Weekly Devotion
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

PALM TO PASSION Sunday

03-31-2020 – Palm to Passion Sunday
 
““Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.””
John 14:1-4 NIV
 
As we approach Holy Week we are celebrating this Sunday with what is known as a Palm to Passion worship experience. Some churches celebrate Palm Sunday and then celebrate different worship services throughout the week commemorating the final events in the life of Jesus Christ. Other churches like CROSSROADS combine all the final events of Christ into one Sunday. Since we are not able to come to special services during Holy Week, everyone is able to see the final events in the life of Christ within the Sunday experience. Together in worship we will celebrate Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem riding on a donkey. Since you will most likely be watching from home this year, we would encourage families to either make their own palm branches or if they stop by the church we will have some outside in the planters people may take. Palm branches will be available for pick up Friday after 6:00 pm through Sunday morning’s service time (9:30). We will be singing two Hosanna songs Sunday and would encourage people to wave their branches wherever they are. You may even wave them from your deck or front porch. Post a video on social media reminding others it is Palm Sunday.

We sing Hosanna and wave palm branches during this part of worship reminding us that Christ is the King.  We will experience together Jesus with his disciples in the upper room where they celebrated the Passover Seder and then we will celebrate with communion in remembrance of this meal.  For those who would like to participate in a time of communion remembrance at home, we will have a time of prayer and encourage people to use bread and water (instead of grape juice) from your home. This follows an earlier Wesleyan tradition known as a “Love Feast” where laity would share in a ritual similar to communion without a priest present to bless the elements.
 
We will also re-live the passion scene of Jesus being beaten, sentenced and crucified set to pictures.  (It is somewhat graphic so if you have young children you may choose to end the service with the closing Scripture and not play the closing song – we will give a verbal warning before we play it.) Although the worship service ends with the death of Jesus, we are reminded of the hope of the resurrection that is to come. Pastor Paul, Pastor Deb, Pastor Dan and Pastor Mark will all be leading worship together from the Lakeville Campus with Lynn Suilmann and the praise team doing live music. We will be encouraging people to sing at home, and we will be streaming the lyrics on screen along with the music. 
 
Holy Week we are setting up a virtual “Stations of the Cross.”  We will do it “live” on Wednesday evening for those who would like to go through it together. We will also video tape the “Stations of the Cross Experience” so people can go through the stations anytime leading up to Easter morning.  We are still making plans for Easter Sunday by continuing to follow best safety protocols and yet celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus. We are considering an outdoor service where people stay in their cars spaced out in the parking lot. Some churches have been worshiping this way throughout the country. We would appreciate your feedback if you think this a good idea or not.
 
Jesus spent his final hours with his disciples before being crucified. In an upper room eating supper, he shared words to try to encourage them. He wanted them to know that no matter what happened he loved them. He wanted them to not be afraid or troubled. That is the same prayer Pastor Deb and I have for you. We want you to know we are praying for you daily and love you very much. We pray that you do not give into a spirit of fear but instead rely on your faith during these difficult times. May you continue to remember the promises of Jesus so we can be assured that we know we are going to a place prepared for us when he calls us home.
 
In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn



BLESS THE WORLD | Sent

03-24-2020 – Blessing and Not Stressing
 
“Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you. I’ve called your name. You’re mine. When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you. When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down. When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead end— Because I am GOD, your personal God, The Holy of Israel, your Savior. I paid a huge price for you”: (Isaiah 43:1-2 Message)
 

I have read this passage for years and meditated upon it and quoted it in difficult situations. It is a reminder to me that God is with me in my struggles and not to be overwhelmed. It became personal for me in January when I went snowshoeing on the pond behind our house.  As I shared the following Sunday in worship, I was on Facebook live and encouraging others to get outside their homes to enjoy the fine January snowstorm. As I was talking, I suddenly fell through the ice. I dropped my phone and I put my arms out to catch myself.  I realized I was about to be pulled under and would probably drown. I literally was in over my head and holding myself up by my arms and losing my grip. Time seemed to stand still as I cried out to God. Right away I heard God tell me I would be ok, and a sense of peace and calm came over me. I remembered that I had nails in my winter coat pocket thanks to ice fisherman Pastor Gordon Deuel who shared with me the importance of carrying them when Ice Fishing. I was then able to use those nails to help claw my way out of the water and pull myself on top of the ice.  The walk back home was extremely cold, but I was grateful to have survived. I thank God for the verse ringing in my mind “when you’re in over your head, I’ll be with you.”
 

