Summary: By faith, do what others cannot do and live a life pleasing to God: fear God more than you fear anybody else; forsake whatever this world has to offer; and follow the Lord to victory in your own life.
On Memorial Day, our thoughts often turn to those who have passed away, especially to those who gave their lives serving our country. They risked everything so we could have the freedoms we enjoy today. If you served in the military at any time, would you please stand, so we can express our appreciation?
In one little Midwestern town, Miss Jones had the distinction of being the oldest resident in town. So when she died, the editor of the local paper wanted to print a little article remembering this dear old lady, except he couldn’t think of anything to say when he sat down to write the article. Miss Jones had never done anything terribly wrong. She had never spent a night in jail or had ever been drunk. On the other hand, she had never done anything significant.
With this still on his mind, the editor went down to the local café, and there, ran into the local funeral director. He too was having the same trouble. He wanted to put something on Miss Jones’ tombstone besides “Miss Nancy Jones, born such-and-such a date and died such-and-such a date,” but he couldn’t think of anything to write either.
The editor decided to go back to his office and assign the job of writing up a small article for both the paper and the tombstone to the first reporter he saw. When he got to the office, he ran into the sports editor, who got the assignment. So somewhere in some little community in the Midwest there is a tombstone which reads:
Here lie the bones of Nancy Jones,
For her life held no terrors.
She lived an old maid. She died an old maid.
No hits, no runs, no errors. (C. C. Mitchell, Let’s Live!)
I’m afraid to say, “That’s the way many Christians live their lives.” They’ve never done anything terribly wrong, but they never accomplish anything significant for the Lord.
Peter Marshal, former Chaplain of the United States Senate, put it this way some time ago: He said, “Christians [today] are like deep-sea divers encased in suits designed for many fathoms deep, marching bravely forth to pull plugs out of bathtubs.”
Many of us are afraid to take risks. Many of us are afraid to get into deep water. And yet we have a faith which equips us for deep water. We have a faith which encourages us to take great risks and to attempt great things for God.
If you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me on this Memorial Day weekend, to a passage which memorializes a man who took great risks for God. That passage is found in Hebrews 11, Hebrews 11, where we read about Moses, and the kind of risks his kind of faith encourages us to take.
Hebrews 11:23 By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. (NIV)
Pharaoh had decreed that every new-born Hebrew boy be thrown into the river. Yet, when Moses was born, his parents refused to do it. They disobeyed the king’s edict, hiding baby Moses for three months. That’s because they feared God more than any man. They respected the Lord, and it gave them the courage to do what was right even if it meant certain death.
That’s what faith is all about, my friends, and by faith we can do the same thing. By faith, we can be bold to obey God even if others don’t like it.
Peter Cartwright was a 19th Century circuit-riding, Methodist preacher, who was not afraid to tell it like it is. On one particular Sunday, before the service, he was told, “President Andrew Jackson in here; be careful what you say.”
So when Cartwright stood to preach he said, “I understand that Andrew Jackson is here. I have been requested to be guarded in my remarks. Andrew Jackson will go to hell if he doesn’t repent.”
The congregation was shocked and wondered how the president would respond. After the service, President Jackson shook hands with Peter Cartwright and said, “Sir, if I had a regiment of men like you, I could whip the world.” (Leadership, Winter 1991, p.49)
You see, Peter Cartwright feared God more than he feared any man. In fact, it was his fear of God that gave him the courage to stand up to any man, even those in positions of great power. And that’s what our faith in Christ does for us. It gives us the courage to obey God even when others might be offended.
So dear believing friend, put your faith to work and…
FEAR GOD MORE THAN YOU FEAR ANYBODY ELSE.
By faith, be bold to obey God despite what your friends might say. By faith, have the courage to do what’s right even if the whole world is doing what’s wrong. Take a risk, and take a stand for Christ in the way you live your life day in and day out.