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Today’s Devotional | October 19 | PSALM 19 | The God of Nature

Today's Devotional

Memory Verse
The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork (Psalm 19:1).

A man sat in the heat of the day under a walnut tree looking at a pumpkin vine. He began to muse, “How foolish God is! Here He puts a great heavy pumpkin on a tiny vine without strength to do anything but lie on the ground. He puts tiny walnuts on a tree whose branches could hold the weight of a man. If I were God, I could do better than that!” Suddenly a breeze knocked a walnut from the tree. It fell on the man’s head. He rubbed the bump, a sadder and wiser man. He remarked: “Suppose there had been a pumpkin up there instead of a walnut! Never again will I try to plan the world for God. I shall thank Him that He has done it so well!”

Everything in nature carries in it the mark of the Creator. The psalmist says that the entire earth is given witness to the glory of God through the beauty and action in the sky. Still men turn their eyes from the heights and scan the earth trying to find support for a theory that disregards the Creator and traces the history of man to a beginning other than that stated in the Bible.

With the testimony of nature so strong, one wonders why men reject the reality of God’s existence. Desire must be father to their action. Some would rather not accept the truth of God for fear of being accountable to Him for their sins.

Their escape route is a deception. They are still accountable. As are we 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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    October 18 | ISAIAH 55 | God Is Infinite
    Memory Verse
    For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts (Isaiah 55:9).

    God has no boundaries. No limits. He has always existed and He will always exist. He cannot be bound by time or space for they are His creations. His knowledge is beyond us.

    We have many limits. There are things we do not comprehend. So many things we cannot do. We are limited in knowledge, in strength, and in ability. Even the strongest have areas of weakness. It is the way of mankind. We are a fallen race, still suffering from the effects of that traumatic tumble. We are finite beings.

    How wonderful that the infinite God loves us as we are! How interesting that He should desire to have fellowship with us! The thought seems too great to take in.

    Yet it is true.

    At first glance, the gap seems too wide to bridge — from God to man — from the Holy One to sinners. And that first evaluation would stand were it not for the cross. There on that rugged hill, reconciliation was made, the barrier to blessing broken down: “For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father” (Ephesians 2:18).

    Amazing grace? And then some! Reaching from the heights to the depths. Linking us to the Lord of heaven and earth, when we respond by faith. Making us partakers of the divine nature (see 2 Peter 1:4), children of God (see John 1:12), joint-heirs with Christ (see Romans 8:17).

    And that is infinitely more than we deserve.

    October 17 | PROVERBS 13 | Poverty and Riches
    Memory Verse
    There is that maketh himself rich, yet hath nothing: there is that maketh himself poor, yet hath great riches (Proverbs 13:7).

    The love of money can be as great a pitfall to the poor as to the rich. Some who have little put on airs and pretend to be rich. Impressions are important to them. They want others to think they are successful.

    Some who are very rich travel incognito. They keep their wealth secret. Finally, after death, the truth is known. Newspapers frequently carry stories of people leaving large estates to the surprise of friends and relatives. Their lifestyles had not given a true story of their resources. Living like paupers, they had stored immense fortunes.

    What is the lesson here?

    It is the folly of making money life’s goal.

    The poor person pretending to be rich reveals his belief that wealth determines personal worth. If only he could be rich, he thinks, life would have yielded him its best. Therefore, he spends beyond his means trying to get his message across. Finally, debt ridden, he comes to the end of his days never having been satisfied.

    The wealthy person living as a pauper never feels secure enough to give of his abundance. He is ever looking for a rainy day and therefore lives under a cloud of fear. His security lies in that bank account or in his hidden treasure. He never learns the joy of leaning only upon God in a time of need. He misses the miracle of God’s provision when there is no place else to turn. Pity him.

    Resting in Jesus we can be ourselves. Secure in Him, we need not feign riches or poverty. Rich or poor we belong to Him. Hallelujah!

    October 16 | JAMES 1:13-21 | God Is Unchanging
    Memory Verse
    Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning (James 1:17).

    God is the same today as He was yesterday. In all our tomorrows, He will be the same. Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer wrote: “In no sphere or relationship is God subject to change. He could not be less than He is, and, since He filleth all things, He could not be more than He is. He could be removed from no place, nor is His knowledge or holiness subject to change.”

    The Bible says of God: “For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed” (Malachi 3:6); “Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands. They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed: But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end” (Psalm 102:25-27).

