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Today’s Devotional | May 22 | JEREMIAH 33:1-9 | Speaking to God

Today's Devotional

Memory Verse
Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not (Jeremiah 33:3).

Five men were entrapped in a spar and zinc mine in Salem, Kentucky. They had nothing to eat and were in utter darkness. One of the men could have escaped had he not run back to warn the others.

When the entombed men discovered that they could not escape, they began to pray and sing. Their prayer and praise service lasted for fifty-three hours. Then they were rescued.

After the ordeal, one of the men said, “We lay there from Friday morning till Sunday morning. We prayed without ceasing. When the rescuers reached us, we were still praying.”

When the men were brought up out of the mine, on the caps of each one were scrawled these words: “If we are dead when you find us, we are all saved.”

God answered the prayers of the desperate miners. Undoubtedly many relatives and friends were also praying for their rescue. Reflecting on their experience, they must have felt they had used their time and tongues wisely…praying and singing praises to God.

But a question rises: “What would they have been talking about had the emergency not occurred?” And that begs another, “What miracles are missed because we do not pray?”

Had those miners used the same amount of time praying on another day when not facing death, what might the results have been?

If you are faced with a crisis today, do you believe that God will answer your prayer and bring you safely through? Do you need a crisis to cause you to speak to God?

Claim His promise. Call upon Him. See what great and mighty things are wrought by earnest prayer!

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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    May 21 | JOHN 4:35-38 | Reaping
    Memory Verse
    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).

    Revival brings times of reaping. Those in your community who have seemed unreachable could melt as a result of seeing changed lives about them. When the church gets right... evangelism flourishes.

    Describing conviction and the wonderful soul winning climate of The Great Awakening, Jonathan Edwards wrote: “There scarcely was a single person in the town, old or young, left unconcerned about the great things of the eternal world. Those who were wont to be the vainest and loosest, and those who had been most disposed to think and speak lightly of vital and experimental religion, were now generally subject to great awakenings. And the work of conversion was carried on in a most astonishing manner and increased more and more; souls did as it were come by flocks to Jesus Christ. From day to day, for many months together, might be seen evident instances of sinners brought out of darkness into marvelous light and delivered out of a horrible pit and from the miry clay, and set upon a rock, with a new song of praise to God in their mouths (Psalm 40:1-3).

    “This work of God, as it was carried on, and the number of true saints multiplied, soon made a glorious alteration in the town... It was a time of joy in families on account of salvation being brought unto them; parents rejoicing over their children as new-born, and husbands over their wives and wives over their husbands.” Sound good?

    It can happen again!

    May 20 | PSALM 29 | Worship
    Memory Verse
    Give unto the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness (Psalm 29:2).

    We struggle for the best definition or expression of all that is contained in the word “worship.” “Zondervan’s Pictorial Bible Dictionary” defines it as follows: “The honor, reverence, and homage paid to superior beings or powers, whether men, angels, or God.” It continues: “When given to God, worship involves an acknowledgement of Divine perfections. It may express itself in the form of direct address, as in adoration or thanksgiving, or in service to God; and may be private or public... Worship presupposes that God is, that He can be known by man, and that His perfections set Him far above man.”

    If all that seems too technical, your heart will guide you in expressing your love and adoration of the Lord. As the Scotsman said: “It’s better felt that telt.”

    Worship the Lord in song. Praise Him in some melody that tells of His love and power. You say you can’t carry a tune? Then get alone and make a joyful noise to the Lord.

    Worship the Lord through prayer. Tell Him how much He means to you, Worship the Lord in thanksgiving. Count your blessings and remember that every good gift comes down from above. We have nothing other than what has been provided by our Heavenly Father.

    Worship the Lord in your conversation. While others take His name in vain, exalt God at every opportunity. Others will take notice.

    Worship the Lord with a righteous and holy life. God will be pleased and you will be blessed. “Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.”

    May 19 | HEBREWS 11:1-6 | Faith
    Memory Verse
    But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him (Hebrews 11:6).

    Faith sometimes needs reviving.

    All Christians understand that salvation comes through faith. Before that day of peace with God arrived you struggled and tried to find the answer to life, but to no avail. Neither religion nor ritual met your need. Finally faith made the difference: “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).

    But faith is more than the key to eternal life. It is to be the daily experience of the child of God: “Now the just shall live by faith...” (Hebrews 10:38). And the mighty people of the Bible trusted God in their everyday battles. “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went” (Hebrews 11:8).

    Today, however, your faith may be faltering, Like Peter who walked well on the water until he looked about and saw his precarious position, you may find yourself sinking under the circumstances. You put on a good front and others don’t know about the churning within.

    Faith grows as we focus on the strength of the object of faith, the Saviour Himself. Peter’s cry, “...Lord save me!” (Matthew 14:30) may be about all you can muster today. But that was enough to lift the drowning disciple back to the surface. Your present problems may be designed to demonstrate the power of God to deliver you. Have faith in God.

    May 18 | PROVERBS 15:1-17 | A Wholesome Tongue
    Memory Verse
    A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit (Proverbs 15:4).

