Today’s Devotional | August 16 | II CORINTHIANS 8:1-15 | Proving Love

Today's Devotional

Memory Verse
I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love (II Corinthians 8:8).

A popular bumper sticker says: Honk! If You Love Jesus.”

Perhaps a better one would be: “Tithe! If You Love Jesus.”

A wealthy businessman and an attorney were traveling around the world. One morning as they walked along a country road in Korea, they saw a boy pulling a plow which was steered by an old man. The attorney was so moved by the scene that he took a picture of the plowing pair and later showed it to a missionary in the next village.

“It seems a very strange way to plow a field,” said the missionary, “but I happen to know the boy and the old man very well. They are very poor. However, when the little church was built here in the village, they wanted to contribute something. Having no money, they sold their ox and gave the money to the church building fund, and now, minus the valuable animal, they have to pull the plow themselves.”

The travelers looked at each other for a moment, and then the attorney said, “But what a stupendous sacrifice! Why did you allow it?”

“They did not feel that way about it,” replied the missionary. “They regarded it as a great joy that they had an ox to give to the Lord’s work.”

Giving is one way of proving our love for Christ. It is one thing to talk of love and loyalty to Christ and quite another to prove our love by digging deeply into our treasures and sharing them as He directs. Still, it is the only way to convert earthly treasures into wealth that lasts forever!

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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August 15 | II CORINTHIANS 6:1-10 | Unfeigned Love
Memory Verse
By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned (II Corinthians 6:6).

“I love him, but...” often precedes a tirade of sanctified slander. Sometimes the gossip is guised as a prayer request or finished with a postscript: “I just thought you ought to know — I’ve said this in Christian love.”

But is this love? Not at all! It is Pseudo love — fake love — malice masquerading as love. And God hates it (Proverbs 6:19).

Genuine Christian love is not fake. It is unfeigned. Real love doesn’t have to be explained. Excuses are not needed when acts of heartfelt love are performed. All who hear or see Christian love in action know it is the real thing.

Love does not defend itself. It takes wrong rather than cast doubt on another. Love flows outward, seeking opportunities to serve rather than expecting to be served. Like Jesus, those who love live to minister, not to be ministered unto.

Paul’s love for Christ and the souls of men kept him going in all kinds of difficulties. Beatings, imprisonments, hunger, labours and distresses were his way of life. No matter. Christ and others were more important than his comfort or even his life.

No wonder churches were planted and multitudes saved through the ministry of this man of God. His was a service of love. Love unfeigned.

What is the quality of your love? Have you been pretending?

Allow the love of Christ to flow through you today. Others will notice and know it is love unfeigned.

August 14 | I CORINTHIANS 8 | Liberty
Memory Verse
But if any man love God, the same is known of him (I Corinthians 8:3).

Many Christians wrestle constantly with the question of what they can or cannot do in the Christian life. Their understanding of “the world” is fuzzy and they struggle to know the difference between dedicated Christian living and compromise with sin. Often it appears they have drawn an imaginary line as close to danger as possible and are crowding it continually, yet giving the impression they want to do it right. They run from one counselor to another seeking guidance, sometimes with the purpose of finding a Christian leader who will soothe their consciences by lowering the standard just a bit. They appear to want to get away with as much as they can and still make it to heaven.

There is another group of saints who are sincere and dedicated but confused. They honestly want to live for Christ and honor Him in their words and actions, but they have trouble knowing what to do in a number of situations. The clear-cut issues are no problem to them, but the “gray” areas keep them off balance. In the text above, Paul dealt with just such an issue. Christians were troubled about whether or not to eat meat that had been offered to idols. There was nothing wrong with the meat because the idols were but images made with hands. Still, there was an area of doubt.

Paul settled the “what to do” issue by appealing to their love for the Lord. Liberty would have allowed them to eat the meat. But how would this have affected those who didn’t really understand Christian liberty? Therefore liberty had to be tempered with love.

Let love temper Christian liberty and the “gray” will go away.

August 13 | ROMANS 13:8-14 | Fulfilling the Law
Memory Verse
Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law (Romans 13:10).

Jesus once shocked the Pharisees, saying: “...thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40). They had hoped to trap Him in some contradiction concerning the law given to Moses. His answer silenced them.

Explaining Paul’s effort to drive home this same great truth to the Christians at Rome, Dr. H. A. Ironside wrote: “ ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.’ He who thus loves could, by no possibility, ever be guilty of adultery, murder, theft, lying, or covetousness. It is impossible that love should be manifested in such ways as these. ‘Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.’ It is in this way that the righteous requirement of the law is fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit.”

