Today’s Devotional | May 23 | PHILIPPIANS 2:1-11 | Motives

Today's Devotional

Memory Verse
Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves (Philippians 2:3).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 21 | JOHN 4:35-38 | Reaping
Memory Verse
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).

Revival brings times of reaping. Those in your community who have seemed unreachable could melt as a result of seeing changed lives about them. When the church gets right... evangelism flourishes.

Describing conviction and the wonderful soul winning climate of The Great Awakening, Jonathan Edwards wrote: “There scarcely was a single person in the town, old or young, left unconcerned about the great things of the eternal world. Those who were wont to be the vainest and loosest, and those who had been most disposed to think and speak lightly of vital and experimental religion, were now generally subject to great awakenings. And the work of conversion was carried on in a most astonishing manner and increased more and more; souls did as it were come by flocks to Jesus Christ. From day to day, for many months together, might be seen evident instances of sinners brought out of darkness into marvelous light and delivered out of a horrible pit and from the miry clay, and set upon a rock, with a new song of praise to God in their mouths (Psalm 40:1-3).

“This work of God, as it was carried on, and the number of true saints multiplied, soon made a glorious alteration in the town... It was a time of joy in families on account of salvation being brought unto them; parents rejoicing over their children as new-born, and husbands over their wives and wives over their husbands.” Sound good?

It can happen again!

May 20 | PSALM 29 | Worship
Memory Verse
Give unto the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness (Psalm 29:2).

We struggle for the best definition or expression of all that is contained in the word “worship.” “Zondervan’s Pictorial Bible Dictionary” defines it as follows: “The honor, reverence, and homage paid to superior beings or powers, whether men, angels, or God.” It continues: “When given to God, worship involves an acknowledgement of Divine perfections. It may express itself in the form of direct address, as in adoration or thanksgiving, or in service to God; and may be private or public... Worship presupposes that God is, that He can be known by man, and that His perfections set Him far above man.”

If all that seems too technical, your heart will guide you in expressing your love and adoration of the Lord. As the Scotsman said: “It’s better felt that telt.”

Worship the Lord in song. Praise Him in some melody that tells of His love and power. You say you can’t carry a tune? Then get alone and make a joyful noise to the Lord.

Worship the Lord through prayer. Tell Him how much He means to you, Worship the Lord in thanksgiving. Count your blessings and remember that every good gift comes down from above. We have nothing other than what has been provided by our Heavenly Father.

Worship the Lord in your conversation. While others take His name in vain, exalt God at every opportunity. Others will take notice.

Worship the Lord with a righteous and holy life. God will be pleased and you will be blessed. “Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.”

May 19 | HEBREWS 11:1-6 | Faith
Memory Verse
But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him (Hebrews 11:6).

Faith sometimes needs reviving.

All Christians understand that salvation comes through faith. Before that day of peace with God arrived you struggled and tried to find the answer to life, but to no avail. Neither religion nor ritual met your need. Finally faith made the difference: “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).

But faith is more than the key to eternal life. It is to be the daily experience of the child of God: “Now the just shall live by faith...” (Hebrews 10:38). And the mighty people of the Bible trusted God in their everyday battles. “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went” (Hebrews 11:8).

Today, however, your faith may be faltering, Like Peter who walked well on the water until he looked about and saw his precarious position, you may find yourself sinking under the circumstances. You put on a good front and others don’t know about the churning within.

Faith grows as we focus on the strength of the object of faith, the Saviour Himself. Peter’s cry, “...Lord save me!” (Matthew 14:30) may be about all you can muster today. But that was enough to lift the drowning disciple back to the surface. Your present problems may be designed to demonstrate the power of God to deliver you. Have faith in God.

May 18 | PROVERBS 15:1-17 | A Wholesome Tongue
Memory Verse
A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit (Proverbs 15:4).

A wholesome tongue heals.

A perverse tongue wounds.

Dr. H. A. Ironside wrote: “How much more common is the tongue of perversity than the healing tongue! The one separates brother from brother, and makes breach upon breach; the other binds together, giving cheer and gladness, and is a tree of life to those who meditate upon its utterances. The healing tongue is the tongue of the peacemaker. The perverse tongue belongs to him who sows discord among brethren. May it be ours to covet the former and flee the latter.”

What does a peacemaker do?

He forgets the gossip that he hears about others.

When the faults of his friends become the topic of discussion, he maneuvers the conversation to another subject.

When he hears something negative about another, he doesn’t feel it his duty to report what was said.

When he is approached by two who are at odds, he refuses to allow his ear to become a dumping ground for criticism.

When he hears a complimentary comment concerning someone, he is eager to pass the good word along.

He is willing to meditate between those who are in a disagreement.

He has understanding about the weaknesses of all people, but doesn’t major on them. He would rather discuss ideas or events than people.

He is swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath (James 1: 19).

A spiritual person is a peacemaker.

Blessed are the peacemakers!

May 17 | MATTHEW 5:1-12 | Righteousness
Memory Verse
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled (Matthew 5:6).

