This Thursday our Country will be celebrating it’s 243rd year of independence as a Nation from the Kingdom of Great Britain. While clearly a day for festivities and revelry, I think it is important to point out just a few facts about this pride-filled celebration.
Declaration of Independence
One of the most widely held misconceptions about the Declaration of Independence is that it was signed on July 4, 1776.
In fact, our independence, was formally declared on July 2, 1776… a date that John Adams believed would be “the most memorable epoch in the history of America.”
On July 4, 1776, Congress approved the final text of the Declaration. But it wasn’t officially signed until August 2, 1776.
The first public reading of the Declaration of Independence was on July 8, 1776. In 1870, nearly 100 years later, congress declared July 4th as Independence Day to be a national holiday as a part of a bill of officially recognize several holidays, including Christmas.
Freedom Did Not Come Freely
I think its fair, and somewhat biased, to say we live in the greatest country on the planet. This Thursday, I’d like you to take the time to remember, throughout all the activities of the day, the price we’ve paid to become such a great Nation.
We have fought many battles as a Country and lost many good men and woman protecting our freedom and independence.
US Department of Veteran’s Affairs
From the American Revolution (1775-1783) to Desert Shield/Desert Storm (1990-1991) we have lost a total of 1,190,085 lives.
These numbers, obviously, do not include the losses we’ve suffered in the Middle East and throughout the world. It is also not to mention the many vicious and evil terrorist attacks we have had within our own homeland with so many senseless lives lost. 911 being one of our Nations’ greatest tragedies.
Please remember these great losses our Nation has suffered as you celebrate our independence this Thursday. Give thanks to our founding fathers, our military and first-responders and, most importantly… give thanks to God!
The Most Powerful
US News & World Report: The United States is the most powerful country in the world. It has the largest economy in the world, thanks in large part to its massive entertainment and media industry. The economy in California alone produces about $2.5 trillion. Assuming California was a country, that number would have made the California economy one of the top six in the world. Imagine that!
In terms of political influence, the US is unparalleled. A founding member of the United Nations, the US plays a huge role in almost all international issues, especially ones regarding global security. The US remains a powerhouse in the international community.
The US has the most powerful military in the world. It has the most modernized and sophisticated military weapon systems and possesses a huge number of nuclear warheads.
The US also isn’t shy about showing its military power to the world which is one reason why some countries often accuse the US of meddling with international affairs too much.
Russia, China, United Kingdom and Germany finish-off the top five.
Aside from the losses we’ve suffered as a Nation, what else does it cost us to live in this great land or ours? We’ve already covered the fact that freedom doesn’t come free but what, as Americans, must we do to pay back our debt for living as freely as we do?
I’ve outlined just a few quick points here…
- Support and defend the Constitution.
- Participate in the democratic process.
- Respect and obey federal, state, and local laws.
- Pay income and other taxes honestly, and on time, to federal, state, and local authorities.
- Serve on a jury when called upon.
- Defend the country if the need should arise.
What do you think? Not really a lot of responsibility for us as Americans. I’m sure you may come up with some other ideas how we might “pay-it-back” for living here but I really don’t think what I’ve outlined here is too much to demand for our independence.
Another Type of Freedom
Okay, I think we’re all pretty aware of why we celebrate the Fourth of July every year. We’re proud of our Nation; we’re proud of our military; and we’re all proud as Americans to live in such a great and powerful Nation.
Now, I would be remiss, as your Pastor, to not remind you of another “freedom” we share and how we should “pay-it-back” for this particular freedom… not on any given or specific day, but every day we wake-up and breathe our next breath.
Spiritual Freedom/Freedom from Sin
As we have talked about many times here at Sunrise Chapel, we are living in Satan’s playground. Evil surrounds us and temptations of the flesh tear at our very souls every day of our lives.
It would be so easy for us to fall in the devil’s traps and condemn us to an eternal life of pain and suffering. This is what the devil wants for us and he’ll make it seem so ridiculously easy that it may convince us to walk away from the way it is truly meant to be… God’s way!
The good news is God has given us His Word. The scriptures have been provided to us as OUR “Declaration of Independence” from sinful and evil things.
John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Yes, the Bible is our “Declaration of Independence” for our souls and God has given us His only Son to deliver us from sin and eternal suffering.
The Crucifixion – Didn’t Come Freely
We have talked about the costs for our independence as a Nation. Now, let’s talk about the costs that were paid for our very salvation.
I’m not talking about the loss of lives on the battleground or the very soldiers that fought this battle. I’m talking about the sacrifice that ONE MAN made to save us all.
Jesus came to us to teach us about kindness, compassion, Love and understanding. He didn’t bring judgement against us; He didn’t come to condemn us for our sins and send us to the depths of hell… He came to save us and died a horrible, painful death in order to do so!
Crucifixion is an extremely painful and cruel punishment. So much so, it was never carried-out on any Roman but, instead, on anyone seen as an enemy or criminal to the Romans.
- Forced to Carry the Cross
- Fairly Tall and Quite Heavy
- Laid Over the Cross
- Pounding Large Nails into the Wrists
- Through Both Ankles – A Long Process Alone
- Dropping Into the Hole
- Constricted Breathing
- Taking Hours to Die
As foretold in the Old Testament, Jesus rose from the dead on the third day following His crucifixion… His mission from His Father in Heaven completed and we had been “set free!”
Jesus had set us free on that day. He sacrificed Himself for each and every one of us. He died so we might live.
Galatians 5:1 – “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
He had released us from our “yoke of slavery.” The yoke of our sinful ways and we then had all the tools we needed to battle the devil and the evil ways of this world. OUR INDEPENDENCE!
Now it is all up to us. How do we pay Jesus back for the sacrifice He made for all of us? How do we pay God back for His ultimate sacrifice?
We start our carefully…
Galatians 5:13 – “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.”
And what does it take to “pay-it-back” to God for all He has given us?
Matthew 22:36-40 – “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law? Jesus replied: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
I really don’t think that’s too much to ask of us! How hard is it to Love a God that sacrificed His very Son that we might live, free from sin, with an opportunity for eternal life?
Be proud of our Country. Celebrate the freedom and prosperity we enjoy here. Celebrate your friends, your families and every opportunity this freedom has enabled us to take advantage of.
In like fashion, do not forget about what our, as children of the most-high God; Brothers and Sisters in Christ and The Holy Spirit, Declaration of Independence is to us.
- We have defeated the Germans
- We have defeated the Japanese
- We are beating and, eventually, will beat this terrorism
As Christians (and what Jesus has done for us)
- He defeated the Romans
- He defeated the Pharisees and Scribes
- He defeated the Devil!
Go with God; be good to one another; always stay humble; always be kind… God Bless (Amen)