It depends–Independence from what?

As the parchment copy of the Declaration of Independence was being signed, Samuel Adams declared: “We have this day restored the Sovereign to Whom all men ought to be obedient. He reigns in heaven and from the rising to the setting of the sun, let His kingdom come.”

                America may celebrate its emancipation from British rule this Independence day, but sadly America should mourn its independence from God.

Founding Father John Adams envisioned Independence Day to be celebrated by generations to come as the great anniversary festival. He said, “It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”  And while we celebrate by doing many of these things, we’ve omitted, “solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty”.  Anything good, right, and true comes from above (James 1:17). JFK reminded Americans that, “The rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God.”  

                History allows us to learn from mistakes made in the past, but it can also help us remember what was done right and has worked.  One only has to read the book of Judges in the Old Testament of the Bible to see how things went when the Israelites turned away from God and “everyone did what was right in their own eyes.”  General Douglas MacArthur said this, “History fails to record a single precedent in which nations subject to moral decay have not passed into political and economic decline.”  America’s first president George Washington said, “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.”  Ronald Reagan, our 33rd president proclaimed, “Without God there is no virtue because there is no prompting of the conscience…without God there is a coarsening of the society; without God democracy will not and cannot long endure…If we ever forget that we are one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under.” 

                Is it any wonder that our country today is in the mess it’s in?

“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, and demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (James 3:13-18).

                Dependence on self or the flesh brings about these things: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like (Galatians 5:19-21).

                Dependence on God bears the fruit of the Spirit, which is: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). There is freedom where the Spirit of the Lord is (2 Cor. 3:17).

                Which would you rather be ruled by?

                God’s ways are superior because He is superior. He doesn’t judge people or show favoritism by outward appearances, but sees the inner man (1 Sam. 16:7, Job 34:18, Prov. 5:21, 15:3, 16:2, 21:2).  If we ever hope to go back to being one nation under God, we mustn’t show favoritism or partiality to any one group or people over another. Injustice is injustice— Evil is evil no matter your ethnicity, economic status, or station in life. Showing partiality is a sin (James 2:9, Prov. 24:23, 28:21, Mal. 2:9, 1 Tim. 5:21). Love rejoices in the truth, not in unrighteousness (1 Cor. 13:6). “The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe” (Prov. 29:25).

                Imperfect men and women can do great things for the glory of God when they put their trust in Him. As General Lee led his army of 76,000 men into Pennsylvania, panic took hold of Washington, DC. In the midst President Lincoln remained strangely confident. He later told a general wounded at Gettysburg, “When everyone seemed panic-stricken…I went to my room…and got down on my knees before Almighty God and prayed…soon a sweet comfort crept into my soul that God Almighty had taken the whole business into His own hands…”

                Christ Jesus made of himself no reputation and took on the form of a slave and came in the likeness of men. Although He was innocent, He suffered ridicule, humiliation, beatings, and was spit on. Still He humbled Himself and died on the cross, paying the penalty for the sin of mankind. After this, God raised Him from the dead and exalted Him to His rightful position. God offers life and liberty to all who believe and receive what Christ Jesus did on their behalf (Phil. 2:5-11, Mark 10:34, Isa. 53:3-7, Rom. 8:34, 1 Cor. 15:20, 2 Cor. 5:21, John 3:16).  Salvation is not for a select few, each man and woman has the opportunity to become emancipated from their bondage to sin. It requires no work on their part. It’s a gift from God to be received with gratitude (Rom. 6:22-23, Eph. 2:8-9).

                Freedom in Christ is not freedom to do whatever one wants. It’s freedom to live righteously—something that can’t be done when one is enslaved to sin (Rom. 7:15-24). This liberty enables one to serve one another in love, not to bite, devour, and consume one another (Gal. 5:13-15).

                After President Eisenhower signed the Congressional Act and Joint Resolution to add the phrase “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954 he said, “In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America’s heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country’s most powerful resource in peace and war.”     

We can only influence others, not control them. As an individual, choose to declare your dependence on the Lord.  Don’t fret because of those who bring wicked schemes to pass. Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him. As you commit your way to the Lord and trust in Him, He will bring it to pass (Ps. 37:7, 5). We’re only strangers passing through this life, our true citizenship is in heaven, from where we eagerly await the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ (Phil. 3:20).

