SUNSET DECORATION

7/15/2018

 

We Do This In Remembrance

Joshua 4.1-9 & 20-24

 

We’re gathered here today to remember those who have gone before us...

Most of us have... Parents... Grandparents... Great-grandparents... Great-great-grandparents...Spouses... Children... Aunts... Uncles... Cousins... Friends and neighbors...We’ve laid to rest in this cemetery.

 

Decoration Day is a time set aside for us to...

• Remember them...

• Honor them...

• Thank God for them.

It’s a time for us to remember the good times and good things they brought into our life.

 

Sunset Decoration Day is a Memorial.

Our God is a Memorial Minded God... He created us with a memory... And desires that we use it.

 

After the flood... God made Noah and his family a promise... A perpetual promise... That He would never again destroy the earth with floodwaters... And God set a rainbow in the sky as a sign of this perpetual promise... God wants us to remember!

 

Then... You recall at Mount Sinai...God gives what we know as the Law of Moses... The Ten Commandments and its associated rules and regulations... Among those were Days to remember....

• The Sabbath... Remembering God’s rest and His admonishment for us to do likewise...

• Passover... Remembering Israel’s deliverance from Egyptian slavery...

• Pentecost... A day of thanksgiving... Remembering that crops in the field were the work of God.

•The year of Jubilee... A time when debts were forgiven... Land was allowed to rest.

 

When we open the New Testament... God continues to call us to REMEMBRANCE.

 

We see Jesus in the Upper Room... In what we know as the Last Supper... Here Jesus instituted a communion feast saying... As often as you do this... Do it in rememberANCE of Me.

 

Today’s church still stops during a busy week to remember Jesus... His suffering on our behalf... His blood that cleanses our souls... As we anticipate His Second Coming.

 

What a great blessing God has given us in this thing called… Memory.

 

In fact… The Bible is replete with instructions and encouragement... Even commands us to… Remember…

• Numbers 15.40... Remember all My commandments and be Holy.

• Deuteronomy 5.15... Remember you were slaves in Egypt... And the Lord brought you out.

• Ecclesiastes 12.1... Remember your Creator in the days of your youth.

• Isaiah 40.8-9... Remember I am God... There’s no other before Me... My ways will not be thwarted.

• Paul told Timothy... Remember Jesus Christ raised from the dead.

Do this do in remembrance of Me.

 

This morning... I want to rehearse another time God called His people to remember...And set up a monument to perpetuate that remembrance....

 

The Israelite people were ready to exit the wilderness... Cross the Jordan... Into the Promise Land. It was spring... And the river was flooded... Every wadi was filled with... Rolling... Billowing… Raging water... Joshua 4.18 tells us that the river was out of its banks.  But… As the Priest stepped into the waters... They parted.

And all God’s people marched across safely.

 

As a memorial to this MIRACULOUS eventJoshua was instructed to carry TWELVE stones... One for each tribe... From the middle of the Jordan... And to place them in Gilgal as…a sign…  A monument… A Reminder…  A Memorial… For future generations.

 

In our lesson this morning… We are not going to pick up Twelve Stones…

But only three from today’s Jordan… Decoration Day... 2018.

Three individuals we are going to…  

Celebrate...Honor... remember.

 

First… It’s appropriate we remember those who PURCHASED our freedom.

 

The idea of honoring our war dead goes back to Columbus, Mississippi...

It was in April… 1863… A group of elderly women were decorating graves of their Confederate sons who were causalities of the Civil War.

 

One of the women made her way to the corner of the cemetery and began placing flowers on the graves of two Union Soldiers. The others began chiding her… What are you doing?… Those are graves of Union Soldiers… I know… She said...And I also know… That somewhere in the North…

• A mother mourns the loss of a son...

• A young wife mourns the loss of her husband...

• Children have lost a father… They mourn for their loved ones... Just as we do.

That small band of ladies set in motion what has become America’s Memorial Day.

 

Five years later… Five thousand people gathered at Arlington National Cemetery for ceremonies presided over by General and Mrs. Ulysses S.Grant.  It was the nation’s first major tribute to those who fell in the Civil War.  In that ceremony… American flags were placed on each grave… A tradition that continues today.

 

This kind of… Memorial Day… Decoration Day… Continued through the19th Century… Until in 1971… When an Act of Congress… Established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May… To honor the dead of all our wars.

 

You see Church…

• It was the soldier… Not the theologian or preacher… Who secured our freedom of religion... The freedom to be here this morning worshiping without fear.

• It’s the soldier… Not the reporter… Who has secured our freedom of speech…

• It was the soldier… Not the judge or lawyer… Who has secured our judicial system.

• It is the soldier… Not the businessman who has secured our economic opportunity.

• It is the soldier… Whose coffin is draped with the flag… Who has secured freedom for those who wish to burn the flag.

 

From the battlefields of Bunker Hill and Yorktown… Of the American Revolution…

 

From the Battle of New Orleans and the War of 1812…

 

From the Halls of Montezuma representing the Mexican War…

 

From the fields of Gettysburg… Shiloh… Prairie Grove… Pea Ridge… Of the Civil War…

 

From a little place in Cuba… Called San Juan Hill… Of the Spanish American War…

 

From the trenches of WWI…

 

From the beaches of... Normandy… The fields of Europe… The jungles of Guadal canal…Iwo Jima

 

From the frozen expanses of Korea…

 

From the Ho Chi Minh Trail… To the Mekong Delta… Of Vietnam…

 

From the smaller battles of... Granada… Panama… And numerous military insurgencies…

 

From the sand dunes of... Kuwait and Iraq…

 

From…Kosovo… Somalia… Iran… Saudi Arabia…

 

From the mountains of Afghanistan… To the city streets of Pakistan.