    A wholesome tongue heals.

    A perverse tongue wounds.

    Dr. H. A. Ironside wrote: “How much more common is the tongue of perversity than the healing tongue! The one separates brother from brother, and makes breach upon breach; the other binds together, giving cheer and gladness, and is a tree of life to those who meditate upon its utterances. The healing tongue is the tongue of the peacemaker. The perverse tongue belongs to him who sows discord among brethren. May it be ours to covet the former and flee the latter.”

    What does a peacemaker do?

    He forgets the gossip that he hears about others.

    When the faults of his friends become the topic of discussion, he maneuvers the conversation to another subject.

    When he hears something negative about another, he doesn’t feel it his duty to report what was said.

    When he is approached by two who are at odds, he refuses to allow his ear to become a dumping ground for criticism.

    When he hears a complimentary comment concerning someone, he is eager to pass the good word along.

    He is willing to meditate between those who are in a disagreement.

    He has understanding about the weaknesses of all people, but doesn’t major on them. He would rather discuss ideas or events than people.

    He is swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath (James 1: 19).

    A spiritual person is a peacemaker.

    Blessed are the peacemakers!

    May 17 | MATTHEW 5:1-12 | Righteousness
    Memory Verse
    Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled (Matthew 5:6).

    One of history’s greatest revivals took place in Wales in 1904. There was such a move of God evident that writers and ministers from several countries visited Wales to become eyewitnesses of the revival. One Chicago religious paper published the following account: “A wonderful revival is sweeping over Wales. The whole country, from the city to the colliery underground, is aflame with gospel glory. Police courts are hardly necessary, public houses are being deserted, old debts are being paid to satisfy awakened consciences, and definite and unmistakable answers to prayer are recorded.”

    Notice the emphasis on the changed life during the Welsh revival. Playing church goes out of style. The heart’s desire is for righteousness during revival. And no wonder! The revived heart is surrendered to the Lord and the fruit of the Spirit comes through: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (Galatians 5: 22-23).

    The world has seen enough empty profession. It is time for Christians to demonstrate the righteousness of Christ in daily life: “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked” (I John 2:6).

    Imagine the impact of the ministry of your pastor if every member of the church had righteousness as his aim. Gone would be the excuses of backsliders and sinners who have been pointing accusations at those who are inconsistent in Christian living.

    What changes would you experience in life if righteousness became your goal?

    May 16 | JEREMIAH 5:15-21 | A Revival
    Memory Verse
    Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, 0 LORD God of hosts (Jeremiah 15:16).

    What does a revival do to the attitude of people toward the Bible? Listen to Jonathan Edwards: “While God was so remarkably present amongst us by His Spirit, there was no book so delightful as the Bible; especially the Book of Psalms, the Prophecy of Isaiah, and the New Testament. Some, by reason of their love to God’s Word, at times, have been wonderfully delighted and affected at the sight of a Bible; and then, also, there was no time so prized as the Lord’s Day, and no place so desired as God’s House.”

    Since the Holy Spirit is the source of revival and is also the Author of the Bible, it is not surprising that the work of God and the Word of God are closely associated. The Bible is a mighty power in giving victory over sin. Neglect of the Bible brings spiritual bankruptcy to any Christian.

    “These two hath God married
    And no man can part;
    Dust on your Bible
    Means drought in your heart.”

    Revival, then, sends men to their Bibles for guidance, comfort and victory over sin. You have those needs right now. They are always with us. Therefore, we do not have to wait until someone declares the arrival of revival. Go to God’s treasure chest — the Bible — and allow its message to change your life. Find spiritual food there for the battles of this very day!

    May 15 | EPHESIANS 4:11-16 | God’s Order
    Memory Verse
    For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:12).

    Today’s church is often afflicted by the “spectator syndrome.” The saints sit and soak while the pastor does most of the ministering. But this is not God’s plan for His people. Here’s the plan: “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-12).

    Every Christian is to be ministering. This is God’s order. And in revival, the saints are activated. They are no longer content to try to fulfill their obligations to God by giving toward the pastor’s salary and being listeners. Yet this may describe your present participation in your church.

    Ask God to stir your heart today and get busy for Christ! There is no excuse for inactivity. God has given you everything that is necessary to perform His will. Whether you are ministering to the needs of other Christians or busy in evangelizing your community or the world, you can do the task God intends for you to do. So, begin where you are and with what you have.

    • Visit someone who is sick and pray for him.
    • Take food to a needy person.
    • Volunteer to teach a Sunday School class.
    • Shock your pastor by showing up for visitation.
    • Distribute tracts throughout your neighborhood.

    Don’t wait for the pastor to bring revival. Think on the teaching he has already given and put it into practice. Do the work of the ministry.

    Week 20 | The Tragic Problem of Child Abuse

    My husband and I were recently in
    Israel. Almost everywhere we went, we saw
    children, running, playing, shouting. I thought
    that Jesus must have seen children, too, as He
    visited the places we did, and I was tenderly
    reminded of how much He loves children.

