Today’s Devotional | November 17 | COLOSSIANS 3:16-25 | Don’t Be Bitter

Today's Devotional

Memory Verse
Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them (Colossians 3:19).

Bitterness keeps bad company. Note some of its associates: “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice” (Ephesians 4:31).

Bitterness is destructive anywhere, but especially in the home; clouding love’s looks and turning them into icy stares. Words spoken in bitterness cut deeply.

Husbands who harbor bitter feelings toward their wives are losers. They waste valuable time that could be used for showing love. And time is swiftly passing on its way.

Bitter husbands are disobedient to God’s command. No man can walk closely with God and still remain bitter toward the woman he has promised to love as Christ loves the church.

Bitterness may surface through nagging. C. H. Spurgeon says of nagging mates:

“What she proposes,
Be it good or bad,
He still opposes,
Till he drives her mad.”

While nagging and criticism are common fruits of bitterness, they may also be the cause. Some husbands carry bitter feelings for years over some harsh comment made by a wife early in the marriage.

What a waste!

And how inconsistent with Christian living. We who have been forgiven must always be quick to forgive.

Banish bitterness.

Build love instead.

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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November 16 | LUKE 15:1-7 | He Receives Sinners
Memory Verse
And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them (Luke 15:2).

The enemies of Jesus thought they had found a weakness on which to build their case: He welcomed sinners and ate with them.
But what if Jesus had not cared for sinners?

There would be no hope for any, for all have sinned: “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one... For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:10, 23).

Commenting on this text, Dr. H. A. Ironside says: “Our Lord Jesus Christ was always interested in sinners. He came down from the glory of His Father’s house to save sinners. These legalists could not understand it. We are told here that a great company of publicans and sinners drew near to Jesus, but the self-righteous and haughty scribes and Pharisees looked on with contempt, for they could not comprehend why Jesus did not withdraw Himself from these wretched and wicked people, and why He did not rather seek out such respectable individuals as they thought themselves to be. They murmured among themselves, saying, ‘This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.’ They did not know they were declaring a wonderful truth when they said that. Jesus receives sinners, and takes them into fellowship and communion with Himself. Thank God, this has been true all through the centuries since. Is it not wonderful grace that He receives all who will come, and He delivers them from their sins?”

Do you think yourself too guilty to be saved?

Christ will receive you the moment you come to Him in faith.

Don’t delay. Come to Christ... right now!

November 15 | ROMANS 6:11-18 | Monopoly
Memory Verse
Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 6:11).

A group of ministers were discussing whether or not they ought to invite Dwight L. Moody to their city. The success of the famed evangelist was brought to the attention of the men as a reason for inviting him.

One unimpressed minister commented, “Does Mr. Moody have a monopoly on the Holy Ghost?”

Another quietly replied, “No, but the Holy Ghost seems to have a monopoly on Mr. Moody.”

Search for the spiritual secret of all great servants of God and you will find it to be total surrender. To Moody, life was the great adventure of finding out what God would do with one who was totally and completely yielded to Him. William Booth saw as his reason for success the fact that God had all there was of him. F. B. Meyer looked back to a time when he gave the keys to every room in his heart to Christ. Paul urged the Christians at Rome to yield their members as instruments of righteousness. In other words, he was calling for the yielding of every hand and heart to the service of Christ and the glory of God. He summed it up with this moving challenge: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1).

We have been furnished with some wonderful examples of all-out dedication in both the Scriptures and in history. What about your personal surrender to the will of God? Are you really willing to do what He wants you to do this very day?

November 14 | MARK 14:1-9 | The Critics
Memory Verse
And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? she hath wrought a good work on me (Mark 14:6).

John Wesley tells of a man whom he thought of contemptuously as being covetous. One day when he contributed a gift to one of Wesley’s charities that seemed to the fiery preacher to be too small, Wesley’s indignation knew no bounds and he criticized him with blistering condemnation.

Wesley says in his diary that the man quietly replied, “I know a man who at each week’s beginning goes to market and buys a penny’s worth of parsnips and takes them home to boil in water, and all that week he has parsnips for his food and water for his drink; and food and drink alike cost him a penny a week.”

The target of Wesley’s criticism was broken. He had been skimping in order to pay off debts contracted before his conversion. Wesley was ashamed. He had criticized a brother in Christ without knowing all the facts. Many follow Wesley’s poor example (Matthew 7:1).

Those who sacrifice for Jesus must expect criticism: “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (II Timothy 3:12). Many will claim to know better uses for money and talents invested in the work of Christ.

Why?

Because their values are based on the temporary things of this earth. Coveted toys here mean more than souls or riches laid up in heaven. Sometimes their choices may seem to be best.

But a day of reckoning is coming.

Live for that day.

November 13 | I THESSALONIANS 5:12-24 | Stop Quenching the Spirit
Memory Verse
Quench not the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19).

If we quench a fire, we stop it in its path. If we quench the Holy Spirit, we halt His work in us. We stifle or suppress Him. When you quench the Holy Spirit, you exalt your will above the will of God. To quench the Holy Spirit is to resist Him. It is going your own way when His leading is clear.

Quenching the Holy Spirit is like changing channels on your television set. It is like turning off the radio to avoid its message. It is turning your mind away from the things you know the Lord wants you to do or say.

When you stop quenching the Holy Spirit, you will find some wonderful things happening. Your day will unfold as a part of His plan. You will see opportunities that you would otherwise have missed. His calming voice will comfort you when everything seems to be falling apart. Life’s irritations will be recognized as experiences that enable you to be patient and longsuffering. The needs of others will be brought to your attention and you will be refreshed in ministering to them. Having your own way will become less important. Allowing Christ to have His way in your life will receive priority.

