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Today’s Devotional | June 2 | JOB 3:20-26 | Why Trouble Comes

Today's Devotional

Memory Verse
I was not in safety, neither had I rest, neither was I quiet; yet trouble came (Job 3:26).

Sometimes we know why trouble has come. A lady in a hospital bed once said to me, “I know why I’m here.”

Trouble may come as a result of God’s love and concern for us. Many will be in heaven because trouble enabled them to see the real issues of life more clearly. When their eyes had been washed with tears, they saw the folly of living without Christ and the emptiness of worldly gain or pleasure. A time of trouble became a signpost for heaven.

Trouble may come to a Christian because he is not living in the will of God: “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?” (Hebrews 12:6, 7). A professing Christian who seems to continue to get away with sin should examine himself to see if he is in the faith,

Trouble may come because God has a special purpose for it. Jesus met a man who had been born blind and His disciples thought the man’s trouble was the result of some sin that he or his parents had committed. But Jesus told them that the blind man’s trouble was not the result of his sins or the sins of his parents (John 9:3). His blindness was for the glory of God. Jesus restored his sight.

Trouble may come as an attack from Satan. That was the source of Job’s trouble. He had not been presumptuous or backslidden. His trouble was an attack from the enemy.

We must be careful not to judge others in their times of trouble. If trouble comes to us because of sin, God will let us know so that we can confess it and be forgiven. Trouble that is not easily explained should be entrusted to the Lord.

His grace is sufficient for all!

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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June 1 | I CHRONICLES 22:6-16 | Giving In Trouble
Memory Verse
Of the gold, the silver, and the brass, and the iron, there is no number. Arise therefore, and be doing, and the LORD be with thee (I Chronicles 22:16).

Some expect to be liberal givers to the Lord’s work when they get through their present tight squeeze. They have the cart before the horse. People of faith have learned to give during difficult times and God has honored their faith.

Samuel Chadwick wrote: “Unless a man cultivates a habit of systematic giving when he has not much to give, he will give little when he is rich.”

David instructed Solomon concerning his duty in building the temple and informed him that he had stockpiled the materials for the temple during troubled times: “Now, behold, in my trouble I have prepared for the house of the LORD an hundred thousand talents of gold, and a thousand thousand talents of silver; and of brass and iron without weight; for it is an abundance: timber also and stone have I prepared; and thou mayest add thereto” (I Chronicles 22:14).

Had David deferred his giving, he might never have prepared for the building of the temple. The reason? Trouble followed him all his life. And it is likely that we will never be completely free from difficulties. If we are ever to invest in the Lord’s work, we must do so immediately.

Most of us do not have great fortunes to leave to Christian ministries after we finish this life and few have huge amounts to give now. The work of God is supported in large degree by widow’s mites that He multiplies to reach the multitudes. But we do have something in our hands. And a share of that belongs to the Lord.

Even in troubled times!

May 31 | JAMES 3 | Untamed Thoughts
Memory Verse
Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be (James 3:10).

Dr. Bob Jones Sr. wrote: “If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.” That is what the Holy Spirit said through James in the third chapter of the book he wrote.

“This statement we should know to be true even if it were not in the Bible. All of us know, if we stop to think, that our most difficult task is to control our tongues. There is nothing today that is doing more to deaden the spiritual testimony of orthodox Christianity than the long, backbiting, mean tongues of some supposedly orthodox Christians.

“There are Christians that talk much about a separated life, and boast about what they do and do not do, and speak with great pride about their loyalty to orthodoxy, who spend their time dipping their tongues in the slime and slander and speaking the death warrant to the reputation of other orthodox Christians.

“The Bible is filled with condemnation of people that slander other people. It condemns with great severity people who even take up a reproach about other people. It is just as bad to carry a rumor around after it starts as it is to start it.”
You may be rebuked by this strong statement. You feel uncomfortable. Convicted. You’ve been unkind with your tongue.

What can you do?

Confess your unkind words to the Lord. Claim His forgiveness.

Stop grieving over past failures. But don’t travel that same road again. Give Christ control of your life...including that dangerous tongue!

May 30 | JONAH 3 | Area Wide Revival
Memory Verse
So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them (Jonah 3:5).

Many scoff at efforts for area wide revival. They have unnumbered reasons for their unbelief: The days are too wicked. The time is too late. Hearts are too hard. People will not listen. The cost of the effort is too great. But they seldom admit the reason for their defeatist attitudes — the cost of personal revival.

