Weekly Devotion
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Like Glue – Stick With Love

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” – Colossians 3:12-14 ESV
 
I am asked by the youth of our church and sometimes even adults how I would define LOVE. Many in our culture answer this differently than I think God defines love.
 
Some experts in our society say it is romance. Some say it is bliss. It is one of those words in our English language that have so many meanings to choose from. Dictionary.com defines it as: “A profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person. A feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend”. The experts define love as mere emotions or feeling, but isn’t love something more real? Though those definitions are nice and apply in some circumstances I believe love is so much more.
 
I was checking out at the grocery store last night and saw a popular magazine cover. It stated “3 Ways To Demonstrate To A Man You Love Him.” I didn’t read the story, but from what I could tell it was focusing on “making love” and demonstrating physical affection to “get a man.” Although physical attraction is a part of love there is still so much more to a love that helps a relationship stick.
 
To be honest with you, I have yet to find any better definition of what love is than in the following verses:
 
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  – Romans 5:8
 
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
 
In Colossians 3 the Apostle Paul reminds us that Love binds everything together. Love makes our emotions and physical attraction stick. Love is more than emotions Love is so much more beautiful than momentary bliss. It is so much more powerful than physical passion. There is not a word to describe what love truly is. All I can say is that Jesus loves you, and it is not the kind of love the world knows. It is a love of self sacrifice. May we live a life of love that meets the needs of others more than our own. May we move beyond emotions to a life of true love.

 

In Christ’s love and service,

Pastor Paul Marzahn



Like Glue – Stick With Forgiveness

“Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. Indeed, what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ,” – 2 Corinthians‬ ‭2:10‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Forgiveness is is never easy. It starts with an offense.

I was reflecting today on the hurts I have inflicted on others and the hurts that have I felt. The hurts often have to do with expectations. We are hurt by people who do not do what we expect them to do. We invest our lives in our career and yet we do not get a pay raise or recognition by our employer. We invest in our children continually sacrificing time and finances, yet they take our investment for granted. We invest in a friendship and later discover a friend has shared a confidence or gossiped behind our back. Our expectations are not met and we feel offended.

Sometimes we hurt because of annoyances, other times disappointments and occasionally disloyalty. Peter was disloyal to Jesus when he denied Him three times publicly and yet Jesus forgave him and restored him to ministry. Jesus let Peter know in spite of his disloyal behavior He still loved him. Jesus reminded Peter to “feed his sheep” and to share about the kingdom of God. Betrayal and brutality can also rear their ugly head and make it even harder to forgive. It is not easy to forgive especially when someone has hurt us. Yet, Jesus and Paul both model this attitude.

In today’s Scripture, Paul is sharing with believers in Corinth about forgiveness. He reminds them that when someone is offending another and is corrected, they should also be forgiven.  He stated: “so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him.” Paul reminds us when we forgive we are to love as well. That is not easy yet we are called to a higher standard. May you grow in love this week to be able to forgive those you have offended you. May you also be quick to ask for forgiveness for those you have offended. Most of all, may you experience God’s overwhelming love and forgiveness.

In Christ’s love and forgiveness,

Pastor Paul Marzahn



Like Glue – Stick With Encouragment

“When he came and saw the grace of God, Barnabas was glad, and he encouraged them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose, for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord.” ‭Acts‬ ‭11:23-24‬

We use carpet tile at CROSSROADS CHURCH and I was a part of the team that laid the original flooring. We took glue and brushed it on the concrete, then others came behind sticking the carpet to the floor. I have tried to remove some of the carpet tiles that have gotten stained to replace them. It is not easy. I literally have to pry them off the floor with a tool to detach them from the concrete. The carpet tiles stick so well because we used a strong adhesive. Relationships need a strong adhesive as well. In today’s culture, there are a lot of things pulling us apart from each other. There is a lot of negativity in our world and it seeps into how we treat one another. If we want our relationships to “stick like glue” we have to work on encouraging those around us.