One of history’s greatest revivals took place in Wales in 1904. There was such a move of God evident that writers and ministers from several countries visited Wales to become eyewitnesses of the revival. One Chicago religious paper published the following account: “A wonderful revival is sweeping over Wales. The whole country, from the city to the colliery underground, is aflame with gospel glory. Police courts are hardly necessary, public houses are being deserted, old debts are being paid to satisfy awakened consciences, and definite and unmistakable answers to prayer are recorded.”

Notice the emphasis on the changed life during the Welsh revival. Playing church goes out of style. The heart’s desire is for righteousness during revival. And no wonder! The revived heart is surrendered to the Lord and the fruit of the Spirit comes through: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (Galatians 5: 22-23).

The world has seen enough empty profession. It is time for Christians to demonstrate the righteousness of Christ in daily life: “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked” (I John 2:6).

Imagine the impact of the ministry of your pastor if every member of the church had righteousness as his aim. Gone would be the excuses of backsliders and sinners who have been pointing accusations at those who are inconsistent in Christian living.

What changes would you experience in life if righteousness became your goal?

May 16 | JEREMIAH 5:15-21 | A Revival
Memory Verse
Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, 0 LORD God of hosts (Jeremiah 15:16).

What does a revival do to the attitude of people toward the Bible? Listen to Jonathan Edwards: “While God was so remarkably present amongst us by His Spirit, there was no book so delightful as the Bible; especially the Book of Psalms, the Prophecy of Isaiah, and the New Testament. Some, by reason of their love to God’s Word, at times, have been wonderfully delighted and affected at the sight of a Bible; and then, also, there was no time so prized as the Lord’s Day, and no place so desired as God’s House.”

Since the Holy Spirit is the source of revival and is also the Author of the Bible, it is not surprising that the work of God and the Word of God are closely associated. The Bible is a mighty power in giving victory over sin. Neglect of the Bible brings spiritual bankruptcy to any Christian.

“These two hath God married
And no man can part;
Dust on your Bible
Means drought in your heart.”

Revival, then, sends men to their Bibles for guidance, comfort and victory over sin. You have those needs right now. They are always with us. Therefore, we do not have to wait until someone declares the arrival of revival. Go to God’s treasure chest — the Bible — and allow its message to change your life. Find spiritual food there for the battles of this very day!

Week 21 | Seeing America Without Rose-Colored Glasses

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be a Christian example of a good citizen

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

(1 Timothy 4:12).

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

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

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

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

Get involved in the issues
that shape America

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

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

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

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

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

Let's have revival!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Week 20 | The Tragic Problem of Child Abuse

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

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

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

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

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

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

Abuse often goes unrecognized

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is child abuse?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Signs of abuse: what to look for

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

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

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

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

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

What can you do?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Week 19 | Someone With Skin On

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus, our Example

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(John 14:12,13).

Jesus, our Saviour

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

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

(Luke 2:29,30).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus, our Intercessor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can we find a friend so faithful,

Who will all our sorrows share;

Jesus knows our every weakness;

Take it to the Lord in prayer.

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

Week 18 | Give Me Your Hand

In my daily Bible reading, I've been noticing
how much is mentioned about the hands
of our Lord. Again and again the Gospels
relate how He reached out to people in their
need and hurt and sorrow. And when He
touched them, they were never the same
again.

His hands healed the sick

After He began His earthly ministry, great
multitudes thronged about Him wherever He
went. Those who were sick, blind, and
lame -- even those marked for death with the
curse of leprosy -- came to Him seeking to be
healed and made whole.

When the hands of Jesus touched them,
pain and suffering ceased, diseases and
infirmities were cured, and lives shattered and
ruined by sickness were restored.

His hands fed the multitude

It was the hands of Jesus that fed the
multitudes who followed Him out into the desert
place to hear His words. When evening came,
Christ's disciples urged Him to send the
people away. But Jesus saw their hunger and
weariness and, in compassion, desired to
minister to them.

Taking a few small loaves and fishes --
barely enough for one small boy's lunch -- the
Lord blessed the food. Then His hands began
to break and divide the bread and fish into
portions which He gave to His disciples to
serve.

We're told that 5,000 men were fed that
day, not counting the women and children.
And when everybody had eaten all they
wanted, there were twelve baskets full of
leftovers! The hands of Jesus not only provided
enough...but plenty to spare.

His hands blessed the children

Loving children as I do, my heart is
touched to read the biblical account of how
the hands of Jesus blessed and comforted the
little children. He specifically told His disciples
not to prevent them from coming to Him.
And in my mind's eye, I can see the Lord
sitting down and opening His arms to them. As
they eagerly jostled about, perhaps He lifted a
toddler into His lap, shook hands with an older
lad, touched the cheek of a shy little girl. And
as His gentle hands patted little shoulders and
smoothed tousled hair, the Lord blessed these
little ones. Somehow I think they probably
never forgot that day when the hands of Jesus
touched them.

The hands of the Master

No doubt the hands of Jesus were strong
and powerful. Growing up around Joseph's
carpenter shop, He probably learned to hold
and use various tools to shape and assemble
wood into useful items. His hands knew how
to work.