Laura

HOPE–An Anchor for the Soul

img_4415It’s been said that people can live for up to 70 days without food, 10 days without water, and 6 minutes without air. But they can’t live without hope.

In order to stay afloat through the changing ocean tides of life, one needs an anchor for the soul that’s both sure and steadfast (Heb. 6:19). That anchor for the Christian is hope.

The word hope defined by Noah Webster is: a desire of some good, accompanied with at least a slight expectation of obtaining it, or a belief that it is obtainable.

Where or what one places his or her hope in can make all the difference. Is one’s hope placed in fallible, unpredictable man’s ways or in some realm of this fallen world? Or is one’s hope placed in (what the Scriptures testify to) an immutable (unchanging) God, Who doesn’t have in His nature to lie (Heb. 6:18, Tit. 1:2)?

David’s hope (or expectation) was from God, “My soul, wait silently for God alone; For my expectation is from Him…Trust in Him at all times…Do not trust in oppression, nor vainly hope in robbery; If riches increase, Do not set your heart on them” (Psalm 62:5, 8, 10). David’s confident trust in the Lord is reflected also in Psalm 56:3-4, “Whenever I’m afraid I will trust in You. In God I will praise His word, In God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do to me…” Notice his use of “In God I have put my trust”.

Not surprisingly as America has distanced itself away from “in God we trust” as a nation and toward dependence on the ever-changing & unreliable ways of man, there’s been a rise in anxiety, depression, and related disorders resulting in a reliance on an array of prescription drugs (which sadly many times, in the long run only worsen things). Not trying to negate or minimize the truly devastating effects of life in a fallen world, and the legitimate need for some to be dependent on medication/s, but stress, hardships and troubles are a reality for all in this present life (albeit, some more than others). There’s a real need in society today for more encouragement toward its citizens to have a faith in a loving God, and our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ, that transcends self. It’s only there that the believer will find an object of hope that’s glorious, eternal & will not disappoint (Titus 2:13, Rom. 5:5, Phil. 3:20).

FAITH IS THE NECESSARY LINK TO HAVING HOPE as it’s the outworking of trust in God and the proof of BELIEVING IN THINGS NOT SEEN. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen…” (Hebrews 11:1); “…hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what it sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance” (Rom. 8:24-25).

Faith is the crucial channel that leads to hope as one is saved through it (Eph. 2:8), and without it one cannot please God (Heb. 11:6). Having faith may seem easy at first (especially when times are good and the living is easy). Sadly the moment when challenging circumstances arise, it’s in human nature to dwell on the seen trials rather than on an unseen God. Even the disciple Peter began to (literally) sink when he took his eyes off Jesus and was thus rebuked, “O you of little faith” (Matt. 14:24-33).

Those who have faith (as those in chapter 11 of Hebrews) are prime examples of the Romans 5:25 chain that connects tribulations (afflictions) to perseverance (patience) and perseverance to character (experience) which leads to hope. Their hope made it possible to endure hardships as they focused and relied on the invisible God and His promises (Heb. 11:27). We too, today need to look for our blessed hope, not here on earth, but where it’s laid up for us in heaven, where Christ sits at the right hand of God (Col. 3:1-4, Phil. 3:20-21, Titus 2:13).

Nothing worthwhile is easy, but one must suffer evil as a good soldier (2 Tim. 2:4), especially in a world with its allures of instant fixes and gratification.

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 15:13).

Laura

DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE

United States Patriotic License Plate ArtThe Declaration of Independence
IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the
thirteen united States of America,
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to affect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariable the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. —Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of Immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavored to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the consent of our legislatures.
He as affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:                                                              For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesces in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Connecticut: Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott;
Delaware: Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean;
Georgia: Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton;
Maryland: Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton;
Massachusetts: John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry;
New Hampshire: Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton;
New Jersey: Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark;
New York: William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris;
North Carolina: William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn;
Pennsylvania: Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross;
Rhode Island: Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery;
South Carolina: Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr. Arthur Middleton;                                                                                                                                                              Virginia: Virginia: George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton