Posted by Barbara Ann Derksen on July 30, 2014
Posted by Barbara Ann Derksen on July 28, 2014
Proverbs 12:17 – A truthful witness gives honest testimony ….
King Solomon, the writer of the book of Proverbs, supplies us with wisdom, a gift he received from the Lord. He tells us here that we need to be truthful when we share our testimony with people. People who exaggerate will soon find that they quickly lose their audience.
Teri sat quietly, listening to the testimony being given. She folded her hands and leaned back. The defense council, on rebuttal, soon squelched the man’s credibility. Teri smirked. The man was obviously lying. His body language gave him away.
She watched the man fidget. He even stuttered a few times. She wondered why he was lying. Probably has a grudge against the defendant. Teri smoothed her hand over a pleat in her skirt. This had already been a long day.
The truth was so important. Teri had listened as each witness had sworn an oath to tell the truth. She had grown up to believe that little white lies were okay. Not here, she thought. I guess they aren’t good at any time.
She remembered when she’d told that lie about her sister. Her parents had believed her but her relationship with her sister had been strained ever since. Even as adults, they didn’t have the closeness that sisters should. Teri’s focus returned to the trial. Thank goodness. That man is finished. It’s hard to listen to someone when you know that every word coming from them could be a lie.
Teri had learned a valuable lesson while she served on that jury. Lying is never right. Our credibility is on the line. If people can’t trust us to be honest, they will stop listening to us. Friendships are often broken over a little white lie that back fired. Half-truths often come back to haunt us.
People will listen, as we share our faith, if they have been able to trust our words at other times. So while Solomon was talking about being honest when we share our testimony, it is equally important that we are honest at all times. Jesus commanded us to make disciples but we need to be ready when an opportunity presents itself. Our readiness rests on honesty, credibility, and sensitivity to the Spirit’s leading.
Father, help us be ready, our credibility intact, to give an account of Your work in our lives. Help us know You and reflect You with all Your attributes, to the people we come in contact with. Amen.by
Posted by Barbara Ann Derksen on July 26, 2014
2 Timothy 4:17 – But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. …
By the time Paul wrote this verse, he was mentoring Timothy, a young man who had been raised by a Godly mother and grandmother. They felt God’s presence and the strength God provided so they could be bold in sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with gentiles. I believe that the strength spoken of here was the footgear of the armor of God, that willingness to witness.
How many times have we stepped out in our own strength, left the house that morning, with the intention of speaking to someone that day about Jesus? Our intentions are good but somehow we can always find a reason, as excuse, to keep our mouths shut. We have not appropriated God’s armor of willingness.
Sherrie walked quickly down the street. I can’t miss that bus. I’ll be late if I do. She picked up the pace as she rounded the corner. The bus had just pulled up to the bus stop. Sherrie raced toward the closing door just in time to make her presence known to the driver.
He opened the doors again, scowling toward her. “You’re lucky, lady. I got a schedule to keep. Can’t be waiting for stragglers, you know.”
Sherrie flipped her coins into the container for bus fares. “Sorry.” She mumbled, audibly upset with his attitude, as she walked toward the one empty seat on the bus. “Shesh…you’d think I’d made him wait or something.” She grumbled to no one in particular.
Sherrie folded her arms and stared at the driver who stared back at her from the rear view mirror. Then she looked out the window. Buildings of all sizes and displaying signs for a variety of businesses flashed by before the bus stopped at the next bus stop. I left the house in such a good mood, too.
She watched the door open accepting another passenger. The bus moved on. I planned to tell the first person I met today about Jesus. So much for that idea. She harrumphed, refolded her arms, and settled in for the long trek to work. Maybe the next person, the first person at work.
Sherrie arrived at her destination ten minutes before her shift began. She walked briskly across the street, entered her building, and went straight to her locker. She hung her coat inside, changed her shoes, and then marched toward her work station.
The day was very busy. She had only a fifteen minute break for lunch and then had to head upstairs for some training. Before she knew it, her shift was over and she still had not shared her faith with anyone. Sherrie looked around the locker room. She shrugged into her coat, slipped on her outdoor shoes, and then noticed another woman’s arm as it flashed around the corner.
She strode purposefully toward that arm, rounded the corner of the row of lockers, only to discover the woman talking to someone else. That other woman, tears coursing down her cheeks, stopped talking to stare in Sherrie’s direction. Sherrie stopped, smiled, and then hurried toward the door. They’re busy, she thought.
Each time Sherrie thought about sharing her faith, the enemy stepped in to give her an excuse, some reason why this person or that person didn’t qualify as the one person to share with. Sherrie had not appropriated God’s armor of willingness.
