Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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The Ministry of Angels, Day 1

Leslie Basham: Walk into a gift shop today and you’d think the purpose of angels was to sell calendars, plaques, and knick-knacks. What’s the true purpose of angels? Here’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Angels have one primary job, one occupation, one eternal calling, and that is to serve God and to do His pleasure.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth for Thursday, December 3, 2015.

Here are Revive Our Hearts we’re asking, “What Time is It?” Here’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth.

Nancy: You know, I really believe it’s time to cry out to the Lord. Throughout history, when things looked the most bleak, God’s people would often be driven to pray with desperate cries—a cry for God to revive the church, to awaken non-believers to new life, and to transform communities—not through political means or education or programs—but through people’s hearts being changing. I believe in that for our day.

Throughout 2016, we’ll be studying prayer here on Revive Our Hearts, culminating in True Woman '16 in the fall. It will be an event, but I believe it is going to be so much more than that. During that weekend next September when we host True Woman '16, I’m asking God to raise up perhaps hundreds of thousands of women who will come together in their communities, connect with us online, and join together in crying out to the Lord to intervene in our nation and our world.

Revive Our Hearts can only engage in that call with your help. If you see the value in calling women to cry out to the Lord in desperate prayer, you help make it possible by supporting this ministry with a special year end gift. When you do, your donation will be doubled by some friends of the ministry who are matching each gift given this month, up to a challenge amount of $820,000!

Would you ask the Lord what He’d want you to give? When you have a sense of what that amount is, you can call us at 1–800–569–5959, or donate online at ReviveOurHearts.com. Your gift today will help Revive Our Hearts call women to cry out to the Lord together for such a time as this. 

Leslie: Thanks Nancy.

We all know that angels play a prominent role in the Christmas story. But did you realize that angels play important roles in other biblical accounts as well?

Nancy’s going to help you understand what Scripture says about these mysterious beings in a series called "The Ministry of Angels in the Lives of Believers."

Nancy: When you look around today, you see that there’s enormous interest in the subject of angels. You walk into a bookstore and you find books about angels, poetry about angels, stories of real or supposed encounters with angels. We have TV programs that feature angels. You walk into a gift shop and you’ll see pictures and figurines and jewelry and cards and angels everywhere.

I think you know that much of what we hear about angels today simply is not true. And how do we know if it’s true or not? We take it back to the Scripture, the grid of God’s Word, and evaluate it by what we read in God’s Word.

But the fact that people are saying today a lot of things about angels that are imagination should not make us disregard what is true about angels and what the Scripture reveals to us in God’s Word about this very important subject.

There are approximately 300 references to angels in the Scripture—far more, by the way, than to Satan and to demons.

The word angel as you may know means “messenger.” Angels are God’s messengers. They are created beings. That’s why they are not to be worshiped. Only the Creator is to be worshiped. They are immortal. They are not eternal because they did have a starting place. God created them, but they are immortal. They do live forever.

You ask how many angels are there? We don’t know. But we do know that there are vast numbers of angels. Revelation chapter 5 talks about thousands of thousands of angels. You can do some multiplication there and know that there are lots of them (see v. 11). Then Hebrews chapter 12 tells us that there are innumerable angels, more than we could possibly count (see v. 22).

As we’ve said, angels are not to be worshiped. They are not to be prayed to. They are God’s servants who carry out His business in the world. Angels have one primary job, one occupation, one eternal calling, and that is to serve God and to do His pleasure.

I love that passage in Psalm 103 where all of creation is being told to bless the Lord, but at the end of that passage, the Psalmist says,

Praise the Lord you his angels,
   you mighty ones who do his bidding,
   who obey his word.
Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts.
   you his servants who do his will (vv. 20–21).

You see in that passage that angels are mighty creatures. They’re powerful, not as powerful as God by any means, but they do His bidding. They obey His Word; they do His will. They’re God’s obedient servants, and they exist to bring Him pleasure.

Now you know the Scripture says that God created us for that very same purpose. For His pleasure we are and were created, Revelation chapter 4, verse 11 (paraphrased). God has created us to serve Him, to bring Him pleasure. As I’ve been studying this matter of angels, I found myself wondering. How well am I fulfilling my calling?

