Living a Legacy
Memorial Day Message
May 26, 2013
This past Friday, I was given the opportunity to assist the Braun family with the funeral of their son, Daniel. Daniel was a Staff Sgt. in the US Air Force. Daniel was celebrated as an American hero for his service to his country. His funeral was marked with displays of patriotism. The Patriot Guard held flags at the entrance of the funeral home, so everyone entered with through columns of our nation’s colors. The funeral home was filled with Daniel’s accomplishments in the Air Force: medals, plaques and ribbons that were symbols of his service and sacrifice. Pictures were displayed of various acts of his service stateside and abroad. Members of Daniel’s squad from Iraq were present to pay one final tribute to their deceased comrade.
Departing from the funeral home, we were escorted by police and members of the Patriot Guard. All along the route, there were displays of support from the community. Businesses displayed condolences on their signs, people stopped and got out of their cars, police and firefighters saluted a fallen hero on his final journey. One of the most powerful moments was at the Withamsville Fire Station. The firehouse had all of their ambulances and fire engines displaying their emergency lights. One of the ladder trucks extended the ladder above the funeral route and displayed a massive American flag for the procession to pass.
All of these were displays of support for a family struggling with loss. They also were displays of a legacy Daniel left behind. They were displays of a life lives in service and sacrifice for our country. Memorial Day is about remembering both service and sacrifice. It is about remembering the legacy of those who have gone before us.
Life is composed of a series of moments. Some of those moments are happy and some sad. Some moments are ones to cherish and remember, while others are forgotten. Some moments are exhilarating and others just plain terrifying. There will be moments of peace and moments of pain. Life is nothing more and nothing less than the moments we experience.
These moments are the foundation of the legacy that we build. We either build a legacy of self or a legacy of service. The reality that everyone needs to remember is that we live our lives between the numbers. Every moment of your life rests between two numbers. The first number you already know – it’s the date you were born; the day that you entered this earthly life. The second date is a mystery to you and to everyone. The second date is the day you leave this earth and enter eternity. These two dates act like book ends on the legacy we leave in life. Every day we either make deposits into our legacy or we make withdrawals from our legacy.
What kind of legacy are you leaving behind? What kind of spiritual legacy is going to echo through eternity from your life?
1 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. 2 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. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3
How do we develop a great spiritual legacy?
1. Remember those who have finished the race
The author of Hebrews calls us to remember the fact that we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. The write opens this passage with the word therefore and intentionally means to refer back to the previous statements on the heroes of the faith in chapter 11. Think about it like this we are meant to remember those who would inspire us to live more fully for Christ.
• Abel - The one who brought the appropriate sacrifice to God
• Enoch - The man who walked so close to God that he just went to heaven without dying
• Noah - The builder of the ark and the survivor of the flood
• Abraham - The one who was known for following God by faith
• Jacob - God changed his name to Israel and become the source of the 12 tribes
• Moses - The one who led God’s people out of Egyptian captivity
• David - The killer of Goliath and the greatest king of all Israel’s history
2. Remember to stay in the race
The author compares our life for Christ to a competitive race. The eyes of heaven are upon us. We have been called to run a good race. Give our best to the life that we live for Christ.
What is holding you back from serving Jesus 100%? What is weighing you down?
Disturbances: Things that slow us down in running our race for Christ
Distractions: Things that misdirect us and send us off course
We are called to throw off those hindrances. The hindrances that are spoken of here were packs, heavy clothing or cloaks that might slow the runner down. Throw off means to lighten a load, remove a burden or to cast away something. The writer calls for believers to get rid of anything that might hold them back from serving Christ more faithfully. Get rid of anything that might keep them from walking with Christ more closely.
3. Remember the example of Jesus
Keep your focus on Christ
One of the greatest problems in churches today is that too many people take their focus off of Jesus and place it where it does not belong. Jesus is the beginning of our faith because He is the author. Faith must start with Jesus because He is the right foundation, the only foundation.
We get focused on possessions - we have blessings from God that can get in the way of our walk with Him
We get focused on problems - we have hardships that have to be faced
We get focused on opinions
We get focused on pride
We get focused on our desires
Until we get our focus where it needs to be, we will never have a deep relationship with Christ. We will continually get ourselves off course and off track. The truth is that once you place Jesus at the center of your life, everything else falls into place.
Keep your focus on the cross
Just as we remember the sacrifices of those who have valiantly served our nation, we too should remember the sacrifices of Jesus to redeem the church. Jesus endured the suffering of the cross and did so willingly for you and I. I think it is worthy of remembering because it is through the shed blood of Jesus that we gain the forgiveness of sins.
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. 1 Peter 2:24
When you fix your eyes on the cross of Christ the things of the world no longer seem so significant because the cross forces us to forget ourselves and focus on Jesus. When this happens, reaching a lost world, will become one of the chief goals of your personal life and the life of the church.
Legacy – Nichole Nordeman
I want to leave a legacy How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love? Did I point to You enough
To make a mark on things? I want to leave an offering
A child of mercy and grace who blessed your name unapologetically
And leave that kind of legacy
This morning as we prepare for the celebration of Memorial Day, it seems fitting that we would remember the service and the sacrifice of Jesus.