As Capt John Rasmussen reports, “I was in a hurry to get to his physical training exercise. It was raining “cats and dogs”. Traffic was backed up at Fort Campbell, Ky., and was moving way too slowly. I was probably going to be late and I was growing more and more impatient. The pace slowed almost to a standstill as I passed Memorial Grove, the site built to honor the soldiers who died in the Gander airplane crash, the worst redeployment accident in the history of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). Because it was close to Memorial Day, a small American flag had been placed in the ground next to each soldier’s memorial plaque. My concern at the time, however, was getting past the bottleneck, getting out of the rain and getting to PT on time.All of a sudden, infuriatingly, just as the traffic was getting started again, the car in front of me stopped.

A soldier, a private of course, jumped out in the pouring rain and ran over toward the grove. I couldn’t believe it! This knucklehead was holding up everyone for who knows what kind of prank. Horns were honking. I waited to see the butt-chewing that I wanted him to get for making me late. He was getting soaked to the skin. His BDUs were plastered to his frame. I watched-as he ran up to one of the memorial plaques, picked up the small American flag that had fallen to the ground in the wind and the rain, and set it up right again.

Then, slowly, he came to attention, saluted, ran back to his car, and drove off.

I’ll never forget that incident. That soldier, whose name I will never know, taught me more about duty, honor, and respect than a hundred books or a thousand lectures. That simple salute — that single act of honoring his fallen brother and his flag — encapsulated all the Army values in one gesture for me. It said, “I will never forget. I will keep the faith. I will finish the mission. I am an American soldier.”

As I read this stirring reminder of what Memorial Day is all about, I thought, “How many Christians are willing to bow before the Cross of Christ and say, I will never forget. I will keep the faith. I will finish the mission. I am a Soldier for Christ!”

Oliver Wendall Holmes, Jr once said:

So to the indifferent inquirer who asks why Memorial Day is still kept up we may answer, it celebrates and solemnly reaffirms from year to year a national act of enthusiasm and faith. It embodies in the most impressive form our belief that to act with enthusiasm and faith is the condition of acting greatly. To fight out a war, you must believe something and want something with all your might. So must you do to carry anything else to an end worth reaching.” [Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. at an address delivered for Memorial Day, May 30, 1884, at Keene, NH.]

Tomorrow we celebrate Memorial Day. Many will visit the grave site of loved ones who have passed on into eternity. Many of us will celebrate outdoors with picnics and barbeques. One day a year is all we set aside to remember our fallen soldiers. One day a year. But God wants us to remember Him 365 days a year.

Throughout the Bible there are references to Memorials and things we should remember about Him!

  • God placed the rainbow in the sky so that mankind would remember His covenant with us, not to destroy the world again by flood.
  • The Hebrews were to celebrate a special day, the Passover, as a memorial to God and His faithfulness in delivering them from the Egyptians.
  • The ephod worn by the High Priest has a stone on each shoulder that served as a memorial of the children of Israel. Exodus 28:12 says: “Aaron shall bear their names before the Lord upon his two shoulders for a memorial.”
  • The Priests were to take grain offering, oil, and frankincense and burn it on the altar as a memorial unto God. Lev 2:2 says it was a sweet savor to the Lord.
  • The Priests took a portion of the meat offerings and burnt them as a memorial unto the Lord. Lev 2:9
  • The Festival of Trumpets was a solemn day of rest, of blowing of Trumpets as a Day of Memorial to the Lord.
  • A Stone memorial was erected after the crossing of the River Jordan by Joshua and the Israelites, so that they would remember how God brought them across.
  • Even their clothes were to be a reminder:

The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the people of Israel, and tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a cord of blue on the tassel of each corner. And it shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the Lord, to do them, not to follow after your own heart and your own eyes, which you are inclined to whore after. So you shall remember and do all my commandments, and be holy to your God. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God: I am the Lord your God.” Numbers 15:37-41

  • The prayers and alms of Cornelius were even a memorial unto God, and led to the salvation of Cornelius and his household. Acts 10:4

Our Lives are to be a Daily Memorial to Jesus Christ

God wants everyday of our lives to be a memorial unto Jesus Christ!

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. Romans 12:1

The very act of presenting ourselves to God is a memorial to Jesus Christ. We will look closely at the next step in deliverance from sin (PRESENTING) next week.

  • As Americans, we must never forget those who have given their lives for the sake of our freedom.
  • As Christians we must never forget the One who gave His life for the sake of our freedom from Sin and Satan.

Peter gives us some excellent words on Remembering our Savior:

2 Peter 1:12-21 Peter wants to Stir us Up!

Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you. I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder, knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you will be able to call these things to mind. For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, “This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased”— and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. 2 Peter 1:12-21

Peter’s life is nearly at an end, and he wants us to remember some things, even though we are established Christians, and even though we think we already know them.