Is that what we do? Does God place people, some grumpy, some carrying a load of hurt, in our paths but we ignore His attempts to love them through us? Grab onto God’s strength before your day begins, like a lifeline, so that when the opportunity presents itself, you’ll be ready to obey the Lord’s command to make disciples.
Father, we try so hard to ignore Your presence in our lives instead of tapping into Your love and Your strength on a daily basis. Please make us aware of how much we fail to do Your will and give us feet of willingness. Amen.by
Posted by Barbara Ann Derksen on July 23, 2014
Romans 15:20 – It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known ……
I reached the age of 27 before I knew that Jesus loved me personally. God used a book to get my attention first so that His word would penetrate my independent spirit. The author of that book made sure the gospel was easy to understand, clear, and accurate.
There were Christians in my life at the time but not one of them loved me enough to share the most important piece of news they could give me. Paul, in this verse in Romans, says it was always his ambition to share Christ with those who don’t know Him.
We know that Paul, before his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus, persecuted Christians. It was Christ who gave him the willingness, the footgear, the desire to make a difference. God supplies us with His whole armor. All we have to do is appropriate it.
Jason backed his motorcycle out of the large shop he’d built at the back of his property. For three weeks, he’d been fine tuning his pride and joy in preparation for the long trip he planned to take that month. Now he was gearing up for a test run.
Jason swung his jean clad leg over the seat of his red beauty. He ran his hand over the smooth paint before inserting the key into the ignition. All gassed up and raring to go. He popped the clutch, and raced down the road, past his house, and onto the street.
Just as he was beginning to enjoy the wind whistling past his ears, a car backed out of a nearby driveway right in front of him. Jason knew that he had no time to brake. He tried to swerve, to miss the inevitable collision, but to no avail. Instead, his evasive action caused the front wheel of his motorcycle to swivel, and down he went.
He missed hitting the car but the asphalt jumped up to meet him. Although he wasn’t traveling highway speeds yet, his body rolled, tumbled, and skidded down the street for about 35 feet. By the time he stopped moving, he was in a world of hurt and not moving.
Jason had several leather jackets, leather chaps, two helmets, boots, and gloves hanging in his shed. This armor would have given his poor beat-up body some protection but he chose not to wear them. God has given us armor, the tools we need to protect us when Satan tries to talk us out of our walk with the Lord. We choose not to wear them.
We walk out of our homes every morning, ready to face our day, vulnerable, almost daring the enemy to try to mess with us. He prowls, seeking those whom he can destroy. But we leave our armor at home.
Take the time to put on your footgear of willingness before you begin your day, as well as the other pieces of God’s armor. Then you’ll be protected from the blinders Satan wants to use to hinder you from seeing the God appointments, those special people He wants you to share with today.
Father, You give us everything we need and yet we walk through our world naked and bleeding from the arrows of our enemy. He’s defeated but we allow him to defeat us because we are vulnerable and unprotected. Forgive us for ignoring Your word and leaving our armor lying by our favorite chair. Help us put on your protection every day. Amen.by
Posted by Barbara Ann Derksen on July 21, 2014
Acts 5:42 – Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.
The apostles, during the days of the early church, proclaimed the Good News of Jesus Christ daily. They went door to door. The apostles had put on the full armor of God, and you see their willingness displayed openly in this verse.
Do people go door to door today? At a recent missionary conference, I heard about Christians in far eastern countries doing just that. They do whatever is necessary, even while being persecuted, to share the gospel with the people they encounter in villages and around the countryside.
Joey settled down in his Lazy Boy rocker. He raised the foot rest and lay his head back against the back of the chair. It had been a long day. Now all he wanted to do was watch TV and talk to no one. He sighed, picked up the remote, and clicked his way to his favorite channel.
Jennifer stuck her head through the kitchen door. She grimaced as she watched her husband adjust the chair to suit his needs. He didn’t even say hello when he came home. She let the door close again as she turned back toward the counter to continue her dinner preparations. Joey seemed to want her in his life less these days. I don’t know how to fix it.
Before long, soft snores could be heard from the other room. I guess he was tired, she thought. He’s always tired. Too tired to spend time with me anyway. Tears seeped from her eyes making it difficult to see what she was doing. Jennifer swiped a hand across her face and then reached for a tissue. She blew her nose loud enough, she hoped, that her husband of two years would hear.
Joey started. He sat up straight. Boy…that was some dream. The TV droned on in the background. He heard none of it as he stood to his feet. Where was Jennifer? He needed to see her. Now. He stalked purposefully toward the kitchen.
