In Memory

Memorial Day weekend is often considered the opening weekend of summer. But beyond the picnics and parades and family gatherings, lies a deeper meaning of an important day of remembrance.Memorial Day is an official federal holiday established in 1971 to remember the men and women of the armed forces who lost their lives while serving their country. The holiday was initially called “Decoration Day” and was instituted after the Civil War to commemorate both union and confederate soldiers who gave their lives. General John A. Logan designated a day for decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country. For years, Decoration Day (later called Memorial Day) traditions have included parades, decorating the graves of the fallen with American flags and a moment of silent remembrance at 3:00 p.m. local time—a way of putting “the memorial back in Memorial Day.” G. K. Chesterton eloquently reminded us of the choice our fallen heroes had to make—a choice that ultimately defined their true character: “Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of readiness to die.”

     Memory is a gift from God. Sometimes we struggle because of recollection of traumatic events, and sometimes—especially as we grow older—we struggle with a faltering memory, but God has given us a memory on purpose because there are some things in the past that if we were to forget them, we would be impoverished in the present and the future. Obviously on a day like today, remembering those who have paid the price—the price that freedom costs. Thousands upon thousands of households have received that telegram or phone call or have had that knock on the door and are told that a loved one would not be coming home for they had made the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of our country. It is important for us to remember the loss and the grief that comes when we try to secure freedom not only here in America, but around the world. When we don’t remember, it’s as if we are taking for granted the sacrifices that so many have paid for our benefit.
     Jesus understood this principle. Why do we have the Lord’s Table? Why do we celebrate communion and break the bread and drink the cup? Jesus said, “…do this in remembrance of Me” (I Cor. 11:24).  He knew that one of Satan’s strongest attacks on us is to get us to forget what Christ has done for us because it is the remembrance of what Christ has done for us that motivates us to love Him and serve Him. So, this whole pattern of remembering what happened yesterday for the importance of what needs to happen today is rooted in our own relationship with Jesus Christ. And hopefully remembering is not relegated to just one day, Memorial Day, but is a way of life for us as we live in thankfulness for the sacrifice that has been paid—not only for our national freedoms, but for our freedom from sin through the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ, who died in our place, bearing the penalty for our sins.
     A price has to be paid for freedom. God created us to be free, but Satan came along and sabotaged that with the tyranny of sin and placed us in bondage and robbed us of freedom. Jesus Christ came, God in the flesh (Jn. 1:14), made the ultimate sacrifice, that we might, through Him, be set free. Peter wrote: “knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ” (I Pet. 1: 18,19). By acknowledging our own sinfulness and believing that Jesus bore the penalty for those sins on the cross, giving His life on our behalf, was buried and rose again, we are set free from bondage to sin, self and Satan. Jesus said, “If therefore the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed” (Jn. 8:36). 
     One of the unique qualities of the United States of America has been its emphasis upon, and diligence to fight for freedom, not only for its citizens but for the citizens of other nations as well. That principle of freedom stems from the Christian roots of this great country. It is Christ alone who can provide true freedom, but also instills in us as believers, such a strong desire for freedom that we are willing to fight for it for ourselves and others. Unfortunately, many of the freedoms we have experienced because of the sacrifice of our courageous soldiers, we are now seeing undermined because we are failing to remember why we have them. We are turning our back on the only One who can provide true freedom. Freedom has “fences.” Those fences are the principles and commands of God’s Word. He who made us, knows what will keep us free and that is by living in alignment with His purpose for our lives. As we stray from following His Word, we find ourselves back under the bondage to sin, self and Satan. We have failed to heed the warning given by the Apostle Paul: “For you were called to freedom brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another” (Gal. 5:13). He is writing to Christians but the principle applies to nations as well and I’m afraid we are turning our freedom into an opportunity for the old sinful flesh to exert itself, making decisions for our nation which fly in the face of God. We are—and will—reap the consequences (Gal. 6:7,8).
     So, today, in addition to pausing to remember those who have sacrificed their lives on behalf of our nation, don’t forget to remember the One, who as the  Creator of the universe, came to earth to make the ultimate sacrifice to provide us with freedom. “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (II Cor. 9:15).
                    Forever His,
                              Pastor Dave

About Pastor Dave

Until my retirement 2 years ago, I pastored an independent Bible church in Northwest Montana for nearly 38 years. During that time I also helped establish a Christian school, and a Bible Camp. I am married and have children and grandchildren. The Wisdom of the Week devotional is an outgrowth of my desire to share what God is doing in my life and in our world, and to challenge you to be a part.
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