For He will give His angels charge concerning you, to guard you in all your ways (Psalm 91:11).

8714Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation? (Hebrews 1:14).

The writer of the Book of Hebrews in the Bible states that God knows ahead of time just who will take up God’s free offer of the gift of Salvation, and that He assigns an Angel to us, even before we actually commit ourselves to Christ. The creator God, the Lord of all the Earth, lives outside of time and acts inside of time on the basis of what He knows you will do with the gift of God—the gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus. If you are a believer, or will be in the future, an angel of God has been assigned to you. You might have noticed that the passage above says that the angels are sent to those who will inherit salvation—future tense. This angel sent to you is a ministering (serving) spirit sent to serve you. The Bible has many instances of Angels serving God and His people down through the ages. We don’t talk to the angels or reach out to them—we talk to God about whatever we are going through, and He instructs His angels as to what to do. Of course, there are evil angels as well, Satan is an evil angel that heads up an army of evil angels that are opposing God and seeking to corrupt and destroy God’s greatest creation—Man. Most of the time the angelic beings are not seen, but occasionally God has let men see just how many are on our side

In the Old Testament book of 2 Kings there is a story of a king reigning in Aram who was angry because his actions and intentions were somehow being made known to the armies of Israel. He could not understand how Israel knew everything he was doing, and everything he plotted (2 Kings 6:8-10). He thought that he had a spy among his leaders. His problem was that Israel had a man of God, Elisha, who lived his life in such a way that he was able, by the Spirit of God, to know the very words that the King of Aram spoke in secret to his generals (2 Kings 6:11-12). God was revealing these things to Elisha, who was very aware of the unseen realm, and who had an intimate and powerful prayer life, which gave him this special insight.  When the King of Aram found out about Elisha’s gift, he was so enraged that he sent his army to the town where Elisha lived, hoping to kill or capture him:

14Then he sent horses and chariots and a strong force there. They went by night and surrounded the city. 15When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?” the servant asked. 16“Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them” 17And Elisha prayed, “O LORD, open his eyes so 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. 18As the enemy came down toward him, Elisha prayed to the LORD, “Strike these people with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness, as Elisha had asked (2 Kings 6:14-18).

When Elisha’s servant looked at the size of the army of Aram around and about the city, he began to lose heart. Things looked hopeless when seen only from an earthly perspective. But all was not as it seemed. There were spiritual forces around Elisha and Gehazi, his servant, which the young novice to the things of God was unaware of. Elisha prayed for his servant’s eyes to be opened to the unseen angels in the spiritual realm around them. All of a sudden, at the prayer of Elisha, he saw beyond this physical world to the reality of the spiritual forces of God that were previously hidden from him, angelic beings that were much more powerful than the army of Aram. He saw the armies of heaven protecting and surrounding the prophet of God, available to serve him in whatever way the prophet prayed. The enemies of Israel were defeated with one display of God’s power at the prayer of Elisha. We too, as servants of the Living God, have angelic hosts that protect us. It’s about time you called upon the Lord to help you in what you are going through. Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (delivered) (Joel 2:32).

Keith Thomas

Who Killed Jesus?

10429_4401-who-really-killed-jesus-09_04700300_mfldmaxdfd6s5e7azqbncnhx2yoxpy7q62c4u66siw3t6qwph3oq_757x567What a big question! Like an Agatha Christie murder mystery, there are a number of individuals who are to blame. Firstly, there was the Jewish ruling religious elite. They certainly had a hand in conspiring against Jesus because of jealousy. Jesus had upset the ruling religious leaders when He rebuked them for making the holy place a market for their unscrupulous money exchange and the ripping off of the poor by making them pay exorbitant prices for the sacrificial lambs. Certainly, they were the ones that sent the Temple guard to arrest Jesus on trumped up charges of blasphemy: “Then the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders of the people assembled at the palace of the High Priest, who was called Caiphas, and plotted to take Jesus by trickery and kill Him” (Matthew 26:4).

