Saturday, July 29, 2023

A New Song: Triplets of Praise


Imagine some of the loveliest hymns ever written -- Amazing Grace, In the Garden, Silent Night, and as you sing them in your head, you will realize that they are in waltz rhythm, or three-quarter time. The waltz is a special song because of its rhythmic structure based on three beats, reminding me of the triune nature of God the FatherSon and Holy Spirit

No matter what the rhythm, however, God wants us to sing a new song to Him, and His Word describes that new song in triplets of praise. God designed us in His image for His good pleasure, including our voices (Exodus 15:1,21), ears (Exodus 10:2), and musical abilities (Genesis 4:21) to resonate freely to His glory.

The Psalms were originally written as songs, with instructions to the musicians. Six Psalms (33, 40, 96, 98, 144, 149) command us to sing a new song to the Lord. That song is to be accompanied by a harppsaltery and instrument of ten strings (Psalm 33:2-3; 144:9); or with the harptrumpets and cornet (Psalm 98:1,5,6); or with the dancetimbrel and harp (Psalm 149:1,3). 

Three types of instruments specifically mentioned are therefore stringed instruments (including the psaltery), brass instruments (trumpets and cornet), and percussion instruments (timbrel, which is like a tambourine). The new song therefore may be sung with the voice, played on instruments, or danced. It may be played skilfully with a loud noise (Psalm 33:3), be poetic as a psalm, or just be a joyful noise. Everyone, regardless of musical ability, is to make a joyful noise unto the Lord, by making a loud noiserejoicing, and singing praise (Psalm 98:4-5).

Not only is this new song of praise for all the inhabitants of the earth to sing (Psalm 96:1), but for all creation! Even the sea should roar, the floods clap their hands, and the hills be joyful together (Psalm 98:7-8).

Why should I praise the Lord? Because He bent toward meheard my cry of distress, and brought me up out of the horrible pit of destruction. He set my feet upon the Rock of His sure Foundation, He kept me out of trouble, and He put a new song in my mouth (Psalm 40:1-3). God is praiseworthy for the marvelous things He has done, for the victory He has won, and for saving us through His Son. He alone has the attributes of righteousnessmercy and truth (Psalm 98:1-3).

What will happen if I sing that new song of praise? Many shall see it (experience our witness of being born again), and fear (realize they are sinners deserving eternal punishment in hell and shall trust in the Lord (place their faith in His deathburial and resurrection as the only Way to Heaven). (Psalm 40:1-3; Romans 3:23; 6:23; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4; John 3:3-8; 14:6). By singing unto the Lord, we bless His nameshow His salvation; and declare His glory (Psalm 96:1-3).

Music that honors God is a way to witness to the unsaved (Psalm 98:2), as well as to encourage other believers and to worship God (Psalm 149:1-2). To uplift fellow Christians, to elevate our own spirits and to commune with God, we should speak to one another, to ourselves, and to God in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs (Ephesians 5:19).

Even though classic hymns containing Scripture may not be “new songs,” we can sing them anew, listening for nuances, creating inflections, and singing with vibrato that emphasize how the hymn now applies to our own life. 

We cannot sing without breathing, and it is no accident that the word "inspire" refers to inhaling as well as to evoking feelings of encouragement and hope in others. "Spirit" comes from the same root word.  God created man by breathing the breath of life into his nostrils (Genesis 2:7); all Scripture is Spirit-inspired (2 Timothy 3:16); and we understand in our spirit only by the inspiration of the Almighty (Job 32:8)

God’s Word in song is as much a two-edged sword as it is when it is spoken (Psalm 149:6; Hebrews 4:12). What a wonderful way to rebuke the devil and have him flee from us! (Matthew 4:10-11; James 4:7).

In my music ministry, I try to sing a variety of good music, including not only standard hymns and contemporary Christian songs but also “new songs,” or classical or secular tunes for which I have rewritten the lyrics, hoping to engage those whose hearts may be softened by the melody to respond to the Christian message. This is also the focus of our dance ministry, in which we use music and dance to bring Good News to a largely secular audience.

There are three verses (Isaiah 42:10; Revelation 5:9; 14:3) referring to the new song of praise that is fit only for the Redeemer, the Lamb Who was slain, and the King of Kings eternally on His throne. One of these is prophesied in Isaiah, foretelling the inhabitants of all the new earth singing the praise of Christ the King in the new Millennium (Isaiah 42:9-12).

