Posted by Barbara Ann Derksen on September 15, 2014
Jerome drove into the rally, his wife sitting behind. Their excitement at being at this particular rally was evident a
Sheila chuckled. “The women at the Ladies Aid are all old biddies. They think that being a Christian has to be dull. Their husbands are the same. Well, I’m glad we still know how to have fun. Besides what they don’t know won’t hurt…us.” She laughed and set about preparing a hot
Posted by Barbara Ann Derksen on September 13, 2014
Romans 1:16 – I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes …
Paul was a citizen of Rome and, now that he was a believer, longed to visit that city again one day. He wanted to share the gospel with them. Once he’d have come to persecute people of The Way, as Christians were called, but now he wants to share his experiences with them. He’s walked with His Lord. He knows, from firsthand experience, that Jesus has the power to save anyone who opens their heart to believe that He is who He says He is and that God can do what He says He can do.Zane sat quietly on the bench. The park was full of people: boys, girls and adults all enjoying the newness of a warm spring day. Smiles resided on the faces around him. He wondered if that was just a façade or if these people truly were happy today.
Zane knew how it felt to live in constant fear, to carry around that deep feeling of depression, blackness in the soul that never seemed to lift or float away. For more years than he cared to count, he’d put on his happy face when he partied with the boys, but afterwards…his soul wept in defeat, his hangover a reminder of the night before.
He stood, lifted his face to the bluest sky he’d seen in a long time, and then strolled down the pathway. Barking dogs greeted him, little children smiled toward him while keeping their distance, and birds floated overhead waving toward the place where God resided.
Zane knew now what he didn’t know before. He’d discovered, in just the last two weeks, that there really was a God. Oh, not the God his friends spoke about as they cursed one another. Those guys didn’t know He existed or at least they pretended not to know. Anyway, Zane did and had decided that He’d follow His Lord no matter what.
He’d read what the apostle Paul talked about when he used the word ashamed and Zane did not intend to fall into that category. The empty pit of despair was gone and no one could have taken that away except a God who loved him…just as he was. It had been two weeks since he’d seen the guys. Today he planned on letting them see the changes in him…the real person this time…not just the person he’d allowed them to see.
His friends were heading toward a pit of eternal depression and despair. Zane had already been there and didn’t want any of them going in that direction…not any more. His stride quickened, purpose written on every step. Oh…he wouldn’t get preachy. God only asked that he live what he believed. And he believed that God is who he says He is. He’d read all about Him in the Bible he’d purchased.
Zane couldn’t wait for the guys to see that God loved them, that he cared about everything in their lives, and wanted to save them from eternal damnation and despair. He carried a little New TestAmen.t in his vest pocket. If anyone asked, he was ready to share what Jesus did for them on the cross. If his motorcycle boots would have allowed it, he’d have skipped over to the curb.
Zane had discovered that an all-powerful God could change his world. He had chosen to believe, although, once he recognized the truth of the gospel, believing was a simple choice. The same is true for any one of us. Pick up the Gospel of John and discover for yourself who Jesus is and believe that He is that person. Then search for what God…Jesus…says He can do, and you’ll discover that He can do that too.
Father, I love You. The choice I made years ago has not been a hard choice for I know that with You all things are possible. Help me be a witness to those I come in contact with. Help me show them that You are interested in the small things in their lives. Let them see that Your word is alive and active in me by the way I act, not just my words. Amen.by
Posted by Barbara Ann Derksen on September 10, 2014
Acts 28:28 – Therefore I want you to know that God’s salvation has been sent to the Gentiles and they will listen.
Paul was a Jew. He had been one of the leaders in the church in Jerusalem. He persecuted Christians before Jesus met him on the road to Damascus. Jesus saved Paul even though he was killing other believers. From that time on, Paul preached the gospel to anyone who would listen. He knew the truth and wanted others to know it also.
