This week during the VOM staff chapel service Mrs. Peggy Dau, the wife of VOM President Jim, talked about the significance of July 4th, one of her favorite holidays. As Americans celebrate our nation’s independence today, we trust her words will bless and encourage you, and remind you of the importance of praying for our nation on this day and all days:
My maiden name was Banner, and when I was young and our class sang The Star Spangled Banner a few of the children would give me a stare when the word Banner was sung and I would be embarrassed. I was not connected with the word Banner in that song. However, God is connected with the word banner in a very important way, He is Jehovah Nissi, “The LORD is our Banner.” It is He that is our rallying point and our means of victory.
Prayer—Lord, help us with our faith to grow stronger in our trust, mightier in our commitment, and more tender and compassionate towards those whom You put in our paths, with Your wisdom and Your understanding to know, as Jeremiah spoke long ago, there is nothing too difficult for You.
Who can answer this question: What Founding Father said “Give me liberty or give me death?
On March 23, 1775, when Patrick Henry spoke those famous words to arouse the second Virginia Convention to arms against the tyranny of Great Britain, he pointed out that everything possible had been done to avert the storm which was coming to the colonists. For almost 11 years the colonists had been forced to pay heavy taxes without representation. They endured searches and seizures without probable cause, and they had their firearms often confiscated.
But the most egregious reason the colonists feared were rumors that the King and the Parliament would reestablish the Church of England to rule over their hearts and souls, thus enslaving them. It was with this background that Patrick Henry declared those fiery words, “Give me liberty or give me death”.
The Declaration of Independence declared that the colonists were free to defend themselves according to the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God, which plainly means that they could study the Bible and follow as the Holy Spirit led them.
It was the churches and the ministers that became the primary source that stirred the fire of liberty against the King and the Parliament, challenging them for violating the laws of God. Yes, the leaders of 1775 understood that the Bible put great emphasis on submission to authority. But they also understood that when the apostles were commanded by the Sanhedrin to stop preaching that Jesus had risen from the dead, Peter boldly declared, "We ought to obey God rather than man" (Acts 5:29).
Therefore, it was no coincidence that one of the mottos of the American Revolution was “No king but King Jesus."
And isn't their struggle a picture of what the struggle is for so many that we here at The Voice of the Martyrs are reaching out to help? How many of these Christians in Nigeria, Laos, Egypt and China are desperately trying to obey God when evil men are repressing them?
So for me, Independence Day is very important, far beyond the picnic, the rousing music like “It’s A Grand Old Flag” and “Yankee Doodle Dandy.” Independence Day has a great deal of spiritual significance. American Exceptionalism is the freedom to worship as The Lord leads , freedom to pray with or for someone in an open public place, freedom to share Christ at a garage sale or wherever.
America has been exceptional because, unlike any other nation, it has been dedicated to the principles of human liberty, grounded in the truths that all men are created equal and endowed with equal rights. No we have not always lived this out as a nation, and yes we still have our failures. But the majority of America's history can be defined as a nation which has offered to the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
What other nation can we find like that? Just look at the grace God has shown to our nation through so much beautiful music, art, literature and the amazing inventions throughout our history. Why, Fanny Crosby alone wrote over 100 hymns. Not to mention the Christ-centered outreaches in missions, health, disaster relief, freeing oppressed people and nations around the world.
Yes, I am proud to be an American because of so many opportunities. But more than being proud, I am so very grateful, and praise God for placing me here, at this time.
So what should we do with this independence that we have been blessed with? Is it enough to just enjoy it for ourselves?
Let me remind you of just a smidgen of what some others have done to encourage some type of independence that has served us as a nation:
In 1620, 41 adult males on the Mayflower, established the very first idea of self-government which lies at the heart of this democracy, we know it as the Mayflower Compact.
It begins, In the name of God and later states that one of their purposes was to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ!
In 1787, during a hot stifling summer, during a debate in Philadelphia that threatened to end the work of establishing a Constitution which this new country would live by, the oldest member, Benjamin Franklin interrupted by appealing to Psalm 127:1 stating, " I have lived sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth, that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? We have been assured, sir, in the Sacred Writings, that "except The Lord builds the house, they labor in vain that build it." Later he continued, “I therefore beg leave to move that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations , be held in this assembly every morning before we proceed with business.”
In May of 1948, President Harry Truman became the vote that gave Israel it's rebirth after 2000 years. The President went against most of his cabinet, but he held firm. His favorite psalm was 137 which begins: "By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept when we remembered Zion."
In 1969, Buzz Aldrin, second man on the moon, requested a few minutes of time to take communion on the moon without it being recorded and he read John 15:5, “I am the vine, you are the branches, He who abides in Me and I in Him bears much fruit.”
On May 1, 2014, millions of Americans gathered from coast to coast in solemn assembly, quite possibly the single largest mobilized effort to prayer in the history of our nation. Approximately 43,000 gatherings from large to small, from auditoriums to home gatherings, and thankfully there was one of those gatherings right here at The Voice of the Martyrs, and some of you were a part of it, even some of the children.
Our Independence is a GIFT, a precious gift from the Creator. We could be losing it. Anne Graham Lotz, the chairman of this past National Day of Prayer, has sent out an urgent call to prayer and has called it 7/7/7. It begins today the 7th month, for the first 7 days and on the 7th day pray and fast for 7 hours. Anne has invited us to join millions across this nation beginning today.
America, God has shed His grace on thee. We can continue to make differences, both for our nation and for our persecuted brothers and sisters, but it will necessitate something more from each one of us.
As I close, I invite you to sing with me America The Beautiful, by Katherine Lee Bates:
O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!