Posted by Barbara Ann Derksen on November 22, 2014
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
Charles Stanley, in his Handbook for Christian Living, stated, “Becoming a child of God will cost you nothing because it cost Christ everything. However, becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ could possibly cost a great deal.” In the book of Luke, chapter 6, verses 20-23, Jesus is talking to his disciples. He turns to them and says, “God blesses you who are poor, for the Kingdom of God is yours. God blesses you who are hungry now, for you will be satisfied. God blesses you who weep now, for in due time you will laugh. What blessings await you when people hate you and exclude you and mock you and curse you as evil because you follow the Son of Man. When that happens, be happy! Yes, leap for joy! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, their ancestors treated the ancient prophets that same way.” (NLT)
What does it mean to be a disciple? Jesus was giving these instructions to His disciples and He doesn’t sugarcoat it. He doesn’t make discipleship sound as if it is a bed of roses. Does He? Charles Stanley continues by saying, “Being a disciple – or follower – of Jesus Christ is essentially this: when your desire and God’s desire are in conflict, you go with what God wants.” He calls this battle a daily occurrence and I’m guessing, for many, a minute by minute occurrence sometimes.
The Beatitudes, both here in Luke and in Matthew, are a blueprint for right living, for being a disciple. These verses give us a clear indication about what Christ expects of us and on first inspection, these seem like rules that are nearly impossible to live by consistently. However, I suspect that Christ knew this and that’s why He left us the Holy Spirit to help us along.
No one wants to be poor and yet I can’t help but marvel at the strong faith people in third world countries have in comparison to the majority of people in North America. They have nothing and we have everything. People do not seek to be hungry or to hurt so badly that weeping becomes a daily way of life. Yet, Jesus reminds those who are in these circumstances, that things will not always be this way. The poor will inherit the kingdom of God, the hungry will be fed, and those who weep will be comforted. Being a disciple of Jesus Christ may have some hard times but one day, it will be a time of celebration.
Are you a disciple of Jesus Christ? Do you set aside your wants and desires to follow the path God has planned for you from the time you were born? Has your life begun to reflect God’s will more often than it used to? One day you’ll look back and wonder why some of your desires were all that important because following Jesus, living as His disciple, has become the most meaningful life you could imagine. Gather closer to Christ. Walk where He wants you to walk and watch out. Life could get interesting.
For further study: Gen.12:3; Deut.7:13; Ps. 29:11; Rom.10:12by
Posted by Barbara Ann Derksen on November 10, 2014
The Beatitudes (Be Attitudes)
4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
The book of Matthew, chapter five, begins the greatest sermon ever preached, as far as I’m concerned. In this chapter and all the way to the end of chapter seven, God gives us clear direction on how we are to live our lives as Christians. He covers a plethora of topics, leaving no doubt that He loves us and wants only the best for us. But He also wants us to share His love with other people.
He begins by using the term BLESSED. This is a term used to tell us that those whom He considers blessed, He affirms. We are blessed because we practice wise living based on the verses from the Sermon which, as I’ve said, is a practical guide for righteous living. BLESSED means finished joy.
The words in the beginning of chapter five, referred to as the Beatitudes, are intended to comfort suffering believers. Blessed are the poor in spirit, those who are down, depressed, or frustrated. How often have you thought of a wayward child, a sister who shows you nothing but distain because you are a believer and felt as if God was letting you down? He says that’s when we are BLESSED. We sorrow for another human but consider God.
We are BLESSED when we mourn, when we are humble but still seek God and all His righteousness. The pure in heart will see God and as they show mercy to others, mercy will be shown to them. We are BLESSED when we work to keep peace and we are BLESSED when we are persecuted because we adhere to the belief that Jesus is real and we love Him.
Can you think of a time when you’ve mourned for a loved one who does not walk in God’s footsteps? Do you sit quietly when others brag about their riches and achievements knowing that you have the greatest gift of all but they aren’t listening? Do you thirst for more of God every day? Is your heart pure, protected from the evils around you and do you show mercy toward others?
Matthew, chapter five tells us that we will be comforted, shown mercy, and inherit the kingdom of God. We will see God and be called His sons and daughters. That is why we are BLESSED, why we have finished joy when the world looks on us as deluded, bigots, and hatemongers.
Revelation 3, verse nine, says that someday, everyone will know that He loves us. For now, though, we need just remember that we are BLESSED, no matter the circumstances in our lives. We can wait for the rest, for the best is yet to come.
For further study: Ps. 2:12; Ps.32:2; Ps.33:12; Luke 1:48; James 1:12by
Posted by Barbara Ann Derksen on November 8, 2014