    In my youth, I would often kneel to pray in our humble home in Detroit. There I unloaded many burdens and asked for many blessings. Since that time, most things have changed. The community has changed. The neighbors have changed. I have changed. But God remains the same. He is as ready to bear the burdens of this preacher as He was to hear the prayer of that boy so long ago. Events of the day may change the course of our lives, but God is unchanging: “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).

    October 15 | PSALM 139:7-12 | God Is Omnipresent
    Memory Verse
    Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? (Psalm 139:7).

    God is everywhere.

    A celebrity attended the services of an old minister in a small church. The aged preacher spoke with his accustomed earnestness and seemed unshaken by the presence of the visitor. At the close of the service, some members of the congregation said, “Pastor, we had a distinguished visitor today, but you did not seem embarrassed.” Their wise pastor replied: “I have been preaching in the presence of Almighty God for forty years, and do you think, with Him as one of my constant Hearers, any man can embarrass me by his presence?”

    The ability of God to be everywhere is hard for us to grasp. Our minds struggle with such infinite information. Yet it is true. A number of Bible verses confirm it. Solomon wrote: “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded” (1 Kings 8:27). The psalmist declared: “Nevertheless I am continually with thee; thou hast holden me by my right hand. Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever” (Psalm 73:23-26).

    Though it is beyond our understanding, we can claim the promise of His presence. He will never leave us nor forsake us (see Hebrews 13:6). And so the child of God is never alone.

    October 14 | PROVERBS 11 | Winning Souls
    Memory Verse
    The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise (Proverbs 11:30).

    Not many win souls.

    It is estimated that only about 5% of Christians ever lead another to the Saviour. This means 95% do not win souls.

    Had the early church advanced at such a snail’s pace, Christianity would have died out in the first century! Those fiery souls were out to win the world and because they were faithful, we have received the Gospel. They had been commissioned to minister in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the uttermost parts of the earth. And they took the charge seriously.

    When persecution came to early Christians, they seized their scattering as an opportunity to preach the Gospel in new fields. Under pressure, they produced. Imprisoned, they sang praises to God and won other prisoners.

    Why do so few win souls today? Why is fruit so scarce compared to the harvest of the first century?

    There are undoubtedly a number of factors that contribute to fruitlessness. But one of the most important is that we do not make soul winning our most desired goal. We are quite content if all is going well at the church and we have few troubles at home. Financial targets get priority. We must get our incomes up to that of our friends. After overtime, there is little time to reach lost people. Church visitation and soul winning programs languish while we cater to our carnal desires of gain and ease.

    But when all is said and done — who is wise?

    All our earthly trinkets will someday be dissolved. But he that winneth souls is wise — having lasting treasure.

    October 13 | PROVERBS 10 | Covering Sins
    Memory Verse
    Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins (Proverbs 10:12).

    A pastor was approached by one of his members who wanted to repeat to him some of the wrongdoings of another in the church. The pastor said, “Does anybody else know about this?” “No,” answered the talebearer. “Then,” advised the wise preacher, “go home and hide it away at the feet of Jesus, and never speak of it again unless God leads you to speak to the person himself.”

    What good advice! The talebearer acts out of hate and is in heart a murderer: “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him” (I John 3:15). The Christian who covers sin is motivated by love. He cannot bring himself to repeat the wrongs of others in the family of God.

    Peter reminded his readers of the importance of Solomon’s instruction: “And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins” (I Peter 4:8). How grateful this servant of God must have been for God’s forgiveness and the love demonstrated by his brethren. After his three denials of Christ, he was forgiven and made the spokesman for the early church.

    Shall we act today in hate or love? Will our conversations stir up strife or cover sins? Will the church be divided or helped because we have lived another day?

    Does love then simply ignore wrongs in a brother or sister? Not at all. We have two obligations. The first is that of prayer for the one who has sinned. The second is to go to the one in need and make an effort to restore: “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted” (Galatians 6:1).

    October 12 | PROVERBS 8 | Hate
    Memory Verse
    The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate (Proverbs 8:13).

    Is it ever wise to hate?

    Cradled in a chapter exalting wisdom, is an injunction to hate.

    Surprising?

    Not when the righteous character of God is considered.

    The fear (reverential trust) of the LORD causes one to hate what He hates. We are not shocked when instructed to love what God loves. Logic leads from love to hate. God hates evil, therefore it is wise for His children to hate evil too.

