Well, today Memorial Day. Itis the close of the Memorial Day weekend.
And it’s an important holiday.
Not just because people get off work. And not because we get to see so many families, and friends, inaugurate summer Barbecue season in our own back yards or at beaches or in some other traditional way and place.
Even though those things are nice. It is important because of what it’s all about.
Memorial Day in America began after the Civil War, as a day to recognize the fallen soldiers who died fighting for what they believed in.
It was originally called Decoration Day as families would decorate the graves of the fallen soldiers with flowers, flags, and ribbons.
It didn’t become an official holiday until 1967. And it’s vitally important that we do never forget those who have given their lives in the service to their country.
Americans will break out the flags, hot dogs and red, white and blue apparel to celebrate Memorial Day on the last Monday of the month of May.
But while they aren’t all on the same date, countries around the world have their own celebration days and traditions to commemorate fallen soldiers.
Australia and New Zealand—Anzac Day
Anzac Day, April 25, is the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the World War I.
The day begins with commemorative services at dawn, followed by marches of former military men and women.
People also play two-up on Anzac Day, a gambling game that involves betting on which way pennies will land on the table that was often played by Australian soldiers in World War I.
Dodenherdenking, which means “remembrance of the dead” in Dutch, is held every year on May 4, and celebrates and remembers all civilians and military members from the Netherlands who have died in conflicts since World War II.
The main ceremony of the day is observed in Amsterdam at the National Monument on Dam Square, attended by the royal family.
At 8 p.m., two minutes of silence are observed throughout the country; even public transportation is halted.
Celebrated on Nov. 11, Remembrance Day marks the end of fighting in World War I.
It is celebrated throughout the British Commonwealth, but in England, the British Royal Family assembles outside for two minutes of silence beginning at 11 a.m. Poppies have become the symbol of the day in England; wreaths of them are laid at war memorials and small artificial ones are worn on clothing.
On November 11 at 11 a.m.—the time of the signing of the armistice—the UK holds a two-minute silence.
“Remembrance poppies” are worn and displayed as per a tradition inspired by the Canadian poet John McCrae’s “In Flanders Fields:”
In Flanders’ fields the poppies blowCanadian Poet John McCrae
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
Belgium also celebrates the end of World War I on Nov. 11.
The nation holds a Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate in Ypres.
The Last Post was a bugle call played by armies to mark the end of the day, and it is now used by the country to celebrate, remember fallen soldiers.
At the end of the ceremony, people lay wreaths of poppies and the flowers are released from the top of the gate.
South Koreans observe Memorial Day on June 6, the same month that the Korean War began, to honor servicemen and civilians who have died for their country. The nation holds a one-minute silence at 10 a.m.
Armistice Day in France is solemnly observed on Nov. 11 with ceremonies, special church services and poppy adornments. In recent years, the holiday has come to recognize all of the country’s war dead in addition to the 1.4 million people killed in the First World War.
The point of this is this, country’s all over the globe remember their people as they remember, seek to celebrate their service men and women and population following the close of some great conflict their countries fought and died in.
Memorial Day, in whatever form or under whatever title a country chooses to call it, is celebrated quite literally in all corners of our Globe – as it should be!
We celebrate sacrifice. We celebrate struggle. We celebrate hard fought victory!
To help us to always remember the high cost of freedom.
The unquantifiable high cost to our own humanity of fighting for that freedom.
But unfortunately; a lot of folks don’t remember… even though we have this national holiday.
To many, it’s not about the lost lives, it’s about getting a day off of work and back yard bar-b-ques, going out for that great celebration – summer vacation.
The purpose of the holiday seems to be forgotten.
But I guess that shouldn’t be all that surprising… because I believe a whole lot of people just as easily forget about God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit as well.
I want you to take your Bibles, open them up to Deuteronomy 8:11-19 (AMP)
I ask you to read the passage that talks about what happens when we forget.