Many of us are feeling overwhelmed right now. I have been praying with business leaders who feel like they are drowning. Some of us physically and some of us emotionally feel like we are in over our heads. We have been delivering food and supplies to families who are feeling extreme stress. Kids home from school are going stir crazy and parents are now being asked to be home school instructors. People are feeling the pressure. Some are experiencing health worries and others financial worries. It seems as though worries are closing in on us. But worry isn’t productive. In fact, it’s a failure to trust God. The word worry comes from an Old English term that means “strangle” or “choke.” That is what worry does. It chokes us. Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength.
 
Modern medical research has proven that worry breaks down our resistance to disease. A research team led by Carnegie Mellon University’s Sheldon Cohen has found that chronic psychological stress is associated with the body losing its ability to regulate the inflammatory response. It actually affects the nervous system, and more specifically, breaks down the digestive organs and the heart. In fact, 79 to 90 percent of all visits to primary care physicians may be stress related. Stress and anxiety in our life can actually contribute to the spread of Covid-19 virus.
 
My wife, Pastor Deb, reminded me that “worry is the advanced interest we pay on troubles that may never come to fruition.” Studies have found that 85% of the things we worry about never happen. This means that of all the things you’re worrying about right now, 85% of it won’t happen. But what about the other 15 percent? That is when we can turn to God and allow him to help us in our time of need.
 
“Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” (Philippians 4:6-7 MSG)
 
The Apostle Paul reminds us to turn our worries into prayer. That requires developing a conditioned reflex. We all have natural reflexes, like when we touch something hot and immediately pull back. Then there’s a conditioned reflex, something that becomes natural after we’ve done it so many times.  We can’t control our world or circumstances, but we certainly can pray about it.  The next time we’re tempted to worry, let’s pray instead. During this stressful time, let us turn our worries into prayers. The next time we are stressed, let’s bless others. When we serve and give it takes the focus off of us. When we are blessing others, our stresses get released. May we all look at ways we may bless instead of stress this week.
 
In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn
 

Questions to Consider:
 
1. Would you consider yourself to be a person who worries? On an average day, how often do you dwell on things that you have no control over?
 
2. What do you typically worry about? (relationships, career, health, etc.) 
What negative effects has worrying caused you?
 
3. Ask God to reveal His truth to you over the next few days in regard to worry. What can you give to God in prayer today?
 
 



BLESS THE WORLD | Eat

BLESS THE WORLD | Eat

Luke 19:5 “When Jesus came by, He looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. ‘Zacchaeus!’ He said. ‘Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.’”

Zaccheus wanted to see Jesus so he climbed up a tree to view Jesus walking by. Jesus spotted him and invited himself over to dinner. Why did Jesus want to eat with Zacchaeus? He wanted Zacchaeus to know He accepted him. Jesus signaled to Zacchaeus that He wanted to build a relationship with him. A meal was a symbol of social acceptance and friendship. Jesus blessed Zacchaeus over a meal.

Meals together are still a blessing. Eating together is less popular in modern culture
-46 % of Americans eat dinner alone
-37% eat while on the phone
-52% eat while working

But studies show that meals with friends and family are good for the soul – and even your health. People of all ages eat better when they share a meal with others. They tend to eat more fruits and vegetables and other nutrient-rich foods. They also eat less fried foods and drink less pop. Eating together gives young children the chance to learn more words and how to communicate better.