Joey pushed the door open. “Jen.” He noticed her tears. “You all right?”
Her tear reddened eyes looked toward him. She sniffed. “I miss you.”
“Whatda mean? I’m right here. Anyway, never mind that. Sit down. I need to tell you something.” He sat down on one of the kitchen chairs. “Come, sit beside me.” He pulled out the chair closest to his right side. Joey watched as his wife wiped her eyes. She moved toward him, almost hesitantly.
Jennifer took her seat, placed her hands in her lap, and hung her head. Joey watched her posture closely. Why is she upset, he wondered? Maybe my news will help. “Jen, I’ve booked us for a week long cruise in the Caribbean. We haven’t spent much time together lately, what with my new job and all. So I…”
“That’s your news? I thought…” A big smile erupted from her tear stained face. “I thought you didn’t want me anymore.”
“Oh Jen. Nothing could be farther from the truth. This job has just been so hectic. I know I’ve not told you anything about it but…” He reached toward her, hugged her close, and then patted the back of her head. “I love you.”
Joey let his tiredness damage the most important relationship in his life…all because he didn’t want to make the effort to communicate. His wife had taken his behavior as rejection and everything escalated out of proportion from there.
Just as it is important for the lines of communication to remain open in our lives with our spouses, it is important that we communicate to those around us the importance of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. That relationship, as a matter of fact, is even more crucial than the one with our spouses.
Do we let tiredness take us to the sofa when we get home, or do we take a hot shower and move toward developing our ministry to our family and then to others? Is God placed on the back burner of our lives more often than in the foreground? Take the time to put God first, to tell others about Him and watch what happens to your energy level.
Lord, thank You for dying on the cross for me. Thank You that You didn’t allow tiredness to consume You when You had that last street to walk down. You carried Your cross for me, allow me to carry my cross for you. Amen.
Posted by Barbara Ann Derksen on July 19, 2014
1 Thess 2:4 – …we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts.
To the Thessalonian church, Paul writes that he speaks with God’s approval. He was entrusted with the gospel. Does that mean that God, then, trusted him with a valuable piece of information? It does…and just as Paul was trusted to share the gospel, so are we. God trusts us to be willing, to be ready, and to be accurate in the telling.
Paul also says that he does so only to please God, not men. If we get all puffed up because someone has asked us to share our testimony or because we’ve been privileged to lead someone to Christ, then we are seeking to please man. It’s never about what we do. It’s always about what God did.
Moose sat quietly…thinking. He looked out the window and watched as one biker after another pulled into the parking lot. The sounds of loud pipes filtered through the panes of glass. He smiled. I’ll bet it sounds really loud out there. Sweet.
Today was a yearly event, held in different parts of the country, when bikers from the Diablos got together to party and reconnect with members they only saw once every year or so. The difference this year was that he’d been asked to speak about his faith. Imagine.
Moose felt the responsibility weighing on him. The club had been heading toward a more family friendly atmosphere for years but some of the old diehards were having a hard time corralling their party hardy side. The national president hoped that Moose could make a difference.
Children’s voices gained momentum as the youngsters moved down the hallway outside the door of the room he was in. Their voices faded and Moose thought about how these events used to be before the executive restricted the types of activities allowed here. He shuddered. They’d had a hard time, in those days, finding a town that would let them come in.
For Moose, the lifestyle had changed a long time ago but he’d remained with the club, praying for change. God had answered his prayer and was still working. Today was Moose’s turn to do what God asked him to do.
Moose bowed his head. “Lord help me reflect You today, not take Your place. “ He knew it was not about his life and the changes that had occurred because of Jesus, but it was about Jesus and His work on the cross. “Please touch the hearts, even now, of each person who’s here. Help them be willing to listen, and to take the time to consider my words. Amen.”
Moose felt privileged but overburdened with the responsibility he’d been given. For most of these guys, he was the only Christian they knew. He hoped his nonverbal, consistent walk over the years had made a difference and for some, it had. Now was the time to tell them who it was all about.
Like Paul, Moose wasn’t looking to please men. He wanted to do what God wanted him to do. His willingness was the first step in God being able to use Moose for His honor and glory. Willingness is our footgear, that part of God’s armor that moves us in the direction God would have us go, defeating Satan’s attempts to keep us closet Christians.
Father, thank You for giving us the footgear we need to defeat Satan in our lives. Help us continue to be willing, ready, and close to You, as we seek to reflect You in our world. Amen.by
Posted by Barbara Ann Derksen on July 16, 2014
1 Cor 1:17 – for Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel….
The Apostle Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthian believers, states that he was sent to preach the gospel. He was ready and willing to fulfill his mandate from God and did so until his death. Does God expect us to do likewise?
