Thanks for the Memories

Title: Thanks for the Memories

Bible Book: Philippians 1 : 21

Author: Steve Wagers

Subject: Life; Death; Memories; Faitthfulness



One Sunday morning, the pastor noticed little Alex standing in the foyer of the church staring up at a large plaque. It was covered with names with small American flags mounted on each side of it. The 7-year old had been staring at the plaque for some time, so the pastor walked up, stood beside the little boy and said quietly, "Good morning, Alex."

"Good morning, Pastor. What is this?"

The pastor said, "Well, son, that's a memorial to all the young men and women who died in the service."

Soberly, they just stood together, staring at the large plaque. Finally, little Alex's voice barely audible and trembling with fear, asked, "Which service did they die in? The 8 o’clock service or the 10:30 service?"

In the movie "Gladiator", Caesar was about to turn his kingdom over to a man named Maximus. In that powerful moment the emperor looked into the eyes of Maximus and said, "I am dying Maximus. When a man sees his end he wants to know there was a purpose to his life." Then, he asked a most penetrating question, "How will the world speak of my name in years to come?"

Caesar was concerned that someone remember him with thankful memories. Paul is one of the Christian men whom we remember thankfully. We speak well of him because of his faithful service to the Lord. How will the world speak of you and me when we are gone? Will they say of your service for Jesus, “Thanks for the Memories!”


Dr. Benjamin Elijah Mays, president of Morehouse College, wrote a classic poem entitled "Life Is Just a Minute." It is excellent, and reads:

"Life is just a minute

Only sixty seconds in it.

Forced upon you, can't refuse it,

Didn't seek, didn't choose it.

But it's up to you to use it.

You must suffer if you lose it.

Give account if you abuse it.

Just a tiny, little minute,

But eternity is in it!"

“For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” (James 4: 17)

Paul knew that life was filled with fleeting moments.

A. Something He Faced

[20] “Death”

[21] “To die”

[23] “A desire to depart”

Paul wrote from the Mamertine prison. He would lay down his life in a few short hours. Death was a subject fresh on his mind.

I'm sure most of you have heard the expression, "The Dead Man's Hand." It originated on August 2, 1876. Wild Bill Hickock sat down at a poker table in Saloon #10 in Deadwood, South Dakota and began to play his hand. Jack McCall entered the saloon, pulled out a gun, and shot Wild Bill Hickock in the back. As he laid there, those around noticed the cards that remained in his hand - a pair of Aces, and a pair of 8's. That combination, ever since, has been known as "the dead man's hand."

Actually, we all hold a dead man’s hand.

Death rate: 100 PERCENT

1 out of 1

3 every second

180 every minute

11,000 every hour

250,000 every day

Most feel like Dr. B.R. Lakin who once said, "If I knew where I was going to die, I wouldn't go there."

Death is an appointment no one has ever/will ever escaped, excused, or evaded. Death angel knows no birthdays, recognizes no holidays, and takes no vacation days.

None Of Us Are Getting Out Of Here Alive

B. Nothing He Feared

[21] “To die is GAIN.”

The word “gain” is the Greek word ‘kerdos.’ The word means “profitable.” We could translate the word “dividend.” It was used to speak of interest that money had gained, or accumulated.

It was as if Paul was saying, “If I die, I will cash in all of my investments and will receive both principle, and interest. If I die, I will receive more of Christ than I had while I was living.”

In other words, Paul was in a no-lose situation. Whatever happened to him, he was going to win. Whether he lived, or whether he died, he was:

“A winner either way,

If I go if I stay,

For I still have my Jesus each passing day.

I’ll have my healing here below,

Or life forever, if I go.

Oh praise the Lord,

I’m a winner either way.”

I once heard about a lady that was standing on the deck during a terrible storm. A crewman said to her, "Ma'am, you need to get inside. It is dangerous to be out here. You could be swept overboard." She replied, "I've got a daughter in New York and one in heaven. And, since my Father owns the land on both sides of the river, it doesn't matter to me which one I see next."

Death is something we all must face, but not something we all need to fear. For the lost man, this is the only Heaven you will ever know. For the saved man, this is the only Hell you will ever know.

Ready or not, the death angel is coming. Life is but full of fleeting moments.


Someone has well said:

“Only one life,

‘Twill soon be past.

Only what’s done

For Jesus will last.”


[20-21] “According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. [21] For to me to live is Christ.”

