Today’s Devotional | May 29 | PHILIPPIANS 4:15-23 | Giving

Today's Devotional

Memory Verse
For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity. You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving (Philippians 4:16).

Revived people are giving people — generous people.

The old nature of man majors on getting. Enough seems unattainable. Witness the constant striving of wealthy people to get more and more. Selfishness is unmasked. Money is worshipped by many.

A few learn one of life’s greatest lessons: It is more blessed to give than to receive. The Christians at Philippi were givers. They sent gifts to Paul even when things were difficult for them. Their generosity has not gone unnoticed. Centuries have come and gone and Paul’s commendation of their acts of love remains. We’re thinking about it today.

A favorite verse of thousands is Philippians 4:19: “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Many fail to notice that this often claimed promise is premised on generous giving. In the text, Paul is assuring these Christians that God will supply their needs because they have been faithful in sending gifts to him in his time of need.

There is another dimension to giving. George Muller wrote: “God judges what we give by what we keep.” The giving heart is never satisfied while the coffers remain full. He gives cheerfully and is blessed in his giving.

We ought to give because we have been given so much: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

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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  • Tender Touch
May 28 | PHILIPPIANS 2:1-11 | Great Day
Memory Verse
And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:1l).

What does the name “Jesus” mean to you?

Mrs. Booth used to tell a beautiful story of a man whose consistent Christian life left a permanent impression on her own. He seemed continually to grow in grace and at last he could speak of nothing but the glories of his Saviour and his face was radiant with awe and affection whenever he spoke that name.

When he was dying, a document was discovered that required his signature and it was brought to him. He held the pen for one brief moment, wrote, and fell back upon the pillows, dead. On the important paper, he had not written his own name, but the name that is above every name. Within sight of heaven, the name of Jesus was all that mattered to him.

To some the name of Jesus is but a means of emphasizing a point...a word to use in a tirade of profanity. To others the mention of the name brings to mind a prophet or a good man, perhaps a martyr to a cause. But to the Christian the name of Jesus speaks of salvation, heaven, resurrection, and a kingdom that will never be destroyed.

The name Jesus may call to mind His love for the outcasts, His tenderness with children, His compassion for all people, or His outpouring of love on the cross.

There is a day coming when at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

That day is fast approaching.

Get ready.

Let Him be Lord of your life today!

May 27 | JAMES 1:22-27 | Vain Religion
Memory Verse
If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain (James 1:26).

The ability to communicate is one of God’s greatest gifts to us. We can express the deep feelings of our hearts in words and songs of praise and thanksgiving. When we hurt, we can describe our pain to another who may be able to help. Love would be frustrated without means of communication. Poets and writers have capitalized on this and a never-ending stream of books and songs flow from their pens.

Some over communicate.

A woman once said to John Wesley, “My talent is to speak my mind.” He answered, “God won’t object if you bury that talent.”

There is no sin quite so destructive as gossip. Churches have been divided, homes broken, and reputations ruined through careless words. Washington Irving said, “A sharp tongue is the only edge tool that grows sharper with constant use.”

But the Christian has been given power to control his tongue and to use it for the glory of God. When he does not do so but continues to use his tongue to slander and divide, he is on dangerous ground. James casts doubt on the salvation of such a person by saying that his religion is vain...useless.

Heaven will hold many surprises. One of them will be the absence of many who claimed to be saved but had no real walk with God through faith in Christ. A mark of such people, according to the Bible, is their inability to bridle their tongues.

Don’t follow a gossip.

He may be mistaken about his destination!

May 26 | PHILIPPIANS 3:7-14 | Total Surrender
Memory Verse
But what things where gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ (Philippians 3:7).

Christ had all of Paul. From the time of that experience on the road to Damascus until he finished his earthly course, he was a totally surrendered man. He counted all things loss for Christ,

A number of things were important to Paul before that lifelong surrender. There had been his pride of ancestry, his position as a Pharisee, his respect among his people, his future as a leader among them. Now all those things were counted but loss. Eternal things had priority, Christ was Lord of his life.

There is but one area through which we gain by total surrender. On the battlefield, surrender means defeat. However, in our walk with God, surrender means victory. It speaks of complete agreement with His will. And this is the greatest choice in life.

Paul’s total surrender allowed him to reach his goal in life — the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Few reach their goals. Youthful dreams often turn to nightmares. Castles tumble. Hopes crumble. Ideals are compromised for the sake of convenience. Not many arrive at their chosen destinations in life. But here was a man who surrendered and won. He discovered the way to blessing was in giving everything over to his Lord. And he never regretted it.

