Saturday, November 20, 2010



Do you know how important the church is to God? Well, the Bible says that Jesus gave His life for the Church and that right now He is preparing a place for the Church so that when He comes back one day, He can take everyone who is a part of the Church to heaven to live with Him. It sounds like the Church is pretty important don’t you think?

Well, as important as the Church is, can you guess what is perhaps more important to God? Wait … let me tell you – It’s the family! That’s right!

Did you know that God created the family before He created the Church?

Family means different things to different people, but to God family is relationships and family is God’s will.

Psalms 68:6 God sets the solitary in families …

The Bible says that God sets the solitary in families. Indeed, there are several ways in which people can become family. One way is to be born into a family biologically. That is what happens each time a baby is born. The “birth mother” and “birth father” are called biological parents.

Another way people become family is through marriage. When a man marries a woman, her family becomes his family and his family becomes her family. This is one of the ways God grows and interconnects families in the earth. Once we are married, the commandment of God to honor our father and mother extends to the mother and father of our husband or wife. Since marriage makes two people one, that oneness is intended to express God’s will, including the honoring of our spouse’s parents.

It’s the same principle when a widowed or divorced parent remarries another person. The covenant of marriage includes the responsibility that when a man marries a woman who already has children, he becomes not only her husband but also a father to the children. It is the same when a woman marries a man who already has children; she assumes the role and responsibilities of being a mother to her new family.

In these situations however, it is not only the parents’ responsibility to build family, but also every child’s responsibility to accept this new person into the family and into the role to which life has called them.

Remember: Family is relationships and family is God’s will.

Did I already mention that family takes work?

Yet another way we can become family is through adoption. When God sees children in need He looks for a family to adopt them. Even though adoption is a process seemingly decided by the courts, most often adoption is initiated and adjudicated in heaven. Adoption may include lawyers and judges, but adoption actually happens in the hearts of parents, children and other extended family members.

Ephesians 1:5 Having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.

This is how we all become children of God. The born again experience grants us rights of adoption into God’s family and even makes us heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus, God’s only biological, or only begotten Son.

Romans 8:15 … you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father."

Adoption gives a child someone to call family. And, by the way, adoption does not have to pass the muster of the courts or be legal to be real. Again, adoption happens in the heart and what makes the family is relationship. Many people are spiritually adopted into a family long after they are past the age of adulthood.

Suffice it to say that without regard as to how people become family, family takes work and family is worth working for. It is God’s will that everyone work on being family and that everyone help the family to be better, stronger and happier.

When it is all said and done, family offers us the most important relationships we will ever have. And, when God has finished His whole work and fulfilled all His will on planet Earth, all that God will have to show for His hard, untiring work, is family.

In fact, Family is all God ever wanted, and it’s everything He’s working for!

When we think of family, we often see the perfect picture of family that God first intended. However, something unfortunate happened to God’s family and He is having to work to rebuild it.

God’s picture of family includes parents and children, grandparents and grandchildren, uncles and aunts, cousins and nieces and nephews, and brothers and sisters, and great aunts and great grandmothers, and so on and so forth. That’s the family picture God gave us for our natural families. However, for the family of God in heaven – we see God, our Father; Jesus, our older Brother and Friend; and then so many other brothers and sisters, each one welcoming the next new one who is born again and adopted into the family.

When God decided that people on earth would be born as babies who can’t walk, can’t talk, and can’t eat or hardly do anything by themselves, He decided to give each child someone to guide them, take care of them and teach them while they grow up.

Do you know that God designed life so that no child could be born without parents? And, even when something unfortunate or unexpected happens to a family, God still intends for every boy and each girl to grow up under the supervision of someone who loves them, takes care of them and makes sure that they all learn the things necessary for a good and productive life.

Many family tragedies are beyond our control and even if we do contribute to a family failure, yet we must recover ourselves and not stop believing in family. That’s what God did … God still believes in family and family is still God’s will for every person … even after the unfortunate tragedies which sometimes tear families apart. Don’t stop believing in family – God didn’t!

In the picture perfect world of family, God gave commandments to moms and dads which instructs them to guide their children in the ways of the Lord. And as well, God gave commandments to every child that they should listen to, honor and obey their parents.

I want us to take the next few minutes and look at some of the life principles children are to learn from their parents.

