God’s Independence Day
Independence Day — burgers and hotdogs sizzle on grills and fireworks burst in the sky. We eat, maybe hear The Star Spangled Banner, watch fireworks, and go home. July fourth has become commonplace, another day for big sales events and flying an American flag; far removed from the early celebrations marking the end of the Revolutionary War and founding a new country.
However, an Independence Day celebration approaches that will impress the whole world and never be diminished! We don’t know its date and shouldn’t believe anyone who tells us they do. But, no one on earth or in heaven will miss its importance; and it will mark a day of eternal freedom from the greatest oppressor ever – Satan.
It is the day of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ’s return. It is the beginning of real freedom, like no one has ever had before (except Adam and Eve before they sinned). Those who have believed in Christ’s atoning blood for their sins and have trusted and believed in Him, might have what an old preacher of mine used to call “a Hallelujah breakdown!”
This Independence Day will release Christians from the many sins keeping them entangled. Imagine, no more sickness, no more addictions, no more gossip, no more unkindness, no more anything that does not reflect the positive attributes of the love of our Father God and our Lord Jesus Christ.
Currently, we have the Holy Spirit to guide, strengthen and comfort us, and give us remarkable power through Christ’s death and resurrection. However, we are still tripped up by sin as long as we live in this fallen world. When Jesus returns, all our ungodliness along with our negative baggage goes away. I can’t think of a better freedom than that.
Actually, the whole scene of Jesus’s return sounds so incredible, I doubt there are words to describe the immense emotional, spiritual and physical response people will have.
The Bible tells us Jesus will return to earth just like He left, through the clouds (Acts 1:11b), with his angels (Matt 16:27), with the trumpet call of God and a loud command (1 Thessalonians 4:16). Scripture says believers in Christ will be changed in a twinkling of an eye and Jesus will destroy all dominion, authority and power standing in opposition to Almighty God (1 Corinthians 15:52, 1 Corinthians 15:24).
Our earthly minds are limited in their comprehension of this miraculous time. It’s a God thing, and try as we may, we can’t peg down the details on how God will accomplish the return of Jesus Christ and the destruction of evil.
Picture the sky filled with God’s mighty angels, the sound of God’s trumpet (which has to be the most beautiful and loudest sounding instrument) and our Lord Jesus shining radiantly as He leads His mighty angelic troop in the sky.
Envision watching victory as Christ and his angels capture Satan and his demons, and justice is completed. It will be more graphic and stirring than any riveting movie Hollywood could ever think of producing.
Many theologians have studied the return of Christ and have disagreed about the order of when things happen and exactly how they happen. These varied opinions on the return of Christ and the disappearance of believers from the earth have created divisions among believers who desperately want to cling to one decided order of the end times.
My response to such division is that it won’t matter how we interpret the end times in Scripture when God’s Independence Day comes. Everything will be revealed in God’s perfect timing. The day will come when we least expect it and we are instructed to be ready as if it were the next moment. So, in case it happens to be today, Happy Independence Day!
Streams in the Desert – June 30
“There was silence, and I heard a still voice” (Job 4:16, margin).
A score of years ago, a friend placed in my hand a book called True Peace. It was an old mediaeval message, and it had but one thought–that God was waiting in the depths of my being to talk to me if I would only get still enough to hear His voice.
I thought this would be a very easy matter, and so began to get still. But I had no sooner commenced than a perfect pandemonium of voices reached my ears, a thousand clamoring notes from without and within, until I could hear nothing but their noise and din. Some were my own voices, my own questions, some my very prayers. Others were suggestions of the tempter and the voices from the world’s turmoil.
In every direction I was pulled and pushed and greeted with noisy acclamations and unspeakable unrest. It seemed necessary for me to listen to some of them and to answer some of them; but God said, “Be still, and know that I am God.” Then came the conflict of thoughts for tomorrow, and its duties and cares; but God said, “Be still.”
And as I listened, and slowly learned to obey, and shut my ears to every sound, I found after a while that when the other voices ceased, or I ceased to hear them, there was a still small voice in the depths of my being that began to speak with an inexpressible tenderness, power and comfort.
As I listened, it became to me the voice of prayer, the voice of wisdom, the voice of duty, and I did not need to think so hard, or pray so hard, or trust so hard; but that “still small voice” of the Holy Spirit in my heart was God’s prayer in my secret soul, was God’s answer to all my questions, was God’s life and strength for soul and body, and became the substance of all knowledge, and all prayer and all blessing: for it was the living GOD Himself as my life, my all.
It is thus that our spirit drinks in the life of our risen Lord, and we go forth to life’s conflicts and duties like a flower that has drunk in, through the shades of night, the cool and crystal drops of dew. But as dew never falls on a stormy night, go the dews of His grace never come to the restless soul.
–A. B. Simpson
The Overcoming Spirit
By: Dean Deppe, Today devotions
Scripture Reading — Acts 16:6-10
They tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. . . . Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia . . . begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” — Acts 16:7-9
The book of Acts is the story of the Holy Spirit spreading the good news of Jesus out into the world. The Spirit fills believers in Christ and empowers them to be his witnesses. We like to be comfortable, and we often stay cloistered in our own communities. But the Spirit keeps pushing the church to take risks and spread the gospel to every corner of the world.
The Spirit moved the first Christians out from Jerusalem to Samaria and other nations nearby (Acts 8-10). Then the Spirit appointed missionaries to go to other lands (Acts 13). Our reading today shows that the Spirit wanted to spread the gospel into Europe (Macedonia, Greece, and beyond). So he blocked the missionaries from going another way.
Do you feel the push of the Holy Spirit? Go beyond your comfort zone and get to know someone who doesn’t know Jesus. Keep listening to the Spirit, even if it means changing your plans.
The Holy Spirit overcomes all kinds of problems as well. The Spirit enabled the church to deal with racism (6:1-7), persecution (8:1-9:31), conflict with government (12:1-24), differences among leadership (15:1-16:5), powers of evil (19:13-20), and unbelief (28:23-28). After facing each of these problems, the church grew (Acts 6:7; 9:31; 12:24; 16:5; 19:20; 28:28). Likewise, the Spirit can overcome any fears, anxieties, and hesitations that we may have about sharing the good news.
Spirit, give me the courage to share your love with the people you want me to meet today. Amen.