- Memory Verse
- But let the righteous be glad; let them rejoice before God: yea, let them exceedingly rejoice (Psalm 68:3).
Righteousness is rewarded.
Sometimes it doesn’t seem that way.
Knowing there would be times when it appeared the wicked were coming out winners, the psalmist wrote: “Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb” (Psalm 37:1,2).
Things are seldom what they seem. Outward success is meaningless unless the heart is right. Sin detracts from delight. The so-called “beautiful people” are often among the worlds most unhappy.
Only the righteous can truly rejoice.
But it is sad when the righteous do not rejoice. Those who have every reason to be glad sometimes spend their days groaning about trivial matters. Equipped for daily victory they are continually defeated. Having become citizens of heaven they live like hopeless earthlings. Though heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ, they have allowed themselves to take on the mental attitudes of spiritual paupers. They are more often found pouting than praising, fault-finding is their specialty and nothing escapes their criticism. They are part of the body of Christ and have great potential for service, but they spend their time murmuring and complaining instead of rejoicing and reaching out to the lost.
Let the righteous rejoice! This is the will of God for each one of His children.
“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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- Memory Verse
- They drop upon the pastures of the wilderness: and the little hills rejoice on every side (Psalm 65:12).
Sometimes those who prosper rejoice less than the poor. They hold earth’s trinkets so tightly that the fear of losing them is ever with them. Often they have become slaves to the prosperity that has been their goal in life.
A few wealthy and prosperous people are free from the bondage of their possessions. A Christian doctor was asked what he had done during the past week. He replied, “On Monday, I preached the Gospel in Brazil. Tuesday, I ministered among the Mexican people in southwest Texas. Wednesday, I operated on patients in a hospital in Africa. Thursday, I taught in a mission school in Japan. Friday, I helped establish a new church in California. Saturday, I taught classes in our seminaries. Sunday, I distributed Bibles in Korea.”
The astonished questioner asked, “How could you be in so many places, doing so many different things?”
“I wasn’t,” said the doctor with a twinkle in his eye, “for I have been busy with my patients every day. But, you see, I hold the dollars God has enabled me to earn in trust for God, and some of them have been channeled into the places of need I have mentioned.”
Walter Brown Knight wrote: “There are two ways to be rich — one is to have all you want, and the other is to be satisfied with what you have.”
The real secret of joy in prosperity is the ability of rejoicing in the One who gives the power to get wealth. Rejoice in Him! All we have is from His hand.
- Memory Verse
- Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God (Romans 13:1).
Christians ought to obey the law. Though some laws may be irritating and seem senseless, if they do not conflict with the Bible, we are obligated to obey them.
Commenting on this text, Dr. H. A. Ironside wrote: “The position of the Christian in this world is necessarily, under the present order of things, a peculiarly difficult and almost anomalous one. He is a citizen of another world, passing as a stranger and a pilgrim through a strange land. Presumably loyal in heart to the rightful King, whom earth rejected and counted worthy only of a malefactor’s cross, he finds himself called upon to walk in a godly and circumspect way in a scene of which Satan, the usurper, is the prince and god. Yet he is not to be an anarchist, nor is he to flaunt the present order of things. His rule ever should be: ‘We must obey God rather than man.’ Nevertheless he is not to be found in opposition to human government, even though the administrators of that government may be men of the most unrighteous type.”
So clear is this text that one must understand that to disobey the law is to be out of the will of God.
And that logical conclusion presents another: you may not have found the will of God for your life because you are not obedient to the laws of the land.
Sound farfetched? Better reconsider.
We learn God’s will through His word. Obey it. All of it. Even Romans 13!
- Memory Verse
- Rejoice in the LORD, 0 ye righteous: for praise is comely for the upright (Psalm 33:1).
“Rejoice in the Lord” is a command given in both the Old and New Testaments. Paul admonished the Christians at Philippi: “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice” (Philippians 4:4).
But how can one rejoice when all his castles are tumbling and everything seems to go wrong? Can we rejoice over unpaid bills? Poor health? A divided family? The loss of a job? Jangled nerves?
But we can rejoice in the Lord!
When everything seems to be coming apart, He is unchanged. Though others forsake us, He remains faithful. If financial reverses come, He provides for our needs. When earthly gain turns to loss, He offers permanent treasure in the bank of heaven. If death seems imminent, He has given eternal life. Though the love of those nearest us cool, His love is constant.
The rejoicing of the psalmist had to find expression. He played the harp, the psaltery, and an instrument of ten strings. He sang songs of praise. It was impossible to hold in his joy. Some may have thought him too emotional. Perhaps they preferred dead-pan religion. Nevertheless, the psalmist rejoiced in the Lord and announced his joy to others. His praise was public and he was not ashamed.