There are so many life principles we could discuss today and we could go on for hours, but this morning I have chosen only 5 Simple, Common Sense Rules of Life which God taught to His Children through Moses. I imagine you already know these but I often go over them to reinforce their continued value in my life and family.

So, if you wish you can follow along with the scriptures on the big screen or you can turn in your bibles to the book of Exodus … we will begin with our first life principle in chapter 22 and then go on to chapter 23 for 4 more life principles.

Again, these are 5 simple, common sense rules of life and community.

Life Principle #1:
Be Responsible

Exodus 22
14 And if a man borrows anything from his neighbor, and it becomes injured or dies, the owner of it not being with it, he shall surely make it good.
15 If its owner was with it, he shall not make it good; if it was hired, it came for its hire.

Life Principle #2:
Don’t Lie For Your Friends

Exodus 23
1 You shall not circulate a false report. Do not put your hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness.

Life Principle #3:
Don’t Follow The Wrong Crowd

Exodus 23
2 You shall not follow a crowd to do evil; nor shall you testify in a dispute so as to turn aside after many to pervert justice.

Life Principle #4:
Be No Respecter Of Persons

Exodus 23
3 You shall not show partiality to a poor man in his dispute.

Life Principle #5:
Do Good And Help Everyone Who Needs

Exodus 23
4 If you meet your enemy’s ox or his donkey going astray, you shall surely bring it back to him again.
5 If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying under its burden, and you would refrain from helping it, you shall surely help him with it.

Remember, today we looked at 5 simple, common sense principles of life and talked about family and the fact that everyone: parents, children, brothers, sisters, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins … everyone … is responsible to build relationships within and among the family.

God ordained the family before He ordained the Church. And you are the family. It may not be the family you would have chosen, but it may be all the family you have to work with … and … you might be all the family others have as well. Who knows why God does what He does? --- However, your responsibility at this point is to work with what He gives you!

Family is relationships – Be a little more like God and work on yours while you can!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Uncommonly Clean


Without regard as to how much a person knows, how educated or experienced they may be, everyone is a candidate to learn something.

Deuteronomy 22:10 Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an ass together.

Describe the many natural reasons why … (Oxen & Asses by Ron Hammonds)

Certainly there was also the issue of clean verses unclean. Those animals which God would and would not receive as sacrifice or people could eat.

God always knows best. During the early New Testament church period, no one in the world knew more about the Word, the Will and the Way of God in the earth than did the Apostle Peter. (Give Peter’s credentials)

Without regard as to how much a person knows, how educated or experienced they may be, Everyone is a candidate to learn something.

Acts 10 - Tell the account of Peter’s vision on a rooftop in Joppa, beginning at verse 9.

v. 13 “Rise Peter, kill and eat” … No! “Not so Lord”, I have never eaten anything common or unclean.

v.15 What God have cleansed, let no man call common

God is able to do that which no one else can do.

When God touches something, even something unacceptable, impure, unclean, it is forever changed.

Even within you … Even the donkeys of this world … even the smart ones!
When God cleanses you, you are uncommonly clean and should no longer see yourself as anything other than acceptable in His sight. This same acceptance should also be given to the other donkeys we meet in life!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

What Are You Focused On? (How to Have Good Times in Bad Circumstances)

What a great day! I’m so excited about tonight’s word. It’s going to be a good one and yes I mean good as in short. If you will listen and open your hearts tonight, I know that this word will change your life and given time change those around you. If you have your Bibles you can turn to the book of Acts and hold your place on chapter 16 as we will be looking at Paul and Silas and an encounter they had while in the will of God.

As Christians, what do we focus on in life; the good, the bad, or the ugly?

I read about a fascinating research study done by Vicki Medvec, a professor at Northwestern University. She studied Olympic medalists and she discovered that Bronze medalists were happier than Silver medalists. Here’s why. Medvec found that Silver medalists tended to focus on how close they came to winning gold so they weren’t satisfied with silver. Bronze medalists tended to focus on how close they came to not winning a medal at all so they were just happy to be on the medal stand at all.

I think that study reveals a fascinating facet of human nature: your focus determines your reality. How we feel isn’t determined by objective circumstances. If that was the case, Silver Medalists would be happier than Bronze medalists because they had an objectively better result. But how we feel isn’t determined by our objective circumstances. How we feel is determined by our subjective focus.

