Independence Day – 4th of July or TODAY?
I love America! Our family (wife and 2 kids) has visited the Henry Ford Museum, and Greenfield Village, with 200 acres of inventions, inspiration, innovation, and Americana. We have seen Congress and the Senate in session from the Galleries; took a private tour of the White House, including the Cabinet Rooms and the Oval Office. We actually saw President Richard Nixon (he spoke to us). Years ago you could just go in and walk around our National Capital Building. We have had lunch many times in the Congressional Dining Room, eating the famous Back Burner Bean Soup.
Where we lived in Baltimore, "Bread and Cheese Creek” was right behind our home. That’s where the British stopped to eat on their way to take Fort McHenry on September 13, 1812. While living there, we visited many Civil and the Revolutionary war sites. I stood where President Lincoln stood and delivered his address at Gettysburg. We have looked out over that vast Mississippi River Valley at Vicksburg and have seen all of the monuments of the Civil War. We stood in the very room where the Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia, and have actually touched the crack in the Liberty Bell. We have been at Sutter’s Fort, California near where the great Gold Rush of 1849 began, and St. Augustine, Florida, America’s oldest city. I had the great thrill of standing in the very Pew at St. John’s Church in Richmond, Virginia where Patrick Henry stood and declared “Give me liberty or give me death.”
Independence Day is a very special day in America, and not just because of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Many special things happened on the fourth of July:
Three American Presidents died on this day: John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe. Monroe was at the point of death several days before, but his doctors kept him alive with drugs long enough so he could die on the fourth of July.
•Calvin Coolidge was born on July 4th, 1872.
•West Point opened July 4th, 1802.
•Song writer, Stephen Foster was born on July 4th.
•The song, “America” was sung for the first time on July 4th, 1832 in Boston.
•Alaska and Hawaii both became states on the 4th of July.
•Slavery was abolished in New York on July 4th, 1845.
The Declaration of Independence, delivered on July 4th, 1776 confirms that all people have rights and liberty given to us by our Creator.
The document has only 1321 words, It takes just eight minutes to read. God is mentioned four times, twice at the beginning and twice at the end. The purpose of this document was to separate us officially from the repression and authority of England.
Were the signers serious?
“For the support of this declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of the divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.” (concluding statement from the Declaration on Independence). The very act of signing said to the world, “I am a traitor to my native England. I am a criminal, and a fugitive from England’s justice” (Supposition of the author).
Twenty-four of the signers were lawyers and jurists. Eleven were merchants, nine were farmers and large plantation owners; men of means, well educated. But they signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the penalty would be death if they were captured. There was a musician and a teacher. They ranged in ages from Edward Rutledge at 26 to Ben Franklin at 70. Thomas Jefferson at 33 was about the average age.
Five signers were captured by the British as traitors and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army, another had two sons captured. Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War.
Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts, and died in rags.
Thomas McKeam was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him, and poverty was his reward.
Vandals or soldiers looted the properties of Dillery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton.
At the battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson, Jr., noted that the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. He quietly urged General George Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt.
Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months.
John Hart was driven from his wife's bedside as she was dying. Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and his gristmill were laid to waste. For more than a year, he lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his children vanished. A few weeks later, he died from exhaustion and a broken heart.
Norris and Livingston suffered similar fates.
Such were the stories and sacrifices of the American Revolution. These were not wild-eyed, rabble-rousing ruffians. They were soft-spoken men of means and education. They had security, but they valued liberty more.
They gave us a free and independent America. We didn't fight just the British. We were British subjects at that time and we fought our own government! Some of us take these liberties so much for granted, but we shouldn't. (http://www.snopes.com/history/american/pricepaid).
On a night in September, 1814, thirty-five-year old lawyer, Francis Scott Key, a prisoner on board a British ship, anchored near Baltimore’s Fort McHenry watched anxiously through the night, “the perilous fight, the rockets red glare, and the bombs bursting in air,” as the British bombarded the fort. Would the dawning of a new day bring defeat or victory? What would be revealed by “the dawn’s early light?” Would our flag still be there? When he saw the flag’s “broad stripes and bright stars,” he composed a poem, which is later set to the music of a popular British tune. It was originally titled, “The Defense of Fort McHenry,” then renamed, “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Congress voted to make “The Star Spangled Banner” our national anthem in 1931.
But was this all Francis Scott Key was about? He also wrote several other poems including the following:
Praise, my soul, the God that sought thee,
Wretched wanderer, far astray;
Found thee lost, and kindly brought thee
From the paths of death away;
Praise, with love's devoutest feeling,
Him Who saw thy guilt-born fear,
And the light of hope revealing,
Bade the blood-stained cross appear.
Praise thy Savior God that drew thee
To that cross, new life to give,
Held a blood sealed pardon to thee,
Bade thee look to Him and live.
Praise the grace whose threats alarmed thee,
Roused thee from thy fatal ease;
Praise the grace whose promise warmed thee,
Praise the grace that whispered peace.
In the last one hundred years, America has seen three world wars, armed conflicts In Korea, Viet Nam, Desert Storm, Desert Shield, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and currently ISIS [Islamic state of Iraq and Syria]. So it seems that war is inevitable. In World War two, the most recent “war to end all wars” there were sixty to eighty million casualties worldwide. Freedom isn’t free.
“I don't have to tell you how fragile this precious gift of freedom is. Every time we hear, watch, or read the news, we are reminded that liberty is a rare commodity in this world.” – President Ronald Reagan.
Jesus suffered indescribable pain on a Roman cross that we might be free. I am here to declare to you that for us, Freedom isn’t free!