It is not too late for total surrender. You can abdicate the throne of your life in favor of Christ. That is the road to personal revival and blessing. Others may not understand, as was the case with Paul, but how many of his contemporaries do you know by name?

Give Christ first place in your heart.

May 25 | PHILIPPIANS 4:1-8 | Thought Patterns
Memory Verse
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things (Philippians 4:8).

What we think, we are. “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he..." (Proverbs 23:7).

Dwelling on negatives can destroy us. The person who constantly thinks about problems and approaching disasters courts unhappiness. He chooses to be miserable. Focusing his attention on trouble, he is always troubled. His mind becomes fixed on gloom, and it is not strange that his general mood is gloomy.

Those who prefer to meditate on misery are like Eve, occupied with one tree of fruit that was marked for death while surrounded with untold varieties of allowable life giving choices. And when one lingers at the forbidden place, the tempter is always nearby.
The Bible calls us to a life centered in God’s blessings. Why choose error when truth is better? To ignore the wrongs in the world is head-in-the-sand thinking. To make those wrongs the constant meditation of our hearts is an even greater mistake.

All great revivals have produced joyful Christians. The reason? Christ has become the focal point of thought and action. He is the One who is true, honest, just, pure, lovely and of good report. He personifies virtue and is always worthy of our praise.

Think on Jesus.

May 24 | PHILIPPIANS 2:12-16 | Grumbling
Memory Verse
Do all things without murmurings and disputings (Philippians 2:14).

Grumbling is serious.

Consider the following examples:

When Israel murmured against Moses, they were in reality murmuring against God:
“...and what are we? your murmurings are not against us, but against the LORD” (Exodus 16:8).

At the edge of the promised land, Israel grumbled in unbelief and it cost them forty more years in the wilderness: “Your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward, which have murmured against me. Doubtless ye shall not come into the land, concerning which I sware to make you dwell therein, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun” (Numbers 14:29-30).

The onlookers murmured when Mary of Bethany anointed Jesus with precious ointment: “And there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made? For it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and have been given to the poor. And they murmured against her” (Mark 14:4-5).

The Pharisees and scribes murmured because Jesus received sinners: “And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them” (Luke 15:2),

Judgment is coming for grumblers: “These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts...” (Jude 16).

The grumblers have been around in every age. Are you comfortable among them?

May 23 | PHILIPPIANS 2:1-11 | Motives
Memory Verse
Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves (Philippians 2:3).

Christian work that is done for the praise of men is worthless.

Many years ago, I read a statement that needs to be repeated in every church. It simply said: “It is surprising what can be accomplished for Christ if you don’t care who gets the credit.”

Church platform service that is rendered to exalt the performer is only a performance and is on a par with any other show business production. It ought not be considered the work of God. Though it is certainly proper to strive for perfection in any presentation, I suspect the Judgment Seat of Christ will find many flawless special numbers lacking while humble servants who were not so talented but had correct motives will be rewarded.

What is your area of service for the Lord? How do you feel about it? Do you have a responsibility this very week? Is your heart right?

Another pitfall is that of pushing one’s way into a position. This kind of service is born of strife. You have the job in the church you wanted, but you had to fight for it. Someone was injured in the battle. Better reconsider your motives. Perhaps you need to go to the offended one and offer to step aside so that he can serve. In losing your office you may gain a brother.

Your selfless act may bring revival to your church. And that will be more rewarding than the applause of your admirers.

May 22 | JEREMIAH 33:1-9 | Speaking to God
Memory Verse
Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not (Jeremiah 33:3).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Week 22 | Were You There?

One of my favorite songs often heard at
Easter time is the beautiful old black spiritual,
"Were You There?" The simple but haunting
words of this great classic remind us of the
suffering and sacrifice of our Lord at Calvary,
as well as the triumphant victory of His
Resurrection.

Because Christ suffered and died -- notfor
His own sins but for yours and mine -- in a
very real sense we were there at Golgotha on
that awesome day of destiny nearly 2,000
years ago. And it is important that we remind
ourselves of what happened there -- of the
death that gave us life...of the penalty paid that
set us free.

Were you there at the place of

the skull which became the place of life everlasting?
Dr. Van Impe and I have gone to the outer
edge of the old city of Jerusalem to Golgotha,
the place of the skull, to view the place where
Jesus died for us. Perhaps it is only fitting
that today there is an ancient cemetery on top
of this rugged, rocky hill. And sure enough,
when viewed from below at enough distance
for good perception, the shape of Mt. Calvary
is much like a human skull!

