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Veterans Day 2007

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•       Veterans Day 2007

•       Veteran’s day was established in 1926 as a day to commemorate the end of world war I.  It established the idea of remembering and so honoring the soldier who has fought for our freedoms.  Today it is still something that we pursue but oftentimes I feel that honor is something that has been forgotten over the years.

•       Honor

•         Honor is an ancient word which can have numerous meanings depending on how it is used.  For today’s purpose I want to use it as it is used in Exodus 20. “Honor, thy father and thy mother”  This is a commandment from God to do something.  Yes, honor involves doing something.  So how do we honor our veterans?  First I think that we need to look at what honor is.  Merriam Webster’s dictionary summarizes it to mean “the showing of merited respect”.

•         Showing respect is something again that we do.  It’s not just a feeling or a thought, but rather a way in which we show how we feel and what we think in a manner which shows appreciation and the recognition of the sacrifices which these soldiers have made.

•       My honor

•          For some it is easier to respect a family member who has served their country rather than a stranger.  I chose to honor my father who served his country for close to 25 years, with a poem.

•          Of time we hear of men gone by

•          Of fearless leaders and heroes that die

•          But listen close for these words I say

•          About a sailor, a father and husband I speak today.

•          He fought the wars that made us free

•          From ship to ship he sailed each sea.

•          Never once did he question why,

•          He did his duty, yet he didn’t die.

•          His life he lived for a score and more

•          Then came the day there was no war.

•          So home he came to live again.

•          His fancy stolen by love’s great eye

•          He married Dawne and his heart did fly

•          His love for her none other could deny.

•          There were thirty years from start to finish

•          Not once said he- this is the finish.

•          For in those blessed years there came

•          More family to carry on his good name

•          A son, a junior, his namesake is he.

•          He carries on the family tree.

•          Then came his granddaughter she sat on his knee.

•          She called him Grampy for Tabitha was she,

•          Of love it is true she sparked his old eye

•          Yet that was another love to whom he said goodbye

•          A horrible poison, the devil’s own brew

•          They said it was safe, if only my dad knew

•          This cup he then drank and him it did slew.

•          Cancer came and took him down,

•          But as always never did he frown.

•          For he knew that through all his pains,

•          The joys of his life lived were his best gains

•          Let the devil try his might

•          My father never gave up the fight.

•          This life now stolen some years-many days

•          We love him; we miss him we wait in dismay.

•          But hope’s not lost for my heart does know,

•          In heaven he waits for that day we come home.

•       Soldiers

•          It is important to remember that every soldier whether dead or alive, fights together for the same cause in the same war.  They are just in different battles in different times, in a different location.  You see, my dad even though he had been retired from the Navy for 30 years was still a veteran and always a soldier.  Even as he was dying he was still fighting the fight.  Not once did he let the snares of death make him proclaim anything against our sovereign God.  Through adversity he stayed the course. 

•         We are all soldiers in an eons long war.  We battle against the will of Satan.  We fight not against the devil’s temptations but our own choices of sin.  As Pastor pointed out this morning, it is not temptation that is the sin, but rather how we respond to that temptation.  That is where we sin.

•        So then Christian, how do we fight in a war where our own actions determine the outcome of the battles.

•        First, we need to remember that the victory is already won.  What Jesus did at the cross was thee victory.  We fight the battles now knowing that we have put on the new and have put off the old.  Where before, sin conquered all life, now sin itself has been conquered.  Sin had the power over life, now it only has the suggestive influence over life.  That’s salvation.

•       Get armed

•         Second who do we stand against?  Ephesians 6 tells us “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Ephesians 6:11-12)

•         We are not fighting against a specific person, or group or organization or country.  We are fighting against the schemes of a slanderer.  Someone who puts us down and says bad things about us.  These wiles of the devil are where we engage in battle.  How then do we fight?

•       Fighting God’s Way

•          “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;” (Ephesians 6:13-18)

•          This passage tells us not to attack Satan and his schemes but rather to stand firm.  We can stand by doing what we are told here.

•          Girt your loins with truth-”Before a Roman soldier put on his armor, he put a belt around his waist. This held his garments together and served as a place on which to hang his armor. The belt of truth refers not to the facts of the gospel but to subjective truth, a believer’s integrity and faithfulness. As a soldier’s belt or sash gave ease and freedom of movement, so truth gives freedom with self, others, and God.” Remember that this truth is what a soldier uses to hold his armor together.