Other benefits for kids and teens include:
-healthier eating into adulthood
-healthier body weight
-lower risk of disordered eating
-less use of cigarettes, drugs, and alcohol
-fewer behavior problems
-better self-esteem and less depression
-better grades and higher scores on achievement tests at school

Take time this week to bless someone by taking time to eat with them. Invite someone over to your home or take someone out to lunch. May you be a blessing this week to others over a meal. May we all bless each other this Sunday, March 15th as we share in a “Pot-Blessing” after worship. Bring a dish to share and enjoy food and fellowship this Sunday.

In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul



BLESS THE WORLD | Listen

BLESS THE WORLD | Listen 

Mark 1:35 –  “Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray.” – (NLT)

Like many, I struggle with quiet time with God.  I have the discipline of Scripture reading every morning (and now every night for over a year.) I spend time in prayer. I have devotional time scheduled into my day. I even quiet my heart to hear from God. But many times what I think about during my quiet times are my unanswered emails I need to respond to.  I am processing my “to do” lists and my calendar rather than truly quieting my heart. It takes me awhile to let go of my action items and listen to God’s action items for my life and our community called CROSSROADS.  It is a process I continually work at. Some days are better than others. This morning was a struggle. I am praying that tonight goes better. Maybe that’s why I like driving my Harley Davidson motorcycle in the summer. No phone going off. Just time with God and the road.

I also struggle with listening to others. Just ask my wife or kids. I mean well. I ask good questions. But I have to really focus on listening and not thinking about what I am going to say next. I’ve been trained in counseling so I know what I am supposed to do. I just struggle sometimes with really doing active listening and reflection. The apostle James gives great advice to his fellow believers.  James 1:19  “Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.”

This season leading up to Easter I am going to focus more on listening. I want to listen more to God and more fully to others. I am turning off the radio when I drive. I am taking out my ear buds when I work out. I am going to look people in the eye more so I can sense how they are feeling when they speak. My prayer for you is that you may evaluate how you are doing at listening. May we all listen more fully to God and one another. May we all listen more and speak less. May we be a blessing to the world through listening.

In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul

Questions to Consider: 
1. Honest evaluation – how am I as a listener?  Ask those close to you for their opinion.  Give them permission to be honest.

2. What steps can I take this week to be a better listener to God?

3. Who is someone in my life that I could do a better job listening to?
 



BLESS THE WORLD | Bless

BLESS THE WORLD

Philippians 2:3-4 

“I don’t know about you, but I love to be “blessed” and I love to “bless” others. When we bless someone, we are strengthening someone else. Part of the etymology of the term means to “add strength to another’s arm” meaning to build them up, to fill them with encouragement, for them to increase in strength and prosperity.  God wants us to surprise the world by living in such a way that we are a blessing to others. The Apostle Paul states in 1 Thessalonians 5:11 “So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you’re already doing this; just keep on doing it.” (MSG). 
 
One of my “love languages” is WORDS OF AFFIRMATION. Whether verbal or written I appreciate a well said compliment. Deb and I received a text on Sunday after our message sharing time. It meant the world to us to know someone cared enough to give us positive feedback on our message. Mark Twain once said:, “I can live for two months on a good compliment” My prayer for you this week is to bless others by affirming them. May God use you as an instrument of love to build others this week. May the God of creation assist you as you bless the world around you.
 
In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul
 

Questions to Consider: 

  1. Who are three people I can bless this week – at least one of whom is not a member of our church?
  2. What particular actions can I take to bless these three people this week?
  3. How can I solicit God’s and others’ help in my blessing people?
 


LOVE SPEAKS | Through Signs & Circumstances

“So, Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe, and said to them, “Go over before the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.””  Joshua 4:4-7 NIV
 
If you take the time to walk around the 12 ½ acres of the CROSSROADS LAKEVILLE Campus you will discover that the site is in the shape of an elongated curved triangle with three corners. The site shape and size are based on what some think is the ancient size and shape of Jericho in Israel.  If you remember the Biblical account Joshua entered the land promised to them by God by crossing the Jordan river miraculously. Then they miraculously conquered Jericho when the protective walls collapsed after they blew the trumpets for seven days. As part of a sign for future generations they put 12 large stones as markers to remember that God delivered them from slavery in Egypt. After 40 years of wandering in the wilderness God also ushered them into the “Promised Land” and gave them authority over the inhabitants in the land. The stones were “to be a memorial” so future generations would not forget the story of how God gave them the land.
 
