Indipendance Day Thoughts

 

 Happy Independence Day!

  
 The Declaration of Independence was written mostly by Thomas Jefferson, one of America’s founding fathers and the second president of the United States. A while back, in my post called “In God We Trust,” I wrote of the foundation of faith that is the cornerstone of this nation. I also talked about how far from that heritage it has fallen, ending with a prayer that we would one day return to being a nation that trusts in God.

The Declaration of Independence mentions God four times. The first reference to God is “[T]he Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God…” This reference to God’s laws of nature and God’s laws for his people in Scripture. “The Laws of Nature” refer to things such as the laws of physics, Newton’s Laws, the laws of gravity etc. The second part, “…and of Nature’s God…” refers to the moral and spiritual laws given by God, such as the Ten Commandments, the Sacrificial laws, the Ceremonial laws etc. Their point, I believe, was that the Laws of Nature’s God should be just as important, binding, unchanging, and unending as those of Nature itself.

  The second reference, “[A]ll men are created equal, and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable (cannot be taken away) Rights…” This statement can be seen in no other way than to refer to the Creator God spoken of in Genesis. These Unalienable Rights are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. The first is the right to life: God, as our Creator, is the One who gave us life. God, as our sustainer, is the only One who can truly keep us alive; and as such, is the only One with the true right and power to take it away. No man made himself or anyone else, so we have no right to take the life of himself or anyone else. Second, Liberty: the right granted to act as one sees fit, without fear of restraint or control, unless by the laws of nature which is a state of liberty not license. Lastly, the pursuit of happiness. According to William Blackstone our happiness is directly linked to God’s laws, and we can only be truly happy obeying Him. The Constitution was written, not to deny these rights, but to secure them and ensure they were and are unalienable. Since God created us, He gave us these Rights, and only He can take them away.

Third, “[A]ppealing to the Supreme Judge of the World, for the rectitude of our intentions…” referring to the God of the Bible who will reign Supreme as a Holy and Righteous Judge of the good and evil in this world. Rewarding the righteous with promised eternal life with Him in Heaven; and the evil with promised eternal damnation in hell with Satan. Jefferson is calling on God to Judge his life and guide his paths, to life eternal.

  Lastly, “[W]ith a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence…” This last reference envelopes several attributes of God; His Omniscience, Omnipresence, Sovereign control, great power, love for His people and many, many more. The LORD is our Protector, defender and sustainer. Without Him we are nothing, with Him we are everything.

These four references in the birth certificate of our great nation, serve as a firm, constant and poetic reminder of where we began and why we began this way. Jefferson, I am sure, hoped this nation would stay that way, but sadly, it did not. My prayer is that it will return there once again.  

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In God We Trust

  In God We Trust, God Bless America, One Nation Under God, it is words like these that our nation was founded on. It is these words that kept the pilgrims going on those endless days and nights at sea and the long cold winters in Plymouth, they gave Washington and his men hope in the Revolutionary War and strengthened Lincoln in the Civil War when he felt like giving up.

The words are everywhere, on our money, license plates, plaques and Lady Liberty too. They’re in the Pledge of Allegiance, the National Anthem, and they are the motto of this country. Our forefathers fought and died so that this nation could be free to worship Him, and now that very nation is slowly but surely, quietly but effectively slipping God out of the picture, until we now hardly want to have anything to do with the very reason we exist.

A couple of years ago, I visited Tallahassee, the Capital of Florida. I was standing in a hall, in the Capital Building, in front of me, a secretary at a desk; behind me, seats and the elevators; to my left, the House of Representatives; to my right, the Senate; and above me, an opening so the people on the floor above could look down. As I looked around in awe, still not quite believing what I was looking at, I saw that there was writing on the sides of the opening. I read the writing through, it was facts about Florida, state bird, flower, tree,mammal, etc. You name it we have it, some even seemed repetitive.

But then I got to the end of the list, and something caught my eye, the state motto, “IN GOD WE TRUST”, right there in big letters, “IN GOD WE TRUST”. At first, I felt proud not only to live in a country, but also a state that bears that as it’s motto. But, the more I thought about it, the less proud I felt. I asked my self, Is that true, are we as a nation trusting in God, and Him alone to fix all our problems?” I thought about it, and I had to say, no. Yes, we as Christian individuals do look to God in trust, most of the time, when things are easy. But in these though economic times, who do we as a nation look to, to get us out? The president and his stimulus packages? Congress, and there bailout money? That’s not what I would call trusting in God. We need look to no man for our help, but only to God. The writer of Psalms 121 said it best, “I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; from where shall my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” The Lord, not the president, not congress, the Lord.

Earlier, I mentioned Abraham Lincoln. Now there was a man who knew how to trust in God through anything. Through all the death and dying in the Civil War, Lincoln could have despaired and given up at any time, but he, through it all looked to God for strength and victory. It was Lincoln, not the pilgrims, who made Thanksgiving a national holiday. The pilgrims thanked God and celebrated, but he made it a holiday. He knew what was happening to this nation when he wrote; 

“We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; 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 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. We have become to self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, to proud to pray to the one who made us.”

Abe recognized a problem that still goes on to this day,, we have forgotten God. One former slave tried to kneel to him once, but he rebuked him and said; “Don’t kneel to me! You must kneel to God only.”

There are many other stories of people who trusted God, no matter what. But we need to our selves; “Are we trusting in God?”  “Am I trusting in God?”.  No, our faith and trust in God will probably not be remembered through history as Lincoln’s was, but you never know who might be watching you, who’s lives might be changed forever because of your faith and trust in God. It is my prayer that we will return to being a nation that trusts in God. Because, unlike men, He will never leave us or forsake us.

As someone I know aptly put it, “God never promised, that the cross would not get heavy, and the hill would not be hard to climb. He never offered a victory without fighting but He said help would always come in time. Just remember when your standing in the valley of decision and the adversary says give in! Just hold on! Our Lord will show up and He will take you through the fire again!”