July 6, 2015
Look for a new mobile-friendly www.jvim.com to be launched this coming Saturday, July 11, 2015.
A MESSAGE OF HOPE FROM DR JACK VAN IMPE
Last week we looked at the first four prophecies that were fulfilled in Jesus, and this week we want to continue in that study.
Ministering to the Poor and Needy
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn (Isaiah 61:1,2).
In the early part of His ministry, Jesus entered the synagogue in Nazareth on the Sabbath day and read this prophecy. Upon finishing, He closed the book, gave it to the minister, and sat down. As all eyes turned to Him, He said: “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears” (Luke 4:21).
The years that followed demonstrated the truth of His statement. The poor and needy came to Him and He received them. Lepers were cleansed. The blind were given sight. Lame men walked. Grieving people had loved ones restored to life, Even little children were not overlooked; He laid His hands on them and prayed for them.
The Messiah was a man of compassion, seeing people as sheep without a shepherd and longing to gather them to Himself as a hen gathers her chicks when sheltering them from danger. The rich and self-righteous were often bitter about His holy life and resented His authority in preaching, but the common people heard Him gladly.
He is despised and rejected of men… (Isaiah 53:3).
Desire sometimes colors judgment. Prophecies concerning the Messiah should have prepared the people both for His suffering and for His earthly kingdom of peace and justice. But the majority of Jews thought only of the glories of the messianic reign and the benefits it would bring to Israel.
Ignoring prophecies concerning the Messiah’s meekness and mercy and concentrating only on His might and power, Jewish leaders formed a picture of the Promised One that did not fit the gentle Jesus who went about ministering to the sick and taking time for little children. Their dreams of liberation and political power caused them to be blind to the total message of their prophets about the Messiah.
When He came, they despised Him.
They taunted Him with questions, hoping to embarrass Him publicly. They incited the people to riot and persuaded them to attempt His murder by stoning. They slandered Him with subtle comments about His virgin birth. They mocked His claims to deity and demanded He show some sign of His authority. They attributed His miracles to the devil. Finally, they collaborated with one of His disciples to betray him for thirty pieces of silver, another fulfillment of prophecy: “And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver” (Zech. 11:12).
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:5).
The suffering and death of Christ should not have come as a surprise to those who awaited the coming of the Messiah. Isaiah referred to Him as a lamb brought to the slaughter. He also described the suffering and shame the Messiah would be subjected to just before His death on the cross: “I gave my back to the smiters and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting” (Isaiah 50:6).
This same prophet wrote of the silence of the Savior before His persecutors and revealed that His grave would be with the wicked and the rich. Jesus was crucified between two thieves and buried in the tomb of the wealthy Joseph of Arimathea. Isaiah described the death of Christ and explained its significance seven hundred years before it took place.
Daniel foresaw the Messiah’s death and prophesied that He would be “cut off, but not for himself” (Dan. 9:26).
Zechariah wrote of the piercing of Jesus’ body and said He would receive wounds in His hands: “…and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced…” (Zech. 12:10). “And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends” (Zech. 13:6).
Perhaps the most remarkable prophecy having to do with the Messiah’s death is David’s description of crucifixion given in Psalm 22. Here the coming death of Christ on a cross is depicted about eight hundred years before that method of execution was used by the Romans. The Jews knew nothing of crucifixion at that time; capital punishment was carried out by stoning.
Beginning with the very words the Messiah would cry from the cross (“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”), this Psalm accurately expresses the agonies of that awful death. In his book, Christ in the Psalms, the late Dr. William Pettingill calls Psalm 22 the “Psalm of Sobs,” saying it is a picture of our Lord’s crucifixion written a thousand years before the event.
The footnote given in the New Scofield Reference Bible on Psalm 22 is excellent:
Psalm 22 is a graphic picture of death by crucifixion. The bones (of the hands, arms, shoulders, and pelvis) out of joint (v. 14); the profuse perspiration caused by intense suffering (v. 14); the action of the heart affected (v. 14); strength exhausted, and extreme thirst (v. 15); the hands and feet pierced (see v. 16); partial nudity with the hurt to modesty (v. 17), are all associated with that mode of death. The accompanying circumstances are precisely those fulfilled in the crucifixion of Christ…
But the crucifixion was not the end, as we cover see in our next newsletter.
FROM THE HEART OF DR. REXELLA VAN IMPE
AM I ADDICTED?
When we hear the words “addict” or “addiction,” it seems that our chest involuntarily tightens and our heart drops in dread and alarm. Alcoholism and drug dependency-whether marijuana, crack cocaine, methamphetamines, heroin, ecstasy, or powerful prescription painkillers-are problems of crisis proportion in virtually every community in our nation.
Literally billions of dollars are being spent waging a futile battle against drugs-it is a war we are losing and cannot win because it is a key prophetic sign of the end-times, pointing to the soon coming of our Lord. Almost weekly the media sources try to personalize this pervasive plague, showing various individuals-often young people-who have surrendered their minds and given their bodies over to horrendous, destructive addictions.
