Today’s Devotional | October 21 | 1 SAMUEL 12:16-25 | Praying for Others

Today's Devotional

Memory Verse
Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way. (I Samuel 12:23)

God has given us the privilege of praying for others. The protection and prosperity of others may rest in the hands of real prayer warriors. Paul requested prayer from others so that his ministry would be effective: “Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you: And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith” (II Thessalonians 3:1-2).

Churches would come alive if Christians prayed more earnestly for one another and for pastors, church leaders and evangelists. In his book “Prayer — Asking and Receiving,” Dr. John R. Rice wrote: “In many, many cases when I have been used of God in a blessed revival campaign in some locality, one or two saintly Christians have told me, ‘I have been praying for two years that God would bring you here for these meetings,’ or ‘This campaign is the answer to my daily prayer for years.’ Oh, if people would but pray, pray earnestly, pray effectively, pray with a holy abandon, God’s work would not lanquish. The decay in the churches, the cooling of revival fires, the lukewarmness in the churches are the fruit of our prayerlessness.”

But there is another serious side of praying for others that must be considered — the lack of prayer for others is sinful. Prayer is an opportunity, but also a responsibility. It is sinful to neglect prayer for others. And we are accountable to God for this inconsistency in Christian living.

It’s time to dust off the prayer list that has been neglected. Let’s be faithful in prayer — for others!

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.


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October 20 | PROVERBS 17 | A Merry Heart
Memory Verse
A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones (Proverbs 17:22).

In his book “None of These Diseases,” Dr. S. I. McMillen says that mental stress has taken the center of attention away from bacteria as the believed cause of disease. He explains that emotions cause visible changes in the body, such as strokes, blindness, toxic goiters, fatal clots in the heart, bleeding ulcers, kidney disease and other serious conditions.

Isn’t it interesting that the Bible is always far ahead of the discoveries of the scientific world? Job wrote of the world being suspended in space (26:7). Isaiah spoke of the roundness of the earth (40:22). Moses revealed that the life principle is in the blood (Leviticus 17: 11). We should not be surprised then to find that God’s Word has again upstaged medical science in announcing that the state of the heart affects the general health — “a merry heart doeth good like a medicine.”

Christians have good reason to be merry — happy — rejoicing. The most important issues of life have been settled for the child of God. He knows why he is here — the purpose of existence — and where he is going. His sins are forgiven, he is never alone and his destination is certain — heaven. Nevertheless, some who have become citizens of heaven become defeated and depressed. That is when they are not living as God intended.

How sad to have our bodies suffer from bad mental and heart attitudes when we are children of the King. Let’s remember who we are and what we have. It’s just good sense — and good medicine!

October 19 | PSALM 19 | The God of Nature
Memory Verse
The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork (Psalm 19:1).

A man sat in the heat of the day under a walnut tree looking at a pumpkin vine. He began to muse, “How foolish God is! Here He puts a great heavy pumpkin on a tiny vine without strength to do anything but lie on the ground. He puts tiny walnuts on a tree whose branches could hold the weight of a man. If I were God, I could do better than that!” Suddenly a breeze knocked a walnut from the tree. It fell on the man’s head. He rubbed the bump, a sadder and wiser man. He remarked: “Suppose there had been a pumpkin up there instead of a walnut! Never again will I try to plan the world for God. I shall thank Him that He has done it so well!”

Everything in nature carries in it the mark of the Creator. The psalmist says that the entire earth is given witness to the glory of God through the beauty and action in the sky. Still men turn their eyes from the heights and scan the earth trying to find support for a theory that disregards the Creator and traces the history of man to a beginning other than that stated in the Bible.

With the testimony of nature so strong, one wonders why men reject the reality of God’s existence. Desire must be father to their action. Some would rather not accept the truth of God for fear of being accountable to Him for their sins.

Their escape route is a deception. They are still accountable. As are we all.

October 18 | ISAIAH 55 | God Is Infinite
Memory Verse
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts (Isaiah 55:9).

God has no boundaries. No limits. He has always existed and He will always exist. He cannot be bound by time or space for they are His creations. His knowledge is beyond us.

