October 11, 2020: 19th Sunday of Pentecost

Let us pray: Dear Savior, we know that we have a host of evil arrayed against us all of whom seek to pull us away from You.  Lord, protect us!  And today, remind us that we have an even greater host of protectors guarding us in the form of your angelic army.  Remind us that You have won the victory over evil and those hosts are enforcing it every day all around us.  Amen


TEXT:  Acts 12: 1-19

Dearly Beloved By Christ: 

          “’Thar be beasties out ‘thar.”  I remember seeing an ancient map from the  middle ages of the known oceans.  Inscribed on the edge of the known world was that inscription: “Thar be beasties out thar.”  Were they right?  Or was it all myth?  Reality is based on what we can see and prove, isn’t it? 

          I recall the story of a die-hard communist scientist during the height of the cold war.  He hated Christianity and any talk of God, an afterlife, or the soul.  He weighed a man on the verge of death and then re-weighed him right after death.  The weight was  the same.  And so, he concluded that the soul doesn’t exist because it obviously has no weight! 

          Did God create anything that we cannot see?  Can you see heaven?  Can you verify that angels exist?  Can you see the Holy Trinity?  Is seeing always believing?  And is something you believe in, real?  Moreover, if you cannot fathom the depths of reality, does that make it unreal?  Of course, Scripture answers all this with one passage: “We walk by faith and not by sight.”


          Can you “see” the emotion of: love?  You can see manifestations of it.  But you cannot see the raw emotion, can you?  Does that mean emotions are unreal?  No, it just means God hasn’t shown you everything in creation. 

          St. Peter got himself in hot water with the powers-that-be.  King Herod had the Apostle James put to death.  Then he had Peter arrested and imprisoned to await death.  Meanwhile, “the church was praying earnestly to God for him.”

          The night before the trial, Peter was sleeping, chained between two guards.  Outside the cell stood more guards.  “Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell.  He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. ‘Quick, get up!’ and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists.”  The angel also prompted Peter to put on his sandals and cloak and to follow that angel right out of prison. Peter didn’t understand and thought it was a vision.  They past two sets of guards, came to the iron gate outside, and miraculously it opened for them!  Peter was free!  Then the angel left him.


          Angels are real.  We cannot see them all the time, but they surround us with their powerful presence.  They help and assist God’s people when natural means are blunted.  That’s what happens here in our lesson.  Another example is found in 2 Kings chapter 6.  There the king of Israel finds himself and his city surrounded by enemy forces.  It looks grim.  But through Elisha the prophet, God reveals a whole angelic army with chariots of fire encamped in the hills which greatly outnumbers the enemy.  It uplifts and king’s spirit and saves the city.  Then God strikes the enemy with blindness!  Yes, those apart from God are blind to His reality and the unseen aspects of creation. 

          Getting back to Peter, any of his doubts and fears are banished through God miraculously causing his escape from prison.  He’s now strong in the Lord and bold, too.  He goes directly to Mary’s house (Mark’s mother) where he knew the faithful were praying for him.  He bangs on the door and finally the servant girl answers.  She knows Peter’s voice and without opening it exclaims to everyone: “Peter is at the door!”  She insists she’s right and some of them said: “It must be his angel.”—Interesting turn of phrase, isn’t it?  But Peter bangs louder and “when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished.” Then Peter recounts exactly what happened, and how the Lord saved him.


          This lesson clearly teaches us that God loves and protects His faithful.  It shows that He hears and answers prayer.  It reveals that He has angel hosts encamped around “those that fear Him” as Scripture says.  And why does God do all this for people like you and me?  Because the blood of His Son, Jesus, has bought and paid for our deliverance!  In the end God never lets evil win anything that really matters and the resurrection proved it! 

          So, why can’t I see angels all the time?  It would give me courage and confidence, wouldn’t it?  Do you really think so?  Or would we abuse such a gift and flount it by taking chances and tempting God’s grace, if we could see the unseen?  No, “we walk by faith and not by sight.”  We don’t put ourselves in harm’s way, or “poke the bear” and then expect God’s angels to bail us out—even though they often do! 

          I’ve never seen an angel that I know of. I cannot prove scientifically that they exist.  But I know they do.  Just as I know that Jesus exists, that God loves me, and that He will protect me as long as He decides to give me breath, or until my time of grace comes to an end. I also know that heaven will come afterwards.  So, like Peter, I’m going to live: “as wise as a serpent and as gentle as a dove” just as Jesus tells me to.  I’m not going to fear the unknown because God’s in charge.  And our unseen and all-loving God will use whatever means necessary to protect me from the evil one and his minions just like He did with Peter!  Because to God all Christian lives matter!  After all, He invested the life of Jesus in us.  Amen THE PEACE OF GOD…..

Pastor Thomas H. Fox

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