…unalienable Rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Man was created to have the abundant life, not abundant death. Man was created to have happiness, not dead religion. Man was created to have liberty, not bondage. In the core of their thoughts was that true life, liberty and happiness are only in Christ.
FOURTH OF JULY
By Delbert Young
‘Viva La Liberty’
FOURTH OF JULY – ‘Viva La Liberty’
Scriptures: Deuteronomy 8:6-11, John 8:36
(Movie skit from “The Patriot”) As I watched that movie again this week, I realized how those that had given so much died not knowing if what they had done to birth a nation would actually stick. In the pre-service “crawler” we used the quote from Benjamin Franklin saying, “Our Constitution is in actual operation; everything appears to promise that it will last; but in this world nothing is certain but death and taxes.” They had to look from their perspective. We get to look from our perspective and we know it did stick. America became, and remains, the most powerful nation in the history of man. It is the nation of liberty! What a land it is! What a liberty we enjoy! The songs we sing declare that fact. History records that fact. We get to experience it! ‘Viva La Liberty’
With that in mind, let’s read the scriptures for the lesson today.
Deuteronomy 8:6 Therefore thou shalt keep the commandments of the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to fear him.
Deuteronomy 8:7 For the LORD thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills;
Deuteronomy 8:8 A land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey;
Deuteronomy 8:9 A land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack any thing in it; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass.
Deuteronomy 8:10 When thou hast eaten and art full, then thou shalt bless the LORD thy God for the good land which he hath given thee.
Deuteronomy 8:11 Beware that thou forget not the LORD thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day:
This Wednesday we will celebrate the 225th birthday of America. If there were ever people like ancient Israel that God took them into Canaan, a land flowing with milk and honey, it was the Colonist and America.
The signing of the Declaration of Independence was a momentous decision for each one who signed his name upon it. The closing words of their Declaration solemnly state: “With a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.” As John Adams signed, he said, “Whether we live or die, sink or swim, succeed or fail, I stand behind this Declaration of Independence. And if God wills it, I am ready to die in order that this country might experience freedom.” Then, with little more than hunting rifles as weapons, those men took on England which was the most powerful nation in the world.
Those men seemed to be a special breed created for a special time. God has always done this. He will raise up people for specific times. Queen Ester was alive for such a time as she lived (Est 4:14). They were totally sold out to the birthing of the nation of America. Patrick Henry and George Washington and John Adams and Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin and many of the other patriots were alive for such a time as they lived. They gave of themselves so valiantly that we might enjoy the freedoms that are ours today. ‘Viva La Liberty.’
One of those great men was named Patrick Henry. Patrick Henry despised the arrogant exercise of power by the aristocracy of England. For years he had been vocal concerning the tyrant behavior of England. In 1774 Patrick Henry was a delegate to the First Continental Congress. It was in1775, at the Virginia Provincial Convention, Patrick Henry said, “Give me liberty or give me death!” ‘Viva La Liberty’ It was not an easy thing to say even then. Many of those at that very meeting were deeply dedicated to the support of England.
Patrick Henry became commander-in-chief of Virginia’s military forces. He was largely responsible for drawing up the amendments to our Constitution known as the Bill of Rights. He became Virginia’s first governor and was reelected four times. When he retired from public life, the people reelected him Governor for the fifth time. He refused to take the office. He was offered a seat in the U.S. Senate, and posts as ambassador to Spain and to France. President George Washington asked him to join his cabinet and become Secretary of State, and later wanted to appoint him the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Patrick Henry refused.
Why are we talking about Patrick Henry? Obviously he was a very educated and a very respected man. We speak of him not only because he was a great man and said those renowned words, “Give me liberty, or give me death!” I mention him because Patrick Henry understood that though we have a liberated nation and have wealth, if we do not have Jesus Christ we have nothing. His Last Will and Testament was filed in the Brookneal County courthouse in Virginia. He wrote, “I have now given everything I own to my children. There is one more thing I wish I could give them and that is Christ. Because if they have everything I gave them and don’t have Christ, they have nothing.” Christianity is projected as a bunch of ‘Thou shalt nots.’ In actuality, Christ came to give us freedom. Christianity is liberty. ‘Viva La Liberty.’
Patrick Henry said, “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not by religionists, but by Christians – not on religions, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” America was not only founded on liberty for the nation. It was also founded on the liberty that is in Christ Jesus. Without the liberty that is in Christ, there is no liberty.
People like Patrick Henry were the kind of people that founded this great nation that you and I enjoy, and often take for granted, today. They did everything they could to be led by the Lord as they birthed our nation. God will actually lead us into liberty and not bondage. We sing,
“God bless America, land that I love.
Stand beside her, and guide her,
Through the night, with the light from above.
From the mountains, to the prairies,
To the oceans, white with foam;
God bless America, my home, sweet home.”
Did you know that “God Bless America” was written by a Siberian immigrant? His name was Irving Berlin. The original version was written in 1918. Interestingly, Berlin gave all proceeds from “God Bless America” to the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. The song asks the Lord God to bless American and guide America “Through the night, with the light from above.”
THEY DECLARED THEIR DEPENDENCE UPON GOD AND THEIR INDEPENDENCE TO BONDAGE.