We know that the angels do what they were created to do. They were created to serve God and to bring Him pleasure, and that’s exactly what they do. The question is: Am I fulfilling my created purpose? Are you fulfilling your created purpose to serve God and to bring Him pleasure?

When we pray in the Lord’s Prayer, the prayer that the Lord taught His disciples to pray, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10 KJV). We’re really praying in a sense that what the angels do in heaven, we will also do down here on earth. What do the angels do in heaven? They worship God; they bless Him; they serve Him; they obey Him.

We’re praying, “Lord, help us to be as faithful in fulfilling our calling here on earth, as the angels are in heaven.” When we pray that prayer, we’re expressing our desire, our intent, to obey God, to worship Him, as His holy angels do in heaven.

Angels fulfill their created purpose to serve God and to do His pleasure in three major ways. As I study the Scripture, most of the angels do fit into one or more of these three categories.

(1) They fulfill their created purpose through the worship and the praise of God in heaven.

You remember that wonderful passage in Revelation chapters 4 and 5 where we’re told, we’re given a glimpse into the throne room of heaven. We hear these angels day and night stand around the throne of God and they cry out, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty” (4:8; 5:12–13).

They worship God for His greatness, His power, His splendor, His majesty, for His redemptive plan. They worship God in heaven.

The prophet Isaiah saw this same vision of heaven in Isaiah chapter 6 as he was allowed to look into the throne room of heaven. There he saw the seraphim, a particular class of angels whose full-time occupation was to worship and praise and bless the Lord. They serve God and please Him by worshiping Him and blessing Him.

(2) Now we also find throughout the Scripture, both the Old and New Testaments, that angels are involved in helping God to execute His judgments here on the earth.

This has been true in the past and it will be true in the end of this earth as God sends His angels. You read about this in the book of Revelation as the judgments of God unfold. Many times it’s the angels who are actually executing the judgments of God on the earth.

And then there’s a third way that the angels fulfill their created purpose, and that’s what I want to focus on in these next few sessions.

(3) Angels are God’s messengers sent by God to minister to believers here on the earth.

So they worship and praise Him in heaven. They execute His judgment on the earth when He gives them direction—they take it and fulfill it. Then God also sends His angels to minister to the children of God, to minister to believers here on the earth.

So I want us to look at several specific ways that angels are involved in the lives of believers. I think this will be encouraging to you as it has been to me to realize that these unseen messengers of God are actively involved in my life and in yours, if you’re a child of God, on a daily basis.

The first thing that I see in the Scripture is that angels rejoice when we repent. When we repent, the Scripture says angels rejoice.

Angels rejoice when we repent.

Remember that passage in Luke chapter 15, where Jesus was telling some stories about people who lost things that were very valuable to them. Then they found what they had lost, what they had searched for so diligently. They went back to their home and they were rejoicing, and they called their friends and neighbors in to rejoice with them.

Jesus said in much the same way, Luke 15, verse 10, “I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” When one sinner repents, the angels throw a party. They celebrate. Every time a sinner repents here on earth, they’re thrilled because God is being exalted, the one they worship and adore and love, and His will is being done here on earth as it is in heaven.

Now there are points of repentance that take place at the moment of conversion, but subsequent to conversion, God intends that we should continue being repenters. That is the Holy Spirit within us convicts us that we have sinned against God. We should have a lifestyle of repenting before God as He reveals issues and needs in our lives. And when we repent, I believe every time we repent, the angels rejoice.

As I’ve been meditating on this matter of the angels rejoicing when we repent, I found myself wondering if the angels rejoice when we repent, is it also possible that they grieve when we harden our hearts and refuse to repent?

We know that God grieves. We know that the Holy Spirit can be grieved. I don’t know. The Scripture doesn’t tell us whether or not angels grieve, but as much as they love and worship the Lord Jesus, it seems to me that they well might be grieved when we reject His right to rule in our lives.