Have you ever known an addict? Perhaps this person wasted all his or her resources on drugs, maybe even stole from family and friends, or got involved in crime or prostitution to feed his or her enslaving habit. It’s heartbreaking to see bright, decent people sink so low that they literally can’t help themselves. I’ve known drug-enslaved youngsters who went into rehabilitation programs and seemed to be all right for a while. But too often they ended up right back on drugs, more hopeless than before.
Is addiction killing America?
Besides alcohol and drugs, Americans struggle with countless other awful addictions. Millions are obsessed by gambling, uncontrolled spending, pornography, illicit sex, and other vicious vices. Millions more spend hour after hour surfing the Internet, playing video games, or sitting like zombies in front of TV sets watching inane and immoral programs. And in a land of abundance and excess, two-thirds of Americans are obese, literally eating themselves to death, fatally addicted to food!
Is this addiction? I believe so. When these activities habitually and obsessively control people’s behavior, causing them to develop a compulsive need for whatever controls them, they are addicts! And these kinds of addictions are powerful…and potentially deadly.
I’ll never forget a teenaged girl I met on the street in downtown Toronto a few years ago. Jack and I had gone to enjoy a few days of relaxation and rest there, and had gone out for a late-night walk. Summertime Toronto is a very safe and wonderful place to walk, with thousands of other people out enjoying the lights and sights of the city.
When we stopped at a corner to wait for the traffic light to change, this teenager came up to me and said, “I know you-I’ve seen you on television.” I greeted her, and we talked for a brief moment. I sensed from her appearance and facial expressions that she probably was part of the drug culture. She told me that sometimes when she couldn’t sleep at night, she went over to a store window with a display of television sets and watched our program, “Jack Van Impe Presents….”
Then she asked, “Where are you going, Rexella?
I replied that Jack and I were on our way back to our hotel-that it was about bedtime for us. And I asked, “Are you going home tonight?”
Her answer burned into my very soul-“I am home,” she said, “I live on the street!”
Just then the stoplight changed, and a flood of people surged off the sidewalk into the street, carrying us along with them. Somehow I lost my new friend in the crowd. I looked for her when I got to the corner…I even went back across the street trying to find her. But I never saw her again. The Lord knows where she is-where all of the lost and addicted souls are who are wandering in the dark.
I often think about that teenager and the sad look on her face whenever I pray about the problem of addicts. I hope she watched our telecast again and received words of hope and encouragement, and that the Lord has helped her get off the streets and free from her addiction.
Can we be addicted to good?
According to the dictionary, one of the definitions for addiction could have a positive connotation-“a compelling motivation.” I believe this is what the Apostle Paul was exhibiting when he declared in 1 Corinthians 9:16, Woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!
He was saying, “I am compelled to share the gospel. There is something about my calling that is so powerful that it is like an addiction. There is nothing else I can do but preach-I can’t help it, I must do this.” No wonder he wrote in Romans 1:15, I am ready to preach the gospel….
Paul’s calling must have been a “compelling motivation,” because he traveled all over the known world of his day preaching the gospel, making converts, and planting churches. In some areas he was accepted, honored, and lauded, but in many other places he was met with opposition and persecution. No doubt there were plenty of times when he might have turned back had it not been for his addiction to the gospel and carrying out the Great Commission.
Acts 14 relates how unbelievers sought to stone Paul and Barnabas in Iconium, but they escaped and went to preach at Lystra. Then his persecutors did stone Paul there and left him for dead. But he managed to get up and go to Derbe, another city in the area, to preach. After teaching many people there, Paul headed right back to Lystra and Iconium to minister in the very places where people had tried to kill him.
Later Paul listed some of the persecution and trouble he faced in order to carry out his calling. He spoke of being in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness (2 Corinthians 11:23-27).
Why would Paul take such risks and endure such pain and hardship? He was an addict to his calling. He had to go, even if it meant facing persecution. “I have to do it,” he said, “for woe is me if I preach not the gospel!”
Paying the price
There is a price to be paid for serving God. Those who are not sold out, soul and body, to their commitment to Christ and their calling to His commission may find the Christian lifestyle too arduous and difficult. Some have turned back and said, “This is not for me.” But many, many others have given their all to the cause of Christ-they became addicts who gave themselves so completely to the Lord that they could do nothing else.
We have a great host of tremendous examples, all the way back to the first disciples. All of them became martyrs for the Lord-they were all murdered for their faith, every single one. And there are other great Christian champions in almost every era.
Some years ago Jack and I were in Europe visiting England, where I was privileged to interview some noted church leaders in that country. During a visit to historic Westminster Abbey, I was particularly drawn to the burial site of David Livingstone, the renowned missionary to Africa.
Livingstone was born into a poor Scottish family, and began working fourteen-hour days in the cotton mill at age 10. He went to night school for two hours after work each day, and would also prop books on his machine so he could study while working. Later he studied medicine and theology in Glasgow, and soon felt called to go to Africa as a missionary.
Asked why he would leave Britain to go to the “dark continent,” where he most likely would give his life and die, Livingstone said simply, “I am compelled by the love of Christ.”
