Angels, Part 5

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Angels, Part 5 by Allan McGuirl

In our study of angels, we have seen them as guardian angels, angels with words of wisdom, good news, comfort and judgment. Judgment is the area we are going to talk about today, found in the small book of Jude. Jude was a disciple of Jesus, a brother of James the Just, and a half-brother to Jesus. He is also known as Thaddeus, or Judas; although his name was shortened to Jude to distinguish him from Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus. Jude wrote a very short epistle, only one chapter in length, but it has some interesting mentions of angels. He addresses his letter to “those who have been called, who are loved in God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ.”(v1) This in itself is a truth of great value, for we are “kept by Jesus.”

Jude reminds us in verse 4 that, unfortunately, there were godless men who were seeking to change the grace of God into a license for immorality and denying Jesus Christ, our only Sovereign and Lord. There are people who are walking in that same ungodly pathway today; people who, for the sake of their own lusts, have tried to make God’s word condone their evil practices. In fact, Jude goes on to say that there were “angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their proper dwelling” (which of course was in the presence of God in heaven). And what happened to them? We come to one of the most solemn passages in the Bible. Listen carefully to what these angels, who turned their backs on God, faced. The Bible says, “These He has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day.” They are kept, even now, in total darkness, and I believe this means spiritual darkness and the inability to grasp truth. They are separated from God’s presence for all eternity. Notice, also, that they are bound hand-and-foot with chains until the judgment on that great Day. We also see that they are compared to the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah with their sexual immorality and perversion. And throughout this chapter the fate of the fallen angels is linked hand-in-hand with the fate of those people who refuse to turn to God in repentance and accept the forgiveness graciously provided for all mankind through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. They will suffer the punishment of eternal fire. In verse 13 we are told that those who reject Jesus are like wandering stars for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever.

Let me digress for a moment here. I have heard a good number of people joke about hell and boast about joining their friends there and playing cards and having a great time. The Bible makes it very clear that there will be no friends there, only the restriction of chains on hands and feet, total darkness with nothing to see, and complete silence with nothing to hear, like wandering stars light-years from any other influence. In that place of torment, only the memory will play over and over again – the foolish pride, boasting, stubbornness, and selfishness of one who has rejected the truth and refused the knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Jesus, the Son of God, humbled Himself to become a human to live in this wicked and perverse world for the purpose of taking on Himself the punishment for the sins of all mankind. He knew our sins already had us condemned before a holy God and His amazing love came to redeem us and make a way of escape – not only to escape the judgment of sin but to also receive adoption into God’s family and become joint heirs with His Son Jesus Christ. The God of this universe did not do this lightly, and if we choose to treat His generous and gracious offer frivolously, we need to be warned that we will stand before Him in judgment. Let me urge you to turn to Him and receive His amazing grace now without hesitating a moment longer. Read the Bible and discover for yourself what God really has to say to you.

Jude goes on to talk about Michael the archangel. While ungodly people may reject authority and heap abuse on celestial beings, Jude says, “Even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not himself dare to condemn him for slander but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’”(v9) And in referring to Enoch, he says, “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of His holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all of them of all the ungodly acts they have committed in their ungodliness, and of all the defiant words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”(v14) Jude finishes his epistle with these well-known words, “To Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever.  Amen.”(v24,25)

Have you placed yourself in His keeping? Are you ready to be presented before God’s presence without sin? I John 1:9 tells us, “If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Have you trusted Him for forgiveness? If not, why not pray this prayer today? Admit to Jesus that you are a sinner and that you believe He as the Son of God died in your place to take the punishment for your sin. Ask for His forgiveness and cleansing. Then find others who believe in Him and meet together with them so that you can grow in your knowledge of Jesus. May the Lord richly bless you.

Angels, Part 4

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Angels, Part 4 by Allan McGuirl

We are continuing our study week by week on angels, and we have discovered certain facts about angels and their encounters with people. We have learned that angels are spirit beings, although they can assume a human appearance. They can appear in many forms, and we will look more at that in the weeks to come. They are eternal beings who live with God and are His messengers, except for the fallen angels, including Satan. These fallen angels have been banished from heaven. They are referred to as demons.  Satan and his demons are opposed to God and His eternal plan; they are constantly seeking to deceive humans and lead them against God and His purposes. We know that Satan cannot ultimately succeed and that God will, in His good time, mete out judgment against him.

