Let us pray: Dear Savior, without the hope of heaven our lives would be unbearable. Without knowing that You have gone before us to prepare a special mansion just for us, the ups and downs of the daily grind would crush us. Without the confidence of knowing that You make glory possible by giving us the passport to heaven, faith alone, bitterness would dominate our lives. Today we thank You for not leaving us alone on this earth. We thank You for lifting our spirit’s heavenward. And we thank You for propelling us along that narrow road to glory! Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE HEAD OF THE CHURCH!
TEXT: Hebrews 12: 1-3
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
Arlington National Cemetery is located just outside of Washington, D.C. It is built on the ancestral home of General Robert E. Lee of Civil War fame. Pres. Lincoln and others felt it was a fitting place for the burial of the nation’s dead in war. And if you go there you will see acres and acres of stark white crosses which mark the graves of those heroes of our nation. It is a moving sight. Arlington is also the home of the tomb of the unknown soldier. A place to remember dead heroes whose bodies were never found on the battlefield. That tomb has an honor guard which paces back and forth 24 hours a day, seven days a week, again to honor those departed heroes. I read recently of a moving testimonial which happened at that tomb. During the hurricane that hit Virginia in August, the members of the honor guard were given permission to leave and take shelter in the midst of that horrendous storm. But, they refused to leave their post—even for a minute! They felt their presence of honoring the dead was more important than their own welfare. What a magnificent example of praise!
My friends, you and I are the honor guard for the saints in glory. Our lives are our posts which we pace off each day and by which we recall their faithful witness of Christ’s victory over the forces of evil on our behalf. On this All Saint’s Sunday we can do no better than remember that our duty as Christians is to:
KEEP YOUR HEAD IN THE CLOUDS AND YOUR FEET ON THE EARTH!
Just who are saints? Well, let’s look at the word: saints. Literally it means “Holy ones.” And just how are people made holy? Is anyone good enough, pure enough, perfect enough in their life to merit the designation: holy? No. We’re sinners through and through. We lie, cheat, steal, let lust control us, and generally are selfish little buggers! Next to the Almighty God and His perfection our lives measure up as quite worthless. But, but, God’s Son Jesus Christ was holy and pure and spotless. And on the cross He transferred His holiness to us via faith. So, in the sight of God we are holy, we’re saints, because of Christ alone. Every believer is a saint. Here today we have St. Bill, St. Craig, St. Jill, St. Fred, St. Elaine. Of course, we differentiate a little between the saints on earth, you and me, and the saints in heaven. They are the saints triumphant! We are the saints militant in that we still have to battle sin and Satan.
All Saints Day is set aside to remember the faithful witness of those saints triumphant. It is a time to honor them, learn from them, and most of all to give glory to the One Who made their sainthood possible: Jesus Christ. The writer to the Hebrews alludes to all this when he says: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
The saints in glory had tough lives, just like you. They fought sin and temptation, just like you. And they overcame such inner battles by focusing on Jesus and by trusting in His strength and not their own-—just like you. Yes, today you and I are walking in footsteps, in the footsteps of both Christ and the saints triumphant. Their presence surrounds us. It is a giant cloud of witness enveloping us. And no matter what comes along, to leave our post would be a great dishonor.
I began by reminding you to Keep Your Head in the Clouds and Your Feet on the Earth! And our text reminds us of the same thing. “Consider him, Christ, who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
Yes, our feet are still planted on this earth. That fact is all too obvious. For example, the gods of political correctness tell us that Islam and Hinduism are fine alternative faiths which lead to the same god as Christianity. The modern American religion of sports on Sunday, with their new cathedrals in the form of stadiums, has taken the place of going to church for many. Within the pall of Christianity Bible truths like the 10 commandments, the importance of Godly marriage, and honor between the sexes is laughed at and scorned. We bemoan this state of affairs. We think that one of else has ever had to endure such opposition. And we’re sorely tempted just to go-with-the-flow and give in.
Well, Christ didn’t give in. And neither did the saints in glory. They didn’t lose heart. Instead they fixed their gaze on the glory to come. Christ focused His all on saving us with His sacrificial life. And the saints focused their all on the Savior Who never gave up on them, even when, at times, they might have given up on Him. Now it is up to you and me to walk that same path. Now is our time to do likewise. Now is our defining moment in history when future generations will look back at us and either shake their heads in sadness or lift them up in thanksgiving and joy.
With that in mind, keep your head in the clouds and your feet on the earth! Remain at your post!—As a faithful soldier of the cross. 100 years from now you will probably be known as an unknown soldier, too. Unknown to those walking the earth, but not unknown to God. And in the end, isn’t that the only thing that really matters? Amen