Weekly Newsletter – March 20, 2023
FROM THE HEART OF DR. REXELLA VAN IMPE
Just to Say, “Thank You!”
No story in the Bible more movingly pictures human gratitude than the healing of ten lepers in Luke 17:12-18 . . .
And as He entered into a certain village, there met Him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: and they lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.
And when He saw them, He said unto them, “Go shew yourselves unto the priests.” And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.
And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God. And he fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.
And Jesus answering said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? They are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.”
Have you too found that sometimes when a person gets what he wants, he forgets to say thank you? Throughout Jesus’ ministry, He was giving examples of how we should live. He knew – as He knew all things – that only one man would return to express appreciation. Thus, Christ wanted this story of the ten lepers recorded for future generations, so that we would know the importance of giving thanks.
Give Without Expecting Thanks?
I’ve heard it said that we should not “expect” thanks in return for the kindnesses we show. If we don’t expect it, we will never be disappointed in our fellow man. However, I believe that the attitude of being grateful and showing it is a biblical principle. Notice verse 17; it seems as if Jesus expected a “thank-you” from all ten lepers. He said, “But where are the nine?‘
Jesus was showing us a practical example of Colossians 3:15, “Be ye thankful.” Obviously, thanksgiving is expected of us. This is one reason mothers and fathers, while teaching their children to speak, emphasize the importance of saying “please” and “thank you.”
We expect such “common” courtesies even from toddlers. Naturally, it is disconcerting when adults are ungrateful in response to God’s kindnesses to them. How many of us follow the dictum of Colossians 3:15, “Be ye thankful“?
Bless the LORD, O My Soul!
In Psalm 103, we read a beautiful song of thanksgiving:
Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless His holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits:
Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; Who healeth all thy diseases;
Who redeemeth thy life from destruction;
Who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;
Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s. The Lord executeth righteousness. . . (Psalm 103:1-6)
Notice in this text that the psalmist recalls the “benefits” of serving God, and even lists them in his song of praise. Have you ever created such a list? The little Sunday School song that I learned as a child implores us to “count your blessings; name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done.” When we pray and give thanks to God, let us remember all the wonderful blessings He has bestowed on us!
I want to extend my gratitude to every supporter and friend of our ministry. Thank you all, dear ones, for your financial help, prayers, letters and encouragement.
We especially thank you whose lives have been changed for your notes and letters of testimony. Jack and I have had many praise sessions because of God’s word in your hearts.
The Impact of Encouragement
It would be virtually impossible to carry on this ministry to which God has called us without help and encouragement from precious friends like you. We need your encouragement: we thrive upon hearing about your triumphs and victories because God used our ministry to reach you. It is difficult to express the impact we feel as we receive hundreds of thousands of letters each year sharing such blessings. It is like a warm ray of sunshine on a cold winter’s day.
At His last supper, Jesus showed us exactly how important encouragement is at the darkest hours of our life. When Jesus had thus said, He was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.” Then the disciples looked one on another, doubting of whom He spake. Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved (John 13:21-23).
John could feel the Master’s burdened spirit and leaned his head on Jesus to express his love and concern. John wanted to give his Lord a measure of additional strength and encouragement. This example of human love from this disciple is so beautiful that it cannot be overlooked.
I am sure Jesus absorbed a great deal of love and respect from His apostles. I do believe, however. God laid it on their hearts to be extremely compassionate and supportive of the Lord Jesus especially because of the agony which lay ahead.
The Most Important Person on Earth
Jack and I thank you for the encouragement you have been to us. May our example help you to express appreciation to special people in your life for the blessings they have been to you.
For instance, when was the last time you said “thank you” to the person you hold dearest on earth? Remember your mate is a gift from God, and the Bible teaches us to love and respect each other. Read Ephesians 5:20, 25, and 28.
Ladies, when the man in your life opens the door for you, do you say, “Thank you, sweetheart”? Gentlemen, when the lady of your dreams fixes your favorite meal, do you remember to say, “Thank you honey, that was delicious!” (You might even say “thank you” when the roast is tough, especially when you have only been married for 10 weeks!) When your son or daughter plans a surprise birthday party for you, do you give him or her a loving hug and express gratitude? Oh how important it is to be mindful to say “thank you,” especially to those closest to us.
Thanks for the Memories
Parents, also, deserve our thanks. In fact, the edict to honor our father and mother is one of the Ten Commandments – and it is the first commandment with a promise. Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee (Exodus 20:12).