Regardless of the circumstances, we can rejoice in the Lord. Christians should never be “under the circumstances.” Our Lord is above all. Today’s problems have not taken Him by surprise. Praise the Lord!
- Memory Verse
- Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice (Psalm 51:8).
No load is heavier than the burden of backsliding. David had learned that lesson the hard way. After sin, the chastening of God had fallen upon him and he was tormented with conviction of his wrong doing.
At first he decided to ignore God’s voice that called him to confession of sin. Listen to his description of that awful time: “When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer” (Psalm 32:3,4).
Finally, tired of his backsliding, he made the right decision: “I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin” (Psalm 32:5).
Psalm 51 is David’s prayer of confession of sin. See his openness with God. Nothing is hidden. He calls for cleansing, forgiveness, a right attitude, and the joy of salvation. He fully intends to become an effective witness even though he has failed so badly: “Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee” (Psalm 51:13).
How good it feels to be right with God! There is rejoicing in heaven over the return of the prodigal, but the prodigal also rejoices. Home is a wonderful word. And the Christian who returns to His Lord after backsliding has come home.
Come home. And rejoice!
- Memory Verse
- Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s (Matthew 22:21).
Should Christians pay their taxes? Vote? Hold public office? Carry out civic responsibilities?
Without a doubt!
Christians ought to be the finest citizens in the land. They have been commanded to give Caesar his due.
This command of Jesus is not meant to so separate the secular and the sacred that one can be loose in his conduct while caring for matters having to do with the government simply because that is in Caesar’s department. Not at all. Every area of the Christian life is sacred. However, it is clear that carrying out earthly responsibilities does not interfere with dedication to the Saviour unless the government requires some act that is in conflict with the Bible. In those cases, we ought always to obey God rather than man (Acts 5:29).
On this text, Dr. John R. Rice has written: “Duty to government does not conflict with duty to God. Jews would sin if they went after Roman idolatry, but they would properly pay taxes to support the government then in power which furnishes them so many of the protections and facilities of the nation. Jesus Himself and Peter paid taxes (Matthew 17:24-27). Christians are urged to pray for rulers (I Timothy 2:1, 2). It is proper for Christians to vote and to use their influence for good government.”
Citizens of heaven cannot ignore their duty as citizens of this earth!
- Memory Verse
- Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? (Isaiah 58:6).
No people have ever had so much and appreciated it so little as Christians in America. We belong to a privileged few who have been able to carry Bibles, attend church and live for Christ without fear of imprisonment or the loss of our lives. Other Christians in other centuries or in other lands have often paid with their lives or freedom for identifying with the Saviour.
Because of the persecutions brought by communistic governments, it is generally agreed that there have been more Christian martyrs in this century than in any other. Still Christians in America have been virtually untouched.
How strange it is then that we are so given to complaining! We gripe about so many things: the weather, our jobs, our wives or husbands, our homes, our churches, our pastors, our health, etc. What would we do if things were really difficult?
This question raises a frightening thought! If we are edgy in affluence, may God have to chasten us to allow us to see what blessings we have been experiencing? Must goods and loved ones be taken away before we appreciate them? Must freedom flee before we realize its importance?
One winter morning I was walking through a blizzard to my office and complaining silently about the storm. When I stepped inside my office my eyes fell on a tiny book in my library, entitled Come Wind Come Weather. Immediately my grumbling ceased, for the book I saw upon entering that warm room is the story of the persecution of the church in China. Our storms here are few. Thank God for freedom!
- Memory Verse
- The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him (Psalm 28:7).
A Christian in Central Russia wrote the following: “After our commune was closed, I spent some time in the place where God’s servants have to stay... (in prison). And yet, I assure you, that during that time in my heart it was as though I were living in the Garden of Eden... Scarcely a single night passed when I did not rise from my bed and thank God. And what was that which moved me to praise Him? Why, the consciousness of His wonderful presence. The only thing for me to do was to get upon my knees and praise God for His faithful and unfailing presence.”
The world has a saying: “The Lord helps those who help themselves.” Some mistakenly think that this statement is in the Bible. The truth is — the Lord helps those who cannot help themselves. He meets us where we are in our deepest needs.
Paul was helped when buffeted by a messenger from Satan, a thorn in the flesh. Though the physical problem was not removed, grace was promised for that particular test: “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
How have you been helped? Have prayers been answered? Has money been supplied for a special need? Have you recovered from a serious illness? Has a loved one been saved? Were you protected from an accident? Were you given strength for a difficult task?