Verses 12-21 flow from what Peter wrote in verses 1-11.

POWER & PROVISION: In verses 1-4 Peter says that God’ power always comes with provisions for living and for godliness in our own life. He enables us to escape the corruption that is in the world through lust by empowering us to partake of His divine nature.

  • God has provided everything we need to live Godly Lives
  • We have been learning about this in Romans 6

PURSUIT OF HOLINESS: In verses 5-7, Peter calls for Christians to pursue the path of discipleship. We are to experience these divine provisions by diligently and energetically pursuing holiness (faith, moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love).

  • God’s Provisions Must be PURSUED if they are to Profit us.

THE PROFIT OF OUR PURSUIT: In verses 8-11, Peter speaks of the profit of our pursuit of holiness, as provided for by God (verses 1-4) and as pursued by the Christian (verses 5-7).

  • When we pursue these things, we shall always stand, we shall always abound, we shall always be assured of our salvation.

Starting with vs. 12, Peter is intent on reminding us.

  • We already know these truths. But we must be reminded to pursue God’s goals for us.
  • Peter is committed to “always remind them” (verse 12). It is clear from his words that he intends his reminding to persevere. He will continue to remind them as long as he has breath. He will do so with his dying breath.
  • Memories stir us up, and so Peter is insistent upon reminding us.
  • His letter is a Memorial to Remind us!
  • Peter reminds us of the TRUTH! TRUTH direct from God (vs. 21)
  • God’s Word is TRUTH. It is God-breathed
  • We do not follow cunningly devised fables.
    • Peter was an eyewitness of the majesty and power of Jesus Christ
    • Peter heard the voice of God giving glory and honor to His son: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

This truth is encased in the Word of God

  • No private interpretation
  • Illumined by the Holy Spirit
  • Provides light for our walk.

More than anything, we are to be aware that Jesus Christ is not a cunningly devised fable, not a beautiful love story, but truth that is worth building our lives around. Truth that is worth pursuing as though it were a billion dollars.

We are to build our lives around not someone who is dead, but a Savior who is alive, who is with us every day of our lives, who gives us the gift of grace, the gift of the Holy Spirit, the very reason for living.

For the Christian, every day is to be a memorial day, remembering not just a crucified Savior, but our Crucified, Resurrected and Living Savior!

Our Orders from Commander Peter are to remember the Truth of Jesus Christ, truth that is essential for our life, truth that is worth dying for. We are posted on this earth to pursue our living Savior, Jesus Christ. He is to be our life!

Walking the Mat before the Tomb of the Unknowns

There is a meticulous ritual the guard follows when watching over the tomb of the unknown soldiers.

The soldier walks 21 steps across the Tomb. This alludes to the 21-gun salute, which is the highest honor given to any military or foreign dignitary in America. His weapon is always on the shoulder opposite the Tomb (i.e., on the side of the gallery watching the ritual).

On the 21st step, the soldier turns and faces the Tomb for 21 seconds.

The soldier then turns to face the other way across the Tomb and changes his weapon to the outside shoulder. After 21 seconds, the first step is repeated.

This is repeated until the soldier is relieved of duty at the Changing of the Guard.

The mat is usually replaced twice per year: before Memorial Day and before Veterans Day. This is required due to the wear on the rubber mat by the special shoes worn by Tomb Guards. The guards have metal plates built into the soles and inner parts of their shoes to allow for a more rugged sole and to give the signature click of the heel during maneuvers. The guards are issued sunglasses, which are formed to their faces, due to the bright reflection from the marble surrounding the Tomb and the Memorial Amphitheater.

The guard is changed every 1/2 hour during the summer months.

The guard change is very symbolic, but also conducted in accordance with Army regulations. The relief commander or assistant relief commander, along with the oncoming guard, are both required for a guard change to take place. The guard being relieved will say to the oncoming guard, “Post and orders remain as directed.” The oncoming guard’s response is always, “Orders acknowledged.”

The Tomb of the Unknowns has been guarded continuously, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, since July 2, 1937. Inclement weather does not cause the watch to cease.

In 2 Peter, Peter realizes it is time for the “changing of the guard.” He wants us to remember our Post, and remember our Orders! He wants to hear us declare: “Orders Acknowledged!”

