TEXT: I TIMOTHY 6:12
TOPIC: BUILDING WAR MEMORIALS
Pastor Bobby Earls, First Baptist Church, Center Point, Alabama
May 27, 2007 and May 24, 2009, Memorial Day’s Message
Over the duration of this Memorial Day weekend many have watched and some have had the privilege of participating in Memorial celebrations throughout America to honor and remember those who have given their lives in service for our country. The Bible says to “give honor to whom honor is due.” (Romans 13:7) Certainly it is appropriate that we as a church honor our graduating seniors and their families. Their graduation from high school, college or graduate school is a significant accomplishment in their young lives. So once again, join me as we applaud these graduates one more time.
And today our church joins countless churches across America in remembering and honoring our brave men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country and each one of us. We have referred to them today as our fallen heroes.
I cannot count myself as one who served our country in any military branch. But I am among the millions of Americans who recognizes that the freedom I enjoy, and the blessings I have are due to a great degree to the countless men and women who have served our country as a member of the army, navy, air force, marines, or the National Guard. I believe it can be rightfully said, that each one of you has built a war memorial through your service to our country. Thank you!
Sometimes we Christians forget that we too are at war in this life. Our war is not with a foreign nation, but with the powers of darkness, and wickedness in high places. Too many of God's children look upon this Christian pilgrimage as a trip on the Love Boat instead of a Battleship.
The Apostle Paul charged Timothy, his young son in the faith and faithful pastor, "to fight the good fight of faith." In I Timothy 6:12, Paul reminds us there is a good fight.
(Read Text) 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.
On this very special Memorial Weekend I want to share with you a message I have entitled, Building War Memorials. What kind of memorial are you building?
One day God will hold an everlasting memorial to those who have served Him well while on this earth. We need to remember at that time what will matter most will not be the title we hold but our testimony. It will not matter in that day our position held on earth, but our personal relationship with God's dear Son.
I. THE SOLDIER'S DRIVE, 2 Timothy 1:12-14
12 For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day. 13 Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. 14 That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.
What was Paul's motivation for Christian service? The sure testimony of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit of God gave Paul his drive to fight the good fight! The Bible says "for we have this treasure in earthen vessels."
Paul says, "Fight the good fight of faith." Are you building up or tearing down? Are you fighting, and by that I mean are you faithfully engaged in Christian warfare, or are you A.W.O.L. when it comes to your Christian commitment?
One of the great things about serving in the military is that it teaches you the importance of working together. Each soldier works together, carrying out his assignment in order for the whole unit to experience victory.
In the state of North Carolina there is a very special memorial located at the Winston-Salem Coliseum called the Lawrence Joel Veterans Coliseum. At the front entrances of that beautiful edifice is hundreds of polished granite markers erected to memorialize the veterans from the Winston-Salem area who gave their lives fighting for their country.
I have been there many times. I have read the names engraved on those markers and wondered at the love for country and the sense of duty that caused so very many to give their all. I’ve thought about the mothers and the fathers who never saw their sons again. I’ve wondered about the many young wives who were left alone to raise their war hero's children, and I’ve felt a deep sense of respect and reverence.
What drives you? Is the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life so real and powerful that you cannot help but give yourself for Christ? 12 For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.
II. THE SOLDIER'S DURATION, 2 Timothy 2:3-4
12 For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.
This verse also speaks of the soldier’s duration.
Anyone can tell you who has ever been in the service that it requires great endurance. From boot camp to the battlefield, it requires endurance. There are many hard and difficult days in the life of a good soldier.
The phrase "endure hardship" literally means to suffer together with someone. Goodspeed's translation says "join the ranks of those who bear suffering." Paul clearly is warning Timothy to prepare to suffer as a Christian.
Building war memorials requires endurance. Are you suffering as a believer? Jesus told us that each of us must bear our own cross. Now your cross in not your arthritis. Suffering for the believer among many things may simply include your faithful endurance to live a godly, holy and separate life in this world.
T/S – The soldier’s drive, and the soldier’s duration are essential parts of building war memorials in this life, but so is the soldier’s dress.
III. THE SOLDIER'S DRESS, 2 Timothy 3:15-17
15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
The words "thoroughly equipped or furnished" means "properly outfitted.”
When a man joins the military one of the first things that happens is that he is fitted with a new wardrobe. When you join the army you don't get to keep your own clothes. You don't even get to keep your hair. They replace your name with a number. You begin to lose your identity and take on the identity of whatever particular branch of service you joined.
What is the Christian's dress? Read Ephesians 6:12-18.
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.
14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.
Some of you are wounded because you have dropped your breastplate of righteousness.
Some of you are doubting because you have taken off the helmet of salvation.
Some are poorly equipped without the girdle of truth.
Some walk gingerly through this world without wearing the gospel shoes rarely sharing their faith with others.
Some are losing the battle to the devil because they no longer hold up their shield of faith.
And some are on the defensive without the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God.
Pick it up. Gird on your sword and shield. Put on the belt of truth and attach the breastplate of God’s righteousness. Slip your feet in His gospel shoes and place His helmet of salvation securely over your mind. You are a soldier dressed for battle.
Finally, building war memorials not only includes the soldier’s drive, and the soldier’s duration and the soldier’s dress but hear the soldier’s declaration in 2 Timothy 4:6-8.
IV. THE SOLDIER'S DECLARATION, 2 Timothy 4:6-8
6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.
Notice the definiteness with which the aged Paul speaks. He says "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith!" Paul could declare as a good and faithful soldier of the cross that he had fought a good fight and he had kept the faith once and for all delivered to the saints.
Will you be able to say when you come to the close of your days, like the Apostle Paul, “I have kept the faith, I have fought a good fight?”
Finally, in verse 8 Paul shares his hope of receiving a "crown of righteousness." That crown of righteousness is our war memorial!
A good soldier who served his country well is frequently rewarded with a medal. Some who were injured in the battle receive a purple heart. Some receive a medal of accommodation for service rendered beyond the expected. And some will receive bronze medals indicated the highest honor bestowed upon a soldier for service of valor, courage and sacrifice.
One day, when we stand before our Lord Jesus Christ, our reward, our medal, our war memorial will be to hear the words of our Lord when He says to us, Well done thou good and faithful servant (soldier), you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’