cropped-Barnes.jpgMy morning Daily Bread devotion on this Fourth of July talked about nations and about peace. Freedom, especially from captivity, has always been highly valued and sought after. In 1 Timothy 2:21 the Apostle Paul wrote “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession, thanksgiving be made for all people –for kings and all those in authority that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” It brought home the reality that we are all God’s children and are all “in this together.” King David emphasized in Psalm 122:6, it is important that we pray not only for our country but that we also ask God for peace and healing of all nations.

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If we humble ourselves before God, resist sin and seek Him out, He hears us. Given the current state of affairs on this planet, praying certainly can’t hurt. The Bible makes it clear that God does and will intervene in worldly and governmental affairs. (2 Chronicles 7:14.) He can intervene in ways we like, but, I believe, also allows some things to occur and does not step in. I believe those are called consequences, and I think the U.S. is experiencing some of those right now. But He hears our prayers and while I don’t expect Him to change his master plan, He certainly makes the ride a little less bumpy for us at times. That’s my take anyhow.

There are responsibilities that go along with freedom. Such as to remember how we attained it, to honor those who built and defended this country and, most importantly,  to uphold its values and preserve the foundation of the country thousands fought for and gave their lives for. Our freedom came at such a precious price. It, nor the many lives lost or forever changed, should not be taken for granted nor forgotten about. “One Nation Under God,” has such a wonderful ring to it, but I wonder how He and those who fought for our freedom and lost loved ones feel about how this country has changed. When you watch the presidential debates and political campaigns, you don’t even hear God mentioned anymore other than sometimes at the end of Presidential addresses where the President says “God Bless the United States of America” which, given what goes on most of the time, seems rather disingenuous. It is mostly all about money, power and control in some form or another.

We cannot say the pledge of allegiance in most schools anymore. There is even talk about removing “In God We Trust” from our currency. I am not quite sure how we press the rewind button, or if that is even possible. More and more it seems there is only one person, or entity, (I’m thinking God) who can.

As attempts are made from so many directions to try to eradicate God, (at least the God the U.S. Constitution refers to) it seems the values and morals of this country continue to deteriorate at a steady pace.  We hear about human trafficking, the dark web, pornography, shootings and new drugs to escape reality, on a regular basis. Anger, hate and political correctness dominate so much of the media I rarely turn on regular TV anymore. The lust for power and greed have transformed a government that was once there for the right reasons, or so it seemed, working for its people, and trying to honor God, into something else altogether. It is certainly no longer a “Father Knows Best” nation. I think it bears more resemblance to the Babylon in the Old Testament than to the sweet life displayed in the Back to the Future Movies.

There is much to make one disappointed, disillusioned and sad at times, no doubt. But, thankfully, there is still much beauty left to enjoy, laughs to laugh, smiles to smile, and rainbows to catch while we can. There is still a hope in the world held by many that make it feel worth getting up in the morning. At least for me and my little world, here in the U.S. I still have the joy of family and love, community and the freedom to worship freely in this country. To start my own business or to flip a house. Yes, we here in the U.S. have it pretty good compared to many, despite how messed up our country seems at times and probably even is. The sad reality is most of our dogs probably live better than 60% of the people on this planet. So we should be thankful for our blessings and should try to continue to believe in and support this country and have hope by praying for our leaders and future leaders. “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God sacrifice of praise–the fruit of lips that confess his name.” (Hebrews 13:15.) Let’s do that while we also pray for all nations and all peoples for peace, hope and love.

On another note, I also am grateful to know that God can never be eradicated. I will not be afraid no matter how ugly things might get because Jesus Christ gave us freedom too! He gave us freedom from sin, and freedom from the second death, by sacrificing Himself for us on the cross. That is a freedom that no government and no terrorist can take from me. Not ever. No matter what they say or do.

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I rest in the reassurance that all these things that are happening must come to pass. Jesus Christ said, in Matthew 24:6 “For many will come in My name claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. These things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise up against nation and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places . . .” and He goes onto state more things we can expect, which are now occurring such as Christians being arrested, persecuted and killed, followers of Christ being hated by many (in some countries you are immediately imprisoned if you are caught with a Bible, in some you are executed –  recall the 147 students in Kenya who were slaughtered in April of 2015 when they said they loved Christ). Some will turn away from Him and hate and betray each other. Jesus assures us that those who endure to the end will be saved.

He also emphasizes in Matthew 24:14 that the “Good news about the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world so that all nations will hear it, and then the end will come.” (Important emphasis added.)  Thanks to the introduction of the world wide web and internet, the Good News is being preached throughout the whole world, praise God! In fact, I follow and support several organizations whose mission is just that, and receive monthly reports of radio broadcasts and churches and underground studies and mission trips being set up. The advances in technology have had a tremendous impact in helping to get “the Word out” as have MP3’s and ear buds, which Muslim women can wear under their headscarves and listen to scripture without being detected. How cool is that?

No one knows the exact time this system of things will come to a close but when the Lord gives me signs to watch for and they all come true, one by one, and He shows me daily He is alive and present and hears me, I for one am going to take note. I do believe it is possible, if I live a good long life, that I might see the second coming with my own eyes before I die. Certainly I believe our children will. But whenever it does, I am ready. Either way, I will be there, ha ha.

I am not in any hurry right now, but I can’t wait for what is to come.  “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9.) As Jesus said when He ascended to His father after His resurrection, He was going to prepare a place for us. He has been working on that for almost 2,000 years now. We could do a lot in that time, but just think what God can do in that time! I gladly anticipate the place He is preparing for us where sin, war, pain, suffering, famine, sadness, sickness and tears will be no more. If we think this world is beautiful (as in so many places it still is) I just try to imagine what the new and improved earth will be like. Wowza!

Now THAT is an independence day I don’t intend to miss. “Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” (2 Corinthians 3:17.) He will provide the fireworks.