Your internal attitudes are more important than your external circumstances

John Milton said it best: “The mind is its own place, and in itself, can make a Heaven out of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.”

All of us know people who can find something good to focus on even in the worst of circumstances. And all of us know someone who can find something bad to focus on even in the best of circumstances.

There is a universal principle I need to share with you right out of the gate: we tend to see what we’re looking for.

I think there are two basic types of people (Christians) in the world:

Complainers - Complainers can always find something to complain about.
Worshippers - Worshippers can always find something to praise God about.
All of us develop hypotheses about everything all the time. Then we look for evidence to support our hypotheses and ignore evidence to the contrary.

For example, if you decide you don’t like someone you’ll notice everything that is wrong with that person. And you’ll probably ignore anything you could potentially like about them. The flipside is true as well. If you’re head-over-heels in love with someone you tend to only notice those things you love about them. We see what we’re looking for.

What does that have to do with worship? A worshipper makes a pre-decision to look for something to praise God about even in the direst of circumstances.

Acts 16 shows us a picture of how to have an outlook even with a bad day.
In Acts 16, Paul and Silas are in a prison cell in Philippi. I’d encourage you to read the entire chapter yourself, but for the sake of time, I will paraphrase it. Paul casts a demon out of a fortune-teller. Her master doesn’t like it because she loses the ability to predict the future so he has Paul and Silas arrested.

Acts 16:22 says, “A mob quickly formed against Paul and Silas, and the city officials ordered them stripped and beaten with wooden rods. They were severely beaten, and then they were thrown into prison. The jailer was ordered to make sure they didn’t escape. So he took no chances but put them into the inner dungeon and clamped their feet in the stocks.”

Anybody ever had a day like that? I’ve had bad days before, but nothing like this.

If I’m Paul or Silas I’m emotionally and physically and spiritually spent. I’m drained to the last drop. I’ve got nothing left to give. Their backs are bleeding from their beating. They are black and blue all over. And they had to be ticked off. I’ve never had a mob form against me, but I’m guessing that’ll set you off emotionally. And to top it off, they land themselves in the maximum security cell in stocks!

It just doesn’t get much worse than that. And that’s why this next verse is so amazing to me. Acts 16:25 says, “Around midnight, Paul and Silas were complaining about their circumstances.” That’s not what it says. It says,

Around midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening.

Let me share something I’ve learned from personal experience. When I get into a spiritual or emotional slump, it’s usually because I’ve zoomed in on a problem. I’m fixating on something that is wrong. I’m focused on the wrong thing.

Nine times out of ten, the solution is zooming out so I can get some perspective.

Sometimes you’ve got to zoom out and look at the big picture. I found this example online and want to share it with you. A college student wrote this letter to her parents:

Dear Mom and Dad,

I have so much to tell you. Because of the fire in my dorm set off by student riots, I experienced temporary lung damage and had to go to the hospital. While I was there, I fell in love with an orderly, and we have moved in together. I dropped out of school when I found out I was pregnant, and he got fired because of his drinking, so we’re going to move to Alaska, where we might get married after the birth of our baby.

Your loving daughter

PS: None of this really happened, but I did flunk my chemistry class and I wanted to keep it in perspective.

Sometimes you need to zoom out and look at the big picture. You fail a chemistry exam and it feels like the end of the world. But it’s not.

Let me give you a one word answer on how to zoom out:


Worshipping is taking our eyes off of our external circumstances and focusing on God. We stop focusing on what’s wrong with us or with our circumstances. We start focusing on all that is right about God.

Paul and Silas could have zoomed in and complained about their circumstances. God, we cast out a demon and this is what we get? We’re on a missionary journey and we get beaten and thrown in jail? Instead of “watching our back” our backs are bleeding from a beating! They could have complained till the cows came home. But they made a choice to worship God in spite of their external circumstances.

Here’s what worship does:
Restores spiritual equilibrium
Regains perspective
Enables God to intervene

Worship is zooming out and refocusing on the big picture. It’s refocusing on the fact that two thousand years ago, Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for my sin. It’s refocusing on the fact that God loves me when I least expect it and least deserve it. It’s refocusing on the fact that God is going to get me where God wants me to go. It’s refocusing on the fact that I have eternity with God to look forward to in a place where there is no mourning or sorrow or pain.

