Posted by Barbara Ann Derksen on October 22, 2014
Posted by Barbara Ann Derksen on October 20, 2014
A few years ago, Singer/Songwriter, Brian Doerksen, wrote a song about choice. As you read the lyrics, look for the three steps you need to take to fully commit your life fully to the service of Jesus Christ.
Today I choose to follow You
Today I choose to give my ‘yes’ to You
Today I choose to hear Your voice and live
Today I choose to follow You
As for me and my house
We will serve You
As for me and my house
We will spend our lives on You
Brian writes and sings about the choice to follow Jesus. We can choose whether or not to follow Christ, but we need to know that not following Christ means we are following someone else. Christ is a gentleman, sensitive, yet filled with strength. He allows us choice when He could dictate our lifestyle with the flick of His wrist.
To make a choice to follow Christ, all we need to do is say, “yes”. There are no hoops we need to jump through, no atonements, no tasks, no money to pay, no gifts to give. Nothing we have or could do would give us anything more than our simple obedience, our “yes”.
“Yes” to Christ opens the channels to communicate with Him. We hear His voice and He directs our paths thus saving us from undue torment and wrong life choices. Will our road toward eternity be smooth? Will we be forever free from mistakes, pain, and a need to seek forgiveness? No, the bible never promises that, but if we seek, listen, and follow, it’s easier and the mistakes are fewer.
Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Will you choose? We make choices all the time. But will they be the right ones? Saying no to Christ means saying yes to His enemies. The consequences of that choice will make your life here look like a picnic compared to the one you will experience in eternity without Christ.
Open your heart to the idea of choosing Christ. Is your life so perfect that you desire nothing more? God looks at a person’s heart and what He sees there will determine whether He acknowledges you when you enter eternity. Today I choose. Do You?
For further study: Luke 10:42; John 7:17; Phil. 3:20by
Posted by Barbara Ann Derksen on October 18, 2014
A question that often travels across the frontal lobe of my brain, or whatever place the brain handles questions, is, “Why would God create such a vast universe, if all He wanted was one inhabited planet?” Secular scientists try to present a case for other life forms living on other planets, but, being a strong proponent of Biblical truth, I see no evidence in the Bible for another civilization.
So why did God create a universe through which it takes millions of years to travel? During a recent trip to the Creation Museum in Cincinnati, my husband and I visited their planetarium. We learned that not only are we only one galaxy among billions out there, but the bowl of the big dipper is made up of billions of galaxies all by itself. The concept is so vast that our finite minds find it hard to conceive and yet, scientists have proven this to be so.
We can comprehend the idea that God created us, our moon and stars, and all that lives on our planet. That’s easy to understand when we look at an intricately designed snowflake sitting on a tree branch in the dead of winter. We see that no two snowflakes are alike. Only our awesome Creator could have done that. When we think of the human body, an organism that scientists for years have tried to create, we discover that the best they can do is copy it, because God has devised this wonderful shell we live in.
Our human mind tries to understand how great our God is, BUT until we look closely at or hear someone who knows describe the extent of our universe; we never fully comprehend how majestic our God is. He created it all. In Isaiah Chapter 45, verse 18, God says, “He who created the heavens, He is God; He who fashioned and made the earth, He founded it…” He is bigger than His creation. Think about that for a second or two. God could probably place this planet in the palm of His hand. In fact He could balance this planet on one finger.
Yet He loves us individually. The Bible says He cares for the sparrow and He knows the number of hairs on each of our heads. In all the vastness of the universe, only our planet could sustain our lives. God designed it just for our needs, even our need to satisfy our thirst for beauty. In our humanness we try, with our little finite brains to understand how awesome He is. It takes our looking at a never-ending plethora of stars and planets to even to begin to know how powerful our God is. God says to us, “This is done by my hand and I am bigger than all of it.”
Still, we insist on making Him into our image. We pull Him out of our pocket once in a while, when we need a favor, want a wedding blessed, or a birth dedicated. We make decisions without Him and wonder why we fail. We tell Him that we know better than He how to run our lives. Imagine that, the ultimate audacity.