Are you rejoicing over the help granted to you? Praise God for His goodness and rejoice in His help.
What a special time of the year!
Thanksgiving and Christmas are more precious to me
than any other holidays, and they so beautifully
go hand in hand.
More and more, I realize the importance
of being grateful for the true essence of
Christmas -- that God became flesh. He came
as a baby, humbling himself to a manger and,
one day, to Calvary's tree for you and me. Oh,
I wonder if we can really understand the
emotion in heaven and the joy on earth as
Mary and Joseph made their way to Bethlehem
just prior to the birth of Christ.
An historic journey
Can you see them as they wearily make
their way through the narrow streets of
Bethlehem? Mary, tired from the long journey, sits
on the little donkey as Joseph leads it along.
Their journey is almost over, and none too
soon. They stop in front of one of the inns in
Bethlehem. With a tender word, Joseph
comforts his wife and then strides quickly toward
the inn door.
Have you ever wondered what Mary was
thinking as Joseph knocked at the innkeeper's
door? Perhaps she was remembering what her
cousin Elizabeth had said to her some time
before. Blessed art thou among women, and
blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence
is this to me, that the mother of my Lord
should come to me? For, lo, as soon as the
voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears,
the babe leaped in my womb for joy.
And blessed is she that believed: for there
shall be a performance
[fulfillment] of those
things which were told her from the Lord
Mary knew how blessed she was for, out
of all the women in the world, God had
chosen her to give the world this baby. This
wasn't Joseph's baby; He was the Son of God,
produced by the Holy Spirit, waiting to be
born in Bethlehem (see Luke 1:35 and
Mary knew about the promise that
foretold: But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though
thou be little among the thousands of Judah,
yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me
that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth
have been from of old, from everlasting
Mary's mind didn't dare leap ahead to
contemplate the rest of those words. It was
enough for her to know that she was, at this
very moment, in Bethlehem (ancestral home
of King David, Joseph's forefather) and that
her time to give birth was at hand.
Mary looked at Joseph, footsore and
fatigued from walking alongside the donkey all
the way so that she could ride. She knew how
blessed she was to have this good and just
man as her husband. He had handled the
situation so well. He had shown her nothing but
love and concern. More than once he had told
her, "I know, beloved wife, that this child has
been conceived in a special way. The angel
laid all my fears to rest."
Joseph had learned of Mary's pregnancy
after she returned from visiting Elizabeth. For
six months they had marveled at the conversations
they had each had with the angel. It
must have been awesome for them, realizing
that the Holy Ghost had visited Mary and that
the child she carried was a divine original.
"Oh, Joseph," I can hear Mary saying, "He
is to be called 'the Son of God.'"
"Yes, Mary," Joseph responded, "and His
name is to be called JESUS, for He shall save
His people from their sins."
Did they recall the words of Isaiah? Did
they repeat those names? Behold, a virgin
shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call
his name Immanuel...For unto us a child is
born, unto us a son is given: and the government
shall be upon his shoulder: and his
name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor,
The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The
Prince of Peace (Isaiah 7:14; 9:6).
Perhaps Mary remembered those
conversations as her husband knocked at the
innkeeper's door. She was so tired. The journey
had been long and hard. But now, at last, they
had arrived in Bethlehem.
For us, today, a journey to Bethlehem is
still not easy. In the hustle and bustle of the
season, there are many things to deter us.
We've all heard that we should keep Christ in
Christmas, but let's be sure that we keep
ourselves in Christmas, as well! If we are not
careful, we can become so busy with Yuletide
activities that we are exhausted before we get
to Bethlehem -- and miss the real Christmas
Knock...knock...knock! Joseph knocks at
the innkeeper's door. A Baby is about to be
born -- the most important Baby ever to be
born on this earth. "Let us in...let Him in...out
of the cold and darkness of the night." But the
Bible tells us there was no room for them in
the inn (Luke 2:7).
No room! Those are heart-rending words.
Would we have said that? Yet, isn't it being
said every day? We are all innkeepers, with
room for many things, but do we have room
for Him? In our lives -- shabby stables that
they are -- He may be cradled, but we must
give Him room.
Joseph, the rugged carpenter of Nazareth,
a just man whose faith transcended his
misgivings, enfolded Mary's helplessness in his
strong arms as he lifted her off the back of the
little donkey. Someone had tapped him on his
sagging shoulders and said, "There is a place,
if your wife won't mind. I know I can fix it
and make it clean. It will be quiet there...and warm"
Joseph had ministered to Mary's needs in
that weary pilgrimage to Bethlehem; but his
husbandly duties had not yet ended. Mary in
a stable? The Son of God born in a barn?