    On one occasion the disciples tried to keep
    the children from Jesus, and the Bible says He
    rebuked them. Jesus said, Suffer little
    children, and forbid them not, to come unto me:
    for of such is the kingdom of heaven
    (Matthew 19:14).

    Jesus not only had a special love for
    children while He was here on earth, but when He
    returns He is going to give special attention to
    them. Zechariah 8:5 says, And the streets of
    the city shall be full of boys and girls playing
    in the streets thereof.

    Unfortunately, there are people today who
    do not share God's love for children. Instead,
    they abuse children, mistreat them, and even
    kill them. Child abuse is now being called
    "the most under-reported crime in the United
    States." America's children -- our nation's
    most precious resource -- are in peril.

    Scarcely a day goes by without the
    headlines screaming out the tragic loss of a child's
    life somewhere in the country, or the media
    reports another case of sexual abuse of an
    innocent child or the beating of a youngster. It
    is a tragedy, a crime of monstrous proportions,
    with children -- the most vulnerable members
    of our society -- the targets of abuse.

    Psychologists are now telling us that
    parents who physically or emotionally abuse their
    small children were reared in a similar
    manner. In view of this, child abuse is a matter we
    must make our concern. My reading has
    revealed that parents who batter their children,
    whether emotionally, physically, or a
    combination of both, say that is how they were
    raised. They say they don't know any other
    way to keep their kids in line. Thus the cycle
    of abuse continues from one generation to another.

    Abuse often goes unrecognized

    One tragedy of child abuse is that parental
    or adult child abusers often go unrecognized
    for a number of reasons. Often the outside
    world really doesn't want to become involved
    in what could turn out to be a long, drawn-out
    situation. There may not be enough evidence
    for outsiders to justify their early involvement,
    or they may want to spare the child any
    additional, needless hurt.

    Another reason child abusers go unrecognized
    and unpunished is because of adult
    denial. When a child reports that he has been
    or is being abused by an adult, too often his
    parents or the authorities will deny it. Some
    parents who do not wish to cause problems
    within the family or with friends or neighbors
    will shame their children into silence.

    We have Sigmund Freud to blame, in part,
    for parental denial. He fashioned what came
    to be called the "seduction theory" based upon
    early encounters with young girls who were
    brought to him by their parents. In 1905 he
    published the theory that children were ruled
    by their infantile sexual desires and that the
    sexual "abuses" children reported could not be
    believed as real events because the abuses
    were merely the children's own deepest wishes.

    Because of this, our culture, pervaded with
    Freudian psychology, for 60 years has ignored
    or de-emphasized children's reports of seduction,
    cruelty, and sexual coercion by family
    members and/or by friends or neighbors.

    Some adults are now speaking out after
    years of silence and telling of their experiences
    as abused children. They say that a
    common message they received was, "You're
    bad even to think such thoughts," when they
    tried telling their mothers what was actually happening.

    Fortunately, today people are beginning to
    be aware of child abuse, to talk about it, and to
    do something about it. Recent reports in the
    news media about child abuse at preschools
    have done much to heighten public awareness
    of the problem. This has led to the formation
    of community services and self-help groups
    to deal with the increasing problems both for
    abusers and the abused.

    Awareness within the Christian community
    has grown along with public awareness.
    Adult "care-givers" in both arenas are working
    diligently to provide treatment and counsel.
    They are even teaching youngsters how to
    protect themselves from abuse and where to
    go for help if it is needed. We should recognize
    and admit that the abuse of children is a
    problem that affects not only society but the
    church as well. The church should be ready at
    all times to minister to an abused child or to
    an abusive family.

    What is child abuse?

    How is child abuse actually defined? The
    public is, by and large, uncertain as to what
    constitutes abuse, and that accounts, in part,
    for an under-reporting of suspected child abuse.

    "Doesn't every parent have the responsibility
    and the right to discipline his child?"
    someone may ask. As Christians, we believe
    we have a biblical mandate to train up our
    children in the way they should go, and where
    necessary, to use corrective measures. My
    own parents, as well as Jack's parents,
    exercised controlled discipline with us, and I see
    others doing the same. The key word is
    controlled.

    Professionals who speak of child abuse are
    not referring to the spankings parents give
    their children now and then when the children
    deserve a firm hand on the bottom of their
    anatomy. Abuse, they say, isn't something
    that happens "now and then." It is consistent
    and severe and is motivated by the parents'
    hostility and unresolved inner conflict rather
    than by a desire to change the child's behavior.
    It is usually irrational and uncontrolled.

    Often the abusing parent has unrealistic
    expectations of what the child is capable of
    doing and giving. I've seen parents fly into a
    rage in a restaurant when their two- or
    three-year-old spills his milk. Parents who respond
    in an uncontrolled manner will view the
    child's accident as a commentary on their
    behavior rather than as a normal three-year-old's
    clumsiness.

    The National Committee for Prevention of
    Child Abuse describes child abuse in this way:

    • Child abuse is an injury or a pattern of
      injuries to a child that is non-accidental.
    • Child abuse is damage to a child for
      which there is no reasonable explanation.
    • Child abuse includes nonaccidental
      physical injury, sexual molestation,
      neglect, and emotional abuse.