Angels, because they are essentially invisible, can be in our midst without our knowledge. In some instances, they are visible to one or more people but not to others. One passage of scripture, in II Kings 6, is truly amazing. The King of Aram was planning various surprise attacks on the Israelites from different locations. However, each time he showed up with his chariots and soldiers, he would find that the Israelites were not surprised at all but were armed and ready to defend themselves. This happened so many times that the King was sure there must be a traitor in their midst tipping off the Israelite army. In frustration and fury he demanded to know who it was. However, instead of a traitor in their midst, there was an informant in the Israelite camp. His men revealed to him, as we see in II Kings 6:12 that, “Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the very words you speak in your bedroom.”

The King of Aram instructed his men to find out where this Elisha was. They returned with the news that Elisha was in the city of Dothan. So the King encircled the city under the cover of night with a huge army of chariots and footmen. What is interesting is that when Elisha’s servant woke up early in the morning he looked around in every direction and saw they were surrounded by an army with horses and chariots. He cried out to Elisha, “What shall we do?!” Elisha seemed unperturbed and simply replied, “Don’t be afraid. Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. There is not time now to tell you the rest of this amazing story, but you can read it for yourself in II Kings chapter 6.

This chapter reminds me of a true story that was told to me about a missionary serving in a field hospital in Africa. Regularly he travelled by bicycle through the jungle trails to a nearby city for supplies. This journey would take two days and required camping overnight at a halfway point. So on one of these trips he arrived in the city where he would collect money from the bank, purchase medicine and supplies, and then begin the two-day trip back to the hospital. Upon arrival in the city, he observed two men fighting and recognized one of them as a man he had treated previously and had witnessed to him about the Lord Jesus Christ. After completing his business in the city, he started back home and arrived there without incident.

Two week later, he repeated the journey. Upon arrival in the city he was approached by that same young man he had seen fighting on the previous visit. The man told him that he was aware of the money and drugs the missionary was carrying and, with some of his friends, had followed him into the jungle. Their intent, of course, was to overtake him at the halfway point and kill him for the money and drugs. As he continued his story, he said in amazement, “Just as we were getting ready to move into your camp, we saw you were surrounded by 26 armed guards.” The missionary laughed and assured him he was definitely alone at the campsite. However, the young man pressed the point and said, “No, sir.  I was not the only person to see the guards. My five friends also saw them and we all counted them. It was because of those guards that we were afraid and left you alone.” The missionary was obviously perplexed since he knew he had been travelling by himself.

Sometime later, when he was on furlough speaking at his supporting church, he related this incident to the congregation. As he was finishing the story, one of the men jumped to his feet and interrupted him asking him the exact date when this happened. The missionary thought back and told him the day. Then the man related this amazing event:  “On the night of this encounter, it was morning here and I was preparing to go and play golf. I was about to tee off when I felt the strong urge to pray for you. In fact, the urging of the Lord was so strong that I called the men of the church to meet me in the sanctuary to pray. We gathered together and prayed on your behalf, not really knowing why but realizing that somehow you needed to be upheld in prayer.” The missionary asked all of the men in the congregation who had met that day to pray to stand up. He wasn’t looking at their faces or who they were, he was busy counting. There were 26!

Folks, this story is an incredible example of how the Spirit of the Lord moves in mysterious ways, putting His guardian angels in place just at the right time to protect His children. Thank you, Lord, for your guardian angels and for answers to prayer. We will share more about angels next week. God bless you.

He’s Talking to You

Below is an interview that Men for Missions had with Galcom’s director, Tim Whitehead.

2016

“My entrance into the radio business was very much a call from God. I was a sports marketing major in university working on a commerce degree, and I had to do an internship. My goal was to be a big executive in the sports world. God literally spoke to me and said, “That’s not what I have planned for your life.”

My wife and I prayed about it, and we contacted a large television ministry in Canada. I wrote to them and said, “I’m required to work for free for four months.” They asked, “What are you doing?” I answered, “Accounting and marketing.” Their response, “We need accounting help.” So I was at a TV ministry for ten years and learned all sorts of great stuff.

Ten years later, I was sitting in my church pew, minding my own business, and a missionary that our church supported gave a challenge. Allan McGuirl, who founded the ministry of Galcom, did his normal missionary presentation; here’s what we’re doing, here’s what’s going on, and here are the testimonies. He walked away from the pulpit, turned around, came back, and said, “I have a prayer request. I’m 70 years old, we’re looking for a younger man to take over.” God literally tapped me on the shoulder and said, “He’s talking to you!” And that is how I ended up at Galcom.

