Weekly Newsletter – January 21, 2019
A MESSAGE OF HOPE FROM DR JACK VAN IMPE
We want to continue our study in the book of Daniel by finishing up the first chapter.
Daniel 1:17 – 21
- As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.
- Now at the end of the days that the king had said he should bring them in, then the prince of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar.
- And the king communed with them; and among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: therefore stood they before the king.
- And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.
- And Daniel continued even unto the first year of king Cyrus.
There must be something about the power of beans. But for ten days? I think that’s about the only diet I haven’t heard about in all the hype and hoopla of today’s weight management programs. Of course, the beans and water didn’t make the difference-the food was simply the vehicle of faithfulness that God used to prove that He was God, and that there was no other.
Now that the experiment was over, Daniel and his friends began to focus on more serious business-such as praying to God to help them develop their gifts of wisdom, ability to discern truth from error, and the skill to differentiate between true dreams and false dreams. This was a lot for young shoulders to bear, but God was faithful to his four righteous servants, and He gave them more wisdom and knowledge than they ever could have imagined.
The Best of the Lot
We can safely assume that Daniel and his compatriots did not dine at the king’s table for the entire three years of their training. Yet, when the king took one look at Daniel and his friends, he realized there were no others in his realm who were as healthy or insightful as these four Hebrew boys. They had proved by their faithfulness to God-while maintaining an attitude of courtesy and respect for their foreign ruler-that God had sent them to the king’s palace, and that they were committed to serving their God. The king quickly picked up on this, and we read that:
“in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm” (1:20).
The Message for Today
What is the special word from God for us here? I believe God would have us understand that our heavenly Father wants us to be faithful, regardless of our circumstances. What if Daniel and his friends had chosen to compromise their ideals in that foreign environment? What if they had decided it made no difference to put on rolls of fat from the king’s bounty, to play around with foreign gods, to engage themselves with sensuous women, and to allow their active minds to accept the ungodly mind-set of Babylonian life? If they’d taken the easy way out, they would have been ineffective servants. Just four more captives doing their time.
And the king would never have honored them by saying, “I would trade ten of my best magicians and astrologers for one of these men because they have some supernatural power.” Ten times better! What a recommendation. What enviable job security. And what a God-given opportunity for Daniel and his friends to begin to influence a king and the affairs of an entire kingdom at the highest level. All this was taking place because four young, God-fearing men were filled with the Spirit of God and were determined to follow His commands.
As we move from one exciting page of the Book of Daniel to the next, we’ll notice that the expression, “The spirit of the gods” will appear often. As believers, we know there is only one Spirit, the blessed Holy Spirit. And when our Savior returns-a theme we’ll investigate as we go along-there will be only one power. The Nebuchadnezzar’s of the world will have had their day. The once powerful, high, and mighty will take a backseat to the Divine Redeemer who will come for His own. At that day there will be only one power, one driving force, and one Spirit. That’s why we are reminded in Ephesians 5:18 to “be filled with the Spirit.” The literal Greek reads, “Be being filled with the spirit.” It’s a continuous process.
The kind of filling that will energize you and me, just as it provided the power for Daniel to remain faithful to God during his time of trials in a foreign land. And just as Daniel stood boldly and confidently before King Nebuchadnezzar~ so we have received the mandate to demonstrate the boldness of Acts 1:8: “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”
In Daniel’s day, the wisdom of the world-which was Nebuchadnezzar’s world-was put to shame by the wisdom of God manifested in the lives of four committed young men. That same wisdom must be exhibited in our day-a time in history when a movement against the one true God is picking up speed and will march us to the end of the age. Daniel is not just a prophet from history, and his book is not just another book. It is our must-read guide to show us where we are heading, and the Book of Daniel will take us to a fuller understanding of the latter days and the great mysteries unsealed, beginning with Nebuchadnezzar’s amazing dream of a statue and Daniel’s fearless interpretation.
FROM THE HEART OF DR. REXELLA VAN IMPE
What a dramatic experience it must be for an infant to be born into this world! Leaving the security and warm comfort of its sanctuary just below its mother’s heart, the child is thrust suddenly into the noisy activity and bright lights of a completely different existence…in a whole new world.
How comforting and reassuring it must be for that tiny new being to look up into the face of its mother and gaze into the kindest, most loving eyes it has ever seen. There is grateful acceptance and a joyful welcome in that face, and that first look of love, I believe, is so important that it helps shape the entire life of that youngster. That look should-and usually does-carry special, deep meaning right on through all the child’s years on planet earth.
Sadly, for many children who enter the world these days, that look isn’t there. They never look up and see a gentle expression that says, “I’m glad you’re here.” Such deprivation, it seems to me, must have a negative impact on their early sense of security and well being, and may even affect their ability to relate to others in the critical growing-up years.