Revival cannot be pumped up — advertised in — promoted through — instead, it must be prayed down. Unless individuals get right with God there will be no revival. In Nineveh, the king was one of the first to turn from his sin. Others then followed. Area wide revivals are simply examples of many turning from sin to the Lord.

Most great revivals are built around strong preaching. Wesley, Finney, Moody and others were key servants of God in times of revival. It is interesting that God uses preaching. Foolishness, Paul called it. Yet he declared that God had chosen preaching to save them that believe — to give the message of the Gospel so that people can hear, believe and be saved.

Prayer and preaching — what a combination. You may not be able to preach, but you can pray. Through your praying, alone and with others in your area, God may ignite the fires of revival. When that happens, He will raise up someone to preach the Word in power so the move will be blessed with multiplied conversions.

Ask God for a burden for revival in your area. Begin to pray. An area wide revival may be the answer to your prayer.

May 29 | PHILIPPIANS 4:15-23 | Giving
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).

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.

Week 23 | Right Where I Am!

You and I are missionaries.

We really are -- we have been called to
share the gospel and help win lost and
unsaved people to Christ on the mission fields of
the earth.

I can almost hear someone saying, "Oh,
Rexella, I could never be a missionary and do
great things for the Lord in some far country.
I don't have eloquent words or deep spiritual
wisdom, and I'll probably never have the
opportunity to go very far away from my own
neighborhood. So there's really not very
much I can do."

Do the little things

My response is simple -- we can pay attention
to little things. I have been so challenged
by the admonition of Horatio Bonar, who
said -- "It is well to remember that a holy life
is made up of a number of small things. Little
words -- not eloquent speeches or sermons.
Little deeds -- not miracles in battles. Deeds --
not one great heroic act of martyrdom -- make
up most Christian lives."

Isn't that tremendous? God is looking for
someone to do the little deeds and say the
simple things about Jesus -- to live the everyday
life of faith in their neighborhood. Don't
belittle the opportunity He has given you. As
the prophet said, For who hath despised the
day of small things?
(Zechariah 4:10).

Some years ago when Jack and I were
conducting citywide crusades, I began to feel a
strange yearning inside my being -- a sense of
unrest, of being unfulfilled. I couldn't
understand it. We were on the road up to nine
months out of the year, ministering to
thousands of people every night. I was part of the
team -- I stood and sang to great crowds and
sensed the presence of the Holy Spirit using
my songs to speak to many precious souls.
Along with this, I had the extreme pleasure
each crusade of speaking to ladies' luncheons
and various organizations. I found extreme
joy in seeing many coming to the Lord during
those afternoons.

Yet my inner spirit was not at peace. I felt
a hunger to have a one-to-one experience of
witnessing, to personally lead people to the
Lord. As I prayed and sought God's guidance,
the Lord seemed to say to me, "Yes, Rexella,
there is a mission field for you outside the
crusades. That mission field is right where you
are -- in the grocery store, at the shopping
center, the coffee shop, or wherever you find
yourself. The people you meet in these places
need to know Me."

The Holy Spirit impressed on me that I
needed to be aware of His leading and be
ready to witness in the way He led me. For
me, witnessing is not having a handful of
gospel tracts to pass out on the sidewalk or
asking a stranger passing by if I can explain
the five spiritual laws and lead him to the
Lord. Don't misunderstand me -- I believe in
using tracts and in being bold in sharing my
testimony at times. But I've found that just
showing love and being interested in people --
getting to know them -- prepares the way and
makes more effective witnessing opportunities.
How can I hope to lead a person to the
Lord until I show enough genuine interest in
her (or him) to get to know her?

A sales girl in a store I sometimes visit
said to me one day, "Mrs. Van Impe, you're
the only one who ever really looks at me."

Sow good seeds

It's important to use the tools of kindness
and simple friendship to break the ground and
till the soil. Then you plant a seed or two, and
water them faithfully with the Word of God.
The day will come when those seeds will
grow and be ready to harvest. You may have
the opportunity of reaping -- or someone else
may be there at just the right moment to lead
that person to Christ. As the great Apostle
Paul wrote, I have planted, Apollos watered;
but God gave the increase
(1 Corinthians 3:6).

One of the sweetest compliments I've ever
received came from a dear lady who is not of
our faith. I have tried to let my life witness to
her for several years as she has waited on me
at one of my favorite stores.

As I stood talking with her one day, another
customer came up, purchased something,
and asked, "May I have one of those special
shopping bags?"

"I'm so sorry," said my friend. "You have
to make a purchase of at least $15 to get the
decorative bag."

I said to the lady, "Oh, please take my
shopping bag. You seem to like it and I have
others at home."

