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Archive for December, 2020

Standing on the edge of yesterday and the brink of tomorrow

David, the psalmist King, often reflected on his past only as a reminder of how the Lord had helped him. He used these memories to help him focus on the future with faith and hope in Almighty God.

If it had not been the Lord who was on our side! Let Israel now say—If it had not been the Lord who was on our side when men rose up against us, then they would have swallowed us alive when their wrath was kindled against us. Then the waters would have overwhelmed us,. The stream would have gone over our soul. Then the swollen waters would have gone over our soul. Blessed be the Lord who has not given us as prey to their teeth. Our soul has escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowlers; The snare is broken, and we have escaped. Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth. (From Psalm124)

A plot has been devised to destroy every Christian’s faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, but God has extended His protection, His strength, and His power to His children. David describes this plot as being like a trap set by a bird catcher. It appeared he had trapped us, but by God’s grace the snare was broken, and we escaped. Who broke the snare for us? The Lord! He’s our helper. When the snare is broken, we have to run away from it. (See Psa. 124:7)

One of the most prevalent ways the enemy traps us is getting us to take offense. Jesus said, Offenses will come![i] We cannot prevent them from coming. But we’re also told, Great peace have they which love thy law; and nothing causes them to stumble. (Psa.119:165). Whether to take the offense or not is our choice.

The Israelites were offended that God sent them the same food every day. They felt they deserved better. They blamed Him for bringing them out of Egypt—where they were slaves—to this free place where He did the grocery shopping for them every day! I can’t imagine anyone being unhappy about not having to slave in the mud to make bricks while a soldier stood by ready to beat them if they didn’t work fast enough. Yet here they were, complaining. It’s true, they left their homes behind never to be revisited, but rather than seeing their future prosperity, they took an offense toward God, became bitter, and began making their list of demands. What might have happened if they had said, “God we wish you would vary the menu a bit; nevertheless our hearts are full of gratitude that you’re feeding us and we don’t have to make bricks in the hot sun anymore. It’s okay, God. We love you. And we thank You for the manna.” With this attitude, who knows what blessings God might have poured upon them.

Like the Psalmist, I look back over my life and say with conviction, If it had not been the Lord who was on my side, where would I be? I can point to specific times and situations where I realize that nothing or no one except the Lord could have saved me. David comments that men rose up against him and his people to destroy them. I have experienced this. We have all been between a rock and a hard place. We have been pressed into doubting that God really cares at all about us. We have wondered whether He really hears when we cry out to Him. Then we understand the Psalmist’s joyous exclamation: If it had not been the Lord who was on our side… When it looked like an impossible situation, God made a way of escape.

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. (1Cor. 10:13).The word picture here is one of a strong column or pillar that holds up an overpass. In other words, God will strengthen us and uphold us that we may be able to get through the danger zone. Many of God’s people have been on the brink of ruin only to see God intervene miraculously at 11:59 and 59 seconds!

When their anger flared against us, they would have swallowed us alive. Why? Whenever a person allows anger to build up inside, he strikes out at his target. He shoots daggers at it. I know how that feels. I’ve been that target! I could literally feel the fiery darts trying to penetrate me. I felt like I was about to drown under the circumstances. The Psalmist understood this feeling well.

The flood would have engulfed us, the torrent would have swept over us, the raging waters would have swept us away. The anger of our enemies, like water, poured over our lives. They were determined to destroy us, our comforts, and all that is dear to us. But remember what God has promised? When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and when you pass through the rivers, they shall not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; and the flames will not set you ablaze. (Isa.43:2)

Did He not do this for the Israelites as they fled from Egypt? They stood with the Red Sea in front of them and Pharaoh’s army coming upon them from behind. The Lord was on their side! He parted the waters so they could go across on dry land, and then He brought the waters back together to swallow up their enemies. Did He not do this for Daniel? He didn’t escape the lion’s den, but the Lord was in there with him and shut the lion’s mouth so he wasn’t harmed . (see Daniel 6). Did He not do this for Shadrach, Meshack, and Abednego ?(see Daniel 3) They did not escape the furnace, but the Lord was in there with them and didn’t allow them to be burned. And most assuredly, He has done that for me! Of course, I would like to have avoided going through the waters and the fires, but with the Lord was on my side, so why should I fear what man could do to me? (Psa. 118:6)

