Midweek Morsel: Attended by Angels

11248586324_e55d800f60_z“At once the Spirit sent him out into the desert, and he was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.” Mark1:12-13

Did you know angels attended Jesus during his days in the desert? Scripture doesn’t tell us exactly how they attended him, but they were on duty.

The gospel of Matthew specifically mentions angels attending Jesus after Satan tempted him (at the end of a forty day fast), and here in Mark’s gospel we hear that wild animals were part of the scene. My NIV text note says that in Jesus’ day there were many more wild animals, including lions, in Palestine. I guess Satan wasn’t the only danger in the desert. Wild animals posed a threat—and I’m sure the elements did as well.

The Israelites also experienced angelic attendance during their desert days. In Exodus (23:20, 23; 32:34), we’re told that an angel went ahead of them, guiding and protecting them. I wonder if the angels who attended Jesus did the same for him. Perhaps they even ministered to other needs he had.

If God sent angels to attend Jesus and also the Israelites during their desert days, don’t you think he might send them to us as well in our times of need? When we are faced with temptations, dangers, dry and barren days, as well as need in extreme situations, will God leave us to struggle on our own? No, he will minister to us. And it might just be through angels.

“For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;” Psalm 91:11

*Have you ever felt that angels were attending you?

*Flickr photo by  www.carloscherer.eu, Creative Commons License

God Blesses Above and Beyond

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Anyone growing weary while traveling a hard road? Anyone growing discouraged while waiting for God to answer your cries for mercy? Don’t give up. Let me encourage you. God may be getting ready to bless you above and beyond your present hopes. The photos with my post today are our family’s testimony to that very fact.

Before I say more about our family’s story, though, let’s recall a story from the Bible—one that shows how God has been in the above and beyond business for a very long time. We all remember the story of God parting the Red Sea for Moses and the Israelites as they made their escape from Egypt, but do you remember that they then traveled for three days in the desert without finding any water?

I’d say traveling in the desert without water is a hard road in anyone’s book. The parched and desperate travelers must have been begging for mercy from the God who was leading them out of Egypt. When they came to Marah, they found water, but it was bitter. Moses cried out to the Lord, though, and he showed him a piece of wood to throw in the water to make it sweet. The Lord heard Moses’ cry for help and met their desperate need.

God was not finished blessing and refreshing the Israelites, though. He led them on to even more. When they reached Elim, they not only found water in abundance—twelve springs to be exact—but they found shade as well in the form of seventy (yes, seventy!) palm trees. God blessed them above and beyond.

God has blessed our family above and beyond, too. Our daughter Kristin and son-in-law Shawn traveled a painful desert road for years as they desperately cried out to God for a baby. As their parents, we traveled a hard road as well as we hurt for them and prayed along with them. And then, when none of us knew how much longer they could endure, God answered our cries for mercy. He blessed Kristin and Shawn with precious newborn twin boys—our sweet grandsons Isaiah and James. Yes, when God answered, he said, “Here’s two!” Above and beyond indeed!

Friends, we have a Father who specializes in above and beyond, who loves to give good gifts. If you are barely hanging on today as you wait for him to answer your cries for mercy, take heart. He loves you. He has the perfect plan in place, the perfect answer for you and your unique situation. Trust in him. Trust in his above and beyond heart. Even though the answer may be different than what you imagined, it will be what’s best. He will not fail you.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21

*When has God answered your prayers above and beyond what you dreamed or imagined?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out next week. Sign-up is free and to the right!

*Photos by Anna Martin Photography; also find Anna on Facebook.

Isaiah and James

Midweek Morsel: God Speaks When He Seems Silent

5771861523_5c38e5529e_zAs children of God, we eventually go through periods when God seems quiet—we might even think of them as desert times. Last fall I shared about just such a period in my life lately. We may wonder why God is being silent, why he is not speaking to our spirits as clearly as in the past.

In truth, God speaks to us even in the silence. For example, at times when I may not hear his voice in my spirit, I still hear him speak through his Word. Also consider what Margaret Feinberg says on this topic in her book The Organic God:

“But as I practice the art of listening to God, I am discovering that he is surprisingly talkative even in the silence. Prayers are not going unanswered as much as he is responding in unexpected ways. . . . His voice is found in the wisdom of friends and spiritual leaders. He whispers through dreams and visions and abundant provision. He speaks through both conscience and conviction and an undeniable sense that some thoughts are more like God-thoughts than my own. He even speaks in the silence.”

So let’s take heart, friends, even when God seems quiet. Let’s listen. Let’s be alert to the unexpected. Our loving Father will indeed speak.

“. . . ‘Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening. . .’” 1 Samuel 3:9

*How has God spoken to you even in the silence?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early February. Sign-up is free and to the right!

*Flickr photo by seyed mostafa zamini, Creative Commons License

Midweek Morsel: Pleasing to God in the Desert

120398547_bb63b7affd_z“And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.’ At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan.” Mark 1:11-13a

Anyone going through a desert time spiritually? Desert times can look and feel different at different times to different people.

I’ve been experiencing some desert times myself the past couple of years. God sometimes feels distant to me, even though I know he’s not. And even though I’ve heard him speak clearly through his Word, I don’t always hear his voice as clearly in my spirit as in times past. Like my friend Nancy described it, God is being quiet.

When we’re going through desert times, it’s easy to feel like God may not be pleased with us, but I’ve been encouraged by the above scripture and the example of Jesus in his desert time. Notice how just before God sent Jesus into the desert, the Father declared his pleasure with his Son. In fact, God was well pleased with Jesus but still sent him into a desert time.

Friends, isn’t it good to know that even when we feel like we’re in a spiritual desert, we can have the assurance that we are God’s dearly loved children and that he is still pleased with us? So if we’re not in a desert of our own making because of our sin and poor decisions (and thus needing a restored relationship with God), let’s rest in the knowledge that God is not displeased with us. As always, he still loves us.

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called children of God!” 1 John 3:1

*How do you stay close to God when you find yourself in a desert time spiritually?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early November. Sign up is free and to the right!

*Flickr photo by HORIZON, Creative Commons License