For further study: Ex.15:7; Deut.5:24; Deut.33:26; Acts 25:26; 2 Thess. 1:9; Heb.1:3; 2 Pet.1:16by
Posted by Barbara Ann Derksen on October 15, 2014
God shows His love for us every day and in many ways. He created us as individuals so treats us accordingly. What sends one person to his or her knees in awe, doesn’t turn the head of the next person. But yesterday, I looked out my window to see a dense fog. More importantly, it was what the fog left on everything in sight that caused me to stand and stare, hardly taking a breath. The white flakes that covered everything were so large that when I took my camera out later for some exclusive shots of this Manitoba morning, you could see individual flakes on the branches. God had done some decorating while I slept and my world couldn’t have been prettier.
Trees brimmed with white flocking, prettier than anyone could manufacture. Chain link fences had white wire instead of the standard galvanized steel color. Everywhere you looked, nature was coated as if it had been decorated for the perfect Christmas card. The Apostle Paul, in the book of Romans, chapter 1, verse 20 says, “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 men are without excuse.”(NIV). We can look at all that He created and experience Him in all His fullness. WOW!
Once in a while I like to strap on some scuba tanks and take a horizontal stroll through God’s underwater world, especially in the tropics. Pink sea fans wave to their own rhythm while black barracuda hang upside down, watching all the funny looking humans who invade their territory. Colorful angelfish swim nearby in vibrant hues of blue, yellow, and green with tinges of red. Stingray wave their tails as they carry on in their hunt for food while nurse sharks squiggle by, looking for their next feast.
Ocean currents bring schools of fish, in a variety of sizes, that look through my face mask, wondering what this strange creature will do next. The water in the tropics is clear most days, unless a storm is within a five hundred mile radius, so visibility allows me to see other divers nearby, gracefully moving through this underwater kingdom.
My husband and I do some traveling every summer and it doesn’t matter where we go, there is plenty of beautiful scenery to enjoy. From barren, sandy badlands in South Dakota to tropical alligator swamps in Florida, God has decorated our world for our pleasure because He loves us and wants to give us the desires of our heart.
On a recent, rather fruitless trip to capture some of Manitoba’s winter landscape, God placed some graceful deer in my path. I watched as they nibbled on plants nearby and they watched to make sure all I was doing was taking photos. God knew how much I enjoy wildlife so there they were. His love for me knows no bounds. That’s why I choose to seek Him before making a decision or before beginning my day.
God placed His mark on us before we existed. On a recent trip to the Creation Museum in Kentucky, I listened to a lecture about the glue that holds all our cells together. It is called laminen, is microscopic, and is shaped like a cross. Imagine! I love that we are branded, even if it’s microscopic, telling all of creation that we belong to the King of kings and Lord of lords. Don’t you?
For further study: Gen. 14:19; Eccl. 12:1; Isa.40:28; Col. 3:10by
Posted by Barbara Ann Derksen on October 13, 2014
Psalm 119:105 – Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light for my path
God’s Word, David writes, lights his feet and the path they tread on. That’s what the Bible should do for us. It should go before us to light the way so that our path becomes the path that God would have us walk on.
In order for that to happen, we need to study it, memorize it, and make its precepts part of who we are. Nothing that we could ever learn from the Bible will harm us, lead us astray, or become a waste of time. The Bible always makes the reader a better person.
Trinni sat with her legs crossed on the dilapidated sofa. She perused the heavy book on her lap, read a little, and then thought about what she read. Blake watched as she wrote something in her journal. “You’re studying that book as if it were a textbook…from school days. It’s only an old religious book…antiquated…full of stories that aren’t even true.”
“That’s what you think. I happen to know that this is the most concise and accurate piece of history we have today. Archaeologists are always coming up with proof that these are not just stories but actual historical events. Besides, what’s it to you if I choose to study the Bible?” She looked toward her bible, smoothed her hand over the thin page that felt like silk, and then silently thanked God for writing it.
Blake scowled. He wasn’t sure why it bugged him. It just did. “You don’t seem sexy to me when you’re sitting there with that thing on your lap. It makes me feel uncomfortable. Not like it used to be.”
Trinni lowered her long eyelashes. He’s under conviction. I just know it. “Blake, do I treat you badly since I became a believer? Do I curse you out…like I used to. Do I flirt with the guys…and do other things that used to bug you?”
“Well…no…I guess you’re easier to live with, that’s for sure. Your temper seems to have disappeared or you control it more. And the guys think you’re no fun anymore. They liked getting my goat by trying to get you away from me…although I don’t think they seriously would do that. It’s just…” He wrinkled his brow. “It’s hard to explain.”