Galcom’s mission is to multiply the impact of missionaries and pastors around the world. We build radio stations in very remote areas. Then we manufacture and distribute solar powered fixed-tuned radios locked onto those stations. Missionaries traveling from place to place can leave radios behind and multiply their ministry.

Over the last few years, we’ve been making solar powered radios with a built-in audio Bible. The listener can toggle back and forth between the radio and the Bible.

Some of the exciting impact that radio is having today is live teaching every day, news, health information as well as the Scriptures.

In Haiti, for example, where we partner with OMS and Radio 4VEH, because there is no electricity in most of the country and high illiteracy, radio is an efficient way to reach the people. To date, about 13,000 Galcom radios, fix-tuned to 4VEH, have been distributed and are daily witnessing and helping disciple 78,000 people.

My journey to do, go, and give what God asks began in church when God tapped me on the shoulder. My commitment continues today, multiplied through Galcom ministries around the world.”

Angels, Part 3

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Angels, Part 3 by Allan McGuirl

Today we carry on with our study of angels. So far we have discovered that all angels were created by God, even before the creation of the world. We are also aware that Satan is a fallen angel. He was the most beautiful and powerful of all the angels God created. His pride and stated intention to usurp God’s authority ended in his being cast out of heaven, along with all the angels who supported him. He is now the prince of this world, the prince of darkness, the great deceiver, and the father of lies, whose sole purpose is to bring destruction to God’s plan of salvation for mankind. He and his demons, the angels who fell with him, will face final judgment, as we read in the book of Revelation.

Now today let’s look at some of the features about angels that perhaps you were not aware of and see what we can learn. Angels are created beings. Colossians 1:16 says, “For in Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through Him and for Him.” Psalm 104:4 tells us they are spirit beings and Luke 20:35 and 36 tells us they are eternal beings. Jesus says, “But those who are considered worthy of taking part in the age to come and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels…” Again in Matthew 22:30, Jesus says, “At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.”

Another interesting fact is that angels are numerous. Daniel, in his vision in Daniel 7:10, tells us, “A river of fire was flowing, coming out from before Him. Thousands upon thousands attended Him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. The court was seated, and the books were opened.” Again in Matthew 28:53, Jesus says, “Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and He will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” And in Hebrews 12:22 we read, “But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly.”

Did you know that the angels take an interest in people? Yes, in the affairs of men! Let’s take a look at an interesting event where a real angel visits Daniel, the same Daniel who was thrown into the lion’s den. However, I believe this event could have been even more startling to Daniel than being thrown into the lion’s den. It takes place in the third year of Cyrus the king of Persia. You will likely want to read this chapter, and perhaps the whole book of Daniel, after you hear this.

Daniel 10:1 says that Daniel received a message concerning a great war from a spirit being in a vision. He was fasting and praying because he was extremely troubled by things God had revealed to him, things that would happen on this earth. In his vision, Daniel is standing on the bank of the Tigris River where an angel stands before him dressed in linen and a belt of gold around his waist. His body is like chrysolite, a transparent covering of precious stones having many colours. His face was like lightning, his eyes flaming torches, and his arms and legs gleamed like burning bronze. His voice was like the sound of a multitude. Although Daniel had others with him, they couldn’t see the vision, but fled in terror. As Daniel took in this great vision, his strength left him, his face turned deathly pale, and he became helpless. But then the angelic being spoke to him, and as he listened, he fell into a deep sleep. The angel told Daniel not to be afraid. At this point, I think, how could you not be afraid?!

Then the angel went on to explain to him things that will happen in the future. Daniel was bowed down to the ground; he was speechless and could hardly breathe. The angel touched Daniel and imparted strength to him as he continued the revelation. The angel was aware of Daniel’s state and graciously encouraged and strengthened him. Daniel knew what it was to fight spiritual battles, where our “struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12)

Probably, apart from Revelation, Daniel is the most prophetic book. Many detailed prophecies regarding the Babylonian Empire, the Medo-Persian Empire, the Greek conquest, and the rise of the Roman Empire are prophesied distinctly. These prophecies are detailed and vivid, spoken hundreds of years before they actually took place. Many people have attempted to discredit this book by saying it was written much later in time. However, for the one who knows of the power of God, it is not at all surprising that God would reveal these truths to Daniel for our benefit many years later. This makes the accounts of his visions and meetings with angels (he encountered them on several occasions) all the more astounding.