For the next thirty years he served God in Africa as a missionary preacher, physician, scientist, anti-slavery activist, and explorer. He trekked over and mapped an amazing one-third of the continent. When Livingstone died on May 1, 1873, kneeling by his cot in prayer, his faithful African friends buried his heart at the foot of a giant tree, mummified his body and carried it almost a thousand miles to the coast. A ship carried his remains to London, where he was buried in Westminster Abbey on April 18, 1874. That day was an official day of national mourning in England.
When I stood in that famous old church and read the memorial marker for Livingstone, I was impressed by both his total life sacrifice and his remarkable accomplishments for the Lord. “Compelled by the love of Christ,” he helped change the course of history in Africa and strike a powerful blow against slavery world-wide.
Buried next to Livingstone in Westminster Abbey is his brother, John. While David was preparing himself for a lifetime of missionary service, John’s ambition was to find a way to earn lots of money. Apparently he was successful and became very wealthy. I believe he also became a famous cricket player, and enjoyed fame and adulation in addition to his affluent lifestyle.
None of these things were worthy of consideration when John’s memorial marker was inscribed. There is no mention of his wealth, fame, or position. The marker reads simply: John Livingstone, The brother of David Livingstone.”
Isn’t that astounding? All of John’s riches and privileged lifestyle amounted to nothing in the end. But David Livingstone’s addiction to the gospel-being compelled by the love of Christ-will be recognized forever, both here and in heaven.
I live with an addict!
For an example of a person “addicted” to the work of the Lord, let me take you a little closer to home-in fact, to my home. I have had the privilege of spending a lifetime with my dear husband, Dr. Jack Van Impe. And from the beginning of our life together, I realized that he was absolutely an addict when it came to serving the Lord.
For many years we traveled all over the world ministering in churches, later in large community auditoriums, and doing everything possible to win souls to our Lord. In those days we spent far more time on the road than we did at home. It took dedication, hard work, and an all-consuming passion for soul-winning and for giving people hope and comfort in a troubled world.
But that’s not all. There is absolutely no way for me to fully describe Jack’s determination-no, compulsion!-to memorize the Word of God. For weeks, months, years, he spent hours every day studying handwritten cards with Bible verses written on them. Not only did he memorize each verse and where it was found in the Bible, but also its subject. That’s why today, it’s not unusual to hear him quote a dozen verses from various parts of the Bible relating to a specific topic. It’s amazing, even to me after all these years.
But I know what it cost him-hours and hours and hours of daily study to memorize them…and ongoing hours and hours every year to review and refresh those verses in his mind, even today.
And that’s still not all. For many, many years now, Jack has averaged reading at least one book a day, studying the Bible and prophetic topics, as well as history, current events, and international politics. When he speaks so authoritatively on television, applying the Word of God to today’s news about events and world leaders, he knows what he is talking about. He is an absolute addict to his ministry!
By the way, Jack and I produce fifty television programs a year, in addition to the videos, books, magazines, and other ministry projects. The average TV sitcom does only twenty-seven or twenty-eight shows per year. We’ve been producing fifty programs annually for years. Is the extra work worth it? Absolutely! We get thousands of letters from people who say they prayed the prayer with Jack at the end of the program and accepted Christ into their hearts.
When we go out to a restaurant or a shopping center, we’re almost always bombarded by people who’ve seen us on TV and just want to say hello or share a brief testimony. One evening we were stopped nineteen times on a short walk.
Our office has record of more than two million precious people who have come to Christ through the outreaches of Jack Van Impe Ministries. At a time when others might be thinking of slowing down, he still is addicted to helping others open their hearts and lives to our Lord! Full speed ahead!
Are you an addict?
What about you? Even if you are not called to a pulpit ministry, or to minister on television, or in a church setting, I believe God has given you a special gift to share with others. There is a way you can serve the Lord-in fact; there may well be people you can reach with the gospel who might not respond to anyone else in the whole world.
Wherever God has placed you is your mission field! How can you be a witness to those in your world? Are you taking advantage of your unique opportunities to be used of the Lord?
What if you set a goal to share a testimony, a word of witness, or to stand up for what is right at least once each day? You wouldn’t have to be a preacher, or have dozens of Bible verses memorized, or be a trained counselor. What if you just shared what God has done in your life? If you are willing to do it, someone will listen!
Become an addict for good, for God…driven by an all-consuming passion to do something-anything-for the Lord today.
CHANGED LIVES-one at a time
Dear Drs. Jack and Rexella,
I have been receiving your email newsletters for several years. Your writings are very inspirational and uplifting. I also enjoy your TV broadcast when I can catch it. The best thing is your consistent use of the Scriptures!
I am a recently retired pastor, and now have found more time for reading and listening. Please keep sending the emails.
Drs. Jack and Rexella,
So very glad to receive your messages both online and on television, for so many years you have brought our Lord and Savior to people, God Bless you Both, and we pray for your happiness and well-being and thank you for bringing the Son into so many hearts and lives, and we pray that many more will receive; we love you and what you do 🙂
“Wishing you Peace, Love and Happiness”…
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