Satan is seeking whom he may devour (1 Pe.5:8).  He is a thief and has come to steal our joy, our health, and our assurance of salvation; then he’ll kill us and totally destroy any evidence of our existence. He’s not content to just tear us to pieces; he wants us lost forever! But Blessed be the Lord who is on the side of His children. The victory, my friend, is in our soul! Paul and Silas were in prison and their feet and hands were placed in stocks so they couldn’t move. Their enemies had succeeded in stopping their bodies, but their souls were free! They had escaped the snare of the fowler. They sang praises at midnight when all was dark and looked hopeless. Yes, they sang praises! Those praises broke through the enemy’s territory, and God sent an earthquake and set Paul and Silas free. (see Acts 16). The Lord lives in our praises (Psa. 22:3).

OUR HELP IS IN THE NAME OF THE LORD

Which lord? The Lord who made heaven and earth (Psa.124:8). We may be caught in a situation where we have no helper but God. Rehearse the praises penned by so many who have been where you are. Think about His love. Think about His goodness. His Name is higher than any other. His name is Jesus! Jesus! Oh, how sweet the Name. Jesus! Name above all names. There’s healing in the Name of Jesus. There’s deliverance in the Name of Jesus. There’s victory in the Name of Jesus. Blessed be the Name of the Lord!

Up to now, we have stepped across many timelines from one day to the next, one week to the next, one year to the next. We remember with the Psalmist, If it had not been the Lord on our side, we would not have been able to walk across the bridge that took us from the edge of one time period to the brink of the next.

When the Israelites stood at the Jordan River and wanted to cross into Canaan Land, they could not look back to their failures. They had to let go of the past and forgive. They had to march forward to the land flowing with milk and honey. As a nation, they had missed the opportunity once, but they determined not to miss it again. The Lord said to them and their leader, Joshua, forget the past, press toward the future. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law… Be strong and of good courage; Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go (Josh 1:9). The Lord is on our side!

We’re at the end of a year that people have been wishing away since March., and we’re on the brink of a brand-new year. Exactly what lies ahead, no one knows, but everyone hopes Covid19 will somehow disappear from the scene.

Every day is the edge of a yesterday and the brink of a tomorrow. Every day is a day of decision and choices.

If you are not a child of God, pray now. Ask Jesus to forgive your sins and come into your heart. If you have grown weary and fainted in your Christian life, repent. Confess your weaknesses and transgressions to the Lord. Give Him your failures and disappointments, discouragements and defeats of the past. Determine to serve Him with all of your might as long as He gives you life. Follow Jesus.        Acknowledge the Holy Spirit as your helper. Be sure you are on His side. Then you will have the assurance that the Lord is on your side and you can say, Whether I live or die, I am the Lord’s I know (Rom. 14:8).

That’s victory! That’s joy! That’s real living! That gives great hope for tomorrow. That’s what I did. Now I look forward to God’s deliverance in the difficult situations of life. He’s the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. He goes before me and comes behind me. Everywhere I am, He is. He is the foundation upon which I build. He is the Author and Finisher of my faith. I am the apple of His eye. I am engraved in the palm of His hand.

yvonnekarl@gmail.com

Edited from The Alabaster Box Vol.11 No 01. © C. Yvonne Karl

Angels? I choose to believe, yes!

Do you believe in angels? I do. Have you ever been led by an angel? I have. Many times. Let me share a few simple stories that profoundly impact my belief in angels.

Mom and her little girl

On the way home from a Bible study when our daughter was almost three years old, I looked in the backseat to see how she was doing – and she wasn’t there! I turned all the way around and saw an open door. With all calmness, I said to the driver, “Please stop the car; Caroline has fallen out!” It was raining, and we were in the city so we weren’t going fast. I jumped out and saw Caroline hanging onto the handle of the swinging car door with her knees pulled up to her chest. She had not touched the pavement! I checked her out and we got back in the car. Then she began to cry – not because she was hurt; she didn’t have a scratch—but because her clothes were wet from the rain. Oh, I had believed in angels before, but that day I believed in angels again!.

