Matthew 16:19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
With these words, Christ gave his disciples the authority to do all that he had done in his ministry here until Christ returned to earth. If we take the time to read his words and take them to heart, we have the option of living in heaven while we are still alive. This answers the question my good friend has, "Is it necessary to die to get to heaven?" It is my belief that the answer is no. You may read these verses and decide for yourself if you agree with me.
This book is for those who either are searching for an angel to help them, or who already believe in Godís messengers but want a more personal contact with them. In these pages there are fifty-two portraits of angels. Each angel is accompanied by seven Bible verses that have to do with the message that the angel brings to us. Each verse has been chosen carefully as a positive representation of Godís love for us. By praying and meditating on these scriptures, one a day, you will spend 364 days with the angels.
The end of the book has an additional picture that represents our Father, and two Bible verses from him. That will give you one year with the angels and our Father. There is also one quotation from literature about the topic or message each angel represents. These are to give balance to the religious view, because angels do not just work in churches, they are wherever we are, sent to us by God.
This book was designed to ask you many questions that you may not have taken the time to ask yourself. These questions were meant to open your eyes to your divine origin, your place in Godís perfect creation, and your interrelation with all other children of God. Many of these questions will be hard to answer. They may be too personal, or you might not remember an incident that could help you understand the idea behind the question. That is why I suggest several things:
Remember you are not the only one who will benefit from your contemplation and questioning. Each time your wisdom grows, the world becomes a better place for everyone. Do not think you have to keep a schedule or that anyone is keeping score. There are no single right answers to these questions. If you take this book and read through it next year, you would find your answers to be greatly different in some areas.
Do not degrade yourself if you put this book down for a while and do not continue with your answers. You may pick this book up and start at any time in any section of the book. All the ideas are interrelated and work together. What is important is that you continue to question: your belief system, your knowledge of yourself, your knowledge of the world, and your understanding of who and what God is. God does not change, but our understanding grows as we come to know him more. It is a journey in which the trip itself is the prize you seek.
As you read these scriptures and look at the portraits, think of the people in your life that remind you of these angels. Do you see Christ in any of them? Is your neighbor, sister or brother there? Which one is most like you? Where is the road home? Perhaps you will find it in between the lines of the scripture. Take time to use your Bible to look up each verse and read it in context. Learn it and live it, for that is home: the love God has for each of us personally and individually.
This book is designed to be used as a study guide for personal growth in a group setting. The questions that accompany each Bible verse may be addressed by the group. Insist that each regular member bring their Bible so that the verses may be read in context. This way, you may expand on the lessons of the book into specific directions to match your preaching style or themes you are using in Sunday worship services.
You may use the support group format in which the group moderator changes for each session, or you may run it as you do all of your discussion classes. Particular attention has been paid to leaving all serious questions of dogma out of the text, so that anyone may be benefitted by studying the scriptures. This non-denominational approach requires that you be prepared to insert your churchís views where and when they are needed to add to the value of the book.
Because this book is non-denominational, I suggest that you have trained clergy or laymen to moderate your discussions to be certain of doctrinal accuracy. The differences may seem subtle or non-existent to the inexperienced, but are important for those already in the congregation and equally essential for those likely to become new members.
You may wish to use this material as stimulation for sermon building. Use the questions to go into the storehouse of your personal memories and retrieve long forgotten experiences of your past that illustrate the Bible in a unique way. Your congregation will appreciate your vignettes the way Jesusí audience appreciated his parables. They will know that your heart is in your ministry because you are sharing yourself with them, and not just some sermon outlines out of a book.
You may also decide to use this book as an adventure for your congregation into faith building. Start a church project to build attendance by inviting community families to begin to journal along with your congregation. Interest them in coming to Bible study groups or Sunday worship where you will discuss the issues raised during the week by the book. Use the themes represented by the angels to decorate the church bulletin, newsletters, and for church suppers. Have a contest to see who can hand in a completed journal at the end of the year. Give these members a certificate of completion or invite non-members to join. The book may also be used for young peopleís groups because they may be the most intense of all in their search for a personal relationship with God.
However you use this book, remember to teach your members how to question. They must question their understanding of scripture, official interpretation, and false teachings. Questions lead to discernment. Never turn down a good question. It is an opportunity to be heard because he who asked the question really wants to find an answer.
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