Revive Our Hearts Podcast

The Ministry of Angels, Day 2

Leslie Basham: The choices you make today to do what’s right are being noticed. Here’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth.

Nancy:As we obey God, as we exercise faith, as we suffer sometimes for doing right, we’re putting on, in a sense, a performance that angels are watching.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth for Friday, December 4, 2015.

Over the past couple of weeks, some children have been told that a certain person at the North Pole has been watching to see whether they’ve been naughty or nice. Well, that’s fictional, of course, but did you know that all of us are being watched?

The things we do can bring joy or sadness to the angelic beings that watch over us. Let’s join Nancy as she continues a study on the function of angels in the lives of believers.

Nancy:We’re talking about the angels of God, God’s holy messengers, God’s unseen servants, and how these angels minister to us as the children of God, as believers in Christ. The Scripture teaches that angels assist us in spiritual warfare against the forces of Satan and evil.

We know from the book of Ephesians, chapter 6, that we are in a battle, and that the battle is not against people. The enemy is not your husband or your children or your parents or your neighbor. We’re in a battle that’s a spiritual battle, and we’re dealing with spiritual forces of wickedness, the power of Satan and evil in this world.

But the Scripture says that we don’t need to be afraid. As strong as those forces of evil may be, they are no match for God and His heavenly host. We’re surrounded and we’re helped by a powerful army of angels, angels who assist us in that warfare against the forces of Satan and evil.

There are a number of illustrations of this in the Scripture. One that comes to mind is in the Book of Genesis, chapter 19. Do you remember how a mob of violent men surrounded Lot’s house in Sodom? They were wanting to accomplish wicked things with Lot and his family, but God sent two angels to assist Lot.

In the midst of that attack, the angels struck the attackers with blindness so that they could not find the door. Had it not been for the presence of those angels at that moment, Lot would have been helpless. Angels were sent to assist him in the spiritual warfare against the force of Satan that was motivating that mob and against the evil.

Then we come to the Book of Daniel, chapter 10. I have to tell you, when we get into a lot of these passages, we’re treading in the realm of mystery. There’s much more that we don’t understand than what we do understand about some of these passages.

We don’t want to speak where the Scripture doesn’t speak. But the Scripture does give us a glimpse and an insight, through passages like this one in Daniel 10, as to how the angels operate.

In this particular case, Daniel had been praying to God for some days. God had sent an angel to deliver a message to Daniel, the answer to Daniel’s prayer. In fact, the Scripture says that the moment, the day, that Daniel began to pray, God sent the angel with a message.

But somehow, in a way that we cannot fathom because we can’t see these invisible realities, for twenty-one days, we’re told that the angel messenger from God was resisted and detained by fallen angels. Satan’s agents withheld that angel of God from getting the message to Daniel for twenty-one days.

Now, Daniel continued to pray through that whole time. I’ve sometimes wondered what would have happened if Daniel had stopped praying on day twenty or day nineteen or day eighteen.

Have you ever found yourself praying for something for a long period of time, maybe for a child who is far from God or rebellious against God, maybe for a mate who doesn’t know the Lord; and you’ve prayed and prayed? Maybe for you it’s not just twenty-one days. It’s twenty-one weeks or twenty-one years, and there’s no evidence that God has heard or is answering your prayer.

This passage should give you hope that God does hear, and He is working in the heavenlies to send the answer and to fulfill His purposes. We don’t know exactly what the answer is, in what form God will send that answer, or when it will arrive. That’s why it’s so important that we persevere in prayer, that we not give up before God has sent His answer.

As the story unfolds here in Daniel 10, the angel finally does get through to Daniel, and he explains that for twenty-one days he’d been trying to get through to deliver this message, and that God had finally sent the angel Michael—Michael was called the archangel, the chief angel—to help this nameless angel who was trying to deliver a message to Daniel.

So God had, in this case, two angels who were involved in assisting in this matter of the spiritual warfare that was going on in the heavenlies, a warfare Daniel was not even aware of.

Now, sometimes we are conscious that we are coming up head to head against the forces of evil and the powers of darkness. But I think many times we’re not even aware that that’s what we’re dealing with.

The important thing is that God knows. He knows, and He sees what is going on in the heavenlies, and He’s in control over it all. Even those fallen angels cannot do more than what God allows them to do. They are under His control and under His power. And God often sends angels to assist in that spiritual warfare against the forces of Satan and evil.

