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Today’s Devotional | December 3 | JOHN 14:1-6 | Our Father

Today's Devotional

Memory Verse
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me (John 14:6).

Some teach that God the Father is the spiritual father of all people and that we are all His children. This is known as the Universal Fatherhood of God. It is a false teaching.

Jesus shocked the religious leaders of His day by calling them the children of the devil: “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it” (John 8:44).

We become the children of the Heavenly Father through faith in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ: “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” ( John 1: 12). The disciples were taught to pray: “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.”

As a result of the new birth, the Christian is a child of the Father. He has been born into the family of God. And all the family benefits belong to him.

Samuel Zwemer wrote: “I understand the loving fatherhood of God as Jesus taught it because I saw it in my own father.” The tender and close relationship of a father to his child enables us to grasp something of the Heavenly Father’s closeness to us.

I feel secure with my Father’s hand in mine.

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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    December 2 | JOHN 16:24-33 | The Father’s Love
    Memory Verse
    For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God (John 16:27).

    Billy Bray, who was known for his constant Christian joy, once had a very poor crop
    of potatoes. He said the devil came to taunt him about his small potatoes and to mock him for continually rejoicing in the Lord. But Billy was up to the confrontation, “There you go criticizing my Father again,” said Billy. “Why, when I served you, I had not potatoes at all.”

    Billy had learned that discouraging experiences do not mean that our Heavenly Father loves us less. His love is unchanging. He loves with a Father’s love. Paul wrote to his friends in Thessalonica about the comfort of knowing that the Father loves us: “Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work”
    (2 Thessalonians 2:16,17).

    If we should ever be tempted to doubt the Father’s love, we can simply remember that He sent His Son to die for us. Every step of Jesus along the dusty roads of Palestine said: “The Father loves you!” Every lash of the cruel Roman whip in the scourging of Jesus said, “The Father loves you!” The shout of Jesus “It is finished!” as He completed His work of redemption on the cross was really a shout conveying that same wonderful message: “The Father loves you!”

    Rest secure in the Father’s love.

    December 1 | PROVERBS 27 | Tomorrow
    Memory Verse
    Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth (Proverbs 27:1).

    A leader of a dance band once told me that a number of his friends in the bars had confided to him that they thought they ought to be saved... someday. He agreed and thought he would also come to Christ... someday. To the best of my knowledge, he is still lost.

    The Bible calls “today” the day of salvation: “...Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (II Corinthians 6:2).

    This very moment God wants to save you: “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD; though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18).

    James amplified Solomon’s warning about tomorrow: “Go to now, ye that say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that” (James 4:13-15).

    So, we cannot be sure about tomorrow.

    But we have today... right now.

    Today to be aware of sin. Today to turn from sin to Christ. Today to believe... to receive Him.

    Take Him now... before the vapour vanishes.

    Receiving Christ today gives tomorrow its only certainty... salvation!

    November 30 | JUDE 16 | Bad Company
    Memory Verse
    These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage (Jude 16).

    Jude described a crowd bound for judgment. Yet some of their characteristics are copied by those claiming they are headed for heaven.

    These ungodly ones are called murmurers... complainers. So those who are given to griping and grumbling are in bad company. Pride and lust are given as some of their many sins. Note again that these serious sins are mentioned in the same verse as are murmuring and complaining.

    Perhaps this study has helped you to realize how serious it is to complain... to grumble. You’re convicted about your sins in these “respectable” areas. What can you do?

    First, you must confess these sins to the Lord: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9). Don’t hold back. Be honest with the Lord. Name your sins... the complaining at home, at church, about your neighbors, about the weather, about the pastor.

    After confessing your sins, accept the fact that they are forgiven. Don’t be troubled about them anymore and don’t trouble God about them. They are forgotten... buried.

    Now, begin a regular devotional time that includes Bible reading and meditation on portions of the Bible. God’s Word is the Divine detergent. It cleans up a life: “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to thy word... Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Psalm 119:9,11).

    Memorize Bible verses about joy and praise. You’re a child of the King. Stay in character. Praise the Lord!

    November 29 | PSALM 69:1-18 | An Acceptable Time
    Memory Verse
    But as for me, my prayer is unto thee, O LORD, in an acceptable time: O God, in the multitude of thy mercy hear me, in the truth of thy salvation (Psalm 69:13).

    Experiencing trouble, the psalmist fills his mouth with expressions of deep feeling: a flood is overwhelming his soul, he is sinking in deep mire, he is crossing a body of water and it is about to cover him, he is tired of crying, his throat is dry, he has difficulty seeing.