At the end of Acts, Paul is released from prison, where he had languished for many years because of his faith. He gathered the Jewish leaders and told them a final time what Jesus was offering them. Many of them did not listen so he quoted from the book of Isaiah who prophesied that very fact. Then Paul said that God’s message had been sent to the gentiles and they would listen.
Throughout history, there are numerous stories of how God offered Salvation to anyone who would listen…everyone has been given a chance to hear…and yet many perish and join the ranks of the suffering in hell. Salvation is a choice, a person, and the only way we can be redeemed and protected from the enemy of God’s people is to slide on the helmet of Salvation.
Beth slipped through the door leading to the great hall. The church was not crowded today so she walked forward, sliding into a pew about halfway to the front. A tall man, wearing a white robe, spoke to anyone who wanted to listen.
Beth looked around. One woman was actually reading a romance novel. A man sat with his eyes closed, his breathing rhythmic as it would be if he were sleeping. A young boy was coloring in a book beside his mother. Why did these people come here if they didn’t intend to listen?
Beth struggled to understand what the man was saying. “Jesus Christ loved the world so much that he willingly walked…stumbled…down the streets in Jerusalem, to the cross on a hill called Golgotha.” How could someone love that much…to die by choice…for someone He didn’t know? Why would He?
She sat up straighter. Did that mean…was she the someone He loved? Did He die for her? Beth looked at her dirty fingernails. She smoothed the creases in her soiled jeans and tried to close the gaping holes where her knees peeked through. That can’t be true.
Beth thought about all the things she’d done. She remembered the money she’d stolen from that woman’s purse last Sunday in this very room. Then she remembered that she’d killed her unborn baby. He…Jesus…couldn’t love someone as ugly inside as she was. She began to get up. She wanted it to be true for her too but she just knew…she hung her head; a lone tear trickled down her cheek. If only…
Then the man in the white robe spoke as if he spoke just to her. “Jesus did not come to redeem…to save the righteous…people who thought they were good enough already. He came to save people like you and me…who know they are not perfect…who know they are sinners…and want to be better. He came to save people who want to ask Him to forgive them…who recognize that they need His forgiveness.”
Beth almost raised her hand like she did when she went to school. Inside she cried, “I do…I do.” The man in white invited them to pray with him, to ask Jesus into their heart. Beth bowed her head. Then she looked out of one eye at the people around her. Her heart was singing but they paid no attention. They had not even stopped to listen…once.
Our churches are filled with people who don’t hear the invitation…people who think they have it all together and don’t need saving. The Bible is very clear. Salvation is our helmet of protection and without it we are all headed for eternity filled with gnashing teeth and night terrors. Jesus walked this earth for everyone…and not one of us meets God’s standards of perfection. We are all in need of saving.
Father, Thank You for sending Your Son to offer us a way off the trail to hell. Thank You that You came…that You loved…that You save. Give us Your helmet of protection so that the enemy can’t throw darts of self-doubt and self-recrimination our way. We can be and are forgiven. Thank You Lord. Amen.by
Posted by Barbara Ann Derksen on September 8, 2014
Acts 4:12 – Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved
Peter and John had been jailed for healing a crippled man. The next day, the Pharisees and Sadducees, the leaders in the church, brought both men before their council to be questioned. Filled by the Holy Spirit, Peter told them the entire gospel message. Part of that message is contained in the verse above.
Peter made it clear that Salvation comes only through Jesus Christ. If any man wants to be saved, they will have to address the personage of the very man the church leaders recently crucified. This did not sit well with the Pharisees and Sadducees. This message does not sit well with self-righteous people the world over today.
Gordo sat up, his back ramrod straight. His look of defiance searched the room for someone else who might share his opinion. He couldn’t find a friendly face anywhere. Everyone looked pensive but no one objected to the message coming from the front of the room.
“A person needs to recognize the Lordship of Jesus Christ before they can be saved.” The speaker was another biker, one who’d returned from four years of training in a seminary. The man was well respected because his walk was no different than what he talked about…even here.
Gordo disagreed. “I believe in God…in my own way. What’s wrong with that?”
