VIDEO Escorted by Angels

So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. Luke 16:22

Of all His stories, only in the account of the deaths of a rich man and a beggar (Luke 16:19-31) did Jesus assign a name to a character. Naming the beggar “Lazarus” suggests this story was true and conveys truth about God’s care for His deceased saints.

Unique in this story is the role of angels at death. The poor beggar died “and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom”—a metaphor for Paradise, or the gathering place of the saints awaiting the inauguration of the Messianic kingdom (Luke 23:43). It’s easy to look at death as an ending of life, and it is the end of the mortal, physical body. But immediately upon the beggar’s death, angels from heaven came and carried him—that is, they escorted him—into the presence of God. The accompanying role of angels at death is just another proof of the continuation of life for those who die in faith. And evidence of God’s continuing care.

Those nearing the end of life can expect to be joined by angels when they breathe their last. Yet another reason to have no fear of death.

Those who have welcomed Christ may welcome death. Matthew Henry


Luke 16:19-17:37 – Skip Heitzig

God’s Power on Display

What is the way to the place where the lightning is dispersed, or the place where the east winds are scattered over the earth? Job 38:24

It was a lightning storm, and my six-year-old daughter and I were on the floor watching the dazzling display through the glass door. She kept repeating, “Wow! God is so big.” I felt the same way. It was obvious to both of us how small we were, and how powerful God must be. Lines from the book of Job flashed through my mind, “What is the way to the place where the lightning is dispersed, or the place where the east winds are scattered over the earth?” (Job 38:24).

Job needed to be reminded of God’s power (vv. 34–41). His life had fallen apart. His children were dead. He was broke. He was sick. His friends offered no empathy. His wife encouraged him to abandon his faith (2:9). Eventually, Job asked God, “Why?” (ch. 24) and He responded out of a storm (ch. 38).

God reminded Job of His control over the physical attributes of the world (ch. 38). This comforted him and he responded, “My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you” (42:5). In other words, “Now I get it, God! I see that you don’t fit into my box.”

When life falls apart, sometimes the most comforting thing we can do is to lie on the floor and watch the lightning—to be reminded that the God who created the world is big enough and loving enough to take care of us too. We may even start singing our favorite worship songs that tell of the might and greatness of our God.

By:  Daniel Ryan Day

Reflect & Pray

When was the last time you saw God’s power on display? What went through your mind as you witnessed His bigness?

God, help me see how big You are and to stop trying to fit You into small boxes. Help me to trust that if You’re big enough to create and control lightning, You’re big enough to help me through life’s challenges.

The Need for Salvation

Ephesians 2:1-3

Followers of Christ know the importance of being saved, but the world sees no need for rescue. The truth is that those who don’t have a personal relationship with God the Father through His Son Jesus are …

• Spiritually dead. Spiritual death first occurred in the garden of Eden. Disobedience severed Adam and Eve’s connection to God and caused all of their descendants—including us—to be separated from Him (Rom. 5:12). What this means is that we are born as “dead” people in need of new life. Unfortunately, those who have refused Jesus as Savior at the end of the age will experience another death when they’re cast away from God (Matt. 25:41Revelation 20:14).

• Living a life of sin. Our nature is to rebel against God, and that is called sin. Over and over we choose what pleases us, not Him, and any efforts we make to free ourselves from sin are in vain (John 8:34).

• Under divine wrath. Sinful man has nothing acceptable to offer holy God; there is no way to earn His approval and escape punishment.

Though our sins deserve His wrath, God made a way for us to escape it. Tomorrow we’ll read about the Savior He sent to take the penalty in our place (Rom. 5:9).

The Delightful Law

“For I delight in the law of God after the inward man.” (Romans 7:22)

To many people, the law of God is harsh and cruel, consisting of an unreasonable list of “thou shalt nots.” But Scripture teaches that “the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good” (Romans 7:12). The “old man”—that is, the natural man—“is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts” (Ephesians 4:22), and therefore it is written, “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them” (Galatians 3:10).

No natural man could ever truthfully say, “I delight in the law of God,” and in our modern world it is even probable that most people have broken at least most of God’s Ten Commandments and often delight in doing so. But the “old man” becomes a “new man” when he accepts Christ as his Savior, for “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made [the] curse for us” (Galatians 3:13). Thus, the “inward man” can thenceforth “delight in the law of God,” as our text says. Not to earn salvation (which we could never do) but because we love to live for Him who died for us.

God’s law (and we can understand this now to include even the entire Word of God) indeed becomes our delight. We can say with the psalmist, “Thy law is my delight” (Psalm 119:77). Every one redeemed of the Lord should now find that “his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night” (Psalm 1:2).

The old covenant said, in effect, we must keep the law to live. But now, “this is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them” (Hebrews 10:16). No longer are the commandments written “in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart” (2 Corinthians 3:3), and we delight in them. HMM

“Except Ye Repent”

Luke 13:1-9

WE have almost forgotten that repentance is necessary to salvation. In this superficial day, when people glibly “accept Christ” and join the church on a “decision day” with no sense of sin or joy in salvation—the depths having never been stirred—we need to remember the words of our Lord, “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”

In the thirteenth chapter of Luke, our Lord mentions two disasters of that time in which a number of people had been killed. It was the common opinion that such people were greater sinners than the average to bring down such calamity upon themselves. But our Lord declares that “there is no difference.” All are sinners, and unless we repent we shall all alike perish.

