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A Reflection

I made it! Today marked a milestone in my short 18 years of living. I graduated high school! The last four years have been an incredible time of growing and maturing, ups, downs, and fellowship. I wouldn’t change a single one of those years (except maybe to add time to my senior year). So, I’m about to take you on a quick reflection on the last four years. 

Freshman year: Oh boy. What a big step. I remember walking into my first day of high school as a little immature and scared kid. Now it didn’t take me long to get comfortable, but it was a little nerve-racking for awhile. As I told a friend a few weeks ago, I made some mistakes almost right off the bat. I let the people I was around and my own selfish ambitions shape who I was becoming, how I talked, and how I thought. Somewhere along the right I got back to who I was and I remembered Who I represented. God made me (and everyone of you) for a particular purpose. I forgot that for a time. Freshman year is when I started strengthening the friendships I began over my elementary and junior high career. I lost some friends, but I guess that happens. 

Sophomore year: Honestly, I dont recall much of my sophomore year. At least, nothing major really stick out for me. This was the first time I spoke at church though! That was more nerve-racking than my first day of high school for sure! 

Junior year: Wow. This was probably the hardest year I had academically. I was so busy with classes that legitimately challenged me. My intention here is not to brag, but school has always come fairly easily for me. I make good grades and most of what I learn will stick with me for quite awhile. Junior year was a test and I passed. I continue to do well in school and make friends. Some of those friends that made a lasting impact on me will be discussed in a minute. Junior year is really when I started maturing both as a person and in my faith. 

Senior year: This year was different than all the rest. I took a couple dual credit classes at a local university. That was a great experience! I also spent a lot of time in the front office (my school as a class where I got to work in the front office). I’m extremely glad I chose to do that (again I’ll tell you more about that in a moment). This year was incredibly fun and exciting! I met some new friends, I made a college decision, and obviously graduation was huge! As for my college decision, I will be attending Moody Bible Institute in Chicago with the intent of going into some sort of ministry field after college. I have to do my first year online because of limited space on campus, but I have a good shot of moving to Chicago in the Fall of 2015. 

Friends that made a lasting impact: Now don’t get me wrong. I have a ton of friends that I will never forget. The thing is, if I wrote about all of them, I might as well write a book. I could fill pages. I’ll spare you the time and effort by just writing about a few that are really the closest to me. 

First, my brother and I have really formed the relationship brothers should have. We used to fight a lot as kids. We didn’t get along. Yes, it’s normal for sibling to quarrel. But, we just never got really close until around my eighth grade year. Maybe even my freshman year. The point is, now we are best friends. We set aside what was hindering our relationship from progressing and allowed our faith in Jesus to shape our friendship. I love Joey and I’m grateful for the relationship we have now. 

I have another friend named Craig. I knew Craig a little bit in elementary because we played on the same sports teams and of that good junk. He didn’t go to the same school though until eighth grade. What I love most about my friendship with Craig is the fact that I’ve gotten the opportunity to watch him grow in his walk with Christ. I don’t claim to have any huge part in that growth, but I’ve been completely delighted when we have had the opportunity to discuss the Word and I’ve been delighted when he has had questions about God that I was able to give him an answer to. He’s really been an encouragement to me through the years! He knows what it takes, or rather Who it takes to live the Good Life. He’s got a bright future ahead of him. 

Like Craig, I’ve knew the next guy just a little in elementary. Trace also came to my school in eighth grade. Trace is an incredible athlete! I know if he works hard, he can achieve a lot both in life and in his future athletic endeavors. Through high school, Trace and I would poke fun at each other (always in a friendly way, of course!), but he has also been an encouragement. Just watching how hard he works to be the best he can be is what has encouraged me the most. I wish him nothing but the best! 