    Much of David’s misery had to do with others. His enemies hated him and they had no reason to be his enemies. Even members of his family had turned on him. People gathered in groups to drink and ridicule him. Some considered him a religious fanatic.

    In his sorrow, the psalmist turns to the Lord for help and expresses confidence that the Lord will hear him in an acceptable time. But what is an acceptable time? To whom is this time acceptable?

    David is simply expressing the wonderful truth that we can all call upon the Lord when we are having trouble. Some shrink from praying when in difficulties, thinking they will be accused of only coming to God in times of great need. Christians need to remember that they are invited to come to Christ with their burdens at precisely the time of need: “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

    Come then when you feel overwhelmed with problems.

    Come when the lump in your throat won’t go away.

    Come when others have turned against you.

    Come when people gather in little groups to talk about you.

    Come NOW...it’s an acceptable time.

    November 28 | PSALM 105:38-45 | Bread and Meat
    Memory Verse
    The people asked, and he brought quails, and satisfied them with the bread of heaven (Psalm 105:40).

    A wagon train passing through one of the difficult sections of the Oregon Trail seemed to have encountered more than its share of trouble. Water and grass had been scarce for several days and some of the wagons were broken down. A general feeling of depression settled over the train that was unlike the former optimism of the group. In order to get the problems aired and solved, a meeting was scheduled for the next night’s stop.

    When the emigrants had gathered around the campfire, one of them arose and said, “Before we do anything else, I think we should thank God that we have come this far with no loss of life, with no trouble with the Indians, and that we have enough strength left to finish our journey.”

    The suggestion was taken and then there was silence. After giving thanks, no one had any complaints. This is the transformation the thankful heart can often make. It enables us to see the real value of many worthwhile things already received that have been taken for granted and in so doing it dispels the gloom that troubles us.

    The children of Israel were given both bread and meat; manna and quails as they journeyed in the wilderness. Had they focused on these blessings instead of complaining, their journey would have been a joy.

    And how about the bread and meat that God has given to you this week? Is His provision adequate? Thank Him for these blessings. As you cultivate thanksgiving, gloom will disappear.

    Remember the order: Thanksgiving first! It makes the journey better. And the difficulties flee.

    November 27 | PSALM 103:1-14 | Thanksgiving
    Memory Verse
    Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits (Psalm 103:2).

    Your holiday plans have probably been in place for a long time. You’re anticipating a special day with loved ones. Thanksgiving is one of America’s favorite holidays. And you expect this one to be the best you’ve ever known.

    But, if you aren’t careful, it will be a day of everything except giving thanks. Activities that have attached themselves to the tradition of Thanksgiving often crowd out the real purpose of this holiday. The purpose is THANKS- GIVING.

    So, take time to be thankful.

    Thank God for another day to live. Our breath is in His hands. I wonder how many times He has spared your life during the past year. We live in a hostile world of disease and violence. Accidents could have claimed our lives. Yet, here we are. Alive. Thank God.

    Thank God for friends and family. How important it is to love and to be loved! Look about you! Give thanks for that wife, or husband, and those children. Lift your heart to Him in thanksgiving for friends who care for you and would stand with you in need.

    Thank God for opportunities to serve Him. While multitudes plod through life storing up things on this perishing planet, the Christian knows the blessing of laying up treasures in heaven. Every day brings opportunities for eternal investment.

    Thank God for His love. Out of His love His blessings flow. “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (I John 4:10).

    Thank God.

    November 26 | PSALM 92 | Thanksgiving with Jesus
    Memory Verse
    It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High (Psalm 92:1).

    At this time of year suggestions abound about the priorities of thanksgiving. Family, friends, home and country are contenders for the most important places on our list as we thank God for His blessings. But what would Jesus do? His example is the best to follow.

    Jesus gave thanks for the simplicity of the Gospel. “Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of Heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes” (Matthew 11:25). Aren’t you thankful that His salvation is available to you on the basis of simple faith? Tell Him of your gratefulness. Thank Him!

    Jesus also gave thanks for daily food. When feeding five thousand with a few loaves and fishes, John says that Jesus took the loaves and “when he had given thanks, he distributed the food to the disciples” (John 6:11). You may not take time to give thanks for your food, but Jesus did. He held the loaves made from grain that He had brought into existence, and gave thanks.

    Jesus even gave thanks for His cross. His most difficult act of thanksgiving must have been at the first communion table. Paul wrote: “And when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me” (I Corinthians 11:24). That broken bread symbolized His coming death, yet He gave thanks. Anyone can be thankful for sunshine and success, but what about the crosses and losses?

    At this Thanksgiving, let us follow our Lord. “In everything give thanks” (I Thessalonians 5:18).