So, stop tuning out that still small voice that always gives the right direction. Lend an obedient ear to the Lord. Be quick to do His bidding. Look for opportunities to follow His leading this very day. Don’t be afraid to be an obedient child.

Remember, the Lord always gives His best to those who follow Him completely.

November 12 | GALATIANS 5:13-21 | Start Walking
Memory Verse
This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh (Galatians 5:16).

Walking demonstrates faith.

Jesus told the man who had been sick of the palsy that he was to take up his bed and walk. That demanded faith. He had not been able to walk. The fact that he did get up and walk gave living evidence of his confidence in the power of Christ (see Matthew 9:2-7).

Peter walked on the water to go to Jesus. That was a walk of faith. When Peter’s faith faltered he began to sink (see Matthew 14:28-31). Faith made the miracle possible.

The person who walks in the Spirit has taken the filling of the Spirit by faith. As he moves through the day, he expects the Holy Spirit to control him. And control is what the Spirit-filled life is all about. Does the Holy Spirit control your life? If not, you are controlled by your sinful nature...the old nature...the old man.

It is time to discover who sits on the throne of your life. Who is King? Lord? Master? The Bible teaches that either God rules over that kingdom called your life, or you live under sin’s dominion. It’s as simple as that. See how Paul explained this struggle to the Christians at Rome: “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace” (Romans 6:12-14).

Walk in the Spirit!

November 11 | JOHN 7:1-13 | Criticizing Jesus
Memory Verse
And there was much murmuring among the people concerning him: for some said, He is a good man: others said, Nay; but he deceiveth the people (John 7:12).

Perhaps you are enduring undeserved criticism. Never mind.

They criticized Jesus.

Dr. Henry Clay Trumbull and Dr. Charles G. Trumbull, editors of “The Sunday School Times” from 1875 to 1941 gave the following advice to those being criticized by others:

  1. Commit the matter instantly to God, asking him to remove all resentment or counter-criticism on our part, and teach us needed lessons.
  2. “Consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds,” (Hebrews 12:3), remembering that we ourselves are very great sinners, and that the one who has criticized us does not actually know the worst.
  3. Take account of the personal bias of the speaker or writer.
  4. Remember that “a soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger” (Proverbs 15:1).
  5. If the criticism is true, and we have made a mistake or committed a sin, let us humbly and frankly, confess our sin to Him, and to anyone whom we may have injured.
  6. Learn afresh that we are fallible, and that we need His grace and wisdom moment by moment to keep us in the straight path.
  7. Then, — and not until then — “forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before...press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).
November 10 | EPHESIANS 4:25-32 | Stop Grieving the Spirit
Memory Verse
And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30).

You may be surprised to learn that God can experience grief. Yet, there are a number of Bible texts that reveal this.

Moses wrote that God was grieved over the wickedness that was on the earth before the flood. David declared that God had been grieved with the Children of Israel because of their complaining in the wilderness; after their escape from Egypt. Isaiah prophesied that Jesus would be a “man of sorrows” and said that He would be acquainted with grief.

What grieves the Holy Spirit?

The context of today’s verse reveals a number of things that grieve Him: “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice” (Ephesians 4:31).

Notice that all these sins have to do with your attitude toward others. You cannot be bitter toward others without grieving the Holy Spirit. You cannot gossip about others without grieving the Holy Spirit. You cannot carry malice in your heart without grieving the Holy Spirit.

To keep from grieving the Holy Spirit, we must be demonstrating the fruit of the Spirit as shown in Ephesians 4:32: “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” Examine your life for attitudes and actions that grieve the Holy Spirit. As they come to mind, confess them to Christ immediately and accept His forgiveness. Enjoy the sweet release that comes from being sure that all is right between you and your Lord.

Grieve not the Spirit.

Week 46 | World Aflame!

Fire!

What do you think of when you hear
that word? Does it set off an alarm in your
mind, warning of danger, destruction,
possibly even death from roaring, angry flames?

Or perhaps you envision the cheery
warmth of a fireplace, or the gentle glow of
the kitchen cook stove at breakfast time.

Fire can be either negative or positive, a
fearsome force or a blessing with hope.
Harnessed properly and handled carefully,
flames can bring comfort, joy, and peace.
Unrestrained, flames ruin and destroy
everything they touch.

A campfire is built to provide warmth
and light, and to prepare food. But left
unattended, the positive power of the flames
can quickly become a death-dealing menace.

We all remember the dreadful devastation
in Yellowstone Park. Several small fires
spread and burst into an inferno that roared
across thousands of acres of forest, leaving
only smoldering desolation behind.

Certainly the world is aflame today with
destruction and devastation. The eyes of
the world were riveted to the live television
coverage of the explosive situation in China
as students demonstrating for freedom
clashed with government troops in Beijing's
Tiananmen Square.

During the conflict, in which hundreds
were ultimately killed, a train was set on
fire, and students poured flaming gasoline
inside the turret of an army tank, horribly
burning those inside. The crackling flames
and billowing smoke were unmistakable
evidences of hostility, hatred, and death.

