This blog reflects my faith in God and the joy and freedom I have in Jesus Christ as my personal Savior.
It is my hope and prayer that these articles, based on God's Word will bring hope and salvation to someone who hasn't yet experienced that joy.
All Scripture references are taken from the Holy Bible (NIV 1984)
Monday, December 19, 2011
Don't Forget to Entertain Strangers
Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it. (Hebrews 13:2)
Back in the late nineties or maybe around the first years of the new millennium, the fad was angels. We saw angels everywhere. People wore angel pins and necklaces. There were pictures of angels. There were statues of angels in flower gardens, parks and cemeteries. They were and still are most often pictured as female in gender with long blond or white hair and wearing a white flowing gown or robe. They may be displayed as powerful and majestic or pictured as small children with wings. The ideas for many of these pictures come from the descriptions of visions of angels spoken of in the Bible. However the Bible never describes or refers to any angel as being childlike in nature. That is a completely human idea.
Childlike angels - A human idea
Who and what are angels? What do we know about them? The best and only source of information regarding angels comes from God’s Word. I have listed below a select few of the many instances from the Bible in which God discloses to us their purpose in His universe, and gives reference to the work assigned to them.
1.Angels are spirits. They are God's helpers created to serve Him by protecting those who love Him.Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation? (Hebrews 1:14)
2.Angels are holy and without sin.Praise the Lord, you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word. (Psalm 103:20)
3.They are not to be worshiped. We are to worship God and Him only. Ifell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them (the visions) to me. But he said to me, “Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers the prophets...Worship God!” (Revelation 22:8,9)
4.They report to God and do only what He commands.One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord... (Job 1:6)
5.Angels are not a specific gender as in male or female. When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. (Matthew 22:30)
6.They are powerful, but not equal to God. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. (Psalm 91:11,12)
7.There is an angel assigned to watch over each child on this earth. See that you do not look down on one of these little ones.For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. (Matthew 18:10)
8.Angels praise God and are His messengers. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord...Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God... (Luke 2: 10-13)
9.They eat. He rained down manna for the people to eat; he gave them the grain of heaven. Men ate the bread of angels; he sent them all the food they could eat. (Psalm 78: 24,25)
There are many!
10.There are many of them. According to the online dictionary a legion is a group of 4500-6000 men. Twelve legions of angels would be 12 times those numbers and more. Do you think that I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? ( Matthew 26:53)
I could list many more, but these 10 points give us clear ideas of what the angels are and what God’s purpose was in creating them. Years ago when the “angel” fad was popular, I was asked by a customer where I worked; Do you believe in angels? My answer – I believe there are angels, but I believe in God. Angels, like humans are God’s servants. They are a step above humans and unlike humans, they are holy and without sin. They worship God just like we do, but on a higher scale. It often concerns me that some people may consider the angels equal with God. God is supreme. He is the only one we should worship. In Old Testament times God allowed His angels to be more visible to His people. We are told of many visions of angels in both the old and the New Testament. They are very real.
We have the written Word
In these days and times because we have God’s written Word to guide us, He does not always allow us to see His angels and if He does they will most likely take on human form so that we don’t recognize them as what we would picture to be an angel. That is the kind of story I am leading up to in this writing.
It was Tuesday, December 13, 2011. This incident will be frozen in my memory for eternity and I am eternally grateful to God for the privilege. I was at work at Heartbeat of Greater Flint in Flint, Michigan. Heartbeat is a woman and family help center in the Flint area. We help families with clothing, diapers, formula and other needs for children. We also do free pregnancy testing and pro-life counseling. On this particular day I and one other person were on duty. It had been rather quiet during the morning. We had been sorting donations of clothing and setting out gently used toys which we had collected throughout the year and set aside for our clients to give their children for Christmas gifts.
It was about noon and we had one client, a grandmother, who had come in to look for clothes for her grandchildren. Soon after her arrival another young mother came in with a 13 month old baby girl. She walked in the door, set her baby down on the floor and said to her; you are going to have to walk now. Mommy’s back is hurting and I can’t carry you any further. The baby began to cry brokenheartedly. I realized after the fact that she was more than likely crying because she was in pain. I hadn’t noticed, but the other client in the room commented; that baby’s feet are beet red. I looked down and the baby had no shoes or socks on her feet.
Michigan is cold in December. It was about 40 degrees on this particular day – not as cold as it could have been, but not a day to be going barefoot. This mother had walked a long way carrying her baby who had no shoes or socks on. The child’s feet were very cold and I’m sure this caused her pain when she stood on them.
