Tag Archives: Angels

An Autopsy of My Fears

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For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways;

Psalm 91:11 (NIV)

In this riotous year of 2020, I have endeavored to keep my mouth shut and both my eyes and ears open. The division and discord have been palpable, but I have truly desired to be an agent of peace, love, and unity. I confess that I haven’t been perfect, but it was my endeavor. Never in my life have I felt James’ directive so necessary and difficult when he wrote:

“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry”
James 1:19 (NIV)

One of the observations I’ve made this year as I’ve watched and listened is how individuals respond and react to fear. It’s led me to meditate on my own fears. What is it that I’m afraid of? The truth of the matter is that I have had no fear of the coronavirus, but I have really struggled with fear of business failure and financial loss. I have become more dutiful in wearing my mask when I’m running errands out in public, but I confess that it’s not because I’m afraid of getting COVID, but rather I’m afraid of offending others. I also had no fear about who America’s president would be, but I did struggle with fear about my personal future.

Today’s chapter, Psalm 91, stood out as I read it for its unwavering confidence. If you haven’t noticed, many of the psalms are laments and expressions of all the human emotions that come along with personal struggles, spiritual struggles, and national struggles. There’s none of that in the lyrics of this song. Psalm 91 could be a prosperity preacher’s theme song. It’s a “name it and claim it” treasure trove.

The verse I spotlighted at the top of the post is interesting because it was quoted by Satan when he was tempting Jesus at the launch of His public ministry. The story goes like this:

Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
    and they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”

As I pondered this, it struck me that at the end of Jesus’ forty-day fast and facing the enemy’s temptations, angels did attend to Him. And, on the night before Jesus was to be crucified, angels once again attended to Him in His agony. The promises of Psalm 90 were true. Those promises, however, were not that Jesus could confidently get or have what He wants, but that He could confidently and faithfully accomplish what He ought.

In the quiet this morning, I find myself circling back to my fears. The forensic autopsy of my fear leaves me realizing that I have a relatively easy time trusting God with the big things, the cosmic things, and global things. My struggle is trusting God with the small things, the personal things, and the things that hit me where I am personally most vulnerable: my pride, my purpose, and my provision.

Is that where an enemy target’s their prey? Attack the weak spot. Hit the places where they are most vulnerable.

I read through the ancient Hebrew lyrics of Psalm 91 once again. Jesus’ example provides me with such crucial context. The psalm is not about me avoiding all pain, suffering, or hardship. The angels, after all, shored Jesus up in the Garden so that He could fulfill the way of suffering and sacrifice: quite literally His journey to death, hell, and back. Psalm 90 is about having the confidence that, as long as I am seeking to faithfully pursue God’s purposes for me, I can be assured that I will not be left alone or forsaken. I will be spiritually provided with everything I need to finish the journey. Maybe not in every moment I want it so my life can be easier, but every time I truly need it so my life can accomplish my own role in the Great Story.

Want to Read More?

Click on the image, or click here, to be taken to a simple, visual index of all the posts in this series from the book of Psalms.

There is also a list of recent chapter-a-day series indexed by book.

About This Post

These chapter-a-day posts began in 2006. It’s a very simple concept. I endeavor each weekday to read one chapter from the Bible. I then blog about my thoughts, insights, and feelings about the content of that chapter. Everyone is welcome to share this post, like this post, or add your own thoughts in a comment. Thank you to those who have become faithful, regular or occasional readers along the journey along with your encouragement.

In 2019 I began creating posts for each book, with an indexed list of all the chapters for that book. You can find the indexed list by clicking on this link.

Prior to that, I kept a cataloged index of all posts on one page. You can access that page by clicking on this link.

You can also access my audio and video messages, as well.

tomvanderwell@gmail.com @tomvanderwell

Chapter-a-Day Hebrews 1

Angel 013Therefore, angels are only servants—spirits sent to care for people who will inherit salvation. Hebrews 1:14 (NLT)

Walking the journey each day, slogging through the task list and managing life’s daily routine, it is easy to forget that there is another dimension, a spiritual dimension, that exists simultaneously with our own. Because it cannot be seen with our natural eyes does not make it less real. In fact, after thirty years of studying God’s Message, I’ve come to believe that in the context of eternity the spiritual realm is indeed more “real” than the physical dimension in which we exist.

During his three-years of public teaching Jesus intersected and engaged in the spiritual realm all the time. Reading the first hand accounts of those who walked with him tell of Jesus speaking to spirits, casting them out of their human host, being guided by Holy Spirit, being visited by angels, being transfigured into the spiritual and speaking with the prophets. He made it clear that there is more to this journey than our eyes can see and our fingers can touch.

Today I am reminded that all around me is a spiritual dimension of God’s grand design. I purpose today to set my mind on spiritual things and not just earthly things.

Chapter-a-Day Luke 23

A cropped version of Antonio Ciseri's depictio...
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The Temple curtain split right down the middle. Luke 23:45 (MSG)

Torn. Ripped. Split asunder.

There are so many things that were ripped apart that day. Jesus’ flesh was torn with the soldier’s scourge. His face ripped with long Judean thorns. His body ripped through with nails. His heart torn with a Roman spear.

Then, the Son was ripped from the Father. Carrying the sin of the world, the beloved son became an anathema. The Father turned away from his own. Sin split asunder the unity between God the Father and God the Son. Jesus died alone and isolated. Because of my sin.

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

At the same time, the curtain of the temple was torn apart. The temple curtain separated the “Holiest Place” where God dwelt in the temple apart from sinful man on the outside. But with Jesus carrying the sin of the world and paying the penalty for our sin, the gap between God and man was bridged. God himself bore our sins. God himself made a way for us to enter his presence. The curtain of sin that separated us was torn asunder. Jesus paid the price. Jesus separated himself from the Father so that we could be united with the Father. Jesus paved the way for us to enter God’s presence.

That’s why the angels sang:

“Glory to God in the highest.
And on Earth: peace. Goodwill to men.”

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Chapter-a-Day Daniel 10

Angelic visit.  "I heard his voice. At the sound of it I fainted, fell flat on the ground, face in the dirt. A hand touched me and pulled me to my hands and knees." Daniel 10:9-10 (MSG)

As a young man, I used to be really intimidated by people of prominence or worldly fame that I had the chance to meet. In their presence, I acted much like Daniel describes his encounter. My heart would race, it would be hard to breathe, and I would feel paralyzed by fear that I would say or do something really stupid.

Then, along the journey, I was given the opportunity to meet and spend time with a few people who would be deemed prominent in certain circles. I was able to hang out with them, watch them, and listen to them. I found them remarkably human. In fact, in most cases I found myself scratching my head and thinking, "why does everyone think this person is so great?"

These experiences really changed my perspective and the way I react to people I meet. However, today's chapter is a reminder to me of a theme throughout God's message. When human beings come in contact with God or His messengers, the reaction is always fear, humility and being paralyzed. Heavenly presence is, indeed, something with which we all will be impressed. In heavenly presence we will all appropriately fall to our faces. It reminds me of Jesus' words:

Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Matt 10:28 (NIV)


Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and loci lenar