Sin burns out of control

The personal worlds of multitudes of
people are aflame today. Sin is burning out
of control. Drug abuse is rampant. The
flames of alcoholism, divorce, pornography,
sexual abuse, and crime of every kind rage
tumultuously. Tragically, these killer fires
often are first started deliberately. "This is
just a little flame, like a match," says an
unwitting individual. "Surely this couldn't
hurt me. I can handle a little drink, a little
dope, a little illicit sex, a little dishonesty."
But after a while, the flame spreads, then
explodes. What was meant to be simply
bright and exciting rages into an uncontrollable,
hellish nightmare.

These victims of sin's explosion can be
rescued only by another fire -- the flaming
power of the Holy Spirit, proclaiming the
redeeming salvation of Jesus Christ. This
flame brings light and hope to their dark
world.

The Lord has so beautifully laid on our
hearts to use the world aflame as the
logotype of our ministry. This attractive symbol
is both a reminder of the world's urgent
need and an eloquent testimony to the light,
hope, and power of the gospel.

As Christ's ambassadors in these last
days, our mission and purpose is clear -- to
light new fires of revival, redemption, and
reconciliation...across America and around
the world. Oh, how our neighbors and
friends need the purifying, cleansing,
healing flame of the Holy Spirit in their
blackened, scarred, and ruined lives today.

On fire for God

There was a time when Christians spoke
of being "on fire for God." By this they
meant that they were eager to share the
transforming power, the light and hope of
Christ's gospel, with everyone around them.
Too few are still "on fire" today.

Sadly, many actually have been afraid
of God's power, backing so far away from
its vital force that they have become
impotent and ineffectual. The flames of faith
have died down, and in too many cases,
even the embers have turned cold and dead!

I heard about a church that had a real
revival among their youth. These young
people were excited and passionately
enthusiastic about their salvation and sharing
the good news.

Someone went to the pastor and said,
"These kids are about to overdo this. Aren't
you afraid this enthusiasm will get out of
hand and we'll have some wildfire?"

"That doesn't concern me a bit," said
the wise old minister. "If any wildfire should
break out, there are always plenty of 'wet
blankets' around to put it out!"

Oh, it's time we stopped going through
the motions of being religious and really
begin shining for Jesus!

A flame of fire

During our Celebration of Faith banquet,
when we officially opened the World
Outreach Center, my husband, Jack, delivered
a tremendous prophetic message the Lord
had laid upon his heart. Now, over the
years, I've heard him preach hundreds and
hundreds of times. But this night was really
special.

As I watched and listened to him speak,
suddenly he appeared as a flame of light,
hope, and power, proclaiming the Truth of
Revelation! God's anointing was upon him
in such a marvelous way; the power and
warmth of the Spirit flowed through him
and filled the hall. It was a glorious
experience...and many who were there
commented about this special message.

Truly, God maketh his angels spirits, and
his ministers a flame of fire
(Hebrews 1:7).

Lamplighters

I love the illustration often used by my
dear friend, Mary Dorr, head of International
Religion in Media. Her organization has
awarded several "Angel" awards to Jack and
me for our television ministry.

She tells of the young Robert Lewis
Stevenson, peering out the window as a
workman came by and lit the gaslights along
the street. When asked what he was
watching, the lad said, "I see a man making
holes in the darkness!"

Thank God, each of us can be gospel
lamplighters. We can harness the force of
fire to do God's work, God's way. Individually,
we can be a flame for the Lord in
whatever sphere or circle He has placed us.
And working with other believers, we can
help send the light to the darkest corners of
the world by supporting those ministers who
are "flames of fire."

If your heart burns within you with a
sense of urgency, as mine does, take my
hand and let us work together. We must
reach the world with the gospel -- quickly --
for the Lord is coming back again...perhaps
today!

Week 45 | She Was a Stray and I Took Her In

I heard her crying the minute I got out
of the car!

Dr. Van Impe and I had just arrived home
from a crusade trip on a beautiful August
night several years ago. It was almost 3
o'clock in the morning and we were eager to
get the car unpacked and get inside.

But we heard a little cry -- almost like
the sound of a baby. I hurried over to some
nearby shrubbery, reached down...and there
was a tiny little kitten!

I picked up that wee ball of fur and
gently stroked her. She was so little, so
lost, so alone. Our house was not near the
city or heavily-traveled areas, so I couldn't
imagine where that cat could have come from.

Later, I decided the Lord just allowed
her to come to our house.

"Can I feed her?" I asked my husband.

"That's really not a very good idea," he
said. "Once you feed her, you'll have a cat.
And you know we're traveling all the time,
often by air. That cat could never travel
with us. So I don't think you'd better feed
her."

Well, I finally went to bed that night, but
I didn't sleep. I kept thinking about that
poor little kitty outside. As soon as it got
light the next morning, I was up. And there
was the kitten out on our patio!

"Can't I feed her just a little now?" I asked.
And Jack gave in. So I got her some milk.

Winning our hearts

As we cared for that tiny animal, she
quickly began to win our hearts. We could
see that she was very hungry, weak, and
sick. But she was so sweet and appreciative
of the attention we gave her.

I took her to a veterinarian who found
that she had mites in her ears, intestinal
worms, and that her eyes were infected. He
gave me some medicine for her, and told me
she was about four weeks old. He said she
apparently had been abandoned by her
mother, and that if we had not cared for
her, she would have certainly died.

When I got home with her, Jack said,
"We'll feed her and nurse her back to health,
but she has to stay out in the garage -- she
can't come inside the house." So we fixed
up a comfortable place for her and she got
stronger and better by the day.

I was so happy to have this little stray
kitten because, with our travel schedule,
we'd never even considered having a pet of
any kind. We decided that the man who
mowed our grass during the summer could
come by the house every day when we were
gone and feed Finica.