The next friend is Drake. To be quite honest and a little blunt, Drake is good at aggravating people. It isn’t often I show frustration and anger in public, but at times Drake has successfully brought it out of me. And on purpose I might add! Regardless, he quickly became one of my best friends. Even though we spent much of our time together joking with each other, he’s always been a person I could talk to just to get things off my chest. All of these friends that I have listed (and the last one I will list) are people I can talk to if I need to. We’ve both share a love for golf. Now, Drake is better at golf than I’ll ever be, but I still enjoy the game. I remember one particular time on the golf course, we had a pretty serious discussion in which we basically shared some of the history in our lives. I won’t get into the actual conversation we had because it was just a talk between he two of us. However, the point is that that is a moment that really stuck out to me. 

Finally, the last friend I’m going to talk about. I’ve rambled enough. :) I met this girl for the first time this year. In the front office. Yep. Remember that blow off class I was talking about? It ended up being a bigger blessing than I thought possible. Saylor is an all-around incredible person. Just about every time I’ve been around her, she either laughing at random things, smiling about something, or blankly staring at me because I said something incredibly stupid. Many times this year when I’ve been stressed or down about something, she’s been able to lift me up just because of her attitude. She didn’t know it of course, but just being around her often brightened my day. I looked forward to that time in the office every day just because of the fun and uplifting time I knew was coming. I’ve only known Saylor for a year, but I’m glad I met her and I thank God for her daily. I hope we can continue to grow closer as individuals. 

I thank God for all of these relationships I have managed to make over the years. God is good! My time in high school has shaped me and matured me into the person I am now. My faith has grown tremendously as well! Again, there are many more friends I could talk about, but time would not permit me to do so. I sincerely hope to remain in contact with all of the ones I listed as I enter my college career and beyond. I know many classmates and other relationships formed in high school often lose contact after one or both people graduate. It’s just a fact of life. But you can bet that I will do everything within my power to keep in contact with my friends. 

I think this verse fits well for the relationships God has blessed me with:

“Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
    one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
    and has no one to help them up.”- Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

 

-Austin


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A Love Like No Other

I post this blog every year at this time of year, so I will do it again! :)

Matthew 27:32-56: 32 As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. 33 They came to a place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull). 34 There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it.35 When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. 36 And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. 37 Above his head they placed the written charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS. 38 Two robbers were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. 39 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads 40 and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!”

41 In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. 42 “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 44 In the same way the robbers who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

The Death of Jesus

45 From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. 46 About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”—which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

47 When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.”

48 Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. 49 The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.”

50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.

51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. 52 The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus’ resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.

54 When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”

55 Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. 56 Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.

Jesus went through torture beyond any of our imaginations. He went through personal humiliation, physical pain, and spiritual anguish. The worst of all was probably the suffering that came in verse 46. He experienced separation from God. That is the ultimate consequence of sin. Separation. Spiritual death. I can’t even imagine what he went through at that moment. The weight of sin for everyone who ever lived, was living, and would live was upon him at that moment. That full amount of God’s wrath was on Jesus. Jesus had never sinned, but God made him to be sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21). God’s Son, the Creator of the universe, was rejected by His creation and isolated from His Father. The separation had to be the worst suffering of all. The wrath of God was satisfied.  Because of Jesus’ suffering, we are restored to a right relationship with God if we accept His FREE gift of salvation.

According to John’s account (John 19:30) of Christ’s death, what Jesus said in verse 50 was “It is finished.” These words mark the end of his suffering. It marks the completion of Jesus’ mission to restore us to a right relationship with the Father. At the time Jesus Christ died, the “curtain of the temple” was torn from top to bottom. This symbolizes that the way into God’s presence was now open. Because of what Jesus did, we have permanent access to God for all those who give their lives to Christ.

Just one person’s sin would’ve been enough to put Him on the cross. ‎”A cross, 3 nails, the weight of my sin, loneliness, pain and sorrow. That was on my Savior’s,”to do list”,for today. I am the cause.”

“It was my sin that held him there. Until it was accomplished. His dying breath has brought me life. I know that it is finished.”