As CROSSROADS CHURCH was starting we received as a community a miraculous vision from God that was confirmed by signs and circumstances. We heard from God to build a “Biblically Functioning Community of Believers.” God revealed to those starting CROSSROADS that we were to build not just a church but a community where God would be present. Like Noah building an Ark to save the people, we were to build things needed by a community like a grocery store, fitness center, restaurants, shops, housing, a school, residents for seniors and a church. To never forget the VISION and GOD’s PROVISION we put twelve stones around each of the three corners of the 12 ½ acres. Every time I walk around or drive around the property at Cedar and Dodd in Lakeville, I give thanks for what God has done for us as a community. I remember in Paul’s letter to “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-19 May we continue to remember the vision God has for us as a community, and as individuals, to reach those who do not yet know His love. May CROSSROADS continue to be a place where “Faith and Life Meet.”

In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn
 

Questions to Consider:
1. How do we respect the vision of the past and yet move forward with where God is leading us?
2. Where have you seen God at work in your life? Where have you seen God around you in your life circumstances?



LOVE SPEAKS | Through the Holy Spirit

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.”
Romans 8:26-27 NIV
 
Love speaks to us through the gift of the Holy Spirit. We connect with God through the Spirit of God knowing our needs and desires. We cry out for more of God and God answers that prayer through the Holy Spirit. I want more too—to see more than I’ve seen, know God better than I’ve known Him, and love Him more than I’ve loved Him. We should not be content to just “do church” but rather crave to connect with God. He has already given us all of Himself. He didn’t give us just a portion of the Spirit; He gave us The Spirit. The cry for more is deep calling out to deep, a longing to experience more and have greater awareness. It’s growing in our knowledge of what He has given and what we can freely access in Him.
 
I believe the Holy Spirit has been conditioning our minds to understand this and bringing us to a place where our hearts are so uncluttered that we can be truly filled with all His peace and fullness. We are in a tremendous season at CROSSROADS where I sense the Holy Spirit encouraging us. May we yield to the Spirit and allow the Holy Spirit to work through us.  May we allow the Spirit to intercede on our behalf. May we all share the power of the Spirit with others.
 
In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn



LOVE SPEAKS | Through Creation & Nature

“Since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” Romans 1:19-20

God speaks to us in many ways. God speaks through His Word – The Bible and we discussed the importance of the Love Story of God in Scripture last week. This week we will look at how God speaks to us through Creation. I personally have had some of my most powerful worship experiences in natural surroundings. In my 20’s I worked at a Christian Camp called Star Lake Wilderness Camp. We would worship at the beach around the fire, in an old TeePee and an outdoor chapel. We would sing songs, tell stories, hear testimonies and even share communion outdoors. We would also just lay at the beach at night and stare up at the stars. I saw God’s presence and heard God’s voice everywhere. God called me into ministry through wilderness experiences. One major conversation with God was on a mountain top in Montana that included some thunder and lightning. I was reminded of God’s awesome power.

Creation and nature are powerful reminders of God and the gift of this world He gave us. Creation is amazing. It points to God and His love for us. We have to remember to not worship creation but instead The Creator who gave us the world and everything in it. Deb and I love hiking the trails of Sedona, Arizona. The beautiful Red Rocks draw us into his presence as we see wade through streams climb Cathedral Rock. We encounter some on the trails who believe Vortexes and other things are God in nature. This “New Age” faith is an older tradition called pantheism. Pantheism or the worship of nature was alive and well during the time of Jesus and the early church. We are called to care for and steward creation but not to worship it.

