FROM THE HEART OF DR. REXELLA VAN IMPE
Let the Doves Speak
I had the great privilege while I was growing up to sit under the ministry of a great teacher, Dr. H. H. Savage. He was the only pastor I ever had, a brilliant man with a great passion for souls and a far-reaching vision for missions. He was an articulate speaker who could reach out and touch one’s heart each time he entered the pulpit.
He was one of the first ministers to start a Christian radio program in the state of Michigan, along with the "Radio Bible Class" in Grand Rapids. On the air or in person, he was able to make Christianity a dramatic and exciting adventure. For example, out of the 103 young people in my teenage class, more than twenty of us felt a call to enter the ministry and ultimately went into full-time Christian work.
Because my brothers and I were musically talented and began singing at a very young age, I had the privilege of singing in the church and on Dr. Savage’s radio program from the time I was five years old. He was such an encouragement and blessing to me. Yes, he gave me the vision of being part of God’s work.
I have been so privileged and blessed from the beginning of my walk with Christ to be associated with people of excellence and having pure and godly motives. I was married very young, and when I left Dr. Savage’s church, I entered into the ministry with Jack Van Impe, who was already a marvelous preacher and well established in his evangelistic work. So I have been under some of the greatest preachers in the world with both my pastor and with Jack, my husband and ministry partner.
For as long as I have known him, Jack has been a great student of the Word, and it has blessed my heart to see him develop into one of the greatest prophetical teachers and preachers in the world today. Truly I believe that God chose Jack to be born for this day and age, and I certainly know that I was born to serve with him. How wonderful that is!
Recently in my personal devotional time, I read and reflected upon Matthew 5:3-11, the part of Jesus’ monumental Sermon on the Mount known as the Beatitudes. It had been some time since I’d read this passage, and it struck me that no one else could have given such a compelling sermon as this-not even Dr. H. H. Savage or Dr. Jack Van Impe.
This powerful message is not legalistic or impractical idealism. Instead, it is a call for a new way of life. Our Lord would not have given it to us if it were not attainable and workable. If He has called us to do it-and unquestionably He has-then He also has provided the grace and the help of the Holy Spirit to enable us to achieve it in our daily practical living.
Let’s take a look at these eight simple but profound statements-the Beatitudes. We will look at the first three this week and then conclude next week:
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:3).
Each of the beatitudes begins with the word blessed, which means "to be highly favored, honored, or set aside." It speaks of the deep soul contentment that comes not from what we experience as much as who we are. I want to be blessed, don’t you?
In this first Beatitude, I believe "poor in spirit" refers to humility, the authentic attitude of the heart that recognizes it is absolutely nothing-poor-without the Lord. It is the kind of spiritual poverty that is overcome only by total dependence upon Christ. At the same time, the person who is truly poor in spirit also recognizes that everything is his because of God’s great gifts.
Jesus demonstrated true humility when He knelt down and washed the feet of His disciples (see John 13:3-9). I can hardly imagine the God of this universe kneeling to wash the feet of these men, including Judas; the man Jesus knew would betray Him. This kind of humility comes only from the Lord.
The gospel account says that Peter’s initial reaction to the humility of Jesus was to refuse to allow his feet to be washed. But Jesus said, "If I don’t wash you then you have no part with me." So impulsive, reactionary Peter then pleaded, "Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head."
Maybe the essential point of this whole exchange was the Lord’s declaration that experiencing His humility is essential to relationship with Him. If we don’t have that kind of humility, we have nothing. But if we experience it, we are blessed...and the kingdom of heaven is ours! What an amazing promise.
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted (Matthew 5:4).
How can mourning be blessed? When it is for the needs and hurts of others! Our mourning is blessed when we are moved with a tender heart and compassionate spirit for the lost and those who suffer. Bob Pierce, the wonderful missionary who founded both World Vision and Samaritan’s Purse, once prayed, "Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God!" That’s the kind of mourning about which this verse is speaking. And without it, it is almost impossible for us to give comfort-or to receive it.
Do you remember Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10: 30-35)? A traveler was attacked by thieves who robbed him, beat him, and left him for dead by the side of the road. A priest came by and then a Levite, but they passed by without helping him. Then a Samaritan saw him and had great compassion on him. He gave the man first aid, put him on his donkey, and carried him to an inn. There he paid for the man’s care.
