Happy Birthday, USA!

Share

Happy 245th!

In celebration of our nation’s 245th Birthday, here is the text of the Declaration, made in Congress, on July 4, 1776, which set our quest for Independence in motion…

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.


Those men bravely pledging their Lives, Fortunes, and Sacred Honor to the pursuit of our Freedom through the affixing of their signatures to this document were representatives from the following states…

Georgia–Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton;

North Carolina–William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn;

South Carolina–Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton;

Massachusetts–John Hancock;

Maryland–Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton;

Virginia–George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton;

Pennsylvania–Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross;

Delaware–Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean;

New York–William Floyd. Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris;

New Jersey–Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark;

New Hampshire–Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple;

Massachusetts–Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry;

Rhode Island–Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery;

Connecticut–Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott; and,

New Hampshire–Matthew Thornton.

New Life

Share

Raised to Walk in Newness of Life

The Monday night before one Easter several years ago, I casually asked my pastor husband what he would be preaching on the following Sunday.  Although he usually has it all planned out by then, he said that he didn’t have anything special in mind at that point, and asked me if I had any ideas.  I thought for a moment, then told him that the only thing that had come to mind was the expression new life.  Since I was busy watching my favorite television program at the time, I didn’t give it another thought for the remainder of the evening.  But the next day, when I began wondering what new life might have meant to Jesus’ disciples on that very first Resurrection Sunday, there were three things that immediately popped into my mind.  They were freedom, hope, and powerfreedom from the bondage they had known in the past; hope for a better, more meaningful life in the future; and the power they would need to leave the one behind and fully enter into the other.

Freedom…For freedom Christ has set us free…Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another (Galatians 5:1, 13).” 

From what I know about the times in which Jesus lived, it seems quite likely that most, if not all, of His disciples originally began following Him because they expected Him to be the leader of a rebellion that would secure the freedom of the Jews from their oppressive Roman overlords. This, however, was not the kind of freedom that Jesus came to bring them.  Instead of the temporal political liberation that they had been longing for for so long, the liberation that He came to provide was one which was spiritual in nature, and one that would endure throughout all eternity.  And, while they couldn’t have realized the full import of that type of liberation on that first Easter morning, in time they would come to treasure and rejoice in the freedom it gave them from…

  • The penalty and power of their sin;
  • Their fear of and enslavement to death; and,
  • The legalistic religious system under which they had had to operate all of their lives. 

Because of the Resurrection of Jesus, never again would they have to…

  • Live day in and day out, wondering if they had “done enough” to have their sins forgiven, and if they were “righteous” before God;
  • Live dreading death and wondering what eternity would hold for them;
  • Offer up another sacrificial lamb, for the last and Perfect Lamb had just been offered;
  • Go through an earthly priest to get to God, for the Great High Priest had come and would soon be seated at the right hand of the Father and interceding for them; or,
  • Work at observing the letter of the Mosaic Law because the Holy Spirit would soon begin writing the Laws of God upon their hearts!

Wow, what a sense of freedom that must have been!

Hope…“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (1 Peter 3-5).” 

As a result of these new-found freedoms, new life would have also meant that the disciples could begin to enjoy a hope that they had never known before; a hope that…

  • As the born again Sons and Daughters of God, they could stand forgiven before God in the righteousness of Christ Jesus;
  • While Jesus was seated in Heaven interceding for them, He would also be living in and through them by His Spirit; and,
  • Jesus, the Blessed Hope, would one day return and take them to Heaven with Him, where they would stand in the presence and glory of God, and receive the inheritance that had been set aside for them and for all the saints.

Power…“I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation, in the knowledge of him…that you may know…what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him form the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come (Ephesians 1:16-21).”

Of course, setting men free from their bondage to sin and death, from their centuries old religious traditions, and all the while giving them new life through a rebirth of their spirits was no mean task; it would require a power that had never before been seen by mortal men. And yet, this is the kind of power that was demonstrated when God, after Jesus had conquered the powers of hell and the grave, raised Him from the dead and seated Him in the place of honor at His right hand.  And, the wonder of it all is that this same power, which was available to God’s only Begotten Son, is the very same power that He has made available to each of His adopted children—that is, to those of us who have placed our faith in this resurrected Christ.  For the power that can raise someone from the dead is the only power strong enough to free one from the chains of his past, to cleanse and purify him of his sins and place him in the position of an adopted child God, and then to lead him to victory over the world, the flesh, and the devil.  No wonder the disciples had cause to rejoice!

But they weren’t the only ones with a reason to do so; like them, we have become the beneficiaries of this new life of freedom, hope, and power which was made available through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  This matchless gift of new life is something that this Easter should serve to remind us of, and something which we, as the modern-day disciples of Christ, should be rejoicing in every other day of the year.

The Resurrection of Jesus

Have You Experienced the New Life that Jesus’ Death and Resurrection Offers?

 

  Travis Cottrell sings “Jesus Saves”…