There’s another way that angels minister to our lives. The Scripture teaches that angels minister to us or serve us, and they provide strength and sustenance for us when we are weak. Again we go to the Scripture and find a number of illustrations of this kind of ministry on the part of angels.

Do you remember back in the book of 1 Kings when the prophet Elijah had won this great victory on God’s behalf? It was God who had won the victory, but Elijah was God’s servant. He went to Mount Carmel and stood up for God against those 850 false prophets—this one lone prophet hopelessly outnumbered.

But Elijah believed in the power of God, who was the God of fire. He knew that the false gods these false prophets served had no power at all. So he took on a challenge. He confronted the powers of evil and darkness, and God won a great victory and vindicated His name and His power.

Now we go to the next chapter, 1 Kings 19, and we find that the victorious prophet Elijah is now exhausted. He’s depleted. He’s discouraged after this showdown, and he’s running for his life from wicked Queen Jezebel, who has threatened to kill him before the day is over. She’s angry at what has happened.

So he’s discouraged, and he sits down under a tree and begs God to take his life, to let him die. Then he lies down under that tree and he falls asleep. He’s exhausted.

You can perhaps relate to those moments when you’re just worn out. With you it may not be this great encounter at Mount Carmel. It may just be an encounter with three toddlers that you’ve had all day long, and you’re depleted. Well, at those times we can get discouraged, and all we want to do is sleep and maybe even die.

The Scripture says, “All at once an angel touched Elijah and said to him, ‘Get up and eat’” (v. 5). Now, isn’t that practical? “He looked around, and there by his head was a cake of bread baked over hot coals and a jar of water.”

How did they get there? I don’t think there was any kitchen out in this desert. God supernaturally intervened and provided exactly what was needed at that moment.

The Scripture says, “Elijah ate and drank and then lay down again.” He was still tired. And once again “the angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, ‘Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you’” (v. 7). God sent his angel, a messenger, to strengthen His servant in his time of need.

When we come to the Gospel of Mark, we find Jesus in the midst of the desert. The Scripture says in that time of temptation that Jesus "was with the wild animals, and angels attended Him" (Mark 1:13). Now, what I love about that verse is not just that the angels attended to Jesus; but as you go further in the New Testament, you find out that those very same angels attend to us.

The Book of Hebrews tells us in Hebrews 1:14 that “All angels are ministering spirits sent to attend . . .” It’s the same word there: to attend, to serve, to wait on—not just Jesus, but “those who will inherit salvation . . .” the children of God.

In the same way that angels ministered to Him in the midst of that desert surrounded by wild animals, so 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.

There’s another crucial moment in Jesus’ life when an angel ministered to Him. It’s at the end of His life here on earth. In Luke 22 we find Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, praying to His heavenly Father just before He goes to the cross, where He is going to bear all the weight of our sin upon Himself.

Jesus prays, in His humanness, “Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me. Nevertheless, I surrender. Not my will, but your will be done” (v. 42 paraphrased). The Scripture tells us that at that moment an angel from heaven appeared to Him and strengthened Him (see v. 43). The word there in the original language means “to make strong inwardly.” Inwardly it made Him strong, strengthened Him in the middle of this great spiritual battle.

What’s intriguing to me is that at this moment in Jesus’ life when He was all alone, His disciples were sleeping, and He needed inner strength to do the will of God, at that crucial moment the angel strengthened Him. But the very next verse tells us that it wasn’t the end of the battle.

It goes on to say, “Being in anguish he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground” (v. 44). You say, “If the angel strengthened Him, wouldn’t that deliver Him from the battle?” You know what it did? To the contrary, it gave Him strength to go on in the battle.

If you have those three toddlers we were just talking about, you don’t just need deliverance from the battle. You need deliverance to keep going in the battle. You need to be strengthened inwardly so that you can face the next day, and the next and the next.

It was the ministry of angels that gave Jesus the inner fortitude and strength to press on and to pray more earnestly. He was strengthened by the angels to do the will of God.

So as we look to God, God is the one who strengthens us. But many times I believe that He sends His angels as instruments of His mercy and His grace. We may not be aware that it’s the angels reaching out to us at that point. They come from God, so I don’t believe we ought to pray to the angels to come and strengthen us.