Time Passed

Mom and her two little ones

It was a lovely fall day. I was in the middle of a seven hour drive from Detroit to West Virginia to visit my parents. My five-year old daughter was in the back seat reading her books to me. My infant son was in the car bed secured beside me on the bench seat in the front (would not be permitted today!). Suddenly the car jolted. As I pulled off to the side of the road, there was a tin-can sound banging beneath me. I was clueless. Carefully, I opened my car door, got out, and bent down to look under the car but saw nothing. As I walked around to the other side, I saw it laying a little distance behind me. I knew enough to know it was the muffler. In those days, we did not have a phone to carry with us. What to do? Pray! Father, help! Show me what to do. Immediately a driver pulled off the road in front of me. A disheveled old man looking every bit of 80+ years old, tall and lanky. At that point, he looked into my car and saw my little ones. Without question, he knew my predicament and said: “I’ll tie it up for you ma’am and follow you to the service station up the road.” My mind was saying he wasn’t strong enough to lie on the ground and scoot up under the car to make that connection, but he brought some wire from his trunk and went to work. By then his female companion, looking every bit as old as he, had come to join us and talk to me while he was scooting under the car.

I was still in disbelief, feeling so indebted to this man who was obviously older than my grandfather, and praying he wouldn’t hurt himself. It occurred to me I didn’t have any extra cash—only enough for the trip. I told this to the lady and gave her paper and pencil from my purse to write down their address (assuming they were a married couple) so I could send them some money later. She refused, saying “Oh no! He’s not doing this for money. He just sees a lady in distress and wants to help.” I begged her to at least give me the address so I could send a thank-you card later assuring her my husband would feel greatly indebted to them for stopping to help. At last, to shut me up, she scribbled down a name and address in another state.  He completed the task and told me to follow them to the gas station and the attendant would tell me what I had to do.

At the station, he simply waved good-bye and they continued on down the road. I explained to the attendant what happened and he got down under the car to check it out then allowed me to use their phone to call my husband. I told Julius what had happened and put the attendant on the phone. He reported to my husband that the muffler was secure and would hold up just fine until I got to my parents’ house. I breathed a sigh of relief, thanked him for his help (with no charge even for the telephone call), and got back on the road.

A week later when I got back to Michigan, my husband and I wrote a thank-you note and put $20 with it and mailed it to the address the lady had given me. Within a few days, the note came back to us in the mail stamped: “No such address.” We double checked the address she had given me with what I had written on the note. Correct. We looked at each other and knew immediately that those two were angels sent by God on assignment that day—and I and my little children were the targets.

Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for in doing so, some have entertained angels without knowing it (Heb. 13:2).

Many times we write people off because of how they look, dress, or behave. In no way did this couple give any possible hints or clues that they could be angels. I’m convinced we spiritually discern between their actual form and how they have appeared. Their true and actual form has not been fully revealed to us. Many stories have been penned—both truth and fiction—about angels. And I’m quite sure those of you who are reading this now have already recalled times where you were convinced you were helped by intervention from angels—even though perhaps unaware of it at the time. I choose to believe.

Be careful how you treat people. You just might be unaware. They might be angels disguised as people.

Time Passed

My two little ones were in the car with me as we headed a couple of miles from our house to the church where would meet dad for lunch. Just before the railroad tracks, the back, driver’s side, tire blew out. It was flat! We had no choice but to leave the car and walk the rest of the way. Only about a mile, but it was a challenge—walking on the narrow gravel shoulder along the road and across the tracks. I had to carry the one-year old while the six-year old held tightly to my hand as we sang loudly: “All night; all day. Angels watching over me, my Lord!” That day no car stopped to see if they could help, but I’m convinced that my little daughter, as well as I, were acknowledging that the angels were accompanying us to the safety of Daddy’s arms. I choose to believe.

Years Passed

Near midnight, after visiting my husband in a hospital for several hours, I left to discover a heavy snowfall and no footprints to follow. In those days there was no car alarm button on the keys. Prayer led me to find my car in the parking lot. As I cleaned the snow off the windows, I asked the Lord to get me to the exit and show me which of two routes to travel home. Right then, a little yellow Volkswagen appeared in front of me. Its tail lights were shining brightly and since there were no visible car tracks on the road, I just followed that car. It proceeded steadily at 30 MPH and led me from one highway to another for 25 miles—right to my street. There it paused momentarily while I turned and went to the second driveway—my home. I knew for a fact that the Lord had sent an “angel out before me to keep me in the way and to bring me into the place…” (Ex.20:23). I choose to believe.

My Perspective on Angels

The above stories don’t even scratch the surface of the numerous personal stories I could tell about how angels led and protected me at various times in my life—some of them even when I was seriously injured in accidents, one of which was thousands of miles away in South Africa in 1999. I lived to tell about them, and to me that is proof in itself of “ministering angels.” I choose to believe.

