What Does it Take to be Christ's Hero?

Hebrews 11:32-12:2

by Cooper Abrams


    Introduction:   Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service. There are many stories as to its actual beginnings, with over two dozen cities and towns laying claim to being the birthplace of Memorial Day. There is also evidence that organized women's groups in the South were decorating graves before the end of the Civil War. A hymn published in 1867, "Kneel Where Our Loves are Sleeping" by Nella L. Sweet carried the dedication "To The Ladies of the South who are Decorating the Graves of the Confederate Dead."

            Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11 and was first observed on 30 May 1868, 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 to ensure a three day weekend for Federal holidays, though several southern states have an additional separate day for honoring the Confederate war dead.

            Memorial Day is a special day in which Americans pause to honor those who gave their lives in defense of this country. Truly, each one of the is an American hero.

            Jesus said in John 15:13 "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." Truly, these men went to war fully aware they could be killed and never return to their family and friends. Yet, they went and were faithful unto death. We owe our freedom to them and a great debt of gratitude. If not for their sacrifice we would be speaking Japanese or German and be ruled by evil dictators.

            I would like to read a statement from the Home of Hero's Web Site:

            Since 1776 more than 40 MILLION American men and women have served in the Armed Forces of the United States, most of them during time of conflict or war. Since the birth of our Nation, no single generation has been spared the responsibility of defending the rights of the human spirit to breath free from the aggression of enemies both abroad and domestic. From Lexington and Concord to Fort McHenry, the mountains of Europe to the sands of Pacific Islands....on land, on sea and in the air America's finest have proudly worn the uniforms of United States soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines. Even in the jungles of Vietnam where many believe our military suffered its most embarrassing loss, American soldiers NEVER LOST A BATTLE!

            Freedom is NOT free. More than one million of our country's sons and daughters have given their lives to preserve the dream that was born on July 4, 1776 and carefully protected and nurtured through more than two centuries. To each one of them we owe a debt of gratitude for sacrificing all that they had, so that we may enjoy all that we have. Cherishing the memory of their sacrifice is the very least we can do in respect to the price they have paid.

            But defending freedom is not just a matter of facing a hostile enemy in time of war or conflict. Every veteran, whether of combat duty or peace time service, is in some measure, a hero.

            Heroism is as much a matter of attitude as one of action. Every man or woman who has proudly worn the uniform of one of our military services, by that very action, demonstrated that they were WILLING to pay the price for freedom. As a people we owe our respect and admiration to these DEFENDERS OF FREEDOM.

            Do you know what is a hero? When we recognize these men and women as hero's we are recognizing them as a persons noted for feats of courage or nobility of purpose, especially one who has risked or sacrificed his or her life.

            Too many today are looking for the wrong characteristics to determine what it takes to be a hero. We have the so called "make believe" hero's of Hollywood. It is Rambo, Skywalker or some cartoon character. It is amazing to me that with our nations rich heritage of so many great men of character and who are truly hero's....American parents allow the ungodly producers of Hollywood to define what a hero is to their children. Worse I believe is many Christian parents, do not teach their children the biblical examples of true godly men who were hero's in God's sight.

            Hebrews 11 provides us with a list of some of God's past heroes. They were ordinary people who were used by God.

            Everyone here can be one of God's heroes. Men and women of character, who do feats of courage or have nobility of purpose, who has risked or sacrificed his or her life to Jesus Christ.

            This morning I would like to share with you what it takes to be a true hero, a Christian hero. You see, a Christian hero is not some superman, endowed with mystical powers and great abilities and talents. It is an individual who is willing to believe God's Word, commit himself to God's Will, and devote himself to God's work

            It is a simple message that reveals the basis tenants of what it means to be a Christian....to believe in Jesus Christ as one's Savior. I. Christian Hero's Believe God! Note just lip service to some concept, but to their Creator and to their God! They do not try to twist God's word to suit their fanciful ideas...but accept the Bible, which is God's word...as "thus saith the Lord....and thus saith I!"

      A. God's heroes, the heroes of the Bible, were not men and women of extraordinary ability or talent, but men and women of true faith. They were men and women who loved the Lord and realizing they were God's Creation...they honor Him, loved Him and dedicated their very lives to His purposes and will.

      B. 1 Corinthians 1:26-30 "For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:"

      C. Every individual listed in Hebrews 11 took God at His word. Look at want it says about Abraham in Romans 4:18-20:

        "Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be. And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah's womb: He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God." Abraham was just and ordinary man who believed God, and that belief spurred action.

        Hebrews 11:8 says, "By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went."

      D. Hebrews 11:6 "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him."

      E. Romans 10:17 explains "So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God." IT IS NOT A LIGHT THING TO BELIEVE GOD'S WORD.

      F. It has been said that God can use a person of great intellect, but only as long as his faith is even greater. Yet, so many men, in their ignorance and pride vaunt themselves up and cast shadows on God's very word this Bible I hold in my hand. Oh, the utter arrogance and pity of those who believe lies...and refuse to honor their Creator with their lives.