“When I first started attending this Bible study, the girls told me about the effects my beliefs would have on you, cause that’s what happened to their men too. I love you, and God tells me that there’s a certain way I need to act to show that I love you. The way I acted before wasn’t it. I’m learning how to treat everyone better. And I’m learning that I’m important to God. That’s huge…for me anyway.” She turned her attention back toward her Bible. “Now let me finish. Then I’ll be free to go for that ride with you.”
Trinni had learned that the Bible made a huge difference in her life. She had studied ways to live and treat people, as well as ways to let her husband know that he was important to her. Life had become so much easier with God’s instruction manual at her fingertips.
The Bible can do that for you too. It has answers for so many questions. Today, people fear the future, fear commitment, or fear raising a family and all that entails. But God’s Word tells us everything we need to know to accomplish our goals and eliminate our fear…all of it. It gives us self-confidence because it’s based on God confidence, not confidence in a world that is crumbling one way or the other all over the planet.
Father, I want to trust in Your Word, not the world and all its false teaching. People strive for things, materialism is rampant and yet it’s also diminishing everywhere. Here today…gone tomorrow. Help me live for permanence and show me what’s really important. Amen.by
Posted by Barbara Ann Derksen on October 11, 2014
Psalm 119:11 – I have hidden Your word in my heart that I might not sin against You
God’s Word, hidden in our heart…memorized…pops up when we are tempted. It sharpens our conscience, helps us to do what is right…before we sin. It also reminds us as soon as we fall into temptation so we can clear things up with God, seek His forgiveness, and open that door of communication once again.
God’s Word, His scripture, helps us recognize right from wrong. It provides us with the power to recognize when Satan attempts to lead us astray…to cause us to doubt that God is who He says He is and that God can do what He says He can do. The Bible also tells us that we are who God says we are. Satan wants nothing better than to minimize our effectiveness in the world by masking the gifts God has given us.
Teri placed the finishing touches on the table. Her guests would begin to arrive any minute and she wanted them to know she’d planned for them, wanted them to enjoy themselves, and looked forward to their arrival. Each touch was meant to say, I’m glad you are here.
Teri’s husband didn’t understand what all the aggravation was about. “If it was just the guys coming over, I’d throw on some hot dogs, open the beer, and that’d be it. You women fuss too much.” He sauntered over toward the easy chair where Teri knew he’d spend the entire afternoon, cheering on his favorite football team.
“Whether you guys know it or not, you still prepare when they come over. You just said so yourself. You’d put on the hot dogs…so you’d have thought about what food to serve…and you open the beer…but you’d have had to go out to buy some. So you prepare too just differently than I do. And your friends enjoy the touches just as much as their wives do.” She walked toward the bedroom to finish putting herself together.
Teri had the gift of hospitality. She may not have called it that but when people came over to their house, she made them feel at ease…welcomed. Her gift was planted in her by God. She may not acknowledge that God was part of her life but His gifts were there anyhow. Teri felt a sense of accomplishment by exercising her gift. It made her feel good about herself but from time to time, the enemy would minimize, whether through her husband or through some other source, how effective she was…how needed.
God’s Word tells us that each part of the body is important and that God gifts us according to the needs in the body. Each gift is important. His Word helps us deflect those arrows of self-doubt when someone tells us that we fuss too much or that what we do is not needed. Teri wasn’t leaning on God’s Word, so many times she’d traipse off to the bedroom in tears because her husband belittled what she did.
When we have God’s Word memorized, hidden in our heart, it reminds us what He says is important so we can overlook what people…mere humans…might have us believe. The Bible tells us that when we come to faith in Jesus Christ we are princes and princesses of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We have a power source that can help us accomplish great things. We are more powerful than Satan and his minions by simply praying God’s Words.
Father, help us hide Your Word in our hearts so we might not sin against You. Help us know that we are who You say we are and not what other people say we are. Help us know that You are who You say You are and that You can do what You say You can do. Amen.by
Posted by Barbara Ann Derksen on October 8, 2014
Deut. 11:18-21 – Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds … Teach them to your children … So that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land that the Lord swore to give your forefathers …
Heritage…that is what Moses is talking about here. God instructed him to tell the Israelites that they were to teach His Words…God’s Words…to their children…to fix His Words in their minds and hearts. We are the spiritual seed of Abraham and, as such, these words apply to us just as they did to the Israelites. We are to be intentional, to make a lifestyle…of teaching our children…to give them a heritage of faith.
