Memorials, Acts 7:57-60

Memorials Acts 7: 57-60 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO

Memorial Day is a day for us to remember those who died while serving in our country’s armed forces.  In general, people still have great regard for those who serve our country in the armed forces.  We have seen, at several graduations, our active duty, reserve and veteran service men and women recognized and honored.  The ovations for them are often louder and longer than for the graduates, though the family of a graduate can make quite a ruckus when their relative’s name is called.  

In observance of Memorial Day, your flag remains at half-staff until noon to remember those who gave their lives in service.  Then it is raised to full-staff at noon demonstrating our resolve to fight on in their stead.  

One such soldier whom we remember today is William H. Pitsenbarger.

“William H. Pitsenbarger wouldn’t receive the Medal of Honor until 2000, about 34 years after his death. Pitsenbarger joined the Air Force in 1962 and qualified for Pararescue. Eventually flying over 300 rescue missions in Vietnam, Pitsenbarger risked his life almost every day to save fellow service members.

“On April 11, 1966, Pitsenbarger was part of an operation involving two Huskies to rescue roughly half a dozen soldiers near Cam My. Pitsenbarger was lowered onto the ground and secured the wounded. Six soldiers were loaded and flown to an aid station, and the crews returned to evacuate the rest of the men. Pitsenbarger had remained with 20 who were left over, and when the returning helicopters took damage under small arms fire, Pitsenbarger waived them off.

“For about 90 minutes, Pitsenbarger tended to the wounded with splints made out of vines and stretchers made out of saplings. He policed ammunition and dispersed it to the active survivors, then joined them with a rifle to fend off Viet Cong.

“Later that night, Pitsenbarger was taken out by an enemy sniper. His body was found with a rifle and medkit still clutched in hands. Nine more soldiers made it back to safety that day.”

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As Christians, we can take this time to remember that we also have those who gave their lives in service to our heavenly country under the command of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  And we should, likewise resolve to fight on in their stead.  Today, we should also remember:

Our Lord Jesus Christ – 1 Cor 15:3-4 – Jesus was born King of the Jews [Matt 2:2].  He came to this earth to save Israel [Matt 1:21; Matt 15:24].  He went about preaching the kingdom of heaven and doing many wonderful works [Matt 11:5].  He had a heart for children [Matt 18:1-6; Mk 10:13-16].  He had a heart for those who had been beaten up by sin [Matt 9:1-8; Jn 8:1-11; Jn 9; Lk 13:11-16; and so forth].  He didn’t try to overthrow the existing government but he did berate the religious leaders of his day [Matt 23].  Thus, there were numerous attempts on his life until he was finally crucified [Jn 5:16; 7:1; 19:14-15].  But death couldn’t hold him and he rose from the dead [Matt 28:5-6].  And soon he will return to receive us to himself [1 Thes 4:16-18] and then to come again to rule from the throne of David [Is 9:6-7].

Stephen – Acts 7:57-60 – Stephen was chosen among the seven who assisted the apostles in the daily ministration to the widows in Jerusalem [Acts 6:1-6].  Stephen had an irresistible wisdom and spirit [Acts 6:9-10].  When he was falsely accused, he defended himself by recounting the history of the Jews’ envy against their God-given deliverers: Joseph, Moses and Jesus Christ [Acts 7].  After he demonstrated their history of resistance against the Holy Ghost, they stoned him.  Stephen was used by the Lord as the last chance Israel had to receive Jesus as their Messiah before turning the gospel to the Gentiles.  They will not again, as a nation, have this opportunity until the Tribulation, when a remnant will finally receive him as their Messiah and finally all Israel will be saved [Rom 11:25-28].

Paul, the Apostle – 2 Tim 4:6-8 – Paul was martyred at the command of Nero. He was a great hero.  He began by zealously persecuting the church [1 Tim 1:13; Phil 3:5-6].  But after he was converted on the road to Damascus [Acts 9:1-9], he turned completely toward the Lord and preached Jesus Christ more fervently than all others [Acts 9:20-22; 1 Cor 15:9-10].  He endured constant hardship and persecution but fought on relentlessly [2 Cor 11:23-28].  He was used by the Lord to preach the gospel through Syria, Cilicia, Pamphylia, Phrygia, Galatia, Asia, Mysia, Macedonia, Achaia, Italy, and Israel.

John Huss – Huss was born Catholic and studied for the priesthood.  He preached in Prague’s Bethlehem Chapel, which held 3,000 people.  But over time, he discovered the truth of the Bible and began to change his views.  Of his denouncement of the Eucharist, Indulgences, and other perverted doctrines of the church, Huss said, “When the Lord gave me knowledge of the Scriptures, I discharged that kind of stupidity from my foolish mind.”  Huss trusted the scriptures “desiring to hold, believe and assert whatever is contained in them as long as I have breath in me.”  He left Prague and wrote from the countryside for a couple of years.  He was invited back to Prague for a hearing, which was never granted.  He was only given the chance to recant his views, which he did not.  Thus, he was stripped of his priestly garments and on July 6, 1415, he was burned at the stake.  At his death he proclaimed, “Lord Jesus, it is for thee that I patiently endure this cruel death. I pray thee to have mercy on my enemies.”

William Tyndale – Tyndale said, “I defy the pope, and all his laws.”  His desire was to translate the scriptures into English so that the common man could read the Bible for himself.  He said that he would cause the boy that drives the plow in England to know more of the scriptures than the pope himself.  King Henry VIII opposed him.  He first translated the New Testament and had it smuggled into England.  It is estimated that at his death 50,000 copies of his New Testament had been sold in England.  In 1535, Tyndale was arrested and imprisoned.  He was tried and sentenced to death.  His last words were, “Lord, open the King of England’s eyes.”    Tyndale’s prayer was answered.  You must realize that King James ascended the throne and ordered the English translation of the Bible to commence in 1604.  Our King James Bible was finished and first published in 1611.

Conclusion: Memorial Day is to commemorate our service men and women who gave their lives in service to our country and to resolve to take up the fight in their stead.  Thus, it behoves us to remember these martyrs and the many others who have given their lives for the cause of Christ and to resolve to take up the fight in their stead.  2 Tim 2:3, “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”