Today is Veterans Day, a day set aside to honor all who have served this country in war or peace. It is intended to thank living veterans for their service and sacrifices. It was originally called Armistice Day, commemorating the end of WWI. November 11,1918 was considered to be the end of the war to end all wars. It became an official holiday in 1938, primarily to honor the veterans of WWI. But then WWII happened and the Korean War so on June 1,1954 congress changed armistice to veterans so the day would honor American veterans of all wars. Other countries celebrate this as well since many of these wars were multinational efforts. Both Canada and Australia call it Remembrance Day but celebrate it on November 11th. Great Britain also calls it Remembrance Day but celebrates it on the Sunday closest to November 11th.
Many of us have family members who have served and some have paid the ultimate price. Both my grandfathers served in WWI. They served, came home and went to work and they didn't speak of the war. Both of our fathers served in WWII. My Dad was in the army Air Force and Barb’s Dad in the Coast Guard. Again, they went to war, came home, went to work and said precious little about their service. We have church family members who have served in every war and conflict since WWII. All the men and women who have served this country and are currently serving have paid for our freedom in one-way shape or form. We are free to worship when and where we choose without fear of reprisal. Thousands of our brothers and sisters in Christ cannot say the same thing. We live in a country where there are still opportunities to do amazing things with our lives. We live in a country people still die trying to reach because they want a better life for themselves and their families...just like our ancestors. It is a blessing to live here, even with all of our chaos and division and challenges. In many countries we would not have the chance to speak our minds, vote or move about the country freely. All of this because men and women were and still are willing to put their lives on the line for others.
But we have freedom much greater than what we experience in this country. We read In Galatians 5:1, ”For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” We are no longer slaves to the law for our salvation. The Galatian believers were under pressure from Jewish legalists and were considering reverting back to Mosaic Law for their salvation. Except our salvation comes from the saving grace of Jesus Christ on the cross, not the law of Moses. In Jesus Christ we know freedom that results in an abundant life now and eternal life when this life is over. In Jesus Christ we are lavished in His love. In fact, we love because He first loved us. In Jesus Christ we know grace. That is His unmerited favor. We cannot earn this grace or ever even begin to pay for it. We have been shown mercy. Jesus stood in our place. The death He suffered and endured should be the death we know. But He took our place. In Jesus Christ we know the peace that passes all human understanding. The world is ruled by the evil one. His language is lies and deception and he wants nothing more than to wrench us away from the Lord. He brings chaos and division and hatred along with discouragement, dismay and hopelessness. But Jesus brings peace. And His peace over rules the chaos of this world.
Most of all, Jesus brings freedom. We have been set free from bondage to sin. We have been set free from the trials of the law. We have been set free to worship with abandon, preach the truth of Christ crucified, and give out of our thankfulness. Jesus was teaching His disciples in the upper room as they shared the Passover meal. Along with the teaching about the true vine and the branches Jesus taught the disciples...and us about love and joy perfected. He gave the commandment that we love one another as He has loved us. He called the disciples and all who believe and follow, His friends. And in John 15:13 we read these words. ”Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down His life for His friends.” This is where our ultimate freedom comes from.
Yes, it is wonderful to live in a country that is free. It is amazing that men and women still serve and protect us so we remain free. But this freedom is temporary. The freedom we have in Jesus Christ is for now and for all eternity.
In His Grip
Pastor Matt W