    Nonaccidental physical injury may include
    severe beatings, burns, human bites, or
    immersion in scalding water.

    Sexual molestation is exploitation of a
    child for the sexual gratification of an adult,
    such as rape, incest, fondling of the genitals,
    or exhibitionism.

    Neglect is a failure to provide a child with
    the basic necessities of life which include
    food, clothing, shelter, or medical care.

    Emotional abuse is excessive, aggressive,
    or unreasonable parental behavior that places
    unreasonable demands upon the child to
    perform above his capabilities. Examples may
    include constant teasing, belittling, or verbal
    attacks; no love, no support, and no guidance.

    • Child abuse is NOT usually a single
      physical attack or a single act of deprivation
      or molestation. Child abuse is a
      pattern of behavior. Its effects are
      cumulative: the longer it continues, the
      more serious it becomes and the more
      serious the child's injuries.

    Signs of abuse: what to look for

    What should you look for if you suspect
    abuse? Are there signs?

    Victims will often retreat into a silent
    world. The reason for this is that they are
    frightened or they may innately sense that
    what has happened to them is wrong and they
    are too embarrassed to tell. They believe they
    will be thought of as bad and that they will be
    blamed or punished.

    Watch for physical signs, warnings that
    something is amiss. There may be bruises,
    welts, genital pain, or bleeding. If a parent
    observes drastic changes in a child's behavior,
    he or she should be sensitive to the fact that
    something may be wrong. A toilet-trained
    child may suddenly, for no apparent reason,
    become a bed wetter. A child might resist a
    babysitter whom he or she hadn't objected to
    previously.

    Children may be sending unspoken
    messages -- an unusual quietness...not wanting to
    discuss things that are happening at school.
    Or the children may be unusually fearful.
    There may be a cringing, drawing back from
    being touched, a reluctance to meet strangers
    or even people they know.

    A child's inability to concentrate in school
    and subsequent poor grades may indicate that
    some form of abuse is occurring in the home.
    A child's withdrawal from friends and fun
    activities or difficulty in sleeping or eating are
    other signs that something is amiss.

    What can you do?

    If you are a parent or care-giver and you
    suspect child abuse, take the child to a
    physician. Reassure the child that you love him,
    but take steps to protect the child by calling
    the police or child welfare bureau. Above all,
    provide that assurance the child needs from
    you. Impress upon him that he didn't do
    anything wrong in telling you. If you suspect
    your spouse is molesting your child, win the
    child's confidence and ask appropriate
    questions.

    Teach your children how to recognize
    danger. Let them know that most adults are
    loving people but that there are some who may
    cause them harm. They need to be taught that
    they are not to go anywhere with a stranger or
    even with a casual acquaintance and that they
    are never to accept candy or money from such
    a person. Teach your children to say no to an
    adult who tries to bribe them in some way.

    Teach your children that there are some
    parts of the body that are not to be touched by
    other people. You can teach your children that
    not even people they love and trust should
    ever touch them in these places...and they
    should be wary when adult friends are acting
    secretive or when they say, "Don't tell."

    If you are an abusive parent who needs
    help, I am happy to tell you that there are
    support systems available. Parents Anonymous
    has chapters throughout the country which
    offer non-judgmental help. Their toll-free
    number is 1-800-421-0353. Another self-help
    organization is called SCAN, Stop Child
    Abuse Now. For these and other helpful
    groups, look in your telephone book under
    "Child Abuse."

    There are also community mental health
    clinics which provide help; family counseling
    services; city, county, or state social agencies;
    family mediation and crisis centers; and
    parents' aid societies. All such agencies and
    organizations are listed in the telephone directory
    white or yellow pages and most provide
    services free of charge.

    If you suspect that a child is being abused
    in some way -- whether physically, verbally,
    emotionally, sexually, or through neglect -- act
    at once by calling the police department.
    Even if you have no proof, don't hold back.
    Don't be afraid of "causing trouble." I've
    been told that the police will act on
    anonymous complaints of suspected child abusers,
    so don't fear involvement with the authorities.
    Remember, it is the lives of innocent children
    who are in peril.

    Week 19 | Someone With Skin On

    I suppose this story has been told in a
    variety of ways, but it illustrates so well the
    heart-cry of all mankind.

    As I heard it, a little boy woke up in the
    midst of a violent storm, frightened by the
    thunder and lightning, and cried out for his
    mother. She reassured him, and told him
    never to be afraid of the dark or the storm
    because God was right there with him.

    In a few minutes the child cried out again,
    and the mother went back to his side and
    reminded the youngster of her earlier assurance
    that God was with him in the storm. "I
    know," said the lad, "but I want someone with
    skin on!"

    Don't we all? Religions based on noble
    thoughts or impersonal cosmic forces, or
    centered around idols made of stone or wood, do
    not satisfy the deep longing inside the human
    breast for a God with whom we can have a
    personal, living experience. We seek a God
    we can touch -- Someone with skin on -- to be
    our Example, our Saviour, and our Intercessor.