We have many limits. There are things we do not comprehend. So many things we cannot do. We are limited in knowledge, in strength, and in ability. Even the strongest have areas of weakness. It is the way of mankind. We are a fallen race, still suffering from the effects of that traumatic tumble. We are finite beings.

How wonderful that the infinite God loves us as we are! How interesting that He should desire to have fellowship with us! The thought seems too great to take in.

Yet it is true.

At first glance, the gap seems too wide to bridge — from God to man — from the Holy One to sinners. And that first evaluation would stand were it not for the cross. There on that rugged hill, reconciliation was made, the barrier to blessing broken down: “For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father” (Ephesians 2:18).

Amazing grace? And then some! Reaching from the heights to the depths. Linking us to the Lord of heaven and earth, when we respond by faith. Making us partakers of the divine nature (see 2 Peter 1:4), children of God (see John 1:12), joint-heirs with Christ (see Romans 8:17).

And that is infinitely more than we deserve.

October 17 | PROVERBS 13 | Poverty and Riches
Memory Verse
There is that maketh himself rich, yet hath nothing: there is that maketh himself poor, yet hath great riches (Proverbs 13:7).

The love of money can be as great a pitfall to the poor as to the rich. Some who have little put on airs and pretend to be rich. Impressions are important to them. They want others to think they are successful.

Some who are very rich travel incognito. They keep their wealth secret. Finally, after death, the truth is known. Newspapers frequently carry stories of people leaving large estates to the surprise of friends and relatives. Their lifestyles had not given a true story of their resources. Living like paupers, they had stored immense fortunes.

What is the lesson here?

It is the folly of making money life’s goal.

The poor person pretending to be rich reveals his belief that wealth determines personal worth. If only he could be rich, he thinks, life would have yielded him its best. Therefore, he spends beyond his means trying to get his message across. Finally, debt ridden, he comes to the end of his days never having been satisfied.

The wealthy person living as a pauper never feels secure enough to give of his abundance. He is ever looking for a rainy day and therefore lives under a cloud of fear. His security lies in that bank account or in his hidden treasure. He never learns the joy of leaning only upon God in a time of need. He misses the miracle of God’s provision when there is no place else to turn. Pity him.

Resting in Jesus we can be ourselves. Secure in Him, we need not feign riches or poverty. Rich or poor we belong to Him. Hallelujah!

October 16 | JAMES 1:13-21 | God Is Unchanging
Memory Verse
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning (James 1:17).

God is the same today as He was yesterday. In all our tomorrows, He will be the same. Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer wrote: “In no sphere or relationship is God subject to change. He could not be less than He is, and, since He filleth all things, He could not be more than He is. He could be removed from no place, nor is His knowledge or holiness subject to change.”

The Bible says of God: “For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed” (Malachi 3:6); “Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands. They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed: But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end” (Psalm 102:25-27).

In my youth, I would often kneel to pray in our humble home in Detroit. There I unloaded many burdens and asked for many blessings. Since that time, most things have changed. The community has changed. The neighbors have changed. I have changed. But God remains the same. He is as ready to bear the burdens of this preacher as He was to hear the prayer of that boy so long ago. Events of the day may change the course of our lives, but God is unchanging: “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).

October 15 | PSALM 139:7-12 | God Is Omnipresent
Memory Verse
Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? (Psalm 139:7).

God is everywhere.

A celebrity attended the services of an old minister in a small church. The aged preacher spoke with his accustomed earnestness and seemed unshaken by the presence of the visitor. At the close of the service, some members of the congregation said, “Pastor, we had a distinguished visitor today, but you did not seem embarrassed.” Their wise pastor replied: “I have been preaching in the presence of Almighty God for forty years, and do you think, with Him as one of my constant Hearers, any man can embarrass me by his presence?”

The ability of God to be everywhere is hard for us to grasp. Our minds struggle with such infinite information. Yet it is true. A number of Bible verses confirm it. Solomon wrote: “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded” (1 Kings 8:27). The psalmist declared: “Nevertheless I am continually with thee; thou hast holden me by my right hand. Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever” (Psalm 73:23-26).

Though it is beyond our understanding, we can claim the promise of His presence. He will never leave us nor forsake us (see Hebrews 13:6). And so the child of God is never alone.

