Summary: A funeral message for a fallen soldier.

-Karen, family and friends, we gather today to remember the life of Donald, to celebrate his many accomplishments and mourn our loss.

-Most of you knew him very well. Unfortunately, I never had the opportunity to meet him but I look forward to the day that I finally do.

-As I sat down with Karen last Thursday and tried to get to know Donald, the thing that jumped out for me was his time in the military.

-Once you get the military in your blood, you can’t really get it out.

-It shapes the way that you view the world and the way you view yourself.

-It’s true for me. It’s true for most people in the military. That was true for Donald as well.

-As a former infantrymen myself, I understand what Donald meant when he still referred to himself as a grunt even after he had served his time and was honorably discharged.

-If you ever make the mistake of calling a sergeant in the Army sir, you’ll find out what that means. Their response will be, “Don’t call me sir. I work for a living.”

-Donald worked for a living. Nobody ever gave Donald anything he didn’t earn or pay back.

-That is an honorable trait.

-America was built on the backs of many hard-working men like Donald.

-Donald was a man’s man. He loved hunting and fishing, sports and working with his hands.

-Without men like Donald, America would not exist and if we did not continue to produce men like Donald America would be wiped off the face of the earth.

-He knew what hard work and sacrifice was all about. He lived it. He was a good soldier. {PAUSE}

-The Apostle Paul in our text for today talks about what being a good soldier is all about.

-He writes to Timothy, his protégé, “Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.”

-Donald knew what hardship and sacrifice was all about. His life was not an easy one. He struggled through many difficulties like many of us do.

-We all have challenges and difficulties that we face in life. That’s part of the human condition on this side of heaven.

-However, Donald handled his challenges like an infantryman, like a grunt, like a good soldier.

-The Apostle Paul says what good soldiers do with their obstacles. He writes, “No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs—he wants to please his commanding officer.”

-Basically, he’s saying, “Don’t be distracted by the barriers your enemy throws your way. Keep your eye on the objective. Accomplish the mission.”

-However, he did not allow his difficulties and challenges to detract him from his dedication to his family, his work, his friends and his passions. {PAUSE}

-Being a good soldier can has its pitfalls too

-When you work for a living, it is very easy to think that you have to work for everything in life.

-Unfortunately, there is one thing that all the hard work in the world cannot get you.

-There is one thing that cannot be purchased.

-There is one thing that is beyond any of us to buy.

-It is not for sale.

-None of us deserve it. It cannot be earned but many of us try.

-It’s heaven.

-Many people try all sorts of ways to get into heaven.

-But none of us can get in through our own deeds.

-Jesus said, “Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the Pharisees and Sadducees, you will in no way enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”

-The Pharisees and Sadducees were the religious leaders of Jesus’ day.

-They were some really, seriously righteous dudes. They devoted their entire day to reading the bible, praying, helping those that were destitute or in trouble and teaching others about God’s word.

-Sounds like guys who should get into heaven right?

-Well, Jesus tells a story in Luke 18

-"Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ’God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ "But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his chest and said, ’God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ "I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

-That sounds a lot like something that we say in America. The majority of Americans believe that people who commit heinous crimes against innocent victims like children, women and the elderly are particularly disgusting and incapable of going to heaven.

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