Perhaps some of you have had spiritual battles of your own. It is so important to know that although the forces of evil are great, our God is greater still. Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world. As Romans states, “Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” God has His angels, messengers of light, working throughout this world on behalf of His people. So, as Deuteronomy 31:6 instructs us, we can “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.”

 

Radios for the Quechua in Bolivia

One of Galcom International’s long-time partners is Alex Muir from Pioneers Canada. He has made countless trips to Bolivia to hand out Galcom radio/audio Bibles to the Quechua (see the post from December 8, 2016). Below is an excerpt from his latest praise and prayer letter.

“Reports continue to surface of how lives have been transformed and communities have been impacted. On our last trip in April, great joy was expressed when the people realized they had the Word of God as well as a radio. Now, with the audio Bibles, there is an additional option for them as they can listen to “God’s Story” taking them from Creation to the cross. How exciting!

Leandro in Colquacheca has requested we bring some 800 Bible Radios to the mining town where once it seemed we would not be welcomed. After four years of visiting families, Alejandro was able to provide a list of 32 families who wanted a Bible/radio. We responded and gave out 60+ audio Bibles/radios. Recently Segundino came to Greg (Greg is Alex’s son. He married a Quechua young lady and has remained there. He and his wife now minister amongst the Quechua). Segundino presented him with a shaman’s (witch doctor) bag. This was the indication that he now was a follower of Jesus and did not want to practice evil anymore. The bag and contents were quickly destroyed. How we rejoice that this man of influence is now a new creation in Christ!

PRAISE BE TO GOD:  For the 48000+ Bible/radios have been handed out in Bolivia and for those who give so Galcom can provide our radios.

OCTOBER 2017:  Plan to join us and celebrate…our September team will hand out the 50,000th (Galcom) Bible/radio in Bolivia!”

Angels, Part 2

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Angels, Part 2 by Allan McGuirl

We started a new topic last week. We will be looking at angels in the Bible and what we can learn about them and from them. Most people are aware that there are angels, and from reading the Bible we know a number of angels made contact with people over the centuries. We will consider some of these instances as we go through this series.

However, there is a lot of information that many people are unaware of, such as: what is the origin of angels? Are there good and bad angels? Can they actually fly? How long do they live? What do they actually do? Perhaps you are thinking right now of some questions, so let’s get started and learn some basic facts about angels.

Angels are mentioned in the Old Testament at least 108 times and in the New Testament at least 165 times. The word “angel” actually means “messenger.” Angels are not human beings, although they can appear as humans. In Matthew 22:30 it says, “They do not marry and do not reproduce.” As for the origin of angels, we know that God created them before the He created this universe. Job gives some insight into this in Job 38:4-7. In this passage the Lord says to Job, “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone – while the morning stars sang together, and all the angels for joy.” God had already created these beings before the creation of this world. How long before the creation of the world, we are not really told.

One of the special tasks of angels is to be ministering spirits, sent to serve those who will receive salvation. Hebrews 1:14 says, “Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?” That’s you and me, and I find that amazing.

Next we come to this question: are there good and bad angels? One of the classic passages on this is found in Isaiah 14. This passage has consistently been regarded as referring to the fall of Satan. Let’s listen to these verses from 12 to 15. “How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’ But you are brought down to the realm of the dead, to the depths of the pit.”

From this passage we understand that Satan once lived in heaven as the highest among the angels God had created, and further Biblical references describe him as a very evil angel, the devil, or Satan. He is also referred to as Lucifer, as a dragon, as a serpent, as the prince of darkness, and the father of lies. The Bible says in I John 3:8, “The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.” In Revelation 12:9 we read, “The great dragon was hurled down – that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.” How did this happen? A few verses earlier in the chapter, it says, “Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven.”