I am sure that there are many people who made an infinitely important impact upon your life, but who probably are not aware of it. Perhaps there was a teacher somewhere along the line who captured your imagination and helped you to learn. Would it not be a wonderful idea to write a thank-you note telling him or her of the great contribution that they made toward the success of your career and personal life?
I heard the story of a grown man who remembered his best school teacher from years past, and sent her a letter thanking her for all she had given him and his classmates. The teacher was in her 80’s now, and gratefully replied, saying: “I taught school for 50 years, and this is the first note of gratitude I have ever received!”
Likewise, your thank-you note would mean so much to someone today.
Most of us don’t take the time to thank our pastors or Sunday School teachers or ministers of music and youth for the hours they spent studying and preparing to help us in our spiritual walk. I feel confident they would appreciate knowing you are grateful and have been blessed by their ministry.
Saying “thank-you” will also enhance your opportunities to witness for Christ. When the clerk at the supermarket is helpful, look that person right in the eye and say, “Thank you.”
I know this is appreciated, because one young lady who has helped me many times at the store said to me, “You know, Rexella, you are the only customer who really looks at me, and this tells me I’m important to you.” I pray she sees more than just a look, but that through my eyes she sees Someone who cares for her deeply.
Of course, we could go on and on with a list of people who deserve our thanks, but as you open your horizon of opportunities to show appreciation, let me assure you that you will experience a great sense of satisfaction in expressing it.
H.W. Beecher said, “Pride slays thanksgiving. A proud man never thinks he gets as much as he deserves.”
The Bible tells us that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. In light of eternity, none of us “deserves” the many wonderful blessings which have been bestowed on us. Our sinful humanity deserves only eternal punishment.
Yet Christ in His infinite mercy provided a way of escape for us through His shed blood, and rewards us with eternal life. How can we not be thankful every moment of our lives? We did nothing to deserve all of His blessing; Christ did it all.
So there is no room for pride in our lives, and oh – so much room for thanksgiving! Let us rejoice this day and obey the command of Colossians 3:15: “Be ye thankful.”
A CLASSIC MESSAGE OF HOPE FROM DR. JACK VAN IMPE
The Realization of the Dream
Daniel 4:28 – 33
All this came upon the king Nebuchadnezzar.
At the end of twelve months he walked in the palace of the kingdom of Babylon.
The king spake, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?
While the word was in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, 0 king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee.
And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field: they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee, until thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.
The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles’ feathers, and his nails like birds’ claws.
It’s now a year later, and God has been patient with Nebuchadnezzar. Despite his earlier bent toward believing in the God of the Hebrews, the king remained stubborn, pretending he was an earthly ruler who would reign forever. Even as he hoped that his friend Daniel would be wrong, the prophecy began to be fulfilled. At the tragic moment when the king finds himself on the verge of a mental breakdown, he begins to engage in a sort of lonely soliloquy about his exploits as ruler of Babylon.
He was probably strolling on the roof of his palace as he spoke-grounds that covered a six-mile area-surveying his great city and all that he had done to make it one of the ancient wonders. His royal chest filled with pride as he boasted of accomplishments never done by others.
Yes, he had done some amazing things and was undoubtedly the greatest kingdom builder in ancient times. He had built two enormous temples and seventeen ornate religious shrines. His Hanging Gardens of Babylon were without equal, something the Greeks later declared one of the Seven Wonders of the World. He had constructed the famous Ishtar Gate-magnificent with its carved bulls and four-legged dragons etched in high relief. With the assistance of hand-picked engineers, he had designed and created amazingly intricate hydraulic systems that carried water effortlessly up from the Euphrates River to his gardens high above the city-gardens that housed some of the most exotic plants and trees of his day.
But as he reveled in his kingly accomplishments, the voice from heaven finally came, even as Daniel had prophesied one year earlier. It was finally over. Payday had arrived. At that moment, the king realized even the best laid plans of kings and men are as dust. The mills of God may grind slowly, but they grind exceedingly fine.
Surely and firmly judgment falls when people refuse to glorify God by taking full credit for their worldly accomplishments. Again, this is the scenario of the seven-year Tribulation period-a time in history when the greatest sin will be committed by another king-the infamous Antichrist, who will magnify himself above God (Daniel 11:36). God despises and judges such arrogance. That’s why Proverbs 16:18 declares, “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”
The Message of a Frog
As I was preparing this chapter I reminded my wife, Rexella, of a little story that speaks straight to this issue of pride. Once there was a little frog sitting on the ground. He watched forlornly as he saw the great birds of the sky flying overhead. Oh. if I could only fly like the eagles I would be extremely happy, he thought. Well, one day, two of the eagles were on the ground. The frog approached them, saying, “Say, I wonder if you two fellows would do me a favor. I’ve got this long stick, and if you’d just put it in your beaks, I could hang on to it, and we could fly through space together. I’ve always wanted to fly.”
