Today’s Devotional | July 24 | LUKE 6:20-28 | Persecution

Today's Devotional

Memory Verse
Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake (Luke 6;22).

Pastor J. H. Crowell, when about sixteen, shipped on a sailing vessel where he was the only Christian in a crew of twelve. Before leaving his mother he promised to meet her three times a day at the throne of grace, and so he regularly went below and prayed knowing that his mother was praying at the same time at home beside her bed.

The other crew members were furious over his praying and persecuted him severely. They threw wood at him and poured buckets of water over him, but they could not put out the fire in his soul.

Finally, they tied him to the mast and laid thirty-nine stripes on his back. Still he prayed on. At last, they tied a rope around him and threw him overboard. He swam as best he could, and when he took hold of the side of the ship, they pushed him off with a pole. When his strength gave way and he thought he would die, he called out: “Send my body to my mother and tell her I died for Jesus.”

The wrath of the angry sailors seemed finally to be exhausted and they pulled the young Christian up on the deck and left him there unconscious. Shortly after he revived, conviction began to seize his companions on the ship. Before night, two of them were saved. Within a week, everyone on board, including the captain, had been born again.

The persecution was difficult, but J. H. Crowell met it as a Christian, counting it joy to suffer for Christ. The Lord rewarded him with the conversion of his persecutors.

Can you rejoice in opportunities to suffer for the Lord? (See 2 Timothy 3:12.)

Daily Devotionals

 

As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God…”

Psalm 42:1, 2

 “Soul Food” is a daily devotional written by Dr. Jack Van Impe that brings God’s Word to life.

“The Tender Touch” is a weekly devotional from the heart of Dr. Rexella Van Impe.

Choose Devotional Type

  • Soul Food
  • Tender Touch
July 23 | REVELATION 2:1-7 | Church with a Flaw
Memory Verse
Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love (Revelation 2:4).

The last book of the Bible records seven letters from Jesus to seven local churches. They contain truths for churches of all ages.

The church at Ephesus was commended for a number of excellent qualities. This was a fundamental church; sound in doctrine, faithful, separatist in position, not afraid to expose false teachers and labouring in God’s name.

Interestingly, the Lord commended the church before raising any word of criticism. One commentator explains that the Lord loves to number our accomplishments by His grace. There is a lesson here: we ought to look for the best in our fellow Christians. That is the way of love.

The Lord’s criticism of the church at Ephesus was a serious one: “thou hast left thy first love.” Diminishing love is always critical. When love reigns there is communication, consideration and compassion. When love declines all service becomes mechanical, a burden... vain.

The cure prescribed for the church was plain. They were to remember, repent and return: “do the first works.”

One day Henry W. Grady, the great newspaperman, left his editorial room and went to see his aged mother. He told her he was confused religiously and asked her for help. She told him to sit beside her as he had done as a child while she told him the story of Jesus again. That night she had him sleep in his old bed and pray his childhood prayer. In the morning, when he came down to breakfast, Mr. Grady said, “It’s all right, Mother. I’m back with God again.”

Remember, repent and return!

July 22 | PROVERBS 5:15-23 | Husbands and Wives
Memory Verse
Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth (Proverbs 5:18).

Here is a good test for married couples. Estimate the number of years you have left together. Figure the number of hours that totals. Divide the number by three and subtract the answer from the total to find the number of waking hours together. Now divide the remaining amount by two to arrive at the approximate time apart because of work. How do you intend to spend the hours that remain?

How many hours do you intend to spend arguing? In hand-to-hand combat? Pouting? Administering the “silent treatment”? Grumbling? Finding fault? Putting one another down? Criticizing one another before friends? Being apart unnecessarily? Now that you’ve removed the clutter, what will you do with the time that is left to invest?

How many hours have you reserved for expressing your love for each other? Holding one another? Complimenting? Walking together? Laughing? Sharing projects of mutual enjoyment? Relaxing together? Planning new adventures? Enjoying your children or grandchildren? Praying together? Studying the Bible? Attending church services? Telling others of God’s blessings?

Generally, we do not think about how quickly life escapes. The Bible speaks about the importance of “redeeming the time.” Unless priority is given to rejoicing together, as God intends, couples may waste most of their lives in unpleasant tasks or sour attitudes, thereby missing God’s will for their lives.

“Rejoice with the wife of thy youth.” And enjoy your husband while he’s with you. It’s the Bible way to live!

July 21 | GALATIANS 5:10-15 | Religious Cannibals
Memory Verse
But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another (Galatians 5:15).