October 14 | PROVERBS 11 | Winning Souls
Memory Verse
The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise (Proverbs 11:30).

Not many win souls.

It is estimated that only about 5% of Christians ever lead another to the Saviour. This means 95% do not win souls.

Had the early church advanced at such a snail’s pace, Christianity would have died out in the first century! Those fiery souls were out to win the world and because they were faithful, we have received the Gospel. They had been commissioned to minister in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the uttermost parts of the earth. And they took the charge seriously.

When persecution came to early Christians, they seized their scattering as an opportunity to preach the Gospel in new fields. Under pressure, they produced. Imprisoned, they sang praises to God and won other prisoners.

Why do so few win souls today? Why is fruit so scarce compared to the harvest of the first century?

There are undoubtedly a number of factors that contribute to fruitlessness. But one of the most important is that we do not make soul winning our most desired goal. We are quite content if all is going well at the church and we have few troubles at home. Financial targets get priority. We must get our incomes up to that of our friends. After overtime, there is little time to reach lost people. Church visitation and soul winning programs languish while we cater to our carnal desires of gain and ease.

But when all is said and done — who is wise?

All our earthly trinkets will someday be dissolved. But he that winneth souls is wise — having lasting treasure.

Week 42 | A Blaze of Glory

That day is coming, dear one... The day
we shall see Christ as He is. At that final
moment of earthís history for us, will He find us
blazing bright with His message of love and
hope?

I think of the maple trees across the street
from our house. One autumn season, what a
glorious display of red, yellow, brown and
purple we were treated to when those leaves
began to turn! When the evening sun came
shining through the leaf-covered boughs, each
tree seemed to be on fire.

When I was home, I enjoyed looking over
at those glorious maples. I was a little sad
when the last leaves fell and only skeleton-like
arms were left silhouetted against the winter
sky.

I waited for spring and new leaves on those
trees, but the new buds never sprouted. I was
shocked to see my neighbor cutting down the
lifeless limbs and dead trunks.

How could trees that had been so beautiful
just last fall be dead in spring? Someone
explained to me what had happened: the trees
sense when they are in their last season, and
they pour all their remaining strength into one
last spectacular display --

They go out in a blaze of glory!

Like nature, the Bible is full of examples of
this final "blaze of glory." Think of Samson,
whose entire existence was reduced to turning
a grind stone for the Philistines, in his
eternally dark, blind state.

Yet when he was brought into the Philistine
coliseum to entertain them, the Bible says:

"And Samson took hold of the two middle
pillars upon which the house stood, and on which
it was borne up, of the one with his right hand,
and of the other with his left. And Samson said,
ëLet me die with the Philistines.í And he bowed
himself with all his might; and the house fell
upon the lords, and upon all the people that were
therein. So the dead which he slew at his death
were more than they which he slew in his life"

(Judges 16:29-30).

At the wedding in Cana of Galilee, Jesus
turned water into wine when the bridegroom
ran out of wine. And his guests declared: "Every
man at the beginning doth set forth good wine;
and when men have well drunk, then that which
is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until
now"
(John 2:10).

Job had a full, rich life until tragedy struck
him. Then he went through some of the most
trying times ever endured by a human being,
but he stayed true to God, and it was said of
him, "So the Lord blessed the latter end of Job
more than his beginning"
(Job 42:12).

There is a tremendous lesson for all of us in
this. Without a doubt, we are living in the last
season of this old world. All the prophetic
signs tell us time will soon wind down. In the
short time left to us, we as Christians should
be like the maple tree and prepare to end this
final season in a blaze of glory!

Think of it! We're in the last harvest of souls
this world will ever see before Jesus comes. Say
not ye, There are yet four months, and then
cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up
your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are
white already to harvest
(John 4:35).

Knowing the season, we must expend every
resource and every bit of strength at our
disposal to light up the world with the
reflected glory of our Savior. Let us shine our
brightest today... Show our truest colors
now. There will not be another season.

Wife and mother, this may be the last
month or week... or day you will spend with
your family. Pour out your love on your
husband and children. Husband and father,
this may be your last opportunity to make
your home a glorious place to live, full of joy
and love and excitement. Do it now!

