Rev. Barry Nelson – Two Kingdoms Ministry

The past two Messengers have focused on how Ascension Day should help shape the way we honor other observances – such as Mother’s Day and Pentecost. In honoring mothers and motherhood, we honor Jesus as Lord over Creation. In celebrating Pentecost, we honor Jesus as Lord over the Church. Today, I would like to conclude this series with a look at how we should honor Jesus as Lord over our Country as we observe Memorial Day.

First, we honor the Lord by remembering those who have fallen in defense of our nation and its precious freedoms. Jesus said in John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” It is important to recognize those who were willing to stand in the gap for us. We should never take for granted those who risked their lives to defend us all, and we should never forget those who gave their lives for our freedom. As Christians, we are commanded to pray for our national leaders so “that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (1 Timothy 2:2). On Memorial Day, we need to remember to give thanks for those who endured the terror and noise of battle so that we might live in peace today.

Second, we honor the Lord by acknowledging the responsibility that sacrifice places on us all. Freedom that was won and defended by selfless acts our courage should never be squandered through selfish living. Our Founding Fathers did not risk everything to create a nation of slothful entitlement. Instead, they envisioned creating a nation where everyone would be free to build a fruitful life through hard work, determination, and personal integrity. Those who died defending that freedom are best honored when we acknowledge our responsibility to use our freedom in a responsible way.

Third, we honor their courageous sacrifice by leading courageous lives. Again, freedom that has been gained through courage on the battlefield cannot be preserved through cowardice at home. In fact, the founding of our nation was only possible because men and women from all walks of life were willing to be courageous in their support of liberty. Those brave patriots courageously stood up against armies, but they also were courageous enough to stand up to ideas and philosophies that would seek to limit personal freedoms.

To rightly honor our fallen heroes on Memorial Day, and to rightly honor Jesus as King, we need to commit to live lives of courage. We need to be willing to stand up to ideas, philosophies, and institutions that seek to undermine our freedoms and attack the foundation upon which this country was founded. While it is true that not all of our Founding Fathers were true followers of Christ, they did all acknowledge that personal responsibility and morality were vital in maintaining our freedoms. One of our Founders, Samuel Adams, acknowledged:

Neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt.  He therefore is the truest friend of the liberty of his country who tries most to promote its virtue.

This was a sentiment that was echoed by many of the Founding Fathers. Without personal and collective virtue, they knew our nation would be doomed to fail.

Today, our nation is under heavy attack, albeit not with bombs and bullets. To win this battle, we need to have the courage to stand up and fight for the truth. As we remember the physical courage of those who were willing to defend freedom on the battlefield with their very lives, may we find the courage to stand up with spiritual courage and conviction. We need men and women to be strong in the Spirit and engage in this unseen, but very real, spiritual battle. When David faced Goliath, his confidence was not based on his physical courage or fighting prowess. It was his spiritual conviction that God was with him that gave him physical courage. Likewise, it was Rahab’s conviction in the power of the God of the Israelites that gave her the physical courage to hide the spies. We also need to rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to give us the boldness to stand up for the truth in every situation. May we not be found wanting!

This Sunday we celebrated Trinity Sunday. It is a good reminder that God has always been faithful to His people when they were willing to honor His Name before others. We, too, need to take a stand, but to be successful, we need to base our stand on the Word of God. In Revelation 21:8 the first description listed of those who will be thrown into the lake of fire is the cowardly. The writer of Hebrews also warns against cowardice saying, “But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved” (Hebrews 10:39).

Today, let us take the time to remember and honor those who gave their lives on the battlefield to protect our nation and our freedoms. Let us also remember the lesson learned that freedom is only gained and preserved through personal courage. May we be willing to stand for God’s revealed truth in our day-to-day lives, boldly proclaiming that truth to a world that is insistent in living a lie.

Let us look to the throne of Christ to give us confidence knowing that the battle is His and the outcome is His. Let us be willing to simply work as faithful servants and as faithful soldiers of the Cross. And may we never forget the greatest freedom we can offer others, the greatest freedom that we could ever receive, is one the world will never understand and can never take away. The freedom of salvation by faith in the Name of Jesus is far greater than any earthly freedom. It is a freedom worth dying for, so it should be a freedom worth living for.

Have a Blessed Memorial Day!
Barry Nelson