    But hating sin is not popular in our day. Evil is simply renamed to make it more acceptable. Nevertheless, God’s standards have not changed. Judgment will not be an exercise in semantics. Evil is evil. Sin is sin! And the child of God is called upon to declare his loyalty to the God of righteous- ness.

    Now let’s get personal.

    It is not so difficult to hate evil, pride and arrogancy in another. Despising the froward mouth of a neighbor or fellow church member may come easily. But what if these awful acts and attitudes are our own?

    • Have you learned to hate pride when you see it in the mirror?
    • Have you caught yourself being disgustingly arrogant?
    • Do you face the issue when you have spoken wrongly?

    Thankfully, these serious transgressions of God’s will can be confessed, forgiven and forsaken. No one has to live in defeat. Like all sins, these can be put away and overcome — if you hate them enough!

    Week 42 | A Blaze of Glory

    That day is coming, dear one... The day
    we shall see Christ as He is. At that final
    moment of earthís history for us, will He find us
    blazing bright with His message of love and
    hope?

    I think of the maple trees across the street
    from our house. One autumn season, what a
    glorious display of red, yellow, brown and
    purple we were treated to when those leaves
    began to turn! When the evening sun came
    shining through the leaf-covered boughs, each
    tree seemed to be on fire.

    When I was home, I enjoyed looking over
    at those glorious maples. I was a little sad
    when the last leaves fell and only skeleton-like
    arms were left silhouetted against the winter
    sky.

    I waited for spring and new leaves on those
    trees, but the new buds never sprouted. I was
    shocked to see my neighbor cutting down the
    lifeless limbs and dead trunks.

    How could trees that had been so beautiful
    just last fall be dead in spring? Someone
    explained to me what had happened: the trees
    sense when they are in their last season, and
    they pour all their remaining strength into one
    last spectacular display --

    They go out in a blaze of glory!

    Like nature, the Bible is full of examples of
    this final "blaze of glory." Think of Samson,
    whose entire existence was reduced to turning
    a grind stone for the Philistines, in his
    eternally dark, blind state.

    Yet when he was brought into the Philistine
    coliseum to entertain them, the Bible says:

    "And Samson took hold of the two middle
    pillars upon which the house stood, and on which
    it was borne up, of the one with his right hand,
    and of the other with his left. And Samson said,
    ëLet me die with the Philistines.í And he bowed
    himself with all his might; and the house fell
    upon the lords, and upon all the people that were
    therein. So the dead which he slew at his death
    were more than they which he slew in his life"

    (Judges 16:29-30).

    At the wedding in Cana of Galilee, Jesus
    turned water into wine when the bridegroom
    ran out of wine. And his guests declared: "Every
    man at the beginning doth set forth good wine;
    and when men have well drunk, then that which
    is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until
    now"
    (John 2:10).

    Job had a full, rich life until tragedy struck
    him. Then he went through some of the most
    trying times ever endured by a human being,
    but he stayed true to God, and it was said of
    him, "So the Lord blessed the latter end of Job
    more than his beginning"
    (Job 42:12).

    There is a tremendous lesson for all of us in
    this. Without a doubt, we are living in the last
    season of this old world. All the prophetic
    signs tell us time will soon wind down. In the
    short time left to us, we as Christians should
    be like the maple tree and prepare to end this
    final season in a blaze of glory!

    Think of it! We're in the last harvest of souls
    this world will ever see before Jesus comes. 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).

    Knowing the season, we must expend every
    resource and every bit of strength at our
    disposal to light up the world with the
    reflected glory of our Savior. Let us shine our
    brightest today... Show our truest colors
    now. There will not be another season.

    Wife and mother, this may be the last
    month or week... or day you will spend with
    your family. Pour out your love on your
    husband and children. Husband and father,
    this may be your last opportunity to make
    your home a glorious place to live, full of joy
    and love and excitement. Do it now!

    Dear friend, how can you go out with a
    blaze of glory? There are simple acts of
    kindness you can do: a heart-felt compliment,
    a word of encouragement, a friendly phone
    call to a lonely acquaintance. They may be
    little things, but like each individual maple
    leaf, they can fill your life-tree full!

    Dr. Van Impe and I need your continued
    prayer support as we try to make this season of
    our ministry the most glorious of all and
    proclaim to the world: Jesus is coming soon --
    perhaps today!
    The Scripture says...