Dear friend, how can you go out with a
blaze of glory? There are simple acts of
kindness you can do: a heart-felt compliment,
a word of encouragement, a friendly phone
call to a lonely acquaintance. They may be
little things, but like each individual maple
leaf, they can fill your life-tree full!

Dr. Van Impe and I need your continued
prayer support as we try to make this season of
our ministry the most glorious of all and
proclaim to the world: Jesus is coming soon --
perhaps today!
The Scripture says...

For the Lord himself shall descend from
heaven with a shout, with the voice of the
archangel, and with the trump of God: and the
dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are
alive and remain shall be caught up together
with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the
air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord ... For
yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord
so cometh as a thief in the night
(1 Thessalonians. 4:16-5:2).

Remember to pray for us, even as we pray
for you. Ask God to give us so much strength,
energy, vision and anointing that, like Job, the
end of our lives will be greater than the
beginning. As the Scriptures tell and as the
signs of the times clearly show, the coming of
our Lord is at hand. Let's rise to meet Him in
joy and triumph, going up in a blaze of glory!

Week 41 | You Are God’s Gift to a Lost World

Did you ever realize that you are God's gift
to your world? He has planted you on this
earth like a precious flower to share the
beautiful scent of salvation with people in the
parched desert around you. He gave you as a
gift to these souls in need, and He expects you
not only to brighten their world, but to bear
fruit of new souls won to His kingdom. It's not
difficult to do when you allow the Holy Spirit
to work through you.

People all around you need hope. You can
tell, just reading the newspaper. I read several
periodicals every week, just to keep current on
world events... And I can't help but notice
that so many articles in the papers point to
despair.

Violent crime is on the rise. Unemployment
and poverty are rampant. Even suicide --
which used to be so rare -- is becoming
commonplace. It breaks my heart to read that
suicide is one of the leading causes of death
among teenagers. Now even children are
following this deadly trend, like the little girl
we read about in Florida. She threw herself in
front of a train because her mother was dying
with the AIDS virus.

Yet every time I read a newspaper item like
this, it just rings an alarm bell in my heart that
says: People need HOPE. They need the truth
of God's love. "We have this hope as an anchor
for the soul, firm and secure." We read about
the love of God in Hebrews 6:19. That hope is
our anchor, and God is calling each one of us
to share that hope with souls in danger around
us. Jesus has chosen you and me as His gift to
a lost and dying world, to share his eternal
love.

I know that you prize soul-winning above
every other calling in your life; you have
demonstrated that by your strong support of
this ministry, which is sharing God's love
continually with those in need. Yet I also
believe that God has called each one of His
children to share His precious salvation
message in our personal lives. How can we do
it? How can we find the words?

The Lord knows you inside and out; He
knows you better than you know yourself.
Through His intimate knowledge of your
special talents and your limitations, I believe
He will call you to win souls in the best, most
effective way possible for you ... What I mean
is, God does not expect you to become an
evangelist or a Gospel singer or a street-corner
preacher. He simply calls you to do what you
are able to do in presenting a Gospel witness.

For instance, there's a little shopping mall
near my home where I like to browse when I
can spare a few minutes. I don't go there with
my Bible under my arm, looking for someone
I could talk to ... I simply go shopping like any
other lady. But the Lord has given me
opportunities to witness to several of the
workers at that mall -- waitresses and sales
ladies.

Sometimes one of them will say, "Why are
you always so happy? There's something
different about you." They don't care whether
or not I've been to Bible school or what church
I attend. They just notice God's love at work
in me. Or sometimes if I ask one of them how
they're doing, they will say, "I'm having a
problem..." and they pour out their hearts to
me.

They sense my love and interest in their
lives, and they want to know what makes me
happy. Through these simple things, the Lord
has allowed me to lead several of these ladies to
the cross and pray with them to accept Jesus.
It's not difficult, and it doesn't require that you
know a lot of Scripture or have a powerful
testimony.

I would encourage you to use our video
teachings in your personal witnessing. Invite
your neighbors to a Bible study in your home,
and use Jack's video teaching as a guide -- or
give our videos as a gift. It's a loving and
effective way to warn your friends about the
coming end times and lead them to Jesus.