Many a missionary has come back from the foreign field with thrilling stories of the power of the Gospel to change cannibals to Christians. Missionary books abound with like accounts. That kind of transformation in people gives proof of the reality of salvation. How wonderful to think of a man feeding his soul on the Word of God, who once fed his body on the flesh of his fellowman?

Interestingly, Paul speaks of another kind of cannibalism.

The Galatian church had once been a center of dynamic Christianity. Paul, himself, had ministered there. The Gospel had been presented clearly and the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the people had been evident. The love of Christ was an active force in personal relationships. Paul said they had loved him so much that they would have been willing to pluck out their eyes and give them to him to improve his poor vision, if that had been possible.

Sadly, things changed. The church became legalistic and love left. Paul lamented their spiritual poverty.

Observing their bickering and infighting, he warns that if they keep eating away at one another they will eventually consume one another. They had become Christian cannibals.

There is no room for cannibals among Christians. Instead, we are to “...love one another with a pure heart fervently” (I Peter 1:22).

When Christians conquer their spiritual cannibalism, another great missionary story will be told. Those observing real love among the people of God will turn to the Saviour. The church will fulfill its mission at home. And this will enlarge its missionary ministry the world around!

July 20 | PSALM 119:161-168 | The Bible
Memory Verse
I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil (Psalm 119:162).

In our youth, most of us have fancied finding buried treasure. As adults, millions buy lottery tickets or gamble in other ways in the hope of receiving great treasure. The psalmist valued God’s Word far more than any earthly bonanza.

If you have difficulty rejoicing today, praise God for the Bible. Think about its worth. Dwell on its riches. Apart from this divine revelation, we would know little of the personality of God. We might conclude that He is powerful and the Creator, for “the heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork” (Psalm 19:1), but we could never understand His love and would therefore miss life’s greatest blessing.

The Bible reveals God’s plan of the ages. We do not have to stumble through life ever questioning the direction of history and fearing the future. God has explained His plan. History is His story. We do not fear what the future holds because we know the One who holds the future. And it has been revealed to us in the Bible.

The earth has some traumatic days ahead. Christ is coming. The dead will be raised. Christians will be raptured. Tribulation will overtake the earth. Political and religious chaos is sure to come. But none of these things will take God by surprise, and students of the Bible have been given a preview of these events.

Christians who read God’s Word are “in the know.” They are better informed than the world’s most able news analysts.

What a book! Rejoice in it. Praise God for it. Let its message rule your life today!

July 19 | GALATIANS 5:1-9 | Ye Did Run Well
Memory Verse
Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? (Galatians 5:7).

The church at Galatia had known better days. Once it had been vibrant and alive. Love for one another had been evident to all.

Now they were locked into a system of legalism. And it had happened so easily. The logic of adding law to faith had appeared to be so right. But in adding to Christ, they had taken away from Him. They had traded the simple Gospel for a complex system of man-made rules.

Paul analyzed their problem... saw through their charade. He asked: “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?” (Galatians 3:1). He knew that their downward trek had begun when they had started to listen to a new voice, one given to a message that twisted the true Gospel. Now he was calling them back to the truth.

Has your church known better days?

Can you pinpoint the time the decline began? Has warm fellowship given way to cold legalism?

The way back is the way of surrender. Stop following religious pied pipers who offer methods and doctrines built on human effort and exalting man’s ability: “Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:3).

Come back to the simple, wonderful, Gospel message. And share it with others. Take the lead in calling your church back to the Saviour by rededicating your own life to Jesus and by reaching out to the lost.

You did run well.

And that means you can serve your Lord again!

July 18 | I CORINTHIANS 3:1-11 | Babies in the Church
Memory Verse
I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able (I Corinthians 3:2).

God’s plan for His children is birth, growth and maturity. The moment one receives Christ as personal Saviour, he is born again. There is rejoicing at the birth of a child and in heaven there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels when one is born again. Sadly, some who are born again never grow. They remain spiritual infants throughout life, missing the blessings of the abundant life.

Spiritual babies are concerned with self rather than service. They carry their feelings on their sleeves and have to be handled with care. They are like bombs, always ready to explode. Infancy shows in any crisis. The spiritual baby is upset over the smallest of things, expecting to be catered to by the pastor and other members of the church. The church baby examines everything as a receiver instead of a giver. He asks: “What is there in this for me?”