Christ was the reason for his very existence. F. B. Meyer said, “Christ is the essence of our life, the model of our life, the aim of our life, the solace of our life, the reward of our life.”

After his conversion, he asked, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” That question shaped the course of the rest of his life. From that moment on, it was no longer about Paul, it was about Christ!

What is life about to you? Money? Material things? Fame? Fortune? Prestige? Popularity? Are you more interested in gold, greed and gain; or are you focused on God!


[23-24] “For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better. [24]Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.”

There is a struggle going on in Paul's heart. There was a place that blessed his heart and a people that burdened his heart. These were both very dear to his heart and his longing for them both, but him in a unique dilemma.

The word "strait" speaks of something that is compressed. It means, "Distressed, hard pressed, to be in a dilemma." It spoke of someone that was in a place where they could neither turn to the right or left.

[22] “But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour.”

What is the fruit of his labor?

[25-26] “I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith. [26]That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again.”

Paul had a desire to die, and a desire to live. He desired to die to go to a better place, but he wanted to live to be with a burdened people.

If Paul died, he would look upon Christ. If he lived, he would live for Christ. It didn’t matter to him. But, if he lived, he would live his life not only focused on Christ, but focused upon others.

It was J.H. Jowett who wrote: "To have helped somebody a few steps along the heavenly road, to have infused a little more holy courage into their spirits, to have given a more exuberant swing to their stride; these services abundantly justify a delay in the journey, and will assure for us a more glorious welcome in the Father's House."

“Lord, help me live from day to day

In such a self-forgetful way,

That even when I kneel to pray,

My prayer shall be for others.

“Let "Self" be crucified and slain,

And buried deep; and all in vain

May efforts be to rise again,

Unless to live for others.

“Others, Lord, yes others

Let this my motto be.

Help me to live for others,

That I may live like Thee.”

Warren Wiersbe described Paul well, “He is willing to postpone going to heaven in order to help Christians grow, and he is willing to go to hell in order to win the lost to Christ.”

Paul understood the plan and purpose of God for his life. To die, meant he would go to Heaven; to live, meant he would bring Heaven to others.

Many Never Find God’s Will For Their Lives

Why Are You Here?

Why Were You Born?

If you are saved, God’s plan is for you to be born again. If you are born again, God’s plan is for Him to the center of your life that you might take Him, and make Him known to others.


John Piper writes, "Every moment we live before the face of God and before His face there are no forgotten deeds, no disregarded words, and no inconsequential choices. Each moment is a chance to live utterly to His glory."

Annie Dillard said, "How we live our how we live our lives."

Paul understood that life consisted of fleeting moments, faithful ministry, but also future meaning.

A. The LIFE that He LIVED

[27] “Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ.”

The word “conversation” is the Greek word politeuomai, which yields our English word “politics.” It speaks of behaving as a citizen that belongs to a particular country.

Paul was a man in the land of the dying headed to the land of the living. He lived his life as one who belonged to another country.

The great general and leader, Alexander the Great, once learned that in his army was a man named Alexander, but he was a notorious coward. Alexander the Great, who conquered the world when he was just 23, called the soldier before him and asked, "Is your name Alexander, and is you named for me?"

The young soldier replied, "Yes sir. My name is Alexander and I was named for you."

Alexander the Great asked him, "Have you displayed courage or cowardice on the battle field?"

The young solider admitted to displaying cowardice. Then, Alexander the Great said, "My son, either change your behavior or change your name!"

Paul behaved like he belonged to another country called Heaven.

Some People Are Going To Hell

Because Of

Some People Who Are Going To Heaven

B. The LEGACY that He LEFT

“There was a very cautious man

Who never laughed or played.

He never risked, he never tried,

He never sang or prayed.

And when one day he passed away

His insurance was denied.

For since he never really lived.

They claimed he never died.”

In a few hours, Paul would really die; but, before he really died, HE REALLY LIVED. He leaves behind a legacy that every Christian should seek to imitate.

He was a:


Student of the Word

Servant of Christ

Soldier in the army of the Lord

Steward of the mysteries of God.

Jack Graham said, "Too many people are enduring instead of enjoying their lives. Their favorite day of the week is "SOMEDAY." Someday they'll find that perfect relationship; someday they'll experience the blessing and fulness that other people seem to enjoy; someday they'll be happy; someday they'll get that promotion at work, or build that dream home that will give them the fulfillment they want."