I know from my own personal experience
that there is something YOU can do for the
Lord. You can personally witness to others and
help lead them to Christ, in a specific way
which God has enabled you to share and
which no one else on earth could do like you.
You are God's gift to a lost world -- let Him
use you to reach your world with His good
news!

Week 40 | Go Home a Winner

During the course of a year, Jack and I
receive various invitations to speak at a variety
of functions. One such invitation that he
never refuses is the privilege of being the
keynote speaker for an international prophecy
conference in Florida. The invitation came
again this year; he accepted, and we were on
our way! Flying to Tampa would surely be the
quickest means of getting there, but since we
desperately needed a break from our workload,
we decided to incorporate a few days of
relaxation by driving to our destination. I was
elated to see the bright and beautiful February
morning as we left our home in Michigan. We
thoroughly enjoyed the quiet, pleasant, and
fun-filled days on the road. It was a perfect
time to talk with each other without
interruptions and absorb some of God's
magnificent, majestic creation.

As we approached Atlanta, Georgia, I was
especially taken with a sign on the back of a
Yellow Checker taxi. It was an interesting
slogan that said, "Go home a winner; play the
Lottery!" The first four words began to echo in
my mind and heart, "Go home a winner!" I
prayed silently, "Lord, this is what you expect
from all of your followers. You want us to be
winners in the race of life."

Remembering that heaven is a prepared
place for a prepared people, we must truly be
ready to go home by knowing the Lord Jesus
as Savior (Philippians 3:10). When this is a
reality, we will have the blessing of God's Spirit
within our hearts (Romans 8:9). Surely it is
impossible to be successful in attaining the
approval of our Lord unless we have the power
of His Spirit in our lives. He alone enables us
to win the battle against Satan.

I do not need to convince any thinking
person that we are fighting against some fierce
odds. All we need to do is watch the television
news or read daily newspapers and current
magazines to see how Satan is winning in some
arenas of the world. Thank the Lord that it is
possible for us to say, as did the Apostle Paul:
"I have fought a good fight, I have finished my
course, I have kept the faith"
(I Timothy 4:7).

Here are some of the thoughts that I had
pertaining to being a winner as we continued
our journey South.

1. Follow the Lord in His example of holiness.

There are several ways that we can go home
a winner. One would certainly be by following
the Lord Jesus in His example of holy living.

Positionally, we have been declared holy
because of what Jesus did for us when He died
at Calvary, but experientially, God wants us to
follow peace and holiness in our daily lives.
How good that our loving God gave us the
Ten Commandments (not suggestions) so that
we could have guidelines to help us know right
and wrong, black and white, and not the
modern concept of living in some gray area of
life with no absolutes. Often we hear a theory
called "situation ethics" expounded. This
contemporary humanistic reasoning manifests
itself when one accepts this theory which
declares: "I have the right to ignore God's
commandments because of the situation in
which I find myself." This philosophy offers
no restraints for moral actions or personal
pleasures.

There are times, however, when we are
unable to live completely like the Lord would
desire, and we fall short of His holy example.
How good to know that we do serve a loving,
forgiving God. The Apostle John tells us the
story of a woman who was caught in the act of
adultery and thrown at Jesus' feet. She was
guilty of a great, and immoral sin -- according
to Jewish law she deserved death, but Jesus'
response to her was one of overwhelming love.
The power of His love is greater than any sin.
He not only forgave her, but he would not
allow her accusers to condemn her. He knew
they too were guilty and hypocritical about
their condemnation. Thus he looked at her
with compassion and said, "Neither do I
condemn thee: go, and sin no more"
(John 8:11).
Quickly notice however, that even though
Jesus loved and forgave her of her immorality,
He also exhorted her not to allow the sin to
continue.

In the same way, you and I stand forgiven
...but He expects us to live a holy lifestyle.

2. Follow the Lord in His example of humility.

This is a staggering and astounding
admonition when we consider a very
important aspect about our Lord as He walked
among us.

He was not an ordinary man or prophet.
He was the Son of God! A member of the
Holy Trinity! Scripture reveals to us that He
helped to create the heavens and the earth --
and that "nothing was made without Him"
(Colossians 1:16). He, as God, is omnipotent,
omnipresent, and omniscient. With this in
mind, I am in awe to think that when He
walked upon earth He gave us an amazing
example of humility.

