July 4th has always been one of my favorite holidays. I was raised in the military, was in the military myself and now have a son currently serving in the USMC (Oorah!). So … freedom, country and patriotism have always been very important to me. There is NOTHING that compares to the freedom we have in Christ. Pastor Andy wrote the below message yesterday and sums it up pretty well.
“Abraham Lincoln visited Richmond, Virginia, after it fell to the Union army, and those who had been slaves recognized him. He told them, “My poor friends, you are free – free as air. You can cast off the name of slave and trample upon it – Liberty is your birthright.” But he also told them not to abuse their birthright, by saying, “Don’t let your joy carry you into excesses. Learn the laws and obey them.” Contrast that to Scripture: “For you were called to be free, brothers, only don’t use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love. For the entire law is fulfilled in one statement: Love your neighbor as yourself. But if you bite and devour one another, watch out, or you will be consumed by one another.” Galatians 5:13-15 Much as happened since that time of courageous leadership. But the words of Lincoln, and the Word of the Lord stand as fulfillment of prophecy. Serving the flesh has become a priority, and it seems like many in leadership, lead with that kind of behavior, so why wouldn’t those who closely watch leadership try to behave the same way. This day we observe the independence of our nation, perhaps it’s time to go back to the basics of what we were founded on. The freedom of liberty, the ability to choose our faith, and the ability to live and grow and make something of ourselves; the ability to freely help our fellow man. Where did we lose it? Where did we start to go wrong? We did when we got too much into the “opportunity of the flesh,” the failure to live by serving one another, and caring for one another, and allowing our neighbor to become more than us, by the work of his own hands. This is what made this country great. Can it be great again? I believe it can, but only if we get back to the basics of what Lincoln told us, what Scripture still tells us today. Jesus broke the bonds of slavery to the flesh, yet it is still to the flesh that we wear the chains of bondage. We wear them because we have chosen to follow the flesh instead of realizing that we live in liberty, we live in freedom, that no man can take away. That freedom isn’t an excuse for disobedience, but actually forms the very basis for learning and obeying God’s laws, the laws that are written somewhere on our hearts, and still exist within us. Can we become great again? If greatness is only found in the true heart of the person willing to be a servant to each other, willing to love one another, as Jesus loved us, then greatness will be ours again, as we get back to the basics of faith, in our Lord, in our country, in our family. My wish for all of you is that this day, you pause for a moment to see how you may honor this rich heritage, by faithfully realizing those who gave the ultimate, to help us to realize this dream from the beginning of this nation, to the present day, Let’s let true freedom ring once again in our nation. My salute to all of you who still stand and defend freedom, as our cause – in Christ.” (Pastor Andy Anderson, Gainesville, TX)