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Posts tagged ‘Angels’

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

 

 

 

Wonderful Peace

Glory to God in the highest and on earth, peace, goodwill to men. Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled.

This latter verse above was my father’s favorite. In his last months while he lay in the nursing home with one leg amputated due to diabetes and his mind clouded with Alzheimer’s disease, he could still quote the King James Version of this verse: Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man will see God. He had reached a point in his life when that which was deeply rooted in his spirit was all he knew. He did not know his wife of more than fifty years, nor his children, nor his friends, but if we started to quote a scripture verse, he could finish it. If we sang his favorite gospel songs, he could sing them along with us—remembering the words.

One day the aide took him to the activities center to attend a Christian service to be conducted by some believers from a local church. At one point during the service, they asked for testimonies and Dad volunteered. They brought the microphone to him and he “preached” for nearly thirty minutes. What he said was coherent and convincing—as if he had presence of mind. The aide reported how awesome the experience was—how even her tears were flowing and her body tingling as she listened. It is an act of the Spirit of God, for Dad’s spirit was reborn and that which would last eternally had already taken over his temporal faculties. He didn’t know the people closest to him but he knew Jesus! The peace of God which passes understanding was keeping His heart and mind in Christ Jesus.  His roommate, on the other hand, was in the same condition with Alzheimer’s disease, only he was not born again. He would become angry and curse loud and long. The peace my dad experienced never picked up on the angry spirit. Instead, he would continue to rejoice in the Lord with his, “Amen! Praise the Lord!”  He had been diligent during his cognizant days not to let any root of bitterness spring up, and that same peace was keeping him in the days prior to moving on to his eternal home.

Before the writer of Hebrews challenges the people to pursue peace, he exhorts them to strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed. These words are addressed to persons worn out with persecution, sickness, affliction, simple fatigue and stress which result from a barrage of everyday problems and difficulties. The writer paints a picture of these people as totally discouraged with their hands hanging down and their knees shaking and wobbling. We’ve all be in that situation at one time or another.

Earlier in the same chapter, the writer gives us biographical clips of those wonderful heroes of faith and exhorts us to remember them as examples. They have gone before us and now are a great cloud of witnesses. They had to endure discrimination, misfortune, and hardships. Many of them never realized their dreams and goals yet they didn’t give up pursuing them right up until the time of their departure from earth. As we anticipate our eternal reward, we should remember their testimonies. Most likely, if we could but hear into the heavenly sphere they would be saying things like: “Let the story of our lives be a witness to you that you may endure to the end!” “It will be worth it all when you get home!” “Do not be weary in well-doing for soon you will reap if you don’t give up!” “Don’t become weary and faint in your minds!”

It’s true that following God’s instructions often brings harassment, but press on! Remember what Jesus said to Peter: Satan desires to have you that he may sift you as wheat, but I have prayed for you, that your faith not fail..and when your trial is over and you have the victory, strengthen your brethren.

Yes, what we’re going through at this time may seem grievous to us as it did to them, but we don’t allow it to cause us to miss what God has in store for us. The author of Hebrews exhorts the Jewish Christians and us to encourage ourselves with the testimonies of those precious saints who have gone on, and to be assured that we have a hope beyond the grave.

In this passage of Scripture from the letter to the Hebrews, we are commanded to do four things: Lift up our hands and knees; Make straight paths for our feet and for the lame; Follow peace and holiness; and Look diligently so we won’t be defiled.

Lift up your hands and knees

If we follow the Bible reference list for “lift up”, we will see that the Psalmist continually reminds himself, us, and all the saints of God, to lift up our hands, heads, and our countenance. In so doing, our attention is directed away from the mundane to Jesus, our Savior and Helper, our eternal King. The Apostle Paul writes to Pastor Timothy: I want men everywhere to pray lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting..  In the very act of lifting up the hands, something happens inside us. We cease being bitter, unforgiving, angry and easily offended. We accept God’s will for our lives and acknowledge that we can’t possibly understand His thoughts or His ways. We live in harmony with ourselves and with God.

The statement, lift up the hands that hang down and the feeble knees, is not a mistake. Yes, we can also lift up our feeble knees. The word used for lift up means to rebuild and/or restore. It is literally like the rebuilding or restoration of a fallen structure. That’s why Paul can also say lift up…the knees. How can you lift up feeble knees? They must be restored. Revigorated. Strengthened. Then, and only then, can we continue to walk in obedience to the Lord rather than standing still, or worse yet, fainting in the way.

Make straight paths for your feet and for the lame.

We know the way; Jesus is The Way. We know the path. He has left the directions in His Word. We dare not turn, nor even look to the left or the right. The way is straight and narrow…few there be that find it, but we can be among the few. It’s important because the lame are following us—those who cannot walk alone and need someone to lean on until they get strong enough to walk alone. They need to see us standing straight, tall, not bowing to the pressures, not having weak knees and limp hands. If those who are hurting are to be healed and get turned around to go in the right direction, we must first be certain we are walking straight: make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.

Follow peace and holiness

The Psalmist says: No one can ascend unto the hill (throne) of our Lord unless he has clean hands and a pure heart. No wrath, no bitterness—just faith and peace. We must pursue peace and let it rule our heartWe cannot let the circumstances steal our peace. No matter what all men are like, we cannot become fretful. This peace is not referring to a relationship between people, but a state of time as in the expression, a time of peace. Originally, it meant an interlude in an everlasting state of war. Isn’t that exactly what we are involved in—an everlasting state of war—especially in our minds and in our culture? In the midst of this daily war, we experience a peace inside in our minds and emotions that lets us know we are in the Kingdom of Peace, where Jesus is King.