    Centuries after the time when God himself
    came down to the Garden of Eden in the cool
    of the evening to walk, talk, and have fellowship
    with Adam and Eve, sinful man had lost
    sight of who God was and what He was like.
    Mankind stumbled about in the dark, disobedient
    and lost.

    So God sent His Son to earth once again to
    reveal to man what God is like and to restore
    the lines of communication and fellowship.
    And to help man relate to God, the Father
    wrapped His Christmas present to the world --
    the divine spirit and person of His Son -- in
    human skin!

    The Apostle Paul wrote, For God, who
    commanded the light to shine out of darkness,
    hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of
    the knowledge of the glory of God in the face
    of Jesus Christ
    (2 Corinthians 4:6).

    Jesus, our Example

    The old gospel song, "Where He Leads I'll
    Follow," has a tremendous message in its
    lyrics. One line in particular describes Jesus
    by saying, "He the Great Example is, and
    Pattern for me."

    The truth is, Jesus gave us an example for
    living as well as His life. When we see how
    Jesus lived, how He acted, how He responded
    to other people and the circumstances of daily
    life, we catch a glimpse of how we should
    live. Oh, if only we would ask ourselves,
    "What would Jesus do?" when faced with
    life's tough decisions and choices.

    We know that His life was an outpouring
    of love and joy. His very first recorded miracle
    was performed at a wedding! He had dear,
    cherished friends in Mary, Martha, and
    Lazarus, in whose home He enjoyed rest and
    fellowship. When Lazarus died and Jesus was
    called, we're told He wept for His friend.
    Onlookers even noted, Behold how he loved
    him!
    (John 11:36). And Jesus raised Lazarus
    from the dead.

    The Gospels are filled with examples of
    the compassion of our Lord. And Jesus, when
    he came out, saw much people, and was
    moved with compassion toward them
    (Mark 6:34).
    We're told He taught them...and later
    fed them.

    Acts 10:38 tells how God anointed Jesus
    of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with
    power: who went about doing good, and healing
    all that were oppressed of the devil; for
    God was with him.

    This is the example Jesus set for us -- He
    went about doing good. In love and compassion,
    He met people's needs, touching, healing,
    and lifting them. And that is what we are
    to do.

    In today's dark world, you and I may well
    be the only light some people will ever see.
    We are the only hands of God that will ever
    touch them. Ours are the only feet that will
    bring the good news of the gospel to them.

    I tell you, if Christ's hands are not extended
    through ours, He will never reach out to
    some people. That individual in your world
    crying out for someone with skin on to come
    to him...is waiting for you.

    "Oh, Rexella," you say, "how could we
    ever expect to be like Jesus and minister as He did?"

    Because He said so. Jesus said, Verily,
    verily,
    [truly, truly] I say unto you, He that
    believeth on me, the works that I do shall he
    do also; and greater works than these shall he
    do; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever
    ye shall ask in my name, that will I do,
    that the Father may be glorified in the Son

    (John 14:12,13).

    Jesus, our Saviour

    A short time after the birth of Jesus, Mary
    and Joseph brought Him to Jerusalem to the
    Temple to be presented to the Lord, according
    to the law of Moses. Two remarkable and
    beautiful things happened there that day.

    First, there was a priest named Simeon, an
    old man who had been promised that he would
    not die until he had seen the Lord's Christ.
    When He saw Jesus, he took Him in his arms,
    and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest
    thou thy servant depart in peace, according to
    thy word: for mine eyes have seen thy salvation

    (Luke 2:29,30).

    There was also an 84-year-old prophetess
    named Anna in the Temple. The Bible says
    that she coming in that instant gave thanks
    likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him

    [Jesus] to all them that looked for redemption
    in Jerusalem
    (Luke 2:38).

    Why is it so significant that Simeon and
    Anna recognized Jesus as the Saviour?
    Perhaps God knew that we today needed to see
    this confirmation of the faith of others in the
    holy Scriptures. The majority then and now
    could not see who He was and is because of
    spiritual blindness. The Lord Jesus entered
    the world He had created to rescue fallen man,
    yet those with whom He desired to be
    intimately associated rejected Him.

    The Bible says, He was in the world, and
    the world was made by him, and the world
    knew him not. He came unto his own, and his
    own received him not
    (John 1:10,11).

    Jesus knew the price He would have to pay
    as the Saviour of the world. The Christmas
    card picture of Him being revered as a beautiful
    baby in a manger was for a brief moment.
    The adulation of those touched by the compassionate
    prophet, teacher, and healer lasted only
    a few days.

    Jesus grew up in a humble home, in a
    despised village. His brothers and sisters
    misunderstood Him. The religious leaders of the
    day hated Him. And finally, when He was
    falsely convicted and crucified, His own disciples
    forsook Him.

    But He died for everyone to redeem all
    mankind, willingly, by choice. He came to be
    a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord (Luke 2:11).

    Someone has said that Jesus would have
    come to earth, suffered and died, to save just
    one person. And I believe that is true. But it
    is also true that, had the Lord been born ten
    thousand times in Bethlehem, it would have
    been ineffective...unless He had a birth in our
    hearts. Only then is He our Saviour.