The Bible was conceived in the mind of God within the ions of eternity. It was written over 1600 years ago, by 40 different men, but it was written for RIGHT NOW!

Past Is History

Present Is Reality

Future Is Eternity

Now—Present Reality


Then—Future Eternity


During an epoch battle in the movie "Gladiator," Maximus was in full control of his men. The time for battle was at hand. He knew the words he spoke could inspire his men to victory, so he chose them wisely. As he mounted his horse and made a couple of quick turns to view his men, he shouted the words, "What we do in this life will echo throughout eternity!"

I once did the funeral of a woman who wasn’t saved, and did not have much family. I did it as a favor to a family in our church. When I met with the family, I ask them questions to know more about the deceased. When I asked them what they remembered about her, they said, “Well, she loved NASCAR and she loved to shoot pool!”

So I stood over the body of a woman who lived 91 years, and all I could say about her is that she loved NASCAR and shooting pool.

What Will Your Legacy Be?

What Will You Be Remembered For?

Will Your World Be Different Once You Leave It?

Many of you have more years BEHIND you than you do BEFORE you, so how will you be remembered? What impact have you made? How many people will be in Heaven because of you?

I’m sure that not many people, if any, have ever heard the name Bill Wallace. Bill Wallace was born 1908 in Knoxville, Tennessee, the son of a doctor. Initially, he had little interest in medicine, but loved cars and motorcycles.

At the age of 17, while working on a car in the family garage, a nagging question kept haunting him once again, “What will you do with the rest of your life?” Then, the question came, “What would God have you do with the rest of my life?”

With a New Testament in his hand, the decisive decision was made: he would give the rest of his life to be a medical missionary. The date was July 5, 1925. The decision was one from which he never wavered or recanted.

After 10 years of medical training, he arrived at Stout Memorial Hospital in Wuchow, China, where he served for the next 15 years. He dated a young lady, and many thought they would be married. However, later, the young lady said, “Marriage was out of the question. It would have been bigamy; Bill Wallace was already married to Christ and his work.”

On December 19, 1950, Chinese Communists lied their way into the clinic grounds of the hospital. Chinese soldiers ordered Bill Wallace and other workers out of their bedrooms, and led them to the hospital. Immediately they began to accuse Bill Wallace of being an American spy, and even planted a pistol in his room to discredit him in the eyes of the Chinese people.

On February 10, 1951, after months and months of extreme torture and agonizing pain, Bill Wallace was dead to the world, but alive forever with Christ.

There was no funeral service for Bill Wallace. The government officials wouldn’t allow it. A grave was dug, and a nailed shut coffin was lowered into the ground. Later a marker was erected that had but 7 simple words: “FOR TO ME TO LIVE IS CHRIST!”

Although the life of Bill Wallace came to an earthly end, his legacy lives on until this day. In Puchan, Korea there is the Wallace Memorial Hospital. At the University of Tennessee the Baptist Student Union is named for Bill Wallace. There is also the vibrant Wallace Memorial Baptist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee.

At a memorial service in 1985, at Wallace Memorial Baptist Church, Dr. James McCluskey powerfully noted the legacy of Bill Wallace.

‘The remains of Bill Wallace are going to Costa Rica tomorrow in the life of a young lady who returns to continue her missionary service.


The remains of Bill Wallace are in Grenada, West Indies as a couple continues to serve there. They responded to the call of missions as a result of this church named in honor of Bill Wallace.

The remains of Bill Wallace are in Ecuador where a young man is completing his 2nd year as a missionary journeyman.

The remains of Bill Wallace are in the lives of more than 25 people of this church who are already serving, or preparing to serve in church-related vocations.

The remains of Bill Wallace are scattered into the uttermost parts of the earth where they give witness to the Lord Jesus Christ, who Bill thought was worth living, as well as dying for.’” [1]

You’re not ready to live, UNTIL YOU’RE READY TO DIE

If you’re ready to die, are you ready for your life to count for something? Are you ready to “number your days” so that when you leave this world, you have left behind a legacy that will point people to the Savior?

If not YOU, WHO?

If not NOW, WHEN?

If not THIS, WHAT?


If not THAT, HOW?

Will someone be able to stand over you and, because of the life you lived, and the legacy you left, say, ‘Thanks for the memories?’


1) “Five Who Changed the World,” Danny Akin, ppg. 37-55.


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