That's what we named her -- Finica, a
derivative of the Flemish word for Josephine.
The "CA" on the end of the word indicates
precious or beloved. And so she is!

Finica's bed in the garage lasted for one
trip. I could hardly wait to get back home
to check on her. And she was so glad to see
US.

Jack said, "Now, we can't let her into
the house, you know." And I replied, "Oh,
let's just take her in for a little while so I
can love her a little bit."

The moment she set foot inside the door,
Finica became queen of the house. And
she never went back to the garage again!
In two weeks' time, she went from an
abandoned stray to a member of our family.

For many years now, she has been a
great joy! And we have learned so many
lessons from her -- gentleness, unqualified
love, dependence with dignity, devotion, and
patience.

Little traveler

She immediately adapted herself to our
life-style. Because we spend so much time
working, she learned independence and
self-entertainment. She has always required
a minimum of fuss.

And she took to travel like a real trooper.
She began traveling in the car when she
was just a month old. Unlike many animals,
she never was nervous or upset, and never
had to be tranquilized.

So when it came time to fly, she went
right on the plane with me. She's been on
hundreds of flights -- even all the way to
Alaska. She adapts to different hotel rooms
without complaint. When we come in at
night, tired from a busy evening, there she
is with a gentle purr, ready to cuddle for a
while. It's just like having "family" on the
road with us.

Although she still goes with us all the
time, now that she's getting older, Finica
does enjoy home life a bit more than traveling.
She especially loves to lie in front of
the fireplace on a cold evening, or just sit
and look out the window during the day.
She doesn't require a lot to be content.

And you know, the one who first said,
"Don't feed her" -- I just don't know what he
would do without her now. Jack loves Finica
as much as I do. Some might have a hard
time visualizing this manly, busy scholar
having time for a cat -- but you should just
see them together! They're quite a pair.

When we travel, he never complains
about going to the airport a little early to
make special arrangements for Finica. He
likes to take her with us and would do
anything within reason for her.

So often when I'm enjoying the
companionship of my beloved friend and pet, I think
of what we would have missed had we not
taken her in. We had to get involved -- we
fed her, nursed her, met her needs. And
over the years, she's required some of our
time and attention. But, oh, how much
she's given back to us! How we've been
blessed in return.

Dare to get involved

So often in today's world, we miss out
on the opportunities God gives us to be
enriched and blessed by avoiding those we
could help. "I know that person has a need,"
we say, "but I don't want to get involved. It
would be too much trouble...take too much
time...and it might be risky."

So even when we have the resources to
share and wisdom that is needed, we pass
on by...or sit back doing nothing. We let
the inconvenience of caring rob us of the
rewards of becoming involved. Who knows
when the person you minister to in Christian
love will turn out to be a dear friend -- a
"beloved" one? And what greater incentive
could we have to show love than the example
of our Saviour and the teachings of the
Word of God?

John, the Apostle of Love, wrote, But
whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his
brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels
of compassion from him, how dwelleth
the love of God in him? My little children, let
us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in
deed and in truth
(1 John 3:17,18).

I can think of no greater joy than to get
involved spiritually with people. How
wonderful to lead someone to Christ and see
changes begin to take place in his life. What
a thrill it will be to see that dear one in
heaven!

That's why Dr. Van Impe and I just
cannot give enough these days -- of our time,
our talents, our best efforts, or our personal
funds -- to get involved with people crying
out for spiritual help.

We care! We are involved. And, oh, how
we are blessed!

Week 44 | Are You in Contact With Your Spirit Guide?

We're hearing so much in this day about
the New Age Movement and how we should
be in contact with our "other self" through
our "spirit guide." These concepts are being
taught in our public schools, even at the
lower grade levels. Misguided, deceived
individuals are teaching our innocent children
about transcendental meditation, yoga, and
the spirit world.

Numerous celebrities, such as Shirley
MacLaine, Linda Evans, and John Denver,
have publicized their involvement with such
fearsome ancient spirit guides as Ramtha,
Spectra, and Lazirus, who supposedly
possess supernatural knowledge and can assist
them in making important decisions and
choices.

The truth is that most of the spirits out
there are not holy. It is vitally important to
recognize this fact. Sadly, too many people
do not realize that when they participate in
activities like "channeling," trances, seances,
etc., they are opening themselves up to all
kinds of demonic spirits. Often, people
actually give themselves over to evil spirits,
with tragic results.

Our Guide

As Christians, our Spirit Guide lives
within us. Your body is the temple of the
Holy Ghost which is in you
(1 Corinthians
6:19). Therefore, if our Spirit Guide is within
us, we have no need to go outside ourselves
for guidance as others suggest. He is all we
need.

Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is
come, he will guide you into all truth: for he
shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever
he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he
willshow you things to come
(John 16:13).

Imagine, you have access to the greatest
Spirit of all -- the precious Holy Spirit. You
can possess, and be possessed by, the most
powerful force in all the universe, the
omniscient, omnipresent Spirit of the eternal God.
Shirley MacLaine and others talk about their
spirit guides being so special because they
are ancient. But our Spirit Guide -- the Holy
Spirit -- helped create the world, even man.

Genesis 1:1,2 says, In the beginning God
created the heaven and the earth. And the
earth was without form, and void; and
darkness was upon the face of the deep.
And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of
the waters.
So the Holy Spirit was there at
the dawn of creation -- as a part of the
Trinity. He is from the beginning and predates
all other spirit guides.

