Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Ultimate Sacrifice


     With Memorial Day 2014 upon us, I was up for a history lesson; how and why it came to be. I was also curious about the red poppies and thought you might be as well. According to http://www.usmemorialday.org, “Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11.
General John Logan
http://www.usmemorialday.org

It was first observed on May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states. The South refused to acknowledge the day, honoring their dead on separate days until after World War I (when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war). It is now celebrated in almost every State on the last Monday in May (passed by Congress with the National Holiday Act of 1971 (P.L. 90 – 363) [Also]…In 1915, inspired by the poem "In Flanders Fields," Moina Michael replied with her own poem:


          We cherish too, the Poppy red
          That grows on fields where valor led,
          It seems to signal to the skies
          That blood of heroes never dies.

Commemorative Stamp
http://www.usmemorialday.org
She then conceived of an idea to wear red poppies on Memorial Day in honor of those who died serving the nation during war. She was the first to wear one, and sold poppies to her friends and co-workers with the money going to benefit servicemen in need.”

No doubt about it, we are truly a blessed people! Our soldiers continue to fight and die so our nation remains free.  How thankful we should be that Almighty God chose us to be born at this time in history and in this “free” nation, where brave men and women have made that ultimate sacrifice (Acts 17:26). Daily we enjoy this freedom that cost our fellow American’s so dearly. The very least we can do is to take this one day of the year to express our heartfelt thanks, first to God and then to them.

However, I am wondering how many of these fallen soldiers left their homes to join our military, expecting to be numbered among the dead heroes? I’m guessing, not one. God created us with a strong survivor mentality and we think we’ll beat the odds, even though there’s a good chance we could die.

Please don’t think I am making light of the death of even one of our soldiers. I am not. I would just like us to take a moment to consider a soldier’s sacrificial mind-set in comparison to our Lord Jesus Christ’s.

Like our soldiers, Jesus willingly left His home and the glory He had with the Father (John 17:5). But unlike our soldiers, He had full knowledge and expectation of his suffering and death, for He was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8). Philippians 2:5-8 explains, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” In Mark 9:31-32 Jesus “… taught His disciples and said to them, ‘The Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him. And after He is killed, He will rise the third day.’ But they did not understand this saying, and were afraid to ask Him.”

Thankfully, in every soldier, leaving for war is the desire to live and the confidence they will return home to their loved ones unharmed. Knowing death is certain would make most incapable of leaving. Jesus on the other hand, came with the express purpose of dying that we might live.  He knew, in advance, there was no other way. This is why He said to his disciples, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends.” (John 15:13)
http://www.usmemorialday.org

Truly, our fallen soldiers have paid this sacrificial price. However, they, as we, are only able to express that great love, “…because He first loved us.” (I John 4:19) Our Lord Jesus Christ paved the way. He was and is our original, pure, authentic, and Ultimate Sacrifice.

Have a blessed Memorial Day, my friends!

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