The other two verses picture the Revelation of Jesus Christ in all His glory. The singers of the new song will be the four beasts and four and twenty elders (Revelation 5:8) and the 144,000 redeemed male virgins (Revelation 14:3-4). The 144,000 witnesses will sing with a voice like many waters, like a great thunder, and like the sound of harp music (Revelation 14:2).

The four beasts repeat “Holy, holy, holyLord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come (Revelation 4:8). Each of the three words “holy” refers to a different member of the Trinity, identified as “Lord” (Christ Jesus), “God” (the Father), and “Almighty” (the Holy Spirit) Who empowers the divine plan (Genesis 1:2; Luke 1:35).

Why is Jesus Christ alone worthy of the praise in this new song? Because He was slainHe redeemed us with His shed blood; and He made believers from every nation to be kings and priests to reign with Him (Revelation 5:10).

When should we sing new songs to the Lord? Not only in the future when we worship Him in glory, or when we praise Him publicly in church or elsewhere, but even privately at home, singing aloud upon our beds before we rise in the morning or fall asleep at night (Psalm 149:5-6), and throughout the day making melody in our hearts to the Lord (Ephesians 5:19)

Praise God that all who have trusted Him as Lord and Savior can sing the new song of the redeemed (Psalm 71:23; Isaiah 51:11), for we are a new creation in Him! Even if you can’t carry a tune, lift up your whole being in new songs to His glory!

© 2014 Laurie Collett
Reposted from the archives and edited

Saturday, July 22, 2023

Let It Go!


Photo by Living In Monrovia 2009
As time goes by, I find that my prayers get longer. I would like to hope that this is because as I become closer to God, I want to spend more quiet time with Him, but I fear this is only part of the reason.

Another reasonable explanation for longer prayers may also be that as we grow older, so do our friends and families, and with aging comes a host of physical, financial and spiritual needs. So our intercessory prayers become laden with many pressing urgent requests. These needs seldom resolve right away, so our prayer list grows daily with new emergencies and continued chronic problems.

Sometimes it is clear that our prayers have been answered, whether or not to our liking, and we can remove that request from our list. For example, if we pray for healing for a loved one with cancer, and that person goes home to be with the Lord, then we know that the healing has been accomplished, not in this world, as we had hoped, but in Heaven. We can then pray for peace and comfort for ourselves and others who mourn, but it would be pointless to continue to pray for healing.

But sometimes the direction our prayers should take is less clear cut. What if a loved one has a stroke, and we pray for recovery, and God grants it, is it then wrong to pray that they won’t have any more strokes? Should we thank God, trust Him to work all things together according to His perfect will (Romans 8:28), and move on to other requests?

Or has God allowed this situation in our lives to increase our dependence on and faith in Him, and even our thankfulness? When this type of situation occurs in my life, I’m ashamed to admit that sometimes my gratitude is short-lived. I thank God for the positive outcome of the prayer request – for a day or two – and then my prayers turn to “and please Lord, don’t let that happen again.”

I am reminded of ten lepers whom Jesus cleansed and healed, but only one returned to thank Him, and he was rewarded with spiritual as well as physical healing (Luke 17:12-19). I wonder if the others forgot about the Great Physician altogether, or if they were sacrificing and praying in the temple to never contract leprosy again.

The danger of this type of prayer is that it can become the sin of worry, which is motivated by fear and reflects a lack of faith. Fear should be cast out of our hearts by God’s perfect love (1 John 4:18), and without faith, it is impossible to please Him (Hebrews 11:6).

Perhaps the most extreme example of this type of worry is the believer who doubts their eternal security. Rather than knowing they are Heaven-bound, they may always worry that their last sin was too great, or that the cumulative total of their sins was too many, for God to forgive. Such doubt erodes joy in the Lord and peace that passes all understanding.

Do we trust God to provide for all our needs, physical and spiritual, or do we feel that we need to remind Him of how threatened we felt in a particular situation, and how bad it would be if that situation occurred once more?

Do we trust in His perfect will and timing, knowing that He knows all our needs even before we ask Him (Matthew 6:8), and that any trial He permits in our life is for our ultimate good, the good of others, and His glory?  

Can we trust Him to give us perfect peace by keeping our minds, hearts and souls fixed on Him (Isaiah 26:3), or do we need to perpetuate the illusion that we are in control? If we worry/pray enough about a negative experience not recurring, do we think we can prevent it?