We can have contact with this Holy Spirit
and be guided by Him, but first we must
possess Him. The only way that can happen
is by the illumination of His Word. He must
convince us of the truth. John 16:8 says,
And when he is come, he will reprove
[convince] the world of sin, and of righteousness,
and of judgment.
He convinces us that we
need Him and guides us to the born-again
experience.

Thank God, the Spirit does strive with
us and illuminates the truth to us.

Our Intercessor

Not only does the Spirit convince us of
our need of Christ, He also creates
intercessory thoughts in us. There are times
when we don't even know what we need --
what is good for us. So many times we may
not even know how we should pray or what
we should ask for. So we have to join our
spirit with the Holy Spirit to seek out God's
best plan for our lives. Romans 8:26 says,
Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities:
for we know not what we should pray
for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh
intercession for us with groanings which
cannot be uttered.

There are times when we come to God,
praying only for what we want -- asking for
His approval -- instead of seeking His will
for our lives. I'm convinced that on those
occasions when we come to God, asking
selfishly, the Holy Spirit is saying, "No,
Father, no." When we do not ask within the
will of God, then the Holy Spirit, in His
mercy, intercedes for what is best.

As a young bride, I had an experience
like this. I wanted a baby so much that I
begged God to let me have one. I refused to
consider how much a child would have
hampered and burdened my calling and
ministry, which at that time required me to
live "on the road" for months at a time. I
avoided thinking about how cruel and unfair
my work load and life-style would be to a
helpless, wholly-dependent little one.

Even after I knew that motherhood was
not God's will for me, I asked anyway. But
the Holy Spirit, in His goodness, interceded
for me -- for my own good. And now, when I
can see things clearly and in perspective,
that knowledge brings me great comfort.

There may also be times when we
experience a yearning for something that is
undefined and inexpressible. It's a hunger or
yearning we simply can't understand. At
times like these, we can join our spirits
with the Holy Spirit and let Him create
intercessory thoughts within us. Then we
can have peace that what is being sought in
our behalf is for our good...and will be done.
And this is the confidence that we have in
him, that, if we ask any thing according to
his will, he heareth us: and if we know that
he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know
that we have the petitions that we desired of
him
(1 John 5:14,15).

Allowing the Holy Spirit to create
intercessory thoughts and prayers brings such
satisfaction and fulfillment. It goes beyond
our understanding or ability to put it into
words. It is so beautiful and powerful.

Our Comforter

Then, the Holy Spirit comforts us. I will
not leave you comfortless: I will come to you

(John 14:18).

I love the story about a very sad
unbeliever who was seated next to a Christian
man on a train. During the trip, the unsaved
man began to cry and weep. The believer
said to him, "I see you are troubled and
sad. Is there some way I can help you?"

The sorrowful man replied, "I've just lost
my wife. Our home seems so empty. All I
have left to keep me company is her
parakeet."

The believer replied, "Well, as a Christian
I have the Paraclete -- the Holy Spirit. He
never leaves me. And He will meet your
need if you'll allow Him to."

Paraclete, in the Greek, means
"comforter" and is the name given for the Holy
Spirit. As Christians, we have the constant,
unfailing presence of the Holy Spirit to guide
and comfort us.

Our Spiritual Gift-giver

The Holy Spirit also controls the spiritual
gifts bestowed upon the body of Christ,
the Church. The manifestation of the Spirit
is given to every man to profit withal For to
one is given by the Spirit the word of
wisdom; to another the word of knowledge...to
another faith...to another the gifts of healing...
to another the working of miracles; to another
prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to
another divers kinds of tongues; to another
the interpretation of tongues: but all these
worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit,
dividing to every man severally as he will

(1 Corinthians 12:7-11).

God gives these gifts to each believer, as
He wills. Each of us has been given a very
special gift -- and the Holy Spirit will guide
us into a place of service using the particular
gift He has chosen for us. He will also
give us power when using that gift.

Peter had the gift of communication --
the ability to preach. But after he was filled
with the Holy Spirit (see Acts 1:8; 2:4), he
not only had the gift but also the fruit...
boldness (see Acts 4:13). So the Holy Spirit
not only gives us spiritual gifts, He also
gives us the ability (fruit) and strength to
use them.

Spiritual gifts are not given to hoard for
our own benefit or enjoyment. They are
given to enable us to minister to others.
And the Spirit will provide the opportunity --
He will definitely show us our place of service.

I believe there are times, depending on
the circumstances, when more than one
gift of the Spirit may be exercised through
you. A situation may arise where there is
no one else to depend on and the Holy
Spirit manifests (or works) a particular gift
through you to meet a particular need at a
particular time. It may be a gift that has
never operated in your life before, but when
the Spirit puts you in a situation, He will
illuminate your mind to meet the need. You
will discover that where God guides, He
provides.

The Holy Spirit is our Keeper

Not only is our Spirit Guide with us in
life, but He remains with us even after death.

Dr. J. Wilbur Chapman relates a beautiful
story about how he personally discovered
this thrilling truth. He was sitting in his
home, reading an address delivered by Dr.
Moorhead at a Bible Conference. Dr.
Moorhead declared that when one becomes
a child of God, the Spirit of God comes in to
dwell in that person and will continue in
that body until the Resurrection. Even after
the human spirit has departed to be with
the Lord, the third member of the godhead
remains with that body until the Resurrection.

