The Highest Honor

Have a Blessed Memorial Day!

The Highest Honor

Sunday, May 29, 2022

 

Welcome!

Freedom. 

We only have this freedom because of those who have bravely served to fight for it, defend it and uphold it. 

America- we sing about this being the land of the free. 

Our Declaration of Independence states “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal … that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” 

We affirm this truth and commit to upholding it as we recite the Pledge of Allegiance.  I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. All people are equal. Liberty for all-freedom for all. Justice for all. 

This is a country founded on freedom for all its citizens. where we determine our actions and make our own path. We are free to dream, create, love, and even disagree with others. 

We are free to worship God whenever and wherever. The very fact that we are here in this house of worship is because our soldiers have been on the front lines fighting for and protecting these freedoms we have been given. 

Our system is not perfect-we all know that full well. We have yet to reach equality in liberty and justice for all. It is an ideal, a belief that we hope for-that should be our guiding light that we continue to build towards. We believe this at our core as Americans. Certainly, people from other countries who do not have even close to what we have, believe and hope for this too which is why they risk their lives at a chance to receive in some aspect, this freedom you and I have. 

It’s why men and women all across our nation continue to serve, who are willing to put their lives on the line because freedom is such a priceless gift and once you know it, you don’t ever want to lose it. 

It’s why we get so passionate, even angry, about events that happen in our country-because we fear our freedom being taken away in some aspect. We grow tired of our rights being trampled upon. This, unfortunately, can also lead to violence and division when we get so focused on upholding our personal rights that we are no longer remembering the words “indivisible, and justice and liberty for all”. We are thinking about and acting on justice and liberty for me. 

Because what we can forget, that the American soldier is acutely aware of, and certainly our Savior Jesus Christ knew in His heart, is to achieve freedom for all, we must be willing to set aside our personal rights at times.

We will never serve the greater good when we are focused on serving ourselves.

When we let go of what we deserve and what we have coming to us and act with humility and selflessness is when we see the ideals and hope of what America was founded on and stands for manifested in our country. It is when we see great advancements in the kingdom of God. 

I want to encourage us to listen to a powerful message of truth from the Apostle Paul. Let us look with fresh eyes at the heart of our Savior and King. Let us look at His example. Let us see what He gave up and set aside so we might all know eternal freedom in Him. Let us pause, let us honor our Lord, and give thanks for His great sacrifice and amazing example for us to follow. Let us pause and honor our brave men and women who also made the greatest sacrifice so we can know and enjoy freedom.

They all deserve the highest honor. 

Philippians 2: 1-11 NLT        

 Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privilege; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, 8 he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

  • Humbly Set Aside Personal Rights  

Our greatest heroes are such because they did not live to serve themselves; they lived to serve others and made huge sacrifices for others’ gain. We don’t honor someone as a hero who lived to build up their own kingdom, stockpiling wealth and possessions all around them. We might acknowledge all that person acquired and built, but they would not be called a hero. 

Heroes are the exact people who would never seek that title, nor want to be publicly referred to as such, for they don’t see themselves as a hero. They seem themselves doing what we all ought to do- to care for one another and serve in ways to make our country and world better. They just do it in extraordinary measures. 

This is the heart of our Savior Jesus Christ-which is why He is our Savior. He did what we couldn’t do. But let’s look closer at what He really did and more so, what He gave up, for our gain. When Jesus left glory-first of all, let’s note He left behind perfection, absolute glory, incredible beauty beyond what we can even fathom to come down to earth that is filled with sin. 

Jesus saw a different beauty that drew Him here. That of a lost and searching soul. He saw sheep in need of a Shepherd to guide them. He saw a people who would be redeemed into glory and have right standing with the Father and that image of what was to come brought Jesus here-that hope of victory and redemption sent Him to earth. 

Philippians 2:7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.     

Jesus is the Son of God. When He came, He set aside every right He had as the Son of God-His deity. He had the right to be worshiped because He was God in the flesh. He had the right to be praised and to sit on a throne in all His splendor and royalty. He had a right for others to bow down before Him because He is Lord of lords. He had a right to be served for He is the King of kings. 

But He set that aside and entered this world as a helpless baby and became a humble servant to others. 

As Jesus began His ministry and started ruffling the feathers of the religious leaders there were other rights He should have had-ones we hold near and dear to our hearts, but willingly laid them aside to accomplish the greater purpose God had. 

Jesus should have had the right to be heard-but He chose to be silent. He should have had a right to a fair trial, but He let them proceed with their false claims and injustices.  He should have been treated with respect but was not as soldiers beat him and spit on him. He should have had the right to a long life, but that was not given to Him as He died at just 33 years of age. 

He should have had all the comforts of life as a King but did not even have a home to lay His head down. He traveled from place to place, wherever the Father told Him to be, Jesus would go and serve God’s people. 

As Jesus walked this earth, He set aside His freedom and laid down His rights, so that through His sacrifice, we might know a freedom that is not of this world, a freedom that can never be taken from us, for it lives in our hearts. 

Paul teaches us as Christians to live in like manner:                                                                                                               

 Galatians 5:13 For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.

We have immense freedom in Christ-free from sin, free from bondage, free from darkness, free from hopelessness and Paul says use this freedom you have been given to help others come to know their own freedom in Christ.

Shine His light and let freedom ring!

Jesus came so all would know His name and be saved! He uses you and me, and all other Christians, to be messengers of His freedom. 

