May 28, 2017

                 Tomorrow is Memorial Day.  It is a day that American’s honor and remember the people who died while serving in our country's armed forces.  It was originally called “Decoration Day”, because the graves of those brave soldiers are decorated with flowers.  And yet those flowers will fade, as will each individual soldier’s memory, despite their heroism for their country.  But for those who are willing to fight in the war I want to talk about today, their reward and their memory will last throughout eternity.

          As Christians, each of us is called into battle.  It is not a battle with another country, as were the two world wars.  It is more like the Civil War, which was a battle within our own country.  But first this battle begins within our own personal selves.  We cannot become a capable soldier in God’s army, until we can conquer our own demons.  The apostle Peter warned us that we must be alert and of sober mind, for our enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  (Read 1 Peter 5:8).  Once man first sinned, Satan gained control, and human nature became inherently sinful. 

          The apostle Paul wrote, “So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”  (Romans 7:21-25).

          The battle against evil within ourselves is won only through Jesus Christ.  It is only through faith in His atoning death and resurrection, and through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit who we receive upon acceptance of Jesus as our Savior and Lord, that we can fight Satan and our own sinful flesh, and win.  And even then, we must continue to build up our reinforcements through daily prayer and God’s Word. 

          In the army, soldiers depend upon other soldiers when they are wounded and weak.  Likewise, we as members of the Body of Christ, His army on earth, are to do the same for Christians who are faltering, who are caught in the grip of despair, or otherwise weak or wounded.  The apostle Paul commended the church in Thessalonica by saying “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”  (1 Thessalonians 5:11).  Our church needs to do the same.  When another member is struggling in their faith, we need to go to their aid, to administer the proper spiritual medicine, to nourish and care for them to build up their spiritual health, so they can return to the field.  Think of the church as a combination of mess tent and field hospital, where we not only get a good nourishing meal, but also a weekly check-up and any medical attention we might be in need of. 

          Those who have built up their faith, and are strong in the Spirit, are then sent out to war.  God calls us to fight, using the weapons of warfare you heard in our first two Scripture reading (2 Corinthians 10:3-5 and Ephesians 6:10-17).  He calls us to fight against the evil in this world, whether it be spiritual evil such as unbelief, idolatry, and misuse or corruption of God’s Word; or evil that causes physical suffering, through neglect, abuse, or violence. 

          And God does not like draft dodgers!  He died to save us from our sins.  He died so we could have eternal life.  He expects us to be willing to share the Gospel so others can also be saved.  Yes, some of us are called to work in the field hospital.  Some of us are called to work in the mess tent.  Some of us are called to be the army chaplains.  But others must go to the front line.  They must be strong and defend the faith against those who would gun it down.  Or pretty soon there will be no more field hospitals, mess tents, and army chaplains – or Christians in need of them.  Because there is a very real war going on within our own country.  Just like the Civil War from which Memorial Day originated, we need to fight against slavery.  This time it’s slavery to political correctness, slavery to accepting other religions as equal paths to God, slavery to calling evil good and good evil (Isaiah 5:20).  For if Christians do not stand up for the Bible, for Jesus, and for righteousness, then who will? 

          And do not say, “but I am only one person”, or “we are only a small church”.  Remember our third Scripture reading (2 Kings 6:8-23).  We have God and all his holy angels behind us!   And so I pray that just as the eyes of Elisha’s servant were opened, so that he could see the heavenly reinforcements, that you might also become strong and secure in knowing that if “God is with us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).  And as Gamalliel said to the Council when they had arrested the apostles for preaching about Jesus, “So in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone. Let them go! For if their purpose or endeavor is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop them. You may even find yourselves fighting against God.”  (Acts 5:38-39)

          I ask you, would you rather fight against God, or fight with God?  I can tell you with absolute certainty which army will win in the end!  Just read the last three chapters of the Book of Revelation. 

May America forever remain the land of the free, the home of the brave, and their trust truly be in God.