Author Sheila Alewine is a pastor’s wife, mother, and grandmother of five. She and her husband lead Around The Corner Ministries, which serves to equip Christ-followers to share the gospel where they live, work and play. She has written several devotionals including Just Pray: God’s Not Done With You Yet, Grace & Glory: 50 Days in the Purpose & Plan of God, and her newest one, Open The Gift, as well as Going Around The Corner, a Bible study for small groups who desire to reach their communities for Christ. Their ministry also offers disciple-making resources like One-To-One Disciple-Making in partnership with Multiplication Ministries. Sheila has a passion for God’s Word and shares what God is teaching her on her blog, The Way of The Word. Connect with her on her blog, Facebook, and Instagram.
Have you ever had an encounter with an angel? Perhaps I should rephrase that: Have you ever been aware of an encounter with an angel?
As a little girl, I often asked God to allow me to see His angels. I would look up during church services, hoping to see an angel peering at our attempts to worship God, and often wondered what they thought of us. These powerful, supernatural, created beings stand in the presence of God, seeing Him in all His holiness and glory. It occurs to me that our worship might appear irreverent or lacking an appreciation for who God really is, from their point of view.
In case you’re wondering, I never did get a glimpse. I still ask God, sometimes.
1 Peter 1:12 reminds us that the gospel is a mystery to angels. When the angel, Lucifer, fell from heaven (the prophecies of Isaiah describe this event in Isaiah 14), it is said that he took one-third of the angels with him in rebellion. This idea comes from Revelation 12:3-4, in which the dragon’s tail sweeps one-third of the stars of heaven and throws them to the earth. Jesus told His disciples He “was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning” (Luke 10:18); in context He declares His disciples have authority over all the power of the enemy – evil spirits described as serpents and scorpions. The fallen angels were not offered redemption; therefore, the gospel is a mystery into which they long to look.
This teaching leads us to acknowledge that there are two kinds of angels: fallen angels, who became the evil spirits subject to their leader, Satan, and those angels who remained faithful and loyal to God and serve at His pleasure from heaven. These faithful servants of God are the topic of this article.
Like humans, angels are created beings (Colossians 1:16), but they are eternal. They do not marry (Mark 12:25). Scripture only names three angels (Michael, Gabriel, and Lucifer) – all male, but many references to angels do not indicate whether they are male or female. They can move from heaven to earth as spirit beings, and appear often in human form, yet are recognizable as supernatural beings with great power.
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“God’s requirements have not altered, but we are not the ones to meet them. Praise God, He is the Lawgiver on the Throne, and He is the Lawkeeper in my heart. He who gave the Law, Himself keeps it.” -Watchman Nee, The Normal Christian Life
The discussion of “law vs. grace” is a common one among Bible-believing Christ followers. For some reason, we have trouble harmonizing what feels to us like two conflicting ideas. Either Christianity is all about grace, or it’s all about law. The truth is, like many “God-sized” concepts in Scripture, both are integral parts of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Is the Law something relegated to “Old Testament” days, or does it have meaning for us today? What is the Law, and what was (or is) its purpose?
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I believe that every Christian ought to be joined to some visible church; that is his plain duty, according to the Scriptures. God’s people are not dogs, else they might go about one by one; but they are sheep, and therefore they should be in flocks. - Charles Spurgeon
The modern idea of church membership isn’t found in Scripture, but the admonition to live as members of the body of Christ is frequent and clear. Membership is simply our culture’s method of identifying with a particular group of believers with like-minded theology, who meet regularly and work together to carry out God’s commands and pursue His kingdom purposes.
Many churches have a structured format for “joining” their local body, i.e., a membership class to attend, a card to fill out, and a “spiritual gifts survey” to determine where you should serve. If we’re not careful, we can mistakenly believe that church membership is just a spiritual club, that our tithes are “dues,” and that joining a church gives us extra points with God. By adding too many human ideas to God’s divine blueprint, we can even become an active, contributing part of a local church in good standing without ever experiencing true salvation.
For that reason alone, it is important to understand exactly what the church is before we decide if membership is a valid idea.
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Almost 3,000 people died on September 11, 2001, at the hands of 19 Islamic terrorists. Fathers, mothers, sons and daughters, grandparents, aunts, and uncles. Families were changed forever, and there are still people suffering from post-traumatic stress issues related to the deadliest terrorist attack in American history. When I think about that day, I’m reminded of Jesus’ warning to His disciples: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10a). Hatred that is cloaked in religious fervor and that causes someone to fly a plane into a building full of people is evil at its core.