Spiritual babies are concerned with argument rather than action. Look for the trouble spot in the church and the ecclesiastical infant will be there. Gossip is his delight. Trifles touch off his temper. Often his self-righteous attitude masquerades as piety. He can sound so right that others follow him. But a real look at the church baby reveals that much of his fussing is a smoke screen to keep him from getting involved in the real mission of his church. It is always easier to be part of the faction than to get into the action.

Spiritual babies look to man rather than to God. An infant’s world is small, revolving around a few people. Church babies also have small worlds, revolving around a few favorite preachers or leaders. They are more loyal to men than to the Master or the church.

God blesses people on the grow!

July 17 | PSALM 97 | God Reigns
Memory Verse
he LORD reigneth; let the earth rejoice; Let the multitude of isles be glad thereof (Psalm 97:1).

God reigns.

Have you ever thought how sad the plight of planet earth would be if that were not true?

We would all be on a hopeless voyage through space with no destination. Every grave would be a place of despair and total separation.

Life would be without purpose.

The universe would be like a giant clock winding down until the end.

No prayer would ever be heard or answered.

Man would always walk the dark valley of death alone.

All of life’s horizons would be limited by time.

The trinkets and thrills of this life span would be the only things of value.

But God reigns.

Therefore the earth can rejoice.

We are the recipients of the love of God and the beneficiaries of His boundless grace.

We do not walk through life alone if we have been born again.

The dark valley has been changed to the valley of the shadow of death — and He — the Light of the World — walks there with us.

Heaven is a real place for a prepared people. Treasures can be sent on ahead for enjoying forever.

In every perplexing situation in life, we know that He is in charge. God reigns! Rejoice!

Week 30 | Living in the Light

An artist sat at his easel creating a gripping,
powerful painting. Using dark, somber hues,
he drew dreary, empty fields framed by stark,
skeleton-like trees, under a cold, snow-laden sky.

In one corner of the canvas he sketched a
lonely, desolate house, its stark lines fading
into the shadows of the night. Then the artist
paused to contemplate the bleak and
melancholy scene he had created. After a few
moments, he picked up his brush to add a
finishing touch.

With a dab of bright yellow paint, he put a
warm, glowing light in the window of the
house. And suddenly, magically, the whole
scene was transformed -- that single light
overcame all the darkness and spoke of hope
and life!

This story reminds me of the impact the
birth of Jesus made on the world and the
entire history of mankind. As the Apostle John
declared, In Him was life; and the life was the
light of men
(John 1:4).

The light in the sky

For 400 years before the birth of Jesus there
had been no new Word from God, no
prophetic voice, no new revelations. Man's
attempts to control his own destiny had
brought confusion and disaster. The shadows
of sin and hopelessness had settled over the
land of Israel, and the whole world had sunk
into the dismal depths of unbridled sinfulness
and despair.

Then, with a stroke of God's hand, He
brightened the landscape of history and gave
hope again to a dreary world. He put a light
in the sky! The star of Christmas lit up the sky
and captured the attention of all men in all
nations.

Why a star? Why a light? The Almighty
could just as easily have spoken to mankind as
He did to the shepherds through the choir of
heavenly angels. Why was such a momentous
event as the birth of Jesus marked first by a
light in the sky?

I believe it was because when God flung
back the curtains of heaven and opened His
throne room directly to earth ... light poured
through as the Son of God made His entrance
into the world.

The earth was dreary, dark, and lonely. But
with a single stroke, God changed the picture
-- He put a light in the window.

The light in the stable

In Rembrandt's famous painting of the
nativity scene, all the light in the stable is
centered around the Christ child. This is a
fitting depiction, for He is the Source of all light.

It is no accident that the Son of God came
to a stable rather than a palace. He came, not
just to the rich, the privileged, the powerful
alone, but to all men -- even the poorest and
most humble.

Yet, the wealthy were not excluded from
His presence. Those Wise Men who sought
Him were obviously men of means, since they
brought rich gifts of gold and precious spices.
When they sought Him, humbling themselves
to come where He was, they, too, were welcomed.

Jesus said, I am come a light into the world,
that whosoever believeth on me should not abide
in darkness
(John 12:46).

The shepherds were the first to arrive on the
scene (see Luke 2:8-20; Matthew 2:11).
Sometime later there came the "kings," or
magi, from afar. Have you ever wondered why
they all didn't arrive at the same time to
worship Christ?

I'm told there is a prophetic significance to
the timing of those events -- that Christ came
to the Jews first, then to the Gentiles.

But all who came to find the Source of light
in the stable were received joyfully.

The light in our hearts

Today there is no single brilliant star
lighting up the sky. Nor do pilgrims to
Bethlehem find a divine light still emanating
from the place where once a rude stable stood.

