Fourth of July, 2023 ~ Happy Birthday, America.
Freedom is one of God’s best ideas, and one of the reasons it is so vital to daily bear in mind the Creation. When God created the first man and woman in his image, he gave them and every human being thereafter the freedom to choose relationship with him; God forces himself on no one.
Fourth of July is an American holiday - the day set aside to celebrate -- but, why? Because freedom was hard won for these United States of America. I love the opportunity to remember just how unique our beginnings.
Having the opportunity to travel in and around Boston, which marks so many of the places of the beginnings of our country, I have learned so much. The above picture is the Old North Bridge, about 20 miles outside of the city. It is awe inspiring to stand there and think of what happened at this sight. On April 19, 1775, American Minutemen fired the "shot heard round the world" by confronting the British on Lexington Green and on this bridge.
Early last week, I wrote about the spiritual discipline of fasting, combined with faith-filled prayer. [link: https://conta.cc/43XuwiG] Interesting to note that on the same day the Minutemen fired that shot, not far away, Connecticut governor Jonathan Trumbull proclaimed a Day of Fasting, asking that "God would graciously pour out His Holy Spirit on us to bring us to a thorough repentance and effectual reformation that our iniquities may not be our ruin; that He would restore, preserve and secure the liberties of this and all the other British American colonies, and make the land a mountain of Holiness, and habitation of righteousness forever."1
Friends, if that prayer was needed in 1775, how much more do we need it today?! ...that our iniquities/compromise/outright sin would not be our ruin.
O, that our governors would declare a fast today!
But, wait-->less than two months after the Battles of Lexington and Concord, on June 12, 1775, the Continental Congress, under President John Hancock, declared: "Congress...considering the present critical, alarming and calamitous state ... do earnestly recommend, that Thursday, the 12th of July next, be observed by the inhabitants of all the English Colonies on this Continent, as a Day of Public Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer, that we may with united hearts and voices, unfeignedly confess and deplore our many sins and offer up our joint supplications to the All-wise, Omnipotent and merciful Disposer of all Events, humbly beseeching Him to forgive our iniquities... It is recommended to Christians of all denominations to assemble for public worship and to abstain from servile labor and recreations of said day."2
These were just two of many 'fasts' proclaimed in those harsh, demanding years when our freedom was hard fought and won from England. Our country has many forces vying to destroy her from within--I need not name them here, but
Let us each examine our heart,
seek to live as God would have us,
and unite in prayer for revival in our families--
our children who have turned away from God,
our schools and our government in America
Why do we have a day set aside to celebrate our independence? Independence from what and for what? Originally, Europeans made their way to our shores to escape religious persecution and tyranny. I love what John Adams said to Abigail, his wife, about the day: “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.”3 Yes, President Adams.
True freedom has always been God's best idea for mankind. As we are studying Mark's gospel, following Jesus as he moves toward the cross, I think of what He said,
‘If the Son has set you free, you will be free indeed!’4
Picture the scene Luke described when Jesus stood up in the synagogue in Nazareth, rolled out the parchment from Isaiah, and read, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has sent me . . . to set the oppressed free ...Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’5 Jesus, the Freedom giver.
He still comes to you and me—offering us freedom . . . freedom from what binds us, freedom from ourselves, not to be self-reliant, but God-reliant and God dependent.
Instead of listening to the naysayers and doomsday prognosticators, rather than worrying about the country we are leaving for our children and grandchildren, let's take the bull by the horns . . . let us pray.
Along with John Hancock, I propose that we pray for people to turn their hearts toward God. A couple years ago, I issued a charge that we pray two times a day, at 7.14 am and 7.14 pm, for a move of God as he draws people to himself. Can we re-up?
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 I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.6
Happy Independence Day . . . may we never take our freedom for granted, and may we never let anyone steal our freedoms again.
Thank you, Lord, for liberty and freedom! Amen.
Join me in praying for God to draw people to himself, won't you?
Because these Morning Briefings go to many countries besides the U.S., I usually do not write America-centric, but a couple days a year warrants it. This is one.
Watch this: God Bless the U.S.A. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pwEcz9nABNg
1 - https://wallbuilders.com/chw/lessons/lesson-3-american-revolution-original/
2 - William Federer, Miracles in American History: 32 amazing stories of answered prayer.
3 - Massachusetts Historical Society – Adams Family Papers, https://www.masshist.org/database/viewer.php?item_id=102&pid=17
4 - John 8.36
5 - Luke 4.18-21
6 - 2 Chronicles 7.14