When Satan was cast out of heaven, he took a host of angels with him. There is only one devil. The angels who fell with him are referred to, more correctly, as demons. Now we read in I Peter 5:8, “Your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about seeking whom he may devour.” It appears that there was a point in time when the angels had free will to decide who they would follow. They could follow the righteous and just Creator, or they could cast their lot in with the most beautiful angel ever created, who promised them a part in the power he was seeking in Isaiah 14.  Thousands of angels followed the Deceiver but many more thousands chose to be faithful to God. So we see the battle between good and evil existed before the creation of this world. Satan was cast down to earth and that is why we read in Ephesians 6 that, “…our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

We need to be on guard against the evil attacks of the enemy of our souls. As believers in the Son of God who has ransomed us by His death and resurrection, we know that “greater is He that is in (us) than he that is in the world” – Christ in us, the hope of glory. He alone gives us the victory over that great deceiver and father of lies, the devil.

May the Lord bless you as you walk with Jesus. Until next week, God bless.

Angels, Part 1

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Angels, Part 1

We have spent a number of weeks learning about children in the Bible, and I trust it has been helpful. This week we turn to a new topic, “Angels.” We know that angels are heavenly beings superior to humans who serve as attendants and messengers of God, or as guardians for people on earth.

Angels appear in the Bible from the first book of Genesis to the last book of Revelation. The Bible is the best source of knowledge about angels. We will learn certain facts about angels from the Bible, for we know that there have been many myths and imaginary tales told about angels down through the ages. The image from Valentine’s Day is a typical example of the cherub, a type of angel, being mistakenly characterized as a match-making, cute little baby with wings and a bow and arrow. There are numerous and interesting accounts of angels appearing to individuals in Scripture. In the weeks ahead, we will look at some of these and gain a greater insight into their ways and their work.

The only angels who are named in the Bible are Michael; Gabriel; and Satan, the fallen angel. Satan has a number of other names, including the devil and Abaddon. Others may cite to the Apocrypha, where two other angels are mentioned: Raphael and Uriel. Looking at Michael, Gabriel and Satan, all three of these are mentioned in both the Old and New Testaments. Angels, in general, are mentioned in the Bible almost 300 times.  Now, maybe you have a question about angels, such as, “What are they like? Do we really have a guardian angel? Or how can we recognize an angel?” It is a subject that is not talked about often, but they do exist and have had an influence on many lives throughout history. Perhaps if you have a question about angels you would like to email us at allan@galcom.org or tim@galcom.org and we will seek to get you an answer. However, we will not deal with questions such as the classic one, “How many angels can fit on the head of a pin”!

There are questions about angels, such as, “Are there good and bad angels? How long do they live? What do we know about guardian angels? Do they actually fly around to different places? What was the greatest honour given to an angel? Are there different levels of angels? What is their main purpose? How many are there? Do they all look the same? What are their characteristics?” As we mentioned, angels are spiritual beings superior to humans in power and intelligence. In Psalm 8 we read, “For Thou hast made (man) a little lower than the angels…” The term “angel” actually means “messenger,” typically a messenger of God who does His bidding. Psalm 103:20 says, “Bless the Lord, ye His angels that excel in strength, that do His commandments, hearkening unto the voice of His word.” The appearance of an angel, or angels, most often produced shock, awe and fear in those who witnessed such a manifestation. Although, in some instances, they were perceived as regular human beings and only after the fact recognized for what they really were.

Well, there is a lot to learn about angels and I hope you will find these next few weeks informative and interesting as we delve into the Biblical truths about angels and how this information should affect our lives. Until then, may the Lord richly bless you as you walk with Him.

A Quick Update on Galcom in Africa

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Kenya – A long-time partner of Galcom International, Scott Beigle, with Faith Radio Network, shared this brief note with us:

“We just returned from Kenya.  In some the village churches 98% of the people couldn’t read so we gave them ‘mini Missionaries’.   They were so thankful.”

 

 

NigeriaNigeria – Rick and Martha Bradford, SIM (Serving in Missions) missionaries (see the post from March 1, 2017) have been a partner with Galcom almost since the beginning.  They just returned from Nigeria and had this to share:

“We finish our work in the hospital for the week and we spend our weekend days out visiting bush camps. In our bush runs we find camps of people living in the bush. No electricity, no water and no washrooms. In some of our visits we bring a dentist, and he checks teeth. During that time we give out solar-powered MP3s of the bible in their language. After a few visits we found that they had questions about what they were hearing. So now on Saturday mornings we go to visit the fishing village and we listen to their questions about what they are hearing from the Gospel.”