Year after year, legislatures and parliaments grind out laws designed to keep the populace in line and to preserve the common peace. These laws, containing rules and sentences, are prepared and passed to keep citizens from wronging or hurting one another. How unnecessary most laws would be if love reigned! Billions in tax monies would be saved if love determined actions.

Prisons and jails would he empty if love was a way of life.

We cannot control the way others live, but we can fulfill the purpose of God in our lives by loving one another.

And our neighbors will notice!

August 12 | JOHN 21:15-25 | Love For Others
Memory Verse
So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonah, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him. Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him. Feed my lambs (John 21:15).

In preparing Peter for his work in the early church, the Lord asked Peter if he loved Him. Peter had to learn that genuine love for Christ required acts of love and concern for others. He would be called on to feed and care for thousands of new converts. These members of the New Testament church would be known for their warm fellowship and love for one another. Peter must set the example.

It is easy to speak or sing of our love for the Lord, but real love must act. James reminded his readers that faith without works is dead. The same might be said of love. At the end of a sermon by Dr. Harry Ironside, the congregation was singing, “OH HOW I LOVE JESUS.” As they sang softly, a skid row derelict made his way to the front of the church, coming all the way from the last pew. His clothes were ragged and dirty and he reeked with the smell of booze. A call was made for a personal worker to come and talk to him about Christ — but not one person moved. It was one thing to sing about love for Jesus and another to kneel beside this down and outer who had come to learn of Him. But real love for Christ reaches out to others — especially those in great need.

What can you do today that will demonstrate your love for Jesus? Will you be asked to feed His lambs, His sheep? Awaiting you in your day’s activities are people with hungry hearts. Some need the Gospel. Others are Christians who need help and encouragement. While you’re deciding whether or not to get involved, face the question: “Lovest thou me?”

August 11 | ROMANS 12:9-20 | Brotherly Love
Memory Verse
Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another (Romans 12:10).

In the first century after Christ, Tertullian, the Christian theologian wrote: “It is our care for the helpless, our practicing of lovingkindness, that brands us in the eyes of our opponents. ‘Look,’ they say, ‘how they love one another. Look how they are prepared to die one for another!’”

But is that reputation alive and well today?

In some areas and individual situations it is! Sadly, in others the missing dimension is love that really cares.

Note the tenderness of Paul’s wording: “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love.” Commenting on the words, “kindly affectioned,” Dr. Kenneth Wuest points out that the Greek word used is “philostorgos.” He then explains: “The word here represents Christians as bound by a family tie. It is intended to define more specifically the character of ‘philadelphia’ (brotherly love) which follows, so that the exhortation is, ‘love the brethren in the faith as though they were brethren in blood.’”

The world is looking for a brotherhood. Witness the existence of dozens of lodges, clubs and other organizations that claim to be fraternal. Here is another example of human effort to produce a remedy for the need of man. All brotherhoods or sisterhoods call out for the real thing. The bond between Christians, made possible through the love of Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, produces genuine brotherhood. How sad when this powerful truth and experience is neglected!

Nothing is gained through bemoaning the absence of Christian love. Action is required. The place to begin is here. The time is now.

August 10 | JOHN 15:15-27 | The World’s Love
Memory Verse
If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you (John 15:19).

The world loves its heroes, but even this love is temporary. One may be king of the mountain one day and cast down the next. Big names of the past are often the moral and financial wrecks of today. Faces that once graced top magazine covers now sell cheap sensational papers with stories of the former star’s present predicament. The world’s love is fickle and dependent on fortune.

God’s love is enduring. The ups and downs of life do not affect it: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35, 37-39).

Which love shall we choose?

Responding to the love of God by receiving Christ can put one at odds with others. Some will not understand. The love of the world will be forfeited. In some cases this may cost popularity or money. In many parts of the world it means imprisonment or even death. Nevertheless, it will be worth it all when we meet the Lord.

Forfeiting the world’s love to serve Christ is a small loss compared to eternal gain. Wise ones choose the love that lasts!

August 9 | JOHN 13:21-35 | Disciples
Memory Verse
By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another (John 13:35).

Love is a requirement of discipleship. It is the identifying Christian characteristic. The world is able to recognize one who is disciplined to Christ by his daily and practical acts of Christian love.

Real Christianity suffers when religion gets in the way. It has always been so. We are so given to accepting outward claims to piety that we often conclude the best Christians are those who put on the most religious airs. Platform prowess may convince the general public as to who is the spiritual one in town or in the local church. But polish and performance will not count at the Judgment Seat of Christ.