Pliers, the man who spoke from the front of the room, looked toward Gordo and then scanned the faces before him. “I used to think that way too. I thought this one way to heaven business was hate speech, exclusive, and not for me. But when you begin to understand the man who bears the name Jesus, all that changes.”
Gordo harrumphed. He crossed his arms over his chest. “No matter how we believe, God is way out there and we are right here. We’ve seen a few of our members go down. Jeremy is still in the hospital. God did nothing to help him and won’t help us either. He may have created but…”
Pliers smiled. “So many of us blame God for everything wrong in our lives. In fact for some, it’s the only time we even think of Him. Jesus, while He’s called God’s son, is God and He wants to be first in our life…in our thinking…so that we can see our problems through His eyes and connect with His healing power….whatever form that takes. Jesus is personal and waits for the time when we look to Him instead of seeking our own answers. That’s what Lordship is. He controls…not us.”
Gordo stood, turned his back to Pliers and walked toward the door. “That’s fine and good for you. I want no part of it. I’ll do things my way…take care of myself. I don’t need no crutch.” He walked out the door.
Gordo made a choice…one that years later he would live to regret. Jesus was calling him but he turned his back on God because he wanted to be in control. People all over the world want to be able to say I did it my way and look how I’ve succeeded. I haven’t known too many people, though, who…when they fail…accept the responsibility and say then I did it my way. They usually blame others or God Himself.
Salvation brings us into a personal relationship with a gentleman. God waits for us to step aside in our own lives and sometimes in the lives of family members or friends. Pliers had to leave Gordo alone in his misconceptions until God had time to draw him in relationship. That’s all any of us can do for our friends. We can’t make them believe. All we are asked to do is share our faith and live our faith. God does the rest…in His time.
Father, Lordship is so important. Either we are the lords of our lives or we step aside and let Jesus fill that role. Help us step aside so that You can take the seat of control…the throne. You are better equipped than any of us will ever be…so Father, I give it all to You. Amen.
Posted by Barbara Ann Derksen on September 6, 2014
Luke 2:30 – For my eyes have seen your salvation
A righteous and devout man by the name of Simeon had been promised by God that He would not die until he had seen the Messiah…the Christ. When Joseph and Mary brought the baby Jesus to be consecrated in the temple, according to the law of Moses, Simeon said His eyes had seen God’s Salvation.
Simeon knew that Jesus would save Israel from their sins, separating them from God, but he also said that Jesus would be ‘a light for revelation’ to the gentiles too. He knew Salvation was something that people should seek as he had been searching since it was revealed to him by the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit draws us, reveals things to us, and places us where we, too, will see our Salvation. Some choose to ignore this revelation while others grasp it in their hands to never let go again. Salvation covers us with Christ so that we can have a two-way communication with God, and so that we can be victorious as we walk daily with Him.
Beth walked past the church located just down the street from her house. She heard the singing coming from inside but intentionally closed her ears. Those people don’t have a clue. They’re insulated. Life just passes them by. She scoffed at the idea of being religious. I can take care of myself. I don’t need a crutch.
She’d parked her bike down the back alley, behind the fence that closed in her back yard. She turned the corner to head in that direction. Sitting by the side of the broken pavement she saw a homeless man…or at least he appeared to be the type. Beth walked quickly past him.
The man smelled. There but for the grace of …was she about to say God. Where had she heard that? She kept walking. Just when she figured she was safe, a voice spoke out of the darkness over her shoulder. “You too good to look for me…huh? I do something to you?”
Beth cringed. “Leave me alone.” She marched over toward her bike, walking quickly, trying to get away from the voice. She snuck a quick peek to the right as she leaned down to unlock the ignition. The man was sitting where she’d first seen him. But…Oh well. I guess he moves faster than I thought. She straddled her bike, turned on the ignition switch, and revved the motor a little to give it some life.
She wanted the man to think of her as tough, unafraid but inside she was trembling. This scene just did not coincide with the music she could still hear from the church. She rode slowly past the vagrant. His face had a smile on it. What did he have to smile about?