How his mind must have reeled. Remember,
he was very human.
Husband, would you like for your wife to
give birth to her firstborn in a stable? What
lowly circumstances! The Lord of all heaven
and earth was about to make His human
presence known in the world -- but in a barn? This
was not the birthplace Joseph had imagined
Barns smell, not just of clean hay, but of
animals. Barns are not always sanitary. Oh,
the lovely Nativity scenes that we see at
Christmas do not begin to portray what Joseph
and Mary must have experienced in those
prebirth moments, as they contemplated their plight.
One wishes we could push back the pages
of time and make it different -- different,
perhaps, like the school Christmas play I heard about.
One little boy had been asked to play the
role of the innkeeper in the play. His parents,
schoolmates, and teachers were so excited and
pleased for him because he wasn't quite "normal"
like the other boys and girls. Still, they
wanted to include him in the performance.
Seven little words
His were simple lines. When Joseph knocked
at the door and asked for a room, he, the
innkeeper, would say, "There is no room in the
inn." Seven words. And that was all.
The big night came. Practice perfomances
had gone well. Then came that moment.
Knock...knock...knock -- Joseph knocks at
the inn door. With great emotion and convincing
reality, Joseph presents his case to the
innkeeper. His wife is very pregnant. In fact, the
baby is due any moment. Won't the innkeeper
please let them in?
The little boy who had rehearsed his lines
so very carefully, listened patiently, and then
said the seven words loud and clear: "There is
no room in the inn."
Joseph turned, his shoulders sagging. But
before he could leave, the innkeeper opened
the door, thrust his head out, and said, loud
and clear, "Wait...wait! You can have my room."
It wasn't in the script. Nor was it in the
script on that first Christmas. And so it was,
that...she brought forth her firstborn son, and
wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid
him in a manger; because there was no room
for them in the inn (Luke 2:6,7).
As we recall this short resume of the most
beautiful story ever given from God, may your
heart be reminded of the importance of
remembering, not just the gifts that are to come,
the families we are to see, and the loved ones
we shall enjoy, but remembering the true
message of Christmas -- God's love for us. And
may we not get so distracted by the many
activities of the holiday season that we never
even reach Bethlehem.
Dr. Van Impe and I are grateful for the
opportunity to share the saving message of
God's love for the world in these closing days
of time. Thank you for your prayers and support.
I can't even begin to imagine how Mary
must have felt on the day the angel told her
the Holy Spirit would come upon her and that
she would become the mother of the Messiah.
No doubt many Jewish girls dreamed of
being chosen for such an honor, but they had
no idea of what price would have to be paid
by the maiden who became the mother of
Jesus. How many virgins would have had the
faith and steadfastness in God to receive this
unique ministration of the Holy Spirit? And
how many would have had the strength of
character to endure the shame of being found
with child before her marriage?
What a remarkable person Mary must have
been. No doubt she was the ultimate of
womanhood or God would not have chosen her to
bear His Son. And surely her unswerving
faith and devotion to duty are unexcelled in
the pages of human history.
What a profound inspiration and influence
her life of humble trust in God must have been
for the boy Jesus as He increased in wisdom
and stature (Luke 2:52) during His growing-up
years in Nazareth. The Lord must have
come to know His mother in a very special
way during the nearly 30 years He lived with
her and Joseph.
At the end of His life and ministry, Jesus
must have remembered many things about His
mother. No doubt He recalled her loving con-
cern and patience when she traveled back to
Jerusalem to find Him, at age twelve, still in
the Temple with the elders.
And He must have remembered her trusting
faith and her recognition of His divine
nature at the wedding in Cana. Although He
did not promise to remedy the shortage of
wine (fruit of the vine), Mary confidently told
the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do
it (John 2:5).
Jesus knew Mary's gracious spirit all of
His life. With His divine nature, He could
also see her heart, for He knew all of mankind.
And yet Mary continued, with dignity, to be
His mother. What a pure life she must have had.
Jesus remembered and respected His
mother. On the cross just before He died, He
looked down and saw her there, when so many
others had forsaken Him. And in the hour of
His greatest agony, carrying the awful burden
of the sins of the world, He remembered Mary
and made provision for her care. Seeing the
Apostle John near her, He said, Woman,
behold thy son! And to John, Behold thy mother!
I remember my mother with every bit of
admiration and respect that I think Jesus had
for His mother. So much of who I am and
what I am is a result of her loving guidance
and positive influence. I first learned love at
Mother's knee through her touch, her care.
Then she pointed me to the love of Christ, and
I was reared in a Christian home.