In South Africa with Ruth Nortje, my hostess and the one driving when we were broadsided very close to her address after she picked me up at the airport. You can see the injuries on her face. I had a broken wrist and five broken ribs. I had been invited to speak to a group of professionals. Where were my angels? My response: I was there to share some specific biblical principals so I was on holy ground … and for sure there were angels all around. Although experiencing tremendous pain when getting up and down, it did not interfere as I fulfilled my responsibilities.

 

 

Theological Incongruity?

There comes a theological argument at this point. How, when, where and to whom does God choose to send His ministering angels? Why not in every situation? Why did my wonderful Christian loved ones die in accidents? Where were the angels at that moment? I do not have the answer to these questions. It is only that I give God thanks, praise and all the glory for those times when I was aware of their presence.

What the Bible teaches us about Angels

Throughout the Bible, we read about ministering angels who lead, guide, protect and strengthen God’s people. “For He shall give His angels charge over thee to keep thee in all thy ways” (Psa.91:11). “But … the angels … are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” (Heb.1:13-14).

Jesus said, “I am the Way …” God says that the angel will keep us on the Way and bring us into a place—a place that He has prepared, a place of victory, a place of restoration, a secret place of the Most High—under the shelter of the Almighty (Psa.91:11).

Apostle Peter freed by angels

The Apostle Peter had experiences with angels. One specific account in Acts 12 tells how the angel of the Lord led him. He had been apprehended and put in jail with sixteen soldiers placed around him to keep him from escaping. In addition, he was bound with chains and there were other guards placed at the doors. Obviously, his enemies wanted to be sure that he could not escape. “The angel shall go before thee and keep thee in the way…”

Do you ever feel like you have guards all around you? Like your hands and feet are tied? You feel bound and helpless against the obstacles and circumstances in your life? Peter was in that situation; he knew he needed help and he trusted the Lord to send it. So he went to sleep!

Please note in verse five that while he was sleeping and allowing his body to be restored, the church was praying for him without ceasing. When we see a brother or sister in bondage, we need to pray until he/she is delivered.

“And behold the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison; and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, ‘Arise up quickly.’ And his chains fell off from his hands” (Acts 12:7).

The angel of the Lord showed up. The light shined on him in his bondage. The angel smote (slapped) Peter. That’s the beginning of cutting off the bondage. When it happens to you, it feels like you are being slapped around when really it is the angel of the Lord trying to get your attention. Peter obeyed the voice of the angel and got up. Immediately his chains fell off.

“Then the angel said to him, “Put on your clothes and sandals.” And Peter did so. “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me,” the angel told him.” (Acts 12:8).

The angel didn’t say “Come here, and I will dress you.” No. He commanded Peter to dress himself and to follow him. And Peter did! He obeyed the voice of the angel!

Peter had spent time with Jesus and had been aware of the angels ministering to Him. I believe Jesus had taught Peter about the angels and therefore he just knew to obey. “Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision. They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went through it. When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him.” (Acts 12:9-10).

The angel led Peter out of bondage, through two wards and through the iron gate. Iron stands for judgment and the Lord says that for iron He will give us Silver (redemption!) (Isa. 60:17) . The iron gate could not hold him; all the judgment against Peter just melted away. The angel had come to lead him out of prison. He led him into the city. I believe this is symbolic of Zion, the city of our God. And he led him right through a street—onto Praise Avenue! At that moment, the angel left because Peter knew where he was and could again go free.

Angels and Us today

I wonder how often the Lord has sent angels to lead us out of bondage and we didn’t recognize them. We just thought they were a yellow car, a unique circumstance, another person. But now we are free. We know where we are. Jesus said, “Blessed are you who believe and have not seen” (Jn. 20:29). The angels are ministering spirits sent forth to minister to us as an heir of salvation (Heb.1:14).

You are not fighting a battle single-handedly. There is a host of angels encamped around about those who love the Lord. Prepare for an angel of the Lord to lead you, to protect you on the way, and to bring you to a place of victory.  “All night, all day, angels watching over me, my Lord.” I choose to believe!

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The Alabaster Box, Vol 19 No 05 (2005) © C. Yvonne Karl

Reprinted in MUSINGS, December 12, 2020.

Feel free to reprint as is.

Write to me:

yvonnekarl@gmail.com

 

 

 

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