Barnabas in today’s Scripture knew how to use encouragement to make his relationships stick. Barnabas had a given name which is Joseph of Cyprus. (See Acts 4:36). The Apostles recognize his gift and give him the nickname – “Barnabas” – which translates into “son of encouragement.” Apparently, he had developed a reputation for being someone who builds up others. God used Barnabas to bring Saul (later known as the Apostle Paul) to a place of prominence. Based on his past record, Saul wasn’t the kind of person Christians wanted to be around, unless they wanted to end up in jail or dead. Even though Saul’s heart had been changed completely through a personal encounter with Jesus, the believers in Jerusalem didn’t trust him. Barnabas saw Saul was a changed man so he encouraged him and vouched for him.  Barnabas also encouraged the apostles and believers to reconsider their skepticism of Saul and take a risk on this amazing rabbi. His encouragement changed Saul/Paul’s life and the early movement of Christ followers. You may not realize it, but your encouragement might change someone’s life as well.

May God use you as an instrument of His love to encourage someone this week. May you also receive encouragement this week to help your relationships stick like glue.

LIVE IT OUT

Say thanks: Express thanks to someone who has been an encouragement to you. Write a card or letter of encouragement. Reach out to someone and encourage them today.

Evaluate your day: Reflect on God and all the blessings you have been given. Think of ways to express your thanksgiving to God. Prayer, worship, financial giving, and service are a few ways to respond to blessings we have received.

In Christ’s love and service,

Pastor Paul Marzahn



Unplugged – Destress

“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”

Did you know that stressed spelled backwards is “desserts?” I think God intended that whenever we are stressed that we should just eat more dessert. I don’t know about you but I feel stressed from time to time. During the week, Pastor Deb and I pray with and counsel a lot of people feeling stressed. Harris Interactive conducted an online survey of adults and young people ages 8 to 17 in August. Key findings include: stress is up. Most Americans are suffering from moderate to high stress, with 44 percent reporting their stress levels have increased over the past five years.

Some people cope with stress more effectively or recover from stressful events more quickly than others. There are different types of stress—all of which carry physical, mental, and spiritual risks. A stressor may be a one time or short term occurrence, or it can be an occurrence that keeps happening over a long period of time. Stress can motivate people to prepare or perform, like when they need to take a test or interview for a new job. Stress can even be life-saving in some situations. However, many times – over a prolonged period – stress can cause health concerns.

On Labor Day, my wife Deb and I drove to Camp Koronis to be a part of the Ground Breaking Ceremony for the new Tabernacle. Deb was asked to speak and pray at the beginning of the service. It was going to be a big crowd and the Bishop was preaching. Deb was stressed so therefore I was stressed. While I drove the two hours to Paynesville, Minnesota Deb practiced and edited her 8 minute speech about twenty times. I think I heard it enough to preach it myself. As soon as Deb walked up to talk I noticed a huge change in her occurred. She had “de-stressed”. She had let go of the anxiety and given it to God.

In today’s Scripture we see a prayer given by the Levitical priests. It is a reminder that ”God turns his face towards us and gives us peace.” May the God of peace relieve your stress this week. May you also turn to God this week and cast your cares upon Him.

In Christ’s love and service,

Pastor Paul Marzahn



Unplugged – Simplify

There is an old German folktale about the hands of God and creation. In this story God is creating humanity and sends His right hand into the world to take human form. The Right Hand of God contained all the truth and knowledge. God then sends His left hand into the world. That Hand is empty because it is seeking and searching. Man and woman are unfinished and therefore seek out the truth. One cannot receive the fullness of the Right Hand (truth and knowledge) except through the pilgrimage of the Left. A full Left Hand has no room to receive anything. Therefore, according to this story: fulfillment, peace, and perfection come about through a union of openness and fullness. Through emptying ourselves we are able to receive God’s insight into truth. I was raised on the illusion the more I stuffed into my life the more fulfilled I would become. Most of us are raised in a society that believes stuffing is “the way.”  The more activities we do the better we will feel. We put our kids into sports, dance, band, choir, drama, etc…. in the hopes we will provide happiness and fulfillment. We fill our lives with entertainment or work assuming we will find purpose. Even education can be an idol we worship. We forget simplicity and solitude can bring us toward the truth. An empty hand outstretched has room to grasp onto the truth. Growing up my mom use to sing this simple ”Shaker tune” when she would play piano. It reminds me time and time again to simplify my life:

‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free

‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,

And when we find ourselves in the place just right,

‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gained,

To bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed,

To turn, turn will be our delight,

Till by turning, turning we come ’round right.

May you simplify your life so you can have room to grasp the truth God has for you. May you find yourself in the valley of love and delight.
 