There are two ways we follow those orders and keep to our post, two ways we Memorialize Jesus Christ:

1.  Baptism

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. Romans 6:3-4

Baptism acknowledges to Jesus that you value what He did for you so much, that you are giving Him your life. You are telling the world that you died with Him, that your sins are washed away, and when you stand up from the baptismal waters, you are declaring to the world that you no longer walk in your old life, but you have a new life in Jesus Christ. You are declaring that you are now a walking, breathing Memorial to the death burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

2.  Communion

One of the most important ways we remember our Savior is through the Lord’s Supper, or what we call communion. The night before Jesus was carried away to be crucified, he shared the Paschal meal with His disciples. At that meal Jesus revealed that He was going to become the paschal lamb, that He was going to die for the sins of mankind. Paul wrote of that meal in 1 Cor 11:232-26:

For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when 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 also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. 1 Corinthians 11:23-26

When we partake of the elements, the bread and the wine, we are affirming before God our union and communion with Jesus Christ. We are honoring Him. When we eat the bread, we are acknowledging His broken body. We are acknowledging that by His stripes we are healed. We are acknowledging that Jesus is the bread of life; He is the means of our life!

When we partake of the wine, we are taking into our body the precious blood of Jesus Christ. We are acknowledging our new life based upon our faith in His blood, the blood of our new covenant with Holy God! We are proclaiming to God that we are totally dependent upon the blood of Jesus for our life and our salvation. We are declaring that through the body and the blood we are one with Jesus Christ.

We Honor the Memory of Fallen American Soldiers with our Respect and Appreciation

Petty Officer Second Class Mike Monsoor was a US Navy SEAL assigned to Task Unit Bravo in Ar Ramadi in Iraq.  He was killed in the line of duty while serving in Iraq on September 29, 2006.  He died after throwing himself on a grenade to prevent it from killing others whom he had been assigned to protect on a rooftop. He had already earned a Silver Star for Bravery and a Bronze Star for separate acts of valor.

His funeral took place in October 12, 2006 at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego.

Navy SEALs lined the procession and slapped the trident devices from their uniforms to affix them onto the casket.  The trident is a U.S. Navy special warfare badge worn by SEALs.  It represents the three aspects of SEAL special operations, sea, air, and land.

On April 8, 2008, Monsoor was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously officiated by President George W. Bush in a ceremony at the White House.

PETTY OFFICER MONSOOR TOOK POSITION WITH HIS MACHINE GUN BETWEEN TWO TEAMMATES ON AN OUTCROPPING OF THE ROOF. WHILE THE SEALS VIGILANTLY WATCHED FOR ENEMY ACTIVITY, AN INSURGENT THREW A HAND GRENADE FROM AN UNSEEN LOCATION, WHICH BOUNCED OFF PETTY OFFICER MONSOOR’S CHEST AND LANDED IN FRONT OF HIM. ALTHOUGH ONLY HE COULD HAVE ESCAPED THE BLAST, PETTY OFFICER MONSOOR CHOSE INSTEAD TO PROTECT HIS TEAMMATES. INSTANTLY AND WITHOUT REGARD FOR HIS OWN SAFETY, HE THREW HIMSELF ONTO THE GRENADE TO ABSORB THE FORCE OF THE EXPLOSION WITH HIS BODY, SAVING THE LIVES OF HIS TWO TEAMMATES.

We Honor the Memory of Jesus Christ with our Life!

Today, honor Americans who have given their lives so that we might worship here in freedom.

Today, we honor one man who gave His life so that we might be freed from sin and from judgment. This one man, our Lord Jesus Christ, received no medal of commendation, had no funeral service attended by thousands. In fact, he was scorned, mocked, and treated as a diseased dog. All his followers ran and hid while He died the most horrible death.

Yet today, our Savior does not lie in a grave, He reigns at the right hand of Father God!

Peter wants us to stir us up by reminding us of how much we owe Jesus Christ. We need to be reminded of what He has done for each one of us. Those memories serve to stir our heart up to action, the action of once again giving Him our lives, once again of confirming to Him that He is Lord of our life!

He asks each one of us to do one thing, one thing that He was not afraid to do. He asks us to give Him our life! He asks us to be a living memorial to His Love for us.

Are you living your Christian life with enthusiasm and Faith, as Oliver Wendall Holmes said?

To act with enthusiasm and faith is the condition of acting greatly. To fight out a war, you must believe something and want something with all your might. So must you do to carry anything else to an end worth reaching.

Do you love Jesus with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength? Is eternity with God and end worth reaching? Then search your heart this morning! Have you made Him Lord of every aspect of your life? Are you willing to live as a sacrifice as a memorial of what He has done for your life?

To give yourself to Jesus with enthusiasm and faith is to live greatly!

Peter, writing before his death wanted us to remember dearly our need for Jesus Christ. As he changed guard he was saying:

“Post and orders remain as directed”

Will you bow and respond:

“Orders Acknowledged!

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