11 “Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God by failing to keep His commandments and His judgments (precepts) and His statutes which I am commanding you today; 12 otherwise, when you have eaten and are satisfied, and have built good houses and lived in them, 13 and when your herds and flocks multiply, and your silver and gold multiply, and all that you have Increases, 14 then your heart will become lifted up [by self-conceit and arrogance] and you will forget the Lord your God who brought you from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 15 He led you through the great and terrible wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water; it was He who brought water for you out of the flinty rock. 16 He fed you manna in the wilderness, [a substance] which your fathers did not know, so that He might humble you [by dependence on Him] and that He might test you, to do good [things] for you at the end. 17 Otherwise, you may say in your heart, ‘My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.’ 18 But you shall remember [with profound respect] the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore (solemnly promised) to your fathers, as it is this day. 19 And it shall come about if you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods and serve them and worship them, I testify against you today that you will most certainly perish.
The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.
This is one of those devotions I have prayed about writing for quite some time.
What is on my heart and deep within my soul is a reality I pray is not too real.
What I believe I need to say is going to be reasonably controversial and too some degree represents some misinterpretation of belief verses unbelief.
Where you might believe, based on your own experience and remembrances, to be different from what I do say and have held to be “true”, please enlighten me, please educate me, please correct my perceptions and my misrepresentations.
With those caveats in mind, here we go ….
There are days when I really truly believe that one of the biggest problems the modern-day Church faces is not what or who we remember but that we forget.
We forget that God is God – and we are not.
We forget that He is sovereign, Almighty, and in control – and we are not.
We forget that Jesus is Lord, and that He alone is the way, the truth, and the life.
We forget that God’s Word is authoritative and that it’s through His Word that God saves us, changes us, sanctifies us, matures us, and transforms us.
I want to share a quote with you from the late pastor, theologian R.C. Sproul.
“The majority of American’s claim to be Christian, and only a small percentage claim to be actual atheists. But the truth is – many within the Church are functional atheists. In other words, they would never say that they do not believe in God, but they live their lives like there is no God. Truly, they profess Christ with their lips, but their hearts are far from Him.”
Now, I have to think about this for a second: Atheists do not pray, and neither do functional atheists… even though they say there’s a God, they don’t pray.
Their behavior doesn’t line up with their profession.
Atheists don’t believe in the authority of God’s Word, and neither do functional atheists…
They might say they believe it’s God’s Word, but it doesn’t rule their lives.
Atheists do not believe in laying up treasures in heaven, and neither really do functional atheists – they’re too busy seeking all their treasures here on earth.
Atheists only live for themselves and live for today.
Functional atheists are no different.
Now here’s the difference: Atheists believe that there is no God… functional atheists say they believe in God, but their lives show that they really don’t.
Basically, the functional atheist is trying to hedge his bets, just in case.
He’s become aware of the possibility that there is a God, and he’s aware of the possibility that God is real, and so he’s trying to play the odds and cover all his bases.
But the problem is – it doesn’t work that way. Jesus doesn’t give us the option of riding or straddling the fence.
He says, “Those who are not with Me, are against Me.”
He says, “If you’re lukewarm, I’ll spit you out of My mouth.”
He says, “You can’t love two masters.”
All through the New Testament He makes this distinction.
He separates the sheep and the goats.
He separates the wheat and the chaff.
He says, “This is My Church, My Body… and this over here isn’t.”
So basically; the functional atheist is someone who has forgotten God.
Now what does it mean to forget something, or someone?
Well basically it means that thing, or that person; are not in your thoughts, or in your mind.
And that happens when other things are in your thoughts or in your mind.
Those other things or people have taken the forefront.
You’ve set your minds, and your thoughts, and your desires on them. And you dismiss or disregard the thoughts of that other thing… or another person.
And that’s what the functional atheist does.
Monday through Saturday, the thoughts of God don’t cross their mind.
The thoughts of living for Christ, learning about Christ, loving Christ, worshiping Christ… it’s there only one day a week.
But the rest of the week, their hearts are far from Him.
And church – here’s the thing… this is something WE ALL have to be watchful of. You, me, and every other Christian out there.