Heaven will contain many surprises. The old song says: “Everybody talkin bout heaven ain’t goin there.” Many talk about heaven who have climbed the religious ladder to high positions in Christian work but are bankrupt of love. They are quick to judge and they major on criticism. The eloquent DeWitt Talmadge observed: “There are in every community, and every church, watch dogs, who feel called upon to keep their eyes on others and growl. They are always the first to hear of anything wrong. Vultures are always the first to smell carrion. They are self-appointed detectives. I lay this down as a rule without exception, that those people who have the most faults themselves are the most merciless in their watching of others. From scalp of head to soles of foot, they are full of jealousies, or hypercriticism.” In such cases, heaven may not be the destination. People who are truly born again have the Holy Spirit within. And the fruit of the Spirit is love (Galatians 5:22-23).

Week 33 | Competing for the Gold

During the winter Olympics in
Lillehammer, Norway, the finest athletes from
all over the world gathered to compete in
various sports events. Jack and I were
especially interested in the skiing and skating
competitions, and watched in awe as both
men and women set new world records.

What a thrill to see these champions receive
the victor's reward and be presented with the
Olympic Gold Medal with the great crowds in
the stands looking on, and the television
cameras providing international coverage; the
whole world was watching!

Most of us could never compete in a world
class sports competition like the Olympics,
but as Christians, we are faced with the
challenge of running a race for the Lord. The
whole world is watching to see how we run the
race -- will we be champions or defeated
competitors?

The Apostle Paul had visited Greece where
the first Olympic Games were held centuries
ago. No doubt he was thinking of the
comparison between Christians and
Olympians when he wrote. Know ye not that
they which run in a race run all, but one
receiveth the prize. So run, that ye may obtain.
And every one that striveth for the mastery is
temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain
a corruptible crown: but we an incorruptible. I
therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not
as one that beateth the air: but I keep under my
body and bring it into subjection: lest that by any
means, when I have preached to others, I myself
should be a castaway
(I Corinthians 9:24-47).

Dedication and Commitment

In order to be a winner, a competitor must
meet certain prerequisites and prepare his
body for the race. No one is born a Gold
Medal Olympian.

Athletes train and condition their bodies to
compete. They are temperate, or moderate, in
all things. They watch their diet, engage in
challenging, strength-building exercise, and
get proper rest.

The apostle says, "If they do this to gain a
corruptible crown, a reward that will pass
away, how much more should we be dedicated
and committed to winning an incorruptible,
eternal reward."

What does it mean to be temperate in all
things? We are to have pure lives! We are to
keep ourselves from contamination.

One of the saddest moments of the
Olympics in Lillehammer was when one of the
athletes was disqualified after tests revealed
illegal drugs in his blood. He went home in
shame and disgrace.

Paul warns that the same thing can happen
to us, but with far greater consequences. He
said he continuously worked to keep his body
pure and under subjection. Paul was saying
that he did not want to run the race, then be
disqualified. I keep checking up on my
personal dedication and commitment, he said,
lest that by any means, when I have preached
to others, I myself should be a castaway.

I'm sure you know of Christians who failed
to be temperate in all things... who did not
keep their lives pure. Perhaps they dropped
out of the race altogether, or sadly faced the
humiliation of being publicly disqualified.

I heard a report about a group of ministers
that came from all across the nation to attend
a convention at a major hotel. After the
meeting was over, the hotel management said
that 75 percent of the rooms occupied by these
preachers requested X- and R-rated movies.

Turn Loose of Hindrances

God help us to keep our lives pure.
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about
with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside
every weight, and the sin which doth so easily
beset us
(Hebrews 12:1).

Let's lay aside "every weight" -- we can't be
just partially pure, you see. We must lay
everything aside. The writer goes on to say,
"and the sin which doth so easily beset us." I'm
fully convinced that each of us has a tendency
toward something that could cause us to fall.
The passage doesn't say "sins," but the one
particular thing that so easily gets to you. You
know what it is in your life -- I know what it
is in mine.

We need to examine ourselves to know
where our weaknesses lie so that we can defend
ourselves against the devil's temptations.

I was reading a devotional book about a
woman who was extremely obese and was
having a real struggle losing weight. (She may
have been like the person who said temptation
never bothered him because when it came
around, he succumbed.)

As this lady was praying, she said, "Lord,
You see what a problem I'm having. Why don't
You just take away my appetite?"

And the Lord answered, "If I did, what
would you have to do?"

You can keep yourself under control. You
can avoid things you know are hindrances to
victorious living. You can lay aside the weights
that slow you down... the temptations that
are your greatest weaknesses. God will protect
you from the evil one. He will not protect you
from yourself!

Patience to Endure

Let us run with patience the race that is set
before us
(Hebrews 12:1).