So we ask ourselves as we contemplate this matter of angels rejoicing when sinners repent: Are we giving the angels cause for celebration or could we be giving them cause for grief by our unrepentant hearts?

Then I also ask myself: Am I as excited as the angels are when I see sinners repenting? Do I get that kind of joy and celebration in my heart when I see sinners coming to know Jesus, seeing people getting right with God? This is matter for great rejoicing, and it’s one of the ways angels are involved in our lives as believers.

There’s another way that angels minister to us as believers. Scripture teaches that angels encamp around us. Psalm 34, verse 7 says, “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him and he delivers them.” When I think of that word encamp, I’m picturing a boundary—hedge, a protective hedge.

You may remember that passage in 2 Kings chapter 6 where in the middle of the night the King of Syria sent an army with horses and chariots to surround the city where the prophet Elisha lived. Their instructions were to capture Elisha and to take him back to the king.

When morning came, Elisha’s servant went outside and he saw this vast army and understandably, he was terrified. He said to Elisha, “What should we do?"

The prophet said to the servant, “Don’t be afraid. Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and he said, “God, please open my servant’s eyes so he may see” (see vv. 15–17).

Now, the servant wasn’t blind. He could see, but he could only see with his natural eyes. He could only see the visible, physical, reality of that surrounding army.

Elisha was praying, “Lord, open his spiritual eyes so that he can get a glimpse of what has been there all along, but he couldn’t see with his natural eyesight. Let him see the invisible reality that is around us.” When the Lord opened the servants eyes, he looked and he saw that the hills were full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

You see, the enemy that had surrounded the city could not get to Elisha. Though it didn’t look like there was an obstacle in their way, there was a very real obstacle in their way that they could not go past. Elisha was surrounded by the angels of God who formed a protective hedge around him.

Now, we tend to look at the visible realities around us—angry people, hostile people, troubled people, a dangerous neighborhood that perhaps we live in, worrying about something happening to our children. We easily in light of those visible realities see there are dangerous people out there, there are dangerous circumstances. We easily become fearful and upset, and we begin to worry and to fret because we have our eyes on the things we can see. The visible realities.

If we would only stop and realize how close His ministering angels are to us and how they encamp around us and around those that we love, if they are believers, then we would never really have cause for fear.

You think about your children, and you send them out into this world. There’s no way you can be with them everywhere. Even if you are with them everywhere, you can’t protect them from every evil thing in this world.

But if your children have faith in Christ, God protects those children by sending His angels to come and encamp around them.

We would never be afraid, and we could face every circumstance in our lives with peace and with faith if we would stop and remember that invisible host of angels that surround us.

You see, the enemy that is very real cannot get to us without getting through an army of angels that encamp around us. The only way they can get past that army is if God gives them permission. That means we can trust. We don’t have to be afraid because the angels encamp around us.

Now related to that is another way angels minister to believers. That is that angels protect us from harm. In the book of Genesis, Jacob towards the end of his life speaks about “the angel who has delivered me from all harm” (48:16). He looks back on his life; he’s conscious that God has sent an angel to deliver him from all harm.

Psalm 91 speaks of these angels who protect us. The Scripture says in that passage, “He will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so you will not strike your foot against a stone” (vv. 11–12). They protect us; they lift us up in times of harm or danger.

Isaiah chapter 63 tells us that “in all their afflictions [the afflictions of the children of Israel], God was afflicted” (v. 9). God cared. He felt their pain, and what did He do? He sent the angel of His presence to save them, to deliver them, to protect them from harm.

Now, let me suggest another way that angels minister to us. And again, some of these are closely related. Angels are sent not only to protect us from harm, but also to rescue us from impossible situations.

We have a number of illustrations of this in the Scripture—times when God sent His angels to rescue His people from impossible situations. Two of those incidences take place in the life of the early church in the book of Acts.

In Acts chapter 5 you’ll remember that the apostles were arrested from preaching the gospel, and they were thrown into jail. That was an impossible situation. They were bound; they were imprisoned; they could not get out of that circumstance.