Paul shared His own testimony about this truth and what He has learned through Christ with the church in Corinth: 

1 Corinthians 9:19 Even though I am a free man with no master, I have become a slave to all people to bring many to Christ.

He knew full well his life was no longer about attaining personal glory and pleasure. It was about helping others discover and receive the freedom that comes in knowing Jesus as their personal Savior. This was to his great joy to do so. He willingly enslaved himself to the work of the Lord because he knew the sacrifice was worth it-far greater than anything the world could offer him. 

Our American soldiers do the same. To serve our country, they give up many personal rights, they are enslaved to the will and authority of our military leaders-and carry out their orders as commanded. They give up sleep, comforts where they sleep, comforts of home-cooked meals, being with family on holidays, and other important milestones in life, they might even miss being present for goodbyes. They work in harsh conditions, living in places they often don’t want to be, putting off the pursuit of their own personal dreams so that all of us can wake up and keep chasing ours. 

  • Laid Their Life Down         

Some as we remember especially today, gave everything and laid their life down while defending our freedom. As did our Savior.                                                                                        

Hebrews 12:2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.                                                                                                             

Jesus was focused on the joy that would come through His death on the cross, as He defeated the enemy once and for all. He paid the debt for our sin knowing we would be made right with God through His blood. We would have eternity to share with them and that is what strengthened Him to make such a great sacrifice. Love for His creation is what moved Him to be our sacrifice. 

 

John 15:13 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.…                                                    

The King of kings and Lord of lords calls you and I friend. He shares all He is with us and all the Father has made known to Him as we seek Him and ask for greater understanding. He saw us as friends when He went to the cross on our behalf. 

 

Paul too was willing to lay his life down and ultimately did for the sake of the Gospel, making sure many came to know Jesus as their Savior, training them up so they could continue the good work. He too focused on the joy that came through the freedom others found in Jesus.

Philippians 2:17 17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 

                                                                

  • Exalted, Honored, Followed                                                                                           

No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been the reward for what he gave.”  Calvin Coolidge

 

May those who gave their all receive the highest honor. This is why we gather for Memorial Day-to remember the many who gave their last breath so we can take our next. 

Think about this: 

If Jesus didn’t come and willingly carry out the purposes of the Father, including dying on the cross, we would still be offering sacrifices on a regular basis to atone for our current sins.  We would still be under the condemnation of the Law, that we could never uphold, therefore we would still be guilty

But Jesus did come! He did give His life! He did pay our debt in full-which means there is no guilt, not one ounce of guilt for anything we have done and He did bring us the highest freedom! Freedom from sin and freedom in grace!  Oh what a Savior indeed! This is why we worship Jesus. This is why praise His great name. He is worthy! 

Philippians 2:9 Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names,

                                                         

We’re not the only ones to worship Jesus, but our worship, praise, and honor stir up worship in the heavens. 

Revelation 4: 9-11 Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: 11 “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”

Our praise and honor to Jesus is seen in the heavens and moves the heavens in worship also. Incredible! 

 

If we ever wonder is it worth it-to make sacrifices to serve the Lord, to build His kingdom, to be a Light for others to discover Jesus, is it worth it to serve our country? Is it worth my time, what I’m giving up? 

I want to encourage each of us, that whatever we sacrifice to honor our Lord and love His people, our God sees and will reward us in far greater measure than our sacrifice.

The greater our sacrifice, the greater our reward from our Father. 

Matthew 19:29  And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.

 

As Jesus was exalted and honored above all, we can also trust the brave men and women who gave all have been not only honored here but even more so in the heavens before God for they understood that freedom can only come after the greatest sacrifices have been made.

 

Conclusion:  Let us give thanks to our Lord first, and to the brave men and women who gave their all, so we can know the highest freedom.  May we honor their sacrifice and live as one. May we model Christ’s humility knowing in order to truly be free in Him, we too must lay our lives down and follow where He is leading us.

 

A Memorial Day prayer and blessing. 

We pray for those who courageously laid down their lives for the cause of freedom. May the examples of their sacrifice inspire in us the selfless love of Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Bless the families of our fallen troops, and fill their homes and their lives with Your strength and peace. May their loved ones forever be remembered and held in the highest honor.

 

We pray for those currently defending our freedom: Bless their families. Bless those they love. Give them your great favor, this day, and every day.  Help them to walk wisely. To stay covered in your armor. Give them godly discernment. Help them to be men and women of prayer, realizing that this is where their greatest help comes from. Help them to stay united and strong, bold and resolute, determined and unwavering.

 

We pray for our nation. Instill in us Your heart Father, that wants every person of every creed and color to know Your love, Your goodness, and Your worth. Make us wise as serpents, but gentle as doves. Turn our fears to faith as we look to You and You alone for the future of our country. Give us God-confidence that no matter what happens, we will believe You are not only in control, but that You know exactly what is needed to accomplish Your purpose. 

 

Help us not to second-guess Your moves, but to move at Your command, always without hesitation. Forgive us for wanting our own way and making our own paths—often the ones paved with least resistance. Forgive us for fence-walking, or for ignoring completely the truths that can so easily set us free. Deliver us from mindless quarrels and destinations that lead us nowhere helpful, and away from You. Free us from divisiveness, and melt our hardened hearts to love, not hate, and to heal, not create deeper wounds.  Unite us Lord as only You can do for this is how we honor You and our American soldiers-to live as one nation under You O God. 

 

Blessing: Romans 15: 5-6 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.