It was from Mother's voice that I first
heard music, which has been such an
important part of my whole life and ministry. In one
of my earliest childhood memories, I am in
her arms and she is singing! I have no doubt
that my love for music came from her -- I started
singing when I was 5 years old.
I learned the discipline of my life from
Mother. She never allowed me to sing in
public unless I had my song memorized. I did not
play the piano for others unless I had
Humility was a quality Mother taught me
by example. To this day she has the most
beautiful, unassuming spirit of anyone I know.
To me she is a perfectly blended combination
of the biblical sisters, Mary and Martha. She
always spent time worshiping the Lord -- I've
walked into her bedroom many times and
found her on her knees or reading her Bible.
But her personal devotions were always
balanced with service to others.
My Mother was -- and is -- a servant of the
Lord and people. She goes out of her way to
help, and nothing is ever too much for her to
do. I've watched her bake for her friends, do
laundry for a sick person, or make phone calls
to encourage others when she was weary
herself. She always would take time to send
cards for funerals, birthdays, or other
occasions when a friendly note would be appreciated.
I remember Mother taking me to church
revivals where I had been invited to sing.
When we walked inside together, she would
say to me, "Go ahead, honey, serve the Lord."
And she would stay near the back of the
church, not wanting to be noticed.
To this day, at age 83, Mother stays busy
serving the Lord. The staff at our Jack Van
Impe Ministries office love to have her come
around. "Things are just better when she's
around," they say. "She lightens the day and
brings an extra measure of love and harmony."
From Mother, I learned the secret of inner
beauty -- of filling my heart and mind with
love and wholesomeness and letting them
permeate my entire being. And I also learned the
importance of always trying to look my best
and having my home clean and in order.
Mother always kept herself beautifully
groomed and modestly dressed, and her home
immaculate. She taught me that appearance is
important because it reflects the kind of
person one truly is inside...and is a testimony --
good or bad -- for the Lord.
There are so many other qualities my
mother taught me -- tenderness, a sense of
duty, a living expression of the gifts of the
Holy Spirit. Space doesn't permit a listing of
even half the good things she imparted to me
by instruction and example.
But I must mention one more -- I learned
wisdom through my mother. Wisdom comes
from the Lord, according to the Book of
Proverbs. But Mother certainly was a living
symbol of that divinely-given quality. She
almost always had the answers to my
questions, always knew the right thing to do in
every situation, always seemed to know when
to act and when to wait.
And although she didn't have the opportunity
to complete school when she was young,
later in life she went back to school and took
some business courses. She did it on her own,
just because she wanted a little better formal
education -- and because there were still some
things she wanted to know about!
Like Ruth and Naomi
Not only was I blessed with a wonderful
mother, but my mother-in-law and I had a
beautiful relationship as well. I appreciated
her so much. We never had the conflicts that
many women seem to experience. We had
more of a Ruth and Naomi relationship.
My mother-in-law has a very keen sense of
humor and a love of life, which my husband
shares. And she also displays a sweet sense of
trust and faith.
My husband's parents returned to
Belgium, their homeland, as missionaries, when
their only child, Jack, was 17. He had just
entered Bible school to prepare himself for
the ministry. There were no other Van Impe
relatives in America, and my in-laws had no
money to leave with their young son.
It must have taken a tremendous amount of
faith for Mother Van Impe to leave her only
child and go so far away. She had to commit
him into the hands of God and trust that he
would be all right.
I've also respected the fact that my
mother-in-law was never concerned about earthly
possessions. As missionaries, their income
was very limited, requiring many sacrifices,
but she was content. No one ever heard her
complain, or express a desire for a better
house or home furnishings, or clothing. Her
priorities were straight -- she was working for
eternal rewards. She has always been precious
to me personally.
A legacy of love
What a tremendous legacy both Dr. Van
Impe and I have received from our mothers.
Each Christmas season when we celebrate
the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, I especially
remember Mother. Let us all remember our
mothers, how they have helped the living
Christ to be born in our hearts.
We can never forget what she has meant to
us. Every day in some way her positive influence
lives on in our lives. As the Prophet
Isaiah wrote, And thine ears shall hear a word
behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in
it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye
turn to the left (Isaiah 30:21).
For more than seventeen years, our cat,
Fenica, was a great source of companionship
and enjoyment to Jack and me. But after all
those years, she finally succumbed to a fatal
disease after suffering for several months. She
was an important part of our lives. In earlier
years, she was bright and friendly and had the
uncanny ability to endear herself to folks
A few years ago I wrote about how I found
this abandoned, sick, starving creature and
persuaded Jack to let me feed and nurse her
back to health.
