(This is the second post in a 30-Week Series – Getting to Know God.)
Who are the angels?
How do we know when we are in the company of angels or when we are being seduced by evil intentions? I go back again to my catechism and Sunday school classes. I was taught we must carefully consider our friends and who we associate with because the company we keep can not only make us guilty by association and they can lead us to go against God’s Word.
“The righteous choose their friends carefully,
but the way of the wicked leads them astray.” Proverbs 12:26
More about this in a moment, but first…
The fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy
As mentioned in last week’s post, Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would be born of a virgin. The Gospel accounts state unequivocally that Jesus is miraculously conceived in Mary by the Holy Spirit. While the divine nature of Jesus’ birth is both wonderful and exciting, the human side of the story is weighted by the concern and embarrassment that Mary and Joseph must have felt at the time.
At the same time as the account of Jesus’ birth begins, so is the birth announcement of John the Baptist, who becomes God’s special messenger of repentance and baptism.
“Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13 But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord.” Luke 1:11-15
“Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” 19 The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news.” Luke 1: 18-19
Mary is told of the conception in Luke 1:26-38.
“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”
38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.” Luke 1:34-38
Joseph is visited by an angel in Matthew 1:18-24
20 …, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). Matthew 1:20-23
How did they know they were in the company of angels?
In Luke 1: 5-6, Zechariah, a priest and his wife Elizabeth were “both righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly.”
Above, Mary states, “I am the Lord’s servant” meaning that she was and will continue to be faithful to God.
While Joseph, Mary’s husband, was faithful to the law, he had meant to divorce her quietly after they were married so as not to expose her to public disgrace. But after he considered what he would do, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream.
All of four of these people were faithful to God. And in keeping close to God, I believe, they knew God was speaking to them through a divine messenger. Because of their confident faith and loving support between them, the world can sing with joy.
Jesus Christ, A Savior is born!
Angels among us
I certainly understood how Mary and Joseph felt by an unexpected event. While I knew there was the possibility of losing my job, my pride kept me from seeing the reality of it until it happened. And when it did, I was grateful for my husband who stuck it out with me.
I was also truly struck by Zechariah’s doubt in Luke 1:18-19. I was gripped with fear and doubt. I was in my late 40’s when I lost my career in the summer of 2009. I was grateful to have been hired as a salesperson immediately after in a new industry I knew very little.
I would soon realize, however, that I was heading for failure in my new job. But in that company I met new friends who were encouraging me on how my career experience could lead me to a successful contracting business in that very same industry I thought I was failing. How could I trust they were right?
Here is an excerpt of a prayer from a page in one of my prayer journals at the time:
Dear Lord, I’m tired. I’m worn out. I no longer know what it is you want me to do. I have sent literally hundreds of resumes’ and completed hundreds of online applications with no response and no return calls for interviews. Am I too old? Am I fake? Help me stand firm in my confidence in You and in Your purpose for me. The weight of my financial and family obligations is crushing me. I can no longer persist in my present circumstance. I give it all over to You. Help me to accept whatever the outcome Lord, help me to accept it and to accept it in Your perfect timing. I pray this all in Jesus’ name. Amen
Listening takes diligence
I had asked God and trusted Him to place me in that job as a salesperson even though I knew very little about the industry. My previous title was vice president of sales in the financial services industry, but I was willing to start over in another industry if necessary (at least I thought so at the time). Yet, here I was failing. How could I be? I had been in sales for most of my career. Had I been faking it all along? How could this job be a blessing when I was failing so miserably?
Let me spell it out: P-R-I-D-E
Out of adversity comes blessing…. I had to have the pride kicked out of me before I could see how, what, and where God needed me. I was so hung up on who I thought I was, how great I thought I was, and how my success centered around a job title.
God placed me in the company of angels and He sent on a path to discovering His purpose for me. I did not know it at the time but it was just the beginning on a very long road.
Heavenly Father, Creator of all good things and Redeemer of the world, give me Your Spirit that I may be a good and faithful steward.
Heavenly Father, forgive me. Forgive me when I fail to listen, when I fail to do the things that must be done, when I neglect and misuse my gifts.
Heavenly Father, help me. Give me the diligence and energy to do the difficult and bitter tasks as well as the pleasant and joyful duties. Help me to be zealous in all my work.
Heavenly Father, prompt me to serve You and others around me with the ambition of unselfish service for Your sake.
Bless me with the joy of an unworthy servant who has been made worthy through the merits of Jesus Christ in whose name I pray, Amen.
(The above prayer was adapted from a prayer in the Lutheran Book of Prayer.)
May I pray for you?
The Prayer Journals are my personal spiritual journey in conjunction with writing my spiritual memoir. My posts in 2018 are a series relating to this theme. If you have just joined The Prayer Journals, I hope you will take the time to explore previous posts on this site.
Please reach out to The Prayer Journals if I can answer any questions about keeping a prayer journal of your own. A prayer journal is an intimate communication between you and God. You don’t have to be a master writer. Perhaps you are an illustrator, a painter, a poet, a lyricist or creator of scrapbooks. Use your gifts to communicate with God, however you wish in your prayer journal.
Blessings on your day,
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