Delivered May 29, 2016
Joke – A church had a bulletin board decorated with pictures of soldiers who had been killed in service to their country. The board was trimmed in red, white and blue and had little flags on it. A little boy was looking up at the board when the pastor came up. He asked the little boy how he liked the board. The boy asked what it was about. The pastor explained that the pictures were the men from their church who had died in the service. The little boy said, “The morning service or the evening service?”
2 Timothy 2:1-4
2 You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 3 You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4 No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.
Good morning, My name is Richard Santos, I am the pastor for the Filipino Mission Church here at First Baptist Church. I was born in 1972, at Manila Philippines. My sisters and i, came to America when i was about 10, or 11 years old? A few years after that we became American citizens. I grew up here in Reno. Went to school here, grew up here. A couple of times i left Reno to try, to be on my own. Lived in California for 2 years, that didn’t work out, came back to Reno. Tried living in Chicago for about 6 years, because my ex girlfriend lived there, she is now my wife. Moved back here around the year 2000. Each and everytime i leave Reno, i always tell myself that i would never come back. But of course, Our God had other plans. This is where He wants us to be.
Growing up i never really realized how important this day truly is ( Memorial Day ) Back then it was just a reason to get together, have a party, barbeque, three day weekend, for some, and so on...
On May 30th in America, we observe a day called “Memorial Day.” It is marked by parades, speeches; flags and flowers are placed on the graves of many servicemen. It was first observed on May 30, 1868, for the purpose of decorating the graves of the Civil War Dead. Now, it remembers all of those who died in the wars our nation has fought.
It has become an effective way of helping us remember those who had made it possible for us to be where we are and have what we have today -- those who paid the supreme sacrifice. Memorial Day is actually a day of remembrance...Remember the men and women of our American military who laid down their lives for the cause of freedom in our land. Remember if it were not for our courageous soldiers, we wouldn’t have the freedom we enjoy today in America. The men and women who had given their lives for America in the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force are the heroes of today…
In fact, every American ought to recognize this day as out of their patriotic duty to this country and honor those who spilled their blood to make America what it is today...free, strong, and a nation worth fighting for.
Because of the soldiers who have died for this country, we have the liberty to preach Gods words freely. We have the right to live at peace in our own homes...we have the rights to pursue peace, and happiness. And thank God for each and every one of them!
As we prepare to enter into a day to remember those who have died for liberty, It is fitting that we remember the One who died to set us free from spiritual tyranny. Jesus fought the battle to set sinners free. Jesus alone did that for you and I. Everyday to a Christian should be a day to remember why, he or she lives and breathes. Being thankful to God for sending His One and only Son to die in our place, it is not a one time thing...giving thanks, giving praise, it should be a daily thing, its an act of worship. Giving honor to our Savior, our Lord, our King.
Memorial Day...a day to remember those who have died for our freedom that we are still able to assemble here today. A freedom given that we can still preach “Jesus and Him crucified”. We are still free to do so...for how much longer? That is in Gods hands. While we honor and remember our heroes for protecting our liberties, which includes our religious freedom, we also need to follow in their footsteps and stand for what we believe in... For the Christian faith, that is the battle that we face now.
Scripture is filled with men and women, who fought the good fight. Ordinary people, just like you and i, who stood firm till the end. The heroes that we are remembering today, are the same...ordinary people just like you and I, with one thing in common. We fight for what we believe in, they are faithful, obedience, and Just like Jesus, they made the sacrifice.
34 When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 35 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.
A good soldier for Christ is the same as those who we are remembering today, “an obedient follower”. No one can be a good leader who cannot first be a good follower. In the military there is almost always someone in rank above you, whose orders you must follow. Following Jesus is no option, it is a command. In the military refusal to obey an order is not allowed. Court martial will follow; yet we take obedience to God so very lightly in our daily lives. Instead of a court marshal, we get disciplined.
He Is A Fighter. He is trained and taught to be aggressive when necessary. He will not cower or retreat in the face of the enemy. He will defend his own honor and that of his country. The Bible tells us to “Fight the good fight of faith” 1Tim. 6:12. “ Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses”. The verb “fight” in the Greek N.T. is present tense (suggesting not letting up) and is in the imperative mode (which means it is a command and not a suggestion). One who never gives up, never quits.
He Is Familiar. First, he is familiar with the strategy of the enemy,
2 Cor 2:11, “ in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes”.
Secondly, he is familiar with the skills concerning his weaponry. Eph.6:10-18. “10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand”.
Thirdly, he is familiar with the shadows of his friends,
Heb 10:25 “25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching”. A good soldier is not only looking out for himself, but also for his neighbor–there is a mutual need for being close to other soldiers as they fight the enemy.
