Posted by Barbara Ann Derksen on November 26, 2014
Posted by Barbara Ann Derksen on November 24, 2014
Beth Moore, in her latest Bible study on James, states, “Let’s live as those who cannot die,” when she talks about Jesus’ intervention through an angel in freeing Peter from prison. I have to wonder, “Do I live as one who cannot die?” and “What would that look like?”
Christians know that if they’ve accepted Christ’s finished work on the cross, they will enter eternity as soon as they exit this earthly shell we call a body. We cannot die. The apostle Paul writes in Philippians 1:21 “For to me to live is Christ, to die is gain.” But do we live that way? For most of us, fear of the unknown or fear of consequences stops us from venturing into avenues of ministry when the Lord calls. We see ourselves in all our mortality, afraid to endanger our life and yet, the Lord promises us that whether we get to remain on earth a little longer or are taken to be with Him, we win…we live.
If I were to live as one who cannot die, would I say yes more often when faced with an opportunity to share Jesus with someone? Would I talk to that homeless person sitting in the doorway over there, and would I walk the street at night looking for prostitutes and drug dealers hoping for an opportunity to lead them to Christ…if that’s what Jesus placed on my heart? Maybe I’d follow through when an opportunity arose to house a homeless teen. Or maybe I’d obey a little more quickly when God asks me to give an outlaw biker a cold glass of water.
During the formation of the early church, the disciples knew that many in authority looked to stamp the effects of Jesus Christ right off the face of the earth, just as some would do today if they could. That didn’t stop them. Peter, even when he knew that Herod had killed James, the brother of John, kept on preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ. Consequently, he was imprisoned, chained between two guards, awaiting a death sentence.
Paul, once known as Saul, a Pharisee who persecuted the early church, was imprisoned many times. He kept on preaching, teaching, and praying for the believers. He knew he could not die so he lived with that in mind. He knew that one day he’d be in heaven walking side by side with his Lord. His plan was to take as many people with him as he could. He was building treasure in heaven.
God does not want us to walk around as defeated Christians. He wants us to be victorious, to act victorious, since it was He who defeated death in the first place. This is good news. This places a responsibility on our shoulders to make sure that everyone we come in contact with knows this also. The Lord of heaven and earth offers life to all who will acknowledge that He is King of kings and Lord of lords. With that life we can build treasure in heaven, just as Paul and Peter did while they walked the earth. Let’s live as those who cannot die, victorious because Jesus gained the victory, rejoicing because this is happy news to be shared with one and all.
For further study: Rom.2:7; 1 Cor.15:53-54; 2 Tim.1:10by
Posted by Barbara Ann Derksen on November 22, 2014
As I drive through the Missouri countryside, I catch a glimpse here and there of fall color. There are some reds and yellows but they, at this time of year, are scattered amongst the greens of summer. I know in the next couple of weeks, the color will increase and that’s a wonderful thing, but I also know that this will herald in the cold winter months. Yuck.
My head spins with deadlines ahead, articles to write, workshops to attend, and commitments to family. We’ve just completed 3 months on the road, a month at home, and now another 3 weeks of traveling, and while I love the activity, there are times when sitting at the feet of my Savior is much preferred. Today is one of those days.
God brought a reality to mind this morning during my study and devotional time. Everything is in His time, not mine. His timing is perfect because He can see the big picture. I can’t. Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8 tells us that there is a time for this or that but then in verse 11, it says, “God has made everything beautiful in its time. He also set eternity in the hearts of men…” It’s all about God, what He does, and when He does it. I can agonize over deadlines but, as always happens, the work will get done as long as I spend time with Him first, keep Him in the picture, and stop trying to do it all by myself.
A lot of writers feel that their life of writing is a solitary profession, and in some ways it is. But if they’d remember that God is part of it, they’d know that He sits in the next chair collaborating, sifting, and planting ideas. Each book contains just the insights He wants to implant in each of my reader’s minds, just at the time when they need to hear them. Isn’t that astonishing?
He’s enthroned above the heavens and yet, He knows when it’s the right time to teach us this or that, to bring this person to our door or to the other end of a cell phone. He allows events to happen at the very moment when they will either teach us to look to Him alone or turn us away from Him (our choice) and He knows which avenue we’ll take.
Am I rambling? God’s timing is both encouraging and confusing at the same time. I feel encouraged that God knows me so well and yet, I wonder, “Why now?” Those are the times when I need to search His word, seek His face, and spend a lot of time with Him. “Oh…I guess that’s why.” Amazing.
For further study: Ex.2:23-25; Ps.74:10-18; Ps.75:2; John 11:5-7; 2 Pet. 3:8-9by
Posted by Barbara Ann Derksen on November 19, 2014
“It’s better for us to eat a Twinkie with a friend than to eat broccoli alone.” This is a quote I heard recently when studying the idea that God has created us with a connection requirement. Yet our world teaches us superficial love. We’ve become increasingly more self-reliant, depending on no one for anything as the electronic age puts distance between relationships.
Dr. Carolyn Anderson, an ophthalmic surgeon, entrepreneur, and speaker as well as a columnist, recorded some findings about friendship, the real face to face kind. I quote this from a recent blog. “One study found that people with the most friendships decreased their risk of early death by 60% over a nine year period; that people with a number of close friends live on average 7-8 years longer than those who don’t maintain strong social connections. Harvard Medical School found that the more friends a woman had, the less likely she was to develop physical impairments as she aged, and the more likely she was to lead a joyful life. The loss of a close friend is equivalent to the risk factor of smoking.”