Jesus did all of this out of love. When He was hanging on that cross He was thinking of you. He gave salvation to anyone who comes into contact with His saving and delivering power. He paid the ultimate sacrifice so that we don’t have to be separated from God anymore. We now can have a relationship with Him through Jesus Christ.

“It wasn’t the nails that held Jesus to the cross, it was love.”

-Austin


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Sermon 4/6/2014: Faith

I received a request to post a written copy of the sermon I preached tonight! God completely took over this sermon! People were literally healed, set free, and slain in the Spirit. What I got to witness tonight was incredible and I can’t express how happy I am that God allowed me to participate in this. He is a God of awesome power. And as I witnessed so powerfully tonight, miracles still happen. We just have to believe!

-Austin

 

Mark 5:21- 43:

 

When Jesus had crossed over again in the boat to the other side, a large crowd gathered around Him; and so He stayed by the seashore. 22 One of the synagogue officials named Jairus came up, and on seeing Him, fell at His feet 23 and implored Him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death; please come and lay Your hands on her, so that she will get well and live.” 24 And He went off with him; and a large crowd was following Him and pressing in on Him. 25 A woman who had had a hemorrhage for twelve years, 26 and had endured much at the hands of many physicians, and had spent all that she had and was not helped at all, but rather had grown worse – 27 after hearing about Jesus, she came up in the crowd behind Him and touched His cloak. 28 For she thought, “If I just touch His garments, I will get well.” 29 Immediately the flow of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction. 30 Immediately Jesus, perceiving in Himself that the power proceeding from Him had gone forth, turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched My garments?” 31 And His disciples said to Him, “You see the crowd pressing in on You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’ ” 32 And He looked around to see the woman who had done this. 33 But the woman fearing and trembling, aware of what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth. 34 And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your affliction.” 35 While He was still speaking, they came from the house of the synagogue official, saying, “Your daughter has died; why trouble the Teacher anymore?” 36 But Jesus, overhearing what was being spoken, said to the synagogue official, “Do not be afraid any longer, only believe.” 37 And He allowed no one to accompany Him, except Peter and James and John the brother of James. 38 They came to the house of the synagogue official; and He saw a commotion, and people loudly weeping and wailing. 39 And entering in, He said to them, “Why make a commotion and weep? The child has not died, but is asleep.” 40 They began laughing at Him. But putting them all out, He took along the child’s father and mother and His own companions, and entered the room where the child was. 41 Taking the child by the hand, He said to her, “Talitha kum!” (which translated means, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). 42 Immediately the girl got up and began to walk, for she was twelve years old. And immediately they were completely astounded. 43 And He gave them strict orders that no one should know about this, and He said that something should be given her to eat.”

 

 

Note that the woman should have been outside the city. She was unclean and should not have been around anyone. During this whole 12 years that she had the issue, she was unclean according to the Law. Actually, when she pushed through the crowd, everyone that she even slightly brushed against became unclean. So, she didn’t care about what the law said or what might happen to her if she were to get caught. All she wanted is to act on her faith that Jesus could heal her. She was convinced that even coming into contact with Jesus’ clothes could heal her.

 

She had also seen many doctors who couldn’t do anything for her. She tried putting her trust in man, but they failed her. Sometimes doctors can’t help with our ailments. If you put your stock in other people, they will fail you. This goes for all circumstances. You can’t rely on other people to bring you happiness. But God knows every cell in our body. He created us. God can heal anything from a common cold to cancer. Jesus can heal what man can’t even touch. Nothing is impossible with Him.

