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Angel in The Sanctuary!
By Pastor Bruce Sikes
Do Angels exist? As I write this, the most recent National Day of Prayer for the United States has just passed. It caused me to reflect back to one of the most profound spiritual experiences I have had to date, the effects of which are still being played out. I thought I would write about it, so you may be challenged with it, in the same way it has challenged me. For the Remnant, we have five (5) major overarching areas of spiritual concern and focus. They are; Proclamation & Prophecy, Evangelism, Persecution, Spiritual Warfare, and Prayer. Each of these are encompassed within this one small narrative. As you read it, I'd like you to also consider these questions;
What is the primary focus of your prayer life? Is it your own personal needs?
When you pray, do you believe God will answer you?
Are you really expecting an answer? Really?
Are you listening and looking for it?
What and how do you expect God to answer?
When God answers, will you overcome fear and doubt and obey Him?
A few short years ago on the first Thursday of May, the church where I had been serving was preparing to hold a prayer service for the National Day of Prayer. The church needed to pray. It was struggling. There was much conflict and its spiritual direction was badly floundering. So before arriving at the evening service, I prayed that God would give one of His people courage to speak a word to the church during the prayer time. On the day before, I had even prayed asking God to send a messenger to speak to the church and pastor. I did not know who this messenger might be, if it would be one of us or a visitor. For myself, I prayed that I would speak only if God gave me leave to speak. I also prayed that the spiritual gifts of prophecy and distinguishing between spirits/discernment would be fully exercised at the prayer service. (1 Corinthians 12:10).
In preparation for prayer, I arrived at the church building early. The sanctuary was completely dark. Nevertheless, I walked in without turning on the lights and couldn't see a thing. Immediately, I had an overwhelming feeling that someone was in there with me. I started to challenge them, by shouting "Who is in here!", but I did not do it. Instead, I walked towards the altar, knelt and prayed. I felt a spiritual presence. I thought about casting out the demonic, but I wasn't sure if the presence I felt was evil. It may have been an angelic presence, which is a frightening and awesome thing as well. So, I simply stated that this was the Lord's place and soon two or three would be gathered there in His name and so Christ would be present. For a brief second, I thought that if it were an angel, he might have chuckled at my admonishment.
Then something even more peculiar happened. As my eyes slowly began to adjust to the darkness, I looked towards the altar area and saw something very strange. I couldn't make it out at first. Then, I saw seven (7) Golden Lampstands! As I focused more closely, I realized that these were the church's 3 ½ foot tall ceremonial Candlestands. They had been set up as decoration for the prayer service by the worship leader. I also saw that there were chairs arranged in a circle and that I was coincidentally standing in the middle of this circle.
Well, I left the sanctuary and went to another part of the church to ponder all of this. I sat down and randomly opened my Bible to this verse,
"What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight". (Matthew 10:27)
Immediately, the Bible verses about the Seven Golden Lampstands in the book of Revelation came to mind. (Revelation 2:1-5)
"To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands: I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place."
Right then, I came under tremendous conviction to share this scripture with the church and the pastor at the prayer meeting. I also knew that I would not be allowed to pray or speak until we reached the end of the prayer time. The prayer meeting was a scripted formula-type program which so many churches have fallen into doing. I was in agony knowing that I could not speak unless God gave me permission. When at last I was called upon to pray, I knew I had to tell them what had happened to me earlier in the sanctuary and the 7 Golden Lampstands scriptures God gave me to read. I shared with them the same story I have written above. My voice was weak and I was sweating and shaking as I shared. The pastor listened along with the few people present. I told them I believed the Lord gave this message to the church. When I finished, there was no verbal response whatsoever. Without pausing, the worship leader simply moved on to conclude the programmed service.
The next day I wanted to question all I had experienced, yet God soon confirmed it to me via an unexpected source not connected to that church in anyway. I knew then the message had actually been brought by an Angel and was indeed for the church and pastor. Although I did not "see" the angel, I did not need to. I certainly felt his presence. As a postscript, I shared the message with the pastor again several months later. He outright rejected the message and refused to listen to it. As a result, God has moved me on and I have not spoken to that pastor again, although I pray for him and the church.
Since that time, I have come to realize that the Angelic message delivered to that particular pastor and local church is also being delivered today to the Church worldwide and its shepherds. It is a call for repentance and a warning to those who have abandoned their "first love" - the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. God is a jealous God and He will not endlessly suffer the watering down of the Gospel message and tolerate the mere appearance of church holiness. The time of God's judgment and the Lord's return is growing closer with each passing moment. When it suddenly arrives, the Lord will send His harvesters, the Angels, and they will separate the weeds from the wheat and the false from the true. (Mathew 13:30)
In preparation for that rapidly approaching day, God is calling forth a Remnant from among His people to prophesy repentance for His Church and to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a lost and dying world.
Throughout history, the challenges and benefits of belonging to God's Church has varied greatly with each passing generation. Some generations of Christians have experienced peace and prosperity, while others have suffered war and persecution, yet God has always been in control. He has determined when and where each of us should live and work, and He has a plan for our lives.
"From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live." (Acts 17:26 )
Wouldn't you think this is especially true for those Christians who are living their lives in the years prior to Christ's return? Yes, absolutely! God has a plan!
"So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace." (Romans 11:5)
He has chosen these believers ahead of time, a Remnant from among His people, to be uniquely prepared and placed for His service during the End Times.
This preparation and service is already underway. The question for us is this, "Will we respond to God's call for His Remnant at this time in history? Do we have enough faith and courage to trust and obey such a call on our lives? Can we change our priorities and the personal goals we have made for ourselves, so that we can "be all we have been called to be" as servants of Christ in these culminating times? Are we willing to change our lifestyles, our jobs, our locations and even our local churches as God may require? Are we willing to risk persecution, loss of friends and rejection even from among our own family members and perhaps our own "churches" for speaking the Gospel Truth? Or, will we simply "plug-in" to a church and "go along for the ride", hoping that things will turn out alright?
Someone may say, "Well, if I knew for sure it was really the end times, I would do everything I could to warn everyone and preach the Gospel." The truth is no one will receive an engraved invitation to join the Remnant hand delivered by an Angel. The Lord has given us ample information regarding His return in His word and confirms it through the revelations of His Holy Spirit as we pray and seek His call on our lives.
The rest is up to us. Here is how the Apostle Paul puts it,
"And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going..., not knowing what will happen to me.
I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace." (Acts 20:22-24)
For Christ and His Remnant,
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