Dependence Day

I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. —John 15:5

In the US, the Fourth of July is a national holiday when outdoor grills are heated up; beaches are packed; and cities and towns have parades and fireworks displays, picnics, and patriotic celebrations. All of this is in remembrance of July 4, 1776, when the 13 American colonies declared their independence.

Independence appeals to all ages. It means “freedom from the control, influence, support, and aid of others.” So it’s not surprising that teenagers talk about gaining their independence. Many adults have the goal of being “independently wealthy.” And senior citizens want to maintain their independence. Whether anyone is ever truly independent is a discussion for another time and place—but it sounds good.

Craving political or personal independence is one thing; daring to pursue spiritual independence is problematic. What we need instead is a recognition and acceptance of our deep spiritual dependence. Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

Far from being self-reliant, we are totally and eternally dependent on the One who died to set us free. Every day is our “dependence day.” By Bill Crowder

I need Thee every hour, most gracious Lord;
No tender voice like Thine can peace afford.
I need Thee, O I need Thee; every hour I need Thee!
O bless me now, my Savior, I come to Thee. —Hawks/Lowry

Our greatest strength comes from dependence on our strong God.

The Gift of Freedom

Galatians 5:1-14

Every time I celebrate Independence Day, I am reminded of the freedom Christ accomplished for us on the cross when He paid the penalty for our sins. Now all who believe in Him have been liberated from the destructive power of sin. But sadly, many Christians don’t live in the freedom He won for them.

That’s what happened to the Galatians. They’d been saved through faith in Jesus, but some false teachers told them they also had to keep the Law of Moses to maintain their salvation. Adding requirements to the finished work of Christ can make people uncertain and insecure about their spiritual standing.

When I was saved at the age of 12, I was immediately held in bondage to the rules my church established for me. The list of condemning sins included going to movies, wearing cuff links, and reading the comics on Sunday. That was a real problem for me because I loved Dick Tracy. Every Sunday I had to confess to the Lord that I had sneaked a peak before delivering the papers on my route. In time, I lost much of my childhood joy because I was plagued by guilt. I never knew if I was destined for heaven or hell. Every night I’d climb into bed and beg God to forgive me because I hadn’t been able to obey the rules.

If you’re struggling with feelings of guilt and condemnation, I want you to know there is freedom in Christ. When He cried out on the cross, “It is finished” (John 19:30), that’s exactly what He meant. Nothing else is needed. He paid in full for your salvation and promises to complete the good work He began in you (Phil. 1:6).

Ceremony Becoming the Occasion

“The LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.” (Isaiah 61:1)

“Philadelphia, July 5, 1777. My dear Daughter: Yesterday being the anniversary of American Independence, was celebrated here with a festivity and ceremony becoming the occasion . . . The thought of taking any notice of this day was not conceived until the second of this month, and it was not mentioned until the third. It was too late to have a sermon, as every one wished, so this must be deferred another year” (John Adams, from Adams Family Correspondence: June 1776–March 1778, 274).

John Adams made two observations that should be remembered today. First, the idea of “taking any notice” of the significance of the day was “not conceived” for some time, and second, “every one wished” to hear a sermon rather than hold a celebration. We have come far!

But note the Creator’s idea of independence. The text in Isaiah 61 is what the Lord Jesus quoted in the synagogue in Nazareth as He assumed His public ministry. “This day,” Jesus declared, “is this scripture fulfilled in your ears” (Luke 4:21). God’s great liberty is of the spirit and of the mind, not merely of the land and the national population. The independence of Christ will heal the brokenhearted. It grants deliverance to the “captives” and new sight to the blind. The liberty of the King of kings and the Creator of the ends of the earth will set at liberty the bruised.

Be grateful and celebrate the wonderful liberty that God has granted the United States. But pray, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. . . . For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen” (Matthew 6:10, 13). HMM III

If any man be in Christ, be is a new creature; old things are passed away, behold, all things are become new

If any man be in Christ, be is a new creature; old things are passed away, o behold, all things are become new.—2 Corinthians 5:17.

HIS perfect peace has swept from sight
The narrow bounds of time and space,
And, looking up with still delight,
We catch the glory of His face.

IN every moment of our days, when once our hearts are yielded to His service, God is working in us and through us. Hitherto, perhaps, our little world has only been large enough to hold self and the present. But, gradually, through tender leadings and unfoldings, and, it may be, through pain and suffering, we come to learn life’s lesson,—that it is God’s world, not ours; that our existence is not finished and rounded off here, but forms part of one vast scheme to which mind and heart and spirit expand and grow, while all the horizon round them grows and expands too, until it touches the shore of the illimitable future, and we become conscious that earth and heaven are not so far separated but that the first is but the vestibule of the second,—imperfect, cloudy, full of broken fragments, but still part of the same Temple of God as that to which we shall pass in by and by. H. BOWMAN.

Jesus Christ the righteous: the propitiation for our sins

Jesus Christ the righteous: the propitiation for our sins. 1 John 2:1,2

Toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubims be. And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee. I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat.

Surely his salvation is nigh them that fear him; mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.

If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared. Let Israel hope in the LORD: for with the LORD there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption. And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities. —All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins.

Exodus 25:20-22. Psalm 85:9,10. Psalm 130:3,4,7,8. Romans 3:23-25.

Leaning on Jesus’ bosom

Leaning on Jesus’ bosom. John 13:23

As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you. — They brought young children to him, that he should touch them. And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them. — Jesus called his disciples unto him, and said, I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days and have nothing to eat; and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way. — A high Priest … touched with with the feeling of our infirmities. — In his love and in his pity he redeemed them.

I will not leave you comfortless: (marg. orphans) I will come to you. — Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.

The Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.

Isaiah 66:13. Mark 10:13,16. Matthew 15:32. Hebrews 4:15. Isaiah 63:9. John 14:18. Isaiah 49:15. Revelation 7:17.