Everyone in the race can look like a
champion at the starting line. But that's not
where it counts! The winner is determined at
the end of the course!

It's not enough to start strong. We must be
patient... and have endurance. I noticed in
the Olympics that particularly in the long
races, the winner often was not the runner
who started off in front. Sometimes the
winner didn't make his move to the front until
the final lap.

Patience and endurance are just as
important to a successful Christian life as the
dedication and commitment one has at the start.

At the end of his life, the Apostle Paul could
say, I have fought a good fight, I have finished
my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there
is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which
the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at
that day
(11 Timothy 4:7,8).

Keep Your Eyes on the Goal

As I watched the Olympic contest I noticed
that no one ever turned to look at anything or
anybody else -- they kept their eyes on the
goal. If someone fell beside them, they kept
moving. If another athlete came near them,
they kept their eyes straight ahead.

I love what Hebrews 12:2 says -- Looking
unto Jesus.
Even though it's a continued
thought, this statement is part of the verse
before it that talks about laying aside weights
and sin, and running with patience. While
you're doing this, the apostle says, keep your
eyes on the goal. LOOK UNTO JESUS!

There are many distractions in the world.
There are discouragements, especially when
we get weary, and when we see other
Christians failing and falling out of the race.

But if we look unto Jesus, He will help us
stay in the race. If we keep our eyes on the
goal, we can make it to the end. If we keep our
eyes on the Lord, it matters not what others do.

I hope you'll join Dr. Van Impe and me in
a new resolve to run a better race for the Lord.
There is a reward for those who finish the
course... and you can be a winner. "So run,
that ye may obtain." The Lord has a very
special race for each of us to run. You know
what your challenge is.

So we must be built up in the faith and
ready for the challenge ahead of us. I'm excited
about being in the race and... competing for
the gold.

Week 32 | Trust Daddy and Jump!

It's amazing how often I am awakened in
the middle of the night and find myself
thanking and praising God for all of His grace,
mercy and blessings. Recently, I have found
myself, in that quiet time of the early
morning, reminiscing about my happy
childhood. How very grateful I am to the Lord
for such beautiful memories. I remember with
fondness and joy the good times we had
together as a family. My father was a big man
-- well over six feet tall, fun-loving and tender
-- and my brothers were the best companions
a little girl could have. My precious, sweet
Mother, though petite, had robust energy and
always joined in our many outings of picnics,
concerts, boating, swimming and a multitude
of events conducted by our church.

We had a favorite place to go in the summer
for swimming. Since we lived in Michigan,
where there were various areas one could enjoy
for this fun-time sport, my father taught me to
swim at a very early age. I must have been
about seven when I had my first experience at
diving. The place we liked the best had a
twenty, perhaps even a thirty-foot high
waterfall. My older brother was a wonderful
swimmer and I'd watch in awe as he made his
way to the top of the waterfall and then dove
off. I wondered if I'd ever be able to do that. I
hoped so, but it did look scary.

The day came when my Dad said, "Rexella,
go on up there and jump off. I'll be here to get
you." At first I paused, looked at him to make
certain I'd heard correctly, and he nodded his
head and urged me on. Self-assured, I strutted
off and made my way to the top. But when I
got there, I said to my brother who had
followed me, "I can't do it."

"Sure you can," he confidently coaxed,
"you're a great little swimmer. I know you can
do it. You just trust Daddy and jump."

From the top of the falls I looked over to
the side bank where my mother and little
brother were waiting and watching for me to
do my first jump. "I can't disappoint my
family," I thought. "You go first," I said to
Bob, still hesitant. Then I looked down and
my Father called up, "Jump, I'll be right here
for you." I saw his smiling face and
remembered that he had never failed me in the
past. So I took my first leap of faith and trust.

The first thing I remember was hitting the
water with a thud and sinking down, down,
down. All of a sudden I felt the strength of my
Daddy's hands as he pulled me up to the top.
What a relief and how good it felt to have his
hands gripping mine. I clung to his neck for a
moment and was rewarded with his words,
"Good girl! I knew you could do it."

This was the first illustration of trust that I
can really remember and to which I relate
when I think about trust and all that it means.
The word trust implies reliance on someone or
something. It calls to mind other words such
as confidence, faith, dependence, assurance
and certainty. Good words.

We know love is freely given, but trust is
something that must be earned. You can look
at someone and think, "I love him or her for
Jesus' sake," but you can't trust them until you
know them and are assured that they have
earned the right to be trusted. In particular, in
the cultural climate in which we find ourselves
today, we have come to realize that one just
can't trust everybody. That's a sad
commentary, but true.

