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Summary: Memorial Day message focusing on those who have invested in our lives for Christ.

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Remember Those Who Have

Gone Before Us

Hebrews 12:1-2

May 25, 2008

NOTE: THE ME/WE/GOD/YOU/WE FORMAT USED IN MY MESSAGES IS BORROWED FROM ANDY STANLEY’S BOOK, "COMMUNICATING FOR A CHANGE."

Introduction

I got ahead of myself in my preaching schedule. I had thought I was going to preach about what Jesus did and taught at the temple after His triumphal entry.

But then I remembered that I wanted to address the Memorial Day holiday, at least in a way that helps us honor all who have gone before us.

Anybody here know what Memorial Day used to be called? Remembrance Day. And it was initially a time to remember those who have fallen in combat fighting for our country.

It’s evolved to become a general holiday meant to honor all those who have passed away, and I think that’s a good thing.

Not to take away from remembering those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country, but I think it’s fine to think about all those who have preceded us into eternity.

I’m taking a bit of a different tack in approaching this, and I want to focus especially on those who have had an impact on our lives in living for Christ.

We: If you’re a believer in Jesus, I can guarantee that someone in your life had something to do with that.

It’s a very rare circumstance where someone comes to Christ on their own.

In almost every case, someone had an influence on the person in any number of ways.

And if they have gone on to be with the Lord already, then my hope is that this message will give you some ideas as to how to honor the work they’ve done in your life.

And if they’re still alive, then this might give you some ways to honor them while they can still see it.

God: Our passage today is one of the more familiar passages you’ll come across nowadays, and there have been any number of messages given based on it.

It’s one of those “classic” passages, kinda like John 3:16, although this one deals more with living for Christ after one puts their faith in Him. Let’s take a look at it.

Hebrews 12:1-2 (p. 852) –

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.

There is a question as to just what is meant by this great cloud of witnesses.

The two main thoughts among the commentators are that it could mean that it refers to those who have witnessed to the faith – in other words, those who have lived and testified about it while on earth, or it refers to something like a stadium full of spectators watching the believers of today.

It may even be both ideas, kind of like a relay race where those who have finished their course and handed over their baton are watching and encouraging those behind them. (Expositor’s Bible Commentary)

But there really is no denying the imagery here of running a race in the presence of those who have gone before us.

And I kinda like that imagery. It’s easy for us to imagine in our minds as we talk about those who have gone before us.

Today I’d like to spend some time discussing some of who make up this cloud of witnesses, and then talk about how we can honor their legacy in our own lives.

The cloud of witnesses might include:

> Those who have given their lives for our country.

Many of them, anyway.

This isn’t the main intent of the passage, but the fact of the matter is that we can meet here today and worship because others gave their lives for our freedom.

Brave men and women laid down their lives so you and I can worship Christ as we see fit, without the threat of arrest, imprisonment, death, or torture.

Many of these people were believers and followers of Jesus when they went to serve and died following Christ.

And some who died for that freedom didn’t even necessarily agree with our beliefs in Christ and the Scripture.

It’s important that we honor their memory as well as those who did share our bond in Christ.

Memorial Day started out as a specific holiday of remembrance for those who have died defending our country, and I think it would be right for us to continue to remember their sacrifice – not only during the Memorial Day weekend, but throughout the year.

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