Monday, July 1, 2024

His Grace Is Freedom

The Fourth of July in the United States is known as Independence Day. Independence Day has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1941, but the tradition of celebrating Independence Day goes back to the 18th century and the American Revolution (1775-1783). In June 1776, representatives of the 13 colonies accessed a resolution that would declare their independence from Great Britain. On July 2nd, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence, and two days later its delegates adopted the Declaration of Independence, drafted by Thomas Jefferson. From 1776 until the present day, Independence Day has been celebrated as the birth of American independence, with typical festivities ranging from fireworks, parades and concerts to more casual family gatherings and barbecues. Although the United States celebrates Independence Day as a day of freedom from Great Britain's oppression of those days, one is not truly free until they confess with the mouth the Lord Jesus Christ and receive Him as Savior.

Today in the United Stated we often forget that, in declaring independence from an earthly power, our forefathers made a forthright declaration of dependence upon Almighty God. The closing words of the Declaration of Independence solemnly declares, "With a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor." The fifty six courageous men who signed that document understood that this was not just high sounding rhetoric. They knew that if they succeeded, the best they could expect would be years of hardship in a struggling new nation. If they lost, they would face a hangman's noose as traitors. But notice, their dependence was not upon their abilities, but upon Divine Providence. They knew that without divine intervention, their desire for freedom would never happen. History reveals that all the signers of the Declaration of Independence had a Christian/religious background; 32 Episcopalian/Anglican; 13 Congregationalist; 12 Presbyterian; 2 Quaker; 2 Unitarian or Universalist; 1 Catholic.  

Of the fifty six, few were long to survive. Five were captured by the British and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes, ransacked, looted, occupied by the enemy, or burned. Two lost their sons in the army. One had two sons captured. Nine of the fifty-six died in the war, from its hardships or from its bullets. Whatever ideas you have of the men who met that hot summer in Philadelphia, it is important that we remember certain facts about the men who made this pledge. They were not poor men, or wild-eyed pirates. They were men of means, prosperous men, wealthy landowners, substantially secure in their prosperity and respected in their communities. But they considered liberty much more important than the security they enjoyed. They pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor. They fulfilled their pledge. They paid the price. And freedom was won.

Someone once said, "To be born free is a privilege. To live free is an awesome responsibility." Yet freedom is never free. It is always purchased at great price. Take a moment and ponder the greatest price ever paid for freedom. The price that was paid at Calvary nearly two thousand years ago by Jesus Christ, the Son of God, to purchase man's freedom. In a similar way, the forefather's of this country were also ready to pay a great price for freedom not only for themselves, but for all who would come to the United States to become citizens of this "One nation under God." Little did John Adams know how significant his words would be when he spoke to his wife, Abigail, on the passing of the Declaration of Independence, "I am well aware of the toil, and blood, and treasure, that it will cost to maintain this declaration, and support and defend these states; yet, through all the gloom I can see the rays of light and glory. I can see that the end is worth more than all the means."

To those who sacrificed for our freedom, the end was worth the painful means. Where would we, who are citizens of the United States of America, be today if there had not been those who counted the cost of freedom and willingly paid for it? Where will we be tomorrow if men and women of integrity do not come forward today and once again pay the price to reclaim a dying America? The only way this can be accomplished is for the church in the United States to do two things. First, we must humble ouselves and do the very thing that the LORD spoke to Solomon, "If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land." (2 Chronicles 7:14) Secondly, what Jesus spoke to the apostles (and for all believers) before departing His earthly ministry as the Son Of Man to return to the Father, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. (Matthew 19-20)

We may look at the American revolution and think that it was a struggle against natural forces, but the reality is, "We wrestle not against flesh and blood." I believe the forefather's recognized this. I pray that the church in the United States would also recognize this and respond to God's call, 2 Chronicles 7:14 and Matthew 28:19-20. 

I believe that a great awakening is coming that will fulfill the prophecy of Habakkuk, "For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea." (Habakkuk 2:14) I also believe God is calling every believer to change, because He wants to take us into another dimension or level of glory. (2 Corinthians 3:18) There are dimension of glory that exist that we do not know of or have entered into. Areas of creative miracles where we will see body parts grow where there were none; Birth defects instantly healed; Dominion over the forces of nature; People raised from the dead; and more salvation's than the world has ever experienced. I believe a time is coming where we will enter into these dimensions of glory and they will be the norm. I say these things because like me, I want to stir you up to seek God and His glory. 

But change is an individual choice. We must ask the Holy Spirit to give us the grace, that is, the desire and ability to do God’s will, to help us change, but we also must work at bring change. It may take some time, it may even be painful or difficult process for some, but it is worth the effort, because with God all things are possible. Food for thought: Change is not really change until it is genuine and lasting. So, let us do like the forefather's of this country who were willing to give up all and trust that God would bring freedom. Let us no longer be conformed to the world, remain stagnant and frustrated with life trying to please man? But, let us let God’s Word transform us into the image of Christ from glory to glory to please God. As we choose the latter, not only will we understand true freedom, but God will also use us to set the captives free... 

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