Pursuing Answers to Questions of Faith & Life

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Sermon--1/7/07--Capturing an Angel's Attention

Billy Graham in his book Angels: God’s Secret Agents, shared the account of…The Rev. John G. Paton, a missionary in the New Hebrides Islands, told a story involving the protecting care of angels. Hostile natives surrounding his mission headquarters one night, intent on burning out the Patons and killing them. John Paton and his wife prayed all during that terror-filled night that God would deliver them. when daylight came they were amazed to see the attackers unaccountably leave.

A year later, the chief of the tribe was converted to Christ, and Paton, remembering what had happened, asked the chief what had kept him and his men from burning down the house and killing them. the chief replied in surprise, “Who were all those men you had there with you?” The missionary answered, “There were no men there; just my wife and I.” The chief argued that they had seen many men standing guard—hundreds of big men in shining garments with drawn swords in their hands. They seemed to circle the mission station, so the natives were afraid to attack. Only then did the Rev. Paton realize that God had sent his angels to protect them.

When you read accounts in Scripture of encounters with angels—the people are the ones that are amazed and astounded. The people are the ones that marvel at the presence of a holy messenger. We are so impressed by them, have you ever wondered what it would take to impress or marvel an angel?

I mean, when a single angel can go through the entire nation of Egypt in one night, or defeat an army of hundreds of thousands, is there anything we can do that would impress or defeat that angel? Is there anything about me that an angel marvels at? It can’t be how strong I am, it can’t be how fast I am, it can’t be how smart I am—there is only one thing that an angel marvels at, only one thing that makes them stoop over the shoulders of our existence—the Salvation God gives through His love for Us.

If it’s something they want to look into—to understand and find out about it s because of the impact our salvation has on us and the world.

God’s salvation has a dramatic impact on who we are; it changes us, it makes us strangers in the world. And when God is working to Change us, even angels stop and wonder.

The last sentence in 1 Peter 1:12 says—“Even angels long to look into these things.” That phrase, “long to look into” refers to a passionate examination, literally “to stoop over a thing in order to carefully look at it”. Kind of like reading over your shoulder or bending over backwards to get a better perspective. The angels go out of their way to understand, even going beyond the comfortable or convenient. They take a good long look and have an intense interest in the salvation of humanity. Luke 15:10 confirms that angels witness rejoicing when one sinner comes to repentance.

So if angels marvel at our salvation and the change that Faith brings to our lives, maybe we should look at what Peter says they want to look into.

Peter is writing to Christians who are strangers in this world. People who just don’t fit in with they way the world is operating, who have been personally chosen by the Father, sanctified by the Spirit through the blood of Christ. These Christians were enduring great difficulties and hardships because of their faith in Christ. And yet they continued to call upon God to change them further, and make them even stranger to the world. The work of God in our lives should change all that we are and also change the way we praise Him.

First we must Praise Him for His Provision—1:1-5

Why did God provide anything for us? Hasn’t He done enough for us? He created us, He gave us life, He set up this world for us to live seeing that it has air to breathe, water to drink, food to eat. He saw to it that we had companionship. You would think He’s done enough for us.

The great thing about God is that He doesn’t create something and then walk away. He takes great interest in the lives of His creation. Because He knows what’s going on in this world, He knows that it is not right, and that we cannot do anything to fix it, so He provides. He does it…

Through His mercy—vs. 3,

God reached out to us when we certainly didn’t deserve it; after all, we were the ones who messed up His creation.
The reality of God’s mercy must change the reason and the enthusiasm with which we praise Him. He has provided for us when we didn’t deserve it.

Justice—is getting what we deserve

Mercy—is not getting what we deserve

Grace—is getting overwhelmed by good things we don’t deserve

God has the right to strike us down with the proverbial lightening bolt the moment we sin against Him—that would be justice and what our sins deserve. God’s mercy and love motivates Him to do something else. James 2:13—“Mercy triumphs over judgment!”

Paul shares similar sentiments in Titus 3:3-7 --“At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.” We must praise Him for His Great and amazing Mercy, and also b/c

We have a New Birth—a new life. We are not stuck in our old birth—we are not stuck in sin, we are not forever limited to being victims of circumstances beyond our control, we are not forever condemned by our bad decisions.

We could have been shown mercy, but still remained languishing and stuck in our sins, unable to do anything about them.

What we need is a changed life. And that is exactly what God is trying to give you…a New Life—a life He gives, a life He Provides—one that is abundant and free. Receiving that New Life changes everything. In Christ, you are set free to live a new life, all the chains are broken except those that you don’t want to give over to Christ.

It is such a new life that you can never really go back to the old one. Noah couldn’t go back after the flood. A Butterfly can never go back to being a caterpillar, nor should it ever want to. Nor can you.

When you have been changed into this new life, you have a new reason to Praise Him. We must praise Him as believers b/c we are Born Again into a life that is abundant and free.

