Posted by Barbara Ann Derksen on September 1, 2014
Posted by Barbara Ann Derksen on August 30, 2014
Jonah 2:9 – But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the Lord
Jonah, an early prophet for the Lord, was commanded by God to go to Ninevah. There he was to preach against their wickedness. Jonah decided to run away from God and headed for Tarshish instead. While on the ship that was taking him to Tarshish, a storm came up. Deciding that Jonah was at fault, the crew members threw him overboard.
God provided a great fish to swallow Jonah. While in that fish, Jonah put on his Helmet of Salvation. The verse above is the tail end of a prayer that Jonah uttered reminding himself that he was saved, that God was his God. He vowed to make a sacrifice to God who then commanded the fish to vomit him up onto dry land. Satan had caused Jonah to fear the Ninevites. His helmet of Salvation protected him from any further doubts in who God is and what He will do.
The first states he would travel through had no helmet law but…Josh had made a choice a long time ago to wear a helmet no matter the law. He slipped it on again at the rest stop, straddled his motorcycle, and headed on down the road.
The wind was whistling through the sides of the helmet, past his ears, but he could still hear the radio as clear as if he were sitting in his living room. Traffic noise was lessened to some degree but his ear plugs further deadened the sounds of semis and trucks as he rode along.
Josh loved to ride. Most of his buddies didn’t wear helmets if they could possibility get away with it. “We love to feel the freedom of the road,” they would say, “and the wind in our hair.” Josh used to raz them. “Yeah… whipping it into a tangled mess or slapping you in the face…if you don’t tie it back.”
Josh had read all the literature about head injury when a biker chose not to wear his head-gear. Those guys wear leather to protect their bodies but refuse to wear a helmet to protect their head. What’s with that? He looked straight ahead, his eyes roving from right to left, as he drove defensively down the highway.
When he made a left turn onto another highway, a car drove through the intersection and slammed into the bike, knocking Josh to the pavement. His body rolled and tumbled a long distance before it finally came to a stop in the ditch. The driver of the car stopped, called 911, and waited. He hadn’t seen the biker until it was too late.
The paramedics arrived in record time. They gathered around the unconscious man, checked his vitals, and then began preparation for transport. “It’s a good thing he was wearing that helmet,” one EMT said. They placed him gently on a back board. “He’d have been dead for sure otherwise.”
Salvation, like a helmet, protects us from eternal death. Most of us think of death as final but the Bible says that we all end up in eternity, living forever. It’s up to us whether we end up in heaven, enjoying the walk in the garden with our Lord and all that He has planned for us OR in hell, a place of eternal torment, gnashing of teeth, pain and deprivation.
Salvation, our protection from Satan’s arrows of doubt and deceit, will assure us a spot in heaven. Salvation comes from God. It is a gift…there’s nothing we can do to earn it. All we have to do is acknowledge the work that Jesus did on the cross on our behalf, admit that we are in need of a Savior since we can’t resist the enemy without Christ…by ourselves…and then give Jesus control of our lives.
Salvation is the most important decision we will ever make in our lives. It won’t guarantee that we will never have a bad day just as a motorcycle helmet won’t always prevent us from having an accident. But the protection Salvation offers will make the difference between eternal death or eternal life. What’s it going to be?
Father I know I am a sinner. I have always walked where I want to go, independent from you. I sometimes cheat on my taxes or do other things that the world turns a blind eye to. I know that Jesus paid the penalty for my sin on that cross over 2000 years ago. I accept His gift and want Him to control my life from now on. Thank You Father for loving me enough to chase after me. Amen.by
Posted by Barbara Ann Derksen on August 27, 2014
Acts 20:21 – I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.
Before the Lord ascended into heaven, He commissioned the disciples…and everyone else…to go into the entire world to make disciples. That included both Jew and Gentile populations. An important part of sharing their faith was to help others develop theirs. Once a person accepted the facts about Christ, faith in God was paramount and still is.
Faith surrounds us like a shield, protecting us when Satan would plant thoughts that contradict what we have come to know as truth. He feeds our psyche doubts, based on the world we live in, and the nature we are born with. He uses both to cause us to disbelieve what our eyes see and our hearts tell us.
Faith allows us to step out of our comfort zone, to share what Christ has done for us with others, and Satan does not want us to do that. He wants us afraid that someone will laugh at us. Listening to six young people give their testimony this week, their need to be popular…to not stand out…was the most prevalent reason they gave for walking away from the faith that they had as a child.