Where, then, is the light of the world? It
still burns ... in the hearts of those who believe
in Jesus Christ and who receive Him as their
Lord and Savior. We are His luminaries in
today's world. If the people around us are to
see the light of Christ, they must see it in you
and me!

We ourselves don't have the ability to be
lights -- but we can be reflectors of the Light.
When we allow Christ's light to come inside
our hearts, the Holy Spirit, the transformer,
makes us lamps through which the light
shines.

God, through the Holy Spirit, transforms
the stable of men's hearts into the temple of glory!

The same Jesus who said, I am the light of
the world
(John 8:12) also says to us, Ye are the
light of the world
(Matthew 5:14). And we are
to let our light -- His light -- shine forth.

He said, If I be lifted up from earth, [I] will
draw all men unto me
(John 12:32). As we
allow Christ to be lifted up in our lives, He'll
do the illuminating. He'll attract others to Himself.

How often have you met a person who had
such a glow around him that you knew he was
a child of God even before you were
introduced to him? There is a kind of peace
and tranquility, a love that just radiates to
others. And people are drawn to such a person
because it is natural to be drawn to light.

In the neighborhood where Jack and I used
to live, the people on our block all decided to
put out luminaries as decorations at Christmas
time. A luminary is a simple brown paper bag
filled with enough sand to keep it from
blowing away... with a small candle inside.

A single candle didn't give off much light by
itself, but when the whole street was lined with
these luminaries, the whole neighborhood was
bathed in a soft, beautiful glow!

One of the ongoing themes of this ministry
is "Lighting New Fires of Revival,
Redemption, and Reconciliation" through our
outreaches. And I believe the way to kindle
those anew is to allow the
light of the Lord to shine through each of us.

I'm not talking about the fires of fanaticism
that break out of control and wreak havoc and
destruction wherever they go. Instead, I'm
talking about the glow, that divine light that
softly shines through and combines with the
light shining from other believers about us.

We must be faithful. We must not fail. A
world dying in darkness is looking for the
Light.

In the words of the familiar chorus:

This little light of mine,

I'm gonna let it shine,

Let it shine,

Let it shine,

Let it shine!

Week 29 | Is There Room in Your Heart for Him?

What a special time of the year!
Thanksgiving and Christmas are more precious to me
than any other holidays, and they so beautifully
go hand in hand.

More and more, I realize the importance
of being grateful for the true essence of
Christmas -- that God became flesh. He came
as a baby, humbling himself to a manger and,
one day, to Calvary's tree for you and me. Oh,
what love!

I wonder if we can really understand the
emotion in heaven and the joy on earth as
Mary and Joseph made their way to Bethlehem
just prior to the birth of Christ.

An historic journey

Can you see them as they wearily make
their way through the narrow streets of
Bethlehem? Mary, tired from the long journey, sits
on the little donkey as Joseph leads it along.

Their journey is almost over, and none too
soon. They stop in front of one of the inns in
Bethlehem. With a tender word, Joseph
comforts his wife and then strides quickly toward
the inn door.

Have you ever wondered what Mary was
thinking as Joseph knocked at the innkeeper's
door? Perhaps she was remembering what her
cousin Elizabeth had said to her some time
before. Blessed art thou among women, and
blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence
is this to me, that the mother of my Lord
should come to me? For, lo, as soon as the
voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears,
the babe leaped in my womb for joy.

And blessed is she that believed: for there
shall be a performance

[fulfillment] of those
things which were told her from the Lord

(Luke 1:42-45).

Mary knew how blessed she was for, out
of all the women in the world, God had
chosen her to give the world this baby. This
wasn't Joseph's baby; He was the Son of God,
produced by the Holy Spirit, waiting to be
born in Bethlehem (see Luke 1:35 and
Hebrews 10:5).

Mary knew about the promise that
foretold: But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though
thou be little among the thousands of Judah,
yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me
that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth
have been from of old, from everlasting

(Micah 5:2).

Mary's mind didn't dare leap ahead to
contemplate the rest of those words. It was
enough for her to know that she was, at this
very moment, in Bethlehem (ancestral home
of King David, Joseph's forefather) and that
her time to give birth was at hand.

Mary looked at Joseph, footsore and
fatigued from walking alongside the donkey all
the way so that she could ride. She knew how
blessed she was to have this good and just
man as her husband. He had handled the
situation so well. He had shown her nothing but
love and concern. More than once he had told
her, "I know, beloved wife, that this child has
been conceived in a special way. The angel
laid all my fears to rest."

