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Today’s Devotional | July 8 | ISAIAH 58 | Freedom

Today's Devotional

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!

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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July 7 | PSALM 28 | Helped
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.

July 6 | PROVERBS 14 | What Can I Do For My Country?
Memory Verse
Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people (Proverbs 14:34).

De Tocqueville of France, over a century ago, visited America. Upon his return home he wrote: “I sought for the greatness of America in her harbors and rivers and fertile fields, and her mines and commerce. It was not there. Not until I went into the churches and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the greatness of her power. America is great because she is good: and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”

But there is a sense in which America cannot be good.

Righteousness is not something that is accepted by a nation as a body. It is not legislated in congress or decided in the halls of justice. Good or bad decisions by a government may affect the conduct of its people in certain areas of life, but righteousness is an individual matter.

“In God We Trust” is a moving motto for our money, yet millions of Americans do not trust in God. Therefore, that official statement of faith is only meaningful for those to whom it has meaning. In whom do you trust?

Neither is it enough to decry conditions in the land. A serious situation does exist. Daily news reports are convincing proof of that. But the solution lies in personal repentance of sin and faith in Christ.

It is the righteousness of the people that exalts a nation. The sins of the people reproach the land.

As an individual American, what do you intend to do for your country?

July 5 | PSALM 124 | God’s Protection
Memory Verse
Blessed be the LORD, who hath not given us as a prey to their teeth (Psalm 124:6).

God has protected America.

We ought to thank God daily for His care of our nation through more than two hundred years. We have escaped the march of foreign feet on American soil in time of war though two world conflicts have been fought in this century.

Even the destruction of the nation through civil war was averted through prayer. Walter Brown Knight has written: “The fate of the nation was hanging in the balances. General Lee and his army had surged forward to the environs of Gettysburg, where the fateful, decisive battle of the Civil War was in the making. The sorrows and burdens of the war-torn nation had exacted its terrible toll on the occupant of the White House, Abraham Lincoln. Yet on the eve of the crucial Battle of Gettysburg, he was calm and assured. His serenity was reassuring to his generals. When they inquired, ‘How can you be so self-possessed in this hour of the nation’s mortal peril and darkness?’ Lincoln said, ‘I spent last night in prayer before the Lord. He has given me the assurance that our cause will triumph and that the nation will be preserved.’”

And what blessing has followed America through these years. This good land has become the home base for missionary outreach all over the world. American printing presses as well as radio and television carry the Bible message to millions.

Still, many are becoming concerned about the future. Will America continue to experience such blessings? For how long?

God’s blessings rest on those who obey His Word. Let’s live in His will so that His protection will always preserve our land!

July 4 | PSALM 5 | Trusting
Memory Verse
But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: Let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee (Psalm 5:11).

History records how George Washington found rest and relief in prayer during the trying times he and his soldiers passed through at Valley Forge. With all the cares and anxieties of that time upon him, he used to have recourse to prayer.

One day a farmer approaching the camp heard an earnest voice. On coming nearer, he saw George Washington on his knees, his cheeks wet with tears, praying. The farmer returned home and said to his wife: “George Washington will succeed!”

“What makes you think so, Isaac?” asked his wife.

The farmer replied: “I heard him pray, Hannah; you may rest assured he will.”

One night during the Civil War, a guest in the White House reported that he had heard Lincoln praying in the next room. He said the President prayed: “Thou God, who heard Solomon in the night when he prayed and cried for wisdom, hear me! I cannot guide the affairs of this nation without Thy help. I am poor and weak and sinful. O God, save this nation.”

We have a great heritage. Without question, God has defended America in the past. We ought to rejoice in our independence. But we must never forget that this freedom is a gift from God. The moment we stop trusting Him, liberty is in jeopardy.

Christians who serve God and rejoice in Him are America’s most valuable asset. What will YOU do for your country?

July 3 | PSALM 13 | Salvation
Memory Verse
But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation (Psalm 13:5).

The joy of the Lord begins with salvation. The moment of new birth gives cause for rejoicing. Heaven rejoices: “Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth” (Luke 15:10). The newborn Christian can also be glad for many reasons.

We can rejoice in salvation because we have a home in heaven. Earthly homes are temporary. Fire or foreclosure may take away your home on this earth. Not so your heavenly home. The things that are seen are temporal but the things that are not seen are eternal. Each Christian has a title deed to a home in heaven that is indestructible.

We can rejoice in salvation because we have become heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ (see Romans 8:17). During your earthly journey, you may never inherit anything valuable, but if you have been saved, you will share the inheritance of the saints. Praise the Lord!

We can rejoice in salvation because our names are written in heaven. Jesus said:
“Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20). Many people do not know your name. You are probably not on a first-name basis with world leaders. But, if you have been born again, your name is known in heaven.

Rejoice in God’s salvation!

July 2 | PSALM 9 | Don’t Forget
Memory Verse
The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God (Psalm 9:17).