Perhaps the priest and the Levite felt pity for the unfortunate man, but they passed by. Pity says, "Oh, that’s terrible. I’m so sorry." But the Bible says the Samaritan had compassion, which mourns with one’s suffering and says, "Here, let me help!"
During His earthly ministry, Jesus certainly demonstrated compassion to people everywhere He went. He once ministered to a crowd of 5,000, and when they became hungry, He fed them all. When He saw sick people, He healed them. When He saw lost sinners, He loved them. Do you see the pattern? Pity costs nothing. But compassion feeds, heals, and loves!
Have you ever needed to be comforted? Is there a chance you will ever need it again? That blessing comes only to those who weep and mourn for the suffering of others...and give until it helps.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5).
Blessing comes to those with a gentle spirit and a calm attitude. Meekness is not weakness-it is the kind of strength that remains calm in the face of calamity. It is the person who can confront someone who has done wrong and keep his emotions under control, reaching out as a gentle servant of the Lord to lift up and restore the fallen.
Jesus sent His disciples out to minister, telling them to be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves (Matthew 10:16). Have you ever heard the voice of a dove? Their singing may be soft and soothing, but it is persistent. The voices of doves will not be hushed. The wisdom of the Lord enables us to deal with problems, with opposition, with the pressures of the world in meekness-not with anger and violence, but with gentle strength.
During one of the huge crusade rallies Jack and I conducted several years ago, a crisis situation arose. Jack was still speaking to people in the auditorium after some had already gone to the prayer room for counseling. Someone came to me and said, "Several motorcycle gang members are causing trouble in the counseling room-can you come do something?"
As I entered the room I saw seven or eight big tough-looking guys, mocking and laughing at what had happened as another counselor spoke with them. I said, "I’m Mrs. Van Impe, and in this room we ask everybody to stay in an attitude of prayer." One of them replied, "Aww, your husband spoke on hell tonight, and there’s no such place-it’s just a joke!"
With that, the Holy Spirit came on me, and I leaned close to the young man, looked him straight in the face, and said, "You may not believe it, but one day you will feel it. Every word Jack spoke tonight is backed up by the Bible, God’s Word, whether you believe it or not."
The biker and the rest of his friends looked startled - almost shocked. They didn’t know what to do with gentle strength. However, the Holy Spirit did His work and before they left the prayer room I led them all to the Lord. Praise the Lord! God blesses when we stand upon the Word and show gentle strength.
I believe we need to be different from the world. In the midst of the rush, let’s not forget to be gentle and have time for people. I believe once more we can experience what Solomon described-The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land (Song of Solomon 2:12 NKJV). Walking in the gentle strength of meekness, we shall inherit the earth.
LET THE DOVES SPEAK
We want to continue this week and look at the last five of the Beatitudes:
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after
righteousness: for they shall be filled (Matthew 5:6).
I believe this Beatitude refers to our having a desire to see justice around us, in our own country and around the world. Those who are blessed by God, foreseeing the needs of others, do things to help just because it is the right thing to do. They speak up for the poor and needy and for people in other lands who have not had the opportunity to live in freedom. Are we concerned enough about righteousness and holiness to be driven by these holy characteristics as urgently as our bodies respond to hunger and thirst?
This verse also makes me a bit introspective. I read it and ask, "How can I be righteous? How can I be right as I walk in this world?" I must die to self and selfishness and allow Christ to live His life in and through me! The apostle Paul said, the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20).
I believe that you and I can claim this blessing only when we truly hunger and thirst after holiness and doing what is right. Then what happens? We shall be filled...with righteousness and with His glory.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy
Mercy and righteousness are inextricably linked together. If we truly want righteousness, we get involved, we extend help to the needy, we assist, and we forgive those who have sinned against us. If it is within our power, we must show this kind of mercy to those we encounter. Can we not share the mercy that we ourselves have received?
The writer of Lamentations cried, It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness (3:22-23).
What a blessing to have the promise of God’s mercy as we show tenderness to others. What a joy to realize that goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life (Psalm 23:6).
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God
Everything that we have seen and experienced so far is by faith. None of us has ever had the joy of really looking at God. We have seen His handiwork, we have witnessed His love for us by sending His Son, and we have seen the attributes in Christ that He wants us to have. But we have never seen Him.