The very last words Jesus spoke before ascending to heaven were words of commission. He told His disciples to go and make disciples of all nations (no one in the world is excluded). We are to share the faith that we have, not keep it exclusively for ourselves. Imagine!
Jen walked through the door, placed her jacket on the back of the Lazy Boy in the living room, and then pushed her bedroom door open. She sighed. This was her sanctuary, a place she could study God’s word, read a good book, or just veg. This was one room where she could get away from her room-mate.
Jen turned toward the voice behind her. “I’m in here.” She watched the blond haired, leather clad figure approach her door. The woman’s eyes were glassy and the aroma emanating from her, as she came close, gave Jen a hint of where she’d been. “You’re high…again. I though you promised you’d stop doing drugs.”
“Aw come off it. You’re no saint.” She turned back down the hall leading to her own room. “Duke is coming over later.” She waved a tattooed wrist in Jen’s direction.
“Lisa, that man is trouble. Why not…”
“Jen, you date whom you want and leave my love life alone, okay? I don’t tell you how to live. Why do you think that I’m interested in hearing your opinion about my life?” She stomped off to her room and slammed the door.
Jen scratched her head. Why couldn’t Lisa see that her lifestyle was destructive? She closed her bedroom door and walked over to her desk. Her Bible lay open at the verses she’d read during her quiet time that morning. She sat down, picked up her workbook and opened it to the study she needed to prepare for the next day. I’m sure glad I have the Lord in my life.
Jen was a believer, yet she held the truth of the gospel from the one person whom God had placed in her life on a daily basis. She guarded her faith as if it were a secret instead of sharing it. Jen knew that the Lord strengthened her, helped her to avoid making wrong choices. Yet, she kept the one piece of information that would help Lisa the most to herself.
Do you know someone who needs the Lord? Are you keeping your faith a secret like a closet Christian or, as in Jen’s case, a bedroom Christian? Look around. God has placed you in a sphere of influence. You may be the only Christian some of the people around you know. It is your responsibility to tell them either by deed or words that Jesus makes a difference.
Father, help me not be a closet Christian. Help me be bold enough to share You with my friends, relatives, and co-workers. Give me the words to say and place Your love in my heart for them so I will think about their future and not worry about rejection. Amen.by
Posted by Barbara Ann Derksen on July 14, 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…
If your best friend was driving toward a ravine where the bridge had collapsed, would you not do everything in your power to let them know in time to stop their car from destruction? If your daughter or son was kicking a ball around in the front yard, would you not instruct them not to kick that ball into the street in order to protect them from an oncoming car or truck? Of course you would. In a minute. The only thing stopping you would be your willingness to do so.
It’s the same with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Christians, those who adhere to the inerrancy of scripture and try to follow God’s teaching, believe…according to scripture…that when a person, who does not have a personal commitment to Jesus, dies they will go to eternal death and destruction. The scripture above says that the writer is not ashamed of the gospel and so he is willing to tell others, to share his faith so they may not perish. He is willing.
Billy gunned the motor. The sudden increased motion caused his motorcycle’s front wheel to lift off the pavement. His heart raced and adrenalin coursed through his body. He glanced briefly at the scenery that was flying by in his peripheral vision. The ravine he was traversing seemed to snake through the mountain terrain for miles.
This trip had been planned years before. This was his iron butt run. The miles flew by. Billy glanced at his gas gauge and began to look for a fuel stop. If only he had a larger tank. These stops were cutting into his time. He spotted a sign ahead on the left.
Billy turned his black and chrome Harley toward the nearest gas pump. He wanted to be able to make a fast get-away. He slid to a stop, eased his tired backside off the bike, and reached for the cap on his gas tank. Just then, a large man approached from the other side of the row of pumps. “Nice bike.” Billy watched as the man reached out a hand to touch his pride and joy.
The other man crouched down to look at the chrome details on the motorcycle. “Takes a lot of polishing to keep a bike this shiny,” he muttered.
“Not really.” Billy grabbed his receipt, screwed down his gas cap, and prepared to leave. The stranger was still looking at his bike and seemed in no hurry to move out of his way. Billy straddled his bike anyway, turned on the ignition, and looked toward the man blocking his exit.
The large man looked at him. “Oh, sorry.” He moved aside, the smile that had been evident before gone. “Have a good one.” He walked through the bank of pumps back to his beat-up truck.