At first Dr. Van Impe would only consent
for Fenica to stay out on the patio...then we let
her into the garage on cold nights. From there
she moved straight into our hearts -- and she
was an important member of our family from
that day on.
Over the years, quite a "love affair"
developed between Jack and this soft, furry
creature. Most people envision my husband as
a very serious, scholarly man who thinks of
nothing but Bible study and prayer. And he
does spend many hours daily with his Bible
and study material.
But I wish you could have seen him and
Fenica on the floor, rolling around and playing
their own games. They had a great relationship
-- and some pretty silly conversations! I
really don't know what all they talked about
together, but from Fenica's expressions and
faithful attentiveness, it seemed obvious that
she understood and appreciated every word
A praying cat?
Of course, it was love at first sight for this
little cat and me. And over the years she was
so much company and a real friend. Often
Fenica joined me as I knelt to pray. As I
poured my heart out to God, I'd feel my little
kitty snuggling up beside me.
During the dark days a few years back
when the ministry was struggling with great
financial difficulties and the stress seemed
almost overwhelming, I was able to survive
only by laying my burdens at the feet of the
Lord. In those prayer times, when words
failed me and tears coursed down my cheeks,
how comforting it was to hear a gentle purr
and to be suddenly -- thrillingly -- aware that I
was not alone...that God's presence was all
Jack and I started out to help and care for a
neglected and needy animal. But in exchange
for some medical attention and a little food,
Fenica became a great source of joy and blessing
to us. Only now -- after she is gone -- are
we beginning to understand why the Lord sent
this little creature into our lives.
Pets are good for your health
Scientists have begun to find proof of what
they only suspected before -- that contact with
animals has specific effects on the human
body and mind. Health officials have verified
that pets have definite therapeutic value in
people's regular daily lives, and also for
people in institutions. Hospitals, nursing homes,
and penal institutions have discovered the
positive impact animals can have on handicapped
or socially maladjusted individuals. Some of
them regularly bring animals into therapy
sessions for patients and inmates, and puppies
and kittens often get responses from people no
one else had been able to reach.
As early as 1790, a Quaker group in
England discovered the value of taking mentally
handicapped people on group retreats and
encouraging them to roam the grounds and
spend time with farm animals. This therapy
seemed to get tremendous results compared
with the limited institutional treatment
available at that time.
Organizations like the Latham Foundation
of Alameda, California, and the Delta Society
of Renton, Washington, promote interest in
human-animal bonding and study the role
animals play in human development.
Studies have shown that encouraging
abused children to be responsible for caring
for animals -- especially disabled or injured
creatures -- provides a real psychological
boost. Perhaps just seeing how another
helpless, hurting creature can overcome the odds
and survive gives them hope.
But the benefit of association with animals
is not just psychological. Studies show that
the heart rate is lower when people are in the
presence of a friendly animal. And elderly
people with pets make fewer visits to the
doctor. Perhaps we are discovering a new form of
low cost preventive health care.
Of course, it's really not new at all. I
believe it is highly significant that in the
beginning, God first gave Adam the animals and
birds to keep him from being lonely. Genesis
2:18,19 says, And the Lord God said, It is not
good that the man should be alone; I will
make him an help meet for him. And out of
the ground the Lord God formed every beast
of the field, and every fowl of the air; and
brought them unto Adam to see what he would
I believe that in most cases, animals want
to be the friends of man, not enemies. Most
animals become hostile or vicious only out of
fear or as a result of being abused by man.
Animals have great value
How important are animals to us? We've
already seen that God provided them to Adam
even before He gave him Eve. That's pretty
important! And later on, when the wickedness
of man became intolerable to God in Noah's
day, not only did the Lord devise a plan to
save representatives of the family of man from
the destruction of the flood, He also arranged
to save at least one pair of every species of
God regards His creatures as beautiful and
valuable. And so should we. There are many
ways they can be of service to us...and there is
much we can learn from them.
Wisdom from a pet
I remember a cold winter's day when I
walked into our bedroom to look for a book
I'd left there. It was freezing cold outside,
with snow on the ground, but the rays of the
sun were streaming through the window.
Fenica was stretched out in a chair by the
window, soaking up the warmth of the sun.
When she heard me come in, she stretched her
head back and looked at me upside down...but
didn't move. It was almost as if she were
saying, "I don't have a worry in the world -- I
have you to keep me safe and warm."
I found my book and went back
downstairs, but I found myself thinking how
wonderful it would be if I could learn to trust and
rest in the Lord's love the way our cat confidently
and comfortably depended on Jack and me.