I find it hard to comprehend that He was so
humble He knelt down and washed the feet of
His disciples (John 13:14). What a beautiful
and awesome thought: We serve a humble
God!

Surely this example should cause us to
conclude that the more responsibility you and
I are given in this life... the more humility is
required. Perhaps the reason some hesitate to
exemplify humility is found in the fact that
they confuse meekness with weakness.
Meekness never manifests itself in weakness.

I am so grateful that I have had the privilege
of working alongside so many great men. In
my opinion, the greatest of these personalities
were those who chose to humble themselves in
the sight of God, following the Lord Jesus in
His meek and lowly life (Matthew 11:28 and
29). In so doing, God exalted and blessed
these leaders abundantly (James 4:10).

An astounding illustration of this can be
found in Westminster Abbey in London,
England. There, among the tombs of many,
are the tributes to David Livingstone and his
brother.

David Livingstone's brother was a man of
great fame since he was a very successful
business man. When David Livingstone
wanted to go to the mission field to share the
Gospel, it was his brother who tried to reason
with him by saying, "Don't go David, you are
burying yourself in Africa and wasting your
life. You have so much to look forward to in
England. In a short time you are destined to
become wealthy." David Livingstone listened
to the voice of God instead of his brother. He
left for the mission field to pioneer a
tremendous work for His Lord in Central
Africa.

Today, on the monument of David
Livingstone, there is a beautiful, royal tribute
etched in stone as a commemoration of his
tremendous and enduring accomplishments.
Right next to this tribute, lies the monument
of his brother that merely reads: "The brother
of David Livingstone."

We may never receive the promised
exaltation of James 4:10 here on earth, but
someday we will go home winners if we
exemplify humility in our lives.

3. Follow the Lord in His example of Evangelization.

A dramatic and dynamic event occurred
when Jesus ascended into heaven. The last
words that He spoke to his disciples were: "But
ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost
is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto
me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in
Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the
earth"
(Acts 1:8). Let's consider two thoughts
concerning His last request.

Why do we receive power? So we can
witness. Where did Jesus want us to witness?
Right where we are. Perhaps another way we
could paraphrase this is: "But ye shall receive
power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon
you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in
Detroit, and in all of Michigan, and in the
United States, and unto the uttermost part of
the earth." Place your city, state and nation in
the above.

I appreciate how Jesus prepared lives around
Him for His message of love and salvation.
First of all, He cared for the specific needs of
each and every one. Remember how he healed
their bodies (John 5:1-9), how He brought
comfort to their minds during times of sorrow
(John 11:20-45), and how He gave them food
to satisfy their hunger (Matthew 15:32-38). It
may prove a blessing for us to follow His
example by caring for those around us before
we attempt to reach out to them spiritually.
There are so many with multiplied problems.
Let's always be aware of their needs first and
then love them enough to reach out in a
tangible way.

Secondly, He met the needs of those near
Him as well as far away. He blessed and
redeemed His disciples and ultimately the
souls of the world via Calvary. Our mission
field is all around us. Let's be vigilant and
ready to help those at home as well as those
abroad. Sometimes those closest to us are
neglected. Perhaps we could say we are often
too far-sighted.

Once there was a young lady in San
Francisco who wanted to go to China as a
missionary. But when she went before the
Missions Board, they asked her two very
important questions... The first was: "How
far do you live from Chinatown?" "Just a few
miles..." she replied. Then they asked her
the second question: "Have you been there to
share the Gospel with them?" Her answer was
"no." How sad! The board in good conscience
could not approve her application to become a
missionary.

Take note! The last thing Jesus asked us to
do before He ascended into heaven was, "Go
and be witnesses." The first thing we will be
asked by the Lord when we arrive home is:
"Did you keep my commandment?" Scripture
tells us there will be a special reward for such
an effort (I Thessalonians 2:19).

John the Baptist spoke these inspiring
words that may help us in our efforts to be
winners. He said of Jesus, "He must increase, but
I must decrease"
(John 3:30). May this powerful
exhortation reside and reign in our hearts as
we resolve to "GO HOME A WINNER!"