Children of the Bible, Part 23

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Children of the Bible, Part 23 by Allan McGuirl

We have spent a number of weeks looking at interesting stories of children in the Bible. And we have seen that they have had a great impact on the lives of people around them in various ways. However, today’s child cannot be compared to any of these previous ones. We start with Luke chapter 2 – the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. The fact that He came into this world as a child is amazing in itself. Philippians 2:5-7 says, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made Himself of no reputation and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.” The very Son of God humbled Himself to be born as a helpless child.

The one, who in the beginning spoke the Word and the worlds were formed, now lay in a humble manger speechless. The one who upholds all things by the word of His power was now powerless to care for Himself. The one, who is King of Kings and Lord of Lords, was now pursued by a king to be annihilated. By the divine plan of God, He was born in Bethlehem as prophesied hundreds of years earlier. His birth announcement was to humble shepherds on the Judean hillside, and to foreign sages studying the skies He created. The angels of heaven marvelled at His birth and lifted praises to God while most of the world slept. And there He laid in a humble manger – truly God and truly man. I have often wondered what happened to those shepherds who first came to visit the newborn Son of God. Were they able to follow his life in any way? Did they know He had to escape to Egypt and live in exile while wicked King Herod still lived? Were they aware that when He returned from Egypt that He and Mary and Joseph found safety in the quiet village of Nazareth? Did they know it was He who returned to Jerusalem 30 years later to challenge the religious leaders of the day with their hypocrisy? Were they there when He was led up Golgotha’s hill to be crucified? Actually, we are told nothing more of these shepherds except that after they saw Jesus, they were filled with joy and told everybody they met about Him.

And how did Simeon and Anna both recognize this baby to be the promised Messiah when He was brought to the temple at just eight days old? What did people think when this news was shared with them? What was it that alerted them to His true identity?

Then we have the wise men travelling from the east seeking the new King. Jesus was no longer in a manger but in a house when they arrived, so He could have been almost two years old. Did they realize that He was not only a King but the King of Kings? When they worshipped Him and laid their gifts before Him, did they know that He had come to give them the gift of eternal life? What did they say when they returned home about this special child? Again, the Scriptures are silent on this matter.

Of course, there is a lot of speculation about Jesus’ early childhood, but the Bible is silent about this. The only comment comes in Luke 2:40 where it says, “And the child grew and became strong; He was filled with wisdom and the grace of God was upon Him.” And then when he turned 12, He traveled with Mary and Joseph from Nazareth to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover. Mary and Joseph, like many others, stayed in Jerusalem for the full seven days of celebration.

Then they started the long trek back to Nazareth. The trip is about 167 km or about 100 miles, about three full days of travel from dawn till dusk. They traveled all day and made their way down the hills of Jerusalem. That is the most dangerous stretch: a rocky, sandy, parched descent with many twists and turns in the road as it meanders down through the hills toward Jericho and the Jordan River. The area is noted for bandits and robbers who easily lie in wait in the craggy outcroppings looking for unsuspecting travellers. However, by moving in the company of so many friends and relatives who are also returning to the Galilee there is little likelihood of being attacked. As they reached the lower level and started north following the Jordan, they found a place to camp for the night. As this point, Mary and Joseph expected Jesus to join them, assuming He was keeping company with their relatives. But He didn’t show up. They started searching for Him among their kinfolk and friends, but Jesus was nowhere to be found.

When they finally realized that Jesus was not there, they had no choice but to return to Jerusalem to look for Him. But first they had to find a place to stay for the night. I suspect that it was a restless sleep, especially for Mary, not knowing Jesus’ whereabouts. First thing in the morning they retraced their steps in search of their son. The trip was slower because now they were climbing back up toward Jerusalem, and, most likely, they were not able to cover as much ground on the return trip as they had the previous day. No doubt they were scanning every group of travellers they passed, wondering if Jesus had realized He had been left behind and joined a later group to travel back home.   I can visualize them questioning the various groups as they looked for Jesus. As night descended, they were again forced to stop and wait for dawn. Two days had elapsed and they had no idea where Jesus was.

When morning came, they resumed their journey and made their way through Jerusalem’s gate. They found Him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, and listening and asking questions. Luke 2:47-50 says, “Everyone who heard Him was amazed at His understanding and His answers. When His parents saw Him, they were astonished. His mother said to Him, ‘Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.’  ‘Why were you searching for me?’ He asked, ‘Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?’ But they did not understand what He was saying to them.” Even Jesus’ parents, although they knew that Jesus was the promised Messiah, did not really comprehend all that that meant.