The mighty Roman Empire was powerful and proud. People thought it would last forever. But it fell... and fell hard.

In 1787, Gibbon completed his masterful book, “The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire.” He gave the following reasons for its fall: the rapid increase of divorce with resultant undermining of the home; higher and higher taxes and the spending of public money for free bread and circuses for the people; the mad craze for pleasure and sports which became more and more brutal; the building of gigantic armaments, when the real enemy was within, and the decay of religious faith which faded into formalism and became impotent.

Paul’s letter to the Romans begins with the record of a fall for similar reasons, the most important of which was that of forgetting God... on purpose: “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient” (Romans 1:28).

Forgetting God is dangerous to the survival of nations.

Do you think America is guilty of forgetting God?

What evidences of forgetting God do you see about you?

Do you believe the religious life of our nation to be heartfelt or formalistic?

Have America’s moral standards declined during your lifetime? In the last decade? During the past year?

How about your personal relationship to Christ? Is it vital or formalistic? Can you remember a better day?

What are you going to do about it? When?

July 1 | I KINGS 18:17-24 | Troublemakers
Memory Verse
And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word (I Kings 18:21).

Elijah’s country was in trouble.

King Ahab thought the prophet was the cause of it all.

Actually, the wicked king was the guilty one. He had led the people in idolatry and had forsaken God’s commandments. The drought announced by Elijah was but the natural consequence of the nation’s sin. The famine in the land was directly traceable to the waywardness of the people. Israel was experiencing the law of sowing and reaping: “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7).

Godly people are often thought of as troublemakers. They speak out against evils and seem not to fit in with many modern trends. They may seem out of step with the times ... unwilling to compromise proven standards. Dogmatic. Old fashioned.

Never mind. Convictions based on the Bible should be held even though they disturb others. God rewards righteousness and judges sin. His standards are unchanging because He is always the same.

Sin brings chastening... produces heartache... invites trouble. And no amount of rationalizing can change sin’s wages. It is impossible to sin and win: “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

America needs some troublemakers... the righteous kind. We need people who will stand for truth and decency in spite of what others say.

May God raise up some troublemakers to keep the nation out of trouble!

Week 28 | I Remember Mother

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!
(John 19:26,27).

Precious memories

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
practiced.

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."

Inner beauty

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).

Week 27 | The Purr-fect Blessing

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
rather quickly.

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
Jack said.

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
around me!

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
call them.

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
animal!

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?

(Matthew 7:11).

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;
    Ephesians 2:4,5).
  • 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.

Week 26 | Let Me Cry!

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
this trial.

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
to convey.

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
tremendously therapeutic.

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

(Revelation 21:4).

No wonder Jesus said, Blessed are ye that
weep now: for ye shall laugh
(Luke 6:21).

Week 25 | Is God Listening?

Some time ago I contracted a dangerous
viral infection which threatened the sight of
my left eye and produced severe discomfort
and pain. Just as I was getting a little better, I
came down with pneumonia in my right lung.

During this time of unusual stress and trauma,
Jack and I spent even more time than normal
praying and seeking God. Thank the
Lord, He heard and answered our prayers!

Experiencing those wearisome days when
I might have been tempted to ask, "Does God
care? Is He listening?" -- I found new assurance
that the Lord, the Creator of the ends of
the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary
(Isaiah
40:28). And I can truthfully say with the
psalmist that I waited patiently for the Lord;
and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry

(Psalm 40:1).

While prayer has always been an important
part of our lives and ministry, now it has
become even more vital -- an integral part of
the very fabric of Jack's life and mine. Prayer
has become as natural as breathing to me, and
has carried me into the Father's presence
where I draw directly from His unlimited
strength.

In the times of testing I often felt as if the
Lord comforted me by saying, "Pray." And in
saying "Come to me," He also said, "Wait
patiently." It has been my experience that
life's difficulties may sometimes be meant for
the strengthening of one's heart and soul.

The power of prayer

When we enter into prayer, we enter into
the realm of divine omnipotence and tap into
the unlimited power of God. Prayer leaps
over boundaries, stops at no distances, and
balks at no obstacles. No wonder Jesus said,
With men it is impossible, but not with God:
for with God all things are possible
(Mark 10:27).

The late Dr. M. R. DeHaan recognized the
tremendous force God placed in the hands of
His people through prayer. DeHaan said, "I
would far rather have the power of prayer to
move the powers of heaven, than to have the
power of preaching to move the masses on earth."

While some of us may not have the gift of
preaching or the anointed eloquence to
proclaim the gospel to all who will hear -- all of
us do have the power of prayer at our disposal.
We can commune directly with our Creator,
and cry out to the God of the universe with the
steadfast assurance that HE IS LISTENING...
and He will answer.

Why, then, do we go about laden with
burdens too heavy to bear? Why do we endure
overwhelming sorrows and pain? Why do we
attempt to make the best of living with want
and lack? The Lord gently scolds us for failing
to seek His help by saying, Ye have not,
because ye ask not
(James 4:2).