I asked the mother; where are the baby’s shoes and socks? She answered matter-of-factually; she doesn’t have any. She still insisted that the baby walk, so I picked her up myself and carried her back to the clothing room. I wrapped my hand around her little feet and they were ice cold. I found her some socks and went to look for a pair of shoes that would fit her. As I was searching I heard the front door open and went to see who had come in thinking it was another client.
There was a man standing in the reception area. He was clean shaven and he had dark hair that covered his ears, but it was neatly combed. He looked to be about thirty or so and was nicely but casually dressed. When I asked if I could help him he reached into his pocket, pulled out two pair of new socks and handed them to me. He said; Give these to the baby that just came in with bare feet. I looked at him in disbelief and said; thank you so much. I wanted to ask how he knew and where he had come from, but he immediately turned and walked out the door.
The volunteer I was working with asked me; where did he come from? How did he know what the baby needed? We both said simultaneously; maybe he was an angel. There was no one else around except the grandmother, who had come by herself and the young mother with the small child. We both felt chills of excitement run down our spines.
I have no idea how this man would have known what the baby needed. Even if he had seen the mother and baby walking, how would he have just happened to have two pair of new socks which were the right size in his pocket? He came in maybe five minutes after she did. There are no stores in our immediate downtown area where he would have been able to purchase socks and even so there wouldn’t have been time for him to do so. So what does this all mean? Was he and angel sent by God who had taken on human form? What do you think?
There are several things to think about here. I personally think that he was an angel, but whether or not he was, he was definitely sent by God. If he was just a kind person sent by God, he more than likely was not aware of that fact. God does use us according to His purpose at times without our being aware of it.
As far as the socks are concerned, they were just a small thing. God knew that we could easily fill that need with what we had on hand, but I think He wanted to get my/our attention. It was a reminder to me that he is present everywhere and knows all of our needs. It didn’t occur to me until later, after I had repeated this story several times, that this was indeed a direct answer to the prayer I pray each morning before I start my day. I ask God to make me aware of His presence and to take my hand and lead me where He needs me to go. In asking this, I am not requesting that He give me a visual or physical sign of His presence, but rather that he help to make me mentally aware that He is always with me. I feel much honored and encouraged that on this particular day He saw fit to give me a visual and physical answer to my prayer. It was totally unexpected and it has changed my outlook on life forever. I am comforted and reassured that in spite of the many people on this earth who need Him; He is always close at hand and aware of each of our needs.
The other thing that is significant for me regarding the socks is the colors. They were new socks with tags still on them. One pair was white and the other pair was red. In the Lutheran church and in other Christian denominations as well, we use the color black to represent sin, red to represent the blood of Jesus and white to represent His holiness and the holiness God sees in each believer after they have come to faith in Him - after being washed in His blood – the blood of the Lamb. The prophet Isaiah gives reference to this when he writes; Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. (Isaiah 1:18)
When I picked up the baby a second time, I realized also that she had no diaper on. When I asked mom why she didn’t have a diaper on she told me again that she just didn’t have any to put on her. Isn’t it amazing (another act of God maybe?) that the baby had remained dry over the long walk in the cold? I put a diaper on her and gave the mother more to take home. We of course also gave her clothing and blankets and my fellow volunteer gave her coat to the woman who was wearing only a flannel shirt for warmth. A client, who had since come in, gave her bus fare so that she wouldn’t have to walk home. Our God is so good!
This was also a lesson and reminder to me that God loves each of us equally no matter what our station in life is, and he loves each of us as if we were His only child. This young woman smelled like she badly needed a shower and the poor little baby did too. She explained to me that she had left an abusive situation in a hurry and had not been able to take any of the baby’s things. I also realized after speaking with her that she was mentally not quite normal.
No matter where we come from in life, we are all sinners and need God’s forgiveness. We are all filthy from sin and deserve to die and go to hell. All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags. (Isaiah 64:6) Only by His gift of Grace (undeserved love) and through the sacrifice, death and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ are we made clean. We are washed in the blood of the Jesus. Through faith in Him we become holy in God’s eyes. He no longer holds us accountable. He no longer sees our sin, but the holiness of His Son. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. (Revelation 7:14)
If you have never had a personal relationship with God and His Son Jesus Christ, open your Bible and read His Word. Open to the first book of Genesis and read how He created our world and the first people. Read the Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and hear the good news of His promise to save sinners, fulfilled in His Son Jesus. Through the Word, the Holy Spirit will ignite faith in your heart. It will be the beginning of a wonderful journey. It will end with an eternity in heaven where He will wipe every tear from their [your] eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain... (Revelation 21:4)