This past week has been devoted to personal interaction with a large part of our ministry during the General Conference of Elders meetings held from Friday through Monday. Attending were 299 elders and wives (169 elders and 130 wives). Last year’s attendance figure was 282. Many commented how this year’s annual meeting ranked as one of the best meetings we’ve held. We appreciate the positive spirit of our ministry and thank them for their faithful service to the Church. Those of us at the home office appreciate the air of optimism and goodwill of our fellow workers.
On Friday, a session was held for our international ministers and a discussion about ministerial training and mentoring was presented by our ministerial education program team. We discussed the Pastoral Development Program and asked for input for ongoing training topics.
There were a number of group dinners that brought everyone together. I was able to get around to see most of the people who I particularly needed to see in person. Working lunches brought together regional pastors, international senior pastors, personal correspondence writers and camp directors.
On Saturday night, we held a ministerial and employee recognition ceremony in which we honored recent retirees and those ministers and employees with a tenure of 50 years.
On Sunday, the annual business meeting was held. There were addresses by the president, chairman and operation managers. Then there was a special tribute to all the deceased elders and wives of the past year. In the afternoon, Aaron Dean gave a summary of international activities and then all participated in round table discussions on this year’s theme, Judgment, Mercy and Faith. The evening concluded with a Bible study by Scott Ashley titled “ Remez : Key to Understanding Several Gospel Puzzles.”
On Monday morning, ministerial wives held a “meet and greet” followed by round table discussions. The remainder of the morning and afternoon was devoted to three workshops:
- Discipleship and Opportunities for the Church
- Addressing the Influence of Multiculturalism in our Congregations
- Aging and Succession: Pastoral Leadership
Then, from Tuesday to mid-Thursday, the Council of Elders met for their quarterly meeting.
New “Angels” Bible Study Aid
Members and families of the United Church of God will soon receive an exciting new Beyond Today Bible study aid—which is fresh off the press (note that members do not need to request the booklet—it will be sent to them automatically). It is titled: Angels: God’s Messengers and Spirit Army . I just wrote a Beyond Today letter to 188,000 subscribers, offering this booklet. Here is what I wrote:
“Please allow me to give you a taste of the wonderful information that’s in this all-new, easy-to-read study guide! Here is some of what you will find within its pages:
Angels hold special and amazing roles in God’s spirit world. The Bible shows us these roles in amazing detail—starting in the Book of Genesis and going all the way through to Revelation. Angels sometimes serve as direct messengers to specific people. They can announce important events in God’s plan. They are known to physically protect us, often fulfilling this function in ways of which we may not even be aware. And they serve and praise God the Father directly in the throne room of Heaven—setting an example to us of marvelous gratitude and deep appreciation.
We see Scripture accounts of angels becoming visible to people, and they usually appear in human form. Sometimes they appear in a powerful, even glorified, form—one that has caused otherwise fearless servants of God to faint straightaway in fear and awe. Let’s be clear, angels are not a figment of someone’s imagination or a work of fiction from a children’s book! Rather, angels regularly play a dynamic and critical role in advancing the plan of God, a plan that directly concerns and involves you and me.
When people realize they are in the presence of angels (particularly when angels appear as powerful members of God’s spiritual army or fulfilling a special task), people often respond by dropping to their knees in attempted worship. Angels are very quick to correct this, as they know full well that only God and Jesus Christ are worthy of worship.
Did you know that it is distinctly possible (if not probable) that an angel (or even multiple angels) have already been engaged in some part of your life? The book of Hebrews makes this plain: “Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it” (Hebrews 13:2 Hebrews 13:2Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
American King James Version×, New Living Translation)!
How many angels are there? The Bible does not reveal an exact number, but on more than one occasion we are told that the number of angels serving God exceeds 100 million (Daniel 7:9-10 Daniel 7:9-10 9 I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire.
10 A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered to him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.
American King James Version×)! A few hours before His death by gruesome crucifixion, Jesus said that 12 full legions of powerful angels (roughly 60,000) stood ready to intervene if He but asked.
To humans, angelic activity is usually invisible. When his group was confronted with what appeared to be a deadly, even hopeless, situation, Elisha prayed a special prayer that God would open the eyes of his companions. The shocking revelation that came was one that showed innumerable angels standing ready and armed to the hilt, awaiting direction from God to immediately intervene (2 Kings 6:11-17 2 Kings 6:11-17 11 Therefore the heart of the king of Syria was sore troubled for this thing; and he called his servants, and said to them, Will you not show me which of us is for the king of Israel?
12 And one of his servants said, None, my lord, O king: but Elisha, the prophet that is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the words that you speak in your bedchamber.
13 And he said, Go and spy where he is, that I may send and fetch him. And it was told him, saying, Behold, he is in Dothan.
14 Therefore sent he thither horses, and chariots, and a great host: and they came by night, and compassed the city about.
15 And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said to him, Alas, my master! how shall we do?
16 And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.
17 And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray you, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.
American King James Version×)!
Angels represent powerful, spiritual, sentient beings who have feelings and opinions. Unlike the fallen angels (who are called “demons” in the Bible), angels in the service of God hold a direct, high-level and personal appreciation for the power and love of God!
Why did God create angels? The main purpose of these powerful spiritual beings is to serve us who will inherit salvation (Hebrews 1:14 Hebrews 1:14Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?
American King James Version×), to help bring us to eternal life, and to protect us in this earthly life. Being in the presence of God Himself, angels fully understand our incredible human potential—perhaps even better than we ourselves do! That’s why when one human turns from a life of sin and yields to God in complete surrender, the angels in heaven cry out with joy (Luke 15:10 Luke 15:10Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repents.
American King James Version×)! After all, the angels themselves long to look into that in which we are heirs (1 Peter 1:12 1 Peter 1:12To whom it was revealed, that not to themselves, but to us they did minister the things, which are now reported to you by them that have preached the gospel to you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.
American King James Version×), as they will be ministering spirits, praising and serving God for all eternity!
The Bible reveals that angels in service to God often go unseen by humankind. But the Bible shows that powerful, spiritual battles—often to restrain fallen demonic angels who would seek to divert us from our incredible human potential—sometimes occur in the invisible spirit world on our behalf. After all, we have the capacity to be the very children of God!
The above details are just a beginning to what you will find in the pages of Angels: God’s Messengers and Spirit Army. There is much more in this all-new Bible study aid and I hope that you will set aside quality time to review and study this new information.
When we read the Bible, we see a loving God who is deeply concerned for His creation, an all-powerful Being who is intimately involved with each of us. So, thank you for subscribing to Beyond Today magazine and your interest in what the Bible reveals about a real world that is not seen, but is more real than what we do see.
As you order our study guide on Angels (which is absolutely free), please also feel free to make a gift to Beyond Today to help us further our message of hope about God’s greatest gifts and love for us and our eternal future!”