 

What I want to focus on however is the statement Jesus makes in verse 34. Jesus says, “Daughter, your faith has healed you.” He could have told her that it was his power that healed her. That’s certainly true, but there’s something deeper here that Jesus is getting at. The woman’s faith is what made the difference. She came in a terrible state. She had had this hemorrhage for 12 long years. She was in pain. Suffering for 12 years with the same constant, nagging problem was probably getting unbearable. Just look at her. She had spent all that she had on doctors and had only gotten worse. She was feeling completely hopeless. Then, she heard about Jesus. It seems likely to me that she had heard from the people around the area she was in what Jesus has done for many others and what he had been teaching (Man with the 5,000 demon spirits). That’s what her faith was built upon. She knew that Jesus had worked miracles. At this point, talk had to be getting around at what Jesus of Nazareth was doing. She knew Jesus was her last hope at healing. And she truly believed Jesus could heal her. Not only did she believe it, but also she expected it. She expected to be healed of her affliction. That’s the faith Jesus wants from us. When you come wanting and expecting the power of God, His power will fall. That’s when the miracles happen. I think it’s incredible that she didn’t want Jesus to touch her with his hands. All she wanted was to simply touch his garments. That’s knowing the power of Christ!

 

She was immediately healed! She didn’t have to wait or do any special ritual. It happened at that very instant! Mark use “immediately” several times in the passage we just read. It’s also a key word throughout the whole book. He repeats this style throughout his account of the Gospel to emphasize the fact that when Jesus worked miracles, the manifestation occurred at that instant. They didn’t have to wait. Because they had faith of healing for that moment, that’s what happened.

 

In verses 30-32 how did Jesus know who touched his clothes? This is so cool. I talked to Pastor about this. At first, I didn’t think he knew who did it. Verse 30 indicates that he knew power had gone from him, but I was failing to see how or even if he knew who touched him. Then Pastor showed me the Greek word used for “perceiving” in verse 30. That word is epiginōskō. The meaning of epiginōskō is to recognize. But not only that it means to perceive who a person is. With the crowd surrounding him, Jesus couldn’t have possibly seen at first who touched him, so he had to be seeing something in the spiritual realm. For example, have you ever seen someone who was hopeless? They have no faith in Jesus and they’re at rock bottom. You can see the deadness and the hollowness in their eyes. But, when you see someone who was made alive through the power of Christ, you see an abundance of life in their eyes. In verse 31, his disciples question him like he’s gone completely off his rocker. I think the King James Version has a better translation of verse 32: “And he looked around to see the woman who had done this.” Now it doesn’t seem like Jesus was looking around aimlessly. Pastor helped me see what the text was saying here. Jesus seems to look directly at that woman and waits for her to present herself to him. At that point she came forward and fell to ground in fear. This is the same way people responded to the presence of God in the Old Testament. The woman acknowledged the divinity of Jesus. She knew he was the Christ!

 

Let’s look at the second part of this passage again because it ties directly in with what I’m trying to get across here (pickup in verse 35): While He was still speaking, they came from the house of the synagogue official, saying, “Your daughter has died; why trouble the Teacher anymore?”

 

Many will come along and try to discourage your faith. Those who came telling Jairus that his daughter was dead were actually just saying, “This man doesn’t have the power to anything anymore.” They lacked the faith Jairus had. Sometimes what you are seeking seems impossible. The world likes to tell us it is too. The Enemy loves nothing more than to cause us to lose faith in God and His promise. But verse 36 tells us that Jesus says not to fear! Just believe. Now skip down to verse 39:

 

39 And entering in, He said to them, “Why make a commotion and weep? The child has not died, but is asleep.” 40 They began laughing at Him.

 

Again here are people trying to make a fool out of Jesus. They are faithless. Jesus was trying to teach them something here. You see, for Jesus death isn’t final. Those who are without faith view death as the end of existence. Death is it. The end. But for the people of faith, death is really just the beginning because Jesus conquered death. For us, we have faith that when we die, we immediately wake up in the presence of God.

 

I want to look at another miracle that Jesus performed that has similar circumstances. 

 

Matthew 8:5-13

 

“When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. 6 “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed and in terrible suffering.” 7 Jesus said to him, “I will go and heal him.” 8 The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 10 When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, “I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. 11 I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! It will be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that very hour.”

