Surrender: Freedom isn’t Free! In I Chronicles 5:20 we read these words, “They were helped in fighting them, and God handed the Hagrites and all their allies over to them, because they cried out to him during the battle. He answered their prayers, because they trusted in him.”
This is just one of the many battle stories recorded in the Bible.
Memorial Day is a day for remembering those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice and given their lives in the service of their country. Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day because it was a time set aside to honor the nation's Civil War dead by decorating their graves. It was first widely observed on May 30,1868, to commemorate the sacrifices of Civil War soldiers, by proclamation of General John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of former sailors and soldiers. On May 5, 1868, Logan declared in General Order No. 11 that:
The 30th of May 1868 is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.
During the first celebration of Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, after which 5,000 participants helped to decorate the graves of the more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried in the cemetery.
Today, Memorial Day is celebrated at Arlington National Cemetery with a ceremony in which a small American flag is placed on each grave. Also, it is customary for the president or vice-president to give a speech honoring the contributions of the dead and lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. About 5,000 people attend the ceremony annually. Some of you already this weekend have been to an activity that honored those who gave their lives.
You can give your lives in many ways really. There are many who have served in wars of the past who didn’t give their lives but in some real way they gave a piece of themselves that they will never get back.
The word memorial means: that which preserves the memory of something; any note or hint to assist the memory.
Communion is a memorial service. We remember symbolically the shed blood and broken body of our Lord.
Memorial Day is an American patriotic day. A day to remember. Abraham Lincoln spoke from his heart and the back of an envelope on November 19, 1863.
“The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us, the living, rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us, that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave their last full measure of devotion; that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that the government of the people and by the people shall not perish from the earth.”
We admire today those who have given their lives that we might enjoy the freedoms that we experience on a daily basis.
There are two kinds of heroes or patriots that we should consider this morning. A patriot is a person who loves his country and zealously supports and defends it and its interest.
The two kinds of patriots that we will consider today are:
1. National 2. Spiritual
Let’s take them in that order.
1. National patriotism
We are a part of a nation rich in history. We are a nation that remembers and memorializes those who engaged in the struggle for freedom. We remember those early fathers of our country because they were not like so many of the politicians of today who comfortably sit in their white shirts and ties running the nations affairs from comfortable offices, supported by good salaries, hidden agenda’s and special interest groups.
I remember today those men and women who knew what it was to sacrifice. They not only ran the country but they were not above being involved in the military conflict if need be to protect our rights.
It is right and correct that we pause on this weekend and remember. We remember fathers, mothers, children, sisters and brothers who unselfishly laid down their lives in the duty of this nation.
There are some who have conscientiously chosen to not participate in war. They have objected to war of any kind but even they must or should pause today with respect and gratitude for those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
Many are today giving their lives for our freedom. Don’t for a minute think that the current war being waged is not about fighting terror. It may have not started that way but we are engaging the enemy terrorists who hate America and Americans. I hope you pray for those who are serving around the world everyday.
John Hancock: March 5, 1774, delivered an oration about the Boston Massacre. He defined the meaning of true patriotism.
“Patriotism is ever united with humanity and compassion. This noble affection which impels us to sacrifice everything dear, even life itself, to our country involves in it a common sympathy and tenderness for every citizen, and must ever have a particular feeling for one who suffers in a public cause.”
There is no better description of a patriot than Patrick Henry who delivered the his famous speech on March 23, 1775. Here is just a portion of those words:
“They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot?
Sir, we are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. The millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable--and let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come.
It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace-- but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”That is the attitude and the spirit of a national patriot.
2. Spiritual Patriotism
On this Memorial Day weekend I am asking you to pause and remember not only those who have given their lives for our country but today we remember those who have given their lives for their faith.
Again they would be too numerous to mention but let me give you a few to think about. We honor the memory of those who died in spiritual warfare.
History records that they were burned, hung, dipped in hot oil, beheaded, fed to hungry lions, hung on crosses and tortured in a hundred other ways. Christians have died in prison, and even today hundreds of thousands of Christians are tortured and killed for their faith. Eleven out of the twelve disciples who followed Jesus were killed for their faith.
