Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Angels on Assignment


Won’t you turn to the book of Acts, chapter 12.

In 1980 my wife and I felt led to return to the small rural community where we had met and married and pioneer a new church. Not everyone in the community appreciated our new found faith and the exuberance with which we approached worship. In those days in many of America’s religious circles, the Charismatic experience was a controversial subject.

Rumors began to be spread around the community that we were doing everything from worshipping the devil to selling babies. Needless to say, things got very interesting for a while. As a result, some elements of the community, those who were well meaning protectors of the status quo, along with the fringe young rabble-rousers, took it upon themselves to attempt to push us out of town.

The older, more upstanding people who didn’t like us simply made phone calls to our land lord and other local merchants and asked that we be refused service and evicted from our home. The extreme, often inebriated and more hostile elements of that local population, tried to make it more obvious that we were not wanted in the community. They would drive by our house at all hours and scream threats and obscenities, make phone calls threatening to burn down our house or physically hurt me if we did not move.

There are many other things which go to make up this story which I cannot fully get into at this time but suffice it to say that we felt persecuted and I had great reason to be concerned for the safety and well being of myself and my family. In those initial few months it was hard for me to pay attention to pastoring the church since I did not feel I could leave my family alone at the house or anywhere in our community. It came to the place where Brenda would not even answer the phone because she did want to hear the threats and cursing and ugliness of some people.

As you can imagine, most of the people in the community were not involved in any of the threats but it only takes a few, loud, obnoxious, pious, self appointed, self righteous, idiot representatives to ruin the whole community. Needless to say, things were tense and potentially dangerous. I dodged fists, spit and automobiles more than once in the early days – and all I wanted was just a chance to preach the power of God’s Word to set the captives free.

I must admit, this was my first rodeo and I was a bit testy, somewhat youthfully arrogant myself, and to make things more dangerous, I believed I had been called by God. I found it easy to turn the other cheek but impossible to back down. God was no doubt using those days to work on me while He was positioning me to work for Him.

Brenda and I, along with our two young children, lived about 60 to 75 yards off of a 4 lane highway which ran through the community. We rented a small two bedroom typical country home with a carport. Our front yard was open and the gravel driveway went all the way down with a gentle, almost unnoticeable slope, and connected to the road. With nothing between us and the highway, we could hear every car and truck that passed, day and night, along with the horns, and threats and slanderous obscenities and the occasional beer bottle hurled our way.

The two bedrooms in the home were connected by a short hallway which led past the bathroom. We positioned our beds so that I could lay with my face toward the door and see the few feet into our kid’s bedroom and watch them sleep. Having earlier worked as a body guard for US and foreign dignitaries I felt more secure when I could keep an my eye on things. This was all well and good except for the fact that I was always conscious of the potential threats and every little noise woke me with concern. Therefore, I was getting almost no sleep but spent most every night watching and praying, dozing a little between prayers.

One night in particular, facing the door, watching my children as usual, I had prayed myself to sleep. I was earnestly seeking God for wisdom and protection. I wanted to do His work but it was difficult since I could not leave my family unprotected. These two things were the continual burden of my heart and mind: the work of the church and my family’s wellbeing.

I don’t remember there being any noise which awakened me that night but I do remember opening my eyes to check on my children. There sitting on the headboard of my children’s bed, with his feet resting on the bed between them, leaned back against the wall was an angel. It’s still surprising to me that I knew he was an angel and not an intruder – there was such peace and I just laid there with my eyes open looking at him. I can still see him so vividly after all these years. He appeared to be somewhere around 6 foot tall, although I never saw him stand, he weighed maybe 180-190 pounds, light sandy colored short hair and a big grin. He was dressed in a short sleeved shirt and slacks and was just sitting comfortable as though he was kicked back resting.

After a couple of seconds focusing my eyes on him he said, I am sent here by God to protect your family while you do the work God sent you here to do. I told him that the Bible required me not to believe every spirit but try them. So I said, tell me about Jesus. He said, Jesus is my Lord and your Savior. He is the Son of God who gave His life to save you from your sins.

With that I was more ready than ever to listen. He told me again that he had been sent by God to protect my family and to help me. He said that as long as I was there, doing the work God sent me to do, that he would protect me and my family, guard my home and no one would be able to harm me or take anything from me. He told me to be at peace and focus on the work of God.

Then he said, is there anything you want to ask me? Out of all the things I could have asked, I don’t know why but I asked him: What’s your name? He chuckled just a little and said, my name is Reubel. With him sitting there guarding my children and my home I felt such peace and just closed my eyes and went back to sleep.

When I got up the next morning I told Brenda about my encounter with an angel during the night and she and I both felt that something had changed in our home and in our hearts. From that moment on I never worried about my home or family or anyone else in the community, except for their souls. We grew that church in that little community of about 200 people at that time, from the initial seven people meeting in the living room of a 12’ by 60’ trailer house, to a membership of 180 in only three years. We established a Christian school, Kindergarten through 12th grade, produced a daily live radio program, and began reaching the world through various missions’ projects where we saw hundreds saved, baptized, filled with the Holy Spirit, healed and called to the ministry. It was a glorious time.

Christmas of 1983 I bought a Suzuki 50cc dirt bike for my kids. Ashley was 4 and April had just turned 6. It was yellow and black and the cutest little thing you ever saw. They loved it. I made them a dirt bike trail and built ramps and jumps and other obstacles and they spent a lot of their afternoons riding that little dirt bike in our big front yard and in the pasture beside the house. We kept it on the carport, under my bedroom air conditioner when they weren’t riding it.