Week 39 | Just to Say, “Thank You!”

No story in the Bible more movingly
pictures human gratitude than the healing of
ten lepers in Luke 17:12-18...

And as He entered into a certain village,
there met Him ten men that were lepers,
which stood afar off'. and they lifted up their
voices and said, ëJesus, Master, have mercy on
us.í

And when He saw them, He said unto
them, ëGo shew yourselves unto the priests.í
And it came to pass, that, as they went, they
were cleansed.

And one of them, when he saw that he was
healed, turned back, and with a loud voice
glorified God. And he fell down on his face at
His feet, giving Him thanks: and he was a
Samaritan.

And Jesus answering said, ëWere there not
ten cleansed? But where are the nine? There
are not found that returned to give glory to
God, save this stranger.í"

Have you too found that sometimes when a
person gets what he wants, he forgets to say
thank you? Throughout Jesus' ministry, He
was giving examples of how we should live. He
knew -- as He knew all things -- that only
one man would return to express appreciation.
Thus, Christ wanted this story of the ten
lepers recorded for future generations, so that
we would know the importance of giving
thanks.

Give Without Expecting Thanks?

I've heard it said that we should not
"expect" thanks in return for the kindnesses we
show. If we don't expect it, we will never be
disappointed in our fellow man. However, I
believe that the attitude of being grateful and
showing it is a biblical principle. Notice verse
17; it seems as if Jesus expected a "thank-you"
from all ten lepers. He said, "But where are the
nine?"

Jesus was showing us a practical example of
Colossians 3:15, "Be ye thankful." Obviously,
thanksgiving is expected of us. This is one
reason mothers and fathers, while teaching
their children to speak, emphasize the
importance of saying "please" and "thank
you.

We expect such "common" courtesies even
from toddlers. Naturally, it is disconcerting
when adults are ungrateful in response to
God's kindnesses to them. How many of us
follow the dictum of Colossians 3:15, "Be ye
thankful"?

Bless the LORD, O My Soul!

In Psalm 103, we read a beautiful song of thanksgiving:

Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is
within me, bless His holy name.

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all
His benefits:

Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; Who
healeth all thy diseases;

Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; Who
crowneth thee with loving kindness and tender
mercies;

Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things;
so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's.
The Lord executeth righteousness...

(Psalm 103:1-6)

Notice in this text that the psalmist recalls
the "benefits" of serving God, and even lists
them in his song of praise. Have you ever
created such a list? The little Sunday School
song that I learned as a child implores us to
"count your blessings; name them one by one,
and it will surprise you what the Lord has
done." When we pray and give thanks to God,
let us remember all the wonderful blessings He
has bestowed on us!

A Chocolate Remembrance

It was my special joy to meet and fellowship
with the many friends who came to our open
house at our JVI Headquarters. What a
pleasure it was to hear so many of them say,
"Thank you" to Dr. Van Impe and me during
that great day of celebration.

Some of our friends even surprised us with
special presents. I'll never forget, one beautiful
little girl, maybe seven years of age, with her
big eyes glowing, handed me a box of candy
and said, "We remembered that your husband
likes chocolates." I reached down, embraced
her, and said, "Thank you, sweetheart."

Since we are unable to write thank-you
notes to everyone who came to our open
house or brought gifts, I would like, in this
open forum, to thank everyone for their
thoughtfulness, love and generosity.

But let me go one step beyond thanking our
wonderful guests who came to visit us. Let me
also extend my gratitude to every supporter
and friend of our ministry. Thank you all, dear
ones, for your financial help, prayers, letters
and encouragement.

We especially thank you whose lives have
been changed for your notes and letters of
testimony. Jack and I have had many praise
sessions because of God's word in your hearts.

The Impact of Encouragement

It would be virtually impossible to carry on
this ministry to which God has called us
without help and encouragement from
precious friends like you. We need your
encouragement; we thrive upon hearing about
your triumphs and victories because God used
our ministry to reach you. It is difficult to
express the impact we feel as we receive
hundreds of thousands of letters each year
sharing such blessings. It is like a warm ray of
sunshine on a cold winter's day.