Joseph had learned of Mary's pregnancy
after she returned from visiting Elizabeth. For
six months they had marveled at the conversations
they had each had with the angel. It
must have been awesome for them, realizing
that the Holy Ghost had visited Mary and that
the child she carried was a divine original.

"Oh, Joseph," I can hear Mary saying, "He
is to be called 'the Son of God.'"

"Yes, Mary," Joseph responded, "and His
name is to be called JESUS, for He shall save
His people from their sins."

The prophecy

Did they recall the words of Isaiah? Did
they repeat those names? Behold, a virgin
shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call
his name Immanuel...For unto us a child is
born, unto us a son is given: and the government
shall be upon his shoulder: and his
name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor,
The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The
Prince of Peace
(Isaiah 7:14; 9:6).

Perhaps Mary remembered those
conversations as her husband knocked at the
innkeeper's door. She was so tired. The journey
had been long and hard. But now, at last, they
had arrived in Bethlehem.

For us, today, a journey to Bethlehem is
still not easy. In the hustle and bustle of the
season, there are many things to deter us.
We've all heard that we should keep Christ in
Christmas, but let's be sure that we keep
ourselves in Christmas, as well! If we are not
careful, we can become so busy with Yuletide
activities that we are exhausted before we get
to Bethlehem -- and miss the real Christmas
altogether.

Knock...knock...knock! Joseph knocks at
the innkeeper's door. A Baby is about to be
born -- the most important Baby ever to be
born on this earth. "Let us in...let Him in...out
of the cold and darkness of the night." But the
Bible tells us there was no room for them in
the inn
(Luke 2:7).

No room! Those are heart-rending words.
Would we have said that? Yet, isn't it being
said every day? We are all innkeepers, with
room for many things, but do we have room
for Him? In our lives -- shabby stables that
they are -- He may be cradled, but we must
give Him room.

Joseph, the rugged carpenter of Nazareth,
a just man whose faith transcended his
misgivings, enfolded Mary's helplessness in his
strong arms as he lifted her off the back of the
little donkey. Someone had tapped him on his
sagging shoulders and said, "There is a place,
if your wife won't mind. I know I can fix it
and make it clean. It will be quiet there...and warm"

Lowly beginnings

Joseph had ministered to Mary's needs in
that weary pilgrimage to Bethlehem; but his
husbandly duties had not yet ended. Mary in
a stable? The Son of God born in a barn?

How his mind must have reeled. Remember,
he was very human.

Husband, would you like for your wife to
give birth to her firstborn in a stable? What
lowly circumstances! The Lord of all heaven
and earth was about to make His human
presence known in the world -- but in a barn?
This
was not the birthplace Joseph had imagined
for JESUS.

Barns smell, not just of clean hay, but of
animals. Barns are not always sanitary. Oh,
the lovely Nativity scenes that we see at
Christmas do not begin to portray what Joseph
and Mary must have experienced in those
prebirth moments, as they contemplated their plight.

One wishes we could push back the pages
of time and make it different -- different,
perhaps, like the school Christmas play I heard about.

One little boy had been asked to play the
role of the innkeeper in the play. His parents,
schoolmates, and teachers were so excited and
pleased for him because he wasn't quite "normal"
like the other boys and girls. Still, they
wanted to include him in the performance.

Seven little words

His were simple lines. When Joseph knocked
at the door and asked for a room, he, the
innkeeper, would say, "There is no room in the
inn." Seven words. And that was all.

The big night came. Practice perfomances
had gone well. Then came that moment.

Knock...knock...knock -- Joseph knocks at
the inn door. With great emotion and convincing
reality, Joseph presents his case to the
innkeeper. His wife is very pregnant. In fact, the
baby is due any moment. Won't the innkeeper
please let them in?

The little boy who had rehearsed his lines
so very carefully, listened patiently, and then
said the seven words loud and clear: "There is
no room in the inn."

Joseph turned, his shoulders sagging. But
before he could leave, the innkeeper opened
the door, thrust his head out, and said, loud
and clear, "Wait...wait! You can have my room."

It wasn't in the script. Nor was it in the
script on that first Christmas. And so it was,
that...she brought forth her firstborn son, and
wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid
him in a manger; because there was no room
for them in the inn
(Luke 2:6,7).

As we recall this short resume of the most
beautiful story ever given from God, may your
heart be reminded of the importance of
remembering, not just the gifts that are to come,
the families we are to see, and the loved ones
we shall enjoy, but remembering the true
message of Christmas -- God's love for us. And
may we not get so distracted by the many
activities of the holiday season that we never
even reach Bethlehem.