 

Again Jesus talks about faith as playing a key role in the healing that was taking place. The centurion was Roman, first of all. That’s what’s so incredible about his faith. The Jews were God’s chosen people (and that still hasn’t changed, it’s just the Gentiles like us are now included in God’s Promise). However, most Jews did not believe Jesus. They didn’t have the faith this Roman did. Actually the other Romans didn’t share this faith either. Jesus rewarded the centurion with what he believed and expected to happen. His servant was set free from his suffering. And again, this miracle occurred immediately.

 

Jesus says in Matthew 7:7: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”

 

 

Matthew 17:20-

 

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. “

 

Church, faith is not only the fact that we believe in Christ. That’s an important part, but that’s not all. The Greek word for faith used in Mark 5 is the word pistis. Pistis not only means a belief, it’s a belief that causes action The woman with the issue of blood had faith that Jesus could heal her. That faith caused her to push through the crowd even when she wasn’t supposed to be in contact with others! In the same way, our faith had better cause action. It should cause us to worship God at any given moment, whether we feel like it or not. Everything we do should be done in a way that pleases God.

 

 

A Christian’s entire life begins at the point of faith. Our faith is what saves us; it’s our ticket to Heaven. Much of today’s church has lost faith. Pressure from the world has deflated our spiritual balloon. Many people no longer believe in miracles, the gifts of the spirit, or that God still moves in His people today. We know that’s false. It seems that week after week, God has been telling this particular church to reach out and He will move. He always fulfills His promises. We have had powerful services here when we reach out and leave all we are before God. When we put all of the faith we have, God moves.

 

 

When we finally started doing that God has moved in ways I’ve never seen before. But guess what? That’s not all He has for us. If we continue to reach out to God, He will move in an even more powerful and unique way. Miracles will begin to just flow again. Will you reach out? Isaiah tells us that if we don’t stand firm in our faith we won’t stand at all. Will you have faith? Church, Jesus will meet you at the level of your faith. Are you willing to push through the crowd to get to him? 

Build each other up


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Quick Christian Encouragement on Facebook

Build each other up
If you are in need of some quick daily encouragement please visit my FB Author page athttps://www.facebook.com/cherylzelenkaauthor


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Love that Never Ends

We’ve all fallen, haven’t we? We’ve all had bad days. Problems in life. Stress. Confusion. We all just have struggles in general. It’s in those times that we feel like we can’t get to God. Our problems and our struggles hold us back from communing with Him. However, Psalm 51:17 tells us something different: 

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.”

As David is writing this and praying this, he knows that all he can offer God is a broken heart. Because, honestly, that’s all we have. Our heart, our soul is the only thing we really own. Everything else will stay behind when you enter eternity. So, the only thing we can truly offer God is our heart. That’s not much, is it? I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I’m anything special. I know that I’ve failed time and time again. The thing is, God accepts what we offer him when we do it with everything we have. When we really mean it, He eagerly accepts our offerings. And they thrill Him because that’s all He wanted in the first place. He wants fellowship with the very people He gave the breath of life. 

I hope this short post has encouraged you tonight! God bless!

-Austin

“Well my love is over
It’s underneath
It’s inside
It’s in between 

The times that you’re healing
And when your heart breaks
The times that you feel like you’ve fallen from grace 

The times you’re hurting
The times that you heal
The times you go hungry and are tempted to steal 

In times of confusion
In chaos and pain
I’m there in your sorrow under the weight of your shame 

I’m there through your heart-ache
I’m there in the storm
My love I will keep you by my power alone 

I don’t care where you’ve fallen or where you have been
I’ll never forsake you
My love never ends”- Tenth Avenue North


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Love to Worship- Spoken Word

This is a video from Dillon Chase. I thought it was great, so I’m sharing it with all of you! :)

-Austin 

 


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What is the Purpose of Christmas?

This is a video journal I did for Christmas! 

