joys and burdens. That is why finding a meaningful small group is so important. We need to pray for one another and remember we are better together.
 

In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn

 

Questions to consider:
1. Some people enjoy praying with other Christians, while others find it intimidating. What’s your initial reaction to the idea of praying with others? Why do you think you feel that way?

2. When is the last time you prayed out loud for another person? When is the last time you prayed out loud?

3. Have you ever asked anyone else to pray for you? Why or why not? If they did what did that feel like?