At His last supper, Jesus showed us exactly
how important encouragement is at the
darkest hours of our life. When Jesus had thus
said, He was troubled in spirit, and testified,
and said, ëVerily, verily, I say unto you, that
one of you shall betray me.í Then the disciples
looked one on another, doubting of whom He
spake. Now there was leaning on Jesus' bosom
one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved
(John
13:21-23).

John could feel the Master's burdened spirit
and leaned his head on Jesus to express his love
and concern. John wanted to give his Lord a
measure of additional strength and
encouragement. This example of human love
from this disciple is so beautiful that it cannot
be overlooked.

I am sure Jesus absorbed a great deal of love
and respect from His apostles. I do believe,
however, God laid it on their hearts to be
extremely compassionate and supportive of
the Lord Jesus especially because of the agony
which lay ahead.

The Most Important Person on Earth

Jack and I thank you for the encouragement
you have been to us. May our example help
you to express appreciation to special people in
your life for the blessings they have been to
you.

For instance, when was the last time you
said "thank you" to the person you hold
dearest on earth? Remember your mate is a gift
from God, and the Bible teaches us to love and
respect each other. Read Ephesians 5:20,25,28.

Ladies, when the man in your life opens the
door for you, do you say, "Thank you,
sweetheart"? Gentlemen, when the lady of
your dreams fixes your favorite meal, do you
remember to say, "Thank you honey, that was
delicious!" (You might even say "thank you"
when the roast is tough, especially when you
have only been married for 10 weeks!) When
your son or daughter plans a surprise birthday
party for you, do you give him or her a loving
hug and express gratitude? Oh how important
it is to be mindful to say "thank you,"
especially to those closest to us.

Thanks for the Memories

Parents, also, deserve our thanks. In fact,
the edict to honor our father and mother is
one of the Ten Commandments -- and it is
the first commandment with a promise.
Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days
may be long upon the land which the Lord thy
God giveth thee
(Exodus 20:12).

I am sure that there are many people who
made an infinitely important impact upon
your life, but who probably are not aware of it.
Perhaps there was a teacher somewhere along
the line who captured your imagination and
helped you to learn. Would it not be a
wonderful idea to write a thank-you note
telling him or her of the great contribution
that they made toward the success of your
career and personal life?

I heard the story of a grown man who
remembered his best school teacher from years
past, and sent her a letter thanking her for all
she had given him and his classmates. The
teacher was in her 80's now, and gratefully
replied, saying: "I taught school for 50 years,
and this is the first note of gratitude I have
ever received!"

Likewise, your thank-you note would mean
so much to someone today.

Everyday Gratitude

Most of us don't take the time to thank our
pastors or Sunday School teachers or ministers
of music and youth for the hours they spent
studying and preparing to help us in our
spiritual walk. I feel confident they would
appreciate knowing you are grateful and have
been blessed by their ministry.

Saying "thank-you" will also enhance your
opportunities to witness for Christ. When the
clerk at the supermarket is helpful, look that
person right in the eye and say, "Thank you."

I know this is appreciated, because one
young lady who has helped me many times at
the store said to me, "You know, Rexella, you
are the only customer who really looks at me,
and this tells me I'm important to you." I pray
she sees more than just a look, but that
through my eyes she sees Someone whocares
for her deeply.

Of course, we could go on and on with a list
of people who deserve our thanks, but as you
open your horizon of opportunities to show
appreciation, let me assure you that you will
experience a great sense of satisfaction in
expressing it.

H.W. Beecher said, "Pride slays
thanksgiving. A proud man never thinks he
gets as much as he deserves."

The Bible tells us that all have sinned and
fallen short of the glory of God. In light of
eternity, none of us "deserves" the many
wonderful blessings which have been bestowed
on us. Our sinful humanity deserves only
eternal punishment.

Yet Christ in His infinite mercy provided a
way of escape for us through His shed blood,
and rewards us with eternal life. How can we
not be thankful every moment of our lives? We
did nothing to deserve all of His blessing;
Christ did it all.

So there is no room for pride in our lives,
and oh -- so much room for thanksgiving!
Let us rejoice this day and obey the command
of Colossians 3:15: "Be ye thankful."