ALL SAINTS DAY
Tuesday, November 1
Daniel 7:1-3, 15-18
Sunday, November 6
2 Thessalonians 2
November 1st is All Saints Day. At Bethel, we will celebrate it this coming Sunday, November 6th.
Thinking of All Saints’ Day, I want to share with you the Daily Devotional message which Rev. Lillian Daniel wrote for this past Sunday, under the title, “A Victory Speech from Someone Who Never Wins Anything.” Rev. Daniel is pastor of First Congregational Church of Dubuque, Iowa.
“Be completely humble and gentle;
be patient, bearing with one another in love.”
- Ephesians 4:2
When it comes to little contests and games of chance, I never win anything. But guess who guessed the number of chocolate coffee beans in the jar last Sunday? It was me, it was me, it was me! The humble pastor!
Ethical concerns prevented me from keeping the gift. Church leaders even suggested it might be appropriate to choose another winner instead of the minister, but I persuaded them to let me have my moment, since, after all, I never win anything. I promised to share my chocolate coffee beans with others. My win was about the honor of the thing, not material gain.
Sadly, nobody wanted to hear the full three-hour victory speech I prepared about what led me to make the winning guess on the coffee beans. So let me reflect on my success here in this devotional in the hope that you'll be inspired by my example.
As I look back on a lifetime of never winning anything, I now see that I was being trained for that one competitive moment, when a decisive instinct would put me out in front of the pack. I can't explain it, I just did what I had to do. I went out there and executed at a high level. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the little people, as well as the coach. It wasn't about my skills, it was about the whole ball club. It takes a village to raise a child. Measure twice and cut once. It was 90% mental and the other half was physical. As a player, I left it all out there on the field. And lastly, God bless America.
Prayer: Dear God, help us to remember that our "accomplishments" are not our own, and that every "win" is just a chance to give you thanks for what we did not achieve all by ourselves. Amen.
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When we consider God’s holy ones, the so-called “saints,” the most important thing to notice is not that they did great good things, but that they obeyed God and gave God any and all glory that was offered to them. If we “want to be in that number / when the saints go marching in,” we must also give God all our boasting and pride.
In Paul’s letter called 2nd Thessalonians, he tells them that he brags about them to other churches. However, what he actually brags about is the way that they are growing in faithfulness toward God and demonstrating love for one another... which causes people to thank God and glorify God. (2 Thess. 1: 2-4, 11-12). Paul goes on to warn them about an individual whom they know, who “opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, declaring himself to be God.” (2 Thess. 2:4) Such a person would be the opposite of a “saint”— wanting all the glory for himself.
I always think of my late friend, Sam, who frequently said, “There is a God, and I ain’t Him.” This awareness helps to save us from sin. As C.S. Lewis put it, “The corruption of the first sinner consists not in choosing some evil thing ... but in preferring a lesser good (himself) before a greater (God). The Fall is, in fact, Pride.” But, thanks be to God, we don’t have to be that way.
The Good News keeps reminding us that God’s holy ones are always alive in God’s presence: “those who are considered worthy of a place in that age and in the resurrection from the dead.... cannot die anymore, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection.... [To God,] all of them are alive.” (Luke 20:35-36, 38)
This coming Sunday, we will take a little time to remember some of God’s holy ones, saints who have gone on before us. Think of the ones you have known, or perhaps still know. Charles Wesley described them this way: “Part of His host have crossed the flood, / And part are crossing now.” Who do you know, who lives, or lived,
for the praise of God’s glory ? (Ephesians 1:12)