    Week 48 | Stop! Look? Listen!

    First, winter slips away...then spring comes
    and goes...and then summer is upon us.

    I think sometimes we fail to appreciate
    this beautiful change of seasons. The
    wonder of God's creation becomes commonplace
    and we take it for granted. How long has it
    been since you really stopped and took time
    to look and listen to everything around you?

    Several weeks ago, my husband, Jack,
    and I were on an airliner flying home from
    California. For weeks we'd been extremely
    busy working on our television programs
    and completing the TV studio and
    production center in our new World Outreach
    Center. I'd planned to use the time on the
    plane to catch up on some of my reading.

    My Father's world

    After a while, I glanced out the
    window -- and the beautiful panorama I saw
    nearly took my breath away. It happened
    to be an unusually clear day, and as I looked
    down, I could see the Grand Canyon. It
    was spectacular! I stopped what I was
    doing and just drank in the grandeur unfolding
    below me.

    In a little while, the plane was soaring
    over the majestic Rocky Mountains of Colorado.
    Oh, what a magnificent sight! I
    started smiling -- I even laughed out loud! I
    thought, My Father created all of this -- and
    more! I'm only seeing one small part of one
    little planet in God's great cosmos
    . And my
    heart was thrilled.

    It occurred to me that this was the first
    time in a long while -- perhaps months -- that
    I'd stopped and really looked at my Father's
    world. I was only sorry that I couldn't hear
    the glorious sounds of nature below me
    instead of the steady roar of the jet engines.

    But that experience on the plane was a
    good reminder for me. Since then I've been
    making an effort to go outside and Stop!
    Look! and Listen! every day. And what a
    refreshing, rejuvenating, healing experience
    it is for me!

    Wonders all around us

    When Jack and I go for a walk or take a
    break out in our backyard, we make it a
    point to look and listen to the wonders
    around us. There are some rabbits that
    visit us, and some chipmunks that live in a
    hole under one of our large trees. They are
    so active -- so happy and full of life. It's a
    joy to watch them.

    Sometimes it even seems to me that all
    of God's creation around me is rejoicing.
    Not long ago, Isaw a mother robin building
    her nest. She was gathering tiny pieces of
    grass, twigs, and string and weaving them
    all together. She worked so diligently,
    chirping happily all the while. I found myself
    caught up in that beautiful creature's joy.

    But recently I've detected something else,
    too. At times I can almost hear the voices
    of nature saying, "Release us from the
    pollution that is surrounding us right now.
    Restore us, Creator, come back to us!" The
    Apostle Paul declared, For we know that the
    whole creation groaneth and travaileth in
    pain together until now
    (Romans 8:22).

    It's heartbreaking to see what man is
    doing to the environment -- our cities are
    filled with smog, litter, and trash. And even
    in the wilderness remaining, man's callous
    carelessness causes disasters like the
    terrible oil spill in Alaska.

    God created nature perfect. It wants to
    be perfect again. He created a world where
    the animals, birds, and sea otters were safe.
    They want to be safe again.

    Despite the best efforts of scientists and
    environmentalists to clean up pollution like
    the oil spill, the bulk of the restoration will
    have to be left to nature. And in time,
    nature will cleanse itself -- perhaps nearly
    as pure and perfect as before.

    In addition to what we're doing to our
    natural world, it seems to me there's a lot
    of pollution in our lives -- the sights and
    sounds around us...the visual pollution of
    pornographic publications and TV programs,
    the commotion and clamor that fill our daily
    activities.

    Surely we need to get away from all that
    and let our minds be washed and rejuvenated
    from Satan's assault on our senses.
    We need to focus our attention on the good
    things of God. It's time to tune in to "íwhatsoever
    thingsí" are true, honest, just, pure, lovely,
    and of good report (see Philippians 4:8).

    Get closer to God's creation and it will
    direct you back to God.

    There's something about getting out
    among the sights and sounds of nature that
    helps clear away our concerns and confusion
    and puts things back into perspective. No
    wonder God spoke through the psalmist and
    said, Be still, and know that I am God (Psalm
    46:10).

    "Slow me down, Lord"

    I can identify with the plaintive prayer of
    the poet who cried, "Slow me down, Lord,
    I'm goin' too fast!" How often we jam our
    lives so full of projects and duties that we
    grow weary and disheartened. We lose our
    enthusiasm and zest for living. Each day
    becomes an endurance contest, which we
    survive only to collapse in bed for a few
    hours, then get up to start the rat race all
    over again.

    We may even be convinced that what
    we're doing is important -- we can even be in
    the midst of serving God, doing His work.
    But if our good works cause us to lose
    personal contact with Him -- if we don't take
    time, individually, to communicate with
    Him -- we're missing it.