As we look at the power and presence of God revealed through CREATION this week may God speak to you. Take some time this week to enjoy being outside (yes even in Minnesota in the winter.). May we continue to see God all around us as we hear His voice. May we also care for the creation he has given us.

In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn



LOVE SPEAKS | Through His Word

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.”
John‬ ‭1:1-2 ‭

John Wesley the founder of the Methodist movement was a firm believer that the love of God spoke through God’s Word – The Holy Scriptures.

“I want to know one thing – the way to heaven; how to land safe on that happy shore…God himself has condescended to teach me the way. For this very end He came from heaven. He has written it down in a book.

O give me that book! At any price, give me the book of God! I have it: Here is knowledge enough for me. Let me be “homo unius libri”: a man of ONE BOOK! Here then I am far from the busy ways of men. I sit down alone: only God is there. In his presence I open the book; for this end, to find the way to heaven. Is there doubt concerning the meaning of what I read? Does anything appear dark or intricate? I lift up my heart to the Father of Lights: Lord, is it not said in Your Word, ‘if any lack wisdom, let him ask God?’ You give liberally…I then search after and consider parallel passage of Scripture, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

I meditate therein with all the attention and earnestness of which my mind is capable. If any doubt still remains, I consult those who are experienced in the things of God: and then the writings whereby, being dead, they yet still speak.” (John Wesley, Preface to his published 53 sermons)

One way we hear God is by reading and meditating upon the Bible. God’s Word opens our hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit. To hear God, we need to read God’s truth. May we all hear LOVE SPEAK through Scriptures. May we all take time to listen to God and read His Word daily.

In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul

Questions to Consider:

1. What was the first bible you ever had? What do you remember most about it?
2. What’s your favorite bible verse or story?
3. What are your non-negotiables? Where have you drawn the line on what you won’t compromise on your beliefs?
4. When is a time you applied Biblical principle?



DO THE NEXT RIGHT THING | Knowledge and Self-control

Add to your faith, goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control….
-2 Peter 1:6

(Excerpt from Roger Thompson’s Book – Doing the Next Right Thing”)

“On April 26, 2003, Aaron Ralston was hiking through Blue John Canyon. While he was descending into a narrow, slot canyon, a suspended eight-hundred-pound boulder became dislodged, crushing his right hand against the wall. He was trapped and unable to move. He had told no one of his hiking plans so he knew no one would be searching for him. He spent five days rationing his food but eventually had to do something or die in the wilderness. Ralston eventually arrived at the conclusion he would have to amputate his arm. He broke both of the bones on his arm and then spent the better part of an hour cutting his arm off with a dull two-inch knife. After amputating his arm, he was dehydrated and had lost about 25 percent of his blood. He then had to rappel 65 a foot sheer wall with one hand and hike out the canyon. While hiking out of the canyon, Aaron was blessed to encounter a family from the Netherlands on vacation, who gave him water and Oreos. They then alerted the authorities who came and gave Aaron the medical treatment he so desperately needed.”

Why do I share such a gruesome tale? Because Aaron Ralston exhibited both of the qualities we are studying this week – Knowledge and Self-control. He used his knowledge of human anatomy to make a difficult but lifesaving decision. He exhibited self-control by overcoming the pain during such a difficult procedure. The Apostle Peter in his letter acknowledges that knowledge and self-control are needed to build upon one’s faith. Blind faith can lead to bad decisions. Informed faith can move one toward more mature decisions. May we all seek more knowledge to sustain our faith. May we all grow in our self-control, so we exhibit maturity in Christ.

In Christ’s Love and Service,
Pastor Paul
 
Questions to Consider:
1. How would you define knowledge? Why is it beneficial?
2. What is one new truth you have discovered recently about God or Scripture?
3. What experiences have required you to keep a strong handhold on knowledge in order to keep you from falling?
4. How have you learned self-control the hard way through consequences?
5. What situations have you exhibited self-control? What positive benefits have you seen as a result?