I hope you had a great Halloween! I saw lots of great costumes, cute kids, and parents spending time with them–which is a good thing!
Today is historically called “All Saints Day’ in the Church, and I was thinking about that recently.
Let’s be honest…there are some ‘special days’ in the Church that seem questionable…like the leaders of the Church throughout history were sitting around a room saying “We need a special day in November.” and someone else said “Yeah! And let’s put it right after Halloween! Yeah, that’s the ticket!” (Now, I’m not sure, but that may not have been historically accurate.)
But I was thinking about ‘All Saints Day’, when we celebrate the Believers who have gone on to be with Jesus before us, and Hebrews 11 came to mind. If you’ve never read Hebrews 11, you should…today!
It’s a ‘Who’s Who’ of Bible history, and it reminds us of what some of them went through for their faith.
(Incidentally, it’s a great chapter to start your Bible reading plan in–just look up the chapters for each person mentioned, and you’ll get to know a lot of God’s movements in history!)
It also reminds us of how their FAITH is what drove them, and their FAITH is what enabled them to be used by, and to please, God!
“Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation.” (Hebrews 11, vv.1-2)
The author then goes through Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah…and it reminds us how it was BY FAITH that they did the things they did…and that their FAITH enabled them to step forward and endure hardships, following God’s call faithfully in spite of them. And despite lifetimes built on that faith, they never really saw the ‘payoff’.
In fact, vv. 13-16 say… “All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own. If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back. But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”
They had their ‘eyes on the prize’, and it enabled them to endure hardship, inconvenience, difficulty…and even persecution.
The chapter goes on to list many more examples, some of which experienced great power and victory because of their faith…but some who paid for their faith with their lives…
“others were tortured, refusing to turn from God in order to be set free. They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection. Some were jeered at, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in prisons. Some died by stoning, some were sawed in half, and others were killed with the sword. Some went about wearing skins of sheep and goats, destitute and oppressed and mistreated.” (vv.35-37).
Question: Does your faith drive you? Does it lead you onto the adventure that God is calling you to, or have you stopped listening?
These people all had an awareness of God’s higher call, and it enabled them to experience many things–great and victorious, and difficult and treacherous.
Be clear about this though: They were NEVER defeated! They may have lost their earthly lives, but they were driven by something much more powerful! They were driven by their FAITH in God, and in the Eternal Promises with Him! This faith was not mere ‘intellectual belief’, rather it was a driving, hopeful faith in God’s plan for the future.
The author reminds us:
“They were too good for this world, wandering over deserts and mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground.
All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised. For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us.” (Hebrews 11:38-40)
…and what is the ‘something better in mind’ God has for us? It’s a compelling, powerful, real and intimate RELATIONSHIP with Him, through our faith in Jesus Christ.
These people did all of these things with just a ‘whiff’…a mere ‘taste’ of the relationship what we can have…
So, how should that impact us? Well for that, you need to read Hebrews 12:1-3, but be sure of this: It SHOULD impact us!
God still has great things He wants to do in this world, and He is still calling out to His people. Many of us are simply not listening.
So, as you celebrate ‘All Saints Day’ (whether you realize it or not), reflect on those who’ve gone before, and how their faith influenced them…then ask God to stir your faith, and wake you up the the call He’s been giving you!