Zombies, Ghosts, Demons, and Saints #4 Saints

Zombies, Ghosts, Demons and Saints #4 Saints

 The October series of teachings, Zombies, Ghosts, Demons was to help you get into the Spirit—Holy Spirit that is.  We were warned about zombie Christians, we learned that there’s no such thing as Ghosts, and we found out that even though demons are real that when we are under the authority of God, they can be overcome.  It’s Halloween, and talk about a holiday whose meaning has gotten usurped by the culture.  Halloween, some call it the devil’s night. People dress in scary costumes, haunted houses, horror movies, and of course Trick or Treat.  The church has given up the fight, now its dress up as bible characters, trunk or treat, fall festivals and The Ghost and Mr. Chicken. Or the Church teaches to denounce the practice, to hide in your house, not to participate surrendering the night to the occult. HBCC is not going to give up on Halloween.  No instead let’s come to an understanding of what Halloween is and how we should celebrate it.

I know I just committed a Calvary Chapel mortal sin—celebrate Halloween, Yikes, pastors gone the way of the world.  Those secular celebrations of Halloween are exactly what you make them out to be.  You want to fill them with the demonic, you certainly can.  If someone kills cats and conducts a black mass and worship some goat head that’s there sin.  You want to go on a hayride, bob for apples, dress up and have a good time, have fun.  But in the midst of your fun make sure you celebrate Halloween.

Halloween comes to us from pagan Celtic festival called Samhain (pronounced Sah-ween). Celebrated between fall and winter the belief was that the ghosts of the dead, that night, could mingle with the living.  The traditions are rich and varied.  Bonfires to keep the ghosts away, wearing masks so if you had to go outside after dark the ghosts would recognize you as one of their own and leave you alone, putting treats on the door step so ghosts would take those and leave your house alone. There were also future looking traditions dealing with apples and nuts to determine if you were going to be married within the year. By the 6th century Christianity became so dominate that the festival was turned into a holiday, a holy day.  The day started at sunset on October 31 and ran till unset November 1. Traditionally October 31 dinner was fasted, and then you feasted during the first day of November .

Samhain became All Hallows Eve, all saints day, a time set aside to remember the faithful who have died.  Every one leaves a legacy, some are great and well known, others not so much, but we all touch the lives of others.  Halloween was set aside to remember those legacies of Godly men and women who are no longer walking this earth with us.

 In Hebrews Chapter 11 there is a telling forth of the faithful, recalling their deeds.  Then we read this in Chapter 12:

 Hebrews 12:1-3 (MSG)

Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we'd better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. And now he's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!

 As we remember the lives of those who left a legacy for us its not to be a sad time, but rather a time of encouragement.  Recall the challenges they faced, and how in faith they overcame every obstacle, endured hardship, stayed true to their calling. Remember how they made our lives better, the contributions they made to make the world a better place.  Remembering them builds our faith, knowing if God’s grace was sufficient for them, then God’s grace is sufficient for us now to run the race set before us. There example is meant to encourage us in our faith and practice of the faith.

 Have you heard that the reason what doctors and lawyers do is called a practice? It a practice because they are practicing at getting it right. “Practice makes perfect.” Those experts are just practicing on you.  Sometimes they get it right, sometimes not, they’re practicing.  We can learn from another’s legacy, their times of getting it right and their times of making a mess, to help us in our practice of the faith.

 Faith The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It's our handle on what we can't see. 2 The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd.

Heb 11:1-2 (MSG)

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

Heb 11:1 (NIV)

Some may say that faith is unreasonable.  You believe without evidence, without proof.  That’s what our saints did.  Faith motivates practice. The starting place of faith begins with a spiritual awakening. A person realizes that something is not right in their lives.  As they seek for answers, as they sincerely seek for truth, the Holy Spirit starts His work, often unseen, undetectably towards the answer.  The truth is that life is messed up because you are messed up.  The truth is the Jesus died to turn your mess into a masterpiece.  The truth is Jesus rose from the dead so that you have a living legacy to show you how to live.  When one acknowledges the truth and asks God to accept their faith, that person begins their practice. It’s your practice of the faith that leaves a legacy.  Acknowledge, believe, commit, and then ask God to help you live a life of faithfulness, He will answer your prayer and you will know it, deep inside you will know.  If you have not done so, today is a good day to ask.  If you do let me know I want to encourage you as you begin a new chapter in your life.