Dr. Van Impe and I are grateful for the
opportunity to share the saving message of
God's love for the world in these closing days
of time. Thank you for your prayers and support.

Week 28 | I Remember Mother

I can't even begin to imagine how Mary
must have felt on the day the angel told her
the Holy Spirit would come upon her and that
she would become the mother of the Messiah.

No doubt many Jewish girls dreamed of
being chosen for such an honor, but they had
no idea of what price would have to be paid
by the maiden who became the mother of
Jesus. How many virgins would have had the
faith and steadfastness in God to receive this
unique ministration of the Holy Spirit? And
how many would have had the strength of
character to endure the shame of being found
with child before her marriage?

What a remarkable person Mary must have
been. No doubt she was the ultimate of
womanhood or God would not have chosen her to
bear His Son. And surely her unswerving
faith and devotion to duty are unexcelled in
the pages of human history.

What a profound inspiration and influence
her life of humble trust in God must have been
for the boy Jesus as He increased in wisdom
and stature
(Luke 2:52) during His growing-up
years in Nazareth. The Lord must have
come to know His mother in a very special
way during the nearly 30 years He lived with
her and Joseph.

At the end of His life and ministry, Jesus
must have remembered many things about His
mother. No doubt He recalled her loving con-
cern and patience when she traveled back to
Jerusalem to find Him, at age twelve, still in
the Temple with the elders.

And He must have remembered her trusting
faith and her recognition of His divine
nature at the wedding in Cana. Although He
did not promise to remedy the shortage of
wine (fruit of the vine), Mary confidently told
the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do
it
(John 2:5).

Jesus knew Mary's gracious spirit all of
His life. With His divine nature, He could
also see her heart, for He knew all of mankind.
And yet Mary continued, with dignity, to be
His mother. What a pure life she must have had.

Jesus remembered and respected His
mother. On the cross just before He died, He
looked down and saw her there, when so many
others had forsaken Him. And in the hour of
His greatest agony, carrying the awful burden
of the sins of the world, He remembered Mary
and made provision for her care. Seeing the
Apostle John near her, He said, Woman,
behold thy son!
And to John, Behold thy mother!
(John 19:26,27).

Precious memories

I remember my mother with every bit of
admiration and respect that I think Jesus had
for His mother. So much of who I am and
what I am is a result of her loving guidance
and positive influence. I first learned love at
Mother's knee through her touch, her care.
Then she pointed me to the love of Christ, and
I was reared in a Christian home.

It was from Mother's voice that I first
heard music, which has been such an
important part of my whole life and ministry. In one
of my earliest childhood memories, I am in
her arms and she is singing! I have no doubt
that my love for music came from her -- I started
singing when I was 5 years old.

I learned the discipline of my life from
Mother. She never allowed me to sing in
public unless I had my song memorized. I did not
play the piano for others unless I had
practiced.

Humility was a quality Mother taught me
by example. To this day she has the most
beautiful, unassuming spirit of anyone I know.
To me she is a perfectly blended combination
of the biblical sisters, Mary and Martha. She
always spent time worshiping the Lord -- I've
walked into her bedroom many times and
found her on her knees or reading her Bible.
But her personal devotions were always
balanced with service to others.

My Mother was -- and is -- a servant of the
Lord and people. She goes out of her way to
help, and nothing is ever too much for her to
do. I've watched her bake for her friends, do
laundry for a sick person, or make phone calls
to encourage others when she was weary
herself. She always would take time to send
cards for funerals, birthdays, or other
occasions when a friendly note would be appreciated.

I remember Mother taking me to church
revivals where I had been invited to sing.
When we walked inside together, she would
say to me, "Go ahead, honey, serve the Lord."
And she would stay near the back of the
church, not wanting to be noticed.

To this day, at age 83, Mother stays busy
serving the Lord. The staff at our Jack Van
Impe Ministries office love to have her come
around. "Things are just better when she's
around," they say. "She lightens the day and
brings an extra measure of love and harmony."

Inner beauty

From Mother, I learned the secret of inner
beauty -- of filling my heart and mind with
love and wholesomeness and letting them
permeate my entire being. And I also learned the
importance of always trying to look my best
and having my home clean and in order.

Mother always kept herself beautifully
groomed and modestly dressed, and her home
immaculate. She taught me that appearance is
important because it reflects the kind of
person one truly is inside...and is a testimony --
good or bad -- for the Lord.

