Posted by Barbara Ann Derksen on August 27, 2014
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
Matt 9:2 – When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Take heart son, your sins are forgiven.”
Our faith, deep and abiding, brings great joy to the Lord. In this verse, we see that because of the faith of the people assembled, the paralytic’s sins were forgiven and he was healed of his paralysis. Jesus said that if we have faith as small as a mustard seed, we could move mountains. Faith, as a part of the armor of God, puts wings on our feet. The shield of faith gives us victory over Satan’s arrows of doubt, temptations, and defeat.
Griff belted his chaps around his waist, zipped up the legs and fastened the snaps at the bottom over his boots. He stuck his arms into the sleeves of his leather jacket. The zipper was closed all the way to the top before he plunked his helmet over his hair. It was braided down his back to keep the wind from turning it into a tangled mess. This is going to be a good ride.
He pulled out of his driveway, the Heritage soft-tail’s pipes letting everyone know he was riding today. Griff was meeting a buddy and the two were headed out to complete an Iron Butt run. Oh boy…a thousand miles in twenty four hours. His stomach quickened with excitement.
His short trek to Geeser’s house took only ten minutes. Griff pulled into the driveway. He watched as Geeser placed the last of his gear on the bike, secured it with bungees, and then slung his leg over the saddle of his bike. “Aren’t you wearing any gear today?” Griff asked.
“Naw…too hot. Besides, we’ll be back tomorrow.” He turned on his ignition.
Griff leaned back in his seat. He ignored the impatient rumble of his bike. “Leathers’ll protect you if you go down.” He made the obvious statement.
“Yeah, I see you’re all suited up. Not me. I don’t intend to go down.” Geeser revved his engine, impatient to get going. “Let’s roll.”
Griff shrugged his shoulders, put his bike in gear and slowly turned it around in the driveway. He led the way out to the street after looking left, right, and then left again as he’d been taught. The pair, their pipes as loud as the law would allow, took off for their adventure, the sun steaming down on their heads. Gonna be a great day, Griff thought as he smiled, a sense of satisfaction racing through his body. I’ve wanted to do this for a long time.
At the first intersection, just as the two bikes pulled out to cross, a large delivery truck flew through the stop light. Before they knew what hit them, the bodies of both bikers were rolling down the street, their motorcycles throwing bits and pieces of chrome and steel in all directions. Their bodies slid along the pavement, as they tumbling head over heels, scrapping grass and asphalt along the way. When they came to a stop, about 45 feet later, no one moved.
Paramedics screamed up the highway a few minutes later. They slammed on their brakes and rushed, with medical supplies, to the side of each man. Griff groaned. He hurt in places he never knew existed. His arm was broken, he was sure, and a quick examination by the paramedic confirmed that it was as well as numerous cuts and bruises. His nose was broken too. “Geeser…is…he…all…right?”
He paramedic looked toward his partner. The white sheet lying over the face of the other biker said it all. “He didn’t make it.”
Griff was protected by his leather armor, the clothing that took the brunt of his connection with the pavement. Geeser wore no protection and consequently was an easy target for Death. That’s the way it is when we step outside without fully accessing the armor of God. Chaps protect legs from shards of cement and faith protects our body from Satan’s sharp arrows.
Father, help us be diligent. You have provided us with armor to protect us as we head out into the world to share our faith with people who need to know that You exist and that You care about them. Remind us, often, to put on that armor, so that we can be effective for You. Amen.by
Posted by Barbara Ann Derksen on August 11, 2014
Matt 6:30-31a - If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry…
Jesus spoke often to great multitudes while He walked the earth. People thronged to Him, sitting on the grassy hillsides for hours to hear what He had to say. All we have to do is read it from our Bible.
In this verse, spoken by Jesus when he delivered the Beatitudes, He tells us that God cares for every aspect of our life…all the small details. His example is the very grass the people were sitting on. He told them that God clothed that grass. He caused it to grow by providing the water it needed knowing that one day it would be burned up. Then He asks the question, “Will He not much more clothe you?”
Faith is active. Faith that God will do what He says He will do is important. Faith that God is who He says He is important. Our faith brings pleasure to God. For this reason alone we need to exercise our faith, take it out for long walks, use it, share it with others, and gird ourselves with it so that the enemy can’t get a foothold in our lives.
Jason walked down the street, the winter winds blowing at his back. He pulled his collar closer to his neck but it afforded him little protection. His stomach rumbled. Sue would be waiting dinner for him and she had no idea where he was and why he wasn’t already at home. He’d decided to walk instead of taking the bus. He needed time to think.
What am I going to do? He shuffled along, cold penetrating his soul. But not nature’s cold. It was the realization that now he had no way to provide for his family. The pink slip he’d received at the end of his workday has taken away any chance he had of paying the hospital bills that were piling up or the mortgage payments…everything.
Jason mentally got down on his knees. He was a believer. God said He would look after things. He’d known about this before I did. Jason went before the only one who could help in his situation. He wanted to be able to give his wife some hope by the time he got home. He remembered the fishing trip he’d taken with some of his church buddies last summer. The stories of God’s provision were numerous, so Jason clung to that knowledge now.
He prayed as he walked along. He never even noticed the snow that had begun to fall all around him. His focus was on His Lord. Father, I know You knew about all this a long time ago. In fact, according to what the pastor said on Sunday, You knew about this before I was even born. Please help me find a solution, a new job as soon as possible. Give me some ideas where to look. There are so many people out of work right now.
There are days when it’s hard to believe that God will provide everything we need to sustain us. We see people living homeless on the streets of our cities and wonder, will that be me one day? We look to ourselves, seeking our own means of provision, missing the very people God places in our lives to support us. Do we sit back and do nothing, waiting to be looked after? Of course not, but we need to recognize the opportunities God places before us and dig in.
Jason went exactly where each one of us should go when trouble comes our way. We should seek God first. We should have enough faith to believe that God loves us, that He has placed us in the very circumstances that will grow our faith even stronger. Take one day at a time. Keep focused. And do what you can, as God brings opportunities to mind, to make any necessary changes in your life that are needed…but take that step of faith, and keep exercising it.
Father, You know my circumstances. You are the great provider. You own the cattle on a thousand hills. Help me recognize Your ideas…Your provision when it happens so that I can follow where You would have me go. Amen.