In Christ’s love and service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn


Community – Courage

“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.” 1 Corinthians‬ ‭16:13-14‬ ‭
 
I was recently in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles in Apple Valley transferring the title of my mom’s car. She has not driven it for years so has decided to give it to my nieces who recently turned 16. Nothing like a beat up Buick to help train in rookie drivers. Like most in the room I grabbed a number when I walked in and waited my turn. I grabbed 96 and they just called 86 so I knew I had a wait time ahead of me.
 
While waiting at the DMV, I was approached by a young man who seemed nervous. He walked cautiously over to me and asked hesitantly, “are you Pastor Paul?” It was my day off and so I hadn’t shaved and I was wearing casual clothes with a baseball cap. I was kinda going “incognito” and I was surprised he recognized me. I responded that I was indeed Pastor Paul and he seemed relieved that he had not bothered a total stranger. He introduced himself and mentioned he was a part of our Minneapolis CROSSROADS Campus several years ago. He let me know the ministry of CROSSROADS and our non-profit partnership with Life Rebuilders changed his life. Right there in line at the DMV he told me his testimony of getting caught up in drugs and being far from God. Our church and other life coaches helped him get back on the right path. He explained how he is now employed as a contractor and he was in line because he just bought a truck for his new business. This new friend hugged me, we exchanged contact info and now we are talking about ways he can help others.
 
I was reflecting on courage today and this young man came to mind. He had the courage to walk across the room and talk to me. He showed courage to open up and explain his past failures and ways he overcame them. He had the courage to share his testimony of Jesus and the power of transformation in a lobby full of strangers at the DMV. He had the courage to overcome an addiction to drugs and the courage to ask for help from others. He had the courage to start over and now the courage to help others who are struggling.
 
Our culture sometimes lifts up courage on the battlefield or in war. Those who serve are to be commended. Yet, courage in the everyday battles of life also need to be celebrated. We are reminded in God’s word a life of faith in Jesus is not easy. May we all stand firm in our faith and be courageous. May we all remember to do everything in love so we bring forth the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven.
 
In Christ’s love and service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn


Community – Celebrations

‭“So all the people went to Gilgal and made Saul king in the presence of the LORD. There they sacrificed fellowship offerings before the LORD, and Saul and all the Israelites held a great celebration.”‭ (1 Samuel‬ ‭11:15‬)
 
“This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the LORD —a lasting ordinance.” (Exodus‬ ‭12:14‬)
 
“Be joyful at your festival—you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levites, the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns.” (Deuteronomy‬ ‭16:14‬) ‬‬
 
I don’t know about you, but I love a good party! I enjoy the amazing amounts of food, beverages, and fellowship. Weddings, graduations, anniversaries, and even funerals are amazing times to gather and celebrate. At CROSSROADS we have been calling our funerals “Celebrations of Life” to remember we should celebrate those who are experiencing the kingdom of God in its fullness.
 
Sometimes, we forget how important it is to God that we gather to celebrate. There are over 50 passages that remind the Israelites to pause from busy life activities and celebrate with community. God wants us to take time to celebrate the life of abundance He has given us. He wants to remind us that we are blessed and He is the source of all good things.
 
In Christ’s love and service,
Pastor Paul Marzahn


Community – Resurrection

“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.” ‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭15:3-7‬ ‭ESV‬
 
I love communion Sunday. The first Sunday of every month at CROSSROADS we celebrate the remembrance of the Lord’s Supper. At one point we did it quarterly and at another time we did it weekly. Then we decided once a month felt about right for this season of our congregation. We sometimes serve the children communion in the Children’s area and sometimes they take it with their parents in the larger worship space. This past Sunday we invited the kids to come forward and take communion from me and Pastor Deb.
 
Pastor Deb did the liturgy by blessing the bread and cup. She reminded us all, “Christ has died, Christ is Risen, Christ will come again.” One of the children later in line before taking the bread asked me “why are we doing this?” I shared this meal helps us remember Jesus died for us and He was resurrected. She replied “Oh, my mom told me eat the bread to remember Jesus loves me.” We were both right.
 