Let’s go back to our text in Deuteronomy and look at verse 11 again.
God says this to His people…
“Take care lest you forget the Lord your God…”
In other words, “Be careful that this doesn’t happen to you.”
“Take precautions that you’re not forgetting God.”
That’s what this says.
But look at the last part of that verse…
God says, “Take care so you don’t forget… and here’s how you do that – keep His commandments and His rules, and His statutes.”
How do you forget God?
By not keeping His commandments, and His rules, and His statutes.
He goes on and says, “Take care that you don’t forget God… because when life is good, and things are going well, and you’re comfortable and content with your place in life… you’ll be tempted to forget about God.”
You’ll not be going to Him every morning asking for your daily bread.
You’ll believe the lie that pastor down at such and such church tells that this is your best life now.
Well, it’s not!
What happens is that a person becomes content with the poor substitutes this world offers, and their focus shifts.
What does it mean to genuinely remember God?
Remembering God’s goodness moves us to respond to our world in hope rather than fear.
Remembering God’s love for us fuels our love for others.
The discipline of remembering inspires us to act.
Throughout the Bible, God’s people are exhorted to place their trust in him and join him as he restores and redeems our world.
Instead of their goal being going out and making disciples their goal is maintaining mankind’s standards of comfort, safety and sustainability.
Instead of their goal being to see more disciples made, their goal is maintaining and sustaining what they have already got.
Instead of their goal being to strive towards living for Christ, they live for themselves.
You see; I believe here’s the thing: All of us, as fallen human beings are born with atheistic hearts.
We are born with a tendency to forget God.
But if you go back to our text and look at what the Lord has Moses write in verses 14 – 16 we’ll notice He reminds them of what He has done for them.
This is the second way God helps us TO NOT forget…
first – He told us to keep His commands…
Second, we need to remind ourselves of what He’s done in our lives.
You know, one of the best ways you can talk to someone about God, and even share the Gospel with them is by sharing your testimony and by telling them what God has done in your life.
It doesn’t have to have a whole lot of theological jargon…
it’s as simple as saying,
“This is what God has done for me!” “I was blind, but now I see.” “I was an alcoholic, but now I’m free.” “I was an angry, violent person, but now I have love and peace in my heart.” “I was promiscuous, but now I’m faithful.” “I was an idolater, but now I love Jesus.” “I once was lost, but now I’m found.”
WHAT HAS GOD DONE FOR YOU?
Has He forgiven you?
Has He delivered you?
Has He changed you?
Has He set you free from sin?
We need to remind ourselves of those things.
And we need to share those things with others.
So, The Lord is telling us… the way we don’t forget about God is –
We keep His commands, and we continually remind ourselves of what He’s done in our lives, and what He’s done in history.
But then you go on to verse 17 and He gives us another warning.
He says, “Beware, lest you say in your heart…”
So, it doesn’t even have to be with words… you can say this in your heart…
“Beware, lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’”
Now that’s the sin of pride…
that’s the sin of saying, “I don’t need God. I can and will do it on my own. I can and will make it on my own because that is what I have always done.”
And again; most people would probably never verbalize that.
But they can say it in their heart… and our lives display what’s in our heart.
Did you know; that in the New Testament, when it talks about Jesus, it refers to Him 24 times as Savior. But it refers to Him over 600 times as Lord. Functional atheism comes from putting yourself on the throne. You are not lord… JESUS IS LORD!
That means He’s our master. He’s the one who is to have control of us. He is our ruler. He’s our boss. He owns us. He bought us with a price. And here’s what Jesus says to us… Matthew 16:24
“If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.”
The Cross serves one purpose – death. Jesus is saying that we have to die to sin, and die to self, take ourselves off the throne and acknowledge that He is Lord.
Church – the purpose of Memorial Day is so that we don’t forget what it costs to be free.
It’s different than the 4th of July… on Independence Day we celebrate our freedom, but on Memorial Day we remember what our freedom cost.