It was those strong hands that later would
grasp a whip as an indignant Jesus drove the
callous money changers out of the holy halls of
the Temple. Those hands were instruments of
righteousness and justice.

It was those hands that reached out to lift
and save impetuous Peter who, after walking
on the water toward Jesus, took his eyes off
the Lord and began to sink.

There are so many other references to the
hands of Jesus that we could talk about. But
the single most important mention of Christ's
hands is when they were nailed to the cross.

A very dear, life-long friend gave me a
beautiful wall plaque, which I have hanging in
my kitchen. It says:

   I asked Jesus, "How much do You love me?"

"This much," He answered, and He stretched out His arms and died.

Greater love hath no man than this, said
Jesus, that a man lay down his life for his
friends
(John 15:13).

And who is Jesus' friend? The deeply
spiritual and very religious? The learned and
respectable? The proud traditionalists?

No, our Lord said that He was called a
friend of...sinners! (Luke 7:34).

The Apostle Paul reminds us that Christ
died for the ungodly...in that, while we were
yet sinners, Christ died for us
(Romans 5:6,8).

It is strangely and beautifully significant
that the first person to benefit from Christ's
sacrifice at Calvary was a thief on the cross
next to His! Think of it -- the first person to
whom the Lord stretched out His nail-pierced
hands was someone totally unworthy of His
love.

Love-scarred hands

Some time ago my husband, Jack, and I
were guests at a Christian fellowship dinner in
another city. During the meal I got acquainted
and talked with a dear little mother who sat
next to me. After a while, with tears streaming
down her cheeks, she leaned over and
whispered the sad story of a wayward daughter
who had run away from home, mounted up
many debts, and fallen to the very depths of
sin, even into a life of prostitution.

"I pray for her every day," she said, "and
every time I hear from her I beg her to come
home. My husband doesn't make a lot of
money, so I got a job to help pay off the debts
our daughter made. I'm doing everything I
know how to do to help her. Please pray with
me."

When I reached out to take hold of this
precious mother's hands to comfort her, they
were rough and calloused, scarred by long
hours of hard work, week after month after
year. Those hands were scarred by love...by a
mother's selfless sacrifice and desperate desire
to reach and save her wayward daughter.

As I held those hands and prayed, I was
reminded of Christ's nail-scarred hands that
also were pierced for that lost daughter...and
for every lost sinner in the whole world. They
were scarred for me...and for you!

Just as the hands of our Lord ministered to
men and women, boys and girls, wherever He
went during His time on earth, so we today
can feel the touch of His hands in our daily
lives. His power is still available to us today.

In our times of pain and suffering, He is
still the Great Physician who lays His hands
upon us and restores our bodies. Whether our
healing comes through medication, the skill of
a surgeon, or by the power of faith alone, we
know that He is the source of all healing.

When we are hungry and experiencing a
lack of supply -- when we're empty physically,
emotionally, and spiritually -- Christ's hands
will bless and multiply the smallest things we
have to offer Him and make it sufficient to
meet our need...with plenty to spare.

When we've tried and failed -- when like
Peter, we're sinking into the depths of trials
and tribulations, with no hope in sight -- He
will come to us, walking on the waters of our
stormy sea. His hand will save us, lift us up,
and lead us safely to the solid rock!

The challenge of Easter

I love Spring! There's something special
about seeing the sun light up winter's gray
skies, and nature stir the grass and trees into
new life. Surely it is no coincidence that we
celebrate Easter in the springtime.

Each Easter we are reminded that Christ
died for us -- but He rose again! Without
Easter, we might be tempted to forget that it
is through the outstretched arms and
nail-pierced hands of Jesus that we have life
eternal. Had it not been for His sacrifice on
Calvary and His bodily resurrection, there
would be no everlasting life.

As we look around us and see all of nature
coming back to life anew, let us be reminded
of Christ's great love for us.

But let us also be challenged to reach out
in His love into every man's world with a
helping hand. Let us emulate our Lord's great
example and use the resurrection power that
flows through us to minister to the needs of
those around us.

Never forget that for many people in the
world, their first glimpse of Christ may be in
you...the only hands that will touch them in
love, that will comfort, lift, and bless them,
may be your hands.

Reach out whenever you can, wherever
you can, to whomever you can. However
unlovely or unworthy the person you find may
be, remember that Christ's sacrifice is
sufficient...and that He loves that individual just as
much as He loves you.

Do not be afraid to stretch forth your hand
to anybody. For you minister, not in your own
strength and ability, but in His love. So when
you reach out, it will not be just your hand that
touches them, but the hand of God through
you!

I love the beautiful gospel chorus that cries
out --

Oh, to be His hand extended,

Reaching out to the oppressed,

Let me touch Him, let me touch Jesus,

So that others may know and be blessed.

Look around you today and find someone
who is hurting or needy, someone who is in
trouble. Ask God to guide you to someone
who needs Jesus.

When you find them, don't hesitate or
delay. Go to them with a smile filled with the
light of His love and simply say...

"Give me your hand."