    For the Lord himself shall descend from
    heaven with a shout, with the voice of the
    archangel, and with the trump of God: and the
    dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are
    alive and remain shall be caught up together
    with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the
    air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord ... For
    yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord
    so cometh as a thief in the night
    (1 Thessalonians. 4:16-5:2).

    Remember to pray for us, even as we pray
    for you. Ask God to give us so much strength,
    energy, vision and anointing that, like Job, the
    end of our lives will be greater than the
    beginning. As the Scriptures tell and as the
    signs of the times clearly show, the coming of
    our Lord is at hand. Let's rise to meet Him in
    joy and triumph, going up in a blaze of glory!

    Week 41 | You Are God’s Gift to a Lost World

    Did you ever realize that you are God's gift
    to your world? He has planted you on this
    earth like a precious flower to share the
    beautiful scent of salvation with people in the
    parched desert around you. He gave you as a
    gift to these souls in need, and He expects you
    not only to brighten their world, but to bear
    fruit of new souls won to His kingdom. It's not
    difficult to do when you allow the Holy Spirit
    to work through you.

    People all around you need hope. You can
    tell, just reading the newspaper. I read several
    periodicals every week, just to keep current on
    world events... And I can't help but notice
    that so many articles in the papers point to
    despair.

    Violent crime is on the rise. Unemployment
    and poverty are rampant. Even suicide --
    which used to be so rare -- is becoming
    commonplace. It breaks my heart to read that
    suicide is one of the leading causes of death
    among teenagers. Now even children are
    following this deadly trend, like the little girl
    we read about in Florida. She threw herself in
    front of a train because her mother was dying
    with the AIDS virus.

    Yet every time I read a newspaper item like
    this, it just rings an alarm bell in my heart that
    says: People need HOPE. They need the truth
    of God's love. "We have this hope as an anchor
    for the soul, firm and secure." We read about
    the love of God in Hebrews 6:19. That hope is
    our anchor, and God is calling each one of us
    to share that hope with souls in danger around
    us. Jesus has chosen you and me as His gift to
    a lost and dying world, to share his eternal
    love.

    I know that you prize soul-winning above
    every other calling in your life; you have
    demonstrated that by your strong support of
    this ministry, which is sharing God's love
    continually with those in need. Yet I also
    believe that God has called each one of His
    children to share His precious salvation
    message in our personal lives. How can we do
    it? How can we find the words?

    The Lord knows you inside and out; He
    knows you better than you know yourself.
    Through His intimate knowledge of your
    special talents and your limitations, I believe
    He will call you to win souls in the best, most
    effective way possible for you ... What I mean
    is, God does not expect you to become an
    evangelist or a Gospel singer or a street-corner
    preacher. He simply calls you to do what you
    are able to do in presenting a Gospel witness.

    For instance, there's a little shopping mall
    near my home where I like to browse when I
    can spare a few minutes. I don't go there with
    my Bible under my arm, looking for someone
    I could talk to ... I simply go shopping like any
    other lady. But the Lord has given me
    opportunities to witness to several of the
    workers at that mall -- waitresses and sales
    ladies.

    Sometimes one of them will say, "Why are
    you always so happy? There's something
    different about you." They don't care whether
    or not I've been to Bible school or what church
    I attend. They just notice God's love at work
    in me. Or sometimes if I ask one of them how
    they're doing, they will say, "I'm having a
    problem..." and they pour out their hearts to
    me.

    They sense my love and interest in their
    lives, and they want to know what makes me
    happy. Through these simple things, the Lord
    has allowed me to lead several of these ladies to
    the cross and pray with them to accept Jesus.
    It's not difficult, and it doesn't require that you
    know a lot of Scripture or have a powerful
    testimony.

    I would encourage you to use our video
    teachings in your personal witnessing. Invite
    your neighbors to a Bible study in your home,
    and use Jack's video teaching as a guide -- or
    give our videos as a gift. It's a loving and
    effective way to warn your friends about the
    coming end times and lead them to Jesus.

    I know from my own personal experience
    that there is something YOU can do for the
    Lord. You can personally witness to others and
    help lead them to Christ, in a specific way
    which God has enabled you to share and
    which no one else on earth could do like you.
    You are God's gift to a lost world -- let Him
    use you to reach your world with His good
    news!

