Daily Archives: November 1, 2020

All Saints’ Day

We Have Hope in Him

Revelation 7:9-17
Psalm 34:1-10, 22
1 John 3:1-3
Matthew 5:1-12

Have you ever wondered who are saints? Often times we may think of them as miracle workers or healers. This is definitely true of many saints. This has even been true for my ministry, but I must say that this does not qualify me for being a saint. I remember the words of Jesus:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?’ Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.’”   (Matthew 7:21-23)

This tells me that any deeds of power do not qualify us to be saints of God. They do not even guarantee our salvation. In fact, we should never take credit them. They are the works of God. God alone is the healer and miracle worker.

What, then, are the requirements of becoming a saint? Perhaps we could start with today’s psalm:

Fear the Lord, you that are his saints,
for those who fear him lack nothing.

The young lions lack and suffer hunger,
but those who seek the Lord lack nothing that is good.

The Lord ransoms the life of his servants,
and none will be punished who trust in him.   (Psalm 34:9-19, 22)

Saints fear God. They respect God. They seek God. Then the Lord ransoms the lives of saints. He has done so by the blood of his Son.

What type of lives do saints live? We read from today’s Gospel the beautiful beatitudes from Sermon on the Mount:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”   (Matthew 5:3-12)

Is this true of me? I have tried to live this way but I have fallen short many times. I need help – lots of help. Perhaps you do too? We live in a difficult age. Christians have always been persecuted. Now that persecution ha come to the forefront, even in America. No matter the circumstances saints cling to the faith.

The Apostle John was given a vision of the saints of God in heaven:

Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from?” I said to him, “Sir, you are the one that knows.” Then he said to me, “These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.   (Revelation 7:13-14)

Only God can cleanse saints from their sins. Do we allow God to do so for us?

The Apostle John wrote about how God purifies the saints:

See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.   (1 John 3:1-3)

Do we have our hope in Jesus? Hope is the key. Jesus purifies all those who hope in him. The Apostle wrote:

Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we[d] also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.   (Romans 5:1-5)   

Saints hold on to a holy hope.

Very early in my days of the ordained ministry I was taking communion to parishioners who were dying in a hospice. There was one very elderly gentleman there who was not a parishioners, In talking with him I found out that he had been in the ordained ministry for almost his entire life. Since I was just getting started in ministry I asked him to share what he has learned from his faith and ministry over the years. He said to me: “Lord have mercy on me, a sinner.” I remember what he said because I had found a true saint of God.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.   (Romans 15:13)()

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Twenty Second Sunday after Pentecost: Proper 26

This May Apply in Churches Not Celebrating All Saints this Sunday

Track 1: The Battle Belongs to the Lord

Joshua 3:7-17
Psalm 107:1-7, 33-37
1 Thessalonians 2:9-13
Matthew 23:1-12

Let us look at two events of God’s miraculous intervention on behalf of Israel. The first one is recorded in the Book of Joshua appointed for today.

The Lord said to Joshua, “This day I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, so that they may know that I will be with you as I was with Moses. You are the one who shall command the priests who bear the ark of the covenant, ‘When you come to the edge of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan.’” Joshua then said to the Israelites, “Draw near and hear the words of the Lord your God.” Joshua said, “By this you shall know that among you is the living God who without fail will drive out from before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites, and Jebusites: the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is going to pass before you into the Jordan. So now select twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one from each tribe. When the soles of the feet of the priests who bear the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan flowing from above shall be cut off; they shall stand in a single heap.”   (Joshua 3:7-13)

God enabled Israel to cross the Jordan River on dry land. The arc of the covenant was carried into the river first. As the carriers proceeded the Jordan receded. The psalmist celebrated how God intervened for Israel on numerous occasions in similar ways:

Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.

He put their feet on a straight path
to go to a city where they might dwell.