    Has this ever happened to you?

    Then it's time to STOP! Make time in
    your day to look and listen to God's handiwork
    around you. Take time to let God
    speak to you through the wonders of His
    creation. Don't forget that Jesus himself
    often took time to go away from the
    multitudes. He would walk out along the
    seashore or go up onto a mountain to pray and
    commune with God. And I'm just sure He
    took time to look and listen to what was
    around Him!

    If Jesus needed to spend time alone in
    God's presence, how much more you and I
    need to do so. Yet, how easy it is to put off
    our Bible study and cut back on our prayer
    time until it becomes an empty ritual -- or
    we lose daily contact with the Lord
    altogether. God has provided everything we
    need to fulfill and enrich our lives...and if
    we're not careful, we can rush right past it
    all every day.

    Summer is vacation season for many
    people -- perhaps you're planning some time
    away. Don't make the mistake of scheduling
    your vacation so full of travel and activities
    that you come back home needing to rest
    from your rest! Take time to relax -- be still
    for a while. Stop! Look! Listen!...and let
    God recharge your batteries and rejuvenate
    your mind and spirit.

    Hear and obey the words of our Lord in
    Mark 6:31: And he said unto them, Come
    ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and
    rest a while.

    But don't wait until your vacation to get
    started. Right now is a good time to re-open
    the lines of communication with God. Take
    time every day to enjoy the beautiful things
    the Lord has placed all around you. Read
    the Word. Talk to God. Listen for His
    voice.

    I promise you -- when you Stop! Look!
    and Listen! you will see God as you've never
    seen Him before. You will hear the voice of
    the precious Holy Spirit within you who
    speaks so tenderly and gives such strength!
    It will change your whole world and make
    your life a rich and glorious experience
    again.

    Week 47 | A Lesson For Life From a Donkey

    One of the great ironies in the gospel
    accounts of Jesus' last days on earth is the
    story of His Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem.
    We still remember and commemorate this
    event each year on Palm Sunday.

    The Bible tells us that Jesus sent two
    disciples to find a donkey colt no one had
    ever ridden before and to bring it to Him.
    They did. And then they put their cloaks
    across the little animal's back for a saddle.

    Then Jesus rode from the Mount of
    Olives, across the valley and through the
    narrow streets up to the gate of Jerusalem.
    A multitude of people prepared the way for
    Him, spreading their garments and strewing
    branches from trees in His path.

    "Hosannah!" they cried. "Blessed is He
    that cometh in the name of the Lord.
    Hosannah in the highest!"

    So Jesus entered Jerusalem, and into
    the Temple, with the adulation of the
    multitude who hoped He would become their
    new king. Sadly, only a few days later,
    many of these same people would join the
    throngs demanding that Christ be crucified!

    But there's a part of the story about the
    Triumphal Entry that has always fascinated
    me. It's about the donkey colt Jesus rode
    that day. That little animal has some
    important lessons for us, I think.

    The donkey was available

    First, the little donkey was available,
    ready to be used. Jesus knew the colt was
    there and sent His disciples to the particular
    place they could find him. And when
    the animal's owners were told that the
    Master had need of the donkey, they willingly
    let him go.

    But the donkey was willing, too. Mark's
    Gospel says no man had ever sat on his
    back. He was unbroken, untamed,
    untrained. But he was available.

    Why didn't Jesus choose a larger,
    better-qualified animal to carry Him -- a
    spirited riding horse, or at least the mother
    of the colt? Why did He ask for such an
    humble little animal?

    I believe the reason might be to show us
    that the Lord can use small things -- if they're
    available and ready to be used. One doesn't
    have to have a great voice to sing God's
    praises. Nor is it necessary to have great
    talent and training to teach a Sunday school
    class. One need not have "a way with words"
    to send birthday greetings, get well, or
    sympathy cards to people who need to hear
    from someone who cares.

    Are you available? Are you willing to do
    what you can for the Lord, however small
    your talent or ability seems to you? There
    is something you can do -- God has given
    each of us spiritual gifts to use in His service.

    But we have to be available. Had the
    little colt been hidden away where the
    disciples couldn't find him, he would have
    missed having the Son of God ride upon his
    back!

    Remember the story of the five wise and
    five foolish virgins who were invited to the
    marriage supper. When the bridegroom
    came, the five foolish virgins were gone --
    not available to go into the wedding.

    How many times do you and I miss out
    on God's great blessings simply because
    we're not available when the Lord desires to
    use us?