Dr. Chapman said that as he thought
about this, he started to cry. He said, "We
hitched the horse to the carriage, and my
wife and I rode out to a little graveyard
where we had buried our firstborn son. As
we stood there beside that little grave, we
said, ëThank You, Lord, for keeping watch.'
Immediately the peace of God flooded our
souls." He went on, "Later, when I stood by
the grave of my mother, again I said, 'Thank
You, Holy Spirit, for staying with Your temple
and keeping watch.'"

What a comfort! On the day of
Resurrection the Spirit will touch the body with
new life, reunite it with the soul, and sweep
our triuned body, soul, and spirit to be with
God. How amazing and beautiful!

I encourage you today to get in contact
with your Spirit Guide. But don't be fooled
by the false teachers of the so-called New
Age Movement. Satan always has a
counterfeit for the real and profitable things in
life. He would like to deceive you into
listening to his emissaries of evil and guide
you into darkness. But he is no match for
the real "Spirit Guide" -- the Holy Spirit, who
will always guide you into all truth.
Remember, Greater is he that is in you, than
he that is in the world
(1 John 4:4).

Week 43 | Count It All Joy

There is no easy road to satisfaction. One reason for
this is that no one has ever lived a life free from
difficulties. Everyone faces trials, and all of us know
suffering in one way or another. I've noticed that
wherever I am, in every culture and every
geographical region, when I mention the subject of
suffering, there is an instant rapport, a bond of mutual
understanding.

Suffering: A Door to Finding Satisfaction

We can take comfort in the knowledge that Scripture
teaches that God's perfect plan for each of us
includes suffering, trials, and pain. The wonderful
truth is that our most frustrating trials can be a source
of great joy. James wrote:

My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into
divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of
your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her
perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire,
wanting nothing
(James 1:2-4). Trials will make us
either bitter or better.

I know what it is like to be broken -- literally. In
my book The Tender Touch, I told of the terrible
automobile accident my husband and I experienced
in Brussels in 1979. We were in Europe for our
twenty-seventh wedding anniversary and planned to
celebrate the joyous occasion with members of Jack's
family.

That particular afternoon, we had traveled to Brussels
to shop for anniversary gifts. We leisurely
walked and talked, truly enjoying our visit to this
fascinating city. We even stopped for afternoon tea
and shared a sandwich. (A cousin was preparing a
feast for our anniversary dinner that night and we
didn't want to ruin our appetites!)

The afternoon ended all too quickly, and we soon
found ourselves driving back to the home of the
cousin with whom we were staying. Suddenly, seemingly
out of nowhere, a bus traveling 50 miles an hour
struck our vehicle with such impact that my side of the
car was ripped away and the rest of the automobile
completely demolished. I remember saying,
"Jack, there's a bus!" He attempted to swerve, but it
was too late. My last thoughts as I fell out onto the
busy street was, This is what it's like to die.

Everything went black. I felt no pain until my
husband's warm tears falling on my face revived me.
His voice was choked with emotion as he wept and
prayed over me. "Lord, must it end this way? Don't
let it happen. Please work a miracle!"

I felt that I was slipping away from him, and I
wanted him to know how much I loved him. "Honey,
I think I am dying," I whispered. "I don't want to
leave you."

"Oh no," Jack cried. "Oh, God, please help us,
Somehow spare her life."

I wish that in some way I could convey the peace
that I experienced from God during this time. Even
Christians sometimes wonder about and perhaps are
somewhat afraid of the unknown -- that valley of the
shadow of death through which we must one day
pass. I would love to stand on a mountaintop and call
to every believer everywhere, "Don't be afraid!" At
the moment of departure, He is there to give us peace
and sustain our hearts. What a comfort to know that
we are the Lord's most prized possessions and that
He will never allow us to go through the transition
from this world to the next in fear. I rejoice over this
experience today because I can say with David, I will
fear no evil; for thou art with me
(Psalm 23:4).

Suspended in God's sweet peace, I was almost in
the presence of the Lord. Then suddenly, I was pulled
back from going over. A hand grasped my wrist and a
man stood beside me. He tenderly placed a blanket
over my body and in perfect English said, "Don't
move her. She will be all right." Immediately, my
mind began to clear and I knew that I would live.

As quickly as he had appeared, he was gone. The
Lord had sent a man or an angel (only He knows) to
provide perfect comfort and to minister to us in a
special way Hebrews 1:14 says: Are they [angels]
not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for
them who shall be heirs of salvation?

An ambulance rushed us to the hospital. I looked at
Jack and was reassured to know that he was all right. I
knew that somehow God was doing something special
in our lives -- something that would ultimately
glorify Him if we would not faint (see II Corinthians
4:16).

I had sustained a severe head injury. X rays revealed
that I had a broken collarbone and two broken
ribs. I had also sustained numerous cuts and bruises,
and fragments of glass were embedded in parts of my
body. In fact, the doctor spent four hours removing
glass from my legs, head, and ears. God had divinely
and miraculously spared my face and eyes, for which
I shall forever be grateful.

Because of my head injury, I was unable to receive
any pain medication for 18 hours. In addition, I was
told that if the bleeding from my head wound did not
stop during the night, doctors would be forced to
shave my head in order to suture the extreme abrasion.
Jack remained by my side every minute of that
entire night, praying with me, comforting me, and
talking with me. We asked God for a miracle, and He
gave us one. By morning, the bleeding had stopped.

Neither of us slept during that long, unforgettable
night. As we talked about why it happened, I felt a
kinship with Job. God had allowed Satan to test us
but not destroy us or our ministry together. He
allowed the test to go so far, and no further. I knew
that my Father was in control and that my Saviour was
not leaving me alone. Indeed, I knew that He was
feeling my infirmity with even greater intensity than I.

