Stars and Stripes
Every year our country celebrates the fourth of July by proudly displaying our beloved banner of red, white, and blue, also known as “Old Glory.”
But there is an even more popular name associated with this patriotic pennant, one that many affectionately know as “the Stars and Stripes.”
Americans of all ages look to our flag with a deep sense of pride, while at the same time, oohing and ahhing as she majestically unfurls against the fountains of fireworks and booming explosions of sparkling color … a dazzling sight to behold!
Another set of stars and stripes constitutes our yearly celebration of independence as well. It is found within the pages of Holy Scripture and was spoken of some 2,000 years ago, long before our nation even existed.
We begin with the stars.
Matthew 2:2 says,
“Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” (NIV)
The birth of Jesus was the promise of a Savior, One who would save His people from their sins. He faithfully walked the Via Delarosa (the path of suffering), so that you and I might know what true liberty really is.
Let us consider now, the stripes. 1 Peter 2:24 says,
“Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.” (NKJV)
By the very stripes (wounds and scourging) that Jesus took upon Himself, you and I have been made completely whole. What a glorious truth this present-tense reality holds.
“For by His stripes we are healed,” (not were healed, not will be healed) … but are healed!
He paid the ultimate sacrifice so that we could now, today, (this 4th of July) live in complete liberty from everything that would try to hold us captive and bound. That is, anything that would try to keep us from the glorious liberty that Christ has already purchased for us!
So you see, we not only celebrate our nation’s independence from a monarchy of oppressive rule, but we commemorate our sacred stars and stripes as the divine representations of our future hope as a nation.
As our grand old flag, sown together with the beautiful symbols of the “Stars and Stripes” proudly waves across our shores, she will always, graciously, humble herself and give honor where honor is due.
She will give honor to the one who died, in order that we as a nation might live.
Philippians 2:10 proclaims,
“… every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” (NKJV)
Until we are all set free within this sweet land of liberty, we will rejoice in our salvation, and in the name of our God we will fly our banner, high and lifted up … for all the world to see!
“You have given a banner to those who fear You, that it may be displayed because of the truth.” (Psalm 60:4, NKJV)
Instilling the Meaning of Independence DayBy: David Crowe, Author, crosswalk
What does the Fourth of July mean to contemporary Americans? For many it means a day off from work and little more. To others it means an opportunity to “party,” roast hot dogs, drink beer and watch fireworks.
But to the Founders of our nation, it meant far more. Upon the completion of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Samuel Adams, known as the “Father of the American Revolution” said,
“We have this day restored to Sovereign to Whom all men ought to be obedient. He reigns in Heaven and from the rising to the setting of the sun, let His Kingdom come.”
Adams was a man of no small stature in the colonies. His views are widely known and he was not closet Christian. He formed the Committees of Correspondence that unified the colonists preceding the Revolution; signed the Declaration of Independence; and served as Lieutenant Governor and Governor of Massachusetts.”
It was Adam’s view that in declaring their independence from Great Britain, the colonists were placing themselves under the only true “sovereign”, the King of Kings and the LORD of lords. Adams believed that as God “reigns in Heaven” it was His desire to further His Kingdom in the New World “from the rising to the setting of the sun.”
On July 3, 1776, the day following Congress’ approval of the Declaration of Independence – John Adams – a signer of the Declaration and later our president wrote the following to his wife Abigail:
“The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty.
To John Adams, it was to be remembered as a “Day of Deliverance” from the control and oppression of tyrants, and it should be marked by acts of devotion to the God who delivers! To Sam Adams, and to his cousin John, the spiritual implications were significant. As God, the author of our liberty has “declared” us free from the power, dictates and cruel authority of the arch “tyrant”, the colonists were declaring themselves “free” to serve the King of Kings, and not an earthly tyrant. Their understanding of the event was theologically based, in a desire to serve the only true “sovereign”, Christ Himself.
It is difficult in light of the current state of America for the next generation to gain an understanding or appreciation of these spiritual implications. The enemy is using ignorance, complacency, and revisionism to disengage Christians from their civic duties.
While we celebrate “Independence” this fourth of July, remember that the greatness of America is knowing that our liberty comes from Him who died for us,.and that our “freedoms” spring from the love of God.
Depending on the Lord
“This is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word” (v. 2b).
– Isaiah 66:1–2
If we were to describe the proper attitude that we must have toward God in prayer, we would likely use the word faith. Of course, as we saw yesterday, that would be an entirely appropriate way to indicate how we must approach the Lord of heaven and earth. However, we could use another term that is almost a synonym for the biblical concept of faith, and that term is dependence.
This does not mean a mere feeling of dependence, as some liberal theologians have described the essence of Christianity. Instead, it is a recognition that we rely on our Creator for all things, including our salvation. Otherwise, we come before the Lord arrogantly, demanding that He hear us and answer us as we pray. The author of Hebrews does tell us to come before the throne of grace confidently, but confidence is not arrogance. The confidence of which Hebrews speaks is rooted in the awareness that we can stand before God not because we deserve to, but because Jesus has merited perfect righteousness for us (Heb. 4:14–16). It is the certain knowledge that we may stand in the presence of God unafraid because we rest and rely on Jesus and His righteousness alone. God-pleasing boldness flows from absolute dependence on Christ.
We are to have an attitude of dependence in prayer because we recognize that we are unworthy in ourselves of even speaking to God, let alone of being near His majestic holiness. The Lord has a positive regard only for those who acknowledge their sin, seek forgiveness in humility, and depend on His grace alone and not anything in or from themselves. This is what God revealed to the prophet Isaiah (Isa. 66:1–2), which is why answer 117 of the Heidelberg Catechism says that the only kind of prayer that pleases the Lord is prayer from those who recognize their need and misery before God. Only if we wholeheartedly rely on God’s favor toward sinners in Christ Jesus can we pray in a manner that will delight Him.
The dependence that God demands confesses that the Lord will hear and answer prayer according to His will, not because of something good in us but because we are in Christ and because Christ promises to intercede for us and with us by His Spirit (Rom. 8:26–27). Depending on Jesus and no other, we have a firm foundation on which to stand when we offer our concerns to the Lord.
An earnest invitation
By: Charles Spurgeon
“Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.” Psalm 2:12
Suggested Further Reading: Psalm 1
Those that trust in him are blessed; and I would observe, first, that they are really blessed. It is no fiction, no imaginary blessing; it is a real blessedness which belongs to those who trust in God: a blessedness that will stand the test of consideration, the test of life, and the trial of death; a blessedness into which we cannot plunge too deeply, for none of it is a dream, but all a reality. Again, those that trust in him have not only a real blessedness, but they oftentimes have a conscious blessedness. They know what it is to be blest in their troubles, for they are in their trials comforted, and they are blest in their joys, for their joys are sanctified. They are blest and they know it, they sing about it and they rejoice in it. It is their joy to know that God’s blessing is come to them not in word only but in very deed. They are blessed men and blessed women.
“They would not change their blest estate
For all the world calls good and great.”
Then, further, they are not only really blessed, and consciously blessed, but they are increasingly blessed. Their blessedness grows. They do not go downhill, as the wicked do, from bright hope to black despair. They do not diminish in their delights, the river deepens as they wade into it. They are blessed when the first ray of heavenly light streams on their eyeballs; they are blessed when their eyes are opened wider still, to see more of the love of Christ; they are blessed the more their experience widens, and their knowledge deepens, and their love increases. They are blessed in the hour of death, and, best of all, their blessedness increases to eternal blessedness,—the perfection of the saints at the right hand of God. “Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.”
For meditation: How often do you take time to count your blessings in Christ?