But there is Someone who is fully
trustworthy -- worthy that is, of our total
trust. That Someone is Jesus. We can take Him
at His Word, and that Word is the Bible.

It isn't always easy to trust. The apostle Peter
discovered this when he jumped into the
raging sea to go to Jesus who was walking on
the water. Remember the story in Matthew
14:22-33? As long as Peter kept his eyes on
Jesus, trusting Him, he was fine as he actually
walked on the water; but when Peter
continued walking against the boisterous
wind; he was afraid, and began to sink. It isn't
always easy to step out from that which is
secure into something precarious. Nor is it
easy to keep trusting when the waves of fear
and doubt overwhelm us. Let's never forget
this beautiful thought when we reach out to
Jesus: His hand will always be there to save us,
guide us and help us. When Jesus reached out
His hand to Peter and caught him, Peter was safe.

Trust Him With Your Past

First of all, we can trust Him with our past.
I John 1:7 assures us if we walk in the light, as
He (Himself) is in the light, we have fellowship
one with another, and the blood of Jesus
Christ His Son, cleanseth us from all sin.
When it says all, it means all -- all of the past.
We can trust Him for cleansing, for
obliterating all that would otherwise stand
between us and our holy God.

Psalm 103:12 tells us, As far as the east is
from the west, so far hath he removed our
transgressions from us.
And that's a long, long
way. Who can measure it? I was reminded
recently that the distance between the North
and South Pole is measurable because there is
a limit to northness and southness. However,
there is no East Pole or West Pole. Isn't it
amazing that the Bible is explicit in saying As
far as the east is from the west
... I find that
awesome. To think that's how God removes
our sin from us. Yes, immeasurably! When
God deals with our sin, a radical removal takes
place. What a wonderful, trustworthy God we have!

Hebrews 8:10 provides assurance of this
truth with these words: For I will be merciful to
their unrighteousness, and their sins and their
iniquities will I remember no more.
It's as if we
had never sinned or done anything wrong or
displeasing to God. How amazing to think we
can trust God with our past.

Trust Him With the Future

Then, we can trust God with the future.
Those familiar words in Proverbs 3 take on
new meaning as one thinks about the
implications of the word trust: Trust in the
Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto
thine own understanding. In all thy ways
acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths

(vv.5,6).

That word "shall" in this verse speaks of the
future. It says we can trust Him to guide us in
the days to come. How does He do this? He
does it in different ways. Let's consider three:
1. Through prayer. 2. Through circumstances.
3. Through the certainty of His Word.

First of all He has promised to be
trustworthy as we pray. How very often we
sense the strength of our Lord as we ask Him
to bless and guide us in prayer. He alone can
change situations beyond our control.
Without reservation we are assured that He
can be trusted to care for each and every
request. Sometimes His answer may be,
"wait," sometimes He says, "This is not good
for you," and sometimes he says, "Yes, it is
accomplished." Have you experienced the
peace of knowing that you have been heard
even before you arise from your knees?
Remember the words of Isaiah in chapter 65,
verse 24: And it shall come to pass, that before
they call, I will answer; and while they are yet
speaking, I will hear.

Let's also consider how God guides us
through circumstances. Remember the Old
Testament story of Ruth? What a beautiful
picture of what it means to trust in God. In
this book we read how Ruth decided to stay
with her mother-in-law, Naomi, after tragedy
struck her family. God blessed Ruth for her
faithfulness in the form of a good husband,
Boaz, and a child (from whom King David
was a direct descendant). Had Ruth not
listened to the voice of the Lord and followed
her Mother-In-Law to Israel, God could not
have used circumstances to lead her to Boaz
and bless her with such a sweet reward. What
a beautiful commitment Ruth 2:12 reveals:
The Lord recompense thy work, and a full
reward be given thee of the Lord God of Israel,
under whose wings thou art come to trust.
Oh,
that we might all follow the guidance of the
Lord so that He might use circumstances in
our lives to bless us and reward us with
heaven's best.

Lastly, let us think about how God guides
us through His Word. The Bible is not a
lottery system whereby we choose a verse of
scripture for each day and end up taking just
what we want to hear. But it is a book of

  • "instruction and correction," II Timothy 3:16, 17
  • "guidance," Psalm 119:105
  • "assurance and peace in a troubled world," Isaiah 26:3.

I could list an entire page of what the Bible
can be trusted to do for us, but let me just
assure you, it will never fail, it will never
change and it will always be relevant to our
daily life.

Often, as I have my devotions with the
Lord, I ask Him to make my mind and heart
receptive to what He wants to reveal to me
through His Word. As I continue to read and
meditate, there it is -- just what I need. I love
Psalm 119:140, Thy word is very pure: therefore
thy servant loveth it.