    Week 40 | Go Home a Winner

    During the course of a year, Jack and I
    receive various invitations to speak at a variety
    of functions. One such invitation that he
    never refuses is the privilege of being the
    keynote speaker for an international prophecy
    conference in Florida. The invitation came
    again this year; he accepted, and we were on
    our way! Flying to Tampa would surely be the
    quickest means of getting there, but since we
    desperately needed a break from our workload,
    we decided to incorporate a few days of
    relaxation by driving to our destination. I was
    elated to see the bright and beautiful February
    morning as we left our home in Michigan. We
    thoroughly enjoyed the quiet, pleasant, and
    fun-filled days on the road. It was a perfect
    time to talk with each other without
    interruptions and absorb some of God's
    magnificent, majestic creation.

    As we approached Atlanta, Georgia, I was
    especially taken with a sign on the back of a
    Yellow Checker taxi. It was an interesting
    slogan that said, "Go home a winner; play the
    Lottery!" The first four words began to echo in
    my mind and heart, "Go home a winner!" I
    prayed silently, "Lord, this is what you expect
    from all of your followers. You want us to be
    winners in the race of life."

    Remembering that heaven is a prepared
    place for a prepared people, we must truly be
    ready to go home by knowing the Lord Jesus
    as Savior (Philippians 3:10). When this is a
    reality, we will have the blessing of God's Spirit
    within our hearts (Romans 8:9). Surely it is
    impossible to be successful in attaining the
    approval of our Lord unless we have the power
    of His Spirit in our lives. He alone enables us
    to win the battle against Satan.

    I do not need to convince any thinking
    person that we are fighting against some fierce
    odds. All we need to do is watch the television
    news or read daily newspapers and current
    magazines to see how Satan is winning in some
    arenas of the world. Thank the Lord that it is
    possible for us to say, as did the Apostle Paul:
    "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my
    course, I have kept the faith"
    (I Timothy 4:7).

    Here are some of the thoughts that I had
    pertaining to being a winner as we continued
    our journey South.

    1. Follow the Lord in His example of holiness.

    There are several ways that we can go home
    a winner. One would certainly be by following
    the Lord Jesus in His example of holy living.

    Positionally, we have been declared holy
    because of what Jesus did for us when He died
    at Calvary, but experientially, God wants us to
    follow peace and holiness in our daily lives.
    How good that our loving God gave us the
    Ten Commandments (not suggestions) so that
    we could have guidelines to help us know right
    and wrong, black and white, and not the
    modern concept of living in some gray area of
    life with no absolutes. Often we hear a theory
    called "situation ethics" expounded. This
    contemporary humanistic reasoning manifests
    itself when one accepts this theory which
    declares: "I have the right to ignore God's
    commandments because of the situation in
    which I find myself." This philosophy offers
    no restraints for moral actions or personal
    pleasures.

    There are times, however, when we are
    unable to live completely like the Lord would
    desire, and we fall short of His holy example.
    How good to know that we do serve a loving,
    forgiving God. The Apostle John tells us the
    story of a woman who was caught in the act of
    adultery and thrown at Jesus' feet. She was
    guilty of a great, and immoral sin -- according
    to Jewish law she deserved death, but Jesus'
    response to her was one of overwhelming love.
    The power of His love is greater than any sin.
    He not only forgave her, but he would not
    allow her accusers to condemn her. He knew
    they too were guilty and hypocritical about
    their condemnation. Thus he looked at her
    with compassion and said, "Neither do I
    condemn thee: go, and sin no more"
    (John 8:11).
    Quickly notice however, that even though
    Jesus loved and forgave her of her immorality,
    He also exhorted her not to allow the sin to
    continue.

    In the same way, you and I stand forgiven
    ...but He expects us to live a holy lifestyle.

    2. Follow the Lord in His example of humility.

    This is a staggering and astounding
    admonition when we consider a very
    important aspect about our Lord as He walked
    among us.

    He was not an ordinary man or prophet.
    He was the Son of God! A member of the
    Holy Trinity! Scripture reveals to us that He
    helped to create the heavens and the earth --
    and that "nothing was made without Him"
    (Colossians 1:16). He, as God, is omnipotent,
    omnipresent, and omniscient. With this in
    mind, I am in awe to think that when He
    walked upon earth He gave us an amazing
    example of humility.

    I find it hard to comprehend that He was so
    humble He knelt down and washed the feet of
    His disciples (John 13:14). What a beautiful
    and awesome thought: We serve a humble
    God!