I love the grand old gospel song that asks,
"Are you weary, are you heavy-hearted?" then
responds, "Tell it to Jesus, Tell it to Jesus!"
On and on the song goes, listing man's most
common troubles and fears, and always
reminding, urging, commanding -- "Tell it to
Jesus alone!"

God has invited us to come to Him with
our needs and burdens. Jesus said, Ask, and it
shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find;
knock, and it shall be opened unto you: for
every one that asketh receiveth; and he that
seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it
shall be opened
(Matthew 7:7).

Are the answers you need being given?
Have you asked?

Are you finding the solutions to life's
problems? Are you seeking?

Are the doors of opportunity being opened
to you? Are you knocking?

God is ready and willing to meet your
every need. He is more than enough for all
your problems. But to receive what He wants
you to have, you have to take the first step.
Have you ever taught your children to come to
you for assistance with their needs? Even
though you sometimes knew what they needed
before they asked, have you ever waited until
they made their petition to you?

Jesus said, If ye then, being evil, know how
to give good gifts unto your children, how
much more shall your Father which is in heaven
give good things to them that ask him?

(Matthew 7:11).

So we need to learn to ask -- we need to be
sure to make our petitions known to God
through prayer.

Pray in faith

Then, too, we must pray with faith. Some
people feel their faith is too weak, but I
believe, with the Apostle Paul, that God hath
dealt to every man the measure of faith

(Romans 12:3). If our faith comes from
God -- if He has provided it for us, then we
have enough...and it is sufficient!

When in the midst of suffering and in need
of healing, many of us may find it difficult to
receive healing directly from the hand of God.
But the Lord often uses other hands, other
instruments to meet our need. Often healing
comes through the channel of doctors and
medicine. Depending on such healing aids is
not necessarily a lack of faith.

An old motto I've heard suggests that we
should work as though everything depended
on us, but pray as if everything depended on
God. Perhaps this is the perfect blending
of faith and works endorsed by the Apostle
James (see 2:20-26).

I thank God for the fine doctors and
"miracle" drugs employed in my treatment during
my illness. But I am absolutely convinced
that prayer helped speed my healing by
making my body more receptive to the treatment
than it ordinarily would have been.

I recovered with no lasting ill effects, no
scars, no permanent damage. Yet, another
lady with almost the same condition, being
treated by the same doctor, with the same
medication, did experience facial scarring and
ongoing trauma.

Is God really interested in our individual
needs and problems? Aren't our personal
difficulties too small to bring to the attention of
the Almighty? Isn't He preoccupied with
wars and cataclysmic events, interested only
in global and universal affairs?

Not at all! Nothing is too great or too
small to bring to the Lord. He knows! He
sees! He cares! Oh, yes, my friend, He is
listening...and He will answer.

I know this -- when our own strength and
provision fail, prayer helps us tap into an
inexhaustible divine supply. And it is undeniably
true that more miracles are wrought by prayer
than this world could ever imagine.

The Holy Spirit intercedes

Dr. Van Impe and I are finding that when
we pray, the Holy Spirit directs us and helps
us to pray. We do not have to depend on long
prayer lists and "vain repetitions" that become
meaningless rituals (see Matthew 6:7).

There are times when I feel so
overwhelmed by needs or challenges before me
that I don't even know how to pray. But the
Holy Spirit does -- and He ministers through
me to touch the heart of God. Paul wrote,
Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmiities:
for we know not what we should pray for
as we ought: but the Spirit [himself] maketh
intercession for us with groanings which
cannot be uttered
(Romans 8:26).

There have been times when I knelt to
pray and could only weep -- I couldn't find the
words to express what was inside. I would cry
out, "Oh God, l don't know how to put this
because I'm so burdened." What a comfort to
know that the Holy Spirit went right on
interceding for me with groanings and expressions
too deep to be uttered.

And sooner or later, as I waited before God
on my knees, that deep peace that passes all
understanding would sweep over me, and my
troubled spirit would be at rest. Once again I
would have the blessed assurance of knowing
that all things work together for good to them
that love God, to them who are the called
according to his purpose
(Romans 8:28).

My friend, what God has done for me, He
will do for you. The Lord is ready to minister
to you in every part of your life. He is listening.

TAKE TIME TO PRAY

I got up quite early one morning

And rushed right into the day;

I had so much to accomplish

I took no time out to pray.

The problems just tumbled about me,

And heavier came every task;

"Why doesn't God help me," I wondered,

He said, "Why, you didn't ask!"

I saw naught of joy or of beauty --

The day sped on, gray and bleak;

I asked, "Why won't the Lord show me?"

He said, "But you didn't seek!"

I tried to come into God's presence;

I used all my keys at the lock,

God gently, lovingly chided,

"My child, why didn't you knock?"

I woke up quite early this morning

And paused ere entering the day;

There was so much to accomplish

I HAD TO TAKE TIME TO PRAY!