The world is not a safe place. Everyone is
talking about violence. A Dallas newspaper
front-page article says that guns soon may pass
vehicles as a top killer, according to federal
health officials. Already, shootings cause more
deaths than traffic accidents in Texas, six other
states and the District of Columbia. This find
came as public opinion polls showed growing
public alarm about violent crime. Let's hear
the words of David when he said: The Lord is
my rock; and my fortress, and my deliverer, The
God of my rock; in him will I trust; he is my
Shield and the horn of my salvation, my high
tower, and my refuge, my savior; thou savest me
from violence
(II Samuel 22:2, 3).

There is only one place where we can go
and be assured that placing our trust will not
be misplaced dependence, and that is at the
feet of Jesus. My brother's words come back to
me with true meaning for today's stress-filled
world, "Trust Daddy and jump!" Do you
know the joy of trusting your heavenly Father?
He stands ready to catch you as you take that
leap of faith and -- jump!

Week 31 | I Remember Israel

I shall never forget the first time I saw Israel!
There I was, newly married and already
traveling to the land I had learned to love as a
little girl in Sunday school.

Israel wasn't modern then. I remember
thinking that the land looked just as it must
have in ancient times. Yet, it seemed to me to
be almost a bridge... between the past and
the future.

Surely, Israel is the most exciting nation in
the world. Its very existence seems to
culminate all Bible prophecy. My husband has
often remarked that Israel is the key to all
Bible prophecy.

I Remember My

First Impression of Israel!

Wandering through the narrow streets of
Jerusalem during my first visit, everything I
saw and experienced seemed so far removed
from modern times! In fact, some of the shops
I entered seemed to be just as they were 2,000
years ago.

My first impression of Israel, however, was
not just of a land rich in ancient history, but a
land that had been stripped and starved.

Not too many years prior to my first
pilgrimage, Jews from all points of the globe
had begun to flood back into their homeland,
fulfilling ancient prophecies with their arrival.
As a people, the Jews had been persecuted,
beaten, and deprived. Many were survivors of
Hitler's horrible death camps, having lost their
entire families as well as all earthly possessions
to the atrocities of Nazism during World War II.

Thousands of Jewish refugees arrived in
Israel with literally nothing more than the
clothes on their backs... and a fierce
determination to make their Israel bloom!

I Remember the Diversity of Israel!

When Jack and I returned to Israel a few
years later, I was truly amazed! Israel had
undergone an almost unbelievable
transformation! I could see the fulfillment of
Isaiah 35:1... the desert shall rejoice, and
blossom as the rose.

The Jews, with their innovative genius, had
installed irrigation systems throughout their
entire land... instantly transforming arid
deserts into fruitful, productive orchards and
gardens. And the desolate land shall be tilled,
whereas it lay desolate in the sight of all that
passed by. And they shall say, This land that was
desolate is become like the garden of Eden

(Ezekiel 36:34, 35). I witnessed this!

Construction in the cities had also begun
to move forward, and amid the treasured
antiquities were now high-rise buildings with
every modern convenience.

Throughout the land, I was struck with the
diversity I saw everywhere! It was not unusual
to see a man leading a little donkey loaded
down with burdens alongside a busy street
teeming with trucks and cars. Nor was it
unusual to see a supersonic jet roar over the
head of an Arab riding a camel.

I discovered that in this incredibly diverse
20th century Israel, I could:

  • Visit Qumran, where the Dead Sea scrolls
    were discovered... or tour the Department
    of Nuclear Physics at the Weizman
    Institute.
  • Experience the coolness of the mountains
    and pastures of Galilee... and the parched
    deserts of the southern region near the
    Dead Sea.
  • Learn about the rich heritage of the Jewish
    culture... discover more about the Arabs
    and their predominant religion, Islam...
    and also worship Jesus with other
    Christians.

I Remember the Sights of Israel!

Today, as I reminisce about Israel, I can still
see the fishermen casting their nets into the
Sea of Galilee... the shepherds caring for
their flocks in the fields... the barren desert
where Jesus endured the devil's temptations...

I can envision modern Jerusalem, with the
ancient wonders of old Jerusalem entwined
within it... the Jews praying at their Wailing
Wall... the tomb of Lazarus... the field of
Boaz, where Ruth and Naomi gleaned wheat
and where the shepherds later received the
angel's message of the Messiah's birth...

I remember the Garden of Gethsemane,
where Jesus' sweat was as drops of blood...
and Golgotha, where He suffered the shame
and the agony of the sum of mankind's sins.

