Celebrating the Saints
This coming weekend we will celebrate the saints who have gone before us. All Saint’s Day takes place Sunday, November 1st. We light candles, say prayers, and remember many by name who have died in the past year. It is in gratitude that we do these things. It is by faith that we are able to. For some this day can be difficult. For others, it’s a day of celebrating. We remember with fondness, love, and joy that God HAS chosen. God HAS named. God HAS called…every…single…one of us! We are blessed to be God’s children. May our time that remains on this earth be lived as a servant child of the Living God. Be a blessing as you are blessed and as you remember.
“See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God, and that is what we are.”
1 John 3:1a
Yesterday churches across the globe celebrated the Reformation. We must recognize the church believes reformation is more about a lifestyle than it is one day a year we celebrate. Reform; to change, to improve. Isn’t this what a life with Jesus is all about? We connect with God in Christ Jesus and realize that we’ve messed up. We need to confess, we need God’s forgiveness, we need a fresh start. We need a reformation! How will you be reformed today? Will you allow God to bring about change in you? How will you approach life, others, difficulties, the disappointments of life…differently because God in Christ Jesus HAS; forgiven you, loves you, believes in you, has plans for you? God is waiting for a reformation in you to begin!
“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord”
So today I begin with a question. In fact, some may say it is a harsh question. But, here it goes. When was the last time you picked up your Bible and read it? Actually, picked up your Bible (hard copy or digital) and read God’s Holy Word? (Reading more than one verse. Digging into its meaning and purpose, being in conversation with other believers and praying for what God desires you would learn about God’s Word?) Unfortunately, for many who call themselves God’s Children, the answer often goes something like this; “I was in church on Sunday. We read the Bible then,” or “The Bible is too complex, I don’t understand it,” or “I meant to, but I forgot,” or “Bible study is for Sunday School children,” or “I just don’t have the time.”
Reading, studying, and digesting God’s Word is how we come to know God. As with any relationship the more time we spend together, it provides a greater opportunity to know, understand, and love.
Being in God’s Word is how we grow in relationship with God and come to understand what God expects from our relationships with others. Each of us knows our world is struggling. It is struggling with identity, direction, goals, and purpose. Everything we truly need; God’s Word can provide. But, if we don’t make an effort to be in God's Word on a regular basis, how can we expect to experience the love, joy, hope, and freedom the Bible talks about even in the midst of the struggles of this life?
As we prepare to celebrate the Reformation this coming Sunday, consider these words;
“Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, ‘If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.’”
How will you commit to being in God’s Word? How will you commit to grow in God’s Word? How will you allow God to reform your faith into something new and amazing?
If your Bible remains on the shelf not only will it gather dust, but so will your faith. It’s up to you!
St. Paul tells us that we are to be imitators of God. Imitators! Meaning we are to choose God as our role model. To strive in all we say and do to represent the living God. God’s words and God’s deeds become our words and our deeds.
It occurred to me that this is only the first part of Paul’s message. Yes, it is important for us to imitate, to do as God would do…BUT… when we do so we also become someone respectable, humble, loving, compassionate, forgiving….we become a role model worthy of imitating. Isn’t that what being a part of God’s family is all about? Continuing the circle. Following the greatest role model of all time so that others will desire to be just like God. What does your life say? Who does it say your role model is?
“And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for in spite of persecution you received the word with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit, 7so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.”
I Thessalonians 1:6-7
I suppose there has been a time or two in recent months that you have wondered “what is going on?” Our world has faced situations and circumstances like never before. I am reminded, often, that as God’s people we are to live by faith, not sight. We are to trust that God’s got this! Now, that doesn’t mean we sit back and let God do all of the work, but it does mean we are to use the gifts and resources God has graciously given to us to tell the story of Jesus. Faith believes that no matter how difficult today is, the sun will rise tomorrow. Faith believes that even when we can’t see the outcome, we trust that God has our best interest in mind and heart. Faith believes that God can bring goodness out of EVERY situation (sometimes we just aren’t the ones to witness it).
Sometimes we have to close our eyes in order to see, feel, and witness the grace of God. What does your faith see today?
“For we live by faith, not by sight.”
II Corinthians 5:7