Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14 NLT
This Saturday we had a great meeting at Sunshine Village but our hearts are heavy for America. With young soldiers dying in Afghanistan and a storm of a lifetime threatening Louisiana we need God more than ever. 75 years ago Dr. Peter Marshall spoke on the American dream. “For freedom is not the right to do as one pleases, but the opportunity to please to do what is right. The founding fathers sought freedom…not from the law but in law;not freedom from government but freedom in government; not freedom from speech- but freedom in speech; not freedom from the press- but freedom in the press. Not freedom from religion- but freedom in religion.
How strange that after so many years that the struggle remains the same. We must hold our freedom firmly and our personal responsibility to use it well as a holy trust from God. How America needs our humble prayers today. Who will take the time to not only have a little talk with Jesus but be ready to hear what Jesus has to say!
Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. Romans 13:7-7 ESV
July 4th, 1974 was a hot and humid day in West Plains Missouri, and a perfect day for a church picnic. But what my wife Nancy I remember most about that day is the birth of our oldest son, Chris. The labor pains had begun while we were playing frisbee with our friends in the Jack’s Fork River, but Nancy was having so much fun she declined to tell me until her contractions were five minutes apart. Speeding in a pick-up truck up two miles of dirt road and then another twenty-five on asphalt is something neither one of us will ever forget! But amazingly, right at 11:45 that evening, the adventure of being a mom and dad began, and those small details of that one day are still precious to us after all these years.
On a different 4th of July, two hundred and forty-five years ago our nation was born. On another hot sweltering day in Philadelphia, the Second Continental Congress approved the Declaration of Independence. It is a day we celebrate, not just because our nation began, but because it was founded with the idea 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.”
Today’s verse tells this same idea by reminding us that we need to honor and respect everyone, (And even pay our taxes!) There are plenty of things we could find to complain about, criticize or even make fun of about our country and its leaders. But our hope and confidence is not in our leaders or even our friends. It lies only in God. He is still in charge no matter who lives in the White House. His laws do not change every time congress passes another piece of legislation or the courts rule with their opinions. Most importantly we must remember that we are commanded to love one another. You might say, “That is a pretty tough row to hoe, you don’t know my family, my fellow church members and my neighbors!” Hey if this were easy God wouldn’t have made it a command! But what is impossible for men, is possible for God. He sent Jesus to the cross to die for us all. There the ground is level and we are equally in need of His grace which alone can give us real life, real liberty and real happiness that will last forever and ever!
Life Liberty and Happiness by Peter Caligiuri first published in the Sunshine Newsletter Copyright 2021 all rights reserved use by permission only
Known worldwide as a symbol of American freedom, the Statue of Liberty was actually a gift to the American people funded by people from all around the world with its design and planning done by the nation of France. Though I had seen it from the air, I didn’t have the chance to visit the statue up close and personal, until just a few years ago with some friends of ours. As we began to enter, I noticed on a wall inside the base an inscription written by the American poet Emma Lazarus. This was a poem she had originally written as part of an effort to raise funds for the project. Though the statue itself was dedicated and opened to the public in 1886, her poem was forgotten. But friends of Emma remembered her words and continued to lobby for them to be included until finally a bronze plaque with her timeless lines was added in 1903. Its second verse which is most remembered says:
Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
As we approach Memorial Day I am thankful for the freedoms I can enjoy because of the sacrifice of so many men and women who died defending the ideas behind the lines on the Statue of Liberty. But those words should also remind us of another person who came to offer an even greater freedom to captives, 2,000 years ago. His name was Jesus and He did not raise a torch, but instead He Himself was raised up and nailed to a cross. There He suffered and died in exchange for freedom from sin and death for anyone who would come to Him in faith. Today, Jesus is still calling out. His words are not etched on a bronze plaque instead they are but by the spoken by Holy Spirit in our hearts.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 ESV