Of all the places we visited, I can say that
the Garden of the Resurrection, where our
Lord first revealed himself as risen from the
dead, was the most profound place for me! In
fact, I was moved to tears as I sat quietly, just
praying.

I recall the awesomeness of the Valley of
Megiddo, or Jezreel, where the battle of all
battles -- ARMAGEDDON -- will take
place. It's such a vast, open area, and a place of
such prophetic destiny.

As we winded our way through the teeming
streets of Tel Aviv, I could not help but realize:
"This land means EVERYTHING to the Jews!"

For them, Israel is their home, their life,
their honor, and their purpose. Apart from
Israel, the Jew believes he hardly has an
existence.

I Remember the People!

I have many fond memories of the Jewish people!

My husband and I taped many television
specials and programs there. Many people
opened their hearts and homes to us! They
knew we were Christians, but they could also
sense that we loved THEM! Jack and I were
even welcomed to tape inside the Jewish
Knessett building! The members I
interviewed were so very kind and gracious!

I remember the openness of Israel's
President Yitzhak Navon. He was such a
magnetic personality, and will always live in
my memory as one of the most genuine, kind
men I have ever met. He knew his Old
Testament thoroughly and easily conversed
with Jack about Bible prophecies. We were
invited to his private residence, where he and
Jack discussed the Bible, end-time events, and
the role of Israel in the last days.

On another occasion, we were invited to
dinner at the home of the late Prime Minister
Menachem Begin. The dinner, however, was
canceled suddenly -- due to the assassination
of Egypt's President Anwar Sadat! Prime
Minister Begin had to leave immediately for
Tel Aviv and an emergency meeting of his
cabinet -- so I did not get to interview him
after dinner, as planned.

I was fortunate to interview Abba Eban,
former Israeli Ambassador to the United
Nations who was often called "the Voice of
Israel." And I met and interviewed Moshe
Arens, who then was Israel's Ambassador to
the United States.

I also remember the beautiful, innocent
children. On one of my videos, I taped songs
with a group of them. They sat on my lap, we
talked, we laughed and played together. When
I think of the war that has gone on constantly
there, and when I think of what the Jews as a
people have gone through, it tears at my heart.

The Jews of Israel are only a heartbeat away
from disaster!

I have a very dear friend -- Estee Levine --
with whom I have corresponded regularly for
many years. Her residence is in Jerusalem, and
she is responsible for preparing the
accommodations for thousands of tourists
who visit Israel each year.

During the Desert Storm operation, Israel
was frequently under attack by Saddam
Hussein's air raids. During those war-torn
months, Estee wrote me about the birth of her
granddaughter. She wrote: "We had a time of
great rejoicing! And we could rejoice -- even
in the midst of rocket attacks!"

I've always found that kind of optimism
among the Israelis -- even among the
children. They have such a valiant attitude of spirit!

It's as if God has instilled His own
optimism into His people, because they are
ultimately going to win. Micah 4:3 says, And
they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and
their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not
lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they
learn war any more.
That day of peace is coming!

I Remember Jesus!

Seeing the places where He walked,
recalling the events of His life, even receiving
communion in the place of His Resurrection
made me feel so much closer to Jesus!

Time and again, Jack and I found ourselves
retracing the steps of Jesus and the disciples.
There was Capernaum, where we explored
fascinating ruins and again traced the steps of
Jesus, who taught the multitudes there. I
almost expected to see the throngs described in
the Bible, pressing closer and closer in, to hear
the words of life! When we walked along the
Via Dolorosa, we could not help but painfully
recall Christ's final steps before Calvary.

We served communion to those of our tour
group in that quiet garden, and I was
emotionally stirred by the experience! I shall
never forget that from where I was sitting, I
could look up... to see Golgotha, the place of
the skull, where His crucifixion took place...
and I could also look down... at the stone
which had been rolled away from the tomb
that could not hold Him. What a powerful
contrast!

Experiencing Israel in all her diversity and
splendor has added more depth and
dimension to my faith, and has given me
many wonderful memories.

Week 30 | Living in the Light

An artist sat at his easel creating a gripping,
powerful painting. Using dark, somber hues,
he drew dreary, empty fields framed by stark,
skeleton-like trees, under a cold, snow-laden sky.

In one corner of the canvas he sketched a
lonely, desolate house, its stark lines fading
into the shadows of the night. Then the artist
paused to contemplate the bleak and
melancholy scene he had created. After a few
moments, he picked up his brush to add a
finishing touch.

With a dab of bright yellow paint, he put a
warm, glowing light in the window of the
house. And suddenly, magically, the whole
scene was transformed -- that single light
overcame all the darkness and spoke of hope
and life!