As Jesus said in His Sermon on the Mount,
If ye then, being evil, know how to give good
gifts unto your children [or pets], how much
more shall your Father which is in heaven
give good things to them that ask him?
So perhaps we all could take some lessons
in living from precious pets like Fenica.
- She trusted me and knew I loved her
and would not hurt her or allow her to
be injured -- and I can trust God (see
John 3:16; 1 John 3:16; Galatians 2:20;
- My cat relied on me to direct her and
not let danger fall in her path -- and I
can rely on God (see Proverbs 3:5,6).
- Fenica knew I cared for her and that I
would take care of her, so she was not
burdened down with concern. I can
cast my care on the Lord, for He cares
for me (see 1 Peter 5:7).
- No matter what she needed, Fenica
turned to me as her source of supply.
And I can have that same relationship
with my heavenly Father, who supplies
all [my] need according to his riches
in glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).
And finally, Fenica loved to be with Jack
and me. Wherever we were in the house, she
tried to be near us. Often, even when I walked
through the house, she would go along with
me. She didn't need anything -- she wasn't
asking for anything...she just wanted to be
near me and have fellowship with me. And
that was so very special to me.
How much more must our heavenly Father
enjoy having us want to spend time in His
presence and have fellowship with Him?
There's a wonderful inspirational song that
says, "I'll walk with God." It speaks of
having God beside us to lead and guide us.
What a thrill to be able to have personal
fellowship with our Creator, who is also our
Friend. Nothing in life can ever defeat us
when we walk with Him.
It really is...The Perfect Blessing.
I've been doing some crying, lately.
Many times in the past several months,
I've wept over the suffering and physical
deterrioration of my beloved father-in-law, Oscar
Van Impe. Seeing this dedicated, once-strong
man of God (who prayed five hours a day for
the needs of others) lying weak and helpless
really tears my heart out. Repeated strokes
and heart attacks confine him to bed...and
he can barely speak. When I see him -- often
when I simply think of his condition -- I cry.
My own precious mother, who is perhaps
one of the few saints I know on earth, also has
been stricken with a very serious problem,
accompanied with excruciating pain. Mother
has been graced with many gifts from God --
among them the gifts of help and encouragement.
The morning I took her to the hospital
for diagnostic x-rays, she asked two favors of
me. "Please turn in my donation check for the
ministry, and would you mind taking me by
the post office so I can mail some get-well cards?"
She has been the most unselfish, thoughtful,
and Christlike person one could ever meet
in this world. Our family of employees tells
me that when she is in the office, she exudes
the fruits of the Spirit to such a degree that the
very atmosphere is charged by her joy and love.
Doctors discovered that Mother has a
noncancerous brain tumor and an inflamed major
artery in the brain. They feel that at her age,
surgery or other aggressive treatment is not
the best treatment for her, so they are trying to
control the pain and make her comfortable.
Seeing her pain makes me cry. What a
comfort it has been to have a precious husband and
dear friends who have wept with me during
A while back I noticed that a young
waitress who often serves Jack and me when we
go out to eat seemed unusually quiet and
withdrawn and there was a strain on her countenance.
When I went to wash my hands in the
ladiesí room, I had a chance to pull her aside
and ask if something was wrong. Tears spilled
down her cheeks as she told me her husband
had just asked her for a divorce.
Imagine the pain of having your husband
or wife look you in the eye and say, "I don't
love you anymore -- I want out of this marriage."
I can't even begin to comprehend the
shock, sorrow, and grief one would feel in
such a situation.
I didn't know what to say to this poor girl
-- but I put my arms around her and comforted
her the only way I knew how...with my tears.
Also in recent months, I have felt an
increased burden for my unsaved friends and
loved ones. Bible prophecy makes it so clear
that time on this old earth is running out fast
and that surely Jesus is coming soon...perhaps
today! So I have been praying...and weeping
...for my unsaved loved ones. It is the only
way I know to minister to them!
What is a tear?
The great preacher, T. DeWitt Talmage,
once wrote, "Help me explain a tear. A chemist
will tell you that it is made up of salt and
lime and other component parts; but he misses
the chief ingredients -- the acid of a soured
life, the viperine sting of a bitter memory, the
fragments of a broken heart. I will tell you
what a tear is: it is agony in solution."
These are powerful, moving words. And
perhaps all of us have either witnessed or
personally experienced the truth Talmage sought
But I suggest to you that there is more to
tears than sadness, sorrow, regret, and pain.
Tears can be a release from stress and anxiety,
a vent for frustration, a safety valve for
overpowering emotions. Tears can be the most
sincere expression of compassion and love.
And just as raindrops wash the smoke, smog,
and impurities from the atmosphere, so tears
can wash away the stains of bitterness and
disappointment from our souls.