There are so many other qualities my
mother taught me -- tenderness, a sense of
duty, a living expression of the gifts of the
Holy Spirit. Space doesn't permit a listing of
even half the good things she imparted to me
by instruction and example.

But I must mention one more -- I learned
wisdom through my mother. Wisdom comes
from the Lord, according to the Book of
Proverbs. But Mother certainly was a living
symbol of that divinely-given quality. She
almost always had the answers to my
questions, always knew the right thing to do in
every situation, always seemed to know when
to act and when to wait.

And although she didn't have the opportunity
to complete school when she was young,
later in life she went back to school and took
some business courses. She did it on her own,
just because she wanted a little better formal
education -- and because there were still some
things she wanted to know about!

Like Ruth and Naomi

Not only was I blessed with a wonderful
mother, but my mother-in-law and I had a
beautiful relationship as well. I appreciated
her so much. We never had the conflicts that
many women seem to experience. We had
more of a Ruth and Naomi relationship.

My mother-in-law has a very keen sense of
humor and a love of life, which my husband
shares. And she also displays a sweet sense of
trust and faith.

My husband's parents returned to
Belgium, their homeland, as missionaries, when
their only child, Jack, was 17. He had just
entered Bible school to prepare himself for
the ministry. There were no other Van Impe
relatives in America, and my in-laws had no
money to leave with their young son.

It must have taken a tremendous amount of
faith for Mother Van Impe to leave her only
child and go so far away. She had to commit
him into the hands of God and trust that he
would be all right.

I've also respected the fact that my
mother-in-law was never concerned about earthly
possessions. As missionaries, their income
was very limited, requiring many sacrifices,
but she was content. No one ever heard her
complain, or express a desire for a better
house or home furnishings, or clothing. Her
priorities were straight -- she was working for
eternal rewards. She has always been precious
to me personally.

A legacy of love

What a tremendous legacy both Dr. Van
Impe and I have received from our mothers.

Each Christmas season when we celebrate
the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, I especially
remember Mother. Let us all remember our
mothers, how they have helped the living
Christ to be born in our hearts.

We can never forget what she has meant to
us. Every day in some way her positive influence
lives on in our lives. As the Prophet
Isaiah wrote, And thine ears shall hear a word
behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in
it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye
turn to the left
(Isaiah 30:21).

Week 27 | The Purr-fect Blessing

For more than seventeen years, our cat,
Fenica, was a great source of companionship
and enjoyment to Jack and me. But after all
those years, she finally succumbed to a fatal
disease after suffering for several months. She
was an important part of our lives. In earlier
years, she was bright and friendly and had the
uncanny ability to endear herself to folks
rather quickly.

A few years ago I wrote about how I found
this abandoned, sick, starving creature and
persuaded Jack to let me feed and nurse her
back to health.

At first Dr. Van Impe would only consent
for Fenica to stay out on the patio...then we let
her into the garage on cold nights. From there
she moved straight into our hearts -- and she
was an important member of our family from
that day on.

Over the years, quite a "love affair"
developed between Jack and this soft, furry
creature. Most people envision my husband as
a very serious, scholarly man who thinks of
nothing but Bible study and prayer. And he
does spend many hours daily with his Bible
and study material.

But I wish you could have seen him and
Fenica on the floor, rolling around and playing
their own games. They had a great relationship
-- and some pretty silly conversations! I
really don't know what all they talked about
together, but from Fenica's expressions and
faithful attentiveness, it seemed obvious that
she understood and appreciated every word
Jack said.

A praying cat?

Of course, it was love at first sight for this
little cat and me. And over the years she was
so much company and a real friend. Often
Fenica joined me as I knelt to pray. As I
poured my heart out to God, I'd feel my little
kitty snuggling up beside me.

During the dark days a few years back
when the ministry was struggling with great
financial difficulties and the stress seemed
almost overwhelming, I was able to survive
only by laying my burdens at the feet of the
Lord. In those prayer times, when words
failed me and tears coursed down my cheeks,
how comforting it was to hear a gentle purr
and to be suddenly -- thrillingly -- aware that I
was not alone...that God's presence was all
around me!

Jack and I started out to help and care for a
neglected and needy animal. But in exchange
for some medical attention and a little food,
Fenica became a great source of joy and blessing
to us. Only now -- after she is gone -- are
we beginning to understand why the Lord sent
this little creature into our lives.