This story reminds me of the impact the
birth of Jesus made on the world and the
entire history of mankind. As the Apostle John
declared, In Him was life; and the life was the
light of men
(John 1:4).

The light in the sky

For 400 years before the birth of Jesus there
had been no new Word from God, no
prophetic voice, no new revelations. Man's
attempts to control his own destiny had
brought confusion and disaster. The shadows
of sin and hopelessness had settled over the
land of Israel, and the whole world had sunk
into the dismal depths of unbridled sinfulness
and despair.

Then, with a stroke of God's hand, He
brightened the landscape of history and gave
hope again to a dreary world. He put a light
in the sky! The star of Christmas lit up the sky
and captured the attention of all men in all
nations.

Why a star? Why a light? The Almighty
could just as easily have spoken to mankind as
He did to the shepherds through the choir of
heavenly angels. Why was such a momentous
event as the birth of Jesus marked first by a
light in the sky?

I believe it was because when God flung
back the curtains of heaven and opened His
throne room directly to earth ... light poured
through as the Son of God made His entrance
into the world.

The earth was dreary, dark, and lonely. But
with a single stroke, God changed the picture
-- He put a light in the window.

The light in the stable

In Rembrandt's famous painting of the
nativity scene, all the light in the stable is
centered around the Christ child. This is a
fitting depiction, for He is the Source of all light.

It is no accident that the Son of God came
to a stable rather than a palace. He came, not
just to the rich, the privileged, the powerful
alone, but to all men -- even the poorest and
most humble.

Yet, the wealthy were not excluded from
His presence. Those Wise Men who sought
Him were obviously men of means, since they
brought rich gifts of gold and precious spices.
When they sought Him, humbling themselves
to come where He was, they, too, were welcomed.

Jesus said, I am come a light into the world,
that whosoever believeth on me should not abide
in darkness
(John 12:46).

The shepherds were the first to arrive on the
scene (see Luke 2:8-20; Matthew 2:11).
Sometime later there came the "kings," or
magi, from afar. Have you ever wondered why
they all didn't arrive at the same time to
worship Christ?

I'm told there is a prophetic significance to
the timing of those events -- that Christ came
to the Jews first, then to the Gentiles.

But all who came to find the Source of light
in the stable were received joyfully.

The light in our hearts

Today there is no single brilliant star
lighting up the sky. Nor do pilgrims to
Bethlehem find a divine light still emanating
from the place where once a rude stable stood.

Where, then, is the light of the world? It
still burns ... in the hearts of those who believe
in Jesus Christ and who receive Him as their
Lord and Savior. We are His luminaries in
today's world. If the people around us are to
see the light of Christ, they must see it in you
and me!

We ourselves don't have the ability to be
lights -- but we can be reflectors of the Light.
When we allow Christ's light to come inside
our hearts, the Holy Spirit, the transformer,
makes us lamps through which the light
shines.

God, through the Holy Spirit, transforms
the stable of men's hearts into the temple of glory!

The same Jesus who said, I am the light of
the world
(John 8:12) also says to us, Ye are the
light of the world
(Matthew 5:14). And we are
to let our light -- His light -- shine forth.

He said, If I be lifted up from earth, [I] will
draw all men unto me
(John 12:32). As we
allow Christ to be lifted up in our lives, He'll
do the illuminating. He'll attract others to Himself.

How often have you met a person who had
such a glow around him that you knew he was
a child of God even before you were
introduced to him? There is a kind of peace
and tranquility, a love that just radiates to
others. And people are drawn to such a person
because it is natural to be drawn to light.

In the neighborhood where Jack and I used
to live, the people on our block all decided to
put out luminaries as decorations at Christmas
time. A luminary is a simple brown paper bag
filled with enough sand to keep it from
blowing away... with a small candle inside.

A single candle didn't give off much light by
itself, but when the whole street was lined with
these luminaries, the whole neighborhood was
bathed in a soft, beautiful glow!

One of the ongoing themes of this ministry
is "Lighting New Fires of Revival,
Redemption, and Reconciliation" through our
outreaches. And I believe the way to kindle
those anew is to allow the
light of the Lord to shine through each of us.

I'm not talking about the fires of fanaticism
that break out of control and wreak havoc and
destruction wherever they go. Instead, I'm
talking about the glow, that divine light that
softly shines through and combines with the
light shining from other believers about us.

We must be faithful. We must not fail. A
world dying in darkness is looking for the
Light.

In the words of the familiar chorus:

This little light of mine,

I'm gonna let it shine,

Let it shine,

Let it shine,

Let it shine!