A time to weep
As Solomon, perhaps the wisest man who
ever lived, once declared, To every thing there
is a season, and a time to every purpose under
the heaven...A time to weep, and a time to
laugh (Ecclesiastes 3:1,4).
We live in a time when everyone wants to
laugh all the time, but no one is willing to
weep. And if someone does cry, it makes
people really uncomfortable. Children are hushed
and told not to cry. Men are taught that tears
don't go with a macho image...that only sissies
cry. And women who weep at some sadness
or loss are interrupted and advised to wipe
their eyes and get control of themselves.
No! No! No! Let me cry. It's all right to
cry. I need to cry. In fact, one of my goals is
to minister to those who are weeping. I want
to do all I can, to say what I can...and when
there are no deeds or words that can help, to
weep with them.
Perhaps my resolution is best expressed
in the words of the late Bob Pierce in his
moving book, Let My Heart Be Broken With the
Things That Break the Heart of God.
When Jesus wept, His tears were for
others. Both Matthew and Luke describe how He
wept over the city of Jerusalem for those who
would not hear and accept the Truth! We, too,
should weep for others.
Weep over souls
Should we be less concerned over lost
souls than our Saviour? Why are we not
crying and praying for the lost to be saved before
it is eternally too late?
I've seen people moved to tears by the
plight of fictional characters in a paperback
book. A melodramatic film may jokingly be
described as a "two-hanky" movie, and it's
perfectly all right. But the same people who
get involved and empathize with artificial
stories can see real live people around them
dying and slipping into eternity without God
and never feel a twinge or shed a tear.
I wonder -- if the unsaved friends and
loved ones I'm praying for don't seem to be
any closer to the Lord than when I first started,
could it be because I haven't shed any tears
for them? The Bible says, They that sow in
tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth
and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall
doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing
his sheaves with him (Psalm 126:5,6).
Weep over sin
Sometimes I can hardly watch the news on
television or read the daily paper without
crying. My heart breaks at what is going on in
our nation and the world today. There is such
evil and perversion, such wickedness and
violence. How long will God allow men's hearts
to be filled with such deliberate, willful sin
before calling them to judgment?
I believe we are to weep over sin, whether
our own, our family's, or our nation's. The
Apostle Paul wrote, For godly sorrow worketh
repentance to salvation (2 Corinthians 7:10).
I am reminded of how Peter, after denying
the Lord during the awful hours before the
Crucifixion, went out, and wept bitterly
(Matthew 26:75). Those tears of repentance
led to his being forgiven and restored.
Weep over sorrow
Just as there is a time to weep over souls
and a time to weep over sin, there is also a
time to weep over sorrow. Do you remember
when Mary and Martha showed the Lord the
tomb where their brother Lazarus was buried?
The Bible says, Jesus wept (John 11:35).
There is a time for sorrow...and when it
comes, tears are appropriate. Paul instructed,
Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep
with them that weep (Romans 12:15).
Notice that the verse did not say to laugh
with those who are laughing and to tell those
who are crying to stop and cheer up. No, it
says to cry with those who are crying! That
means to share their sorrow -- to get down
under the burden with them. And when you
share their tears -- when all you can do is cry
with them -- you'll find it is a tremendously
effective way to minister your compassion and love.
I once interviewed a pastor who had
suffered the traumatic loss of his little son. This
man told me that in the midst of his grieving,
the people of his church did not understand or
know how to weep with him. They would
come to him and say, "Pastor, why are you
crying? Don't you have any faith?"
After a while this minister wrote a book
about what he had learned during his sorrowful
experience. He called it, Jonathan, You
Left Too Soon. But the main lesson I learned
from his experience was that in the day of
sorrow, it's okay to weep. In fact, for most
people, it's a really good way to cope with loss
and grief and begin to heal the broken heart
and crushed emotions. Tears can be
I know I have been made acutely aware
of the value of tears. And I pray that God
will make me willing to weep with those who
weep, whether they cry tears of pain,
heartache, sorrow...or joy! I encourage you to
consider whether God can also use you in a
ministry of tears.
Remember, though, that our tears will not
-- cannot -- last long. The psalmist sang,
Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh
in the morning (Psalm 30:5).
I'm here to tell you that a great morning is
coming soon, when we will all be in the
presence of the Lord. Oh, what a glorious promise
and steadfast hope! For on that glad day, God
shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and
there shall be no more death, neither sorrow,
nor crying, neither shall there be any more
pain: for the former things are passed away
No wonder Jesus said, Blessed are ye that
weep now: for ye shall laugh (Luke 6:21).