Pets are good for your health

Scientists have begun to find proof of what
they only suspected before -- that contact with
animals has specific effects on the human
body and mind. Health officials have verified
that pets have definite therapeutic value in
people's regular daily lives, and also for
people in institutions. Hospitals, nursing homes,
and penal institutions have discovered the
positive impact animals can have on handicapped
or socially maladjusted individuals. Some of
them regularly bring animals into therapy
sessions for patients and inmates, and puppies
and kittens often get responses from people no
one else had been able to reach.

As early as 1790, a Quaker group in
England discovered the value of taking mentally
handicapped people on group retreats and
encouraging them to roam the grounds and
spend time with farm animals. This therapy
seemed to get tremendous results compared
with the limited institutional treatment
available at that time.

Organizations like the Latham Foundation
of Alameda, California, and the Delta Society
of Renton, Washington, promote interest in
human-animal bonding and study the role
animals play in human development.

Studies have shown that encouraging
abused children to be responsible for caring
for animals -- especially disabled or injured
creatures -- provides a real psychological
boost. Perhaps just seeing how another
helpless, hurting creature can overcome the odds
and survive gives them hope.

But the benefit of association with animals
is not just psychological. Studies show that
the heart rate is lower when people are in the
presence of a friendly animal. And elderly
people with pets make fewer visits to the
doctor. Perhaps we are discovering a new form of
low cost preventive health care.

Of course, it's really not new at all. I
believe it is highly significant that in the
beginning, God first gave Adam the animals and
birds to keep him from being lonely. Genesis
2:18,19 says, And the Lord God said, It is not
good that the man should be alone; I will
make him an help meet for him. And out of
the ground the Lord God formed every beast
of the field, and every fowl of the air; and
brought them unto Adam to see what he would
call them.

I believe that in most cases, animals want
to be the friends of man, not enemies. Most
animals become hostile or vicious only out of
fear or as a result of being abused by man.

Animals have great value

How important are animals to us? We've
already seen that God provided them to Adam
even before He gave him Eve. That's pretty
important! And later on, when the wickedness
of man became intolerable to God in Noah's
day, not only did the Lord devise a plan to
save representatives of the family of man from
the destruction of the flood, He also arranged
to save at least one pair of every species of
animal!

God regards His creatures as beautiful and
valuable. And so should we. There are many
ways they can be of service to us...and there is
much we can learn from them.

Wisdom from a pet

I remember a cold winter's day when I
walked into our bedroom to look for a book
I'd left there. It was freezing cold outside,
with snow on the ground, but the rays of the
sun were streaming through the window.

Fenica was stretched out in a chair by the
window, soaking up the warmth of the sun.
When she heard me come in, she stretched her
head back and looked at me upside down...but
didn't move. It was almost as if she were
saying, "I don't have a worry in the world -- I
have you to keep me safe and warm."

I found my book and went back
downstairs, but I found myself thinking how
wonderful it would be if I could learn to trust and
rest in the Lord's love the way our cat confidently
and comfortably depended on Jack and me.

As Jesus said in His Sermon on the Mount,
If ye then, being evil, know how to give good
gifts unto your children
[or pets], how much
more shall your Father which is in heaven
give good things to them that ask him?

(Matthew 7:11).

So perhaps we all could take some lessons
in living from precious pets like Fenica.

  • She trusted me and knew I loved her
    and would not hurt her or allow her to
    be injured -- and I can trust God (see
    John 3:16; 1 John 3:16; Galatians 2:20;
    Ephesians 2:4,5).
  • My cat relied on me to direct her and
    not let danger fall in her path -- and I
    can rely on God (see Proverbs 3:5,6).
  • Fenica knew I cared for her and that I
    would take care of her, so she was not
    burdened down with concern. I can
    cast my care on the Lord, for He cares
    for me (see 1 Peter 5:7).
  • No matter what she needed, Fenica
    turned to me as her source of supply.
    And I can have that same relationship
    with my heavenly Father, who supplies
    all [my] need according to his riches
    in glory by Christ Jesus
    (Philippians 4:19).

And finally, Fenica loved to be with Jack
and me. Wherever we were in the house, she
tried to be near us. Often, even when I walked
through the house, she would go along with
me. She didn't need anything -- she wasn't
asking for anything...she just wanted to be
near me and have fellowship with me. And
that was so very special to me.

How much more must our heavenly Father
enjoy having us want to spend time in His
presence and have fellowship with Him?
There's a wonderful inspirational song that
says, "I'll walk with God." It speaks of
having God beside us to lead and guide us.

What a thrill to be able to have personal
fellowship with our Creator, who is also our
Friend. Nothing in life can ever defeat us
when we walk with Him.

It really is...The Perfect Blessing.