I got “the look”
I’m so grateful that I did read that overwhelming welcome in the eyes of my mother and father. As early as I can remember, that look of pride, joy, and approval greeted me every time I looked up at them. And I learned to check for “the look” as a reference point to help me along as I explored the world and ventured out to find my place in it.
When I was trying something new, or attempting to do something on my own, I could read in mother’s eyes-“Yes, go ahead,” or maybe, “Hey, you’d better be careful and hold back just a little bit.” My father was also a great source of guidance and encouragement just through “the look.” My parents never really had to say very much for me to understand where I was headed. I could always read their expressions…especially their eyes.
When I was a child, “the look” helped give me the courage to do my best in performing. I started singing in public when I was just five years old, and there were about 1,500 people in the church we attended. But if I felt a bit apprehensive while standing up before the crowd, all I had to do was look down at my mother. Her eyes would tell me, “You can do this…I’m so proud of you!”
At the end of a musical solo, Mom’s eyes might convey to me, Oh, honey, that’s the best you’ve ever done!
Of course, if I looked at my father, I would always see tears rolling out of his eyes. His eyes were always dripping with love, approval, and caring that said to me, “I can’t even begin to express how I feel, Rexella-I have to do it this way!”
Learning from “the look”
In high school, I was also very active in drama as well as music, and in my academic studies. The experience of introducing my songs before an audience gave me the confidence to try acting in plays. I found that I enjoyed learning to communicate from a different perspective.
But whether a solo performance, a choral concert, or a dramatic production, the first people I looked to after my performance were my parents. I could always determine if I had done a good job or not by “the look” I read in their eyes. Their expression would tell me, “Oh my, we certainly approve.” Or if I hadn’t done as well, I would read that in their expression. Of course, the tears rolled down my dad’s face at school, too-he could never control his emotions when it came to his daughter doing something.
This approval/caution feedback extended on into my adult life. I learned to recognize “the look” on other people’s faces and to be sensitive to their needs and feelings. After I was married and Jack and I were traveling the nation in evangelistic crusades, I found that I could stand before an audience and read body language and facial expressions like a book. In their eyes I saw the true identification of their hearts, and it revealed so much.
There might be thousands of people in an auditorium or stadium, but I could sense the people who needed to be there-those who needed the Lord. There was tremendous communication between them and me just through “the look.” When I stood up to sing, I could tell if they were truly receiving the message of my song or if they were just enjoying-or enduring-the performance.
I especially enjoyed interacting with the children. Youngsters are so openly honest and direct that it is usually easy to tell what they are thinking and how they feel. In more recent years, when we had an open house at our ministry headquarters and invited friends to come, the children would always attract my attention. I felt so free to get down and look into their faces to search out what they wanted to express. Often it was a look that said, “Thank you, Rexella, for having us today. I love being here!”
Communicating through “the look”
Before Jack and I went on television and our demanding production schedule kept us closer to home, I often traveled across the country to various ladies conferences. From the time I was twenty years old until a few years ago, I would speak before women’s groups as often as two or three times a month. So many times the Lord helped me to sense people’s needs, and the Holy Spirit directed my words because of “the look” that communicated so eloquently. Sometimes I’d even change what I had prepared to say and go a different direction. Maybe some little comment I didn’t realize was significant would seem to strike a nerve and reveal a special need. “The look” would instantly say, “Oh, yes! Help me, tell me, teach me!”
I’ll never forget the time in a crusade service when a lady came forward during an invitation-she was one of the pastor’s wives. I was immediately drawn to her because I could read the great need in her soul. Just one glance into her eyes told me the whole story, “Oh, Rexella, I’m not sure that I really know the Lord. I’m just not sure!”
I took her hand and said, “Honey, don’t rely on the past-let’s be sure right now.” I knew I needed to lead her to Christ, and she was so ready. So we prayed the sinner’s prayer together until the light of heaven broke through all her doubt and confusion.
I got a letter from this lady not long ago-she’s now going across Texas sharing her story about how she opened her heart to the Lord during our crusade.
Even more awesome than the marvelous communication between people that is transmitted through “the look” is knowing that the eyes of the Lord have followed you and me from the moment we were born. He knows everything about us, and has seen everything we’ve ever done.
In the Old Testament, God says, For mine eyes are upon all their ways: they are not hidden from my face, neither is their iniquity hid from mine eyes (Jeremiah 16:17). And He goes on-Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth? (Jeremiah 23:24).
The New Testament also testifies that neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him (Hebrews 4:13).
