Summary: As we look forward to celebrating Memorial Day, let’s not only remember those who have died to protect our freedom, but also let’s remember Jesus Christ who gave His life to give us lasting freedom from sin and death. Today’s Message looks at what’s next.
Tomorrow is Memorial Day. Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering and giving honor to those who died while serving in our country’s armed forces.
It all began after the Civil War as the graves of soldiers were decorated with flowers along with prayers being recited. But it wasn’t until 1967 that the day was officially known as Memorial Day, and in 1968 the traditional day of May 30th changed to the last Monday in May.
Further, it is during this time that we see the American Legion selling silk poppies outside many of our stores. In 1920 the American Legion adopted the silk poppy as their official symbol of remembrance. This was inspired by the poem, “Flanders Fields,” and its opening lines referring to the fields of poppies that grew among the soldier’s graves outside Flanders, Belgium, where rests 368 American soldiers who died liberating Belgium in World War I.
Also, on Memorial Day the American flag is lowered to half-mast in this special ceremony to remember the over one million men and women who gave their lives for the freedoms we enjoy.
And so, Memorial Day isn’t the official start of summer, nor is it about a weekend where we get three days off. It is about remembering those who died for our freedom and the victories they won.
Today, what I’d like to take a look at is that now that the victory is won, where do we go from here, that is, “What’s Next?”
And what I am referring to is not the freedoms that have been won for our nation through the selfless sacrifice of those men and women who fought so that we can be free, but rather what’s next and where do we go from here now that the victory for our eternal lives has been won at the cross of Calvary, that is when Jesus bought our freedom with His life, which is a freedom that can never be taken away, which is the freedom over sin and death.
Why is this important? Well, it’s because we get so caught up with the preparations and the training in getting ready to cross over our Jordan’s, that is, those barriers that block our moving into God’s purposes, plans, and promises that everything afterwards these seem anti-Climatic. In other words, we tend to lose our focus. So, how are we to maintain our intensity and our purpose and continue moving forward once our goal has been achieved?
Let me just say that the ugly and unfortunate truth is that far too many defeats occur immediately following great victories, mostly because we don’t know what to do next.
Take Elijah as an example. After two of the greatest moves of God and victories achieved when Elijah prayed and fire came down from heaven and consumed the sacrifice he offered, and then how he prayed, and rain came down after three long years of famine and drought. But at the first threat made by Queen Jezebel, Elijah goes high tailing it into the wilderness with one wish that he would just die.
So, to gain the victory and then continue moving forward in God’s will and ways so that we can build upon these victories, what are we to do, or what’s next.
Now, to answer this question, I’d like for us to turn to the book of Joshua the fourth chapter and look at what the Jews did once they gained the victory by crossing the Jordan River on dry ground and finally entering into the Promised Land, a land that took them over 40 years of wilderness wandering to possess. How did they enter, what did they do, and how were they to maintain the momentum and move forward in this great victory that God provided for them?
There are actually two things that we see in chapter 4 that I would like to share with you this morning as to the next steps.
Set Up A Memorial
It all starts with setting up a memorial to remember. We see this in Joshua 4:1-7
“And it came to pass, when all the people had completely crossed over the Jordan, that the Lord spoke to Joshua, saying: ‘Take for yourselves twelve men from the people, one man from every tribe, and command them, saying, ‘Take for yourselves twelve stones from here, out of the midst of the Jordan, from the place where the priests’ feet stood firm. You shall carry them over with you and leave them in the lodging place where you lodge tonight.’ Then Joshua called the twelve men whom he had appointed from the children of Israel, one man from every tribe; and Joshua said to them: ‘Cross over before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of the Jordan, and each one of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, that this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ Then you shall answer them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off.’ And these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever.” (Joshua 4:1-7 NKJV)