One day we will-if our hearts are pure. That is His promise.
To me, that will be the best thing about heaven. I’m not the most excited about seeing the golden streets and magnificent surroundings. And as much as I love and miss my wonderful mom and dad who are there (and I do want to see them with all of my heart), the first one I want to see in heaven is the Lord, my Savior and my God!
How, then, can my heart be pure? My pretenses and masks must go because purity of heart cannot be falsified-it must be genuine and sincere. My entire being cries out, Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me (Psalm 51:10).
This Beatitude, to my mind, is a foundation stone. It gets down to the crux of everything, doesn’t it? If you don’t have a pure heart, where is the authenticity to want to do the right thing? Without a pure heart, how can you be merciful?
Indeed, without a pure heart, I cannot see Him. And oh, more than anything in this world, I want to look upon His face!
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall
be called the children of God (Matthew 5:9).
The Bible teaches that we are to live peaceably with all men (see Romans 12:18). The Lord doesn’t want us to harbor hate, animosity, or intolerance. There will be no place in heaven for racists or exclusionary creeds. Humbly and gently, we are to seek solutions and to disarm hostility. The Bible says, A soft answer turneth away wrath (Proverbs 15:1). I believe that we should seek to be the kind of person who-at home, at church, at work, or wherever we go-can simply enter a room and change the atmosphere.
Another way we can bring peace is to help bring order out of chaos. Where there is clutter and confusion, simply stepping in to help organize and restore order reduces stress and tension. And we can have the courage to do this by calling upon the wisdom and guidance of the Holy Spirit.
The Word of God says that everywhere Jesus went He did good and destroyed the works of the devil-which produced peace (see Acts 10:38; 1 John 3:8). And Jesus said that if we believe on Him, the works He did we can do also, and even greater (see John 14:12). So as we go out and do what Jesus did, we will make peace, because He was, and is, the prince of peace, the greatest peacemaker the world has ever, or will ever know.
If you give this a try, don’t be surprised if people start calling you a child of God. After all, that is the Lord’s promise!
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake:
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men
shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of
evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding
glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they
the prophets which were before you (Matthew 5:10-12).
The idea of persecution being a blessing seems very strange, especially for believers in America. We have never experienced most of the things that missionaries and other Christians around the world have been forced to endure for the sake of the gospel. Yet Jesus said that we would have tribulation and suffering in this world. And for such monumental sacrifices, He said there would be great rewards and crowns.
I had great admiration for one of the girls in my home church. She married a minister and they went to South America as missionaries. The team with whom they were working was attacked by primitive warriors from the Auca Indian tribe, and my friend’s husband was one of the men who was killed.
The incident attracted international news coverage, and I vividly recall seeing a television interview with the father of the martyred young man. He was asked, "If you could have kept your son from going to South America and being killed as a missionary, would you have done so?"
I’ll never forget his answer. He shook his head and said, "Would I rob my son of the martyr’s crown?" Of course that father felt grief for his son’s death, but he expressed no bitterness or regret. He genuinely believed that his son would be blessed with a great reward in heaven because of the persecution he endured for the Lord (Revelation 2:10).
I truly believe all those who lose loved ones in God’s work receive a special measure of divine comfort. I believe God might well speak to their hearts saying, "I understand how you feel-I sent My Son into the world, and they crucified Him also."
The psalmist declared, weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning (Psalm 30:5).
My challenge to you
I encourage you to underscore Matthew 5:3-11 in your Bible and read those few verses often. Life itself is in that short passage. Let the Holy Spirit impress each phrase of the Beatitudes on your heart and stamp them indelibly in your mind.
Remember, this kind of living is possible! Jesus would not have spoken these truths if they were not accessible for all of us! I believe that when you and I hide these words within our hearts and then open our mouths to speak, the Holy Spirit will give us the words that we should say. And when these utterances come forth from our mouths...
...the voices of the doves will be heard!
Dona Nobis Pacem - Beth Nielsen Chapman
Grant us peace is our cry.
Jesus, The Prince of Peace, is our answer.
We may not have understanding but we can have His peace. This song is for a little boy who went home to heaven yesterday and now will celebrate his first Christmas with Jesus. Ricky, we prayed for you all the way home. The song is from from Beth Nielsen Chapman's "Hymns" CD. -Nancy (beanscot) 11/7/09.