This month, here in the USA, we celebrate our Independence Day. “The Fourth of July” generally has been a day of flags and fireworks and flyovers (and baseball) when we rejoice in the FREEDOM we citizens are supposed to enjoy. At the bottom line, freedom means the right to live according to God’s purposes. Primarily, these liberties include freedom to worship the One True God, freedom of speech whereby we can proclaim His Truth and Love, freedom of assembly so as to obey what His Word says about gathering together, and freedom to defend ourselves against wicked people.
Consider these dictionary definitions of freedom/liberty: “exemption from external control, interference, regulation; the power to determine one’s own actions without restraint, obligation, restriction, confinement, hampering conditions, etc.; the power or right of doing, thinking, speaking, etc., according to one’s choice.”
Sad to say that 2020 is the first year any of us can remember when these basic liberties have been so usurped by the forces of evil. According to many of the powers-that-shouldn’t-be, it’s okay to leave home without a mask and pack yourself into a mob of rioting looters, but God forbid you attend church (if it’s even allowed) without maintaining UN-social distancing. It’s hard to hug your Christian brethren from six feet apart.
Actually, the grievous situation in which we find ourselves today is not without similar precedent. We see a number of mutinous mobs in the Book of Acts, with the same Devil orchestrating them for the same basic purpose he is today: to stop Christians from spreading God’s truth. Had any “lamestream” media outlets existed back then, they surely would have covered the following event and skewed it in order to advance their agenda of manipulating and inciting their viewers.
Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. 2 Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ.” 4 And some of them were persuaded; and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women, joined Paul and Silas. 5 But the Jews who were not persuaded, becoming envious, took some of the evil men from the marketplace, and gathering a mob, set all the city in an uproar and attacked the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. 6 But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some brethren to the rulers of the city, crying out, “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too. 7 Jason has harbored them, and these are all acting contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying there is another king—Jesus.” 8 And they troubled the crowd and the rulers of the city when they heard these things. 9 So when they had taken security from Jason and the rest, they let them go.
In reality, the “world” in that day was, like it is today, upside down, with the majority of God-rejectors calling light darkness and darkness light. Today, many in power continue to spew a steady stream of blatant lies designed to deceive the population so as to control us for their own selfish ends.
As does the entirety of Paul’s epistles, the above verses show that Jesus Christ had to die in order to defeat death by his resurrection, and thus redeem those who choose to receive his gift of life. WHY? The answer is a little word with a big job, and guess what the middle letter is? The word is “S-I-N.” You see, I is the problem, and Jesus am the only solution, as per John 14:6. The Word states that people must come to God “in truth,” that is, according to God’s rules, and He says that the only way to Him is via His only begotten Son.
As Hebrews 9:22 says, “without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins.” People who do not know God’s saving grace and mercy have no choice but to focus on themSELFs rather than putting the interests of others first, and that leads to rampant unhappiness, unfulfillment, and loneliness.
Lately we Americans are being inundated with the slogan that BLACK LIVES MATTER. Duh. ALL LIVES MATTER. That’s what GOD says. As the song goes, “Red and yellow, black and white; they are precious in God’s sight. Jesus loves the little children (and the big ones) of the world.” Want a prescription guaranteed to cure racism? Here you go: “And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth” (Acts 17:26). No matter our skin color, we are genetically the same. Godly character is what really matters, and that is inside us. As one pundit said, “There is only one race—the human race—and only two kinds of people: decent and indecent.” That makes sense, don’t you think?
The truth is that the USA has the least racist multi-cultural population in history. But persuading any particular ethnic group that they are victims leads them to think they are entitled to preferential treatment, given that they can’t succeed without it, and it encourages them to look to the government to provide for them what they can’t achieve on their own. If I were a “person of color” (is white not a color?), I’d be insulted by such a “racist” idea.
Furthermore, for anyone to need a validation of his worth from a person of a different ethnicity is to ignore the truth that we are all made “in the image of God.” Obviously, no one determines the color of his own skin, but each of us determines what we do in that skin. And we Christians are called to LOVE everyone whom God loves—which is everyone—the way God loves them.
Speaking of government, too many Christians think that Romans 13:1ff is saying that God has placed all politicians in the positions they hold. Are you kidding?! The testimony of history is that for 6000 years the vast majority of those with governmental power have been sociopathic, narcissistic, lying, thieving, murdering weasels who have callously wreaked havoc on the poor souls under their thumbs. Again, sin is the problem.
As we show in One Day With The Creator, God instituted civil government immediately after the Flood to keep a modicum of order and peace so that His people could both freely live and share His Truth. He knew that bad people would not fear Him, whom they could not see, but that at least some would fear visible earthly authorities standing in the way of their nefarious intentions. Pitifully, our “IN-justice system” has been so corrupted that comparatively very little true justice will prevail until “the honorable Judge Jesus” shows up, and court is finally in session.
After an insane lockdown that has trashed the world’s economy and devastated millions of innocent people, many are rightfully angry. Should we also be angry? Yes! But let’s be angry at the evil spiritual forces at work and, in our righteous anger, let us “sin not,” as per Ephesians 4:26 (cp. Ps. 139:21-22). As Psalm 37 shows us, we can focus our spiritual outrage toward evil into godly words and deeds that benefit those in our world.
1 Peter 3:13-16
13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” 15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
In our national anthem, America is called “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” But events of late have revealed we are far less free than we thought, and that there are too few people brave enough to stand up and call evil what it really is. If we give truly wicked people a millimeter, they’ll take a light year. So, let us “be of good courage.” Let’s look for those who are willing to be persuaded, and let’s preach “Jesus Christ and him crucified,” no matter what opposition we encounter. Let us be “valiant for the truth,” not only God’s “capital-T Truth,” but also the “small-T truth” about what is really going on around us. Turn your world right side up! If push comes to shove, “We ought to obey God rather than men.”
Like so many famous songs of yore, The Star-Spangled Banner, God’s Bless America, America The Beautiful, My Country Tis’ of Thee, and The Battle Hymn of the Republic all started as poems. Enjoy these magnificent renditions of patriotic songs that reflect the struggles and triumphs of people and country, while giving honor to our God who has blessed us abundantly. These songs demonstrate that over history while many things have changed, this expression of pride and hope remain a constant part of what it is to be an American.