Tag: salvation

In the Company of Angels

Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and might and honor and glory and blessing.” And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever” (Revelation 5:11-13 NASB).

 

Angels capture our imagination because there is much we do not know about them. We do know that they rejoice over the salvation of every sinner that repents (Luke 15:10); that we may encounter angels on earth without knowing it (Hebrews 13:2); and that they are ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation (Hebrews 1:14). In eternity, we who are sons and daughters of God will live in the company of angels and together we will all serve God and praise Him forever.

Now we share a common purpose as well – to obey the voice of God and proclaim the good news of what God has done.

Bless the Lord, you His angels, Mighty in strength, who perform His word, Obeying the voice of His word! (Psalm 103:20 NASB).

The angel Gabriel was sent from God to give Zacharias the good news of the birth of his son John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus Christ (Luke 1:19). God also sent Gabriel with a message to Mary that she would bear Jesus, the Son of the Most High (Luke 1:26, 31-32).

When Jesus was born, God announced it to a special group of humble shepherds by sending His angel to announce His birth – then that angel was joined by a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased” (Luke 2:14 NASB).

Like the angels, we have good news to share. We can proclaim the good news of salvation and what God has done for us individually, but we can also join with a great host of others whom God has blessed as well.

In the Bible, we find some specific occasions when the daughters of God have added their voices of praise to the unnumbered multitude. The Lord gives the command; The women who proclaim the good tidings are a great host (Psalm 68:11 NASB). The Lord  announces the word, and the women who proclaim it are a mighty throng (Psalm 68:11 NIV). Generations before the birth of Christ, the Lord gave the word for women to proclaim the good tidings. This group of His chosen daughters proclaimed the goodness of God as He had rescued His chosen people from bondage in Egypt.  Miriam led the women to sing praises to the Lord after He brought the children of Israel through the mist of the sea on dry land – miraculously saving them from the pursuit of the Egyptians (Exodus 15:20-21). David was reminded of this when he wrote Psalm 68:11.

The Lord provided the message. The women who proclaimed it were a great army (Psalm 68:11 EHV). God has always provided the message for good news. And women love to share good news. They celebrate anticipated births with baby showers and upcoming marriages with wedding showers. They are usually the planners of children’s birthday parties and family holidays. In the U.S., Americans greet each other with “How are you?” Christians often replace the common response of “I’m fine, thank you” with “I’m blessed.”  A man will smile and understand that the response indicates a fellow believer. Ask a man what the Lord has done for him, and he will gladly tell you. You don’t often have to ask a woman. She will sometimes respond with, “I’m blessed as well. Let me tell you what the Lord has done for me today.” She shares why she is blessed. Women love to take any occasion to celebrate the goodness of God with others.

The good news is that no one has to remain in the bondage of sin. As the children of Israel were miraculously led out of Egypt, the miraculous birth of our Savior, His sinless life, His sacrificial death and His resurrection led to our salvation. And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12 NASB).

And that is something worth proclaiming – by angels, by men and women of all the ages.

After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen.” (Revelation 7:9-12 NASB).

The Lord gave the word; Great was the company of those who proclaimed it (Psalm 68:11 NKJV).

God gave us the Word. Let’s all be part of the company – the mighty throng – the great host – that proclaim the good tidings. Jesus is the Holy Son of God. Jesus saves.

© Stephanie B. Blake

December 2018

In The Company of Angels

Christmas Throughout The Year

Picture 684Preparing for Christmas comes earlier and earlier each year. In years gone by, I remember decorations coming out in retail stores after Thanksgiving. Then some marketing expert discovered that the earlier advertisements, decorations and specials came out, the more money consumers would spend. It created a larger window in which to capitalize on what most people count as their favorite holiday of the year.

Now little ones start making their lists in January or even late December – sometimes before the Christmas decorations are put away. People plan Christmas in July projects and stores start decorating in September. Many people, including me, prepare for Christmas all year long – taking advantage of discounted wrapping paper, cards and decorations after the season is over and always on the lookout for Christmas gifts for next year.

The gifts are put in their proper place. The wrapping paper and boxes are either thrown away or stored. The house gets put back in order. The non-stop eating ceases and everyone gets serious about being healthier and focusing on projects that were put on hold during the Christmas holidays.

DSC06772I do own a lot of Christmas decorations – some collected from countries all over the world, but my favorite is something my young son made me one year. He knew I wanted a nativity set and he started making one for me out of clay. He said he only had time to make one piece, but had started with the most important piece. He never finished it, but that was fine with me. I now have several nativity sets. One beautiful handmade ceramic set was given to me by a dear friend. I think of her with gratitude each time I display it. In the center of that nativity I place the piece made by my son those many years ago – the baby Jesus in the manger.

My son was right. The nativity is nothing without Jesus. Christmas was the beginning of the fulfillment of His plan to give us the most important gift we could ever receive. By choice, His cradle led to His cross and my salvation. I am grateful for that gift every day – not just on Christmas.

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!… For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God (2 Corinthians 9:15, Ephesians 2:8 NKJV).

 

Missed Opportunities

I love a bargain. Better still, I love finding something fun or useful free. In many cases, I have stocked up on clearance non-perishables at my local dollar or grocery stores. I have even brought home items free from other people’s discard piles.

KINDLE_CAMERA_1383666444000When I lived in Germany, I often came home from a walk with items that left my husband scratching his head. I still have those sleds, baskets, dishes and other things used for decorating or repurposed in my yard. I knew that many German flea markets were stocked with these spermuhl items. If I got them before a dealer did, it was free. Even in America, if you see something put out for bulky item collection day, it is yours if you grab it before the truck shows up.

Although I am pretty good at bagging bargains or free items, I have kicked myself for the ones that got away. In every case, I missed getting something because I waited too long. I sometimes take one sale item home just to test it to make sure it is something I will use. If I wait too long to test it or go back to the store, I find that they were snatched up by someone else.

The same thing happens with free items. When I noticed that a neighbor had put a very unusual chair out for collection, I waited until after dinner to go out to get it. It was gone. On a walk, I saw a great headboard and footboard  – all solid wood with a Texas star in the middle of the headboard – in front of a house ready to be picked up. As I thought about it, I did some research and decided it would make a great bench. When I went back to get it, it was no longer there.

Those were missed opportunities to get some “thing” at little or no cost. They may make life a little more pleasant, but none of these things are important.

We can, however, experience important missed opportunities in our spiritual lives. God has often arranged circumstances for me to be able to share my faith. Some opportunities I took advantage of. Some I didn’t. I waited too long. A better time never presented itself. I had to apologize to God for not doing what I clearly knew He was asking me to do. I remember well every missed opportunity.

Jesus told many stories related to this, among them the parable of the rich man who had so much that he decided to pull down his barns and build bigger ones in order to store all his stuff – ignoring the source of every blessing. God said to him, “Fool, This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided? So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:20-21).

None of us knows when our last breath will be. Salvation is too important to put off, thinking that there will be another chance tomorrow or the next day. That can result in missing out on the most important free gift ever offered.

Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life…For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God…Now is the day of salvation (Romans 5:18, Ephesians 2:8, 2 Corinthians 6:2b).