Billy eased his motorcycle past the pumps and out onto the highway. “You should have told him about Me.” The words seemed to flow through his brain and yet… He looked around. Shaking his head, he gunned his motor and raced down the ribbon of asphalt again.
“You should have told him about Me.” There it was again. The highway raced past the bike. Rocky crags jutted up in the bright sunshine as Billy ignored the voice. I have miles to cover. No time. He seemed to argue with the voice yet he felt uneasy all the same. Maybe I should go back. Naw.
Billy was a Christian. He knew what Jesus had commanded him to do in the last book of Matthew. He was to go into all the world and make disciples. Billy was unwilling. God had placed a perfect stranger, someone that maybe did not know about Jesus, right in front of him. He’d been too focused on his own agenda to take the time to talk to the man, to tell him the most important piece of news he could tell him.
What about you? Are you too busy? Are you willing? How many opportunities do you trounce under your busy feet in any given day, focused on where you are going and what tasks you need to get done? Do you give the impression that you are ashamed of the gospel because you won’t stop, look around, and visit with those whom God places in front of you? Be sensitive to God’s Spirit. Take time and be willing.
Father, You took the time to come down to earth, grow into a man, walk as our example, and then die for our sins. Help us do our part to tell others about You. Amen.by
Posted by Barbara Ann Derksen on July 12, 2014
2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.
Paul’s letter in 2 Timothy, and specifically in this verse, tells us why spending time in God’s Word is a good habit to foster. Each word is God breathed, meaning that God inspired the person who wrote the words. Each part of the scripture, old and new testAmen.t is meant to teach us God’s way to live. It helps us know when we are headed down the wrong path, and how to correct the direction in our life.
God’s Word provides all the instructions we will ever need for training to live a righteous life, to live the way God intended us to live and to use our life to honor and glorify Him. All we need to do is read it, study it, memorize it, and put it into practice.
Gerard stalked out of the church. His wife insisted on attending this den of hypocrites but he’d had enough. Mary skipped along to keep up with his angry steps as they exited the building that had come to be a constant bone of contention in their home. “Gerry, wait up.” She stumbled down the front steps after her husband of five years.
Gerard stopped on the sidewalk, turned toward his wife and glared at her. “That place makes me feel as if my whole life has been worthless. According to that preacher, all I do is sin. I’m sick of feeling like a failure. Don’t ask me to go there again. You wanna, you go ahead but I don’t want to hear about it.” He turned toward the parking lot where his motorcycle was parked.
Mary rushed to face him. “Gerry you are the most important person in my life…next to God that is. I hate it that you are so uncomfortable here. God loves you and only wants what is best for both of us. Someday, you’ll learn to love him too but now…let’s go get some coffee.” She angled her body toward the V-twin that she’d recently painted her favorite color of red.
“Hold on. You’re not mad. I thought you’d…”
She smiled at the bewildered expression on her husband’s face. “Yeah, I know. Not too long ago, I’da jumped all over you but God has been teaching me patience and how to treat you with respect. I…”
“How’d you get that out of those sermons? All they do for me is pronounce me guilty. I don’t get it.” He reached into his pocket and pulled his keys out to start his bike as Mary stowed her Bible in the right saddlebag. Gerard slipped the key into the ignition.
Mary straddled her bike and inserted her key. “God’s word gives us a lot of good information about how to relate to others. I’ve been studying it…when I meet with the girls once a week. You’re what’s called under conviction. God makes us uncomfortable with the present course of our lives until we begin to see the better way He has for us. That’s what His Word does for us…like 2 Timothy says…correcting, rebuking.”
“Well, I don’t like the feeling, that’s all.” He revved his motor hoping to disturb all those do-gooders inside. He scowled again in the direction of the church.
Mary smiled, gunned her engine and steered out of the parking lot onto the street. Her insides quivered as she anticipated the work God was going to do in her husband’s life. Not long now, she thought. God was working.
Mary and Gerard depict how differently God deals with each of us. Some of us learn to rely on Him quickly while those of us, with a fiercely independent spirit, take a little longer. His word was working in Gerard’s life just as it was in Mary’s…just in different ways. One day Gerard would see things so clearly and the feeling of conviction would be a comfort, not something to run from. It proves God cares about every aspect of our lives and wants only the best for us.
Father, thank You for giving us such clear direction. Thank You, that You help us to correct the deviation in our path before it becomes so bad that it takes us weeks to get back on course. You are a gentle corrector if we will only listen to Your rebuke the first time. Help us to learn from our mistakes and not continue to do things that harm us. Amen.by
Posted by Barbara Ann Derksen on July 9, 2014