The Apostle Paul when talking to his church family at Corinth discussed with them the importance of the Resurrection. He had written to them about unity and focusing on love. Now in closing his letter he wanted to remind them about the core of what it means to be a Christ follower. He emphasized the importance of the death and resurrection of Jesus. Unless we believe in Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, and His power to overcome death, our faith is meaningless. May we like the Corinthians remember the core of what it means to be a follower of Christ. May we also understand the power of the resurrection story of Jesus and share it with others.

 

In Christ’s love and service,

Pastor Paul Marzahn



Community – Tongues

“Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy.” 1 Corinthians‬ ‭14:1‬ ‭NIV‬‬

We should all eagerly desire Spiritual Gifts. They help us through the power of the Holy Spirit and to help strengthen the church. Sometimes these gifts can also tear down the church if not used appropriately.  The believers in Corinth were impressed with big personalities and big talk. They were attracted to outward success and personal charisma. They mistook Paul’s sacrificial service for weakness and were not impressed. We have a problem today of “super-pastors”, or leaders in the church claiming super spiritual authority. Mega churches and mega personalities can sometimes pull us away from what the Holy Spirit intends. Like the Corinthians, we also have to heed the Apostle Paul’s advice.
 
 
When it came time for Paul to boast about his apostleship, he listed his sufferings for the gospel, and it was quite an overwhelming list. In contrast, other spiritual leaders in the church boasted in their strength, their abilities, their personalities, and their riches. And the Corinthians wanted to be like them.  We too can think too highly of ourselves. We must humble ourselves before the Lord and say, “Father, I’m here to serve, not to be served, to give, not to get. Help me follow in the footsteps of Your Son.” I ask God every day to show me ways to serve and somehow God seems to fill up each day with opportunities. I am sure for those reading this many of you could say the same.
 
 
Don’t miss the glorious forest of the Holy Spirit because of some very bad trees.  I wish you could get to know some of the incredible Charismatic believers I have worked with around the world, people of wonderful dedication, soundness, and integrity. I wish you could experience some of the moves of the Spirit I’ve been privileged to experience. If you could, while also armed with the unshakable truths of God’s Word, you would never be the same. God’s supernatural gifts are real. May you and I “eagerly desire” these gifts and may we use these gifts to Glorify Him.

 

In Christ’s Love and Service,

Pastor Paul Marzahn



Community – Love

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 1 Corinthians‬ ‭13:4-7‬ ‭ESV‬‬ Love is one of the most used words in the English language, and also one of the most misused words. In America, we say we love everything from our pets, to pizza, to our friends, and even our spouse. When people use the word love it is almost like a generic term for liking something very much. When the Apostle Paul uses the word love he is very specific. Paul in his letter to the Corinthians is describing a type of love that is not selfish but rather a sacrificial love. He had several choices for the word love. In Greek, the language in which all of Paul’s letters are written, he could have used the word “Eros” which means romantic love or infatuated love. Eros is described as a sexual or passionate love, and is the type most akin to our modern construct of romantic love. In Greek myth, it is a form of madness brought about by one of Cupid’s arrows. The arrow breaches us and we ‘fall’ in love, as did Paris and Helen, leading to the Trojan War and the downfall of Troy and much of the assembled Greek army in Homer’s epic poem The Iliad. It is a love often depicted in literature as being uncontrollable, “love at first sight” and all that – after all, “you can’t control who you love,” right? Paul could have chosen the word “Philia” which is a friendship type of love. Friendship love  founded on goodness is associated not only with mutual benefit; but also with companionship, dependability, and trust. In this type of love, real friends seek together to live truer, fuller lives by relating to each other authentically. Paul could’ve chosen the word “Storge” which is a family type of love. More broadly, Storge is the fondness born out of familiarity or dependency of someone. Unlike Eros or Philia, Storge is not dependent on our personal qualities. One would almost expect Paul to use a word like Philia or Storge describing community and the church. But instead Paul chose the word “Agape.” Agape is a universal love, such as the love for strangers, nature, or God. It’s deeper meaning is an unselfish concern for the welfare of others. It is also a love of self sacrifice and mutual trust. Paul describes it well when he states love “bears all things” and “keeps no record of wrongs.” We are often like the believers in Corinth. We need to be reminded the most important thing is love. Even though Paul reminds us about the importance of faith and hope he also says the “greatest of these is love.” May you live out a life of love with those around you. May you experience God’s Agape, Eros, Philia, and Storge love this week.

In Christ’s love and service, Pastor Paul Marzahn