95) Who Needs Angels? (part three)

      Here are seven things I know about angels and this is enough for me:

#1 — God doesn’t need angels.  He can everything by himself.  God is all-powerful.  God never gets tired.  God is our refuge and strength, says Psalm 46.  Whatever we see angels do anywhere in the Bible, we also see God doing in other Bible stories.  God can give us whatever we need without angels.

#2 — Even though God doesn’t need angels, He has created them and he does give them work to do.  That is also clear in the Bible: 300 times God uses angels to do his work in the world.

#3 — God does not need angels, and God does not need you or me either.  If we look at angels only in terms of what God needs, we find they are not necessary; but then, neither are we necessary. However, in his love, God has created angels, and you and me and all humans, and chipmunks, and monkeys and elephants, and a whole host of other living creatures in this magnificent creation, both on earth and in the heavenly realms.  God did not need to create any of this.

#4 — God does not need angels or any of us, but in his love he has given us all life, AND, he has given us all some things to do, angels and humans alike.  Again, not because God needs us to do these things, for he can do all things in heaven and on earth.  But he has created us in a certain way, and arranged life in a certain way, so that it is best lived when we are obedient and do serve him with what he has given us.  It is a privilege to serve God with what he has given us, whether it is our time, our talents, or our financial resources.  So also it is with angels.  There is not one verse in the Bible that tells of angels just sitting around in heaven with nothing to do but play harps.  That is the cartoon image of angels, not the Biblical image.  Angels in the Bible are always doing something– serving their Creator God by doing something that He has given them to do.  Hebrews 1:14 says, “Are not all angels ministering spirits, sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?”  We, and the angels, are created beings of the same God.  And He has given all of us opportunities to serve.

#5 —  We serve God best by serving in such a way that God receives the glory and not us.  Matthew 5:16 says, “Let your light so shine before others that they may see your good works and PRAISE YOUR FATHER IN HEAVEN.”  The idea is that others will see our faith in action and will want to know about the God who inspires such faith and works.  The focus of all that we do as individuals or as a church should be on God and not on ourselves, and so we ought not be concerned about whether or not we receive adequate credit or praise.

#6 — The angels do this so well that we are not even aware they are there.  Angels have no doubt been present in my life and in yours, helping us along, giving us a lift, guiding us, encouraging us; doing the same kinds of things they do for ordinary folks in the Bible.  But they stay out of the way, invisible even, so that all the glory is given to God.  And the glory ought to go to God, the Creator of the angels.  The fact that we do not think usually about angels or see them and can even, for the most part, ignore them in the Bible and in our lives is proof that they are doing their job well, and God receives the glory.  Whatever angels do in the Bible points us not to the angels but to God.

#7 —  There is a lesson there for all of us, who, like the angels, are called on to serve God.  In our service to the church and to others we should be more concerned about God getting the credit than we ourselves.  Oftentimes, we want to make sure that we are recognized, that we are appreciated, and that we look good; and we might be disappointed and hurt if that does not happen.  But the more credit we get, the less glory God gets.  I have heard many stories of missionaries who left their homes and families and friends to go to faraway places and endure great hardships, all in order to serve others and bring God’s Word to them.  When asked by those they serve why they were willing to sacrifice so much, the missionaries do not say ‘because I am such a good person,’ but rather, they say it is because they believe in a wonderful and loving God who saves us and then sends us out to serve others.  And I have talked to many people from other countries who came to faith in Christ because of just such a witness.  That is serving like an angel:  serving in such a way that God receives the glory. Angels provide an excellent model for this kind of service, and this, I believe, is the main thing we can learn from them.  They are working overtime for us, and we don’t even know they are there.  May we also be such obedient and humble servants.

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Hebrews 13:2  —  Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.

Psalm 8:3-5  —  When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars,  which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?  You have made them a little lower than the angels  and crowned them with glory and honor.

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Now as you go on your way, may God go with you.  May he go before you to show you the way; may he go behind you to encourage you; beside you to befriend you; above you to watch over you; and within you to give you peace.  In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.   –10th century benediction