We ought to pray to God and say, “God, I’m so weak. I’m so needy. Would You come and strengthen me in this moment of weakness that I may not fail You, that I may be given courage to press on?” And when God answers, I believe in some cases He’ll answer by means of His angels.

Scripture teaches that angels are watching us. Paul said to Timothy in 1 Timothy 5, “I charge you in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels to keep these instructions” (v. 21). Jesus is watching. God is watching. And, Paul says, the elect angels are watching; so make sure you obey these instructions.

Then Paul says, in 1 Corinthians 4, we are a spectacle to angels as we live our lives. As we obey God, as we exercise faith, as we suffer sometimes for doing right, we are a spectacle. We’re putting on, in a sense, a performance that angels are watching.

I think of the book of Job and how this servant of God, this righteous man, was tested without knowing what we know about the whole story, about what was going on in the heavenlies between God and Satan. All he knew was that he was suffering incredibly.

In one day he endured the loss of all of his possessions and all of his children, and then found himself struggling with these well meaning but not very helpful friends (and wife, I might add) at that point, who were not really able to encourage and comfort him.

But Scripture says, “In all of this, Job did not sin with his mouth.” He did not falsely accuse God. Instead he said, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (1:21–22).

Now, I don’t know, because the Scripture doesn’t tell us, and we can’t be sure of anything the Scripture doesn’t tell us. But I just imagine that at that moment perhaps the angels in heaven who had been, maybe peering over the balcony, if you will, watching to see what would happen . . . They knew what was going on in heaven, but watching to see how God’s servant would respond, God’s servant who didn’t know the outcome. He didn’t know that God was in charge in the way that the angels could see it.

When Job said, “Blessed be the name of the Lord,” I just wonder if those angels didn’t start to applaud. God had been vindicated. His servant had trusted in Him and said later, “Though he slay me,” though I lose not only my possessions, not only my children, but even my very life, “yet will I trust him” (Job 13:15). Angels are watching.

The Scripture says in Hebrews 12 that there’s “a great cloud of witnesses” (v. 1) gathered in sort of a grandstand in heaven, as they watch us run the race down here on earth that has been set before us. I believe angels are a part of that great host up in heaven watching to see if we will be faithful in running the race that God has given to us.

Now, the fact that the angels are watching, that they are watching us here on earth from heaven, should be a source of great encouragement and motivation and, I might add, accountability as we walk down here on this earth.

In his book Though I Walk Through the Valley, Dr. Vance Havner tells of an old preacher who worked through the night on a sermon for his tiny congregation. His wife asked him why he was spending so much time working on a message that so few would hear. To this the minister replied, “You forget, my dear, how large my audience will be.”

When you remember that you’re playing to the heaven, it gives you a whole lot of courage to continue on when you think that nobody really notices down here on earth. Dr. Havner added, “Nothing is trivial here if heaven looks on. We shall play a better game if we remember who is in the grandstand.”

  • So mothers, when you think that no one sees and no one appreciates all the little things that you do every day for your family, remember that the angels are watching.
  • When you’re tempted to throw in the towel—you get weary, you get faint in heart, you get just tired of doing right—be faithful, because the angels are watching.
  • When you find yourself alone and tempted to give in to that sin that so easily besets you. God is watching, and the angels are watching.

Finally, angels minister to us in another way. The Scripture teaches that at our death, angels will carry or escort us to heaven. There’s one verse in Luke 16 that indicates this.

Do you remember the story that Jesus told about the beggar named Lazarus who had lain begging at the gate of the rich man until his death? When they died, the Scripture says, the beggar was carried (that word is escorted) by the angels into the presence of God.

I believe that gives us a glimpse into what happens at the moment of our death. Normally we can’t see this happening when someone else is dying. We may not see it when we die. But God sends His holy angels to escort His servants, His children, from this life into the next.

A number of years ago I was responsible for leading a summer day camp for children. The primary age children—grades one, two, and three—would come each day. We had camp counselors there, and the children would go home at night.

Well, that particular summer the 4th of July fell on a Wednesday, so we took the day off from camp. Our counselors, who were students at a local Christian university, went into the Blue Ridge Mountains hiking. I was at home that day studying, preparing to teach a lesson for the children the next day.