Bill walked into the room, hoping that no one would notice the tiny patch he wore over his heart. The little white cross signified that he was a Christian, but Bill didn’t want anyone knowing that…yet.
His conversion had happened three weeks ago. When he sewed the patch on that morning, told to do so by the man who’d shared his faith with him and led him in a prayer of salvation, Bill had wanted his faith to be just between him and God. After all, wasn’t faith a personal or inward expression? He’d heard that somewhere.
His mentor had disagreed. He told Bill that if he was ashamed of Christ, Christ would be ashamed of him…so…he’d sewn the patch on but…now…standing in a room full of club members…he wasn’t so sure. What if they thought he’d become soft? What if they laughed at him?
Bill walked farther into the room. He grabbed a soft drink from the tub of ice and sauntered over toward a small group of guys. They were having an animated conversation he could tell…some waving their arms. A couple of the guys had very angry faces. Bill sat quietly. He didn’t want to get involved…just yet.
But one man had other ideas. “Bill, what do you think?” The man who’d spoken had, just a few minutes ago, been shaking his fist in the face of another. “Uh…what’s that on your vest? You a Christian now?”
Bill sank lower in his seat. The group had grown quiet, distracted from their argument by this newest revelation. “I…uh…well…yes…I guess I am. Not to worry though. I won’t preach at you.” Bill looked at the man who’d put him in the limelight.
His face had softened…considerably. “I guess we’ll have to remember that we have a Creator or a higher power, won’t we. You’ll be a good reminder for all of us that we need to behave a little.” He chuckled and then sat down beside the man he’d been harassing.
Interesting, Bill thought. I didn’t have to say anything.
Whether we want to openly share our faith or not, it shines like a beacon reminding those around us that we are not alone on this planet. Infiltrating the darkness, our faith is a flame that draws people to its bright light because they want what we have even when they aren’t sure what that is. God shields us from the enemy’s arrows so we can be effective for Him. He uses us to bring people into the kingdom. All we have to do is walk by His side, drinking in His personality as we get to know Him, and He will do the rest.
Father, I thank You that Your plan to build Your kingdom is Your plan and not mine. I would mess it up but with You by my side, all I have to do is walk where You want me to walk, to step out of my comfort zone once in a while. Father use me today and every day. Shine through me into the lives of my friends and family. Amen.by
Posted by Barbara Ann Derksen on August 25, 2014
Acts 15:9 – He made no distinction between us and them, for He purified their hearts by faith.
Several members of the early church, primarily the disciples, wanted to place a lot of conditions on the new gentile believers. Peter, who believed he was called to preach to the Gentiles, said no. He pointed out that God had not made a distinction between Jew and Gentile believers. He had purified their hearts by giving them strong faith and that was all that was needed.
Church tradition sometimes gets in the way of kingdom builders when they insist on this or that way of being Christian. God always focuses on a believer’s heart…his faith. If a person believes, there will automatically be a display of the fruits of the Holy Spirit in their lives. But faith comes first.
Spider, a prospect for The Demons Raiders, sank low in the sofa he was sitting on. There were so many rules to follow. He never expected that. He became a biker because he liked to ride…free…air blowing through his hair. Didn’t free mean no rules?
Spider looked toward the club president. There were three prospects, each working their way toward earning the right to wear the club patch on their back. Spider thought some of this club’s rules were ridiculous. They could only drink beer…nothing else. He grumbled, low enough that no one could hear him. What does that have to do with being a biker?
He looked around at all the other men gathered in the room. Each man had chosen to follow these silly rules. why? He’d have to keep his ears open…find out why. When there was only need for one common thread…one thing they all enjoyed more than breathing…their love of motorcycles. Why did they add a lot of silly rules…and follow them?
Spider was as perplexed as a lot of new believers are when they walk into a church for the first time. They assume, because they have Jesus living in their hearts, and because they believe that God is who He said He is, that they will be accepted. Too many find out that you have to be baptized first before you can join that church or that you need to dress a certain way before anyone will even talk to you.
God is only interested in that person’s belief system and the outflowing of that belief, the outward evidence that it exists. A true believer loves the unlovable as Jesus demonstrated, forgives even when being stoned as Stephen did, and has faith enough to step out of the boat as Peter did. Will we be asked to heal a leper, or suffer for our faith? Maybe but maybe not. We just need the faith to accomplish those things if they or something like that happens to us.
