“An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.” Luke Chapter 22 verse 43. In my preparations on these words of Jesus Christ on the cross, my eye rested on this verse.
On this journey through life – which at times can be most strange – there can arise a question about resources along the road.
Are we properly and fully equipped for this pilgrimage which at times is challenging and difficult – and some have it more difficult than others.
Can we be sure we will hold out to the end?
If there is an emergency – will we have sufficient faith for that occasion?
If life crashes – as it can – how will we cope?
When the enemy launches another attack will be able to survive?
Can we keep our eye on God when faced with frustration and criticism and disappointment – or worse?
When the rough winds of life threaten to blow out our fire, will the flame continue to burn?
Have we got strength for all the strains and stresses which may confront us?
Do not days come when we are so aware of our human inadequacy, and when our weaknesses appear greater than our strengths?
What happens if instead of the wind of the Spirit of God, we are attacked by a tornado from the enemy of God?
The Psalmist (Psalm 40) knew the depths of the pit, and he looked to God to pull him up and out.
There are those find the road so rough and tough and steep and lonely that their heart and flesh cry out – “I don’t think I can go on – I’m almost beaten – I’ll never manage these deep waters – the Jordan is almost going over my head.”
Some of the greatest men of God have faced such questions and times.
That rugged virile man of God, Elijah, was floored by the subtle scheming of Ahab and Jezebel – not many are named Jezebel!
That sensitive prophet of God, Jeremiah, marches up to the throne of grace to resign his commission as a prophet as he sensed that all his work had been futile and abortive and even ridiculous.
Surely not my friend, Paul – O yes – that nagging aching thorn in the flesh causing chronic pain and misery – cramping all his plans for service.
And Peter – three times he denied knowing Jesus – no wonder he went out and wept. He had left his fisherman’s business in Capernaum – and surely now his future was gone?
This is a precarious pilgrimage – even for those who have known the call of Jesus Christ. I am so glad God’s Word reveals the weaknesses and frailties of this vulnerable flesh.
Have I been too gloomy? Have I depleted or drained your spiritual reserves? Or, have I been more realistic than you would wish me to be?
Our own natural resources and natural reserves – good as they may be – are insufficient.
There is something far greater – Elijah discovered that – an angel appeared to strengthen him. Paul heard that strengthening voice – “My grace is sufficient for you. My strength is made perfect in weakness”.
Jesus found this in the wilderness when he battled against the power of darkness. Angels came and ministered to Him.
When Jesus was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane – twelve hours before He was nailed to the cross – Jesus is sweating blood – and there comes to the eternal Son, the reinforcing power of the eternal Father.
Jesus arose and left that Garden to face the final sacrifice, with a confidence that underneath him were the Everlasting Arms – the arms of his heavenly Father.
An angel is a messenger of God – and sometimes it can be simply a word from the Word of God that encourages and lifts and garrisons our heart and soul and mind and life.
A message from God comes and rallies the sinking heart.
Hear Paul on another day – “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”.
Perhaps these words from the cross have ministered to you – or a sentence from the Psalms.
This Bible is the Word of God – it is help from beyond this fallen world. This is no dull manmade compendium of theories and thoughts and ideas.
There are times and occasions when God breaks through and meets us – and says something – and reveals His love and concern and compassion and care.
There was that man Augustine – clever and conceited from the University of Carthage – with his brilliant outward success and his constant inner defeat. In a garden he heard a voice – “Take up and read” – and on the first page he read his eyes saw – “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh”. Later, he wrote that his chains fell off and he was set free.
A man who forsakes his Bible is shutting himself off from the eternal world of God’s love and strength and revelation – a generation that shuts itself off from the Bible is depriving itself of indispensable resources for the battle.
Is that strengthening angel bringing some word to you now – “Cast your burden on the Lord for He cares for you”. Or – “The Lord is the strength of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?”
Sometimes the angel is a fellow creature – a friend who comes along at the right moment – just when we so needed someone.
There is such a mass of trouble in our world just now – and people you meet this coming week may be fighting a fiercer battle than you are – and carrying a heavier burden than you might ever guess.
A man asked many years ago – and it continues to be a very common question – if there was one character in history you would like to be who would it be – and the answer came – ‘The angel who strengthened Jesus in His hour of agony!’
Listen to Jesus – “In as much as you have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren you have done it unto Me!”
A word from the Word of God – an encouraging word from a friend – but sometimes the messenger is none other than Christ Himself.
There was dark night when the storm was fierce on the Galilee waters – the winds were howling and the disciples in the fishing boat wondered if they would see morning. Peering into the dark, they perceived something moving across the waters – was it a ghost – surely things could not become worse – until Peter shouted out – It is the Master – it is Jesus.
The Lord of angels appeared to them.
Some of us would not be here today if something like this had not been part of our spiritual experience.
Let me return to my friend Paul – Listen to him in Romans Chapter 7 – now move onto Chapter 8. What has happened within half a page?
Who shall deliver me? Christ will! Christ has delivered me!
Paul has no monopoly of that.
Darkness – bruised – hurt – disappointed – afraid – regret – shame – there is only one answer – Jesus Christ having been crucified and now risen from the dead and able to minister.
May that loving strengthening Christ go with us on our pilgrimage, as we approach another Passover Season – may we know that reality now.
“Come O risen Christ – Come O loving Jesus – strengthen me where I am weak – where I am frail – where I am fragile – strengthen me as you have strengthened thousands down through the centuries. Forgive my sins. Remove any lurking feelings of guilt. Set me free totally. Holy Spirit, fill me and empower me and use me – and those round about me. Amen”.
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