Freedom

Tomorrow is July 4th and in the U.S. we celebrate our country’s independence as the Fourth of July Holiday. I travel to Washington DC often for work and there you can see signs of our founding fathers everywhere and the power of our government on what seems like every corner. I waited to visit the Jefferson Memorial until I’d seen just about everything else because I never wanted to “go all the way over there” so I’d just skip it. I remember very vividly seeing the monuments one night and the Jefferson Memorial didn’t look that far away after visiting the MLK Memorial. I was wrong but that’s another story. When you see the quotes from great leaders like Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt and MLK you are inspired as an American.

The interesting thing about all that history however is, we have no idea what they really went through to get us to the point of “One Nation Under God”. Not too far from the Lincoln Memorial are the Vietnam Memorial Wall, the Korean War and the World War II Memorials. These four memorials all represent some of the “actions” that have kept our country free since July 4, 1776. Again, these memorials tell of men and women who sacrificed it all for us to be free in circumstances that are unimaginable to most of us. This Fourth of July is not just a celebration of our country’s birth but is a celebration of those that have fought, here and abroad, for us to remain free. Some did it with words and pens, others with swords and rifles, but they all did it for their love of their Country and in some cases, their actions meant millions of others would be free.

“Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” 1John 3:18

When I first saw this verse I was ready to write about love and honesty but with the July 4th Holiday upon us, this seemed more appropriate. We “love” a lot of things in our lives – dessert, a TV show, a movie, our clothes/shoes, our cars, food and even our electronic devices. Some people “love” things so much that they post about them on Facebook, Twitter or Insta-Gram. None of these are what God had in mind when he inspired the writers of the bible. We can tell people we love them, we can write them poems or letters or in today’s case we can tweet it but how do we show it? People will say that they love their fellow man when they write a check to a charity and others by volunteering. It’s important to remember, sharing God’s love isn’t about works.

It’s not about how many checks you write or how many hours you volunteer at the homeless shelter or how many doors you knock on to share the word. We have God’s love because we believe and His love isn’t dependent upon anything we do. We are instructed with this verse to love with actions and in truth. The old phrase “actions speak louder than words” is best applied here. Don’t go around professing your love for God but cheating every chance you get. Don’t write or say: “You’ll be in my prayers” but then never pray. All of us as God’s children, have been given the gift of God’s love; not only was it written for us in the bible but it’s shown everyday by His actions in our lives. Let’s celebrate ALL of our freedoms this week: as a nation we enjoy certain freedoms and as a sinner, we are free from eternal punishment through our faith in Jesus Christ. We have these freedoms today because of courageous acts by many; we should never forget them.

Freedom!

This week I’ll be combining the message with the theme, which I hope is apparent at the end. I thought that I’d mix it up and this was a perfect way to do that.

This week the United States is celebrating “Independence Day” on July 4th. This is the day we celebrate our separation from England in 1776. Americans proudly talk about freedom and strength on the 4th of July. It is a great time of year because it happens at the start of summer. People are embracing the summer weather (unless you live in Arizona, its been “summer” since April) while most kids are planning a long summer away from schoolwork. People will celebrate the day with a barbeque, friends, and a few cold drinks and simply relaxing. The night is usually capped with a fireworks display to commemorate the rockets of the battle we fought. This year the holiday falls on a Friday so it is a three-day weekend for most everyone.

There is another independence day that happened on a Friday but we celebrate it in the spring – Good Friday. Independence, you ask? Yes, a separation from the power of the devil in our lives. 21But now a righteousness from God, apart from the law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. 27Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith. 28For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law.” Romans 3:21-28

Paul’s letter describes our freedom from the guilt and power of sin. We are free from the law and yet remain redeemed. We are “justified freely” by God’s grace because of what Jesus did for us. American freedom comes with constraints just as God’s justice (punishment) was handed down through Christ; our freedom was also won through Him. We are free from sin not through our own work but through our faith in Christ and the righteousness of God. U.S. freedom today was won by the heroic acts of brave people fighting our enemy in 1776. We did nothing to earn it today. Jesus took the heroic fight against the power of sin and the devil and won our freedom too. This Friday is another Good Friday for us to celebrate our freedom (whether you are in the US or not). We are truly free “and justified freely by His grace through Christ Jesus.” Remain strong in faith and stay safe!