Merry Christmas! 

-Austin

 

 


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Who Was the Angel of the LORD?

This is a research paper I did for my Biblical Literature class. I think it’s also a good teaching opportunity on a debated topic. I may use it in a sermon or to teach a Sunday School class as well. Enjoy!

            Throughout the Old Testament, the Angel of the LORD appears in various places to various people. The appearance of the Angel almost always preceded a major turn of events in Old Testament stories. We see this “Angel” in the book of Judges frequently. The identity of the Angel has long been debated. Some say this is just simply a messenger sent from God, but others argue this is a pre-incarnate form of Jesus Christ. Both sides have presented suggested evidence to support their theories. Most of the claims are based on grammatical usage in the text. Does the Bible ever directly tell us who the Angel is? What does the Biblical evidence say about the Angel?

            The word “angel” comes from the Greek word, άγγελοςThis means “messenger” or “one who is sent” (White, “Angel of the LORD: Messenger or Euphemism”, 299). We know that Jesus was sent directly by God as seen in John 8:29. It is important to note that the Angel of the LORD doesn’t speak in third person, as other messengers seem to do. The Angel speaks in first person as if he is God. Judges 2:1a is an example this: “The angel of the LORD went up from Gilgal to Bokim and said, “I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land that I swore to give to your forefathers.” The Angel is talking as God and not just for God. This happens time and time again throughout the Old Testament. The Hebrew for angel and messenger is used 213 times in the Old Testament. The phrase for “Angel of the LORD” is used 48 times in 45 verses in the Bible. We also see people giving the Angel reverence that usually only God receives. For example, in Joshua 5:14-15 we find Joshua fall “facedown” and taking off his sandals before the Angel. (White, “Angel of the LORD: Messenger or Euphemism”, 300-301).  This would imply that the Angel is more than just a messenger if Joshua is responding in worship to him.

In Genesis 18, Abraham gets three visitors. The text describes one of the three as “the LORD.” The other two are believed to just be angels. However, the text indicates that one of the men is God himself, a theophany (Pak, “BIB 110 Lecture Notes”, 22). If these people saw God face-to-face, why did they not die like God suggested in Exodus 33:20? The answer is simple. Either the Angel is not God or God came in the form of the Son (pre-incarnate). That would make this a Christophany in the Old Testament.

Daniel 3:25 also seems to have an appearance of Christ. King Nebuchadnezzar sees a fourth man in the fiery furnace after Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego was thrown in for not worshipping the image of gold. When Nebuchadnezzar sees the fourth man he exclaims, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” It is after that the Nebuchadnezzar seems to recognize the God of Israel as at least legitimate because he addresses the three men as “servants of the Most High God.”

Finally, we go to Exodus to look at the Angel appearing to Moses. In Exodus 3, the Angel of the LORD appears to Moses in a burning bush. The Angel actually says this in verse 6 which seems to be a clear hint of the Angel’s identity: “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (“Fire Bible”, 410).

            The case against the Angel being Divinity doesn’t seem to be as strong. Again, the scholars that say the Angel was only a representative of God use grammar and other linguistic evidence, and custom in the text to support their theory.  The main argument is that saying the Angel is deity creates a problem for monotheists, such as the Jewish audience of the Old Testament (López, “Identifying the Angel of the LORD in the Book of Judges…” 15). However, we see the Godhead at work from the beginning.  The claim is that the text clearly distinguishes the Angel from Yahweh.