When I was there, the ugly reality of what
really happened to Jesus on that spot struck
me. He was tortured, maimed, and killed
there. He was mocked and humiliated, then
nailed to a rough-hewn cross. His blood
poured out and stained the wood, the rocks,
and the ground.

Not long ago a friend of mine asked, "But
why did Jesus have to die?" The answer is
clear -- mankind sinned, and the Bible says the
wages of sin is death
(Romans 6:23).

For centuries God allowed men to sacrifice
the blood of animals as a temporary covering
for their sins. This was an imperfect sacrifice,
with limited efficacy. The blood of goats and
calves could not take away sin (see Hebrews 10:4).

Only the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the
perfect, sinless, Son of God, was pure and holy
enough to wash away the stain of sin for all
mankind. No wonder John the Baptist, upon
seeing Jesus, cried out, Behold the Lamb of
God, which taketh away the sin of the world

(John 1:29).

Because of Christ's willing sacrifice, the
place of death became the place of life -- yes,
everlasting life -- for all who receive the Lord.

Were you there for the noonday darkness

where we received the Light of the world?   The gospels tell us that Christ was
crucified at 9:00 a.m. and that from noon until 3:00
p.m., darkness covered the earth! Imagine the
daylight hours as dark as midnight, when there
was no light in the heavens and the sun
refused to shine. When the "light of the world"
was dying, darkness was everywhere!

Darkness symbolizes trouble and
despair, fear and hopelessness. We've all gone
through dark days when it seemed there was
no way out of our desperate situation, and
everything around us looked black. Jesus
tasted of that awful darkness for us, when there
was no joy or no hope. But in the midst of
the darkest hour in all of human history, He
brought new light!

How fitting that the Prophet Isaiah was
anointed by the Spirit of God to look down the
corridors of time to the coming of Jesus and
proclaim, The people that walked in darkness
have seen a great light: they that dwell in the
land of the shadow of death, upon them hath
the light shined
(Isaiah 9:2).

Today the world seems dark again. I know
people who don't even want to watch the news
on TV or read the newspaper because
everything looks so black and bleak. If ever we
needed the light of the world, it's today.
There's no other way out of the darkness. But
if we follow Him, we can live in the joy of His
sunshine in our lives.

Were you there at the place where Jesus

said, "I thirst," and from which now comes
living water?   One of the worst forms of human suffering
is to be thirsty. I remember being in Israel
while we were taping a TV special. On a
blindingly bright, blistering hot day (120
degrees Fahrenheit), I was recording a song on a
hill overlooking Masada. The sun beat down
mercilessly, and the desert wind swirled the
sand around us.

After a while I got so thirsty I could hardly
speak, much less sing. My mouth was almost
too dry to swallow -- it felt like waves of
desperation mounting until I was finally given
something to drink.

I thought of Jesus hanging on a cross, after
having been beaten with whips, crowned with
cruel thorns, and nailed to the beams that
suspended Him between heaven and earth. In the
midst of the agony of crucifixion, He also was
stricken with thirst.

When they offered Jesus a drink, He
realized that it contained something to help dull
the pain of His suffering -- and He refused it.
He allowed nothing to keep Him from experiencing
the utter depths of the thirsty soul.

All of us have a thirst within that cannot be
satisfied except by the Living Water of God.
We may drink from the waters of pleasure and
ambition, even taste the wine of riches and
self-indulgence. But nothing earth has to offer
can quench the thirsting of our souls.

Jesus said, Whosoever drinketh of the
water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but
the water that I shall give him shall be in him
a well of water springing up into everlasting
life
(John 4:14).

Were you there for the weeping and

sorrow which led to joy and blessings?   The cross of Calvary was a place of
weeping and sorrow. The Bible says that women
stood weeping at the foot of the cross. The
disciples of Jesus were also overcome with
sorrow. No doubt there were those who had
been healed, taught, and blessed by the Lord
who looked on that day. Their hearts must
have been broken to see this Miracle Worker
dying. And other followers who thought Jesus
was to be Israel's new leader and deliverer
must have been bitterly disappointed, too.
"What's happening?" they cried. "We thought
this was our Messiah!"

But if Jesus had not experienced such great
sorrow, He would never have understood the
sorrows of mankind. Isaiah prophesied, He is
despised and rejected of men; a man of
sorrows, and acquainted with grief...surely he
hath borne our griefs, and carried our
sorrows
(Isaiah 53:3,4).