Pondering the wonder of Jesus
While I’m almost overcome by the idea that the Creator of the universe notices me, looks at me, and keeps track of my deeds, I literally tremble to think that He is aware of every failure, and careless act of my entire life. How could we stand before a righteous God if it were not for the amazing love of Jesus who loved us and gave himself as a sacrifice to redeem us from the penalty of our sins?
Such love is too great for me to comprehend! I can only ponder the wonder of Jesus whose shed blood has blotted out the record of all my sins-the things God has seen in my life of which He did not approve. God saw it all. He kept track of it. The penalty for my sin was a debt I owed that I could not pay. But Jesus paid it all. Everything bad that God saw in my life is gone-never to be remembered again! When I look into His face, there is no accusation of my guilt. His look is only total love and acceptance.
Talk about amazing grace! Why did my Lord love me so? How could He look at me with such compassion and forgiveness?
Do you remember the dramatic story of how Peter stood outside the high priest’s house where Jesus was being accused? Three times he denied that he was one of the Lord’s disciples, or that he even knew Him. About that time a rooster crowed, and the door of the house opened and they led Jesus out.
What’s in a look?
The gospel account says, And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And Peter went out, and wept bitterly (Luke 22:61, 62).
Notice that Jesus didn’t say a word to Peter-He just looked at him. But oh, how much Peter must have seen in that look!
Another gospel story tells how the Pharisees brought a woman to Jesus who was accused of adultery and asked if she should be stoned as the Mosaic Law prescribed. Jesus waited a bit, then looked at them and said, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone” (see John 8:7).
One by one the members of that self-righteous mob slunk away until no one was left except Jesus and the woman. “Where are your accusers?” He asked her, “Who condemns you?”
“No one,” she replied.
And Jesus, looking at her with great kindness and divine love, said, “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more!”
Oh, the wonder of His love that takes away every mistake – every sin and gives us a perfect heart! How marvelous to claim the precious promise found in 2 Chronicles 16:9-For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him.
Do you realize what this means? Our Lord’s eyes always see us and what we do for Him. He has seen my every performance, every word I’ve spoken on the crusade platform or before the television cameras, every article I’ve ever written. He’s seen everything that you have done in your whole life to serve and honor Him. When we run the race, He keeps track of the course and is aware of the obstacles. He gives us power to endure and supplies us with everything we need to finish the course!
Running for the reward
At the end of the race, when we stand before the Lord, rewards will be given out for our efforts in running the course. We will be rewarded-not just for what we did, but also for the motive behind our performance. Did we do it just for attention, to say, “Look at me!” If so, our efforts were to no avail. But if we did it for souls, for the Kingdom of God, we will receive an eternal reward that we can lay at the feet of our Lord.
And I can’t help but believe that even before the awards are given out, all we will have to do is to look up into the face of Jesus and “the look” will indicate our standing! We won’t have to wait to hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant” to know. Oh, we will hear those words if we deserve it, but just seeing the look on His face will tell it all!
The Olympics is always a great event with the attention of the world focused on the competitors who come from all over the world. They compete for a temporal reward-man’s recognition and the gold, silver, and bronze medals of achievement. The grandstands are full of cheering throngs of fans, and the Olympic judges are watching-never closing their eyes. They watch, judge, and reward every performance.
The Olympian competitors always appreciate and acknowledge the spectators in the grandstands, but when they finish their competition, they do not watch the fans. Their eyes are fixed upon the judges, watching to see if they can read their look to learn if they will be presented the prize!
The book of Hebrews says that we are in a very similar situation-that the great heroes of faith and all our loved ones and friends who have gone on to heaven before us are looking down and cheering us on. I believe that my mom and dad are in that crowd of heavenly witnesses. And as I run past, I’d love to see that look of approval from them again. But while I am aware of their encouraging presence, I want to finish my race with my eyes on Jesus!
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, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:1,2).
Let us seek for the approval of our Lord today and “His look” of approval tomorrow.
CHANGED LIVES-one at a time
Dear Drs. Jack and Rexella,
Thank you so much for your electronic letters. I’m not very good at this but hope it will reach you and let you know how much I love your letters each week. I have listened to your programs for many years now. I love the devotion you have for the Lord and to each other. Thank you so much! I look forward to another one should the Lord tarry. I so much want Him to come. This world is so sickening that you would give your few possessions to someone to get away from it all. Goodbye for now, your sister in Christ,
Dear Drs. Jack and Rexella,
This is to say a hearty, “Amen!” for your weekly newsletter. The time, effort, prayer and content put into each one is such a blessing, encouragement and source of learning. God continues to use you both in a marvelous way for His glory. I am grateful to Him and thank Him for you. May you keep on keeping on until He comes! God bless you.
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