What about the Roman procurator, Pilate? When the religious leaders had pronounced a guilty verdict on Jesus, even though their witnesses did not agree as to their testimony, they handed Christ over to Pilate, who not only had the power to crucify Jesus, but also gave Him up to the will of the Jewish elite class. He said to Jesus: “Do you not know that I have power to crucify You and power to release You” (John 19:10).

“When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: you see to it” (Matthew 27:24).

Then there was one of the twelve disciples, Judas, the traitor and thief. He also was guilty and culpable (deserving blame). As the group of disciples’ treasurer, Judas had been stealing money out of the moneybag. When a woman anointed Jesus with her very expensive ointment, Judas was unhappy at the act of devotion and saw the cost of the ointment as something that had slipped through his hand. When Jesus backed up the beautiful act that the woman had done, Judas didn’t like it and went and sold his master for thirty silver coins, the price paid for a slave (Exodus 21:32). “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you? So they counted out for him thirty silver coins. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over (Matthew 26:15-16).

Who else could be blamed for the death of Jesus? What about those that every Christian is at war with?—the unseen ruling evil spirits that are manipulating people on the planet for their own evil ends.

For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places (Ephesian 6:12).

Of course, when these unseen evil spirits used Judas, Pilate and the religious elite, they did not realize the end result of Christ being crucified, and the damage it would bring to Satan and his ruling evil angels and demons.

We declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. 8None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory (1 Corinthians 2:7-8).

Each of those mentioned above are fully to blame and will be brought to judgment in the age to come, when Jesus returns to set up His kingdom. But also, we sinful human beings are each to blame for our own sin. God had placed a penalty on the rebellion against Him in the Garden of Eden. Death would be a consequence of sin. That is not just physical death but spiritual death, which is separation from God. This is why Jesus deliberately allowed Himself to be crucified. It was His life for your life. God came in the person of Christ to be the substitute for you and me and all those who would accept the terms of the New Covenant of God (Jeremiah 31:31). He would give new life to all who accept His death in payment for their sin. The evil unseen spirits did not realize that God would use His Son’s death as a means of deliverance for you and me from our sins:

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit (1 Peter 3:18).

What about you? Will you accept the free gift of salvation and eternal life that Christ offers you if you give up your life into His hands? Just simply tell Him, wherever you are right now, Lord Jesus, thank you for dying in my place for me and as me. I receive you into my life to cleanse me from all my sin. Forgive me for my sin, Lord Jesus, I want to live for you. Amen. If you sincerely meant that prayer, there is joy in heaven (Luke 15:10)

Keith Thomas

Are You Watching for His Return?

96e2f6c4f55e967defc71fb5b92e3663c6419b5136If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. 37What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’” (Mark 13:36-37).

My family and I were separated for nearly three months in the year 2000 while I started work in a large mega church in Cincinnati, Ohio (I am from England).  You bet I was counting the days for our reunion! How lonely I was without the ones I loved, it brought me to tears a number of times. As the time grew closer for our reunion, I began to prepare everything for us to be close again. I checked the flight times again and again, I planned where we would eat on the way from the airport, I cleaned the house meticulously where we would be staying, but most of all, I prepared myself. My time was spent in the days before their coming in much preparation. What joy I had when they arrived, we hugged and kissed repeatedly. I was so excited to show them around Cincinnati, the city where we would now be living. My girlfriend (my wife of 36 years) and my two children were coming home to their own country after 18 or so years of serving God in England.  You cannot understand the joy I felt to bring them back to their family and country.

If you are a Christian this world is not your home. Like me longing for my family, our Lord is longing for our reunion. He has spent nearly 2000 years preparing a place for us so that where He is we shall be also (John 14:1-3). What joy will flood His heart upon our reunion, how He longs to show us where we will be living together. It must be disappointing to Him that some would not even be watching for their reunion day–their hearts are not beating with the same passion that is in His. There are some who are just not aware of the days in which we are living; they are asleep and are not lovingly watching for His return.