Those great men of 1776 put their lives, their families, their fortunes on the line that you and I could experience liberty yes, but more than that. They desired a nation founded upon the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence says: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Man was created to have the abundant life, not abundant death. Man was created to have happiness, not dead religion. Man was created to have liberty, not bondage. In the core of their thoughts was that true life, liberty and happiness are only in Christ.
There is a word for freedom in the N.T. It is the word, “redemption.” “Redemption” means “to be set free.” It means that we have been bought with a price to be made free.
Sometimes man’s ideas of freedom are actually bondages. For example, Madalyn Murray O’Hair said our schools should be free from prayer because when we pray, we are saying there is a God. People said, “That’s a good idea.” Then someone said that our schools needed to be free from Bible reading because the Bible says, “Thou shall not kill” and “Thou shall not steal” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” The people said, “That’s a good idea.” Dr. Benjamin Spock said our children need to be free from being spanked when they misbehave because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem. So we said, “Okay, we won’t spank them.” Then someone said that teachers and principals better not discipline my children when they misbehave. I want them free from discipline. The people said, “That’s right. Don’t you spank my child or I will sue.” Then someone said, “Our children need to be free from abstinence. Let’s provide our children with condoms so they can have all the ‘fun’ they desire.” And we said, “That’s a great idea.” When we now look at what some said was freedom, we actually see that we have placed people in bondage.
The prodigal son came to his father and said, “I want to be free. Give me what is mine.” Then he wandered into the far country, saying, “I’m free! I’m free!” In reality, he was in bondage to a bunch of hogs. He was not free until he came home to the father. So many people are in bondage today even though they will celebrate liberty this week. How about you and me? I have some areas of my life that are not totally set free yet. I say I am free. I act like I am free. I will celebrate liberty this Wednesday, but am I really free? With the Holy Spirit’s help, I will get there.
The truth of the matter is that we can live in the greatest nation in the history of man. It is a free nation under God. However, though we live in this free nation, we can remain in bondage to something far worse than England. Patrick Henry recognized that he had given his children all he had and a free nation to live in, but unless they had Christ they were still in bondage. Liberty often breeds bondage and we are never actually free until we come home to the father.
I read a story this week that I want to share with you.
The passengers on the bus watched sympathetically as the attractive young woman with the white cane made her way carefully up the steps. She was blind. She paid the driver and used her hands to feel the location of the seats as she walked down the aisle to the seat the driver had told her was empty. Then she settled in, placed her briefcase on her lap and rested her cane against her leg.
Her name was Susan and she was 34 years of age. She had been blind for one year because of a medical mis-diagnosis. She had been angry and frustrated because of her situation. However, she had a loving husband named Mark who loved her with all his heart. Mark was an Air Force officer and was determined to help his wife gain the strength and confidence she needed to become independent again.
Finally, Susan felt ready to return to her job, but how would she get there? She used to take the bus, but was now too frightened to go by herself. So Mark volunteered to drive her to work each day, even though they worked at opposite ends of the city. At first, this comforted Susan who was so insecure about herself now. Soon, however, Mark realized the arrangement wasn’t working. “Susan is going to have to start taking the bus again.” He admitted to himself. “But she is still so insecure, so angry – how will she react?”
Just as he feared, Susan was horrified at the idea of taking the bus again. “I’m blind!”, she responded bitterly. “How am I supposed to know where I am going? I feel like you’re abandoning me.”
Mark’s heart broke to hear these words, but he knew what had to be done. He promised Susan that each morning and evening he would ride the bus with her, for as long as it took, until she got the hang of it. And that is exactly what happened. For two solid weeks, Mark accompanied Susan to and from work each day. He taught her how to rely on her other senses, especially her hearing, to determine where she was and how to adapt to her new environment.
Finally, Susan decided that she was ready to try the trip on her own. Monday morning arrived, and before she left, she threw her arms around Mark. Her eyes filled with tears of gratitude for his loyalty, his patience, and his love. She said “Goodbye,” and for the first time, they went their separate ways. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday… Each day on her own went perfectly, and Susan had never felt better. She was doing it! She was going to work all by herself!
On Friday morning, Susan took the bus to work as usual. As she was paying the fare to exit the bus, the driver said, “Boy, I sure do envy you.” Susan wasn’t sure if the driver was speaking to her or not. After all, who on earth would ever envy a blind woman who had struggled just to find the courage to live for the past year?
Curious, she asked the driver, “Why do you say that you envy me?” The driver responded, “It must feel good to be taken care of and protected like you are.” Susan had no idea what the driver was talking about, and again asked, “What do you mean?”
The driver answered, “Every morning for the past week, a fine-looking man in a military uniform has been standing across the street watching you as you get off the bus. He makes sure you cross the street safely, and he watches until you enter your office building. Then he blows you a kiss and walks away. You are one lucky lady!”
Tears of happiness poured down Susan’s cheeks. For although she couldn’t see him, she had always seemed to feel Mark’s presence. She was lucky, for he had given her a gift more powerful than sight, a gift that she didn’t need to see to know – the gift of his love.
The gift of love had set Susan free. It is this way with our heavenly father. He loved us so much that he gave the greatest gift of love ever given. That gift was Jesus Christ and intended to set us free, not put us in bondage. The Bible says,
John 8:36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.
Though we can’t see our Father watching us, he always is watching. He observes us entering life. He blows us kisses and tells us that he loves us. He so desires that we be free. ‘Viva La Liberty.’
Other Related Sermons:
- Melvin M. Newland, Minister Central Christian, Brownsville, TX