            This research project has further confirmed what I already had a strong belief in. The appearances of the Angel of the LORD are indeed pre-incarnate appearances of Jesus Christ. The Biblical evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of this. I even believe that God told us exactly who the Angel is on more than one occasion. There are a few Christophanies in the New Testament, too. Even though none of them are described as “the Angel of the LORD,” Jesus is the one who appears. Take the example of Saul’s conversion to Christianity while on the road to Damascus. Jesus appears to Saul, later known as Paul, in the same dramatic way that the Angel of the LORD reveals himself in the Old Testament (Newman, “Israel’s God and Rebecca’s Children…”, 155). Christ’s appearance to Saul also brings about a major turn of events just like the Angel of the LORD did in the Old Testament. The people the Angel appears to also fall in worship when they realize who he is as well. Other angels told the people to not worship them. Along with the textual evidence, the Angel’s claims and messages indicate that the Angel of the Lord is actually a pre-incarnate Jesus Christ. God had a plan from the very beginning and he has always used the Son to fulfill the plan.

-Austin

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Thankfully Use Each Day God Gives You

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“To be grateful is to recognize the love of God in everything He has given us — and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him.”       – Thomas Merton (Thoughts on Solitude) 

“Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! 
For His mercy endures forever.”  Psalm 118:1 (NKJV) 

It is good to give God thanks. A grateful heart is one that appreciates the love and sacrifice of Christ. And since each new day is a gift, we shouldn’t be caught wasting our time on meaningless pursuits. How then are you using today to thank and glorify God?

Because Jesus willingly took our sins upon the cross, we are able to approach God as His adopted children. Eternal life is our sweet reward.  But while we are on earth, we should use our time wisely.

I believe earthly lessons, and the wisdom gained from them, will be carried with us into heaven. Earth is our Prep School, so I encourage you to learn as much as you can about God. Reading the Bible increases knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.  Scripture should also inspire and motivate you into action and service. Jesus was all about service and timely action. 

When thankfulness for God’s grace is apparent, He is able to turn our heart of stone into one that is pliable and usable for service. Hearts full of bitterness and anger are often caught up and distracted by supposed injustices. These hearts spend their time voicing stories of how they have been wronged, rather than proclaiming the ways God has provided. 

Someone who sees the goodness in a person, rather than focusing on their faults, are following in the steps of Jesus. Prostitutes, Tax Collectors, and Thieves all had sins apparent to Christ. But with unconditional love guiding our Lord, He chooses to see the good and not just the sin. Jesus never excused transgressions, but He understood that repentance started with love and acceptance. 

With each new moment of the day there is new grace to be found.  We do not have to wait for the sun to set or rise to receive new and abundant grace and mercy. The grace of God is never ending and limitless. This fact alone should make our hearts sing with thanks. 

God has given us everything we need to run our race with love and mercy. We are well equipped.  Within each believer the Holy Spirit lives, serving as our guide and counselor. Is this not another reason to thank God daily?

Surely there have been many occasions in your life that give witness to His divine intervention and grace.  Are these not worthy to share with those around you?  They provide material and opportunities to give God the glory and praise He deserves.  

With ALL of your heart, not just part of your heart, thank God and praise Him for His immeasurable love and grace. Look at each new day as a new beginning, and an opportunity to show Him how grateful you are for all He has done for you.  Recognize that the trials in your life have been orchestrated out of love and for a reason. They are meant to refine and transform you. Oh, praise the Lord for each new day, and each new challenge, and each new person He sends our way.  

MEDITATE ON THESE WORDS OF WISDOM 

“I will give thanks to the Lord with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonders. I will be glad and exult in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High. When my enemies turn back, they stumble and perish before You. For You have maintained my just cause; 
 You have sat on the throne judging righteously.” Psalm 9:1-4 (NAS)

“For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.” 1 Timothy 4:4-5 (NKJV)  

“In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”   1 Thessalonians 5:18 

“Thankfulness is the ‘chief exercise of godliness’ in which we ought to engage during the whole of our life. ‘Gratitude is the heart … of the Christian life.’”  -Unknown


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Writing in the Works…

I’m currently writing a paper for a Biblical Literature class I’m taking. The topic is Christophany (the appearance of pre-incarnate Christ in the Old Testament). This is a very interesting topic. I should have it done and posted on here within a couple of weeks. Hang tight! :)

-Austin