Tomorrow, we celebrate Memorial Day. This is a day when we remember and honor those who gave their lives for our great nation. They gave themselves to gain and ensure the peace, safety, and freedom that we have the privilege to enjoy everyday.
Right now, we’re going to take a moment of silence to remember their sacrifices and then to pray for their families.
This morning, we’re continuing our message series entitled “re:THINK”. In this series, we’ll be dealing with the issue of repentance.
Repentance is a churchy word that’s been given a bad reputation by critical and judgmental people and churches. However, repentance is necessary and really quite encouraging. Repentance is all about re:THINKING and repurposing our lives in order to live them in complete freedom and to their fullest potential!
So far, we learned about what repentance actually is, what our response should be whenever we find out that we need to re:THINK our perspective, purpose, or behavior (whenever we need to repent), as well as a root issue of many sins in our life – the fact that we were created to worship the Creator, not the creation.
This week, in light of Memorial Day, we will be challenged to re:THINK yet another purpose of our life. We’ll be challenged to remember.
The lives that we live reach far beyond ourselves. We have such a huge and significant impact on others! Our lives are connected to so many others and those other lives are also connected to so many others. If we could see those connections, it would appear to be something like a huge ball of chainmail armor.
As Christians, it is important for us to remember those behind us and the sacrifices that they made so that we could become aware of the good news of God’s salvation. Countless men and women gave their lives, truly being living sacrifices so that God’s love could pour through them.
Think about the people in your own life who modeled and displayed Biblical living to you and who boldly shared with you God’s truth. Those spiritual fathers and mothers who helped to train, equip, and challenge you to fulfill the purposes for which God created you for. Consider their way of life, the sacrifices that they made, and the lives that they reached.
Now, we’ve been instructed many times throughout scripture to remember the things that God has done in the past. However, we also much remember the purpose that God has in us remembering. The testimonies of what God has done in the past are not simply so that fond memories of Him can be carried on throughout the generations. God’s purpose is that the testimonies of what God has previously done changes our lives in the present! Testimonies build our faith and change our present and future. This, in turn, gives us a new and fresh testimony that gives glory to God that we can share with others!
10 “Now have come the salvation and the power
and the kingdom of our God,
and the authority of his Messiah.
For the accuser of our brothers and sisters,
who accuses them before our God day and night,
has been hurled down.
11 They triumphed over him
by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony;
they did not love their lives so much
as to shrink from death.
12 Therefore rejoice, you heavens
and you who dwell in them!
But woe to the earth and the sea,
because the devil has gone down to you!
He is filled with fury,
because he knows that his time is short.”
How do Christians triumph over the devil? By the blood of the Lamb (Jesus) and the word of our testimony. That is why God calls us to remember and to speak out our own, personal testimonies. God’s desire is for us, personally, to have powerful testimonies as He works in and through our lives. It’s good to quote scripture and even to share other people’s testimonies. However, if we don’t have ongoing, firsthand testimonies to share about what God can do with a life, then we may have grown lukewarm and begun to drift away from Him. This is a flashing warning light in our lives that there are things in our life that we need to repent or re:THINK some things!
In the midst of this reality, there is an amazing thing that occurs. The testimonies that God gives us now forges a link from the past to the future. This is an awesome privilege, but also a huge responsibility. Those around us presently and those growing up in the next generation depend on us!
As we learned last week, we were created to worship. If we don’t worship the Creator, we will worship the creation. If our generation doesn’t worship the Creator and teach the next generation to do the same, in a single generation, all of the awesome things that God has done in our generation and generations previous to us can be forgotten. In fact, we’re already seeing the decay eroding away the current generation because of this.
Most of us are well aware of the awesome things that God did in order to deliver His people from Egypt so that they could worship Him. Miracle after miracle left God’s people in awe of Him as they were lead from bondage into freedom and through the desert land into their promised land. As Moses’ generation passed, Joshua’s generation rose up and entered into their promised land defeating one enemy after the next. They overcame and entered into the rest and the promised blessings of God. However, in their blessed and freed state, they slacked off and neglected their responsibility to train up the next generation. The result is recorded here:
6 After Joshua had dismissed the Israelites, they went to take possession of the land, each to their own inheritance. 7 The people served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had seen all the great things the Lord had done for Israel.
8 Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of a hundred and ten. 9 And they buried him in the land of his inheritance, at Timnath Heres in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash.
10 After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel. 11 Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord and served the Baals. 12 They forsook the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them. They aroused the Lord’s anger 13 because they forsook him and served Baal and the Ashtoreths. 14 In his anger against Israel the Lord gave them into the hands of raiders who plundered them. He sold them into the hands of their enemies all around, whom they were no longer able to resist. 15 Whenever Israel went out to fight, the hand of the Lord was against them to defeat them, just as he had sworn to them. They were in great distress.
All that was gained by Joshua’s generation’s hard work and obedience to the Lord was stolen away and lost simply because they had remembered all that the Lord had done for them and through them, but failed to pass this along to the next generation.
However, there are also examples of miraculous change in the midst of these generations who begin to worship created things instead of the Creator. Revival broke out all throughout human history as people turned to God as God used ordinary men and women to lead extraordinary change such as Asa, Elijah, Jonah, Hezekiah, Josiah, Nehemiah, John the Baptist, the disciples, Charles Parham, John Kilpatrick, John Arnott, Evan Roberts, Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, Dwight Moody, John Wesley, John Calvin, Martin Luther, William Seymour, Aimee McPherson, Charles Spurgeon, Billy Graham, and so on. By faith, they were all mighty links in the great chain of faith and we can be, too!
Turn with me to Hebrews chapter 11. Here, we’re going to learn about this great faith and are called to remember many of the great men and women who have gone before us. We’ll also find that their great sacrifices are only made perfect together with US!
1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for.
3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.
4 By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.
5 By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.” For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. 6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
7 By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.
8 By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. 9 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. 11 And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise. 12 And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.
13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.
17 By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18 even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” 19 Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.
20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future.
21 By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.
22 By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions concerning the burial of his bones.
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.
24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and the application of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.
29 By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned.
30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the army had marched around them for seven days.
31 By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.
32 And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.
39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.
God planned great things for your life. God planned for your name to be recorded in this great list of faithful men and women who did great things for the Lord. God planned for you to be one of the links in this great chain of faith so that only TOGETHER would the faith of all of those before us, all of us now, and those coming up behind us would be made perfect.
This morning, we need to re:THINK our purpose as a critical link in the chain of faith. We must not merely come together to learn and remember those who were behind us and what God had did for them and through them, but also remember that God desires to do great things in our generation as well that we can experience firsthand. We also need to remember the generation coming behind us, to share our personal testimonies with them and to train them to also experience the awesomeness of God firsthand for themselves.
This Memorial Day, let’s remember. Let’s remember not only those who have gone before us, but also those serving now. Let’s also not neglect, but rather to remember those who are rising up behind us and let’s tell them the awesome testimonies from old and from today. Let’s remind them that our God is worthy of all our worship! Remember:
The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.