Because of His sacrifice, we know that all
our tears will be wiped away and our sorrow
replaced by divine joy. Thank God, the
psalmist wrote, Weeping may endure for a
night, but joy cometh in the morning
(Psalm 30:5).

Were you there for the time of anguish

which provides our comfort?   On Calvary, Jesus gave His body and soul
as a sacrifice for us. He suffered unendurable
sorrow and pain. Here He bore our sins. We
cannot even imagine what it was like for the
Perfect One, God in the flesh, to feel the
defilement of every sin in the universe. Here
was Jesus, who never did cheat, steal, lie,
commit adultery, or do any other sin, suddenly
burdened with the vileness and degradation
of the whole world -- for every person who
would ever live!

It was absolutely overwhelming. No
wonder the Saviour cried out, My God, my God,
why hast thou forsaken me?
(Matthew 27:46).
God the Father had to turn His head because
He could not look on sin (see Isaiah 59:2). So
Jesus endured that anguish...alone. And
because He took our sins, we can now come to God.

Jesus knows the awful sadness and bitterness
sin produces. And because He took our
sins upon himself, He can comfort us in any
situation. The Word of God says, For we have
not an high priest which cannot be touched
with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in
all points tempted like as we are, yet without
sin. 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 4:15,16).

Were you there at the place of punishment

from whence comes redemption?   The penalty for sin is death! That punishment
must be endured -- that penalty must be
paid. And that was the reason for Christ's
death on the cross -- the purpose of Calvary.
On that day, the place of punishment became
the place of redemption for all mankind...for
the whole world.

Without the gallows of Golgotha there
could be no salvation, no forgiveness for sin,
no redemption.

The old spiritual concludes by asking,
"Were you there when He rose up from the
grave?" Thank God, through Christ our Lord,
we were there!

Through His sacrifice, we've faced death
and overcome it with life everlasting.

We've gone through the darkness of this
world and moved into His marvelous light.

We've overcome the desperation of
unquenchable thirst by receiving a well of living
water springing up within our souls.

We've found the only source of joy and
blessings that overcomes life's sorrows, and
the only comfort in the time of anguish and
tears.

And we've met Jesus at the place of
punishment and found it has become a place of
redemption.

Only by going to Calvary to see what
Christ has done for us can we really experience
the full joy of Easter! Were YOU there?

Oh, truly, "sometimes it causes me to
tremble" to realize how much we owe...how
rich we are. My mind can scarcely comprehend
the wonder of it all. How marvelous!

No wonder Jesus commissioned us to go
tell this great good news to every person in all
the world! Let's go tell it to all who will hear!

Week 21 | Seeing America Without Rose-Colored Glasses

Not long ago Dr. Van Impe and I were
having dinner in a little restaurant near our
home. As we were eating, a friend of ours
came in with her little granddaughter for their
evening meal.

The little girl ran up to me and exclaimed,
"Oh, Mrs. Van Impe, see my new sunglasses!
They make everything look so pretty."

I had to smile at her childish exuberance.
And after our darling little friend went with
her grandmother to their own table, I exclaimed
to my husband, "No wonder everything
appears so pretty to her -- she's looking
through rose-colored glasses!"

Each year we celebrate the birth of the
United States and our nation's independence.
As we gratefully consider the blessings and
benefits of living in our great land, it's easy to
allow our view of America to be colored just a
bit too rosy.

Having traveled in 50 countries around the
world, I must say that each time I return to my
beloved homeland I am tempted to look at
America through rose-colored glasses. At
times I've actually had to restrain myself from
running from the plane and kissing the
ground, as I thanked God for America.

But I recognize that my country has some
alarming faults and problems. While the
United States may seem to be in great shape
when compared to all the other countries in
the world, when we measure ourselves against
God's standard there is much cause for
concern.

It seems to me there has been too much
compromising -- too much relaxation among
all our citizens.

We've relaxed our attitude toward hard
work and doing our best. We've lowered our
standards of excellence and discarded our
pride of accomplishment.

Do you ever feel that American workers
are more interested in time off and leisure
activities than in the quantity and quality of
the work they do? Someone has said the
prevailing attitude now seems to be, "Don't put
yourself out -- that's good enough."

And while most Americans are still generous
and helpful to people suffering need or
calamity, there is a growing tendency to look
the other way and say, "It's none of my
business" or "I don't want to get involved."

I'm also concerned that our society -- in
the name of tolerance and individual liberty --
has stood by and let our community standards
of decency, morality, and ethics be trampled
underfoot by vulgar, unscrupulous, and
dishonest men. When will we learn there is no
virtue in failing to stand up for what we
believe? There is no right way to do the wrong
thing!