 Jesus is our living legacy.  As we read the gospels, those first 4 writings in the New Testament, Mathew, Mark, Luke and John, we learn how Jesus taught with this life.  His life became a lesson for us, demonstrating how we are to live.  We are to live in full obedience to the One Jesus called Father.  That obedience is first and foremost demonstrated in our love for God and our love for others. Jesus teachings, validated by miracles, help us to become citizens of the Kingdom of God, doing God’s will on earth as it is in heaven.  Jesus is our example and as we follow Him, our story becomes one that when told will encourage others in their faith.

 Jesus overcame all obstacles completing His Mission.  Take back Halloween and remember how the saints overcame the obstacles in their lives, making the world a better place (Philippians 4:9).  Now when we are speaking of saints we do not necessarily mean people whom our Catholic and Orthodox brother and sisters have raised to sainthood.  Throughout the Scripture those who believe in God who practice the faith are called saints.  Saints are sinners who are saved by faith, a faith demonstrated by acknowledging, believing, committing asking and then practicing. Love identifies the saints. Saints are just ordinary people who practice love. 

 Romans 1:7 (NIV)

To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints:  Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Believers are saints. When God accepted your faith, you became a saint.

 On Halloween recall how God touched your life through His saints that have gone on before you. Honor their memory, draw from it lessons, and encouragement.  Imagine what they would tell you right now.  Though it is most likely a metaphor the NIV translates Hebrews 12:1 with a picture of a great cloud of witnesses, maybe like folks in a stadium watching we the players on the field, and they are cheering us on in the Olympic marathon. Spot that familiar face in the stands; see that they are for you, rooting for you, smiling at you, urging you one, telling you that you can, that you will cross the finish line. 

This Halloween light a candle.  Not to scare the ghosts and darkness away, there are no ghosts, but rather a flame to remind you of their light.  Their light was lite by Jesus who is the light of the world (John 8:12).  When we walk in His light we do not stumble, the light of the saints, brings added encouragement (John 11:10).  Concentrate not on the loss, but on their love.   Recall the great promise we have as saints:  

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 (NLT)

 “…the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever.”

 Mrs. Burkholder was the lead secretary at Liberty Christian School where I taught for a while.  She knew I was also a pastor and on every Monday morning she would ask the same question with a smile in her voice:  “Well, howdyado?”  wanting to know about my appraisal of my pulpit work.  I expect to hear Mrs. B ask again on that day, Well, howdyado?

 Mike Edwards, I expect him to say “Good Morning Doctor, about time you got here.”  Mike served God, so many, many lives were transformed because of his love, rescued from nightmares empowered to live their lives to the full. Mike fourth the good fight, what a legacy.

 I expect to hear a “hummm” of acknowledgement from Myles Higashimura. Myles was man whose heart was huge, a Japanese cowboy whose loyalty to family and friends knew no bounds.

 I am not sure what to expect from Carol.  I can only imagine.  God’s love through her radically changed my life for the better.

 Then I hope there will be some folks I know that will say “Surprise, I made it after all.”  Then we will rejoice in the loving kindness of God.

 Until that day, until the second coming of Jesus, we can use Halloween to honor the legacy of the saints.  No, I don’t advocate dressing up, or going trunk or treating, nor participating in any of the other pseudo occult games typical of the way the culture in America celebrates the day.  It’s better to reclaim the holiday, the holy day, by remembering our special ones that have died in Christ and how they impacted our lives. 

 One other suggestion, there will be strangers coming to your door Trick or Treating.  What if you along with a treat, put a message of love in their bag, gave out a copy of the gospel of John in modern English, or one of those Comic forms of the gospel, maybe a tract that was totally encouraging, not one that is designed to scare people into faith, gosh, maybe even one of our business cards?  (Ephesians 5:16) What if just one person reads what you gave, and the Holy Spirit uses that to bring them to faith?  Then sometime in eternity, a person walks up to you and says thank you, because of that simple act of love I am here today. That can be part of your legacy.

 You’ll find some items that you may want to take and pass out to those who come to your door tonight in the foyer as you leave.  Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in what to take and how many to take.  Then as they come to the door ask the Holy Spirit is this the one you want to receive these good words? Great things might happen.


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