He Is Faithful. He remains true even when he must “endure hardness” as a good soldier of Jesus Christ,
2 Tim.2:3 “You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” That expression means, “to take one’s share of rough treatment; to suffer or endure affliction together.” It actually means to “suffer hardship in company with”, the good soldier is always true and loyal.
The characteristics of Christ is seen and heard, with those whom we are remembering today. A fighter, who is faithful to the end. Called for a purpose, sacrificed for our freedom. Same characters of our brothers and sisters before us...who also made the sacrifice that we are able to know our Savior, and tell the world about what they had done, and how they lived their lives in obedience to our Lord.
Our Lord Jesus, our brothers and sisters, the heroes we are remembering today. All fought the good fight, they all died unselfishly for our freedom. Each and every one of them, just so...we can live!
12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.
When we think of the liberties that we Americans enjoy we must remember that these blessings came to us at the expense of the blood and sacrifice of the brave men and women who have given their lives for these freedoms we enjoy.
The well worn saying is still true..."Freedom is never free." Our liberty cost greatly, and many paid the ultimate sacrifice.
Today America is a land throughout its history that has been undeniably blessed by God. While many enemies that have come against us, God has been with us, and each time allowed our nation’s preservation. America must remain free. The liberty of our land is a gift of God, not only for our hope, but for the hope of the free world. Every citizen should love and embrace that message of liberty for it has been written in blood.
That is why it is so difficult to understand why some refuse to believe in the message of Gospel. And the message of the Gospel is that Jesus Christ offers to all who will come to Him the greatest liberty possible.
It was Christ who gave His life, and shed his blood that we might win the war over sin and gain our true Freedom. When the Bible tells us, "Without the shedding of Blood there is no remission for sins" it speaks to us of Christ’s Death on the Cross and the eternal battle that He fought and won by His own blood to purchased our soul’s salvation.
The heroes that we are remembering today, did the same exact thing. They shed blood so that we can enjoy this life, this freedom that we have as Americans. It would be incomprehensible for an American to say concerning one of our soldiers who died for our freedom: "I cannot appreciate what he did for me; I reject the liberty for which he died so that I might possess."
But people do that to Christ. He who knew no sin, bore our sin, gave His life, His blood that we might be free. And many, by word and deed say to Him, "I don’t believe in you, I reject what you did for me." How can we escape if we neglect so great a Salvation?
As we remember our men and women who shed blood for our freedom, know that...they are the reason why we live in liberty, why we enjoy this life now.
Our Savior Jesus shed blood, to free us from the bondage of sin. Jesus, who gave us this new life that will last in eternity. Do we understand the liberty that Christ purchased for you and I? ( we should )
Do we see how valuable our lives are, and how we should not take each day for granted. Our very existence as a nation was fought in blood. And our eternal salvation, also purchased by His blood, ( Jesus )
Tomorrow, on Memorial Day, we honor the sacrifices of brave men and women. Why would they pay such a valuable price? Because they were purchasing something far more valuable than life itself - liberty!
That is what sacrifice does - it gives up something valuable to gain something even more valuable!
Lastly: I will end with this poem.... “Freedom Isn’t Free”
I watched the flag pass by one day.
It fluttered in the breeze A young Marine saluted it, and then
He stood at ease. I looked at him in uniform
So young, so tall, so proud With hair cut square and eyes alert
He’d stand out in any crowd.
I thought, how many men like him Had fallen through the years?
How many died on foreign soil? How many mothers’ tears?
How many Pilots’ planes shot down? How many foxholes were soldiers’ graves?
No, Freedom is not free.
I heard the sound of taps one night, When everything was still.
I listened to the bugler play And felt a sudden chill.
I wondered just how many times That taps had meant "Amen"
When a flag had draped a coffin of a brother or a friend.
I thought of all the children, Of the mothers and the wives,
Of fathers, sons and husbands With interrupted lives.
I thought about a graveyard at the bottom of the sea
Of unmarked graves in Arlington. No, Freedom isn’t free!!
This is the same truth we celebrate on Memorial Day, All are welcome here in this land of democracy because a great price has been paid!! Many men and women gave unselfishly that we might live in a free country where you are truly free!! Jesus offers us a freedom beyond freedom. It too came at a great price, the greatest price ever paid, one who knew no sin died on behalf of all sinners! What do you remember today? Will you remember those that died so we might live? Will you also remember the Gospel? The truth that Jesus paid it all that we might live not only here and now, but for eternity??
Pastor Richard Santos
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