Father, we live in a country that preaches freedom yet we, as Christians have rules to follow. Help us do all that You would have us do for Your Honor and Glory. Help us wear our faith on our sleeve even under difficult circumstances or when roadblocks force us to go underground. Amen.by
Posted by Barbara Ann Derksen on August 23, 2014
Acts 6:5 – They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit …
Stephen was a gentile, a member of the early church who was chosen to participate, along with several other men, in a program to feed the gentile widows and orphans. He was chosen because he walked in the Spirit. He acknowledged the Holy Spirit’s rightful place in his life and because of that he was a man full of faith. Stephen’s faith allowed him to be used of God to perform many miracles and signs.
Stephen wore his faith on his sleeve. In other words, he chose to believe that God was who He said He was and that God could do what He said He could do. The people around him, the ones God placed in his path each day, benefited from Stephen’s faith.
Joyce pointed toward another biker, also preparing to leave for the chapter trip. “I’d like to ride behind him…if that’s okay with everyone else.” She looked around at the faces of the people near her, who had heard her request. No one seemed to object.
She straddled her bike, tucked her hair under her helmet, and started the ignition on her clear coat red Kawasaki. She ran her hand over the paint covering her gas tank. This was the first trip out since her new paint job. The bike gleamed like new, only better, in the early morning sunshine.
Giving the throttle a little pressure, she idled her bike closer to the man she’d chosen to ride with. “Gary…do you mind if I ride behind you?”
“No not at all.” He tucked the last of his gear into the right saddle bag. “Betty will be here in a minute or two. We’ll line up with the rest of the group then. I hope our ride captain stops to pray before we leave the parking lot. Do you have a CB?” Gary believed that God was their real road captain, at least as far as he was concerned.
“Moose usually does.” Joyce slipped her hands into a pair of leather gloves with the fingers cut off. She revved her motor. Feels like I’m on a horse raring to go. “I do have a CB.” She lifted the mike and pointed it in his direction. Channel three?” She noticed Gary smile at his wife. That man has the faith to move mountains. If anyone can get us to our destination, it’s him. “Hi Betty.”
Betty put her helmet over her dark curls. “Hi Joyce.” She smiled ruefully. “So much for my hairstyle.”
Joyce nodded in agreement. “I wonder if they have…oh never mind. I’ve tried almost everything I’ve heard of to take care of helmet hair but…nothing helps. Maybe a shorter doo.” Betty waved her acknowledgment of the last statement, slipped her leg over the bike to sit behind her husband, and then waited as Gary turned their bike in the direction that the group was headed.
Joyce knew that Gary walked with the Holy Spirit as his guide. She’d seen proof that his faith could do great things when, at chapter meetings, she listened to stories of how God brought that person or another into his path. He was a prayer warrior and people asked him to pray for them all the time. He’d also been a witness to God’s healing power after he prayed for a miracle.
Do people see that kind of relationship with the Holy Spirit in your life? Do they flock toward you so that you can pray for them? Is your faith all about you or is it clearly all about Jesus Christ? These are thought-provoking questions that take more than a few minutes to consider. As you evaluate your faith today and listen for the Holy Spirit’s prompting, consider how much you believe that God is and that God does.
Father, Increase my faith today. Place me in situations where my faith can be exercised, strengthened, and grown for Your honor and glory. It’s not about me Lord. It’s all about You. Help me be a benefit to the people You place in my life as You work through me to touch them. Amen.by
Posted by Barbara Ann Derksen on August 20, 2014
John 14:12 – I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these …
It’s really hard to imagine that we could do greater things than Christ did when He walked the earth. He healed the sick, drove out demons, caused a fig tree to whither, turned water into wine, and many other miracles. Yet, He…Christ Himself…tells us in this verse that with faith…the shield that protects us from the doubts that Satan uses to call us useless…we can do even greater things.
Everything hinges on our faith in God…the most pleasurable thing we can give Him. The Bible says He delights in us when we show unwavering faith in who He is and what He can do. We know that the greater things we can do, if we have faith, is not what we can do but what Christ can do through us. It’s His work that we block when we refuse to believe in the possibility.
Burk dropped his kickstand, turned off the bike, and swung his leg off. He stood, arched his back to take the kinks out, and then strode purposefully into the tiny bar. The town consisted of one main street with a few side roads. He looked toward the two rows of motorcycles parked in front of the steps leading inside. If all these bikes come from this place then everyone in town rides.
Before opening the door, he slipped off his head rag, wiped his brow, and then tucked the rag into his back pocket. The clear demarcation line across his forehead said he’d been in the sun a long time. Burk slowly opened the door. A cool breeze wafted out. Refreshing.