    The donkey was submissive

    I don't know a lot about animals, but
    I've been told that horses, mules, and
    donkeys have to be broken, or trained, to be
    ridden. They have to learn to accept the
    burden of a rider and to respond to his
    direction and guidance.

    This wild little donkey had never been
    ridden before -- no man had ever sat on his
    back. But when the disciples brought him
    to Jesus and put a cloak on his back for a
    saddle, he was submissive. There is no
    record in the scripture that he protested,
    bucked, or rebelled.

    He couldn't have known what was
    happening, or what was ahead. One moment
    he was standing peacefully at his mother's
    side -- the next he was dragged away and a
    heavy burden was put upon him. And as
    far as we can tell, the little donkey submitted
    to these strange events without a fuss.

    How often do we balk and buck when
    asked to carry out some assignment or bear
    some burden? "Why me?" we cry. "Get
    somebody else."

    So often we tend to hold back until we
    can see the end from the beginning. We
    want to see the light at the end of the tunnel
    before we go into it. We want to
    understand everything happening in our lives
    before we submit to it. But that's not the way
    life works. Submission is more than
    agreeing just with what we understand and
    approve.

    How proud and presumptuous to say to
    God, "Show me Your will for my life, then if
    I like it, I'll do it!" The Apostle Peter warns,
    God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to
    the humble. Humble yourselves therefore
    under the mighty hand of God, that he may
    exalt you in due time
    (1 Peter 5:5,6).

    When God leads us to do something for
    Him, rather than worrying about being
    embarrassed, put on the spot, or even
    misunderstood or disliked by other people, we
    should submit immediately, trusting in Him.
    We need to be willing to be led by the Holy
    Spirit in such a way that we will obey --
    blindly, if need be -- no matter what God asks.

    The little donkey submitted to Jesus... and so should we.

    The donkey was unafraid

    Can you imagine a more difficult and
    frightening time to be ridden for the first
    time than this colt experienced? He had no
    preparation, no training. He is snatched
    away from his mother by strangers, another
    stranger gets upon his back, and he bears
    his first burden through narrow streets
    crowded with excited, shouting people,
    waving tree branches and clothing,
    crowding around him from every side.

    Such an experience would be enough to
    excite any animal and make him nervous
    and skittish. But the little donkey didn't
    kick anybody or try to get away. He just
    kept going along, carrying Jesus the way
    He wanted to go.

    I'm sure the Lord must have leaned over
    and whispered to the little animal, "Don't
    be afraid. Don't fear -- I'm with you." And
    in the most confusing circumstances, with
    the press of the multitude all around, the
    colt kept calm and cool. He just kept on
    doing what he was supposed to do, going
    where he was supposed to go. And because
    Jesus was with him, he was not afraid.

    God's supreme sacrifice

    Bible scholars tell us there was great
    significance in Jesus' visit to Jerusalem at
    this time, just before the Passover
    sacrifices. The gate Jesus entered to reach the
    city was the one through which people
    brought their sacrifices to the Temple. No
    doubt the streets were full of sheep and
    lambs being led to the sacrificial altar. And
    here comes God's Son, riding on a donkey,
    about ready to be offered up as the
    supreme sacrifice for the sins of the world!

    So, because he was available,
    submissive, and unafraid, the little donkey played
    a key role in one of the most riveting events
    in all of history.

    If the donkey could speak to us today,
    what do you suppose he would say?

    It would not be the first time a donkey
    spoke. The Old Testament, in Numbers 22,
    tells of Balaam's donkey who chided the
    prophet who rode him, for opposing the will
    of God. The donkey saw what Balaam's
    spiritually blinded eyes did not -- the angel
    of the Lord with a drawn sword, standing in
    the path.

    If you listen very carefully with the ears
    of your heart, I think you can hear the little
    donkey's voice even now. He's saying --

    "If God could use me, He can use you,
    too. No one is too humble or insignificant to
    have a place in God's service.

    "Just be available -- stay where the Lord
    can reach you. Keep an open heart, an
    open, holy life.

    "Then, trust God enough to submit to
    Him. Don't buck and kick against the
    unknown. Decide that the Lord knows what's
    best and simply do what He asks. He'll
    never steer you wrong!

    "And last, you don't have to be afraid
    when Jesus is with you. His presence, His
    touch, will calm your fears and keep you on
    track no matter what goes on around you.

    "Maybe you've never done anything great,
    or accomplished very much before. But
    your life can be different. If you're
    available, submissive, and unafraid, who knows
    what you'll be chosen to do and how
    important it may be to the world.

    "After all, you're even more important to
    God than a little donkey such as I. And the
    very first time I was ridden, I carried the
    King!"

    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!