    Jesus, our Intercessor

    I've often heard the old folk proverb which
    suggests that before one criticizes a person, he
    should walk a mile in his shoes. The point is,
    of course, that one cannot really understand
    someone else's behavior unless one has gone
    through their tests and trials.

    The writer of the Book of Hebrews
    reminds us that because Jesus, the Son of God,
    came down and wrapped himself in human
    skin and walked in our shoes, He knows what
    we're going through...He understands. For we
    have not an high priest which cannot be
    touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but
    was in all points tempted like as we are, yet
    without sin
    (Hebrews 4:15).

    Under the law of Moses, the role of the
    high priest was to intercede before God for
    mankind. And Jesus, who provided the
    ultimate sin offering in His death on the cross,
    now serves as our Intercessor in heaven before
    the Father.

    Having walked the rocky road of human
    existence before us, He fully understands what
    it means to be hungry, tired, and penniless
    ...to be misunderstood, slandered, falsely
    accused...to endure heartache, physical pain and
    suffering...even death!

    Oh, He knows what you're going through,
    He understands what you need...and He cares!
    He sees your struggles, He hears your cry.
    And He is reaching out to you.

    I heard about a little girl whose mother
    was in the hospital, and who was spending the
    night alone with her father. Soon after her dad
    turned out the lights, the little girl said,
    "Daddy, are you there?"

    "Yes, child," he said, "I'm here."

    It was quiet for a moment, and then a little
    voice asked, "Daddy, are you looking at me?"

    What a joy to know that, in our darkest
    hours, we can go ahead and go to sleep knowing
    that Jesus stays awake all night looking
    after us!

    I love the beautiful words of the old song
    that says,

    Can we find a friend so faithful,

    Who will all our sorrows share;

    Jesus knows our every weakness;

    Take it to the Lord in prayer.

    Just now, reach out and touch the "skin" of
    Jesus the Lord, God's "unspeakable gift" of
    love. Receive Him as your Example, accept
    Him as your Saviour, trust Him as your
    Intercessor.

    Week 18 | Give Me Your Hand

    In my daily Bible reading, I've been noticing
    how much is mentioned about the hands
    of our Lord. Again and again the Gospels
    relate how He reached out to people in their
    need and hurt and sorrow. And when He
    touched them, they were never the same
    again.

    His hands healed the sick

    After He began His earthly ministry, great
    multitudes thronged about Him wherever He
    went. Those who were sick, blind, and
    lame -- even those marked for death with the
    curse of leprosy -- came to Him seeking to be
    healed and made whole.

    When the hands of Jesus touched them,
    pain and suffering ceased, diseases and
    infirmities were cured, and lives shattered and
    ruined by sickness were restored.

    His hands fed the multitude

    It was the hands of Jesus that fed the
    multitudes who followed Him out into the desert
    place to hear His words. When evening came,
    Christ's disciples urged Him to send the
    people away. But Jesus saw their hunger and
    weariness and, in compassion, desired to
    minister to them.

    Taking a few small loaves and fishes --
    barely enough for one small boy's lunch -- the
    Lord blessed the food. Then His hands began
    to break and divide the bread and fish into
    portions which He gave to His disciples to
    serve.

    We're told that 5,000 men were fed that
    day, not counting the women and children.
    And when everybody had eaten all they
    wanted, there were twelve baskets full of
    leftovers! The hands of Jesus not only provided
    enough...but plenty to spare.

    His hands blessed the children

    Loving children as I do, my heart is
    touched to read the biblical account of how
    the hands of Jesus blessed and comforted the
    little children. He specifically told His disciples
    not to prevent them from coming to Him.
    And in my mind's eye, I can see the Lord
    sitting down and opening His arms to them. As
    they eagerly jostled about, perhaps He lifted a
    toddler into His lap, shook hands with an older
    lad, touched the cheek of a shy little girl. And
    as His gentle hands patted little shoulders and
    smoothed tousled hair, the Lord blessed these
    little ones. Somehow I think they probably
    never forgot that day when the hands of Jesus
    touched them.

    The hands of the Master

    No doubt the hands of Jesus were strong
    and powerful. Growing up around Joseph's
    carpenter shop, He probably learned to hold
    and use various tools to shape and assemble
    wood into useful items. His hands knew how
    to work.

    It was those strong hands that later would
    grasp a whip as an indignant Jesus drove the
    callous money changers out of the holy halls of
    the Temple. Those hands were instruments of
    righteousness and justice.

    It was those hands that reached out to lift
    and save impetuous Peter who, after walking
    on the water toward Jesus, took his eyes off
    the Lord and began to sink.

    There are so many other references to the
    hands of Jesus that we could talk about. But
    the single most important mention of Christ's
    hands is when they were nailed to the cross.

    A very dear, life-long friend gave me a
    beautiful wall plaque, which I have hanging in
    my kitchen. It says:

       I asked Jesus, "How much do You love me?"

    "This much," He answered, and He stretched out His arms and died.

    Greater love hath no man than this, said
    Jesus, that a man lay down his life for his
    friends
    (John 15:13).

