Summary: On this Memorial Day, let us never forget the costs of our civil and spiritual freedom. This message calls us to action to keep a fresh view of these freedoms in mind.
Let Us Never Forget
* (VIDEO – “For Freedom A Memorial Day Tribute) The last phrase gives us divine direction, “We set aside our differences to remember, to honor, and to thank those who have given everything that we might be free.”
* Over a million people have died that you and I, as Americans, might be free. During The Civil War over 625,000 soldiers died. In World War One, 116,000 American soldiers died. In World War Two, 407,000 American soldiers died. 54,000 American soldiers died in Korea, 58,000 died in Vietnam, 148 died during Desert Storm. As of May 21, 2008 there were 4,079 American Soldiers that have died in Iraq. Of course there were conflicts and causalities as well. More than a million Americans have died in wars around the world fighting for the freedom that we enjoy in this country. Freedom is never free. Someone, somewhere, at sometime, purchased any freedom that we possess; and the price of freedom is usually “innocent blood.”
* Too often it would seem that we tend to forget. We forget how good we have it, we forget what it took to buy our civil freedom, we forget that with freedom comes responsibility (or a word we do not like – “DUTY”), & we even forget the cost of our very soul.
* On this Memorial Day, I call us to this; “Let Us Never Forget.” (text)
* Taking this text, let’s come to grips with 5 simple ways to never forget. To not forget requires us to pay attention by looking at & for the right things.
1. Let us never forget to look back – It would serve us well as a nation to look back in real time to remember the passion of the men & women who gave their lives in defense of this nation. Having been a pastor in a military community, I can say with some certainty, that these men & women possess a fresh love & passion for this nation which seems to be taken for granted on Main Street. When we look back at our history, we discover the hurt, pain, & even emptiness, endured by families that we can be free.
* But let us not become so enamored with our civil freedom which, at best, is temporary, with our spiritual freedom which is eternal. Verse 1 tells us that we are surrounded by a great throng of witnesses. On this point, we look back and see those who have gone before us. Hebrews 11 gives us a vision of what we know as “Faith’s Hall of Fame.” We can look back at Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Moses, Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, David, Samuel, and more, to gain a perspective of whose heritage we follow. However, we can look at the disciples, the deacons (forerunners), and others who lived by faith and died for that same faith. Think back & recall you grand-dad or dad, mom or grandmother, an aunt or uncle, someone who you looked to as your hero in the faith; remembering their life.
* According to our text, the influence and possibly the attention of those who have gone before us serve as a motivation to ‘get this right.’ If we never take the opportunity to look back, we will never, NEVER regain the passion which motivated those believers of Old. We need to witness again & relive their passion & love for Christ allowing it to burn deeply in our hearts.
* By the way, looking back will remind us of those casualties of war. Think of those who are “Missing in Action”. This means in the heat of the battle, they became lost and unaccounted for. MIA is one of the most difficult designations for a family to receive because it is the “we really don’t know what happened” status. There are 3 most common possibilities. A) They have been captured and become a DETAINEE of the enemy. B) They have DESERTED. They didn’t go over to the other side, they chose to run to neutral place & lay low until the fighting subsides. C) They are discovered DEAD and their status changes from MIA to KIA. To consider these three possibilities for soldier is to remember that believers are soldiers of the cross. Sadly, some have been captured by the forces of evil, they have allowed sin to take over their lives, and the enemy has taken them captive. They forgot to put on the ‘Armor of the Lord’ (Eph 6) & were no match for him. Others have discovered the battle to be too intense so they decided to abandon their post, find of place of perceived safety, and lay low until the battle was over. Literally, they deserted. While still others chose to stick it out, stay in the fight, & give all they could give—even their lives.