We have our own way of reckoning one man a worse sinner than another, but in God’s sight we are all lost until we are saved; and if a man is lost, he cannot be more lost than another. If you are not a believer on Christ, you need not be any worse than you are right now to be lost, for it is your lack of believing that condemns you (John 3:18).

Jesus told a parable of a barren fig tree, whose owner was about to destroy it, when the vinedresser interceded to give it another chance. He was speaking of the Jews—typified in Scripture by the fig tree—who had the opportunity for the Messiahs ministry but had not received Him. It should also remind us that God is giving us an opportunity to bear fruit unto Him, and He wants fruit, not mere leaves of profession.

He healed a crippled woman on the Sabbath, and immediately the Pharisaic ruler of the synogogue objected. Jesus sternly calls His accuser a hypocrite and rebukes him. He speaks of the woman as one “whom Satan hath bound,” which throws light upon His attitude toward sickness as a shackle of Satan. Often we regard sickness as the will of God, when we ought to face it as a scourge of the devil. When Jesus was asked whether few would be saved (Luke 13:23) He did not answer directly, but bade His hearers to strive to enter in at the strait gate. Many who were highly favored will be cast out, while the babes and simple souls will be saved. It has ever been so: the privileged Jews first refused Him while the untaught Gentiles received Him. Through the ages the first have been last and the last first.

When warned that Herod would kill Him, our Lord replies by calling the king a “fox” and telling him that He could not be hindered by any king. Jesus adds a statement of awful irony about Jerusalem: “I must get on to Jerusalem, for it is unthinkable that a prophet should be killed elsewhere. They have killed so many there that it is natural to expect it.”

He closes with a lament over the city that He gladly would have gathered unto Himself. One day He will return, and Israel shall look upon Him whom they have pierced and shall say, “Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord.” Today, the papers tell us of continuous return to Palestine and the revival of that land—the greatest miracle of modern times. The stage is being set for the Lord’s return. Are you ready?

Build on the Rock

Lord, there is no one like You, and there is no God besides You, as all we have heard confirms.—1 Chronicles 17:20

“The biggest problem we face in the Christian life,” said Dr. Cynddylan Jones, a famous Welsh preacher, “is distance.” He continued, “The only way that distance can be overcome is by having the perspective of Job who said: ‘Though He slay me yet will I trust Him.'”

When I talk to counselors in training I tell them that what they should be listening for as a counselee tells his or her story is distance. That’s what underlies most problems that bring people into counseling. This does not mean we should ignore or make light of the surface problems with which people may be struggling. But the plain fact is this—when we are close to God and have a deep and intimate relationship with Him, we may feel downcast but not destroyed. Therefore, every Christian counselor’s ultimate goal should be to close any distance there may be between the person and God and to develop spiritual oneness. Counseling is not effective or complete until this is accomplished.

How does distance come between ourselves and God? There are many causes—bitterness and resentment against another, persistent sin, failure to establish a devotional life—but largely it arises through a lack of trust. If you cut your way through the maze of human problems, that’s what you find—an inability to trust. That’s what happened in the garden of Eden, and that’s what happens in our personal garden of Eden also. To try to develop a close relationship with God and fail to deal with this most basic issue is about as effective as building a skyscraper on an acre of sand.

Prayer

O God, bring us closer day by day to that place of deep confidence and absolute trust. May we know You so deeply that nothing we see around us will shake or shatter our belief in Your unchanging goodness. In our Lord’s name we pray. Amen.

Further Study

Dn 3:13-30; Hab 3:16-18; Ps 46:2; Mt 7:26

How did the Hebrew youths demonstrate faith in God?

What does Habakkuk declare?

A Happy Religion

Psalm 34:1

A happy religion is an attractive one. The bulk of the people around us are unsatisfied and unhappy, if not positively miserable. Nothing impresses them like the appearance of a glad and happy spirit in others. When they see it, they are apt to ask for the secret of the gladness and wonder whether they could find the same joy themselves.

All genuine salvation results in happiness and joy in the Lord. This is the experience of all truly converted souls. The first feeling of the newborn child of God is to sing or shout the praises of his Savior. Who is there that has not, at such times, felt heart and soul in harmony with the poet Watts when he writes:

I’ll praise my Maker while I’ve breath,

And when my voice is lost in death

Praise shall employ my nobler powers.

My days of praise shall ne’er be past,

While life, or thought, or being last,

Or immortality endures.

Look at these two dear apostles, Paul and Silas, shut up in the deepest, darkest dungeon of the prison at Philippi. What a pitiable spectacle they present! Their feet are made fast in the stocks so that they can neither stand up nor lie down; and their poor backs are bleeding and smarting as the result of the scourging they received the day before.

How do they pass the weary hours? Let us listen. At midnight they burst out into prayer and praise—not a muttered, mumbled, melancholy sound, neither heard by man nor regarded by God. No, it is a glad song that rings out loud enough for all the prisoners to hear and, best of all, that reaches the ears of God.

To show His approval of this hallelujah kind of business, God caused an earthquake that shook the prison and liberated the prisoners. Then came the conversion of the jailor and the freedom of the Apostles, while thousands of people have been blessed through reading the story.

This joyful praise-God religion will help to keep depression, unbelief, and dissatisfaction away and will assist our growth in holiness.

William Booth, The Warrior’s Daily Portion