In A.D. 162 Polycarp, the Bishop of Smyrna, fed the soldiers who came for him, then asked for an hour to pray and prayed with such fervency that his captors repented that they had been instrumental in taking him prisoner. The proconsul urged him to denounce his faith in Christ and gain his release. Tradition has been handed down that Polycarp’s response was, “Eighty and six years have I served Him, and He has never once wronged me; how then shall I blaspheme my King who has saved me?”He was then tied to a stake and burned.
Two years ago it was the Burnham’s who were taken hostage by Muslim rebels in the Philippines. A year later Martin Burnham was killed. The bottom line is what do you believe in so strongly that you would die for it?
Math. 10:28 “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
I want to talk with you for a few moments today from my heart. I was reading the other day in Matthew. 19 and I came across these words:
“I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
Like never before those words were both startling and amazing.
I have always read this verse and looked around for someone wealthy and felt sorry for them. How hard it must be on them.
Everyone in this room is wealthy compared to the rest of the world. There is not a person in this room that is not rich compared to the level of poverty around the world. Even if you don’t have a job the government will see to it that you live above the world poverty level.
We have become a nation of softness and leisure. As Christians we have bought right into this American mindset. I think we genuinely believe that the easier life is the better we are. In fact the bible teaches just the opposite.
There are thousands of people this morning running to churches where someone will promise them that they will never be sick and they can have all the wealth they can have the faith to posses. Where is that in the Bible?
I am calling you out this morning. I am calling us out today. May God help us to be more than little Christian consumers who run around seeing how much spiritual food we can consume every Sunday. Christians today are too often like a swarm of locusts looking for a place to consume.
Our battle cry has become give me, give me, give me.
Surely there is more to Christ following than that!
The bottom line is that all around the world Christianity is growing. In every world area except America. Wherever the church is being persecuted and it costs something to be a Christ follower Christianity is growing.
David Brainerd was expelled from Yale for being too religious. He was influenced by Jonathan Edwards and went out as the first missionary to the Indians in this country. He started in 1742 and just five years later he came home wracked with tuberculosis and fevered. He died at the age of 29 after just five years of ministry. What a waste you might be tempted to think.
I would encourage you to step back and think about that for a minute. Wouldn’t it be great if you believed in Christ so much that you would surrender your life totally to Him. Wouldn’t it be incredible to believe so strongly in the message of Jesus Christ that you were called to give up your life that others might live?
There is no greater love than a man who would lay down his life for another. Every great Christian in history has faced tremendous challenges and obstacles.
Do you know what the sailors on the Mayflower called that little band of Christian pilgrims? Puke stockings. It wasn’t a very flattering term but they called it the way they saw it. The pilgrims were always hanging over the railing from seasickness. I tell you today, God is looking for a brand of Christian that will be a patriot. A person that will so surrender their lives to God that when a little storm brews in their life they won’t run for the railing.
Too often we have adapted a pale, pathetic, powerless form of Christianity that most people wouldn’t cross the street to bother with.
We are in a battle. We have been charged with the gospel of Christ. We have been instructed to take it to the streets.
Am I A Soldier Of The Cross?
1. Am I a soldier of the cross? A foll'wer of the Lamb? And shall I fear to own His cause Or blush to speak His name?
2. Must I be carried to the skies On flow'ry beds of ease, While others fought to win the prize And sailed thru bloody seas?
3. Are there no foes for me to face? Must I not stem the flood? Is this vile world a friend to grace, To help me on to God?
4. Sure I must fight if I would reign - Increase my courage, Lord! I'll bear the toil, endure the pain, Supported by Thy Word.
I have been talking today about surrender. These flags that are on the platform are all overshadowed by a big white flag. If you commit to dying for a cause the real flag you are fighting under is a white one. You live a surrendered life to the cause. You believe in it so much that you would die for it.
Take my life song
Response: We invite you to come forward and pick up your own little white flag as a response to this message. Purpose in your heart to love God so much you would be willing to die for Him.