        Simple people, people small and great can come to the Savior and be changed. Through belief in God's words and His promises to those that believe they can be transformed into the children of God and become God's hero's serving in the Lord's Army...!

    II. God's Hero's are commitment to God's will.

      A. Hebrews 11:13-16 "These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city." These people saw the promises of God. Note these promises were not immediate, but "far off." But not receiving immediate reward and benefit...they accepted that they were only strangers and pilgrims on this earth....and would in some unknown time in the future receive the promises of God. Thus they accepted God's will for their lives....and lived godly lives...making God proud of them....

      B. Someone said, "A hero is someone who is sincere and does his duty. He is a man stands up to be counted, ethically, morally and humanly." Surely, no child of God should do less.....for our Savior and God who suffered and died for our sins...who sacrificed Himself that we might have forgiveness of sins and eternal life.

      C. Joshua 24:15 "And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."

        We often read this noble statement of Joshua....but have we really made that same commitment. Have we committed ourselves to that aim...or only accepted it as a noble concept.

      D. It does not take great men to do great things; it only takes consecrated men. ? Phillips Brooks (1835-1893) Something that is consecrated is something that is sacred. To be sacred means to dedicated to God's word and His purposes.

      E. Who is a hero? He is one who surrenders his will unto God. He allows God to direct him. Surely each of us can do that.

      F. Matthew 26:39 "And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt."

      G. The Holy Spirit chooses the faith nobodies in churches and makes them somebodies when they are committed to God's will in their lives.

        The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire for God. We are to be consecrated not to Christian work, but to the will of God, to be and to do whatever he requires to the absolute best of our ability.

        Psalms 37:5 says "Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass."

      K. John Wesley is recorded as saying....."Give me a hundred men who fear nothing but sin, and desire nothing but God, and I will shake the world. I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen; and such alone will overthrow the kingdom of Satan and build up the kingdom of God on earth."

    III. God's Hero's are devoted to God's Work.

      A. James 2:18-23 "Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God."

      B. Teddy Roosevelt once said, "I am only an average man, but I work harder at it than the average man." If the unsaved can understand this biblical truth....certainly God's people should. Heroism is faith transformed into action. The ordinary man is involved in action. The hero acts and that is an immense difference.

      C. Matthew 23:11 "He that is greatest among you shall be your servant."

      D. William Booth who founded the Salvation Army said in a message to soldiers....."Faith and works should travel side-by-side, step answering to step, like the legs of men walking. First faith, and then works; and then faith again, and then works again--until you can scarcely distinguish which is one and which is the other." William Booth in The Founders' Messages to Soldiers. Christianity Today, Vol. 36, no. 10.

      G. There is a Norwegian Proverb that says' A hero is one who knows how to hang on one minute longer." In Christ's service the heroes are those who work until Christ says it's time to stop.

      There are hundreds of thousands of battles fought daily in the lives of biblical Christians as they strive to live for the Lord Jesus. Their enemy is relentless and cunning and uses every possible device to attack, to mane, and to destroy. Yet, these godly men and women, stand firm....not in their own strength, but in the might and power of Almighty God. They endure the pain and suffering because the know there is not other greater cause than the cause of Christ. No greater life can they live, but alive lived for the Lord Jesus. No greater service or worth of their very lives that to take up their cross...and follow the Savior. And we concur with Hebrews 11:38....which says "of whom the world was not worthy."

    Conclusion:

      They are God's hero's.....one and all and they are my hero's too. Are they yours? Do you hold in high regard those that serve the Lord today. In my ministry I have known some who were true hero of the Lord. A dear elderly woman, in her statement of belief in Jesus Christ....at her funeral, was used by God to see the reality of sin and its consequences and of the reality of God's offer of salvation. Another lady, my wife, prayed for me for many years, and lived a godly life before me. Through their testimonies of these hero's I was saved.

      Another dear elderly lady, who in the poorest of health, came to church in great pain, assisted by her son and one other man. Through this hero, God taught me faithfulness in attending God's worship services in my church.

      A faithful pastor many years ago taught what God's word said about stewardship of my time and money. He explained that giving the tithe and offerings to the Lord was worship and a offer of thanksgiving to Him. Through this hero learned the blessings of God and to trust God.

      I have been so greatly blessed by faithful, pastors I have had, faithful Sunday School teachers and professors, by faithful church members in my congregation, by faithful men and women in churches who have supported us in our work here in Utah in planting churches, of faithful parents who loved the Lord and took me to church. I could go on and on....but because of their faithfulness to the Lord...you have heard God's message this morning and my life has been transformed.

      Are you a hero to your children, your husband, wife, family and church? Are you setting the example to those whom you love and who know you? Are you Christ's hero on the front lines of the battle for the souls of man? Hebrews 12:1-2 "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."

      Let God take your life this morning.....let Him use you to be a hero to others....that they might benefit by your faith, devotion and commitment to God.



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