•2 Corinthians 5:21, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
•Isaiah 53:4,5, “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities…”
•1 Peter 4:1,2, “Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.”
Our national freedom is very important to us. No one wants to lose his freedom.
•1 Corinthians 15:57, “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
•Romans 8:37, “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”
•Zechariah 4:6, “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD of hosts.”
•2 Corinthians 2:14, “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ.”
The American Declaration of Independence states “That they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Life comes from God. John 10:10, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”
Liberty is granted by God, Romans 8:21, “The creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.”
Happiness, true happiness can only be found in God, It is the inheritance of every believer, Proverbs 8:34, “Blessed (happy) is the man who listens to Me.” Psalm 128:1 (NLT), “How joyful are those who fear the Lord—all who follow his ways!”
Even in America, where people are free there is bondage! How frustrating it must have been for some ethnic groups to hear about the blessings of freedom and the privilege of liberty, when they were still bound in slavery.
The Declaration of Independence sets us free, but many of God’s children do not have the liberty that God promises in Christ! Only through the grace and mercy of God can we have true liberty. Many believers are enslaved by guilt and spiritual defeat.
For those outside of Christ the Word of God is an instrument of bondage.
•1 Peter 2:19, “While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage.”
•Romans 7:14 NLT, “So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin.”
For the believer in Christ the Word of God is an instrument of liberty. “But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does” (James 1:25).
Jesus said in Luke 4:18, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed.” He is stating that He is the fulfillment of Isaiah 61:1.
•Galatians 5:1 (NLT), “So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.”
•John 8:36, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed."
Christian liberty is secured for us in Jesus Christ. Our only duty is to claim and enjoy our freedom in Christ. It is the difference in living for God or allowing God to live through us.
I’m certain that most believers do not fully understand the devastating power of sin. Romans 1:28-31, “Since they (people) thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done. Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents. They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy.”
Many believers have sin in their lives that keeps them bound. This sin robs them all the blessings of God. They cannot understand liberty in Christ until they let it go! Sin becomes a stronghold that binds a believer, and takes away their freedom, A stronghold is a fortress, something or someone in which we put our earthly trust. Every believer is in a war, a war with their adversary, the devil, who, “prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8 NLT). He dispatches his evil spiritual forces o perpetrate his wickedness throughout the world. These strongholds can be strong influence, something that gets hold of a believer, oppression, depression, obsessions, hindrances, immorality, stealing, lying, laziness, and many of Satan’s strongholds that grip a believer’s life.
But do not fear God has equipped us to overcome Satan’s power. 2Corinthians 10:4, “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds.” Luke 10:17, “Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.”
Jesus has given all of His followers, all who know Him personally as Savior and Lord the authority to use the power of His name to expel the forces of evil. “Lord, even the demons obey us when we use your name!” (Luke 10:17 NLT).
How can I experience Liberty? How can I get free? How can I escape the prison I have built?
1. Liberty comes when we are in total submission to Christ. “In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:6 NIV). “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:7).
Submission in Greek is “huppotasso,” “hupo” means “under” and the “tasso” means “to arrange.” This word It simply means “under authority.” As believers we submit ourselves to the authority of Christ. He’s my boss! He is Lord of all! We are living in a time where there is a great emphasis on self! The word of the day seems to be, ‘It’s all about me!” Most advertising is directed the fulfillment of every selfish urge or desire. But it is not about me! It’s about submission! The only way to have complete freedom is to submit to the Lordship of Christ. There is liberty in submission. Let go and let God be all He desires to be on your life!
2. Liberty comes when we are in totally obedience to the Word of God. “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice” (1 Samuel 15:22). “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves” (NLT) “But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.” (James 1:22). “But He said, Blessed (happy and to be envied) rather are those who hear the Word of God and obey and practice it! (Luke 11:28 AMP).
3. Liberty comes when we glory in our position in Christ. “But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption— 31 that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:30). Claim your victory in Jesus and it is yours. “For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6 NLT).
In Christ we have freedom: freedom from the bondage of sin, freedom from the law of bondage, freedom from the doctrines and traditions of men. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” ( 2 Corinthians 5:17).
The Spirit of God lives in every believer. “But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.)” (Romans 8:9 NLT). “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (emancipation from bondage, freedom” (2 Corinthians 3:17 AMP).
4. Liberty comes when we realize that Christianity is not what we do for God but just responding to what He has done for us. It is simply believing God and responding to His loving grace toward us. “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work’ (2 Corinthians 9:8).
Romans 8:1-6, “There is therefore now no condemnation (judgment) to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”
•Romans 6:6-14; 15-23 NLT, “We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin…Well then, since God’s grace has set us free from the law, does that mean we can go on sinning? Of course not! Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living. Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you wholeheartedly obey this teaching we have given you. Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living. Because of the weakness of your human nature, I am using the illustration of slavery to help you understand all this. Previously, you let yourselves be slaves to impurity and lawlessness, which led ever deeper into sin. Now you must give yourselves to be slaves to righteous living so that you will become holy. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the obligation to do right. And what was the result? You are now ashamed of the things you used to do, things that end in eternal doom. But now you are free from the power of sin and have become slaves of God. Now you do those things that lead to holiness and result in eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”
I love the freedom that we enjoy in the “Land of the free and the Home of the brave!” We have been liberated from the control of any other nation for nearly two-hundred-fifty years. Let’s pray together that America will stay free for hundreds of years to come!
But I am more excited for those of us who know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, we have freedom in Christ that will last for eternity! John 8:32, “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Today can be your Independence Day!
All of Dr. John’s teaching and preaching materials are free for your use, but an acknowledgement would be appreciated: firstname.lastname@example.org