At Emmanuel Baptist Church, we combined our Pentecost and Memorial Day observations in the “Pastoral Prayer” section of our worship service. I was particularly happy with the way it turned out and offer it as an addition to your own Memorial Day observances.
“Since 1971 Memorial Day has been observed annually on the last Monday in May. The purpose is to honor the nation’s military personnel killed in wartime.
“The holiday was called Decoration Day at first, because people decorated soldiers’ graves with flowers and flags on that day. Today it is also marked by parades, memorial speeches and ceremonies.
“Waterloo, New York, was the birthplace of Memorial Day. On May 5, 1866, the people of Waterloo placed flowers on the graves of northern soldiers who had died in the Civil War. In 1868, Major General John Logan declared May 30 as a day for honoring soldiers who had died fighting for the North. “After World War I ended, in 1918, Decoration Day became a day to remember everyone who died fighting in U.S. wars – the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, and World War I. The observation now also includes World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Gulf wars.” <Bobby Scobey; retrieved from http://www.sermoncentral.com/illustrations/sermon-illustration-bobby-scobey-stories-59644.asp on 05/23/15.>
Decoration Day has become Memorial Day, a time to remember all our loved ones and the sacrifices they have made for us.
“It’s honorable and fitting this morning we remember the sacrifice of our nation’s great veterans, who gave their lives on battlefields abroad and here at home. By some estimates, nearly 1.3 million Americans have shed their blood and died for freedom’s cause. Still, as magnanimous as this number is, it pales in comparison to the number of men, women, and children who have given their lives for freedom’s eternal cause.
“Michael J. McClymond, writing for the Journal of the American Academy of Religion, wrote in its December 2002 edition: ‘The total number of Christian martyrs during the 20th Century is reported at 45 million.’ He finished his though by defining Christian martyrs as ‘believers in Christ who lost their lives prematurely, in situations of witness, as a result of human hostility.’” <Jason Bonnicksen; retrieved from http://www.sermoncentral.com/illustrations/sermon-illustration-jason-bonnicksen-statistics-holidayscivic-79109.asp on 5/23/15.>
As we memorialize all who have made a sacrifice of life itself for our benefit, it’s important we remember the One who shed the purity of his blood for freedom’s cause. For without the sacrifice or our Jesus on the cross, we would have no means of celebration today.
Stand, then call out simultaneously the names of anyone you’re memorializing today.
“One of the great preachers in U.S. history is D. L. Moody. He pastored in Chicago and there is still a wonderful Bible College there that bears his name and values. Mr. Moody was a successful minister, but by his own admission, he lacked the power in his ministry. One day two women came up to him after a service. They said, ‘We have been praying for you.’
“‘Why don’t you pray for the people?’ he asked.
“‘Because you need the power of the Spirit.’ “In relating the incident years after he writes, ‘I thought I had power. I had the largest congregation in Chicago, and there were many conversions.’”
“Moody also said that in a sense, he was satisfied. He was in a comfort zone. But these two praying women rocked the boat. They told him that they were praying for an anointing by the Holy Spirit. Mr. Moody could not get this off his mind and he wrote, ‘There came a great hunger in my soul. I did not know what it was and I began to cry out to God as never before. I felt I did not want to live if I could not have this power for service.’”
“Rev. Moody began crying out for God to fill him. He withdrew, prayed, and sought it over a period of time. He writes the following: ‘Well, one day, in the city of New York — oh, what a day! — I cannot describe it, I seldom refer to it; it is almost too sacred an experience to name. Paul had an experience of which he never spoke for fourteen years. I can only say that God revealed Himself to me, and I had such an experience of His love that I had to ask Him to stay His hand. I went to preaching again. The sermons were not different; I did not present any new truths, and yet hundreds were converted. I would not be put back where I was before that blessed experience if you should give me all the world.’”
<Ken Pell, retrieved from http://www.sermoncentral.com/illustrations/sermon-illustration-ken-pell-stories-blessing-curse-esau-81534.asp on 5/22/15.>
(Please read Romans 8:1-4.)
Message: Under the influence of the Holy Spirit, we are free from the sin nature and its deadly outcome.
- The outcome is NO CONDEMNATION!
THEREFORE indicates a new section beginning. This is the third time this far in the book of Romans that Paul has made this kind of transition. It covers chapters 6+7, where Paul’s written about slavery to sin. We are all born with a sin nature. That is the legacy of Adam. The sin nature is an appetite for disobedience to God; it makes us especially vulnerable to temptation. On our own, we can only hope to restrain the sin nature. The sin nature carries so great a degree of influence that we are ultimately powerless to resist it – we are in “slavery” to it.
Though the sin nature is deadly, the situation is not hopeless – God provided a way out!
Let’s go out of order a moment and note the condition – FOR THOSE WHO ARE IN CHRIST JESUS. This condition begins with confession – admitting that sin is a personal problem. It continues in the personal belief that Jesus Christ is the sole solution to the problem of sin and accepting Him as my Savior. It is perpetuated and validated by the ongoing decision to live for Jesus as Lord; submitting all my days and ways to Him.
