“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…Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness…” the great Declaration of Independence states. It continues, “We therefore…appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world…” obviously invoking the name of God as the delegation’s authority and support for breaking loose from the arbitrary rule of an earthly government. So, on July 4, 1776, was “born” what would become the greatest republic known to mankind and the people of thirteen colonies proclaimed their freedom from an oppressive condition. The struggle for complete independence would take, of course, many years to achieve, through a difficult and bloody war, and the drafting of a constitution, which was successfully ratified on June 21, 1788, until, at last, the United States of America officially and legally became an independent, sovereign constitutional republic on March 4, 1789. Every citizen of these United States owes a debt of gratitude to all those involved in this “beginning” and their immense sacrifices. Any annual celebration of Independence Day, July 4th, should be about recognizing those great sacrifices and the liberties and freedoms that came from them! Of course, this day has a unique meaning to American citizens that no person outside of the United States citizenry can truly appreciate!

Those of us who are members of the church that belongs to Christ, and who are citizens of God’s Kingdom, recognize from where the foundational principles of this country emanate. We recognize that “all men are created equal” because our Creator created us in His image (Gen. 1:27); He gave us the right to “pursue Life,” eternally, that He promised (Tit. 1:2); we have been granted, by His grace, freedom from the oppression and slavery of sin by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ’s blood, which ushered in the perfect Law of Liberty, by which the “Supreme Judge” will judge all of mankind (Rom. 8:2 &14:10-12; Phil. 2:9-11;Jas.1:25&2:12; happiness and joy are achieved when we “abide in Him” (John 15:1-17) because we have the blood of Jesus that continues to cleanse us from our sins (1John1:7). These blessings have a special meaning to children of God that no person outside of the citizenry of His Kingdom can truly appreciate!

We become a citizen of God’s Kingdom, and a member of Christ’s church, when we are immersed in the waters of baptism for the forgiveness (remission) of our sins (Matt.2819;Mark16:16;Acts2:38&41;Rom.6:1-11). But we do not wait for a year to pass before we recognize and celebrate this “birth.” We celebrate this great event every week! Fifty-two times a year, we commemorate and celebrate the One Who has done more for the entire world than any other being. Each, and every, Sunday we recognize and celebrate the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus the Christ, our Lord and Savior to “…proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes” (1 Cor.11:23).

Despite the ills and shortcomings of our government and society, if there is but one freedom we enjoy and appreciate above all others, it is that we are still free to honor and celebrate our citizenship in the LORD’s Kingdom. This is TRUE INDEPENDENCE! Our prayer for this nation and its ruling bodies should be that the first constitutional amendment will endure forever and that we can willingly and happily proclaim His sacrifice for us! May God continue to bless us in our efforts to serve Him.  

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     Like a ship on the water, if you’re not anchored to something you will be at the mercy of the winds and the current with no idea of where you may end up. It could end in tragedy, washed up on the rocks or possibly capsized. The open water can be very unsafe and have unforeseen circumstances. Satin would like nothing better than for you to not have yourself anchored to the Lord. Like the song says, “Will your anchor hold in the storms of life, when the clouds unfold their wings of strife, when the strong tides lift and the cables strain, will your anchor hold or firm remain?” The song is true, there are times that life will flip your world upside down real fast. If you’re not firmly anchored to something, you may lose direction and ruin your life and relationships with loved ones. Without that anchor you may lose all hope. As the song says, “We have an anchor that keeps the soul steadfast and sure while the billows roll, fastened to the Rock which cannot move, grounded firm and deep in the Savior's love.”

     Hebrews 6:17-20 (In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.) 

   

     Keep your life firmly anchored to God and His promise so when the storms of this life hit, you will be ready. Without that help it will be impossible to overcome the storms of this life. The world is full of evil that will try to change your course but if your anchor holds firm you won't be moved. Trust in God and His promise.