One night in the late spring/early summer of 1984, just after school had let out for the summer, after midnight I was awakened by a familiar but faint sound in the distance of a small motorcycle racing its engine at a very high rmp. It was so faint and for that moment it seemed odd and out of place so I quickly passed it off and went back to sleep, never imagining the connection.

Well, the next morning when the kids came and told me that their dirt bike was missing, I made the connection … somebody had stolen it and that’s the faint sound I heard in the distance during the night.

Both my temperament and my training lead me to be strategic and investigatory. I love to follow a logical trail and figure things out. Outside I found two sets of footprints leading across a sandy portion of driveway and onto the carport. Then the bike was evidently pushed by one of the two under an oak tree where I found more tracks in the dirt and then all the way out to ditch. From the yard I followed where they entered the 2 foot tall uncut grass alongside the highway and bent the grass over for about 200 feet before coming up onto the road. That must have been where they started the engine and took off as fast as it would carry them.

Back toward my house I went … I was on a mission. I cut across the end of my driveway and all the way up through my yard on a direct path to my front door. I stepped up on that 4’ by 4’ concrete porch and opened the screen door. I took the few steps it took to get across the 12 foot wide living room, turned left in the hall and shut the door behind me in my bedroom. The bedroom was also my continual prayer closet in this little house.

When the door slammed behind me I screamed, Reubel!!!!! You told me that as long as I lived here and did the work of God in this place, no man would be able to take anything from me. I want it back!

That’s all I said and I spent no more time in that bedroom. I was upset and I wanted justice. Back out that bedroom, across the living room, out the front door I went with purpose. When I stepped off the front porch and into the yard I tripped over that little yellow and black 50cc Suzuki dirt bike which was sitting just as pretty as you please, delivered like a surprise birthday present, by an angel of the Lord whom He had sent on assignment from heaven.

I looked all around in utter amazement. There was nobody in the yard, nobody down the road, no cars could have come and left, no person could have gotten away and yet … here it was. One minute it wasn’t there and the next it was. Without a doubt, it was Reubel.

I called out to Brenda and the kids who had been with me when I started my investigation and had broken off my trail to search for clues on their own. When they came around the carport and saw it in the front yard, they were confused and amazed. We had all been in the front yard just minutes before and with them outside, no one could have brought it up that far off the highway without somebody hearing them. They asked how it happened and I told them about my short prayer.

Hebrews 1:14 Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?

Matthew 18:10 "Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven.”

Together we stood in our front yard and lifted our thanks to God who keeps covenant and mercy to those who love Him and keep His commandments, even to a thousand generations. We also thanked God for His angels who are sent to help His children. And we thanked Reubel.

Needless to say, we believe in angels. In fact, we are not the only ones who believe in angels. The KJV of the Bible mentions the ministry of angels more than 300 times. And nowhere does it say that they have ceased to exist or somehow stopped being used by God in our generation.

Have you found Acts 12 yet?

Acts 12
1 ¶ Now about that time Herod the king stretched out his hand to harass some from the church.
2 Then he killed James the brother of John with the sword.
3 And because he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to seize Peter also. Now it was during the Days of Unleavened Bread.
4 So when he had arrested him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to keep him, intending to bring him before the people after Passover.
5 ¶ Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church.
6 And when Herod was about to bring him out, that night Peter was sleeping, bound with two chains between two soldiers; and the guards before the door were keeping the prison.
7 Now behold, an angel of the Lord stood by him, and a light shone in the prison; and he struck Peter on the side and raised him up, saying, "Arise quickly!" And his chains fell off his hands.
8 Then the angel said to him, "Gird yourself and tie on your sandals"; and so he did. And he said to him, "Put on your garment and follow me."
9 So he went out and followed him, and did not know that what was done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision.
10 When they were past the first and the second guard posts, they came to the iron gate that leads to the city, which opened to them of its own accord; and they went out and went down one street, and immediately the angel departed from him.
11 And when Peter had come to himself, he said, "Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent His angel, and has delivered me from the hand of Herod and from all the expectation of the Jewish people."
12 So, when he had considered this, he came to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose surname was Mark, where many were gathered together praying.
13 And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a girl named Rhoda came to answer.
14 When she recognized Peter’s voice, because of her gladness she did not open the gate, but ran in and announced that Peter stood before the gate.
15 But they said to her, "You are beside yourself!" Yet she kept insisting that it was so. So they said, "It is his angel."
16 Now Peter continued knocking; and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished.
17 But motioning to them with his hand to keep silent, he declared to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, "Go, tell these things to James and to the brethren." And he departed and went to another place.

Don’t worry and don’t stop trusting God, even in disappointing moments, even when things happen that you didn’t deserve or expect. Hold onto what you know God has promised you and watch Him work. He and His Angels are more than enough for the job.

How does a person get angelic assistance? Angels are often sent in response to our prayers. It seems to be a biblical pattern and also there is a scripture which says:

Psalms 103:20 Bless the LORD, you His angels, Who excel in strength, who do His word, Heeding the voice of His word.

This scripture encourages us to pray the word and the promises of God. When we are in need and troubled, we can lift our cry to the heavens and give voice to the Word and the Will of God. I know angels are stronger and mightier than am I, and I know they heed the voice of God’s Word and move to accomplish what they hear. It happened for Daniel. (Daniel 10:12)

After all … Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those of us who will inherit salvation? (Hebrews 1:14) Tell me, what man has a servant and does not use him in times of need?