But please do not think that taking just one day out of the year is enough to adequately remember.
It’s not enough… one day out of the year is not enough for anything.
If you eat one day out of the year – you’ll die.
If you work at a job, one day out of the year, you’ll be homeless and have nothing.
If you mow your yard one day out of the year, it’s going to be an overgrown mess.
If you bathe one day out of the year – you’ll be one nasty, stinky dude.
We know, one day is not enough.
We have to continually remember; we have to remind ourselves.
We have to diligently maintain what we have.
This nation is the greatest nation on earth, but it’s not what it used to be.
And what’s really interesting is that if our nation is going to get back to what it once was…
it’s not about taking up arms, and it’s not about voting the right kind of people in, and it’s not about legislation or politics… it’s about what our text says…
it’s about remembering God.
It’s about remembering Jesus Christ.
It’s about remembering Holy Spirit.
It’s about following Him, and obeying Him, and living for Him.
God tells us – in the very last verse of our text,
“If you forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them… YOU WILL SURELY PERISH.”
So, today, let’s ask ourselves –
do we live our lives as if there is no God?
Are we serving the Lord Jesus Christ, or ourselves?
Who is seated on the throne of our hearts?
Are we functional atheists or are we following Jesus Christ the Lord?
When we sing that hymn – “I Surrender All” Do you really mean it?
Maybe you are here reading this morning
and you’re saying to yourself,
“if I’m being honest, I’d have to say that there are things in my life that I haven’t surrendered to the Lordship of Christ, and if I’m being honest, I’m scared to do that… what if Jesus calls me to do something that’s hard? What if He tells me to give up something that I really like? What if He calls me to something that takes me out of my comfort zone?”
Those are all legitimate and honest questions, and if you’re asking them you might want to look again at verses 12 – 13 of our text there in Deuteronomy.
And then I would encourage you that our God is good. He is a loving Father.
And it’s so much better to know Him, and walk with Him, and be in fellowship with Him, than it is to be comfortable in this world.
It’s so much better to be in His presence, and in His will than to have anything this world offers.
Because this world is temporary and it’s passing away, but eternity is forever.
What is the perfect way to remember God?
5 Creative ways to remember God’s goodness in 2022 and beyond:
- Start a Gratitude Journal. “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” …
- Make a Miracle Jar. …
- Keep a Prayer journal. …
- Keep God’s Word as your best reference – as a visual reminder. …
- Be a Living Breathing Reminder, source of remembrance for Others.
Here are some things to do throughout the day to spend your time more intentionally with God.
- Remember this is the day that the Lord hath made for you.
- Remember to rejoice, be glad in the day which the Lord hath given you.
- Grab a devotional,
- Open your bible,
- Start Your Day … “I Love You God because You …”
- Pray Intentionally. …
- Write Down Things You Are Thankful For. …
- Write down … “This is where I saw the Goodness of God today …”
- Notice Your Complaints and Turn Them into Praise. …
- Celebrate God exactly as much as God Celebrates You!
- Go outside and Enjoy God’s Creation. …
- Love Others. …
- Love Yourself.
- Remember God as God remembers you! (John 3:16-17)
- Remember Jesus as Jesus remembers you! (Matthew 28:18-20)
- Remember Holy Spirit as Holy Spirit remembers you. (Romans 8:26-28)
Let’s open our eyes to look for evidence of God with us in our daily life and in our trials. What has He already done for us? What blessings have we already received? Let’s thank Him and ask Him to open our eyes to His presence.
In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,
Let us Pray,
Lord, help me to recognize you are with me today. Forgive me for so easily forgetting your presence when I get busy or feel stressed by the worries of this life. Lord, remind me I am walking on holy ground, right where I am in the middle of my challenges, because you are, now and forever, exactly there.
I choose to remember. I choose to recall. I choose to believe that you see me, you hear me, and you care for me. Give me grace to draw near to you. I want to know you better; Lord, reveal yourself to me. I long to see you more fully and know your great love, power, and faithfulness. Gloria! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.