 

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  It is a word that puts fear in everyone, and it is something that will affect all of us in some way in this lifetime. I have seen people fight and beat cancer. Also, I have seen people fight and lose the battle. What I do know is that the loved ones I had that lost that battle, won another because they were in Christ. What a hope that we have, to all be together again for eternity with God. We all have access to the same saving blood if we have faith and seek it out. 

  There is so much cancer in this world and it seems to keep getting worse. It affects all ages, young and old, no one is out of its reach. There has been much success in treatments over the years and it continues to get higher survival rates all the time. As with everything in this world below the heavens, there are no guarantees in this lifetime. There are some guarantees in the next one however, as we know. As terrible as cancer can be to the human body, there is something I think we should be more concerned over. That is the cancer of the soul.

  We all, unfortunately, probably know and have a friend or family member that has found saving grace and then walked away from it. We may have trouble figuring out why or how anybody would choose to walk away from the saving grace they found in the Lord, but somehow they lost their faith. Unlike the many different treatments that are out there to treat cancer, there is only one cure for cancer of the soul. I have struggled to find the right words with those I know. How do we know what they need to hear from day to day? We let them know we love them and are here for them and that they need God. Also, that we are here to study or just talk and want to help them find their faith again. For without God there is no cure for cancer of the soul. 

  James 5:19-20 (My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one returns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins) 

 

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    Our most gracious God gives us all the opportunity to turn to Him and follow His word that He has supplied for us. As the word shows us, if we love our God and follow and keep His commandments, there is saving grace for us. We can follow the steps taught us and be forgiven of all our past sins. Romans 6:3-12

 

  Some of us at times, myself included, may struggle with forgiving ourselves. I look at where I am as a person, a Christian, and sometimes feel guilty about who I was and how I lived at times. I wasn't a bad person or a thug but I was not Godly. I was a moral person in a worldly standard but l lacked God in my life and did not live life at a biblical standard as God would have me do.

 

  Now as a Christian sometimes I feel like I need to run back into my past and apologize for any hurtful or stupid things I may have done or said. I suppose I could try but that would not be very realistic. I think as Christians we must learn to look to the old man as something we won't return to and forgive ourselves as God did when we put on Christ in baptism. Live your life in such a way that by example you show others how Christ changed your life and what it can do for them. You can say you’re sorry, but that's not who you are now. 

 

  Remember that the old man died and you are born again, Romans 6:6-11. You have been forgiven and need to forgive yourself as you would others. I sometimes say I would like a do-over and I would do things differently or better, but there is only one chance for a do over in this life and that is when you truly give it all to God. Now that you live for Him reach back and take as many with you as you can. Many of those in the past will see the change in you and want to come along and some will not. Forgive others as you have been forgiven and learn to forgive yourself, we are not perfect. Are you laying aside everything from your past that is slowing you down, every sin and running the race set before you? If not, what's holding you back? Let the past go and be the past, we all have a race to run and other souls need us to run it. By the strength which God supplies.

 

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Things are not the same as when I was young. People don't leave the key under the mat anymore. You wouldn't feel very safe at night if everyone had a key to your front door. So now we have electronic key pads to lock our front doors and garages. Only our closest friends and family may likely have the code to get in. Everyone wants to feel safe in an uncertain world. Where no one really knows what may happen tomorrow but we all do our best to plan for a long life, safe and happy. We can do our best with locks and alarms to protect the lives of the ones we love but there are no guarantees in this life for tomorrow.

James 4:14-15 (Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.")

  Where should we look for our protection and security but to the Lord. We can have a promise of a happy tearless eternity. Or we can try to feel safe on our own in an uncertain world by locking our doors setting our alarms and arming ourselves. But in the end what do you have but death. 1 John 1:1-4 (What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the  Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.)

  We all know where our safety and joy and happiness can be made complete. It's in Jesus Christ and His saving blood and the grace of our God where eternal life is. The Word is where the door is and the key is under the mat. If you seek out the door to salvation, you can have the key and be welcomed home. 

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