The Scripture says that “during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out” (v. 19). How did the angel open the doors? I don’t know. They are God’s mighty servants. They have not as much power as God does, but more power than we do over those natural forces.

“They opened the doors of the jail and brought the apostles out. And they said to the apostles, ‘Go, stand in the temple courts and tell the people the full message of this new life’” (v. 20). God sent an angel to rescue His apostles in that impossible situation.

Now, a few chapters later we come to Acts chapter 12. A similar situation, but we are given more detail in relation to this passage. King Herod arrested the apostle Peter and put him in prison. The night before his trial . . . Now think of the timing here—how God is so wise in knowing just when to send His angels to the rescue.

The night before his trial, the Scripture says, “Peter was sleeping between two soldiers. He was bound with two chains and sentries stood guard at the entrance” (v. 6). There’s no way Peter is going to get out of that situation apart from divine intervention.

Then the Scripture says, we’re in Acts chapter 12, “Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shown in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. ‘Quick, get up,’ he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrist. Then the angel said to him, ‘[Get dressed] and follow me’” (vv. 7–8).

The passage goes on to say Peter had no idea what was really happening. You can imagine—maybe a little groggy from having been just awakened from sleep. He thought he was seeing a vision. The Scripture says “they passed the first and then the second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself and they went through it. Then suddenly the angel left them” (v. 10).

Then the Scriptures say, “Peter came to himself and said, ‘The Lord has sent his angel and has rescued me from Herod’s clutches’” (v. 11). Peter recognized that this was God’s doing and that an angel had been God’s instrument to help bring about the rescue.

Now, let me say this: Angels do not always rescue God’s children. They do not rescue us from every problem or from every difficult situation. Remember, they are God’s servants, and they can only do what God tells them to do. They cannot rush off on their own and do their own will. They exist to God’s will.

I think, for example, of that terrible, dark moment at the cross when the Son of God was dying for the sin of the world. I can only imagine, though we are not told in the Scripture, that the angels were longing to come and rescue Jesus from that cross, but God forbade them to intervene. It was not God’s moment. It was not God’s time.

Yes, Jesus could have been rescued. But had He rescued Himself or the angels rescued Him prematurely, we could never have been rescued from our sin. So God allowed His Son to go through the full course of that cross—not allowing the angels to step in and intervene.

It wasn’t long after that that the early Christians began to experience persecution for preaching the Gospel. I believe that all through that time the angels were watching, wanting to rush in as armies of deliverance.

At times, God did send them forth to intervene; to stop the mouths of lions; to rescue His servants from some of those impossible situations. But at other times, for reasons only known to God, they were not allowed to do so. They are not free to deliver, to rescue until God gives them the order to do so.

So you say, “In my impossible situation will God send an angel to rescue me?” Maybe, and maybe not. You see, it’s mystery with God. We need to learn to be content in mystery and say, “Lord, if it pleases You in this moment to rescue me from this situation, I know that You can, and I know that You will. And You may use angels as Your instruments to help affect that deliverance. But if you don’t, then I know that You have purposes that are greater than my immediate comfort and deliverance.”

Can you trust God to make the decision, to make the choice? Say, “Lord, I leave it in Your hands.” And when the rescue comes, remember to look up and thank God and know that He well may have sent an angel as part of bringing that rescue about.

Leslie: The purpose of angels isn’t just to inspire Christmas decorations. Angels might be protecting us today in ways we don’t even know about. If you missed any of today’s program, you can listen at ReviveOurHearts.com, or just subscribe to the podcast, and you’ll get Revive Our Hearts each day automatically. You’ll never have to miss a program. Get more details at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Who encourages you when you're down? You probably have friends or people you work with who encourage you from time to time. Do you know that angels encourage us too? See what the Bible says about that, tomorrow.

Nancy: All angels are ministering spirits sent to attend, to serve, to wait on . . . not just Jesus, but those who will inherit salvation—on the children of God. God at key moments in our lives, maybe even unbeknownst to us sends His angels to strengthen us, to encourage us, to minister to us and meet our needs.

Leslie: Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the New International Version unless otherwise noted.

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About the Speaker

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love …

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