Over the years, it seems that the stuff in our house has multiplied just as our prayer list has grown, and not always for the better! I enjoy having many clothes to choose from so that I can dress in a manner that reflects the song I plan to sing in church, and my husband enjoys collecting and studying fossilized shells and animal bones and teeth that we gather from the beach. We both appreciate having photos and other mementos of our family, travels, and dance ministry.

These things are not expensive, or may even be free, but they are not without cost, as they take time to dust, sort, and find suitable places to store them. Taken to the extreme, acquiring things can become hoarding, with our possessions not only getting underfoot and causing stress, but even creating a health or safety hazard.

Many missionaries our church supports have the opposite problem, living in huts with straw roofs and dirt floors, and having few if any possessions, yet they have joy in the Lord (Nehemiah 8:10; Psalm 35:9; Isaiah 29:19) and the peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7), for they trust God to provide for their daily needs (Matthew 6:25-34).

Jesus taught us to pray for our daily bread (Matthew 6:11), and to have only one coat (Luke 9:3), not to hoard provisions for future use. This can become a foolish pursuit, for we are not promised tomorrow (James 4:14). Even our prized possessions are more likely to be a burden than a treasure to those who survive us.

As Jesus explained, we should instead store up treasure in Heaven, free of corruption from rust and decay, and of loss by theft (Luke 12:33; Matthew 6:19-20). Once we are saved by trusting in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way (John 14:6) to Heaven, we can enjoy these treasures throughout eternity! They are not physical trophies, but spiritual blessings and rewards given for souls we help bring to Christ through our witness, testimony, and lifestyle.

A well-known story tells of a little girl who cherished her prized possession – an inexpensive fake “pearl” necklace she found in a box of Cracker Jack. She wore it everywhere, even to go to sleep at night. One day her father asked her to give him the necklace, because he wanted to give her something else instead. She stubbornly refused, clutching it tightly to her neck.

“Honey, don’t you trust me?” her father asked. “I can’t give you your special gift until you let that go.”

Finally, after much cajoling, the little girl reluctantly unclasped the necklace, held it tightly in her palm for a few moments, and slowly released her grip on it, placing it in her father’s hand. Much to her surprise and delight, her father brought out an elegant velvet box holding a strand of genuine pearls of great value. As he lovingly fastened the clasp around her neck, she realized that letting go was the best decision!

May we trust our Father to always provide His best for us and be willing to relinquish what we think we need – control, self-sufficiency, earthly goods, and even prayers borne out of worry rather than of faith. May we let go of whatever hinders us from collecting souls for Jesus!

© 2023 Laurie Collett

Saturday, July 15, 2023

The Heir

Photo by Geo Lightspeed 7 2022

 I had a dream in which a famous philanthropist and author of many spiritual teachings had passed away. As he had lived his life as a recluse and had no known family, there was a worldwide search for next of kin who would be the heir of his vast estate.

I learned that an acquaintance of mine had a claim to the inheritance. He was elderly, frail, and wheelchair-bound, so I transported him to a public hearing where any relatives were asked to come forward. After I wheeled his chair to the witness stand, he said that he was the philanthropist’s son and had the documentation to prove it.

At first the lawyers scoffed at him, saying that the philanthropist had never married and had no known children, and that as he was old enough to be the philanthropist’s father, he certainly could not be his son. But the documentation was indisputable, and the lawyers reluctantly concluded that this invalid old man was the legitimate heir of all that the philanthropist had possessed.

They began the philanthropist’s memorial service and had prepared a tomb for his burial. I asked the old man if he had any personal memento that he wished to have placed in the tomb.

To my surprise, he said, “My time has come, and I too must die and be placed in the same tomb. But I bequeath the estate to you, and my only request in return is that you live your life and continue your dance ministry in his honor.”

As I awoke and contemplated the symbolism of the dream, I realized that the philanthropist was none other than Jesus Christ, Son of God and God Himself!

Jesus of Nazareth had no earthly fortune, or even a place to lay His head (Matthew 8:20). Yet He is the greatest Giver of all time, for He suffered and gave His own life on the cross (John 15:13; 1 John 3:16) to pay our sin debt in full (Romans 3:25), the price required for all those who trust in Him to have eternal life (John 3:16).

He wrote no books or even documents, yet His Word and teachings changed the world and have been faithfully recorded by men of God inspired by His Holy Spirit. Although word of His miracles and teachings spread quickly, causing Him to be followed by large crowds, He did not seek out publicity or worldly fame. Instead, He preferred to consult with His Father in private, and to witness one-on-one to lost individuals like the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:1-43), the blind man whom He healed (John 9), and Nicodemus (John 3:1-21).

