On The Shoulders Of Heroes

John 15:13Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

How do you define a hero? I suppose if you were to ask several people to define a hero you would get many different answers. A sandwich. A fictional character – superman, batman, spiderman, etc.   An athlete.  An actor or actress.  Emergency response personnel.  Military personnel.

According to the dictionary a HERO is a person of distinguished courage or ability, admired for their brave deeds and noble qualities.

I am sure you have your definition of a hero. I would like to share with you some of my heroes.

My heroes are real, ordinary people who find it in themselves to do extraordinary things. They are those everyday people who are willing to step up and put the needs of others above themselves.

I believe that this great country was founded by heroes. They were men and women who were willing to put the welfare of their neighbors and friends above themselves. Men and women who were willing to take a chance and trust God.

We enjoy freedoms today that, to be honest, most of us have not earned. Most of us have not gone to foreign lands and fought for these freedoms. The reason we have these freedoms is because of those heroes who have gone before us and who have fought to secure them for us. I want us to remember that all the freedoms we enjoy today we have because we stand on the shoulders of heroes.

The Founding Fathers of our country were just ordinary men who were called on to do extraordinary things. They were men who were willing to put everything on the line for a cause they strongly believed in.

On July 4, 1776, in the city of Philadelphia, the signing of the Declaration of Independence marked the birth of this great nation, which, under God, was designed for world leadership.

Let us not forget that on that day, by declaring independence from an earthly power, our Forefathers made a direct declaration of dependence upon God. Look at the closing words of the Declaration of Independence:

“With a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”

Those 56 heroic men who signed that document knew that this was not just a political statement that they could take back at any time. They knew that this was not going to be some kind of passive protest that would simply be looked at by the king and then dismissed.

They knew that if they succeeded, the best they could expect would be years of hardship in a struggling new nation. If they lost, they knew they would face the hangman’s noose as traitors to the crown. Yet they were willing to risk everything because they knew that what they were doing was right and they firmly believed that their actions were in line with the will of God.

We need to always remember that freedom is never free. It is always purchased at great cost!

John Quincy Adams“Posterity – you will never know how much it cost my generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it.”

 Thomas Payne – “What we obtain too cheaply, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to put a price upon its goods, and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated.”

 We are a blessed people and we live in a great nation. We are here today because we are standing on the shoulders of heroes!

Men and women have put their lives on the line for us all. They have done so willingly, with honor and integrity. There are many who have fought hard and served with integrity and honor who sit among us right now. We are thankful for what you have done and for what many of you continue to do to protect us all.

Freedom is never free. It is always purchased at great cost!

I have spoken to many serving in the military and they have all told me to please not recognize them on Memorial Day Sunday. I can appreciate why they would tell me that. Memorial Day is a day in which we recognize and honor those who are no longer with us. Memorial Day is a day that we recognize and honor those who never made it home. They are the ones who put on the uniform, kissed their family goodbye and left to obey the oath they took to defend this country from all enemies.

These are the heroes we honor today. The ones who knew that when they kissed their family goodbye they might not ever see them again and yet they went anyway. The ones who knew when they went into battle that they might not make it out alive and yet they went in anyway. The ones who put God, country, family and comrades in arms first and themselves last.

They were men like a young man President Ronald Reagan spoke of in a Memorial Day speech many years ago. Private Martin Treptow left a job in a small town barbershop in 1917 to go to France to fight with the Rainbow Division. There on the Western Front he was killed trying to carry a message between battalions under heavy artillery fire. He had almost reached his goal when a machine gun cut him down. On his body was found a diary. On the flyleaf under the heading “My Pledge” he had written these words. “America must win this war. Therefore, I will work. I will save. I will sacrifice. I will endure. I will fight cheerfully and do my utmost as if the whole issue of the struggle depended on me alone.”

Freedom is never free. It is always purchased at great cost!

President Reagan said, “We must realize that no arsenal or no weapon in the arsenals of the world is as formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women. It is a weapon our adversaries in today’s world do not have. It is a weapon that we as Americans do have. Let that be understood by those who practice terrorism and prey upon their neighbors. As for the enemies of freedom, those who are potential adversaries, they will be reminded that peace is the highest aspiration of the American people. We will negotiate for it. We will sacrifice for it. We will not surrender for it now or ever. We are Americans.”

Those are the kind of American Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines who were willing to give that last full measure of devotion. They did so with honor and courage.  Those are the kinds of heroes we honor today. It is on their shoulders that we stand today as Americans.

Freedom is never free. It is always purchased at great cost!

As much as I love this country and, without a doubt, this is the only place I wish to call home, I am also aware that this is not my final home! This nation, as wonderful as it is, will one day pass away. It is not eternal.

There is another set of shoulders that support me. There is another set of shoulders that I can stand on that I know will never falter or fail. We can know that what this world has to offer is nothing compared to what the Hero of our faith has to offer. Who is this Hero?

Hebrews 12:1-3Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

We are so thankful for those who have given their lives that we might enjoy our freedoms in America. However, let us not forget that there is One who gave His life that we might enjoy freedom for eternity.

Freedom is never free. It is always purchased at great cost!

I don’t want us to lose sight today of the greatest freedom we can all enjoy! Christ has come to set us free from the sin that shackles us and the guilt that imprisons us and the bitterness that attacks us and the resentment that batters us and the shame that pursues us!

Christ is the HERO of all time! It is upon His shoulders that we can build our eternity. We can be assured that His shoulders are strong enough to hold us all and that He will never let us down!

While I greatly love and respect our Flag, I want to share with you that there is a higher standard we can follow and that is the Cross! Jesus Christ went to the cross and gave His life in order to gain our freedom from sin. We have a choice to make. We can believe His message and have life or we can reject it.

Have you ever wondered why God has blessed America so much? In spite of those who are trying to rewrite history let us never forget that this country was founded upon Biblical principles that honor God. The phrase on our money is indicative of our religious beginnings, “In God We Trust”. No matter how prosperous we may become, we must never forget that God is the Giver and Sustainer of life and blessings.

I think, at times, we have forgotten God. To a great extent, our modern objectives have become success, status and security. They are followed closely by self-indulgence, comfort and pleasure. Our permissive society turns freedom into license, rights into riots, and pornography into profit.

Concerned about a higher standard of living, some fail to live by any standard. Riches are elevated above righteousness and science above the Savior. We abandon the moral law and then shake our heads in disbelief as crime increases.

Some day our money and economy may totally collapse. When and if it does, we’ll be left with those four words, “In God We Trust.”

Where do you place your trust today? What are you dealing with today? Are you struggling?   Do you think that everything and everyone is against you? Do you feel like your life right now is in the darkest of night? I want you to know that there is hope.

Psalm 30:5b – …weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.

By dying for us Jesus showed us how far His love was willing to go – all the way!

John 3:16For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Today we honor those who died on the battlefield on our behalf. But, more importantly, today we worship the One who died and was raised again to give us eternal life.

Freedom is never free. It is always purchased at great cost!

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