How do we move past the conflicting emotions surrounding an event that fundamentally changed our world? How do we reconcile our questions about why God would allow it to happen at all? Here are twenty scriptures to pray on the 20th anniversary of 9-11. May God’s Word give us healing for our hearts, perspective for our thoughts, and hope for the future.
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“Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for the one who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the Law. For this, ‘You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,’ and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the Law’” (Romans 13:8-9).
In 1965, Jackie DeShannon released the single, What The World Needs Now Is Love. It made it to number seven on the top 100 charts. It was a popular tune in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s as America navigated out of the civil rights movement that so divided our nation. Perhaps it’s time to bring this simple message back.
What the world needs now is love sweet love;
It's the only thing that there's just too little of.
What the world needs now is love sweet love;
No not just for some but for everyone.
I think Jesus would have liked this song, provided we understood that He wasn’t talking about the world’s definition of temporary, fleshly, self-gratifying (and self-centered) love, but the kind of love He demonstrated for us personally.
“For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous person; though perhaps for the good person someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6-8).
“We are what we think about. Think about trivial things or weak things and somehow one loses fiber and becomes flabby in spirit. Soldiers need to be strong. Soldiers have not time for everything. ‘I have no time for anything outside my profession’ a young officer said once, and in measure, that is true. We can’t be entangled in the affairs of this life if we are to be real soldiers. By its affairs I mean its chatter and its ways of thinking and deciding questions, its whole aspect and trend.” -Amy Carmichael, Candles in the Dark
Two thousand years ago, the Son of God laid aside His glory, stepped out of heaven, and entered our earthly dimension for one reason. He was on a mission. He had a predetermined, divine mandate to fulfill. He told His disciples, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to accomplish His work” (John 4:34) after revealing Himself as the promised Messiah to the Samaritan woman at the well. He was the Son of Man, “come to seek and to save” the lost (Luke 19:10). He was sent for this purpose, to preach the kingdom of God (Luke 4:43).
He acknowledged the inescapability of His mission, telling His disciples, “What am I to say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour” (John 12:27). And just hours before He went to the cross, He confirmed to Pilate, “for this purpose I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth” (John 18:37).
What truth? The truth of the gospel, that men are born into sin and need a Savior.
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The story of the Good Samaritan has been told and retold for centuries as an example of how to care for others and meet their needs in obedience to Jesus’ command to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. It’s a parable – a physical story with a spiritual lesson. While the emphasis is on meeting a person’s physical needs, I believe the greater application is acting in response to the spiritual need for salvation.
A close examination of this parable will teach us how to be “gospel-centered good Samaritans.”
Luke 10:30-37 – “Jesus replied and said, ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead. And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him and when he saw him, he felt compassion and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him. On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.’ Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?’ And he said, ‘The one who showed mercy toward him.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do the same.’”
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Is Father’s Day a day of joy and celebration for you? For many, it’s a painful reminder of what they’ve lost or what they never had. The history we have with our parents and our children is often filed with regrets. What hope is there for broken relationships between a father and his son or daughter?
The Bible is filled with stories of imperfect people just like you and me who did their best to navigate the complicated relationships called family. Thankfully, God gives us good examples to emulate, as well as the colorful stories of those who struggled, so that we can learn what to do and not to do. In addition, as New Testament Christ-followers, we have the Holy Spirit indwelling us, instructing, and empowering us to live the way God intended – in right relationship with each other.
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Have you ever thought about the work that you do from God’s perspective? Unless you’re blessed to be doing your “dream job,” most Monday mornings you’d rather turn over in your bed and sleep a few extra hours rather than get up and get ready for work. But is that how God wants us to view our daily responsibilities? What does the Bible say about our work?
We find God’s original plan for work in the first two chapters of Genesis. God set the example as He performed His own work of creation. With infinite detail and wisdom, He spent six days creating everything needed to sustain life for the animals and human beings that would populate the earth. “Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts. By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made” (Genesis 2:1-3).
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One of the worst texting and driving accidents ever occurred in Texas in March 2017. PM Law Firm reports that this particular accident involved a large white pickup truck that had previously been seen swerving and speeding down a highway. The twenty-year-old drove his white pickup truck into a small bus carrying 14 elderly churchgoers. He lost control and swerved into the bus’s lane, hitting that vehicle head-on while texting. Thirteen people on board the bus died because of the accident, leaving only one survivor. The truck driver survived, admitting he was texting while driving at the time of the crash. An Uvalde County, Texas court sentenced him to 55 years in prison.
Texting while driving is a serious offense, yet millions of people are not deterred by the potential tragedies that could result from being distracted. For some reason, we believe that we will beat the statistics and be able to successfully navigate our cars from one point to the next, even if our attention is elsewhere. A story like the one above is sad and unnecessary, yet it illustrates an important principle that is also true in our spiritual lives.
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