The Lord changed rivers into deserts,
and water-springs into thirsty ground,   (Psalm 107:6-7,33)

The second event, recorded in 2 Chronicles, is another account of the miraculous intervention of God. King Jehoshaphat of Judah faced impossible odds in which overwhelming forces were about to attack Jerusalem:

After this the Moabites and Ammonites, and with them some of the Meunites, came against Jehoshaphat for battle. Some men came and told Jehoshaphat, “A great multitude is coming against you from Edom, from beyond the sea; and, behold, they are in Hazazon-tamar” (that is, Engedi). Then Jehoshaphat was afraid and set his face to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. And Judah assembled to seek help from the Lord; from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.   (2 Chronicles 20:1-4)

Rather than attempting to fight this hoard on his own with his relatively meager resources, Jehoshaphat sought the help of God :

O our God, will you not execute judgment on them? For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”

Meanwhile all Judah stood before the Lord, with their little ones, their wives, and their children. And the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, son of Benaiah, son of Jeiel, son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, in the midst of the assembly. And he said, “Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s.   (2 Chronicles 20:12-15)

God won the victory without any casualties on the side of Israel. God would continue help Israel as long as the nation followed his commandments. God was calling Israel into his own kingdom of glory. And he is calling us today. The Apostle Paul wrote the Church at Thessalonica:

You remember our labor and toil, brothers and sisters; we worked night and day, so that we might not burden any of you while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. You are witnesses, and God also, how pure, upright, and blameless our conduct was toward you believers. As you know, we dealt with each one of you like a father with his children, urging and encouraging you and pleading that you lead a life worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.   (1 Thessalonians 2:9-12)

The palmist wrote:

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present[a] help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble with its tumult.   (Psalm 46:1-30)

We may be experiencing some stormy seas. We may facing impossible odds. God is ready to help us. Are we living a life worthy of God? He is calling us into his glorious kingdom. We can battle alone, but that would be foolish. The battles we face in our lives belong to God.

 

Track 2: Who Is our Teacher?

Micah 3:5-12
Psalm 43
1 Thessalonians 2:9-13
Matthew 23:1-12

Who has the teaching authority in the Church? Whom do we rely upon for direction and support? During the Old Testament Israel had the prophets of God. Yet certain prophets were not always reliable

Thus says the Lord concerning the prophets
who lead my people astray,

who cry “Peace”
when they have something to eat,

but declare war against those
who put nothing into their mouths.

Therefore it shall be night to you, without vision,
and darkness to you, without revelation.

The sun shall go down upon the prophets,
and the day shall be black over them;

the seers shall be disgraced,
and the diviners put to shame;

they shall all cover their lips,
for there is no answer from God.

But as for me, I am filled with power,
with the spirit of the Lord,
and with justice and might,

to declare to Jacob his transgression
and to Israel his sin.   (Micah 3:5-8)

We have the voice of prophecy today. Can it be relied upon? Jesus warned:

For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and produce great signs and omens, to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.   (Matthew 24:24)

The Apostle John warned us about spiritual discernment:

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world.   (1 John 4:1)

What about Ecclesiastical authority? Can we rely upon those who have been designated by the Church to oversee us? Jesus warned about this type of  leadership during his earthly:

Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them. They do all their deeds to be seen by others; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long. They love to have the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have people call them rabbi. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all students. And call no one your father on earth, for you have one Father– the one in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.”   (Matthew 23:1-12)

Jesus is saying that we must go directly to God. We must seek his face. He has given us his Spirit to direct us.cJesus said:

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.   (John 16:13)

The palmist wrote:

Send out your light and your truth, that they may lead me,
and bring me to your holy hill
and to your dwelling;

That I may go to the altar of God,
to the God of my joy and gladness;
and on the harp I will give thanks to you, O God my God.

Why are you so full of heaviness, O my soul?
and why are you so disquieted within me?

Put your trust in God;
for I will yet give thanks to him,
who is the help of my countenance, and my God.   (Psalm 43:3-6)

God alone is our help. Again the psalmist wrote:

I lift up my eyes to the hills—
    from where will my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved;
    he who keeps you will not slumber.
He who keeps Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil;
    he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
    your going out and your coming in
    from this time on and forevermore.   (Psalm 121)

Many people can assist us in or spiritual journey. But they are not our sources. Whatever anyone tells us must be aligned with the holy scriptures and be attested b the Spirit of God. Are we seeking God’s face as well as his hand? Jesus said: “You have one instructor, the Messiah,”

 

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