Never have the lines between God and the Country His providence established been more blurred. Never in the history of our nation have our founding principles and values been more compromised, watered down in a sea of relativism, and a pseudo-tolerance of anything but fundamental biblical principle. What does this mean? It means never has the opportunity been greater for the Church of God in Christ Jesus to be the “light of this world.” Never have we been more poised to proclaim the Truth in an age of uncertainty to a generation desperate for clarity.
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 The freedom all human hearts beat for is found all and only in Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world.
(Bold Freedom) 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. What attracts the Spirit of God and what is so attractive about that Spirit? Humility! The Lord knows how to keep us humble. Why? Because the opposite is also true. 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 fame. Bondage soon follows. The Spirit of God favors the humble and resists the arrogant.
Our founding Fathers understood what many, in self-sufficient arrogance, today have forgotten. Chief of these was George Washington…
“…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.” George Washington’s personal prayer book, “Daily Sacrifice,” 1752, Sunday Evening Prayer:
It was in and through such a humble spirit and posture that God would use such a man to birth a free and great nation. Greater still, it was through the Spirit of humility that Jesus gave His life for us! Philippians 2:1-8. The question to us today is, “What is my spiritual posture, my attitude?” Am I insistent on my way, my agenda for me, mine and ours. Or, am I willing to decrease that He might increase?
To each generation of the church the question begs… am I willing to put the interest of a lost generation ahead of my own and that of my generation? We have some tough calls to make and some exciting steps to take in the days to come in answer to this question. Who is this all about? In the end, it’s all about Jesus! What is Jesus all about?
“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost! Luke 19:10. Jesus also said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
I love what our new General Director for the COG, Pastor Jim Lyon, said in his first address to our General Assembly in 2014… “Jesus is the subject!” In humility we must stay mindful that this is not about us! “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” I Peter 5:6
(Bold Price) 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.”
The bottom line is that Jesus has paid the price for you and me. “Jesus paid it all…” Romans 3:23 & Romans 6:23. He paid this price for you & me. Have you accepted His gift of eternal life? Will you live for Him in this brief life in exchange for eternal life with Him in Heaven? Take the deal!
How important is this? What is the price humanity pays for rejecting this offer of infinite love and choosing our own ways? Romans 1:18-32. WE HAVE AN OBLIGATION TO NOT ONLY PROCLAIM HIS TRUTH, BUT TO LOVE PEOPLE REGARDLESS OF THEIR LIFESTYLE! MAYBE THEY WILL ACCEPT IT, AND MAYBE THEY WON’T. BUT WE MUST LOVE PEOPLE OR THEY WILL NEVER ACCEPT HIS TRUTH. What price do we pay in return as Christ-followers? 1 Corinthians 6:12-20.
(Bold Memory) Lesson Three: God Won’t Be Forgotten
Psalm 14:1, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’”
Illustrate – Kids come forward: “In God We Trust” dollar bill… free to a kid who answers a question and will give it away to someone who needs it.
Do we trust God? Do we still believe in God as a nation? In the end, God is “I AM!” The more people insist He doesn’t exist the more it highlights that He does and that He governs in the affairs of humankind. Here’s a bigger point… even if you don’t believe in Him, HE BELIEVES IN YOU! HE HAS A GREAT PLAN FOR YOUR LIFE THAT IS BIGGER AND BETTER THAN YOUR PLAN FOR YOUR LIFE!
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 by 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. It has been said that “…those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” That history proves that the greatest downfall of nations has been prosperity and/or power and the pride that always accompanies it. We must be diligent in praying as His people for a renewal of humility among our leaders and as a people, 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 that same 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.”
(Bold Praise) Lesson Four: God Will be Praised!
Illustrate – 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. Philippians 2:9-11.
How do we apply these “Lessons in Liberty?” How do we ensure that they are not lessons lost on ours and emerging generations? Remember lesson two… “There is a price.” This price is paid daily as we “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4) in every conversation and with every opportunity to speak out, show up and when the opportunity comes, to vote our Christian values.
3 Critical Concerns:
Sanctity of Human Life
Sanctity of Marriage and Family
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 suffice to bring us back into the Providential favor of the Lord who so graciously established us. 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… (expound briefly on the recent Supreme Court ruling)
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. While proclaiming the truth we should love and welcome people so much that any claim that we don’t love them is seen as ridiculous. Will this love be rejected? Yes. Still, make no mistake, if we won’t use our voice there are those who would take it from us.
How can we live out our values? Here’s an assignment… pray together over your meals. Whether at home or at a local restaraunt, hold hands a thank God for His grace and provision. It isn’t to promote you and how holy you are. It’s to promote God and how holy, loving and gracious HE is.
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
(Adapted from a Sermon titled, “Lessons in Liberty” by Pastor Tom Pelt