According to the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, a sense of being loved, cared for, and listened to fosters a sense of meaning and purpose, reduces stress-induced wear and tear on the body, and lowers heart rates, blood pressures, and stress hormones. Researchers estimate that, within a given time period, individuals who lack social networks are two to three times more likely to die from any cause than people who have lots of relatives and close friends.
In a recent article on adult health by Mayo Clinic staff members, they stated that good friends prevent loneliness, increase your sense of belonging and purpose, boost happiness, reduce stress, improve self-worth, help you cope with traumas such as divorce, serious illness, job loss, or the death of a loved one, and encourage a person to change unhealthy lifestyle habits such as excessive drinking and lack of exercise.
In the book of Hebrews, chapter 10:24-25 we are admonished to encourage one another and in 1 Peter 4:7-8 we are called to love one another deeply. When God could very well read our minds, we are told to ask and seek Him for His answers to life’s problems. Relationship…God wants one with us and He wants us to have lots of relationships with others, especially those who are also His children. That’s why we should go to church, get involved, and even join a small group.
Kids today send anywhere from 10-100 texts a day but rarely have a face to face conversation with anyone. Even the boy/girl bantering back and forth with young teens is superficial, done through texting. Medical research proves that we were created with a need for real friendships, real face to face encounters, and with the more people the better. Their research proves that “It’s better to eat a Twinkie with someone than to eat broccoli alone.“
For further study: Matt.5:23-4; Rom.12:19-21; Philemon 1:8-9by
Posted by Barbara Ann Derksen on November 17, 2014
This morning I decided to look up the word conduit. In Webster’s online dictionary, a conduit is a pipe or channel for conveying fluids, such as water. Or it can be a tube or duct for enclosing electric wires or cable. A conduit is a means by which something is transmitted. For example, an arms dealer served as a conduit for intelligence data.
We might, if we were a teacher, be a conduit of information, or a conduit of academic excellence. A pastor is a conduit of spiritual excellence and information, if he is a good one, but he can also be a conduit of false teachings, if he chooses to step outside the Biblical accounts and teachings.
Have you ever seen yourself as a conduit? Do you allow something to flow through you into the lives of the people around you? Jesus, in Matthew 5, in verses 13-16, tells us that we are the salt and light of the earth. He said, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (NIV)
Jesus expects us to allow Him to flow through us into the lives of the people with whom we come in contact, the people He places in our path. He wants us to be their seasoning, a preservative of His values. He wants us to allow his light, His Shekinah glory, to shine through us to allow others to see that we serve a living God who loves them. He wants others to see His glory in the work we do and the deeds we do for others because we love Him.
We are a conduit, if we are living as Christ asks us to. When we go into a dark place, people see us everywhere because we are a conduit of His light, and when others curb their language around us, we are a conduit of His values. Does that scare you? It should place upon you a great sense of responsibility…especially if you claim to be a Christian.
By our actions, we can be a conduit that turns people away from Jesus. If we choose to hide His light by acting inappropriately or by continuing to walk in the dark places, then we are a conduit of hypocrisy. If our language and actions are no different than those of the sinful people we hang with, we preserve nothing of Jesus’ values.
Take a moment to assess your life. Notice the times when you are the perfect conduit of Christ’s values and glory and then take notice of those times when you fail miserably. It’s at those times when He loves you the most as you kneel before Him, ask forgiveness, and strive to do better the next time. Today is the beginning of another opportunity to get it right. Go in the power of the Holy Spirit and shine.
For further study: Lev. 2:13; Mk.9:50; Luke 14:34by
Posted by Barbara Ann Derksen on November 15, 2014
I looked up the word expectation in the dictionary and wasn’t surprised by what I found. Expectation is the act or the state of expecting, an expectant mental attitude, something we look forward to, or a prospect of a future good or profit. Christians have expectations. They expect honor, security, prosperity, and freedom from fear. These are called blessings and most believe that they come from God. However, there is a proviso.
In verse one of Psalm 112, the Psalmist who remains anonymous says, “How joyful (blessed) are those who fear the Lord and delight in obeying his commands.” (NLT) Actually, there are two provisos. If we EXPECT to receive blessings, then we must first fear the Lord or show Him due respect and position in our lives, and obey His commands. And these are only some of the blessings.
The picture that comes to mind when I think of expectation and blessing is one that women and men all over the world have experienced at one time or another in their life, a new baby. Whether naturally born or adopted, we call ourselves expectant parents as we look down the road toward that moment when we will hold that little bundle in our arms. We forget all the pain, weight gain, hoops we’ve leaped through, everything, when we finally have the blessing in front of us. At that moment, our expectations are everything we envisioned. Aren’t they?
Can you see blessing as finished joy in this context? I can and I did, with every child that we were given and one that we will meet in heaven. Blessings from God make us feel as if we’ve been showered with His assurance that we’re on the right track. But it is a direct result of our deep commitment to Him and what He asks of us. Little bundles of joy, in the humanly realm, didn’t just happen. We had to be committed, and follow some guidelines in order to produce or receive a healthy child.
Sometimes we expect God to gift us with His blessings just because we exist. We shake our fist when our expectations are not met. Yet we’ve done nothing to fulfill our part of the covenant.
Jesus tells us we are blessed in many situations that, if someone should ask, we wouldn’t consider a blessing at all. But, when we look at the alternative, and how our walk with God could be affected, we see how blessed we are in our circumstances. It’s all about eternity, and relationship. If we have assurance of an eternal home with Jesus because we’ve asked Him to be top priority in our lives, and we’re building a relationship with God, so we walk closely with Him, then we have been blessed indeed
For further study: Rom. 8:19; Phil.1:20; Heb. 10:27by
Posted by Barbara Ann Derksen on November 12, 2014