Are you watching for His return? Are you avidly working and using your resources to advance the Kingdom of God here on Earth? As a fellow soldier on watch duty, can I call you to attention so that you may lovingly watch for Him? Isn’t it time to get excited about seeing Him and preparing for that time?

Prayer: Father, keep me awake in the midst of a world that wants to drug me to sleep.  I really want to be wide-awake and sensitive to you so that I may walk in eager anticipation for that great reunion day.

Keith Thomas

The Way of the Cross

12912757_642787695859096_677544362_n23Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it 25What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? 26If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”  (Luke 9:23-26).

In the year 771, Charlemagne became king of the Franks, a Germanic tribe in present-day Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and western Germany. He had gained an empire, but yet in his dying days, he had found out the truth that to live for oneself and to gain an empire without Christ seated on the throne of one’s life was to die a miserable death. One hundred and eighty years after the death of Charlemagne, about the year 1000, officials of the Emperor Otho opened the great king’s tomb where, in addition to incredible treasures, they saw an amazing sight: the skeletal remains of King Charlemagne seated on a throne, his crown still on his skull, and a copy of the Gospels lying in his lap with his bony finger resting on the text, “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?”[1]

Too many people rush about seeking for fame and fortune, desperately putting all their time, energy, and money into climbing the ladder of success, only to find at the end of their lives that their ladder has been against the wrong wall. Life is too short to have regrets about how you have spent your years in frivolous things. He tells them, and us, that if we really want to follow Him, to be His disciple, there are three things we must do: deny self, take up a life of cross-bearing, and do it daily. 

There are some that feel that to deny oneself would be not to do anything pleasurable, not to ever eat chocolate, or go see a movie. They say that to deny oneself means to do nothing that would be fun. However, Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). If to follow Jesus means to never enjoy life or never to have fun, it sure doesn’t sound like it would be a life of living to the full. So what does it mean?

  • To deny ourselves. I believe that this means that pleasing our Lord is to be a higher priority that pleasing self. We must put His will first and foremost in our lives.  If we can imagine a throne room in the temple of our hearts (1 Corinthians 3:16), Christ needs to sit there, and not ourselves. He must rule and reign. The Greek word translated as deny means not only to say no to something, but also it is used to refuse someone. William Barclay, the Bible commentator, further defines it, saying:

Ordinarily we use the word self-denial in a restricted sense. We use it to mean doing without something, giving up something. For instance, a week of self-denial is a week when we do without certain pleasures or luxuries, usually in order to contribute to some good cause. But that is only a very small part of what Jesus meant by self-denial. To deny oneself means that in every moment of life to say no to self, and to say yes to God. To deny oneself means to obliterate self as the dominant principle of life, and to make God the ruling principle, more, the ruling passion, of life. The life of constant self-denial is the life of constant assent to God.[2]

  • You and I, as disciples, need to take up our cross daily. A cross was an implement of death. When a man was seen carrying a cross, people knew he was on his way to death. A life of purpose (a life of dedication to Christ), i.e. real life, has a way of coming to us when we dethrone self and place Christ at the center focus of our lives. This life that we have on Earth is but a seed to be sown into the lives of others. Selfishness is gone when an attitude of heart that is dead to self reigns. Paul the Apostle was a great example for all of us in his words: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). To be crucified with Christ is to live with the purpose of doing God’s will daily, even when our flesh life craves the opposite. This is a Spirit-controlled life.
  • We are to follow Him. Many seem to follow the way of self. They bow at the shrine of I, Me, Mine, Myself. To the follower of Christ, his heart is to be like Jesus in every way that He lived His life. We are to follow His example. He modeled to us how we are to live. Christ Jesus has bought us, not with silver or gold, but with the most valuable thing that He had: His blood, His life in this world. Jim Elliot, one of five missionaries who died seeking to reach the Auca Indians of South America with the message of Christ, said this: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose” (Shadow of the Almighty, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Page 15).