It's time for us to wake up, rise up, speak
up! It's time to take off our rose-colored
glasses and look at our nation, our neighborhood,
and our home in the cold, clear light of
day. It's time to start seeing ourselves through
God's eyes -- the way he sees us!

How can we make America better? I
believe with all my heart we must stop waiting
for someone else to take action and do what
we can, where we are! After all, a nation is
people, and we can influence people. We can
win them, lead them, guide them. And the
best way to accomplish that is by our own
personal example.

Be a Christian example of a good citizen

The Apostle Paul urged: Be thou an
example of the believers, in word, in conversation,
in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity

(1 Timothy 4:12).

That verse doesn't need much explaining,
does it? Our very word, deed, and attitude
must be Christ-like and set a leadership
pattern that will inspire those around us. Paul
went on to say in verse 16, For in doing this
thou shalt both save thyself, and them that
hear thee.

The thirteenth chapter of Romans deals
with our Christian duty to the state and the
duties of citizenship. We are instructed to
obey the government and the laws of the land,
and to pay our taxes.

As Christians, we should pray about
everything that touches our lives and others. Our
desire should always be for God's will to be
done. I believe we should pray for those in
authority over us, including our President, and
state and local officials.

By being good Christians in our daily
walk, we really can make America a better
and stronger nation.

Get involved in the issues
that shape America

Throughout the Bible, God expected His
people to be involved in their country. When
a nation was threatened by an enemy force,
the king himself led the army. The citizens
made up the ranks, or supplied needed
provisions...then honored the heroes and celebrated
the victory!

It's time we as Christians get more
involved in every aspect of our country. It is
right that we let our voices be heard on
matters concerning religious freedom. But we
must also be interested and actively involved
in the social, moral, and political issues affecting
America.

Recently I heard about a group of citizens
in Oklahoma who were concerned about the
blatant pornography being openly displayed in
convenience stores before the curious eyes of
children. They spoke out against it! So
effective were their efforts that one chain of stores
removed the offensive magazines from its
shelves altogether, others moved them behind
the counter, out of sight -- and the city government
began drafting an ordinance to control
the display and sale of sexually-oriented publications.

In thousands of schools, businesses,
churches, and homes across our nation,
multitudes of people have gotten involved in a
grass roots effort to help the starving millions
in Ethiopia and other famine-stricken African
countries. One school in New York received
national attention when its students (all from
poor or low income homes) raised several
hundred thousand dollars to buy and transport
food to Africa. Their example inspired similar
efforts in communities from coast to coast.

Involvement is tremendously fulfilling
personally -- and it gets things done. Look
around you for what needs to be done...and set
out to do it!

Let's have revival!

I love to read about the impact some of the
great men of God had upon our country in
their day. The record shows that when spiritual
giants like Whitefield, Wesley, Finney, and
a host of others conducted their great revivals
in America, they closed down the saloons, and
crime decreased.

Now we often have so-called evangelistic
meetings that have almost no impact -- some
church members aren't even aware there is a
meeting going on!

Our nation needs a revival of old-fashioned,
Bible-based, life-changing salvation,
and faith in God. The people of the United
States need a renewed appreciation for God's
goodness and an increased awareness of their
dependence upon Him.

You and I must be part of a new emphasis
on evangelism and the Church, on winning
people to Christ. The more people we get to
accept the Lord Jesus, the better our country is
going to be.

We must start where we are -- in our house,
our neighborhood, our community. Perhaps it
is true that we personally cannot reach the
entire world -- but we can reach our world.

I love that beautiful song that expresses the
prayer, "Let there be peace on earth, and let it
begin with me." Each of us can adapt that
prayer and cry out, "Let there be revival in
America, and let it start in my house...in my heart."

Oh, may we love our country and its
people in a real, practical way, like we've never
loved before. Let's take off our rose-colored
glasses and see America as God sees it. Let's
allow Him to wash our eyes with tears of
repentance and intercession.

Let's join hands across this nation and
work together for Christ until we make our
country God's country!

Week 20 | The Tragic Problem of Child Abuse

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

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

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

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

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

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

Abuse often goes unrecognized

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is child abuse?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Signs of abuse: what to look for

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

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

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

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

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

What can you do?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Week 19 | Someone With Skin On

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus, our Example

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(John 14:12,13).

Jesus, our Saviour

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

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

(Luke 2:29,30).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus, our Intercessor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can we find a friend so faithful,

Who will all our sorrows share;

Jesus knows our every weakness;

Take it to the Lord in prayer.

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