Worship is refocusing on the fundamentals of our faith. And here is what happens: God restores the joy of our salvation. We regain our spiritual equilibrium.

Is it easy? Absolutely not!
Nothing is more difficult than praising God when everything seems to be going wrong. But one of the purest forms of worship is praising God even when you don’t feel like it because it shows God that your worship isn’t based on circumstances. Worship is based on the character of God.

Worship is reframing our circumstances to line up with the Word of God.

Victor Frankl was a Holocaust survivor who wrote a book about his experiences in a Nazi concentration camp. Everything was taken away from these prisoners. They were stripped of their clothing, their pictures, and their personal belongings. They even took away their names and gave them numbers. Frankl was number 119,104.

Frankl said in his book, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.”

The outcome of your life will be determined by your outlook on life.

If you have a critical or complaining spirit you’ll complain till the day you die. Your life will get worse and worse because you’ll accumulate more and more negative experiences. But if you have a worshipful spirit, life gets better and better. Why? Because you accumulate positive memories and know everything has purpose.

Your internal attitudes are more important than your external circumstances.

At the end of the day, one way or the other, your focus determines your reality! We have free choice. We are responsible. In other words, we have the ability to choose our response in any set of circumstances.

Paul and Silas were in prison. Their bodies were chained. But you can’t chain the human spirit. That’s what Victor Frankl discovered in the concentration camp. That’s what Paul and Silas modeled two thousand years ago. Their bodies were chained, but their spirits soared as they worshipped, and that choice to worship set off a chain reaction.

Albert Einstein said, “You can’t solve a problem on the level it was created.” I think problems created on a human plane are solved on the supernatural plane. That’s what happens when we worship God. It changes the spiritual atmosphere.

I don’t think Paul could have planned this miraculous jailbreak. To make a long story short, there is an earthquake. The prisoners are set free, but they don’t leave! The jailer who is about to kill himself gets saved and his entire family is baptized in the middle of the night.

You can’t script that kind of thing. You can’t plan miracles. But when you worship God in the worst of circumstances you never know what is going to happen. Worship sets the stage for miracles! Worship causes spiritual earthquakes that can reshape your life. God can make bad things become good things.

Worship is the way we stay positive in negative circumstances. And it’s not denying the truth, its reshaping your reality. No matter how bad things get, as followers of Christ, we have eternity in heaven to look forward to! My pain is real. But so is heaven. The good news is that this reality is temporary. The reality of salvation lasts forever!

The key is to: Focus on the right reality

By now you know I love statistics and studies. Here is one. Research indicates that the average person talks to himself or herself about 50,000 times a day. Research indicates that 80% of self-talk is negative.

We say negative things to ourselves. I’m not good enough. I’m not smart enough. And, doggone it, people don’t like me. So here’s what happens: we let what’s wrong with us keep us from worshipping what’s right about God. We’re focused on the wrong reality. We tend to see what we’re looking for.

A pessimist will always see something bad in a good situation and an optimist will always see something good in a bad situation.

Paul gives some priceless advice in Philippians 4:8. It’ a list of eight premeditated cognitive commitments. He says,

“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

A worshipper always finds something to praise God for because they’re looking for something to praise God for. Worship is a premeditated cognitive commitment based on ultimate reality.

The circumstances you complain about will become the chains that imprison you.

It was worship that set Paul and Silas free physically. And it’s worship that will set you free emotionally and spiritually. Worship sets off a chain reaction. The prison doors fly open. The chains break free.

Are there circumstances that you’re allowing to imprison you? Have your complaints about someone or something become chains?

Stop focusing on what’s wrong about you or your circumstances. Start focusing on what’s right about God. Here’s an assignment. Keep a gratitude journal this week. Find something everyday to be grateful for. It’s a spiritual discipline.

Psalms 103:2 says, “Praise the Lord and forget not all his benefits.”

“Count your blessings. Name them one by one. Count your many blessings. See what God has done.”

It’s not what you go through, its how you go through it. Go through life as a Worshipper!

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?

Monday, November 1, 2010



Give a brief historical biography of Joses, Barnabas, Son of Consolation/Exhortation/Prophecy, the Levite Believer of Cyprus who became an Apostle of faith.