These notes are taken from the Bible study on Luke in the middle column, the study called 20. Peter’s Confession.

Keith Thomas

[1] R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word, Luke Volume One, Printed by Crossway Books, 1998. Page 342.

[2] William Barclay.  The Gospel of Matthew, Vol.  2. The Daily Study Bible Series (Philadelphia, Pa.: Westminster Press, 1958) p. 167.

How Much Are You in Debt to God?

6a00d8341c7a9f53ef0133f0e2bcaa970b40Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.” “Tell me, teacher,” he said. 41“Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?” (Luke 7:40-42).

Jesus went to have dinner at the invitation of a Pharisee named Simon. During the meal a woman that was known as a prostitute in the area came and washed Jesus’ feet with her hair and anointed Him with her expensive perfume. Simon’s thoughts betrayed him to the Lord. He judged Jesus for allowing this known sinful woman to draw near to Him and touch Him. Jesus spoke a parable about two debtors.  Although Jesus was speaking the parable to Simon, it is also applicable to all of us. Every one of us has a debt of sin that we have brought upon ourselves.

At the time of Christ, a denarius was the take–home pay of a man for a day’s wages. One had a debt of the equivalent of a month and a half’s wages, and the other’s debt was equal to one–and–a–half-year’s wages. The Lord was acknowledging that, outwardly, the sinful woman’s sin was of the sort that spiritually was a high debt, but at the same time, He was pointing out that even though Simon thought that he was morally a better person, he could not pay his debt of sin either. Both were unable to pay. Every one of us is spiritually bankrupt before this Holy God to whom we have to give account someday (Romans 14:12). Let’s use the analogy of being an Olympic long jumper. Maybe you can long jump eight feet as compared to Bob Beamon’s Olympic world record achievement in the long jump of 29 feet, 2 inches. However, if you both had to jump across Niagara Falls, a distance of 1800 feet, both would fail. It matters not whether you are a 50-denarii sinner or a 500-denarii sinner, no one can meet the demands of a holy God.  Jesus put it this way:

For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:20).

The law was given that men and women would see their need of a Savior and turn to Him and be saved in order to have their sin–debts cancelled. We can all improve our lives and characters to a certain degree, but we cannot, by ourselves, cancel out the debt of sin that is against us. Author R. Kent Hughes puts it like this:

What we must understand is that the condition for being forgiven is to realize that we are broke and insolvent, where we are accomplished moralists or accomplished sinners. This is the problem—people keep trying to persuade God to accept the currency of their own making. Some submit the currency of integrity. “God, I work with compulsive liars. The only honest man I know is myself. Surely I am acceptable.” Others would argue that their domestic currency ought to make it. “In this X-rated world, my life is a wholesome G. I’m faithful to my wife. I love her and my children. I am a good husband, father, and son. I reckon that’s all I’ll need!” Social currency is a favorite too. “I am truly color-blind. My money (lots of it) goes to the needy. I volunteer at the crisis pregnancy center. I really do care. The world needs more people like me, and so does heaven.” Church currency is perhaps the biggest delusion. “I live at church. My goodness will surely be accepted.”[1]

It is good for our hearts to consider regularly where we would be in life if not for the Lord interrupting our path and Jesus coming and eternally changing our lives with the Gospel. Those kinds of thoughts should give us a new appreciation and gratitude for Christ.  If there is a lack of love toward Christ in us, it is because of a lack of awareness and consciousness of the debt of sin that has been paid. How much in spiritual debt are you? Isn’t it time to come to the Lord and have Him graciously pay your debt for you? Turn to Him today, acknowledge your sin to Him that He may forgive you and have your debts paid for by Christ’s substitutionary work on the cross for you.

Keith Thomas

[1] R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word Series, Luke, Volume One. Wheaton, Illinois. Crossway Books, 1998. Page 280.