Reading: 1 Cor. 1:1-18 (right click for 'The Message' Paraphrase)
Text: "Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both their's and our's." (v 2)
[a] A little girl was asked what a Saint was. She thought for a moment, and then said, "It's somebody the light shines through!" probably with stain glass window saints in mind.
[b] But, indeed, What is a saint?
Is it someone canonized by the Pope? St Francis, St Agustine, St Teresa! Don't forget, they can be de-canonized just as quickly!
Is it someone 'too heavenly minded to be of any earthly use'?
We've all met them, haven't we? They look down their nose at you with a look of superiority on their face! FAULTS? Well dare anyone suggest they have any!
The main course at the big civic dinner was baked ham with glazed sweet potatoes. Rabbi Cohen regretfully shook his head when the platter was passed to him. "When," scolded Father Kelly playfully, "are you going to forget that silly rule of yours and eat ham like the rest of us?"
"At your wedding reception, Father Kelly," said Rabbi Cohen without skipping a beat.
Is it someone who is credited with great faith, and through it, performing miracles?
Sister Serafina was on a much desired mission assignment to the Apache Indians. She was so excited that she drove past the last petrol station without noticing that she needed fuel. She ran out about a mile down the road, and had to walk back to the petrol station. The attendant told her that he would like to help her, but he had no container to hold the gas.
Sympathetic to her plight, he agreed to search through an old shed in the back for something that might suffice. The only container that would hold fuel was an old chamber-pot. He was doubtful, but the grateful nun told him that it would work just fine. She carried the petrol back to her car, taking care not to spill a drop. When she got to her car, she carefully poured the contents of the chamber-pot into the tank.
A truck driver pulled alongside the car as the nun was emptying the container into the tank. He rolled down his window and yelled to her, "I wish I had your faith, Sister!"
Is it someone who reportedly sees visions?
It was in a large prayer and testimony meeting that a rather pompous man arose and said, "Brethren, I am on board the old ship Zion, and I am sailing heavenward, and I am going at the rate of sixteen knots; I shall soon sail up the harbor of the blessed." Then another man with more arrogance rose and said, "I, too, am on board the old ship Zion, and I am sailing heavenward at the rate of thirty knots; I shall soon sail up the harbor of the blessed," and he sat down. Then another man with even more arrogance got up and said, "I, too, brethren, am on board the old ship Zion. It is a steamship with a terrific horsepower, and on this steamship I shall soon sail up the harbor of the blessed," and he sat down. Then a plain Christian woman rose and said, "Well, brethren, I have been going to heaven seventy years, and I have been going afoot; I suppose from the looks of things that I shall have to go afoot the rest of the way. If some of you people that are going by steam don't look out, you'll burst your boilers." As a dear saint of God said, let us make our boasting as follows: "I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I wish to be, I am not what I hope to be; but by the grace of God I am not what I was." Never leave the grace of God out.
Is it someone who doesn't say 'boo to a goose' - who you can walk all over like a doormat and they won't complain?
These things have a way of bouncing back onto the perpetrator!
Henry Ward Beecher, the famous New England minister, was entering his pulpit one Sunday morning. Awaiting him was an unmarked envelope. Opening it, he found a single sheet of paper on which was written the single word FOOL. After chuckling to himself, he held the paper up to the congregation and said: "I have known many an instance of a man writing letters and forgetting to sign his name. But this is the only instance I've ever known of a man signing his name and forgetting to write his letter."
One of the most important things to come out of the Reformation, was the realization of the SAINTHOOD OF ALL BELIEVERS!
In verse 2 of our Bible reading, we find that all Christians are "CALLED TO BE SAINTS!"
Up and down the Salvation Army today, there will be an emphasis on BEING CALLED, for it is Candidates Sunday, when vocation will be presented, and young and old challenged to face up to the call of God in their life - whatever that may mean for them.
BUT IT IS GOOD TO REMEMBER, THAT FIRST AND FOREMOST, WE ARE CALLED TO BE SAINTS!
'The Message' puts it like this - "Christians cleaned up by Jesus, and set apart for a God filled life." (v2)
[a] Set apart from this world, it's sin, it's values, it's relationships.
[b] Christian people are called to be a HOLY people! Even Christians today joke about, holy living, and Biblical standards.
[c] In some of our corps jokes are made about those who attend prayer meetings, Bible studies and house fellowship meetings. Because of the sarcasm, which as we know, is the lowest form of wit, others are deterred from attending - often deterred by those who should know better, and show their lack of any genuine spiritual experience, by their comments.
[d] One of Major Chick Yuill's early books was entitled "WE NEED SAINTS!" It is a book on Holiness, or rather the lack of it in the Salvation Army today.
[e] If we are to survive - if we are to be any use to God - HOLINESS WILL HAVE TO RETURN TO THE LIVES OF SALVATIONISTS!
[f] In Holy living, there is no room for cheap and petty squabbles that have nothing to do with God's Kingdom, or the spiritual welfare of men, women and children!
[g] MAY GOD BRING MIGHTY CONVICTION UPON US - THAT WILL SQUEEZE OUT THE STUPID PETTINESS, AND PUT HOLINESS AND SANCTIFICATION IN IT'S PLACE!