The lady behind the counter smiled at the
customer and said, "Let me introduce you to
Mrs. Van Impe, she's a real Christian." I
found that her words warmed my heart and
blessed my soul.

I've found that when I show love and quietly
minister in little ways to the people who
cross my path, the Lord satisfies the yearning
of my heart to be used to win someone to Him.

Although I've tried to be a good witness to
everyone I possibly could, it had been a long
while since I'd personally prayed with an
individual to accept the Lord. There is no greater
thrill than this!

I am humbly grateful for the opportunity
Jack and I have to be on international TV and
to share the gospel to a great viewing audience
each week. We receive thousands of letters
each week, many from people who say they
accepted the Lord as they watched our program.

Lead souls to Jesus

But there's nothing like leading someone
to Jesus on a one-to-one basis. And that
happened during an Open House event at our
headquarters. A dear lady came up to me and
introduced me to her grandson, who was about
21 years of age.

"I'd like for my grandson to be baptized," she said.

I looked at the young man and asked,
"Why do you want to be baptized?"

"Oh," he said, obviously wishing to please
his grandmother, "I think it would be a nice
thing to do."

I said, "Well, according to the Bible,
before you're baptized there are some things
that have to happen. Have you been born again?"

"No," he replied.

"Do you know what that means?"

"No, I don't."

"Would you like to know?"

"Yes," he said, "I really would."

So the young man and I, along with a couple
of other believers, went into my office and
knelt down beside a chair. I explained the
simple plan of salvation to him -- how Jesus
died to provide forgiveness of all sin. Then I
asked if he needed the Lord.

"Oh, yes," he said, "I have done so many
things wrong. I really want to accept Jesus as
my Saviour."

So we prayed the sinner's prayer together,
and that young man became a Christian. I
don't know who was the happiest -- he or I
or his grandmother! It was wonderful.

Be a witness in your "world"

This can happen to you, too. You have a
mission field to work for the Lord...right
where you are. The Bible says, The steps of a
good man
[or woman] are ordered by the
Lord: and he delighteth in his way
(Psalm
37:23). Think of it -- you don't take a single
step by accident. God sends you wherever
you go for a reason. Someone in your "world"
needs to see the witness of your life and to
hear your testimony in your everyday
conversation. Don't ever forget this. The Bible says,
Moreover it is required in stewards, that a
man
[or woman] be found faithful (1 Corinthians 4:2).

I read recently about a famous preacher
who concluded a powerful sermon in a revival
meeting and gave an invitation. A woman of
great wealth and social distinction came down
the aisle and asked if she could say a few words.

"I want you to know why I came forward
tonight. It is not because of any word spoken
by this good preacher. I stand here because of
the influence of a little woman who sits before
me. Her fingers are rough with toil, the hard
work of many years has stooped her low.
She's just a poor, obscure washer woman who
has served in my home for many years. I have
never known her to be impatient, speak an
unkind word, or do a dishonorable deed. But I
know countless little acts of unselfish love that
adorn her life.

"Shamefully, let me say that I have openly
sneered in her face and laughed at her fidelity
to God. Yet, when my little girl was taken
away recently, it was this woman who caused
me to look beyond the grave and shed my first
tear of hope. The sweet magnetism of her life
has led me to Christ. I covet the things that
have made her life so beautiful."

When the woman finished speaking, the
great preacher got up and said, "My friends,
let me introduce you to the real preacher of the
evening," and he had the little washer woman stand.

How effective a missionary this humble
laundress was! Her life was a powerful
witness right where she worked. She found her
mission field without ever leaving home.
You and I can do the same thing if we will
pay attention to little things...and live for
Christ where we are. Remember, before the
Lord told His disciples to go unto the
uttermost part of the earth,
He asked them to be
witnesses unto Him in Jerusalem, and in all
Judaea, and in Samaria
(Acts 1:8).

He has not changed His plan or His
commission! He has called you to be His witness,
starting in your own neighborhood, to the
people of your own town, to your own "world."

Say not ye, There are yet four months, and
then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you,
Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for
they are white already to harvest
(John 4:35).

Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest,
that he will send forth labourers into his
harvest
(Matthew 9:38).

When you pray this prayer, be ready to
have it answered by God tapping YOU on the
shoulder! Isaiah told of hearing the voice of
God, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will
go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.
And he said, Go, and tell this people)
Isaiah 6:8,9).

Can you hear the voice of God today?
Listen with the ears of your heart. Then take
my hand, and let's get going to our mission
field...right where we are!

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.