Further, in Luke 2:51,52  it says, “Then He went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.” Jesus knew He was God the Son, but still He placed himself under the authority of his parents. He was setting the example to all children that the fifth commandment, honouring father and mother, was to be obeyed.

Well, as we said at the beginning, no other child could ever be compared to the Son of God. We are familiar with the rest of His life, but that is a topic for another day.

Children of the Bible, Part 22

Allan 2

Children of the Bible, Part 22 by Allan McGuirl

We have been looking at children of the Bible the last few months. Timothy is the next child we will discuss, as we draw close to the end of this series. I believe there are some important things we can learn from the life of Timothy, especially as a child, that can encourage our hearts and perhaps help some parents in raising their own children.

Timothy, whose name means “honouring God” or “precious to God,” certainly lived up to his name. Timothy came from a special home setting. You know that at an early age he put his faith in the Lord. The Bible says in Acts 16:1 that Paul had come to Lystra where Timothy lived. His mother was a Jewess and a believer in Jesus, and his father was a Greek. Nothing else is said about his father, but in II Timothy 1:5 the Bible says that Paul longed to see Timothy because he noticed in him the same unwavering faith and the sincere trust in God that was first modelled by his grandmother, Lois, and then by his mother, Eunice. Wow, this is a powerful statement. Three generations of solid believers is a testimony to God’s amazing grace, and it is also a testimony to the way Grandmother Lois and Mother Eunice raised Timothy. Let me ask you grandparents: are you passing on the precious truth of Jesus our Saviour to your children, and in turn, encouraging them to pass it on to their children? You can have a mighty impact on their lives just as Eunice and Lois did with Timothy.

How do we do that? Let’s look at II Timothy 3:14 and 15, where Paul charges Timothy: “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”  Paul goes on to affirm, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Eunice and Lois didn’t wait until Timothy was old enough to even understand to teach him God’s Word. They started when he was an infant. When we sing “Jesus Love Me” or “For God so Loved the World” to a babe in arms do we think they really understand those concepts? Or if we read Bible stories or Bible passages to them do we think they really grasp all that we are saying? Of course not! But we are laying a foundation from the very earliest years that shows a respect for God and His Word. We are placing God’s truths and familiar phrases within their young minds that will take on proper meaning as they mature. We are sowing the seed that will eventually take root in the virgin soil of their hearts and grow to bring forth fruit. The fruit doesn’t appear until a plant is mature. The plant doesn’t begin to mature until the seed germinates in the prepared soil. The seed can never germinate if it is never planted. So, you see, Lois and Eunice sowed the seed of God’s Word early in young Timothy’s heart. They watered it with prayer and tilled the ground to make it receptive for the seed to germinate. Then, as he grew, they continued to sow the seed.

In Timothy’s life this had a huge impact. From an infant he knew God’s Word, by faith he appropriated God’s grace as taught in His Word, becoming a child of God, and then by faith began to live it out. When children are taught early, when they are led to accept Christ as their personal Saviour early in life, when they are taught the truths of Scripture and how to apply them to their lives, and when they understand that God’s Holy Spirit within them lives out the life of Christ through them, there is no more powerful force for the Great Commission than this!

Paul recognized that Timothy was being molded by God from early on. In Acts 16:3, Paul wanted to take him along on a mission trip. What a great choice Paul made in selecting this young man. He was ideal material for mentoring, and Paul was able to pour himself into this young man with little fear that his time and effort would be wasted. Paul also warned Timothy in II Timothy 3:1-4: I can almost see Paul looking him in the eye and warning him that “There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God. So, Timothy, this is the world you are living in.” Paul goes on to say, “But you, Timothy, must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of…”

Is this not the world we observe today in North America? Paul encouraged Timothy to be on guard and to recognize that God’s word would be his guide through the hazards of life. And then what did Paul do? He prayed for Timothy constantly. Parents, you want your children to experience God’s best for them. Pray for them continually. Encourage them and affirm them when they do what is right. Set the example. But most of all, pray for them. It is so easy to allow our busyness, our tiredness, our distractions, and our carelessness to keep us from this most important task. Pray that God would keep them in His Word, that they will be able to recognize temptation for what it is, that they will see the consequences of wrongdoing before they allow themselves to be sucked in. Pray for God’s protection around them keeping them from the Evil One, and pray that they will have a hunger to know God better and a desire to serve Him.