 

Americans have paid… And continue to pay… The price for our freedom and safety.

 

Here it is church… A man is not dead until He is forgotten…Will we forget our soldiers?...Those who have given so much for the freedom we sometimes take for granted?...Some of whom are buried here... In Sunset Cemetery.

We must never forget them… Amen?

 

The second stone we pick up is that of… family… friends… and church.

God created us for relationships.

 

You see… Decoration Day is about people… Not things!!... PEOPLE!!!

 

From serving as a Chaplain to the Fayetteville Fire & Police Departments in the late sixties… To our area hospitals...

• I’ve been at the bedside...

• Held the hands of dozens...

Who were in their final moments.

As they stood on the edge of eternity… I have never had one to say…

• Bring my checkbook…

• Bring my diplomas…

• I want to see the gold watch I was given for forty years work.

• Take me for a ride in my... New car… My bass boat… Or airplane...

• Bury me in this house.

Here it is... The dying don’t surround themselves with things… But with PEOPLE… Loved ones.

 

I was paged to a room where a lady had just been told that her cancer was incurable... And that the doctors had done all they could do... She was being placed on Hospice.

 

As I entered I prayed... God give me words to say...

What do you say?... Words are insufficient.

I held her hand... I told her I was sorry for her bad news... And that I wish I could turn the clock back to a more enjoyable time… A happier time.

She said... Yeah... Me too.

And then her conversation turned to her relationship with God and family.

Indeed... In the final moments of life… We realize that relationships are what life is all about…

• Right relationship with God…

• And with others… All others… Family… Friends… Even enemies if we have such.

 

We need to remember others… Both living and dead…

 

We have Biblical examples… Paul wrote to his young friend Timothy…In the first three verses of Second Timothy… He writes…

• I constantly remember you in my prayers…

• Recalling your tears…

• I am reminded of your faith.

 

Church… Do you know what Proverbs 10.7 says?… The memory of the righteous will be a blessing… So… Today would be a good time to remember the righteous in our lives… Amen?...

• Our Parents... Those who gave us life... Many of whom brought us up in the training and instructions of the Lord.

• Those who disciplined…

• Guided…

• Advised…

• And befriended… Us.

 

Those who…

• Taught us...

• Encouraged us...

• Mentored us...

Let us be thankful for them this afternoon.

Let’s be found saying a silent prayer of thanksgiving to God for those special and precious ones whom God providentially placed in our path.

 

Stone number three… remember and honor the God who died for us.

Listen to Paul from First Corinthians eleven… For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you… The Lord Jesus… On the night he was betrayed… Took bread… And when he had given thanks…He broke it and said… This is my body… Which is for you… Do this in remembrance of me. In the same way… After supper he took the cup… Saying…This cup is the new covenant in my blood… Do this… Whenever you drink it… In remembrance of me. For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup… You proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

• The Lord’s Supper is God’s reminder of Jesus and what he’s done to save us.

• Sunday is our Spiritual Decoration Day.

• The Lord’s Supper is a Memorial…

• A reminder that somehow in an act we call incarnation...That somehow...

Which we cannot explain... God comes and dies on a cross to save us.

 

That day 3400 years ago... Joshua built his memorial from stones taken from the Jordan…

 

Today!… Today!… God builds His Memorial from living stones… Listen to Peter… You… Like living stones… Are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood… Offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ… You are a chosen people… A royal priesthood… A holy nation… A people belonging to God… That you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

 

Church… We... Have been Saved... Redeemed... To become... a Memorial... A reminder... to those around us that... God has forgiven our sins… Removed our guilt... So now we are living for Him.

 

Listen...

• If God has delivered you from alcohol & drugs… Build Him a memorial.

• If God has healed your body from something that should have taken your life… Be His living sacrifice...

• If God has lifted you out of poverty… Remember and praise His name…

• If God has delivered you from depression… Become His instrument of righteousness...

• If God has saved your children… Praise Him Daily... Become His Memorial...

• If God has given you the peace that surpasses all understanding…Let others see Jesus in You...

• If you are thankful for your salvation… Build Him a memorial.

 

How do we do it?... How do we build Him a Memorial?... Become His Living Sacrifice?.. His instrument of righteousness?.

 

I believe John Wesley said it well... We become His living Memorial by serving the Jesus in others…

Doing all the good we can…

By all the means we can…

In all the ways we can…

In all the places we can…

At all the times we can…

To all the people we can…

As long as ever we can.

 

In Galatians chapter six… Paul wrote about this same principle in these words… Let us not become weary in doing good… As we have opportunity… Let us do good to all people… Especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

 

Today is Sunset Decoration Day… How will we celebrate?...

• Will we place a flag or flower on a Veteran's Grave as we whisper...Thank You?

• Will we take a moment to honor the righteous ones God has placed in our lives?

• Will we remember the God who died for us by serving the Jesus in others.

Here it is church... The worst way... The very worst thing we can do to celebrate this Decoration Day… is to be indifferent... by complacent INDIFFERENCE!

 

I beg you this morning... Don’t be indifferent to God... Use this Sunset Decoration Day 2018 to give your life to Jesus…

• Become His living Memorial...

• His instrument of righteousness.