Posted by Barbara Ann Derksen on October 29, 2014
Posted by Barbara Ann Derksen on October 27, 2014
Bright sunshine enhances the frosty morning as I look out my window. Snowflakes glisten; an appropriate way to bring in the New Year, I think. Can you imagine? It’s 2012. Time rushes by at a phenomenal rate of speed. Just yesterday, it seems, we were preparing for a new century and now, here we are eleven years into it.With the onset of a new year, we think of new beginnings. We resolve to be a better person, to love more, to share more, and maybe even decrease in stature more. As with other New Year’s resolutions, however, we are doomed to fail if we do not take into consideration the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives and the gifts God brings to us through Him.
The Holy Spirit, the third person of the Holy Trinity, gives us peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, love, joy, self-control, faith, hope, and others. He gives us the ability to teach, prophesy, shepherd, and evangelize, as well as a whole string of other abilities, different in each believer. To achieve any of our goals, we need to seek His help and assurance that that’s what He wants us to seek in the first place, and then His help in achieving that goal.
2 Corinthians 3:5 says, “Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.” And yet we plan or resolve to become better people without taking the Holy Spirit into consideration. How foolish that is.
In my own strength, I can achieve nothing but, according to Jesus’ own words in Matthew 19:26 …with God all things are possible. I can do the tasks prepared for me. I can achieve any goal God lays on my heart to strive for. And I can become the person that God can use to further His kingdom, but only if I allow His Spirit, the Holy Spirit to take over and steer me in the right direction.
For further study: 2 Cor. 5:6; 2 Cor. 107; Phil 1:6; Heb. 4:16by
Posted by Barbara Ann Derksen on October 25, 2014
The winter sky, this morning, is the same color as the snowy landscape, not so great for those of us who think of ourselves as photographers. But there’s no wind and the temperature is slightly moderate in light of what it could be at this time of year.
I’m working on my latest books, writing, social networking, and doing research, all necessary to the work of a writer. In the midst of it all, God tells me through Paul, in His letter to the Colossian church that “You have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.” Col 2:10 (NIV)
I can relax knowing that Jesus is in control. The following is an example of someone who tussles with who she is in Christ. Marsha struggled with the task in front of her. She needed to complete this one before she could begin the next. There is always a next one, she thought. She had a hard time saying no. Marsha loaded the table with fresh produce for the food bank and then picked up the inventory list. Keeping track of what came in and what was taken by needy people in the community was part of her job as food bank coordinator.
Marsha loved the accolades she received from leaders in the small town she lived in. And yet, she was never satisfied that she’d done enough or that she received enough community awards. She felt a deep emptiness inside. These volunteer projects were supposed to fill that void, guarantee her a place of honor in heaven someday. Nothing seemed to be good enough, however.
As a Christian, God has come into our lives to fill that empty spot, the void that was created so that only He could fill it. People try all sorts of things. They work hard to load that emptiness with good deeds, but they leave God entirely out of the picture. It doesn’t work because it remains ‘human doings’ instead of God doing through us.
Our walk with the Lord, our daily time with Him, fills us to continue through the rest of our day. Because we are content, because we feel loved and cherished by God Himself, we seek to volunteer, to do whatever we can for someone else, not so we can earn anything but because of what He has given to us. We want to share His love with others because He gave His love to us when we least deserved it. Our life is full, content, and we have only God to thank for it.
For further study: Phil.4:11; 1 Tim. 6:8;Heb.13:5by
Posted by Barbara Ann Derksen on October 22, 2014
The long trek from frozen north to sunny, albeit cooler than expected, Georgia is over, at least for today. We’ve traveled past pecan groves, the trees lifting their lofty limbs skyward but not a leaf nor a nut to be found. The peach plantations are also plentiful but they too cast their pruned limbs toward the sky as if saying, “Clothe me, please.”
However, we did discover a treasure. Well, maybe not a treasure but a part of history that makes one wonder at the cruelty of one human against another. Andersonville, GA is the home of the POW Historical Park honoring all POWs but in particular the over 33,000 northerners who were interred there during the last 14 months of the Civil War. Of the 33,000 men who suffered unimaginable deprivation, 12,000 lost their lives to starvation, dehydration, and all manner of disease.
Whether the personal account we listened to in the museum was from a man who was imprisoned during that era or during a later war, almost invariably he said that his faith in God sustained him. When, under these horrendous conditions, his eyes turned toward his Creator, fear was replaced with hope. Hope made the difference between whether a man lived to see his family again or died, to be buried in a mass grave. I Peter 1:3 says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”
The same truth was spoken by a young 49-year-old woman just before she succumbed to a long 33 year battle with cancer. She said that, like Peter the apostle, when she took her eyes off her Lord, she felt the scariness of her final days on earth. Peter walked on water until he took his eyes off Jesus and then he began to sink. POWs lost hope until they looked at their situation through the eyes of Jesus and felt an overwhelming, indescribable hope for a future they thought was lost.
Our trip will give us a view of the many wonders of the Creator, but this glimpse into His importance to us in all circumstances will be the best part. Oh, I plan to enjoy Caribbean blue water, dolphins, palm trees and such but without my Lord to walk with me; all will be viewed in grayscale, instead of the vivid beauty He has placed us in, no matter where we live on earth.
For further study: Gal 3:29; Gal. 4:7; Heb. 1:2; 1 Pet. 3:7by
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