He walked over to the bar, ordered a nonalcoholic beverage, and then sat at one of the nearby tables. He took a long sip, his parched throat raw from dust and hot wind. As his eyes adjusted, he could see several patrons, mostly men. They sat in groups of three or four drinking from tall frosty bottles of beer.
Their conversation had stopped as soon as he walked in. Burk knew they were sizing him up. One skinny dude walked over, his stride telling everyone he was the boss. “You travel far?”
Burk looked at the man, kicked out a chair for him to sit on, and then focused on his drink before answering his question. “I’ve been traveling for the last two weeks. Stay in one place a night or two and then move on. Where you all from?”
The skinny man sat down after turning the chair so he could straddle it backwards. “Most of us live around here, farming generally. The others come from nearby. You plannin’ on bein’ here long?” He motioned for someone to bring his beer over to the table.
Burk watched another man, a larger one, do his bidding. “I guess that depends.”
“On what?” He took a long pull from the chilled bottle that was already half gone.
“On whether you guys will listen to what I have to say or not.” Burke looked around at the bikers. There were some other folks there as well but mostly bikers. “I’m a preacher and I have some important news to tell you.”
The skinny man began to laugh. “I thought you was some holy Joe or something. You drinkin’ like a dude. Hey boys, the preacher here has some important news for us.”
Burk listened to more laughter. He leaned toward the man who’d joined him. “Where’d you get that limp?”
“I went down last year. It never healed right.” He stretched his leg out as far as it would go, the knee in a permanent bend. “Makes it hard to ride for a long time.”
Burk laid his hand on the man’s knee. “Hey…what the…” The man stood. “I ain’t one of those.”
“Me neither. Want that fixed?” Burk closed his eyes for a short minute.
The man sat back down. “You can do that?”
“I can…with Jesus.” He laid his hand on the damaged knee again. With his eyes focused on the Lord, he felt the heat from his hand pour into the joint.
The thin man reacted with pleasure, took another swig of his beer, and then looked intently toward his leg. It was straight. He stood. The bend was gone and there was no pain. He walked around the table…testing his leg. Still straight…still no pain. Gasps from onlookers could be heard above the bottles dropping on tables as many stood. Burk began to preach.
Imagine if every one of us could do that. Jesus says we can…if we have faith. I think I have a strong belief and I know you do too. But is it the kind of faith that could move mountains? Our education tells us that’s impossible. In countries where education is obtained by only a select few, people just believe because Jesus said it’s so. We need to have that kind of faith.
Burk used his faith to grab people’s attention. They needed to hear about Jesus and when he was used by God to heal their leader, they were all ears to the message he had to preach. Jesus wants to use us mightily but doubt stops us from truly living in faith. Use the shield of God’s armor, access a strong faith, and see what God will do through you…even today.
Father, I believe, I truly do, but the world…Satan…tells me I can’t do what You’ve said I can do. Your word says I can do all things through Christ. Help me believe that and place me in the spot where You can shine and grab people’s attention. Amen.by
Posted by Barbara Ann Derksen on August 18, 2014
Mark 16:14 – Later Jesus appeared to the eleven as they were eating; He rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen Him after He had risen
Jesus told the disciples that their faith needed improvement. He had told them He would rise in three days, others had seen Him, and yet they despaired of ever seeing Him again…of His death. Their stubborn refusal to believe was an insult to Him and He told them so.
How often has God come to you and in a still small voice made a request but you refused to believe it was even Him talking. That has happened to me a number of times and it has taken Him three or four times to finally get me to move in the direction he wanted me to go. My faith was small…almost non-existent at those times but as I began to walk in his footsteps…my faith increased.
Steph couldn’t believe God wanted her to go to that place. Why? It didn’t make sense…or so she thought. What could she possibly have in common with all those people? Then Jesus spread His arms and showed her that He had died for them just as He had for her.
Her heart broke. They didn’t know that, did they? They walked through life, overcoming obstacles, loosing loved ones, coping with disease and never knew that Jesus loved them so much that He went to the cross for them. Steph’s eyes filled with tears. If God could use her to love just one of them into the kingdom, then she would go.
Little by little God prepared her for the journey ahead. He filled her with love for the people she’d encounter, helped her to become the non-judgmental person that she’d need to be so she could practice unconditional love. He also filled her life with Godly mentors who taught her how to be all prayed up for the days to come.