The eagles agreed to the strange request, and slowly they lifted the frog from the comfort of his lily pad, up into the unfamiliar but exhilarating sky above, the frog hanging on to the stick for dear life. Before long, the other frogs turned their heads skyward and in disbelief-unable to see the stick-saw their little green friend ascending farther and farther into space. His friends on the ground began to praise this stunt saying, “What genius thought of doing this?” The frog’s ego at this point got the best of him when he shouted, “I-I-I did.” By doing so he lost his biting grip on the stick and plunged to earth in a humiliating landing.
My friend, we can do absolutely nothing on our own-no more than that frog could fly without some help from his friends. All we do and have are gifts from God. So the next time you are tempted to say, “I did it all on my own,” I hope you’ll remember the story of the frog-and that you’ll then quickly recall the pride of Nebuchadnezzar, a man who had accomplished great feats to make a name for himself but who, in the process, refused to give God the credit. As a result, he paid the price. He fell, even as Satan did, through pride (I Timothy 3:6).
Nebuchadnezzar’s Response to the Message of the “Watcher”
Daniel 4: 34 – 37
And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation:
And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him,
What doest thou?
At the same time my reason returned unto me; and for the glory of my kingdom, mine honour and brightness returned unto me; and my counsellors and my lords sought unto me; and I was established in my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added unto me. Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.
His reason now restored after his period of derangement, King Nebuchadnezzar swallowed his pride and raised his humbled eyes toward heaven. After his terrible experience as a mad monarch scratching out an existence as an animal, now he was finally willing to honor the true King of heaven. He recognized that all God’s works were true and that those who live out their days in pride will be humbled beyond recognition.
What brought Nebuchadnezzar to this realization? It wasn’t a miracle. When he saw the Hebrew children in the fiery furnace without a hair singed or a piece of clothing carrying the smell of smoke, and the fourth man in the furnace with them, and their walking out unscathed-that didn’t make him a believer. In Nebuchadnezzar’s case, it took the sickness of a deranged mind to bring him to his senses, and what a conversion experience he had. The truth we have seen again and again in this chapter is highlighted in Paul’s writing to the church at Rome:
“But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you” (Romans 6:17).
The message? There is hope for all.
In 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, we read,
“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”
But praise God, the apostle doesn’t stop there. In verse 11 Paul continues,
“And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”
The good news is always followed by even better news, that none of us needs to be what we once were. There is hope for us all-just as there was hope and an opportunity for restitution for King Nebuchadnezzar. Yes, he paid a great price for his transgressions, just as you and I will always pay a heavy toll when we turn our backs on the foundational principles that God has ordained. True repentance means turning “about face” and heading in God’s direction. When we do this, we no longer will want to do the evil we once did. Now, after all the fighting, kicking, and screaming Nebuchadnezzar did to distance himself from the one true God, he finally realized that he was the problem, and that his own sinful pride was the issue.
It took crawling around as an animal for a year to make him realize that he needed to square himself away with the true God. Nebuchadnezzar’s conversion changed him from the inside out. Yes, it’s a great, historically accurate story. But the deeper, underlying message of Nebuchadnezzar’s narrative- and his dream-is that this is all simply a precursor of the shattering events yet to come: seven years of Tribulation where unbridled humans will set themselves up as New Age gods, living unholy, prideful lives and worshipping seducing spirits, even when the obvious handwriting of warning begins to appear on the wall-the intriguing story and subject of chapter five.
CHANGED LIVES-one at a time
I realize that this will probably not reach you personally, but I felt led to send you this quick note. As a result of one of your husband’s early sermons back in the 1950s in Michigan, my Dad accepted Jesus as his lord and savior. My Dad raised all five of us kids in the church and lived his life very much in step with God. He passed away not long ago and I just know that he is with Jesus now watching over all of us – thanks in part to your dedication to sharing God’s word.
Thank you for all you do.
Thank you for all you do.
I try my best to have faith and believe.
Thank you for your help navigating the way for me.
Tammy L. in VA
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