Faith Is Not always Easy!

God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. (James 1:12 NLT)

 

 

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“How Angels Minister to Believers"

My next birthday I will be 72 years old. I’m not only showing my age, but I’m really feeling it too. I have several friends who already made their journey through death at a younger age than me. My dad and Linda’s dad both died at a younger age than we are. God has been good to both of us. During my treatment of Stage 4 Lymphoma, Thyroid Cancer, and Brain Cancer, after months of chemo and brain radiation I have been cancer free a little over 5 years. I still have periodic labs, MRI, and CT Scans, but all is well. Even my Oncologist questioned if I would survive, but with God’s help I am still here. I know God uses doctors and medicine, but I also know healing power comes from God, and I am thankful for my healing.

In Scripture, we are told that angels have many roles. A few of them include being God’s messengers and Holy warriors, watching history unfold, praising and worshipping God, and being Guardian Angels – protecting and directing people on God’s behalf. During my battle with cancer that side-lined me in 2012, I believe God’s angels worked over-time on my behalf. I have read about many miraculous stories of angelic guardians and protectors helping Christians all over the world. Most of the time, however, God’s angels operate discretely and don’t draw attention to themselves as they carry out the assignment given by God. While God has called His heavenly messengers to work on His behalf, He has also called angels to work in our lives in very profound ways.

I know I have already lived a lot longer than I have left and the more I study the Bible about death, I’ve begun praying that God will help me be a witness for Him during my dying time. I want to honor Him and be faithful to Him in my last days.

Not only do the angels minister to us in life, but the Bible says they also minister to us in death.

Death can seem like a terrifying experience. Can you imagine what it is going to be like to close your eyes one last time and know they will never open again–not in this life, anyway? Most of us would be afraid of dying. Yet Revelation 14:13 says, “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord.” Another word for “blessed” here is “happy.”

What is this verse talking about? It is not just saying that the end result of death is happiness for the Christian; it is saying that the process of death is happy for a Christian. The psalmist said it this way: “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His children” (Psalm 116:15). Far from being a frightening experience, death is a blessed experience for a Christian.

How can death be a blessed and happy experience? I think the answer lies in the ministry of angels to us. We see how angels minister to us in death in Luke 16. Jesus tells the story of two very different men. They lived two different kinds of lives, they died two different deaths, and they ended up in two different destinies. The first man was the rich man. He spent his life in luxury and then died and was buried without ever acknowledging God (16:22). The Bible says when the rich man died, immediately after his death he was in Hell lifting up his eyes because he was in torment (16:23). The rich man disregarded God, he died, and he immediately ended up in Hell.

But what a different story for Lazarus who is described as a righteous man–not because he was poor; there is nothing specifically righteous about being poor. Lazarus was righteous because, as his name (“God is my helper”) indicates, he depended upon the Lord.

The Bible says when Lazarus died, he was also buried. But notice what happened to him in verse 22: “Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom.” Notice what the angels did here: Lazarus was not alone in his death. At his death, God sent His angels to come and usher him into Heaven. The Bible teaches that if you are a Christian, one day God will send His angels to escort you into the presence of His Son.

Death is our most universal and dreaded experience, and even Christians can be apprehensive. But in the Bible, death is never defined as the cessation of life, but as separation. Physical death is the separation of the soul from the body. Spiritual death is being separated from God. Eternal death is being separated from heaven. For the Christian, the separation of soul and body is temporary; and at the resurrection, our eternal souls will be reunited with our glorified bodies.

Paul was clearly anticipating being with the Lord when He told the Philippians, “I am hard-pressed between the two (living and dying), having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better” (Philippians 1:23). And to the Corinthians he wrote, “to be absent from the body (is to be) present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8).

Here is what I have learned: Just as we look forward to our eternal destination, perhaps we should also learn to anticipate the trip. Why dread that moment of death? The journey to heaven will not be dark, fearful, or lonesome. God will dispatch His angels at just the right time, and they’ll meet us and carry us to the heights of His glory. Because I know Jesus as my Savior and Lord, I’m looking forward to the journey. Be blessed today!

9.2.2019

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