As the Lord would have it, I was getting ready to teach a message on Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. So I’d been thinking of this whole thing of the resurrection. We’d been teaching the children on the resurrection.

I got a phone call at my home that day from one of the counselors, telling me the news that as they were out hiking, one of the young women had slipped on that path and had fallen instantly to her death.

The next day we had camp again. We had to come back and tell these children what had happened to Miss Vicki, their camp counselor. I shared with those children, thinking of this passage of the angels escorting us to heaven and of other passages such as those that tell us that God sends His angels to hold us up, to keep us lest we dash our foot against a stone.

I told the children that we couldn’t see what had happened that morning, but that God had said to one of His angels, “I want you to go and get Miss Vicki, and I want you to bring her to Me today.” So when it looked to us like Miss Vicki slipped and fell on that pathway, what really happened is that the angels picked her up and carried her to God in heaven.

When you face death, as we all will sooner or later, and when you face the death of those that you love, if they are children of God, believers in Jesus Christ, know that they haven’t gone alone into the next life; they’ve been escorted. Just imagine that escort into the presence of God to live with Him forever!

Leslie: Did you know that angels may some day escort you into the presence of God? Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been showing us what Scripture says about the ministry of angels in the lives of believers. It’s popular to talk about angels. But a lot of stories you hear about angels are more sentimentalism than biblical truth. Nancy’s been taking us into God’s Word on this topic, so that what we study is reliable.

One of our listeners named Jen, appreciates that she can trust Revive Our Hearts. She knows what she hears on the program comes from God’s Word. Jen works with young women on college campuses. As she ministers to them, she finds a huge resource in Revive Our Hearts.

Jen: I probably listen to the podcast every day. As I come to different topics that I know will be really relevant for these college students, I'll be able to use those resources. Whether it's helping women learn: "What does it look like to be a woman of discretion?" "What does it look like to be a woman who follows Christ even through difficulty when they are having to persevere or learn to live through persecution because of their faith?" Learning all the things it looks like to walk with God on a daily basis and spending time in God's Word. Or learning to be a woman of prayer or a woman who loves to memorize God's Word.

It's very encouraging to be able to have a resource that is very tailored towards women. I can sit down with them and listen to Nancy's podcast and take them to her transcript and know that it's always going to be very relevant to their lives and very biblically solid.

The ministry of Revive Our Hearts has been such a huge encouragement. I'm so thankful for the people who give and invest in this ministry because it truly is impacting the lives of our staff women and of the hundreds and hundreds of students that we come into contact with over the course of a school year.

Leslie: Revive Our Hearts also had the opportunity to encourage Jen and a group of young leaders when they met Nancy at a Revive Our Hearts conference earlier this year.

Nancy: One of the greatest highlights for me at the Revive '15 conference was meeting Jen Johnson and that group of about fourteen young women she brought with her. They had a contagious enthusiasm for Jesus, and their passion was brimming over to see their generation come to know Him. I was so blessed by their excitement to teach and train other college students. What a joy it was to gather there in the hall of the convention center and I share with them a few minutes—to encourage them as an older woman in their walk with the Lord.

Now I’m so grateful those young women were at Revive '15, being trained in how to study God’s Word at a deeper level, learning how to be effective at teaching God’s Word to others. Just imagine all the lives that could be affected by just that group of young women investing in countless other women.

Revive Our Hearts is able to train ministry leaders who then disciple other women. We are able to do this thanks to listeners like you who keep the ministry going with your financial support. Without that support, this ministry simply would not exist. And usually, about 40% of the donations we receive in an entire year come during the month of December. So your gift right now will make a big difference in our ability to continue speaking to generations of women who are desperate for truth.

Some friends of the ministry are excited to see how the Lord is working through Revive Our Hearts, and they want that ministry to continue and expand. They are matching each gift during the month of December, up to a challenge amount of $820,000. We really need to meet and exceed that matching challenge in order to enter 2016 in a healthy position. So would you call with your donation? The number is 1–800–569–5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com. Thank you so much for your support "for such a time as this."

Leslie: Thanks, Nancy. Coming up Monday, we’ll hear about a pastor’s wife. She wanted to set a good example to the women in her congregation. She would worship each Sunday and lead the women's ministries. But inside, she was harboring unforgiveness towards her father. Hear how God got her attention and helped her find freedom. That’s Monday on 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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