She decided to ask. “Hey, man…why you sittin’ here? Why you smilin’?”
The man looked at her, a little bleary eyed at first but then his vision became crystal clear. “I love that music. Makes me think of heaven.”
“What do you know about heaven?” she sneered. “You homeless or what?”
The man smiled again. Lines crinkled at the corner of his eyes but youthfulness was also evident. “I know heaven is my home. This life is temporary so I am temporarily out of a home but someday…”
“Yeah right…well you believe that if you want but…”
The man looked serious this time. “Don’t run too long. God’s calling you. You need to stop running and give your life to Him before it’s too late.” He shook his finger in her direction. God loves you and is pursuing you. You’re a sinner…”
“Keep quiet old man.” Beth put her bike in gear again and pulled out on to the street that continued away from the church. Just as she was kicking her bike into second gear, a small pick-up drove through the intersection and hit her broadside. Beth died on the spot, long before any EMT could assess the damage. It was too late already.
Salvation was something the homeless man clung to while Beth ran in the opposite direction. She was not protected, nor was she assured that she had a place in heaven when she died. The homeless man did. Because of the promises in the Bible, that man would enter the kingdom as soon as he took his last breath on earth. He knew it, so could smile in spite of his circumstances. Beth, on the other hand, had nothing to smile about.
Father help us recognize that You are calling us. Help us to stand still long enough to allow that still small voice get through to us. Help us recognize the other signs, like a church full of worshipful singing, or the many wonderful examples of how much You love us seen in Your creation. Keep pursuing those who still run Father. Draw them to Your salvation before it’s too late. Amen.by
Posted by Barbara Ann Derksen on September 3, 2014
Luke 1:76b-77 – …you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for Him to give His people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins
Zachariah, the father of John the Baptist, prophesied over his son as soon as he got his voice back. The Lord told Zachariah that his son would prepare for the coming Messiah by giving people the knowledge of Salvation through the forgiveness of sins. Up till now, people were required to sacrifice an animal for forgiveness. Things were about to change…in God’s timeline.
Salvation. God wants nothing more for His people than for them to join Him in heaven one day, to have an abundant life, not trouble-free but with access to Him for the solutions. Ever since He, because He is a just God, expelled humans from the Garden of Eden, He’s provided a way for them to walk with Him in the twilight … like He did when Adam and Eve were still living there. In the beginning it was regular yearly sacrifice. Then He provided a onetime sacrifice…His one and only Son.
In Ephesians, Paul with inspiration from the Holy Spirit, describes Salvation as a helmet, part of God’s protection from Satan’s attempts to cause us to doubt and to discourage us. Salvation is described as something we put on to protect our mind…since doubt and discouragement…temptation… enters through our thought life.
Deeter hung his head, staring at the breakfast in front of him. His wife had thrown him out of the house last night when he’d come home drunk again. He’d biked over to his friend John’s place and John had let him crash on his sofa till he could work things out with his wife.
Now, John sat down with him over a hot meal of bacon and eggs. “Deeter, you need the Lord in your life. Things are not going to get better until you decide that you can’t do it all by yourself. Marcie is a good woman.”
“I know. I know. I try so hard to be the kind of husband she deserves and then…I just go into the clubhouse for one drink but…one becomes three and then I’m lost.” John let the tears that had been building at the back of his eyes, fall unashamedly on the table top. “I love that woman. Why can’t she just forgive me again and get it over with. She will eventually anyway…just like all the other times.”
John cleared his throat. “She phoned this morning. She has all your clothes packed and wants me to come by for them. She knew you’d head over here. She doesn’t want you home…ever. There won’t be any reconciliation this time. You’ve burned your bridges with her, it seems. I’m sorry.”
Deeter lifted his head. “She’ll change her mind…you’ll see.”
