Thursday, September 11, 2014

Psalm 41 on 9/11

Psalm 41 begins with an interesting note regarding those who are facing harm — whether they are in the World Trade Center, Benghazi, Iraq, or just in a classroom like Columbine.

Psalm 41

Blessed are those who have regard for the weak;
    the Lord delivers them in times of trouble.
The Lord protects and preserves them —
    they are counted among the blessed in the land —
    he does not give them over to the desire of their foes.

What does the above Scripture imply? Obviously, it does not mean we are always physically protected, though I know of many times we have been. It does not always mean evil people are forbidden to hurt the innocent, as we are especially aware of on 9/11. It does mean that God has a special place of blessing and protection for those who face persecution. "What?!!!", you may say. Well, I am not nuts, but I have learned that protection and blessing can come even during great pain and hurt — even death.

I have faced death on quite a number of occasions. Each time I have experienced a special touch or awareness of God's love. On several occasions, I figured I would not be alive long, but in each case I also felt a deep peace — almost joy! How could that be? Well, I am not sure I can explain it except to say I believe these verses because I have experienced them in "real time" and "real life."

Paul wrote in Romans 8:38-49: 

38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I believe in a place called "Calvary." I believe in "eternity." I believe that with Christ hope always exists! I also believe that God is always on the side of good — even when we can't see it. No matter how dark a day, God's love is still present. Corrie Ten Boom, a famous Nazi concentration camp survivor, described the lesson she learned while being tortured and starved  in Germany as "No matter how deep the pit, God's love is deeper."

Today as we mourn the great loss in this world of the victims of 9/11 and Benghazi, as we consider people being killed in Iraq and Syria by ISIS as I write this, as we read of Saudi Arabia arresting all known Christians within its borders yesterday, as we look at North Korea with one concentration camp having over 100,000 residents — including children, as we consider school and theater shootings and bombs going off at the Boston Marathon and more, let us simply pray two prayers.

1. Pray for those facing great crisis in their lives today — survivors, friends and loved ones of the events described above, and our own fears and crisis. 
2. Pray that we will learn to accept the absolute power and hope of Christ as described in Psalm 41 and Romans 8:38-39.  

Friday, September 5, 2014

Psalms 34:5

My neck is too sore to sit at the computer long so I am not writing my full devotional today, but I am posting a verse that has really speaking to me. Consider this verse and what it looks like to others when we look at Christ.

Psalms 34:5

Those who look to him are radiant;
    their faces are never covered with shame.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Hebrews 1:14 --- What about Guardian Angels 

14 Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?
This verse above begs all kinds of questions. It is clear angels are on this earth and that they are specifically sent to minister to the saved. After that we know very little.
       Are angels assigned to specific people or churches, etc.? We don’t know. Traditions out of some churches describe “guardian angels” whom those churches believe are assigned to individuals. This thought does not contradict scripture, but it is extra-scriptural (not in the Bible). We do have some references of angels working with specific churches in the Bible. It seems logical that God probably does assign angels to individuals or groups because relationships are such a key part of the very nature of God, but we don’t know for sure.

       How do angels minister to us? Again, we are not sure and it probably varies on a case by case basis. We have instances in the Bible of angels appearing in human form to warn people of concerns (see Abraham). We even have a special promise in the Bible that those who serve the unfortunate. It states that as we give to people in need we have at times “served angels without knowing it”. Still, for the most part the Bible is pretty quiet about how these angels serve us. It just promises they do.

      So what do we do with this vague verse? Well, first let’s take it in context. The entire book of Hebrews is written to stop bad “theology.” People were worshiping angels and elevating them to great status. Essentially, by pointing out angels are sent to minister to mankind the author instantly places angels in a slightly different role—certainly not one of deity.  We don’t know a great deal about angels. We know they do exist to worship and serve God and we do know many have been assigned to minister to us. This implies that as Christians we have beings serving us that we don’t even know about. Do they keep us physically safe? Probably at times. Do they laugh and cry with us when good and bad things happen? Probably. Perhaps their greatest service is they know about spiritual battles going on around us that we are unaware of and fight for us.
      Though the most important “theological” point of Hebrews 1:14 is the clear attempt to make sure the reader would see angels as “ministering spirits” and not God,” for many of us today, the most exciting point, is simply knowing that we have someone God sent carrying for us today. Who know what arrows the evil one has already sent at us in the last moments that our angels have deflected. God loves us enough to send us a team of “ministering spirits.” He is good!