Before explaining how it’s possible, Paul sets forth the good news: THERE IS NOW NO CONDEMNATION! NOW indicates the situation has changed. A new possibility has emerged: NO CONDEMNATION. We are no longer condemned to death as law-breakers (see 6:23). There is only one condition and no qualifiers, no exceptions to the rule!
So who are we to bring condemnation against those beloved of God when HE has chosen not to? How false it is to say that we are too far gone, too guilty of evil to be forgiven by God? Faith brings us to the point where there is NO CONDEMNATION. In both these examples, the Enemy wants to distract, discourage, and disable believers, but his accusations are false, because God has said there is NO CONDEMNATION.
- Jesus made that possible by His death o/t cross.
Verse two makes it plain; this was accomplished THROUGH JESUS CHRIST. He is the means of our salvation.
Verse three tells us, WHAT THE LAW WAS POWERLESS TO DO… GOD DID BY SENDING HIS OWN SON.
– THE LAW WAS POWERLESS means that there was no permanent solution here. God provided t Law for 3 reasons.
— To define his standard (everything outside what God approved is sin).
— To motivate restraint of the sin nature.
— To provide forgiveness when we fail, through the blood of the sacrifice.
While the Law was effective for those purposes, it was unable to destroy the sin nature. It was a temporary fix until Jesus came.
– The sin nature weakens the Law by making it impossible for us to keep it; our nature condemns us to always fall short of God’s standard.
– GOD SENT HIS SON…
— IN THE LIKENESS OF SINFUL MAN. Don’t let the word LIKENESS make you think Jesus was anything other than fully human. He lived in every way as we do, with the exception of sin – He was not guilty of sin (see Hebrews 4:15), nor did He have a sinful nature. (This is because He had no earthly father to pass it on to Him.)
— TO BE A SIN OFFERING. Since sin brought the penalty of death, a life was due. God, in His mercy, did not require the life of the sinner, but allowed a substitution. When an animal was sacrificed, the pouring out of its life was in the loss of its blood. Blood symbolizes life, a life wasted by defying God. Jesus’ blood was the ultimate sin offering that once for all time paid the debt of the guilty sinner.
– HE CONDEMNED SIN IN SINFUL MAN. Notice He condemned SIN, not the sinner. Sin is a defeated enemy; new life is available.
Verse four explains the purpose of Jesus’ sacrifice: THAT THE RIGHTEOUS REQUIREMENTS OF THE LAW MIGHT BE FULLY MET IN US. Jesus, being fully God and fully man, fulfilled with His blood, what the Law required for the forgiveness of sin. Notice three particulars:
– The requirements of the Law are RIGHTEOUS.
– The requirements of the Law were FULLY met. Again; no conditions, no exceptions.
– The requirements of the Law were fully met IN US – or for us – but not by us!
- The Holy Spirit provides a new life for us.
Verse two shows that THE LAW OF THE SPIRIT OF LIFE SET ME FREE FROM THE LAW OF SIN AND DEATH. The main contrast here is between the old and new covenants. But there is another contrast here, between the LAW and LIFE. While the LAW gives regularity, LIFE gives the flexibility to show grace. This shows the superiority of the Spirit’s operation.
According to verse four, being thereby freed from the death penalty, we DO NOT LIVE ACCORDING TO THE SINFUL NATURE BUT ACCORDING TO THE SPIRIT. Paul will spend the rest of this chapter detailing what life ACCORDING TO THE SPIRIT is like. For now, what’s important to us: We are NO LONGER under the influence of the sin nature but are under the influence of the Holy Spirit instead.
For the believer, the goal of life changes from self-satisfaction to satisfying God under the direction of the Spirit.
“There’s a story told of a husband and wife both of who were doctors – one a doctor of theology and the other a doctor of medicine. When their doorbell was rung and the maid answered, the inquirer would often ask for “the doctor”. The interesting reply was: “Do you want the one who preaches or the one who practices?”
We know the theory of Christian living but what we must do is to practice it!
<Owen Bourgaize, retrieved from http://www.sermoncentral.com/illustrations/sermon-illustration-owen-bourgaize-humor-holyspiritbaptism-pentecost-2971.asp on 5/22/15.>
What we’ve learned is that the Holy Spirit makes all the difference. We can’t preach or practice with any eternal effectiveness apart from the indwelling Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the agency of salvation, the part of God that resides in us and provides the information and power we need to live beyond what is merely natural and merely normal; to experience God in living moments, great and small. The Holy Spirit makes it possible for us to truly LIVE!
On Pentecost (known to the Jews as the Feast of Weeks), God’s promise of the Holy Spirit was fulfilled. On this day hundreds of years ago, the first disciples became the Church as they received the Spirit as Jesus had personally guaranteed they would.
Personally, I like the fact that Memorial Sunday, Pentecost Sunday and Graduates Sunday have all come on the same day. One aspect of Memorial Day is to celebrate our freedom as Americans. In a similar but more important way, Pentecost is a celebration of our freedom in the Holy Spirit. These are both celebrations of past events, while our graduates remind us that we have reason to celebrate the future as well. It’s been a fulfilling experience. But in the midst of it all, remember: under the influence of the Holy Spirit, we are free from the sin nature and its deadly outcome.