By Pastor Tom Pelt
As we celebrate this weekend our independence as a nation, I want to take this opportunity to remind us of some Lessons in Liberty, some fundamental truths about where our freedom comes from and how it is sustained.
Isaiah 61:1 (KJV), “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me: because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.”
This prophecy was given concerning the One who would forever be the freedom of human kind, God the Son, Jesus Christ. He would not only proclaim liberty, but become our liberty through His death, burial and resurrection. And now, “If the Son has set you free, you are free indeed.” John 8:36
Lesson One: “…where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” 2 Corinthians 3:17 (NIV)
God’s people have always known this because His Word has always proclaimed it and God’s Spirit has always made sure we stay conscious of it. Why? Because the opposite is also true. Where the Spirit of the Lord is not free, “quenched” because of human pride, the pursuit of self at the expense of others, the pursuit of personal glory instead of His glory, there is bondage. Our founding Fathers understood what many today have forgotten. Chief of these was George Washington…
George Washington’s personal prayer book, “Daily Sacrifice,” 1752, Sunday Evening Prayer:
“…O most Glorious God, in Jesus Christ my merciful and loving Father, I acknowledge and confess my guilt, in the weak and imperfect performance of the duties of this day. I have called on Thee for pardon and forgiveness of sins… Let me live according to those holy rules which Thou hast this day prescribed in Thy Holy word; make me to know what is acceptable in Thy sight, and therein to delight, open the eyes of my understanding, and help me thoroughly to examine myself concerning my knowledge, faith and repentance, increase my faith, and direct me to the true object, Jesus Christ the Way, the Truth and the Life, bless, O lord, all the people of this land, from the highest to the lowest, particularly those whom Thou has appointed to rule us in church and state. Continue Thy goodness to me this night. These weak petitions, I humbly implore Thee to hear, accept and answer for the sake of Thy Dear Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.”
It was in and through such a humble posture that God would use such a man to birth a free and great nation. The question to us today is, “What is my posture?” Remember this, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” I Peter 5:6
Lesson Two: There Is a Price
I Corinthians 6:19, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”
Freedom isn’t free. From the soldiers of the revolution to the soldiers of the great wars in the 20th century, to today’s soldiers waging the 21st century war against terrorism, one thing has not changed… freedom comes with a price. Citizen soldiers have always paid this price and should be honored. I am glad this message is getting out there to today’s generation, and I want us to be reminded of this even today. Will all past and present veterans please stand; we want to honor you …
Lesson Three: God Won’t Be Forgotten
Psalm 14:1, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’”
It had been less than 100 years and already the sinful pride of man was eroding away at the bedrock foundations our nation was built on. The cornerstone of that foundation was belief in God Almighty. Now, embroiled in civil war our nations President was able to look beyond all other agendas and competing political ideals as fingers pointed in all directions and absolutely nailed it on the head…
Abraham Lincoln, April 30, 1863, National Declaration of Prayer and Fasting
“We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven. We have been preserved these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth, and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us. It behooves us, then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.”
May God be merciful on any nation that rejects the Creator, Sustainer and Judge of all creation. God will only tolerate human pride so long. We must be diligent in praying as His people for a renewal of humility in our nation, a humility that will keep us contrite before the God who so graciously ordained our place in this world that we might proclaim His message of freedom to the world. Consider the words of another Founding Father…Thomas Jefferson, “Notes on the State of Virginia,” 1781…
“And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever.”
Lesson Four: God Will be Praised!
Laos Deo – “God Be Praised,” the inscription on the cap of the Washington Monument, facing east. Facing east, in my heart and mind as though waiting in anticipation the splitting of the eastern sky at the coming of the Lord. Someday soon “…at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2)
Okay, how do we apply these four “Lessons in Liberty?” How do we ensure that they are not lessons lost on ours and the coming generations? Remember lesson two… “There is a price.” We must be Christian Citizen soldiers, not armed with weapons of worldly warfare, but armed with the message of grace and truth. We cannot be silent, we must be heard. We cannot remain seated, we must stand.
3 Critical Concerns When Voting:
1 – Sanctity of Human Life
2 – Sanctity of Marriage and Family
3 – Religious Freedom/Christian Heritage
NOTE: Money is not our primary concern. Neither is Party affiliation. There is not enough money in the world to save this or any other nation and no political party is a suitable replacement for the Church. Only a return to the Judeo-Christian heritage of our founders, only in the REVIVAL OF THE CHURCH in North America will do. For now, the waves of God’s wrath are crashing hard against the dam of His mercy!
Let’s focus on the sanctity of marriage and family for a moment and what it says about our freedom as a whole as Christian citizens…
Now, if the struggle to preserve the traditional Judeo-Christian definition of marriage was all that was at stake, it would be worth exhausting all our collective efforts. However, it is about so much more. It is about the right to proclaim the whole counsel of the Word of God concerning some of the most important issues of our day. It is about the freedom to love people with a grace and truth that calls sin, sin and loves people enough to warn them about the dangers and inspire them with message that they can be transformed through Jesus Christ. Family, this is simple stuff, if we won’t use our voice there are those who would take it from us.
In closing, the Word of God speaks with clarity…
Psalm 33:12, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people he chose for his inheritance. From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind; from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth – he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do. No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength. A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save. But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine. We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you.”
“…And finally that Thou wilt most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility, and pacific temper of mind which were the characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed religion, and without a humble imitation of whose example in these things we can never hope to be a happy nation. Grant our supplication, we beseech Thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” – President George Washington, concluding paragraph of his farewell address, Newburgh, New York, June 8, 1783