“Deeter, God can clear up this addiction, and change you into the man that Marcie deserves but there’s no way that you can do it yourself. You’ve already proven that. How many times have you tried to quit drinking and…”
“I know. I know. I try to stop but I guess I am…an alcoholic. I’m a failure. I’m worthless.” Deeter pushed the food around on his plate, his appetite nonexistent.
John felt hopeful for the first time. He loved this man but his life was a shambles. He had so much going for him but when he was drinking…nothing mattered…not even his life. John had felt for a long time that they were in a spiritual battle to save Deeter. He knew God was the only answer. “Deeter, do you even believe that God exists any more?”
“Sure. You know I was raised in a family that believed in God. In fact, I asked God to take control…to come into my life when I was a little boy but…things got complicated. Now…do you think God wants me?” Deeter looked toward his best friend. John had stood by him all these years. He was a good man.
“Then you know that God is personal. He loves you and sent His Son to die just for you so you could be victorious…not live this defeated life. Aren’t you tired of this roller coaster you’re on?” John prayed silently in his heart as he talked.
“I am…man I want nothing more than to have the kind of life I see you living. I want Marcie to look at me the way Jean looks at you. I want…” He sighed, a huge deep breath of resignation that came from deep inside. “I’m ready to stop running. But I don’t think I can.”
John grinned. “That doubt doesn’t come from God. With Him you will be successful. Do you want to rededicate your life to Him now?”
Deeter had a long way to go. But he was headed down the right path this time. With his helmet of Salvation firmly in place, he could be successful in changing his life for the better. When he places God first in his life…every step of the way…he can’t be anything else.
Father, I need your helmet of Salvation. Please forgive my sinful ways. Help me make You Lord of my life once again…to walk where You would have me walk. Take away these addictions…the things that keep bringing me down…the things that take me into a world I want to avoid from now on. Thank You Father. Amen.by
Posted by Barbara Ann Derksen on September 1, 2014
Luke 1:69 – He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David.
Zachariah was the husband of Elizabeth. He and Elizabeth were the parents of John the Baptist. He received a visit from one of God’s angels telling him about his son and what his task would be but Zachariah wouldn’t believe. God caused him to be mute until the birth of his son.
When he could speak again, in this verse, Zachariah tells all those gathered around that God has provided a way of Salvation for his people. This person will come from the house of David. Sin was brought into the world through Adam and sin would be vanquished through Jesus.
Life is one long spiritual battle. The enemy of God’s people is strong…when we try to face him without the strength of God. God is far more powerful than Satan. Our belief in God, our Salvation through Jesus Christ, gives us access to that power so that we can be successful in defeating our enemy.
Shiner wiped the dust from his bike. He, and the other members of the biker club, had just returned from a one thousand mile trip. It had taken them only two days. The others had gone into the bar, their home stomping grounds, to relax before going home for a much needed rest.
Polishing the chrome to a high luster, Shiner ran his hand over the smooth paint job. His bike was his pride and joy. He drove defensively but never failed to wear his helmet and the rest of the leathers that would protect him if he ever went down.
He touched the helmet, painted the same color as his bike. It was new. He made sure it was fastened tightly to the back rest so it wouldn’t fall on the ground. Shiner had a friend in the hospital who’d never worn a helmet.
The man would never be the same again after his bike was struck by a van on the highway. His broken bones had healed but the head injury he’d suffered had left him comatose for a long time. When he’d come out of it, he had to learn to talk, read, and write all over again. Some of his long time skills would never return. Riding his motorcycle was out of the question.
Shiner finished the job of cleaning the road dust off his bike and walked slowly toward the club house, as many of the members referred to that bar. He shook his head to clear his doldrums. His friend would have been with them on this trip if only…Shiner sighed.
Helmets are meant for protection, They save lives sometimes, although there are no guarantees…most doctors will corroborate that fact. God has given us a helmet for spiritual warfare, to protect our minds…the place where defeat happens first. Salvation makes us children of the Most High God, with all the privileges that ensues. He promises to keep us safe from or through anything that Satan would throw our way, any test that Satan might try to perpetrate.