Jack spent the next 48 hours trying to get the
doctors to release me for our return to America.

British Airways agreed to fly us and graciously
provided wheelchair and ambulance service all the
way to Detroit. Still, the hours in flight were painfully
long, Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me,
and strengthened me
(II Timothy 4:17).

During the next three months, I received extensive
medical treatment and stringent therapy. Adhesions
formed as the damaged muscles and tendons in my
crushed shoulder healed. Doctors said that without
corrective surgery I would never use my arm again.
Instead, I underwent months of excruciating
rehabilitative exercises to correct the situation. Still, I
would not want to look back upon this experience
with anything but rejoicing and praise -- rejoicing in
the Lord's protection and love in bringing me through
this trial and praise that He counted me worthy to be
put to the test.

Resistance to Suffering is Counterproductive

It would have been easy, I suppose, to resist in my
heart and be bitter against the Lord for allowing such
a thing to happen. Yet it never occurred to me to
question what God was doing. Years earlier Jack and
I had committed ourselves to pursuing the Lord's will
whatever the cost -- and when we made that commitment,
we knew it could involve suffering. It has,
but the rewards have been rich. God has filled our
lives with blessings that exceed anything we could
ask or think.

Unfortunately, instead of counting problems and
trials as joy and allowing them to work patience and
maturity, many people tend to follow their natural
inclination, and the difficulties produce bitterness
and resentmeat. That, in turn,only amplifies
dissatisfaction, until finally they are caught in a
never-ending cycle of devastatingly negative feelings.

The only effect resistance has on our trials is to
make them more dificult to bear. When we rebel
against God and turn from Him, we shut out the One
who can enable us to carry whatever burden He gives
us. How tragic it is to see someone who has gone
through grief and pain who then turns sorrow into
bitterness against God! That is not what God wants.
He wants to make the burden light and the yoke easy
to bear (see Matthew 11:30).

I know that it is normal to want to resist problems,
and, of course, it is right and even necessary to resist
some things. For example, we should not give in to
immoral acts, so we must resist temptation. Scripture
tells us to resist Satan (see James 4:7; I Peter 5:9).
Nevertheless, when we are confronted with trials that
are beyond our control, we need to see ourselves as
Paul did -- like clay in the hands of the Potter,
submissive to His will for our lives. We must realize
that through these trials He is molding us. shaping us.
and perfecting us -- until we become vessels that He
can use.

Have you ever watched a potter work on a pottery
wheel? He squeezes and pinches and applies
pressure, and from what was an ugly lump of clay comes
forth a beautiful, useful piece of pottery. The potter
knows just where to poke and just where to rub -- it is
a fascinating process to watch. Occasionally, the
potter will decide a radical change is in order, and he
will smash a nearly molded pot and begin again from
the beginning.

Jeremiah described the process:

I went down to the potter's house, and, behold, he
wrought a work on the wheels. And the vessel that he
made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so
he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to
the potter to make it
(Jeremiah 18:3-4).

Perhaps you feel like the Potter has smashed you
that way. I have good news for you. God is one Potter
who always rebuilds the vessels He allows to be
broken so that they are better than before. It may not
always be in the way we desire or think is best, but in
the process, it is nonproductive for us to resist and
become bitter. Instead we should try to see what is
happening from God's perspective, even though we
may not understand what He is doing, and yield to
His will for us. Paul wrote, Shall the thing formed say
to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?
Hath not the potter power over the clay?
(Romans
9:20, 21).

Acceptance: A New Name for Satisfaction

How much better it is to accept our trials as from
the Lord who permits them! Job accepted his trials, as
hard as they were for him. This incredible man lost all
his earthly possessions and all his children in a series
of disasters that happened in just one day. Soon after
that, he lost his health as well. He was reduced to a
mass of sores, sitting in a pile of ashes, scraping
himself with a piece of broken pottery (how appropriate!).
He did not understand what God was doing.
but his response was, The Lord gave, and the Lord
hath taken away; blessed be the name of the
Lord... Shall we receive good at the hand of God,
and shall we not receive evil? (Job 1:21; 2:10).

Yes, Job bore all the pain -- in his case both
physical pain and mental anguish -- and did not sin
with his lips. He never accused God or spoke bitterly
against Him. Quite the contrary, Job accepted the
negative things as graciously as he had accepted the
good things. Though the task was not easy, out of
Job's afflictions came some wonderful fruit. The first
is the book of Job -- a good source of comfort in times
of despair and doubt. In addition, Job grew wiser and
closer to the Lord through his ordeal. Even his
so-called comforters learned from his sufferings.

What became of Job. The answer is recorded for
us in verses 12 and 13 and chapter 42: So the Lord
blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning.
After this lived Job an hundred and forty years...

The "secret" of Job's success and blessing is
rooted in the fact that he endured his suffering. He
never turned from God. Instead, he repented! Why
would a man who was perfect and upright, and one
that feared God, and eschewed evil
(1:1) do such a
thing? Because Job, through his suffering, was
privileged to get a glimpse of God in His holiness. As a
result, he saw himself as completely unworthy so that
he said, I abhor myself(2:6). And in doing that, he
discovered yet a third way of responding to trials.