    Surely this example should cause us to
    conclude that the more responsibility you and
    I are given in this life... the more humility is
    required. Perhaps the reason some hesitate to
    exemplify humility is found in the fact that
    they confuse meekness with weakness.
    Meekness never manifests itself in weakness.

    I am so grateful that I have had the privilege
    of working alongside so many great men. In
    my opinion, the greatest of these personalities
    were those who chose to humble themselves in
    the sight of God, following the Lord Jesus in
    His meek and lowly life (Matthew 11:28 and
    29). In so doing, God exalted and blessed
    these leaders abundantly (James 4:10).

    An astounding illustration of this can be
    found in Westminster Abbey in London,
    England. There, among the tombs of many,
    are the tributes to David Livingstone and his
    brother.

    David Livingstone's brother was a man of
    great fame since he was a very successful
    business man. When David Livingstone
    wanted to go to the mission field to share the
    Gospel, it was his brother who tried to reason
    with him by saying, "Don't go David, you are
    burying yourself in Africa and wasting your
    life. You have so much to look forward to in
    England. In a short time you are destined to
    become wealthy." David Livingstone listened
    to the voice of God instead of his brother. He
    left for the mission field to pioneer a
    tremendous work for His Lord in Central
    Africa.

    Today, on the monument of David
    Livingstone, there is a beautiful, royal tribute
    etched in stone as a commemoration of his
    tremendous and enduring accomplishments.
    Right next to this tribute, lies the monument
    of his brother that merely reads: "The brother
    of David Livingstone."

    We may never receive the promised
    exaltation of James 4:10 here on earth, but
    someday we will go home winners if we
    exemplify humility in our lives.

    3. Follow the Lord in His example of Evangelization.

    A dramatic and dynamic event occurred
    when Jesus ascended into heaven. The last
    words that He spoke to his disciples were: "But
    ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost
    is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto
    me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in
    Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the
    earth"
    (Acts 1:8). Let's consider two thoughts
    concerning His last request.

    Why do we receive power? So we can
    witness. Where did Jesus want us to witness?
    Right where we are. Perhaps another way we
    could paraphrase this is: "But ye shall receive
    power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon
    you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in
    Detroit, and in all of Michigan, and in the
    United States, and unto the uttermost part of
    the earth." Place your city, state and nation in
    the above.

    I appreciate how Jesus prepared lives around
    Him for His message of love and salvation.
    First of all, He cared for the specific needs of
    each and every one. Remember how he healed
    their bodies (John 5:1-9), how He brought
    comfort to their minds during times of sorrow
    (John 11:20-45), and how He gave them food
    to satisfy their hunger (Matthew 15:32-38). It
    may prove a blessing for us to follow His
    example by caring for those around us before
    we attempt to reach out to them spiritually.
    There are so many with multiplied problems.
    Let's always be aware of their needs first and
    then love them enough to reach out in a
    tangible way.

    Secondly, He met the needs of those near
    Him as well as far away. He blessed and
    redeemed His disciples and ultimately the
    souls of the world via Calvary. Our mission
    field is all around us. Let's be vigilant and
    ready to help those at home as well as those
    abroad. Sometimes those closest to us are
    neglected. Perhaps we could say we are often
    too far-sighted.

    Once there was a young lady in San
    Francisco who wanted to go to China as a
    missionary. But when she went before the
    Missions Board, they asked her two very
    important questions... The first was: "How
    far do you live from Chinatown?" "Just a few
    miles..." she replied. Then they asked her
    the second question: "Have you been there to
    share the Gospel with them?" Her answer was
    "no." How sad! The board in good conscience
    could not approve her application to become a
    missionary.

    Take note! The last thing Jesus asked us to
    do before He ascended into heaven was, "Go
    and be witnesses." The first thing we will be
    asked by the Lord when we arrive home is:
    "Did you keep my commandment?" Scripture
    tells us there will be a special reward for such
    an effort (I Thessalonians 2:19).

    John the Baptist spoke these inspiring
    words that may help us in our efforts to be
    winners. He said of Jesus, "He must increase, but
    I must decrease"
    (John 3:30). May this powerful
    exhortation reside and reign in our hearts as
    we resolve to "GO HOME A WINNER!"

    Week 39 | Just to Say, “Thank You!”

    No story in the Bible more movingly
    pictures human gratitude than the healing of
    ten lepers in Luke 17:12-18...