Only then will we see revival in our midst.
[h] An officer friend of mine, used to talk about CUSTARD CHRISTIANS, so named because they were always falling out over trifles!
[a] I have come across so many Christians that others are afraid to approach, in case they get their heads bitten off!
[b] Where is the love that is the hallmark of the Christian, according to Jesus?
[c] Where is the gentleness that is part of the fruit of the Spirit?
[d] Where is the effort to put others first, paying more than lip service to our Christian commitment?
[e] Where is our obedience to the Scriptures when they encourage us to 'bear one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.'
[f] Being approachable, does NOT mean that we listen when others approach us with gossip, and then pass it on. Do not allow yourself to be sucked into that evil that destroys our Christian fellowship.
[g] The times that people will even try to draw the CO into such gossip is unbelievable! They will come and give you so called information, but refuse to give you the source of that information so it can be checked out! No source - no information. If someone is not willing to put their name to it - it's like an anonymous letter!
[a] You remember the story of the little girl who looked at the stain-glass window, and described a saint as 'somebody the light shines through'
[b] She might have come to her conclusion in an unorthodox manner, but what a glorious truth! A SAINT IS SOMEONE THE LIGHT SHINES THROUGH!
[c] Brother - sister in Christ - Saint of God - IS THE LIGHT OF GOD SHINING THROUGH YOUR LIFE?
[d] Unfortunately in so many of our appointments, we have come across so many who had other things shining very obviously from their lives - ANGER, RESENTMENT, JEALOUSY, SUPERIORITY, ONE-UP-MAN-SHIP, TIT FOR TAT, POWER STRUGGLES, MISGUIDED FAMILY LOYALTIES, AND SO MUCH MORE THAT WAS LITERALLY DESTROYING THE CAUSE OF CHRIST, AND GRIEVING THE HOLY SPIRIT!
[e] Jesus said that we were to be the Light of the World, with His light shining through us.
A SAINT IS SOMEBODY THE LIGHT SHINES THROUGH!
[a] A truly 'saintly person' cannot put it on, and pretend - it can only work if it's truly natural. The last person to recognise the 'saintliness' will be the person themselves! Others will see the light and nature of Jesus in their lives - but they won't!
[b] It can only be natural, if our relationship with God is deep and strong! If it is, then all the other trivialities that get us so worked up, will fade into insignificance. We will realise that so many unimportant trifles, can stop people finding the Lord, and hinder others in their walk with Him. So we must jettison these things, and get rid of them, and concentrate on the things of the Kingdom!
OUR 'NATURAL' LIFE SHOULD BE THAT OF A SAINT!
[a] Look around - How many people in this building would you trust with your most closely held secrets? Have you shared it with them? Why not?
Somebody told me the other day of three men who decided to share their deepest hidden secrets.
One said, "My secret is that I like a drink of whiskey - but no one knows."
The second said, "My secret is that I like a flutter on the horses - but no one knows I gamble."
The third said, "Well, my secret is that I like the young ladies, and I flirt with them, when I'm somewhere where I'm not known!"
The forth said, "Well, what no-one knows about me is - I can't keep a secret!"
[b] One of the qualities of the saint should be TRUSTWORTHINESS!
[c] I remember some years ago, in the corps we were in, we had a lovely young candidate, who was very gifted and much involved in Divisional activities.
[d] Without any warning, she came to me, and told me that she was withdrawing her candidateship, telling me in strict confidence the reason. I asked if she would permit me to tell headquarters why she had withdrawn, but she refused.
[e] I was put under tremendous pressure from Headquarters to break the confidence and tell them, and when I refused again and again, there was much consternation!
THE SAINT HAS GOT TO BE TRUSTWORTHY - NO MATTER HOW DIFFICULT THAT MAY BE!
[a] We are called to be saints - with all that it means!
It is a great and mighty responsibility - but one that God expects us to fulfil!
[b] We do not have to 'become' saints - we already are! From the moment we are saved!
[c] But that doesn't mean we ACT like saints - that is what we must give attention to!
There is a story about a monastery in Europe perched high on a cliff several hundred feet in the air. The only way to reach the monastery was to be suspended in a basket which was pulled to the top by several monks who pulled and tugged with all their strength. Obviously the ride up the steep cliff in that basket was terrifying. One tourist got exceedingly nervous about half-way up as he noticed that the rope by which he was suspended was old and frayed. With a trembling voice he asked the monk who was riding with him in the basket how often they changed the rope. The monk thought for a moment and answered brusquely, "Whenever it breaks."
DEAR FRIENDS - LET'S NOT WAIT UNTIL THE ROPE BREAKS - EITHER IN OUR OWN LIVES, OR IN OUR CORPS.
Saints in Circuilation. It is related that
during the reign of Oliver Cromwell the
government ran out of silver coinage. Crom-
well sent his men to a cathedral to see if they
could find any silver. They reported, 'The
only silver we can find is in the statues of the
saints standing in the corners.'
'Good,' he replied, 'we'll melt down the
saints and put them into circulation!'
We might apply the words in a spiritual
sense to ourselves, for surely one of the needs
of the hour is that God's saints might be'
melted in revival fires and put into circulation
to win lost souls.