    And who is Jesus' friend? The deeply
    spiritual and very religious? The learned and
    respectable? The proud traditionalists?

    No, our Lord said that He was called a
    friend of...sinners! (Luke 7:34).

    The Apostle Paul reminds us that Christ
    died for the ungodly...in that, while we were
    yet sinners, Christ died for us
    (Romans 5:6,8).

    It is strangely and beautifully significant
    that the first person to benefit from Christ's
    sacrifice at Calvary was a thief on the cross
    next to His! Think of it -- the first person to
    whom the Lord stretched out His nail-pierced
    hands was someone totally unworthy of His
    love.

    Love-scarred hands

    Some time ago my husband, Jack, and I
    were guests at a Christian fellowship dinner in
    another city. During the meal I got acquainted
    and talked with a dear little mother who sat
    next to me. After a while, with tears streaming
    down her cheeks, she leaned over and
    whispered the sad story of a wayward daughter
    who had run away from home, mounted up
    many debts, and fallen to the very depths of
    sin, even into a life of prostitution.

    "I pray for her every day," she said, "and
    every time I hear from her I beg her to come
    home. My husband doesn't make a lot of
    money, so I got a job to help pay off the debts
    our daughter made. I'm doing everything I
    know how to do to help her. Please pray with
    me."

    When I reached out to take hold of this
    precious mother's hands to comfort her, they
    were rough and calloused, scarred by long
    hours of hard work, week after month after
    year. Those hands were scarred by love...by a
    mother's selfless sacrifice and desperate desire
    to reach and save her wayward daughter.

    As I held those hands and prayed, I was
    reminded of Christ's nail-scarred hands that
    also were pierced for that lost daughter...and
    for every lost sinner in the whole world. They
    were scarred for me...and for you!

    Just as the hands of our Lord ministered to
    men and women, boys and girls, wherever He
    went during His time on earth, so we today
    can feel the touch of His hands in our daily
    lives. His power is still available to us today.

    In our times of pain and suffering, He is
    still the Great Physician who lays His hands
    upon us and restores our bodies. Whether our
    healing comes through medication, the skill of
    a surgeon, or by the power of faith alone, we
    know that He is the source of all healing.

    When we are hungry and experiencing a
    lack of supply -- when we're empty physically,
    emotionally, and spiritually -- Christ's hands
    will bless and multiply the smallest things we
    have to offer Him and make it sufficient to
    meet our need...with plenty to spare.

    When we've tried and failed -- when like
    Peter, we're sinking into the depths of trials
    and tribulations, with no hope in sight -- He
    will come to us, walking on the waters of our
    stormy sea. His hand will save us, lift us up,
    and lead us safely to the solid rock!

    The challenge of Easter

    I love Spring! There's something special
    about seeing the sun light up winter's gray
    skies, and nature stir the grass and trees into
    new life. Surely it is no coincidence that we
    celebrate Easter in the springtime.

    Each Easter we are reminded that Christ
    died for us -- but He rose again! Without
    Easter, we might be tempted to forget that it
    is through the outstretched arms and
    nail-pierced hands of Jesus that we have life
    eternal. Had it not been for His sacrifice on
    Calvary and His bodily resurrection, there
    would be no everlasting life.

    As we look around us and see all of nature
    coming back to life anew, let us be reminded
    of Christ's great love for us.

    But let us also be challenged to reach out
    in His love into every man's world with a
    helping hand. Let us emulate our Lord's great
    example and use the resurrection power that
    flows through us to minister to the needs of
    those around us.

    Never forget that for many people in the
    world, their first glimpse of Christ may be in
    you...the only hands that will touch them in
    love, that will comfort, lift, and bless them,
    may be your hands.

    Reach out whenever you can, wherever
    you can, to whomever you can. However
    unlovely or unworthy the person you find may
    be, remember that Christ's sacrifice is
    sufficient...and that He loves that individual just as
    much as He loves you.

    Do not be afraid to stretch forth your hand
    to anybody. For you minister, not in your own
    strength and ability, but in His love. So when
    you reach out, it will not be just your hand that
    touches them, but the hand of God through
    you!

    I love the beautiful gospel chorus that cries
    out --

    Oh, to be His hand extended,

    Reaching out to the oppressed,

    Let me touch Him, let me touch Jesus,

    So that others may know and be blessed.

    Look around you today and find someone
    who is hurting or needy, someone who is in
    trouble. Ask God to guide you to someone
    who needs Jesus.

    When you find them, don't hesitate or
    delay. Go to them with a smile filled with the
    light of His love and simply say...

    "Give me your hand."

    Week 17 | World Out of Control

    During the war in the Persian Gulf, when
    Iraq's Saddam Hussein was aggressively defying
    the whole world and turning a deaf ear to
    any voice of reason, many people were
    confused and dismayed.

    Even facing the mightiest air force and
    army in the world, this madman refused to
    back down. Instead, he provoked even further
    outrage by launching Scud missiles toward the
    peaceful neighborhoods of Israel and into
    Saudi Arabia.