In Ephesians, found in the New TestAmen.t, the same mandate is given when we are instructed to put on the armor of God. This piece of His armor is The Word, our shield. There is no way we can learn who Jesus is except by studying His Word. The Bible gives us our instruction manual for life here on earth, and it was important enough that God directed many to contribute under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The Israelites had only word of mouth to pass on to their children until Moses wrote down what God told him. We have the written Word. We have no excuse.
Hank drove over the rough country roads toward his farm. He’d picked up several sacks of corn seed at the grain elevator. Spring was coming. He needed to be ready. He looked out the window toward the fields that stretched as far as his eye could see. This was his land, passed on to him from his father, and his father’s father. His family had farmed this trek of land for many generations. His roots went deep.
When he was younger, Hank had been reluctant to follow his father around day after day. He wanted to go out to play…to do the things his friends could do…go to the same places his friends could go. But his father had insisted that he learn from him everything he’d need to take over. In those days, Hank wasn’t sure he even wanted to be a farmer. He wanted to explore other avenues of possibilities.
Now he was grateful. His father had implanted in him everything he needed to keep this heritage growing for his children and their children. It was a legacy far more valuable than just planting and harvesting. It was a way of life that was lost to many children. He drove down the lane into his farmyard. His son was waiting…kicking his toe into the dirt…reluctant…just as he’d been at that age. One day, my boy, you’ll thank me. I know.
Hank planned…just as his father had…to leave a legacy, a heritage of farming a land that held memories of generations before him. He planned to let his son enjoy the deep roots that went with this farm. That’s a key word…planned. The Bible tells us to be intentional when we build a heritage of faith into our children…to plan.
Building our faith heritage into generations to come begins with purpose in our hearts. That purpose was placed there by our forefather…Abraham…and has been passed on from generation to generation…as they walked, worked, and played together. We are to do the same. Hank understood his son’s reluctance but he also understood the value of what he plans to do, as he has experienced it.
Our children may not be terribly excited about memorizing scripture, or listening as the word is read every day, but we know, or should know, that this is the most important heritage we can instill in them. The inheritance of money will only last until they spend it. Their heritage of faith will last a lifetime and beyond.
Father, help us instill Your Words into the hearts and minds of our children. Remind us, often, of the value that Your Words have for life. Place teachers and pastors in front of us who will teach Your Word, and encourage us to teach Your Word to our children. Amen.by
Posted by Barbara Ann Derksen on October 6, 2014
Deut. 8:3 – He humbled you ….to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord
Moses, the writer of the book of Deuteronomy, teaches the Israelites to remember God’s faithfulness, how He supplied their needs and humbled them…taught them that they cannot live just on the food that feeds their physical body. They must nourish their soul by embracing the Word of God, the scriptures.
For the Israelites, the scriptures were handed down from generation to generation as Fathers and mothers taught their children. We are fortunate in that we have the written word. We are instructed to meditate on scripture, memorize it, and apply it. When we are in need of it, we can speak or pray with scripture and thus gain victory over the enemy. The word is our sword, the weapon of choice in the collection that is the armor of God.
Jenny poured herself a fresh cup of coffee. She sat down in her favorite chair and picked up where she’d left off in her study of the book of Deuteronomy. Brian, her husband, walked into the living room. He turned on the TV as he sat on the sofa. Jenny glared at him. “Can’t you see that I’m studying my Bible here? Why can’t you respect my quiet time?” she snapped.
Brian looked toward her. “Bible study, huh? Lotta good that does. Can’t you even say good morning before you start snapping?” He refocused his attention on the TV.
Jenny bit back the nasty reply that had winged its way to the tip of her tongue. “Harrumph,” was all that came out and then she picked up all her study aids and walked toward the kitchen. She sat down at the table, spread out her notes and Bible, and began to read again. Her concentration was broken. I can’t study when I’m upset.
Then several verses from the book of Proverbs made their way to the forefront of her mind. The one that made the greatest impact though was found in Proverbs 15. Solomon wrote, “A gentle answer turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger.” The verse hit her like a ton of bricks. That’s what she’d done this morning, hadn’t she.
