Summary: Memorial Day: This message is written by a former Civil Air Patrol Chaplain. We can learn some things from our military men and women that apply to our walk with the Lord and the Christian fight for people's spiritual freedom.
Memorial Day is tomorrow, and this morning I’m going to be sharing from a message I’ve entitled “Lessons from a Soldier.” So, let me get started by sharing a brief history of Memorial Day. “In 1868, General John A. Logan, then president of the Grand Army of the Republic, declared that May 30th would be a day to ‘decorate with flowers the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion.’ After World War I, the day was set aside to honor all of the American wars, and the custom was extended to pay homage to deceased relatives and friends, both military and civilian.”(1)
On Memorial Day we pay our respects to all who are dear to us. Some of us will honor fallen soldiers. Others will remember soldiers who survived war, or who completed their term in the military to go on and live long and productive lives, and in old age have now gone home to be with the Lord. At Memorial Day we also honor our men and women who are presently active in the military. Others will remember non-military loved ones, and close family members and friends who have passed away.
Though we seek to remember and honor both military and civilians on Memorial Day, I want to take some time this morning to consider those in the military. The reasons why, is because we have much to learn from our military men and women who have surrendered their lives to fight for our country’s freedom; things that can be applied to our walk with the Lord and the Christian fight. So, I want to encourage you to listen closely as I share five insights from the Scripture; ones which relate to the character of our military men and women; and our first passage will be Psalm 18:31-35:
Called and Equipped to Fight (Psalm 18:31-35)
31 For who is God, except the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God? 32 It is God who arms me with strength, and makes my way perfect. 33 He makes my feet like the feet of deer, and sets me on my high places. 34 He teaches my hands to make war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. 35 You have also given me the shield of Your salvation; Your right hand has held me up, Your gentleness has made me great.
In these verses, David said that he had been equipped by God to fight. In verse 33, we read, “It is God who arms me with strength, and makes my way perfect.” This verse can also be translated that God had “armed him with valor” and had given “integrity” to his life.(2) The Lord had also “given him a firm and careful stance in secure spots – literally like the feet of a doe. He has taught him how to do battle, given him the protection of divine deliverance, made him firm with His own right hand, and [He] has made the king great . . . Thus, trained and made able, the king experienced notable victories, which he proceeds to describe”(3) in the verses which immediately follow.
Commentator Warren Wiersbe says, “The images in these verses reveal God developing a great warrior, a compassionate leader, and a godly man . . . Because David trusted God, God enabled him to run, leap, fight and defeat the enemy. He could run through a troop, scale a wall, or leap like a deer up the mountains. This is not a glorification of war, for God trained him to fight His battles and protect Israel so they could accomplish His purposes on earth. David did not invade other countries just to add territory to his kingdom.”(4)
Insight #1 is this: Our military men and women realize they have been called and equipped to fight. And in the Christian walk, we too have been called and equipped to fight spiritual battles. We read in Ephesians 6:11-13, “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” – and if we continue reading the passage, we are told of the specific pieces of the armor that we must take up and wear. Let’s now turn to our next passage, which is Matthew 10:34-38:
Fighting is Necessary for Freedom (Matthew 10:34-38)
34 Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; 36 and a man’s enemies will be those of his own household. 37 He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.