We have been given grace we don’t deserve. We must praise Him for His Mercy, for the New Life He gives and also b/c…

We are given a Living Hope--

Genuine hope is not wishful thinking, but a firm assurance about things that are unseen and still in the future. Hebrews 11:1—“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”

Our Hope is not something forever in the future, that is useless now, it is a living hope—a walking, breathing companion in life that goes with us even into the darkest places—hope that changes the way you live today, living every day, every moment every moment in what the NLT calls “Wonderful Expectation”—an expectation of what God is doing now and where He is taking you in the future.

A living hope is its present reward--F. B. Meyer calls the living hope “the link between our present and future.” Our Living Hope affects who we are and how we live right now. It changes the way we Praise Him today b/c we are considering the Future that is secure.

There are no uncertainties when it comes to the future God has planned for those who have received His Mercy & New Birth.

If God is the source of our hope, then what are we without Him? Without God we are hopeless. God is the source of our hope, that’s why if you don’t know Jesus, you have no hope according to Ephesians 2:12—“ remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.” The only reason we have it is the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

The hope for the Christian would be dead if Jesus was still in the tomb, but it is living because Jesus is living.

The Life Jesus lives today is a promise and guarantee that our future is secure with Him. We must praise God for His Mercy, Our New Birth and our Living Hope and also for…

Our Inheritance—NLT—Priceless

Earthly inheritances are uncertain at best. Sometimes the value of an estate drops sharply because of market declines. Sometimes wills are successfully contested by parties not mentioned in them. Sometimes people are deprived of an inheritance because of legal technicalities.

But this divine inheritance is not subject to any of the changes of time, and there are no loopholes in the believer’s title to it. It is kept in the safety-vault of heaven for the child of God.

The inheritance we have in Christ can never Perish—it’s not like livestock that can be wiped out by some disease.

It will never Spoil—like some bananas that you haven’t eaten in a week, and

it will never Fade—even if you wash it too often--the color will never run, the beauty will never diminish, it will never get covered over with dirt and dust, it will never lose it’s luster and need buffing and polishing.

The Inheritance that God is keeping and guarding for us in heaven is shining with beauty and power today like it was 2000 years ago the moment Jesus was raised from the dead.

The light of our inheritance is pulsing and shining with every beat of His heart.

As long as His heart is beating our inheritance will never Perish, Jesus’ body will never spoil or decay, Jesus’ glory will never fade. It is kept, held in trust for you in Heaven.

Should the reality of our inheritance not change the way we Praise Him? How can we just sit there and take it all for granted? How can we not sing with the loudest voice possible and not care how it sounds to someone else? How can we not be smiling while we sing? How can we be thinking of something else, or what your going to be doing after church when you have the Opportunity, you have the Blessing of Praising Almighty God! For His Mercy, for His New Life, for His Living Hope, For His Inheritance and also for His Protection

Our Protection until His Coming—

believe it or not—despite all of the troubles of this world, God is protecting us. He is shielding us.

We are shielded by God’s Power

Until our Complete Salvation is Revealed

When the hard times come, we assume God is no longer protecting us.

We have no idea the number and type of hardships that are avoided because of the Protection and shielding of God.

In the last few years the CIA is under a lot of heat for intelligence failures and other misinterpreted information. Some of it is deserved, but much of it is not. The reason I say that is b/c how you know when the CIA is really doing its job well. You know the CIA and other such agencies are doing well, when you never hear about them. Our nation has enemies working to destroy us and 98% of those threats are thwarted, arrested or eliminated before the public is even aware of it, and we may never know.

If that is the truth for us as a nation, how much more is it true for believers? We have a ruthless, heartless, murderous enemy attacking us, yet by our faith in the saving work of Christ we are shielded and protected in ways we will never know this side of eternity.

You weren’t even aware of the car accident the Shield of God saved you from as you drove home from the store this week did you? You weren’t even aware of the phone call Satan tried to use to keep you from coming this morning, or the sickness he tried to put in your children, or the bad night’s sleep, or burglar God made pass you by,
or the spark the shield of God put out so your house wouldn’t burn down.

When the Shield of God is working—most of the time you won’t even know it. Are you praising Him for His protection from so many unseen things or are you only complaining about the hardships He allows to come through to draw you closer to Him and strengthen your faith and dependence on Him?

David sang praises to God in the midst of hardships in 2 Samuel 22:1-4 because David understood that faith in God didn’t mean a life of ease.—“He said: "The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior--from violent men you save me. I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies.

We have so many reasons to praise Him. Peter lists 5 in just 5 verses and He could have listed more. His Provision is only the first part of what the angels long to look in to.

The Work of Christ in our lives changes us, we can no longer be the same—even our praise should be different—with more gratitude, with more power, with more enthusiasm, with more joy. Praise Him for His Mercy, for our New Life, for our Living Hope, For our Priceless Inheritance, and for Our Shield. He has provided so much for us to Praise Him for. Are angels marveling over the change in your life?

When was the last time the angels stooped over and marveled at what God was doing in your life? They may be marveling at what He is doing in you right now.

The word of God may be awakening a fire in your heart to know Him, to worship Him. Will you let me know about it so we can join them in their celebration?

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