Jenny immediately regretted the harsh words she’d spoken to her husband. She walked slowly into the living room, carrying a cup of coffee for him. “Brian, I’m sorry for the way I greeted you this morning. Please forgive my harsh words.”
Brian smiled, turned the sound on the TV down, and reached for the coffee. “That’s all right Honey. How about going for a long walk with me…after you finish your study, that is?” Brian knew how much Jenny liked long, early morning walks with her hand in his.
The Word of God is like a two-edged sword, the Bible says. If Jenny had not memorized the scripture, the very verse she needed to remind her how God wanted her to act would not have come to mind. The enemy would have succeeded in ruining their day…with his poison arrows of hurt and selfishness.
God’s Word not only reminds us how to act, but reminds us when to act, and what to say. When we pray using scripture, the enemy is vanquished and the Words we speak contain God’s power. God’s Word feeds our soul as the verse in Deuteronomy says, but it gives us a mighty sword to defeat the attempts of Satan to put wedges between us and any relationship we have. Marriages are his favorite targets.
Father, remind me often with Your Words, how to act, when to act, and how to pray. Give me a thirst…a hunger to devour Your word. Keep my mind clear so that I can concentrate. Fill my mind with the right verses so that I can be victorious in all areas of my life. Amen.by
Posted by Barbara Ann Derksen on October 4, 2014
1 Peter 1:9 – …for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Peter, in his first letter to the believers all over the known world, writes that the goal of our faith is Salvation for our soul. Last night I read a book of poems to two of my grandchildren. One of them spoke about our soul container…our body. Our soul is the essence of who we are. Salvation is for our soul since it is our soul that will enter eternal heaven or eternal hell. Salvation determines which one is for us.
Rounding the corner, Connor sat focused on his Kawasaki, looking straight ahead with his defensive eyes on full alert. He was heading into a more populated area and didn’t want any surprises. He pressed the throttle just a little, and then backed off to allow his bike to slow to the speed limit. He saw children at play signs, crosswalk signs, and many others for the first time that day. Time to get some food.
Just to punctuate his course of action, his stomach grumbled. A cold beer would taste really good about now. Connor drove on, hoping to come across a restaurant or a bar before too long. He rumbled past fuel stops, schools, convenience stores, and residential homes but no restaurants. This berg’s gotta have some place a fella can get something to eat.
His stomach rumbled again…distracting…where’s that rest stop? Suddenly a car backed out of a driveway. Connor veered. Stupid woman. Didn’t even notice me. He drove on, his temper easing a tad but his stomach kept growling. How long has it been since I’ve had some food? Right. Last night.
A few blocks later, he pulled into a Micky Dee’s. I can always count on McDonald’s. He pulled into a parking spot, turned his engine off and stepped off the bike. Connor removed his helmet, and turned just in time to see a car pull up across the parking lot. It had a bumper sticker that said ‘Salvation is food for the Soul’. Harrumph. Some food.
Connor went inside. When I get old, I’ll check into that stuff. For now, I’m havin too much fun. He wiped the sense of guilt from his mind. His mother had pounded that stuff into him as a kid. He wanted no part of it now…at least not until he was ready to sell the bike.
Connor thought that time determined when a man died…went to heaven. He certainly was not thinking that any moment…any day…could be his last. Connor thought that he was too young but God is the one who determines how long a man lives. It’s up to us to be ready.
Ready means having a right relationship with God. It means knowing what God’s will is for our lives…and living it to the fullest. The beginning of that abundant life and the start of a relationship with God is Salvation. Connor wore his helmet to protect him from flying debris but he chose to leave his helmet of salvation at home…gathering dust.
Do you think you have all the time in the world to bend under God’s will for your life? Is your concept of having a right relationship with God boring? You are wrong on both counts. You do not know if the next time you hop on your bike or drive your car will be the last time. Where will you go if that happens? Salvation is just the beginning of the biggest adventure you will ever embark on…exciting and satisfying.
Father, I need You in my life. I don’t know how long You have deemed for me to live here on earth. Eternity stretches before me no matter what I believe so…Come into my life. Become Lord of my life and I will walk the adventure with You by my side from now on. Amen.by
Posted by Barbara Ann Derksen on October 1, 2014
Things to think about.