    And as He entered into a certain village,
    there met Him ten men that were lepers,
    which stood afar off'. and they lifted up their
    voices and said, ëJesus, Master, have mercy on
    us.í

    And when He saw them, He said unto
    them, ëGo shew yourselves unto the priests.í
    And it came to pass, that, as they went, they
    were cleansed.

    And one of them, when he saw that he was
    healed, turned back, and with a loud voice
    glorified God. And he fell down on his face at
    His feet, giving Him thanks: and he was a
    Samaritan.

    And Jesus answering said, ëWere there not
    ten cleansed? But where are the nine? There
    are not found that returned to give glory to
    God, save this stranger.í"

    Have you too found that sometimes when a
    person gets what he wants, he forgets to say
    thank you? Throughout Jesus' ministry, He
    was giving examples of how we should live. He
    knew -- as He knew all things -- that only
    one man would return to express appreciation.
    Thus, Christ wanted this story of the ten
    lepers recorded for future generations, so that
    we would know the importance of giving
    thanks.

    Give Without Expecting Thanks?

    I've heard it said that we should not
    "expect" thanks in return for the kindnesses we
    show. If we don't expect it, we will never be
    disappointed in our fellow man. However, I
    believe that the attitude of being grateful and
    showing it is a biblical principle. Notice verse
    17; it seems as if Jesus expected a "thank-you"
    from all ten lepers. He said, "But where are the
    nine?"

    Jesus was showing us a practical example of
    Colossians 3:15, "Be ye thankful." Obviously,
    thanksgiving is expected of us. This is one
    reason mothers and fathers, while teaching
    their children to speak, emphasize the
    importance of saying "please" and "thank
    you.

    We expect such "common" courtesies even
    from toddlers. Naturally, it is disconcerting
    when adults are ungrateful in response to
    God's kindnesses to them. How many of us
    follow the dictum of Colossians 3:15, "Be ye
    thankful"?

    Bless the LORD, O My Soul!

    In Psalm 103, we read a beautiful song of thanksgiving:

    Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is
    within me, bless His holy name.

    Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all
    His benefits:

    Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; Who
    healeth all thy diseases;

    Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; Who
    crowneth thee with loving kindness and tender
    mercies;

    Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things;
    so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's.
    The Lord executeth righteousness...

    (Psalm 103:1-6)

    Notice in this text that the psalmist recalls
    the "benefits" of serving God, and even lists
    them in his song of praise. Have you ever
    created such a list? The little Sunday School
    song that I learned as a child implores us to
    "count your blessings; name them one by one,
    and it will surprise you what the Lord has
    done." When we pray and give thanks to God,
    let us remember all the wonderful blessings He
    has bestowed on us!

    A Chocolate Remembrance

    It was my special joy to meet and fellowship
    with the many friends who came to our open
    house at our JVI Headquarters. What a
    pleasure it was to hear so many of them say,
    "Thank you" to Dr. Van Impe and me during
    that great day of celebration.

    Some of our friends even surprised us with
    special presents. I'll never forget, one beautiful
    little girl, maybe seven years of age, with her
    big eyes glowing, handed me a box of candy
    and said, "We remembered that your husband
    likes chocolates." I reached down, embraced
    her, and said, "Thank you, sweetheart."

    Since we are unable to write thank-you
    notes to everyone who came to our open
    house or brought gifts, I would like, in this
    open forum, to thank everyone for their
    thoughtfulness, love and generosity.

    But let me go one step beyond thanking our
    wonderful guests who came to visit us. Let me
    also extend my gratitude to every supporter
    and friend of our ministry. Thank you all, dear
    ones, for your financial help, prayers, letters
    and encouragement.

    We especially thank you whose lives have
    been changed for your notes and letters of
    testimony. Jack and I have had many praise
    sessions because of God's word in your hearts.

    The Impact of Encouragement

    It would be virtually impossible to carry on
    this ministry to which God has called us
    without help and encouragement from
    precious friends like you. We need your
    encouragement; we thrive upon hearing about
    your triumphs and victories because God used
    our ministry to reach you. It is difficult to
    express the impact we feel as we receive
    hundreds of thousands of letters each year
    sharing such blessings. It is like a warm ray of
    sunshine on a cold winter's day.