•         The breastplate of righteousness- ”refers…to the sanctifying righteousness of Christ (1 Cor. 1:30) practiced in a believer’s life. As a soldier’s breastplate protected his chest from an enemy’s attacks, so sanctifying, righteous living (Rom. 6:13; 14:17) guards a believer’s heart against the assaults of the devil (cf. Isa. 59:17; James 4:7)”

•         Having shod your feet with the preparation of the Gospel of Peace-The idea seems to be that the mind is to be steadied, kept from fear and flutter, by means of the good news of peace—the good news that we are at peace with God; and “if God be for us, who can be against us?” The Roman sandal was furnished with nails that gripped the ground firmly, even when it was sloping or slippery; so the good news of peace keeps us upright and firm.”

•          Withal taking up the shield of faith. This shield refers to a large oblong shield covering a great part of the body, not the, smaller and more round one. Faith, in its widest sense, constitutes this shield—faith in God as our Father, in Christ as our Redeemer, in the Spirit as our Sanctifier and Strengthener—faith in all the promises, and especially such promises as we find in Rev. 2 and 3 “to him that overcometh” (comp. promise to Ephesus, Rev. 2:7)

•           Wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the evil one. “Fiery darts” were weapons tipped with inflammable materials, firebrands, curiously constructed, adapted to set on fire. Metaphorically, considerations darted into the mind inflaming lust, pride, revenge, or other evil feelings, emanations from the great tempter, the evil one. That such considerations sometimes start up suddenly in the mind, against the deliberate desire, sometimes even in the middle of holy exercises, is the painful experience of every Christian, and must make him thankful for the shield on which they are quenched. An act of faith on Christ, placing the soul consciously in his presence, recalling his atoning love and grace, and the promises of the Spirit, will extinguish these fiery temptations.

•          And take the helmet of salvation. This is the head-covering. In 1 Thess 5:8 we read, “putting on for an helmet the hope of salvation.” The glorious truth that we are saved, appropriated, rested on, rejoiced in, will protect even so vital a part as the head, will keep us from intellectual surrender and rationalistic doubt.

•          And the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. The sword supplied by the Spirit, the Word being inspired by him, and employed by the Spirit; for he enlightens us to know it, applies it to us, and teaches us to use it both defensively and offensively. Our Lord in his conflict with Satan, and also with the scribes and Pharisees, has taught us how this weapon is to be used, and with what wonderful effect. Paul, too, reasoning from the Scriptures and proving from them “that this Jesus whom I preach unto you is the Christ,” or (going back to the Old Testament) the author of the hundred and nineteenth psalm, showing us how the soul is to be fed, quickened, strengthened and comforted out of God’s Law, indicates the manifold use of the sword, and shows how earnestly we should study and practice this sword exercise, for our own good and the good of others.

•         With all prayer and supplication praying. The metaphor of armour is now dropped, but not the idea of the conflict, for what is now insisted on is of the most vital importance for successful warfare. Though prayer is virtually comprehended in most of the previous exhortations, it is now specifically enjoined, and in a great variety of ways; “all prayer and supplication,” equivalent to every form of it, e.g. ejaculatory, secret, spoken, domestic, social, congregational.

•          At all seasons. No period of life should be without it—youth, middle life, old age, all demand it; no condition of life—adversity, prosperity, sunshine, desolation, under sore temptation, under important duty, under heavy trial, under all the changing circumstances of life, personal, social, Christian.

•         In the Spirit; for true prayer is spiritual, and it is not true prayer unless by the Holy Spirit the heart is filled with heavenward longings and aspirations, changing our prayer from cold form to heartfelt realities. The ordinary habit of the soul should be prayerful, realizing the presence of God and looking for his grace and guidance.

•         And watching thereunto; that is, “towards” spirituality, against formality, as also against forgetfulness and neglect of prayer. Perhaps also the idea of watching for the answer is involved, as you wait for an answer when you have despatched a letter. In all perseverance; this being very specially needed to make prayer triumphant,

•         And prayer for all saints; this being one of the great objects for which saints are gathered into the “one body” the Church, that they may be upheld and carried on, in warfare and in work, by mutual prayer, kept from slips and infirmities, and from deadly sins, and enabled one and all to “walk worthy of the vocation wherewith they are called.”

•       Conclusions

•         In a song by the Whisnants entitled “God’s bigger than that we hear the words that “We are soldiers in an army, fighting everyday.  The captain of glory is leading the way.  We are heading to a city, he’s taking us on back.  No matter what’s before us, God’s bigger than that…You may face a raging battle of Satan everyday.  As he constantly reminds you of all your past mistakes.  See he’s got his eyes upon you, he’s trying to turn you back.  He knows you know the answer, God’s bigger than that.”

•         Soldiers, stand firm and defend yourselves, for what you do today is worthy of honor.  Whether you fight for the freedom of our country or the freedom from sin, honor your fellow soldier, and give praise and honor to your God.  Amen

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