In the Old Testament, the word peace is used mostly to mean well-being and prosperity. The Shalom (peace) greeting is not a wish, but a gift—which is either received or rejected. Our modern day equivalent, “God bless you,” is the greatest gift we can give someone. In the New Testament, however, the word peace (eirene) refers to salvation—the power which protects us. This peace is neither agreement with others nor the absence of disagreement, rather it is the knowledge that one’s sins are forgiven and their ticket is purchased and secured for heaven.

 

Peace on earth, Goodwill to men?

When the angel announced the birth of Jesus to the Shepherds on the hillside in Judea, we heard the words peace on earth, goodwill to men. How we have misconstrued this message! It did not mean that with the coming of Jesus there would now be absence of war on the earth. No! The message of peace was that Salvation has come; the Kingdom of peace. Peace—a feeling of rest from the guilt of sin. Peace—a state of reconciliation with God. Peace—a salvation of the whole man for eternity.

We think today the same way the people did on Palm Sunday when they cried Hosanna as Jesus was passing by. “Help us!” they were crying out. They wanted peace from the bondage imposed on them by the Roman government. They did not understand that the King of kings could bestow on them a peace that would carry them through any and all battles of life. He did not come to give a temporary peace—a utopia in which there would be no suffering, no need to work, no disagreements or arguments, no conflicts. He came to give a peace with God—a peace that would allow us to sleep at night with a clear conscience. That was the peace on earth—or in earth, because it would be the Kingdom of peace in our hearts where He would be King of our lives.

However, it does us no good to pray or sing, “Let there be peace on earth” for Jesus said there will always be wars and rumors of wars. He said He did not come to bring peace, but a sword.  The Sword that He gives us is His Word—the Sword of the Lord. If we fight all of our battles with the Word of God, we will have peace that lasts eternally. Jesus knew we would be rejected, reviled, and worn out, so He gave us the tools, the formula, the prescription, and the roadmap for peace.

Nevertheless, the Apostle Paul says, If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Paul knew, as we know all too well, that it is impossible to be at peace with some people. No matter how hard you try, they keep stirring up conflict. In essence, he says, “Do what you can, then if your attempts at peace fail, you will realize it isn’t your fault.” This is not, however, a license to do nothing about it! Nor can we let circumstances, pressures, afflictions, diseases, and difficulties, steal our peace. Follow peace—salvation. Hang on to it. Go where it leads. When we follow God’s instructions, it may be grievous at the time, but before long we’ll begin to recognize the peaceable fruit of righteousness—rewards by which we are made happy and at rest with our obedience.

Not only are we to follow peace, but also we are commanded to follow Holiness without which no man shall see God. Holiness is separation; being set apart. It means we aren’t like others who try to get revenge. Instead we follow God’s peace plan and do good to them who despitefully use us. Our God will come with recompense. Vengeance is mine, says the Lord. I will repay. Let’s not be led astray by false doctrines, but live a life of purity and detachment from the things in the world that have no eternal value

In the opening scripture, the author is writing to Hebrews who understand Hebrew. In Hebrew to see God meant to enjoy Him, and without holiness of heart and life this is impossible. None of us can be fit for heaven if we don’t come to a place on earth where we enjoy the heavenly lifestyle!

Look diligently so as not to be defiled

The writer commands us to look diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble us and thereby many be defiled. We must take this command personally and watch out that no bitterness gets into our heart because of what we have to go through. If bitterness takes root, it will choke out the word in our life and we’ll no longer reside in the Kingdom of Peace.

We can’t be paranoid, but we should be constantly on guard. We must watch and pray. Watch out for people who are falling from grace—people who are sliding away, people who are getting cold or getting out in left-field with false doctrine. If we’re not watchful, they might become a root of bitterness (poison) springing up in our midst to trouble us and before we know we get dragged into their bitterness. It’s contagious. We have to learn to avoid people who have this disease. Just like one patch of weeds in the garden can take over the whole crop if not totally removed, these roots of bitterness can cause a whole group of people to go astray.

The Hebrews called every species of poison a bitter. Here, it is used metaphorically for a bad man or a man holding unsound doctrines and endeavoring to spread them in the Church. They will trouble you—alluding to the effects of poison taken into the body. What happens to us when we eat something that is rotten, poison, tainted? Our whole system is disturbed. Sometimes the consequences of poison taken into the stomach are so severe that we experience violent vomiting, gastrointestinal problems, and perhaps even fatal changes in the blood system. The blood itself—representing life—becomes bad. Most likely, this is what the author is referring to when he says, thereby become defiled, corrupted, or contaminated. Bad example and false teaching have corrupted thousands, and are still making desolation in the world and in the Church.

Citizenship in Peaceville belongs to those individuals who receive God’s grace and His favor.

 

(c) East of Bethlehem, C. Yvonne Karl, Brentwood Press, 2003. Chapter 9.

This book is out of stock and out of print but is occasionally offered as a used book on amazon.com, alibris.com, and abebooks.com.

 

For more information contact yvonnekarl@gmail.com

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