• A Jew from the tribe of Levi, born and raised in Cyprus which gave him Hellenistic exposure and prepared him to move in circles and argue matters without the prejudice one born in Israel would have faced. (In like manner was Saul of Tarsus born and initially educated in a Hellenistic society which made him conversant with the Greek speaking elite of the Roman Empire in that day.)
• An evident man of means, property at least. (although a Levite, he was nonetheless a property owner, perhaps from inheritance or even through marriage)
• Became a believer, converted in Jerusalem most likely while on a pilgrimage around the time of Pentecost.
• Was a people person who possessed a certain ability to present convincing argument.
• Greatly trusted with both doctrine and money.
• Was well known and received by the Apostles in Jerusalem to be an Apostle himself, called of God sent with the Gospel to the Gentile nations.

The life of Barnabas reveals Three Great and Eternal Truths

1. God determines where and into what means a person is born.

Acts 4
36 And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement), a Levite of the country of Cyprus,
37 having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

2. We all encounter moments which hold dynamic potential.

As we follow Barnabas’ life story we are reminded over and again that God offers dynamic opportunities. Whether or not we recognize the opportunity as coming from God and what we do with those opportunities often determine our effectiveness and our later assignments of life.

Just as God offered Barnabas a dynamic opportunity to travel from Cyprus to Jerusalem, followed by another dynamic opportunity to become a believer in Jesus, followed by another dynamic opportunity to sell his land and give the money to the work of God through the church … God continues to offer dynamic opportunity after dynamic opportunity to Barnabas. The miracle only stops when and where we stop!

Acts 9
26 And when Saul had come to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple.
27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. And he declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.
28 So he was with them at Jerusalem, coming in and going out.
29 And he spoke boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus and disputed against the Hellenists, but they attempted to kill him.
30 When the brethren found out, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him out to Tarsus.
31 Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.

3. To have been a part of God’s plan was a good ride.

Have you ever had the experience of taking your children or someone else for a fun day at the fair or the beach or astro-world. Then, when you have had a great day with lots of fun, it comes time to leave. Nothing bad, it’s just that the day is over and it’s time to go home.

If you have ever had that experience you know that sometimes people, especially, but not limited to, children, can get fussy and start moaning, complaining, and crying and pitching a fit, stomping around and even falling down and just ruin the whole wonderful day’s experience. Why, because the disappointment of it being time to go home completely overshadows and ruins all the fun they had all day long. Now that’s sad!

What do you want to say to a child or grown up friend who was doing that? I’d want to say: “Well if you’re gonna act like that, I just won’t bring you next time!” “What’s the matter with you, it was a good day, we had a good time, --- It was a good ride!” “Can’t you just enjoy the fact that we had a good day and realize that if you act right, we will have another good day in the future.”

It is so sad to have had such a good day, such a good time, such a wonderful experience, and then throw it all away all because it’s over. Hey, that’s life – everything in this life has an end. What we need to focus on is not the end, but rather on the good ride we had. Not on the rides or food that made us sick, but on the ones that made us laugh! Those are the treasured memories and those are the ones for which we are so thankful to our God.

In Barnabas’ life, he was so mightily used by God. Without his input, Paul might never have been accepted by the Apostles in Jerusalem; the missionary journeys we read about in the book of Acts might never have been taken or supported or written about; without Barnabas’ financial support to the church in Jerusalem, not only when he lived there but also afterwards, people’s needs might have gone unmet; without Barnabas’ care for John Mark, he might have never recovered from his failures to become profitable once again to the ministry of the aged Apostle Paul.

Many scholars, preachers, theologians and readers of the book of Acts are left with the wrong impression about Barnabas and his lasting impact on the kingdom of God and the church of Christ. Barnabas did what God called him to do and I believe that he fully participated in the will of God for his life.

My favorite mention of Barnabas, out of the 30 times he is referenced in the book of Acts, is found in Acts 11. I believe it sums up the life and ministry of this great disciple, this “Son of Consolation”.

Acts 11
22 Then news of these things came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch.
23 When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord.
24 For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord.
25 Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul.
26 And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.

So, what are some things we learn from the life of Barnabas?

1. God determines where and into what means a person is born.
God has a plan for every person

2. We all encounter moments which hold dynamic potential.
It’s what we do with those opportunities that makes the difference.

3. To have been a part of God’s plan was a good ride.
When things end as they should, be thankful for the ride!