Today’s post is long, but covers two topics not surpassed in importance by any other. Happy Fourth of July. And God, Bless America.
It’s the the Fourth of July. It’s a pretty day outside. The temperatures are rising, but won’t get above 80 degrees. Inside, it seems a bit hotter as people discuss political differences and the oppressive taxes and heavy hand laid on them by their government.
The people feel the divide between them and the government has reached a point that drastic action is necessary. Suffering may be ahead if they follow their beliefs and their desires. War could break out. A terrible war. Some differences are even splitting families apart. Some come to blows. Unspeakable things are happening. It is a somber time. Anxiety over what is going on in other places is concerning. The lack of trusted communication leaves people unsettled. It’s a time, quite frankly, to be a bit fearful.
Yet, it’s a time to be hopeful. Joyful. Determined. And, most of all, United.
The reality is that no fireworks will go off this day. There are no ceremonies or concerts or family gatherings, at least not for fun. People are pondering the momentous events of this day that will change the course of history. The Fourth of July is going to be a great day. Despite that, puzzled citizens everywhere wait to hear the latest news. They wonder what will happen today and in the future.
But at the end of this day, all the delegates from all 13 states at this Second Continental Congress except one have signed off on the Declaration of Independence. We aren’t sure of a lot of the details of the day. Even Thomas Jefferson, who kept careful notes on almost everything including the temperature, did not record details of discussions, debates and decisions. The meetings were closed to the public.
But the church bells in Philadelphia soon rang out. Riders were dispatched to the other colonies with the news. The Declaration meant Independence. It was also seen as treason, punishable by death and loss of all property, by the English rulers. What lay ahead was unpredictable. But the majority was willing to accept the challenge. And the sacrifice. And even the bloodshed.
July Fourth, 1776
The Declaration of Independence.
A new America. A new United States of America.
One Nation, Under God.
That was then.
This is now. Today for us, this 2017 holiday weekend, the Fourth of July is a great deal different. The Fourth of July is a celebration for all who call America home. At least it should be. Today even some of our leaders are undecided on their loyalty to this country. Today isn’t a day to discuss those details, but dark, disappointed, misguided forces seek to destroy the moral core and work ethic of the country. In my opinion, most of those people are floundering in their own lack of beliefs or loyalty or appreciation of America. As far as their spiritual condition, I have to believe most of them are lost. Some appear insane. At least their actions point in that direction. They protest, but offer no solutions. They have no understanding or appreciation of what makes America a great country for anyone who is willing to try and better themselves. There is none greater.
We don’t have to all agree. But we have to be able to be civil. Not being civil is the first step in being uncivilized. Uncivilized. Webster defines it as not polite, unreasonable, disrespectful; showing no concern for the well-being of people or for the proper way to behave toward people; having no regard for laws, rules, organization; abandoning social systems, economic systems and technologies. — (SOUND FAMILIAR?)
The Fourth of July. A time when we now do pop fireworks, hold parades, eat barbecue, have picnics, concerts, ballgames and family and friend reunions. A time when we celebrate the Red, White & Blue. The Fourth of July is the National Day of the United States of America. Despite the challenges of today, our fervent daily prayer should still be:
God Bless America.
You know, today’s generation doesn’t know how it started. What it means. How we got there. Click the link below and take a few minutes to review how it got started. July 4, 1776:
TODAY, we are blessed.
There’s another reason for us to celebrate. A reason for jubilation, appreciation, and triumph for something even greater than this country. And our command in Matthew 28 is to share this blessing, to make sure all who will, hear:
Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’
That is our our Declaration of Independence from sin. From being lost. Our Declaration of worshiping the one True God. Our Pledge of Allegiance to his everlasting Grace. And to a life full of joy.
How should we live today? In the joy of the Lord. Read below Psalm 84, the psalm of the sons of Korah, the gatekeepers and the musicians. Psalm 84 recounts the emotions the psalmist felt when he visited the temple in Jerusalem. The sacred structure reminded ancient Israelites of God’s close presence. They regarded it as God’s House. His dwelling place on earth. The psalmist’s experiences at the temple created an intense longing for God’s sanctuary. In a real sense, the psalm is a prayer for God’s presence. Real security is found in the assurance of God’s presence.
How lovely is your dwelling-place,
My soul yearns, even faints,
for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out
for the living God.
Even the sparrow has found a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may have her young –
a place near your altar,
Lord Almighty, my King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in your house;
they are ever praising you.
Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baka,
they make it a place of springs;
the autumn rains also cover it with pools.
They go from strength to strength,
till each appears before God in Zion.
Hear my prayer, Lord God Almighty;
listen to me, God of Jacob.
Look on our shield, O God;
look with favour on your anointed one.
Better is one day in your courts
than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
the Lord bestows favour and honour;
no good thing does he withhold
from those whose way of life is blameless.
Lord Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts in you.
Wow! What an awesome outlook on life and on trusting God. On wanting to stay close to him. We don’t have to go to the temple to do that. God is where we are. Never forget that.
Here are some things we should remember from this on this Fourth of July weekend:
1. Believers are to worship God passionately in light of who he is.
2. God offers strength for life to those who seek to worship Him and keep Him close.
3. Believers are to pray for their leaders and for God’s direction as they lead. We are to be involved in our government. We are, though, always supposed to live in a way pleasing to him.
4. Believers are to respond to God’s presence with worship and praise.
And remember to pray this every day:
God, Bless America.