Keep the strap on your helmet fastened at all times. Slip it on when you get up in the morning and when we leave your house for the mission field…anyone who God places before you that day. Remember who saved you and in whom you trust and access his power for each dart that the enemy would throw at you.
Father, I do enjoy the fact that we, with access to Your power, can defeat the enemy, that we can overpower any attempt he makes to drain us of our God confidence. Thank You for providing us with this covering over our head…salvation…something we can cling to. Amen.by
Posted by Barbara Ann Derksen on August 30, 2014
Jonah 2:9 – But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the Lord
Jonah, an early prophet for the Lord, was commanded by God to go to Ninevah. There he was to preach against their wickedness. Jonah decided to run away from God and headed for Tarshish instead. While on the ship that was taking him to Tarshish, a storm came up. Deciding that Jonah was at fault, the crew members threw him overboard.
God provided a great fish to swallow Jonah. While in that fish, Jonah put on his Helmet of Salvation. The verse above is the tail end of a prayer that Jonah uttered reminding himself that he was saved, that God was his God. He vowed to make a sacrifice to God who then commanded the fish to vomit him up onto dry land. Satan had caused Jonah to fear the Ninevites. His helmet of Salvation protected him from any further doubts in who God is and what He will do.
The first states he would travel through had no helmet law but…Josh had made a choice a long time ago to wear a helmet no matter the law. He slipped it on again at the rest stop, straddled his motorcycle, and headed on down the road.
The wind was whistling through the sides of the helmet, past his ears, but he could still hear the radio as clear as if he were sitting in his living room. Traffic noise was lessened to some degree but his ear plugs further deadened the sounds of semis and trucks as he rode along.
Josh loved to ride. Most of his buddies didn’t wear helmets if they could possibility get away with it. “We love to feel the freedom of the road,” they would say, “and the wind in our hair.” Josh used to raz them. “Yeah… whipping it into a tangled mess or slapping you in the face…if you don’t tie it back.”
Josh had read all the literature about head injury when a biker chose not to wear his head-gear. Those guys wear leather to protect their bodies but refuse to wear a helmet to protect their head. What’s with that? He looked straight ahead, his eyes roving from right to left, as he drove defensively down the highway.
When he made a left turn onto another highway, a car drove through the intersection and slammed into the bike, knocking Josh to the pavement. His body rolled and tumbled a long distance before it finally came to a stop in the ditch. The driver of the car stopped, called 911, and waited. He hadn’t seen the biker until it was too late.
The paramedics arrived in record time. They gathered around the unconscious man, checked his vitals, and then began preparation for transport. “It’s a good thing he was wearing that helmet,” one EMT said. They placed him gently on a back board. “He’d have been dead for sure otherwise.”
Salvation, like a helmet, protects us from eternal death. Most of us think of death as final but the Bible says that we all end up in eternity, living forever. It’s up to us whether we end up in heaven, enjoying the walk in the garden with our Lord and all that He has planned for us OR in hell, a place of eternal torment, gnashing of teeth, pain and deprivation.
Salvation, our protection from Satan’s arrows of doubt and deceit, will assure us a spot in heaven. Salvation comes from God. It is a gift…there’s nothing we can do to earn it. All we have to do is acknowledge the work that Jesus did on the cross on our behalf, admit that we are in need of a Savior since we can’t resist the enemy without Christ…by ourselves…and then give Jesus control of our lives.
Salvation is the most important decision we will ever make in our lives. It won’t guarantee that we will never have a bad day just as a motorcycle helmet won’t always prevent us from having an accident. But the protection Salvation offers will make the difference between eternal death or eternal life. What’s it going to be?
Father I know I am a sinner. I have always walked where I want to go, independent from you. I sometimes cheat on my taxes or do other things that the world turns a blind eye to. I know that Jesus paid the penalty for my sin on that cross over 2000 years ago. I accept His gift and want Him to control my life from now on. Thank You Father for loving me enough to chase after me. Amen.by
Posted by Barbara Ann Derksen on August 27, 2014