The first opportunity Steph had to love this people group, she looked in their faces. Hopelessness amidst the party shone from their eyes. Smiles were few and far between as their tough exterior hid the softer interior that hurt and suffered alone. She began by offering simple acts of kindness just as she’d been taught by her friends and from her study of God’s word.
Did God get the attention of the people Steph walked her faith beside? He did…oh…not right away. They watched. They listened for the disparaging comments that never came. They were drawn to the possibility that she was real. What made her tick?
Steph’s faith made it possible for God to use her in a culture that was totally foreign to her. Her faith helped her step into the unknown, walk where He wanted her to walk, and do what He wanted her to do, sometimes without ever saying a word. Steph’s faith emanated from her like a friendly beacon in a dark world. They didn’t see her…they saw Jesus.
God loves it when we step off that cliff into the unknown believing that He will place His hand of protection there for us to walk on. The apostle Peter asked Jesus to invite him to step out of the boat and that invitation has since gone out to each and every one of us. How large is your faith? Will you take that step, out of your comfortable place in life, to be used by God wherever and whenever? The rewards are too numerous to count.
Father, enlarge my faith. Help me love You, walk with You, and step out of my boat into the unknown because You have asked me to. Help me to trust even when I don’t know the particulars, but just because You are who You say You are and You can do what You say You can do and I believe it. Amen.by
Posted by Barbara Ann Derksen on August 16, 2014
Matt 17:20 – I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, move from here to there and it will move. Nothing is impossible for you.
Faith is believing that I am who God said I am and that I can do all things through Christ. A mustard seed is extremely small. God does not expect our faith, in the beginning when we first accepted Christ into our heart, to be huge. He tells us that even a little faith is still faith enough to move a mountain.
Faith requires steps…our feet actually moving in whatever direction God has laid before us. Faith grows as we take our first steps and learn to trust God. Then when He places another challenge in our path, we can take another step. Each one moves us out of our comfort zone and into the God zone, the place where He can use us best.
Dolo listened as her pastor spoke about how we are wonderfully made in our mother’s wombs. “God knows us intimately before we were born,” the pastor explained.
Dolo harrumphed. I doubt that, she thought. He’d have never let me be born if he’d known how sinful I would become. She slumped in her seat.
The pastor went on. “The enemy slings his arrows of doubt. We doubt that we are who God said we are because the enemy doesn’t want us to be victorious in our faith walk with Jesus.”
Dolo looked around. Can he read my mind? Then she began to think about what he’d said. Was doubt her problem? Do I believe God or not, I guess, is what he’s saying. She returned her attention to the pastor. Each Sunday, she walked away from church with more to think about.
Dolo left the church that morning and drove her car home to pick up her husband. She’d been praying for Tom to go to church with her for four years. But every Sunday, he opened the door complaining. They kept the guys waiting because of her church service, he said. He showed no more interest now than when she’d first started praying. I need a miracle Lord.
She quickly slipped into her leathers, grabbed her helmet and locked the door on her way to her motorcycle. Riding on Sunday afternoon, especially when the weather was so good, had become a habit for them. They enjoyed meeting the other club members for lunch and then riding through the twisty roads for hours…until darkness dictated it was time to head home.
Dolo prayed as she rode just behind Tom. The wind whipped past her windshield as the scenery shot by like streaks of color. She concentrated on the road ahead but focused her mind on what she did believe. Do I show doubt when I have a hard time believing that God can do what He says He will do or that I am all that God says I am. I’d never thought of it that way.
She believed that doubt was what triggered the first sin. Satan caused Eve to doubt God’s word and, it seems, he’s doing the same today. She looked to her left and then right, and then left again at the intersection they’d come to. Tom turned left so she followed but her mind continued to scroll through the things she’d heard that morning. I’d better concentrate on the ride but Lord, I’ll think about all this some more. I know I will.
Dolo was growing in her faith walk but she had a long way to go. Each step was a baby step and so far she’d not taken the step of truly believing God. God wants our faith to be so strong that nothing Satan throws at us will deter us from our mission; the one God gave us when He left this earth to reside once again in heaven.
Faith becomes our shield only when we use it, actively stepping out and believing that God is who He said He is and that God can do all He said He can do. Faith is believing that I am who God said I am and that I can do all things through Christ. Is the Word of God alive and active in you? Then prove it.
Father, I love that we can count on Your word, what You say about You and what You say about me. Help me show an unwavering faith every time you open a door. Give me Your strength and courage to walk through that door so that You can use me mightily for Your honor and glory. Amen.by
Posted by Barbara Ann Derksen on August 13, 2014