    At His last supper, Jesus showed us exactly
    how important encouragement is at the
    darkest hours of our life. When Jesus had thus
    said, He was troubled in spirit, and testified,
    and said, ëVerily, verily, I say unto you, that
    one of you shall betray me.í Then the disciples
    looked one on another, doubting of whom He
    spake. Now there was leaning on Jesus' bosom
    one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved
    (John
    13:21-23).

    John could feel the Master's burdened spirit
    and leaned his head on Jesus to express his love
    and concern. John wanted to give his Lord a
    measure of additional strength and
    encouragement. This example of human love
    from this disciple is so beautiful that it cannot
    be overlooked.

    I am sure Jesus absorbed a great deal of love
    and respect from His apostles. I do believe,
    however, God laid it on their hearts to be
    extremely compassionate and supportive of
    the Lord Jesus especially because of the agony
    which lay ahead.

    The Most Important Person on Earth

    Jack and I thank you for the encouragement
    you have been to us. May our example help
    you to express appreciation to special people in
    your life for the blessings they have been to
    you.

    For instance, when was the last time you
    said "thank you" to the person you hold
    dearest on earth? Remember your mate is a gift
    from God, and the Bible teaches us to love and
    respect each other. Read Ephesians 5:20,25,28.

    Ladies, when the man in your life opens the
    door for you, do you say, "Thank you,
    sweetheart"? Gentlemen, when the lady of
    your dreams fixes your favorite meal, do you
    remember to say, "Thank you honey, that was
    delicious!" (You might even say "thank you"
    when the roast is tough, especially when you
    have only been married for 10 weeks!) When
    your son or daughter plans a surprise birthday
    party for you, do you give him or her a loving
    hug and express gratitude? Oh how important
    it is to be mindful to say "thank you,"
    especially to those closest to us.

    Thanks for the Memories

    Parents, also, deserve our thanks. In fact,
    the edict to honor our father and mother is
    one of the Ten Commandments -- and it is
    the first commandment with a promise.
    Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days
    may be long upon the land which the Lord thy
    God giveth thee
    (Exodus 20:12).

    I am sure that there are many people who
    made an infinitely important impact upon
    your life, but who probably are not aware of it.
    Perhaps there was a teacher somewhere along
    the line who captured your imagination and
    helped you to learn. Would it not be a
    wonderful idea to write a thank-you note
    telling him or her of the great contribution
    that they made toward the success of your
    career and personal life?

    I heard the story of a grown man who
    remembered his best school teacher from years
    past, and sent her a letter thanking her for all
    she had given him and his classmates. The
    teacher was in her 80's now, and gratefully
    replied, saying: "I taught school for 50 years,
    and this is the first note of gratitude I have
    ever received!"

    Likewise, your thank-you note would mean
    so much to someone today.

    Everyday Gratitude

    Most of us don't take the time to thank our
    pastors or Sunday School teachers or ministers
    of music and youth for the hours they spent
    studying and preparing to help us in our
    spiritual walk. I feel confident they would
    appreciate knowing you are grateful and have
    been blessed by their ministry.

    Saying "thank-you" will also enhance your
    opportunities to witness for Christ. When the
    clerk at the supermarket is helpful, look that
    person right in the eye and say, "Thank you."

    I know this is appreciated, because one
    young lady who has helped me many times at
    the store said to me, "You know, Rexella, you
    are the only customer who really looks at me,
    and this tells me I'm important to you." I pray
    she sees more than just a look, but that
    through my eyes she sees Someone whocares
    for her deeply.

    Of course, we could go on and on with a list
    of people who deserve our thanks, but as you
    open your horizon of opportunities to show
    appreciation, let me assure you that you will
    experience a great sense of satisfaction in
    expressing it.

    H.W. Beecher said, "Pride slays
    thanksgiving. A proud man never thinks he
    gets as much as he deserves."

    The Bible tells us that all have sinned and
    fallen short of the glory of God. In light of
    eternity, none of us "deserves" the many
    wonderful blessings which have been bestowed
    on us. Our sinful humanity deserves only
    eternal punishment.

    Yet Christ in His infinite mercy provided a
    way of escape for us through His shed blood,
    and rewards us with eternal life. How can we
    not be thankful every moment of our lives? We
    did nothing to deserve all of His blessing;
    Christ did it all.

    So there is no room for pride in our lives,
    and oh -- so much room for thanksgiving!
    Let us rejoice this day and obey the command
    of Colossians 3:15: "Be ye thankful."