Rejoicing: A Perspective You May Have Overlooked

This third type of response is what James referred
to in the opening passage of this chapter -- rejoicing,
or glorying, in our trials. Admittedly, rejoicing in the
midst of tribulation is not an easy thing to do. A
woman wrote to us a short time ago:

   I am having a very hard time adjusting my
life. My husband died not too long ago at age
53, and I just can't seem to get my life together.
I never worked in all the years we were
married. I was a family person and never made
many friends outside our home, I am lonely and
frightened. Please pray for me.

My heart goes out to this dear woman and many
others like her. In fact, one might well ask how she
could possibly rejoice in the midst of such a difficult
trial. She cannot rejoice that her husband has died.
How then can she find joy in the midst of her deep
loneliness, fear, and doubts?

The answer is found in the perspective we choose
to take. No one rejoices in the death of a loved one.
Job didn't, and even Jesus wept at the grave of His
friend Lazarus. Scripture acknowledges that sorrow
and grief are appropriate and normal responses to
death.

Bitterness comes when we focus on our sorrows or
trials themselves rather than on the Lord and what He
is attempting to accomplish through them. From this
perspective, we can easily become discouraged.
Unfortunately, this is exactly the place in which many
dissatisfied people find themselves. However, if we
look beyond the trials and understand that God is
working in the midst of them, if we focus our hearts
on Him, a miracle begins to occur. He brings peace in
the midst of pain, and joy in the midst of sorrow.
Truly, His grace is sufficient.

My Grandmother Shelton taught me firsthand the
meaning of glorying in tribulation. She knew trials all
her life. She was the mother of eight children and, as
a diabetic, had to take insulin shots every day of her
life. She was a tall, vibrant, robust lady who would
pick me up (literally) and shake me like a rag doll and
say, "I love you, Rexella." What a shock when she
lost first one leg, then the other, to amputation
because of complications from her disease. She would
never walk again; yet, I never heard her mention her
trials or complain. Her focus went far beyond them.
And as she looked to the Lord and leaned on Him, she
was actually able to glory in her infirmities! She was
always rejoicing. I remember her often taking out a
little harmonica and playing it. Just being around her
brought me great joy, and I seldom thought of her as
being in pain, although I'm certain she suffered
greatly.

There is something to be said for pain. Trials are
not pleasant, but they are valuable. A flower must be
crushed before it yields perfume. A grain of wheat
must fall to the ground and die before it can bear fruit
(see John 12:24). And we must suffer for the Lord if
we are to be glorified witb Him (see Romans 8:17).

If you are going through a trial, don't resist it. And
don't just accept it or endure it. Learn to glory in it!
God is doing something through your trials. You may
not understand it fully, and He does not always give
us explanations. But He does give us promises -- and
He always keeps them.

   Trials are medicines which our gracious
and wise physician prescribes, because we
need them; and he proportions the frequency
and weight of them to what the case requires.
Let us trust his skill and thank him for his
prescription.

--- Isaac Newton

I came across something that helped me to further
understand these precious truths. In Job 41:25 are to
be found these few obscure words: By reason of
breakings they purify themselves.
What can that
possibly mean?

Elsewhere the Bible teaches that the sacrifices God
accepts are broken and contrite hearts (see Psalm
51:17). This is illustrated throughout the Bible as one
observes God using for His glory those people and
things which are most perfectly broken. Here are
some examples:

  • Jacob at Peniel, where his natural strength
    was broken.
  • Moses and the rock at Horeb; when he
    struck it, out gushed cool water for the thirsty
    people.
  • Gideon and his band of 300 elect soldiers.
    When they broke their pitchers -- a type of
    breaking of themselves -- their hidden lights
    shone forth to the consternation of their
    adversaries.
  • The poor widow who broke the seal on the
    little pot of oil, and it poured forth, whereby
    God multiplied it to pay her debts and her
    sons didn't have to be taken as bondmen.
  • Queen Esther risking her life, breaking
    through the rigid etiquette of a heathen court,
    thus obtaining favor to rescue her people from
    death.
  • Jesus taking the five loaves of bread,
    breaking them, and in the act of breaking,
    there was sufficient to feed 5,000.
  • Mary breaking her alabaster box, rendering
    it uselees, but this allowed the perfume to
    fill the house.
  • Jesus allowing His body to be broken by
    thorns, nails, and the spear, so that His life
    was poured out for us to live.

God must have broken things -- throughout all
plant life, all history, all the great biographical
accounts, and in all spiritual life, this fact is
preeminent.

Why should we then shrink from those things,
which may break us at some point? If we will but
allow Him, the brokenness we experience can be
used for our purer good and for God's glory. Such
brokenness may come in the form of being broken in
wealth, half-will, ambitions, ideals, reputation.
affections, and even brokenness in health. Remember
the final tally of life is not seen in the here and now.
Can you, like James wrote, "Count it all joy?"


Footprints

   One night a man had a dream. He dreamed
he was walking along the beach with the
LORD. Across the sky flashed scenes from
his life. For each scene, he noticed two sets of
footprints in the sand; one belonging to him
and the other to the LORD.
   When the last scene of his life flashed
before him, he looked back at the footprints in
the sand. He noticed that many times along
the path of his life there was only one set of
footprints. He also noticed that it happened at
the very lowest and saddest times in his life.

This really bothered him, and he questioned
the LORD about it. "LORD, You said
that once I decided to follow You, You'd walk
with me all the way. But I have noticed that
during the most troublesome times in my life,
there is only one set of footprints. I don't
understand why when I needed You most You
would leave me."

The LORD replied, "My precious, precious
child, I love you and I would never
leave you. During your times of trial and
suffering, when you see only one set of footprints,
it was then that I carried you."

Author unknown