    "This is getting totally out of control," I
    heard one man say, shaking his head in frustration.

    And a news commentator noted that after
    40 years of East-West confrontation, just when
    the danger of the "cold war" finally seemed to
    be going away, the Persian Gulf exploded.

    I think most of us often feel that we have
    very little control over what is happening in
    our world today.

    Scientists warn that the ozone layer high in
    our atmosphere is being destroyed and the
    earth may soon become uninhabitable. In the
    meantime, our waste disposal systems can't
    handle all the trash and garbage our huge
    cities are piling up. Is our world out of control?

    Economists tell us that most Americans
    work almost five months of the year just to
    pay their taxes, yet our federal deficit
    continues to soar...totally out of control.

    Medical experts report that disease and
    suffering is still uncontrollable. New kinds of
    cancer are being found almost every year, and
    there is still no cure. AIDS, the modern
    plague, continues to take its deadly toll among
    increasing millions. In some parts of the
    world, entire populations are at risk.

    Police officials admit they are losing the
    battle against crime in this country and the
    world. Murder, rape, robbery, and senseless
    violence make a mockery of our systems of
    so-called law and order. People don't feel safe
    going out on the streets -- or even inside their
    own houses. Crime is out of control.

    World political leaders have to acknowledge
    that after two major wars, hundreds of
    regional conflicts, and decades of work by an
    international organization dedicated to
    maintaining world harmony, we have not changed
    human nature or materially improved relationships
    between nations. The world's political
    turmoil seems more out of control than ever.

    Is our world out of control?

    At the very beginning of the war in the
    Persian Gulf, Jack and I were on national
    television with Paul and Jan Crouch. Much of the
    program was spent in prayer for our country,
    especially for the men and women on duty
    with our military forces. As Jan was praying,
    she said, "Oh, God, send a legion of angels to
    protect our troops!"

    Instantly it went through my mind --
    "They're already gone, Jan, because God says
    He knows what things we have need of before
    we ask Him, and that when we call on Him,
    He will answer"
    (see Matthew 6:8; Psalm 91:15).

    When it was my turn to lead in prayer, I
    asked the Lord to send His angels to protect
    the families our troops had left behind. I
    called on the Holy Spirit to comfort the little
    girls who had to go to bed each night without
    their mommies or daddies, and to strengthen
    the little boys who had to be the man of the
    house with dad away. And I had the comfort
    of knowing that even before I called out to
    Him, God was ready to answer.

    "I am in control!"

    Later, on the airplane flying home, I spent
    the travel time in prayer. And the Holy Spirit
    dealt with me in such a wonderful way. Again
    and again I sensed the voice of the Lord
    saying to me, "Rexella, I am in control! I have
    not left you ignorant -- I've told you what's
    going to happen. Don't worry -- I'm in control."

    I began to realize that because of God's
    foreknowledge of what is going to happen, we
    must be ever vigilant in our prayer life to be in
    His perfect will. God provides answers for
    our prayers beforehand, according to His
    foreknowledge. When you pray, He already has
    the answer for your prayers -- it's been ready
    since the dawn of creation, waiting for you to ask!

    God's plan is working out

    When circumstances seem totally
    unreasonable and unmanageable, the hand of God is
    at work behind the scenes. When everything
    in the whole world appears to be chaos from
    man's point of view, God can see the pieces of
    the puzzle falling into place according to His
    plan. He is in control. The Word of God is
    very plain about what will happen in this
    world. No matter what man does, God will
    still have His way.

    Has He not spoken it? Shall He not bring
    it to pass?

    How exciting to realize that you and I can
    be used of God to help bring about the fulfillment
    of His plan on the earth. When we see
    the world seemingly out of control, we have a
    powerful weapon at our disposal to bring
    about change and order! It's the weapon of
    loving, compassionate prayer!

    God knows what is needed before we pray,
    and He's already prepared the answer. So if
    He can depend on you and me to ask, He's
    already prepared to take control of the situation.

    Why we must pray

    I believe if we fail to pray and ask God to
    send the answer for a particular situation, it
    may not be dispatched. There is great truth in
    the old song that says:

    Oh, what peace we often forfeit,

    Oh, what needless pain we bear,

    All because we do not carry

    Everything to God in prayer.

       Look around your world today, my friend.
    Does it seem out of control? Is the confusion,
    strife, trouble, and pain more than you can
    handle alone? Try prayer!

    When you cry out to Him, God will give
    you peace -- a peace that is greater than just
    a temporary lull in the fighting, or a shaky,
    uncertain cessation of hostilities. He'll give
    you a peace that will surround you even in the
    midst of trouble.

    Jesus said, My peace I give unto you: not
    as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not
    your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid

    (John 14:27).

    Is the world out of control? As far as man
    is concerned -- yes! But not for God. He's in control!

    I pray that God will open our spiritual eyes
    today and let us see the "long" view. And as
    the fog of doubt and confusion rolls away,
    we'll be able to see the glorious truth
    expressed so well in the simple eloquence of the
    old Negro spiritual that says:

    HE'S GOT THE WHOLE WORLD IN
    HIS HANDS!