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:
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
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.
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
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.
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
“…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
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
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