Memorial Day, also called Decoration Day, is a day set aside (the last Monday of May) to remember those killed in the line of duty in our nation’s wars. It is a vivid reminder that freedom is not free. It is won and preserved with the blood of brave patriots. A memorial is “something designed to preserve the memory of a person or event such as a monument or a holiday.”
We need memorials because we tend to be forgetful. Memory problems are universal. You know what they say about life—“By the time our face clears up, our mind gets fuzzy.” A bumper sticker reads, “At my age, I’ve seen it all, heard it all, and done it all, I just can’t remember it all.” Ever since I bought a memory foam pillow, I started having bouts of amnesia. Humans are forgetful so we need constant reminders such as holidays, anniversaries, and memorials to bring back into focus important events of our past. There are some things that are just too important to forget!
1. Remember God’s Name: The first use of the word “memorial” in Scripture is in connection with God’s name. God revealed Himself to Moses at the burning bush—“And God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM . . . The Lord God of your fathers . . . This is My name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations’” (Ex. 3:13-15, NKJV). God has over 250 names and titles revealed in the Bible, because He is too great to be described by just one. Why does God have so many names? Why does a house have so many windows? To let in more light. Each name of God sheds more light on His nature and character like a multi-faceted diamond. God wants us to remember and honor His name. “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember the name of the Lord our God” (Ps. 20:7). There is supernatural power in His name to save, heal, deliver, and redeem.
2. Remember God’s works: “So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord throughout your generations” (Ex. 12:14). God instituted various feasts in the Old Testament as annual reminders of what He had done for His chosen people Israel. Passover commemorates how God delivered Israel from over 400 years of slavery in Egypt. It designated a new beginning—their past was slavery; their future was freedom. The Feast of Pentecost commemorates the giving of the Law at Mount Sinai. Now, we also observe Pentecost Sunday to celebrate the impartation of the Holy Spirit to the church. The Feast of Tabernacles commemorates how God sustained the Israelites through the wilderness. The Feast of Purim commemorates how God intervened and spared the Jews from genocide in Persia in Queen Esther’s time. “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits” (Ps. 103:2).
3. Remember the source of our blessings: God instructed Joshua to take twelve stones out of the Jordan riverbed and erect a monument with them—“And these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever” (Josh. 4:7). God knew their descendants would be curious and ask about the significance of these stones. So, God basically said, “Tell them how I provided for you in the wilderness, rolled back the waters of the Jordan River, and defeated numerous tribes of the Canaanites. The reason you are here enjoying this blessed, Promised Land is because of the direct intervention of your God!” The main reason we are living a safe, happy, healthy, fortunate life today is because of the mighty God we serve. It’s not luck, coincidence, good fortune, happenstance, skill, intelligence, talent, education, or money; it’s the blessing and favor of Almighty God! As Ronald Reagan said, “If we ever forget we are ‘One Nation Under God,’ then we will be a nation gone under.”
4. God remembers every sincere act of worship: Remember Mary’s extreme expression of gratitude for Jesus raising her brother, Lazarus, from the dead? The expensive ointment in her alabaster box was equivalent to a year’s wages. It was probably the most valuable thing Mary owned, an heirloom she was saving for her wedding day. Yet She poured it out as an extravagant offering of worship on Jesus. The disciples were outraged at such a waste, but Mary knew He was worth every penny. Jesus was so moved by her generosity, He rebuked His disciples and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her” (Mt. 26:13). Her sincere act of worship will be remembered until the end of time.
Cornelius was a Roman centurion who had genuine faith in the God of Israel. He is described as a devout man who feared God with all his family, a generous giver, and a man of prayer. His faith was not passive; it was active faith which resulted in good works. We are not saved by good works but we are saved in order to do good works. An angel appeared to him and said, “Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God” (Ac. 10:4). You may not feel like you have much to offer God but, if it’s done with the right motive, He notices and it will be rewarded. “For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister” (Heb. 6:10).
We have many national memorials for famous people and historic events. Years ago, my wife and I stayed at a motel adjacent to the Gettysburg battlefield. I recall a profound sense of awe and wonder as we toured the cemetery reading the various memorials. I thought, “History happened here! Abraham Lincoln stood here and gave his famous speech millions of students still memorize 150 plus years later.” Here’s a quote, “The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.” Friend, the world may not notice all the things you do for God, but the God who knows how many hairs are on your head takes notice and every act of faith, worship, and obedience is making a spiritual memorial. People may forget your labor of love, but God won’t! So, take the time to make spiritual memorials.