Jesus of Nazareth had an earthly mother (Mary) and siblings (James, Joses, Simon and Judas; Matthew 13:55) but did not consider them to be His family on that basis, reserving that title for His followers who did God’s will (Mark 3:31-35). He never married and had no biological children, yet all those who have trusted Him as their Lord and Savior are adopted into His family as children of God (Romans 8:16-21).

I believe the old man in the dream represents the old sin nature (Ephesians 4:22) that hinders our spiritual growth once we are saved by trusting in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6). I did not consider the elderly gentleman to be my friend, but my acquaintance. Similarly, I am familiar with who I was before I came to know Christ, and do not glorify or condemn my former self, for despite my past, Christ Himself has forgiven my sins (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

This “old man” fights against the “new man,” or new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) that we progressively become by yielding to His Holy Spirit. To do this, the apostle Paul said that we must “die daily,” mortifying the deeds and desires of our sinful flesh (1 Corinthians 15:31; Romans 8:13; Colossians 3:5). Yet it is amazing that Christ died for us while we were still His enemies, children of the devil (Romans 9:8), and rebels against His Word and perfect will.

To follow Him, we must take up His cross and be willing to put the “old man” to death, so that we can no longer serve sin and instead be raised to newness of eternal life (Romans 6:4-6). Then we can truly share in Christ’s legacy of forgiveness of sins (1 John 1:9), peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7), joy in His salvation (Habakkuk 3:18), being seated in heavenly places with Him (Ephesians 1:3; 2:6), and fulfillment that comes from doing His work (Ephesians 2:10), sharing His Word (Matthew 28:19-20), and submitting to His perfect will for our life (Luke 22:42).   

As feeble as we are in our own flesh, He transforms us into God’s children and His joint-heirs (Romans 8:16-21), betrothed (Revelation 19:9), friends (John 15:15), fellow-workers (1 Corinthians 3:9), and ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20). As unbelievable as this seems, it is clearly documented in God’s Word, giving believers an undisputable claim to our inheritance in Christ.

Although baptism is not required for salvation, it is an act of obedience symbolizing the new believer’s willingness to identify with Christ’s crucifixion (standing upright in the water), burial (being plunged beneath the water), and resurrection (being lifted up from the water) to new life (Romans 6:4), in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

In the dream, the old man recognized that he needed to die for my benefit and for God’s glory. He bequeathed his legacy to me as the new creation in Christ, to use it for His glory and to continue serving Him and living for Him.

Sadly, real life is not that simple, and we must daily war against our flesh, equipping our spirit by putting on the whole armor of God before we enter spiritual battle (Ephesians 6:10-18) against the flesh, the world, and the devil. May we be willing to put the “old man” to death daily so that the Holy Spirit can feed and grow the new creation we are in Christ, using our inheritance for His glory! 

© 2023 Laurie Collett

Photo by Geo Lightspeed 7 2022  

Saturday, July 8, 2023

Missed Appointment

Photo by Ben White 2016

I dreamed that I was going to meet my father in New York City, on York Avenue near the Cornell Medical College campus where I received my medical degree. I arrived early in the day and decided to spend some time sightseeing before our dinner engagement.

Although Manhattan is not known for its amusement parks, somehow I ended up in one. The ride I was on reminded me of a creaky, dated old ride called “Land Before Time” in Blackpool Tower, England, featuring chipped, faded replicas of dinosaurs and sound effects of “roars” that sounded more like mild indigestion.

Suddenly the car I was in veered off course and traveled uphill to a carpeted area behind the seats in what looked like a stage theater. A woman I didn’t recognize was surprised to see me and said, “You’re not supposed to be up here!”

“Well, I didn’t come here on purpose – it’s where the car took me,” I explained. “Looks like the same thing happened to them,” I said, pointing to a young couple in a similar car.

“How do we get out of here?” I asked.

“You can’t just leave, because you’re in the middle of the ride, which seems to be out of order, and you could get lost inside. I can give all of you a lift to wherever you need to go once I’m done here.”

But when she said that wouldn’t be for several hours, I decided to take my chances finding an exit from the ride. As I remembered passing what appeared to be an emergency exit, I backtracked until I eventually found it and was out on the street. Manhattan at dusk, apparently at rush hour, as the sidewalks and streets were packed with people rushing in opposite directions, and horns were blaring to protest the traffic jam.

A street sign said Lexington Ave., which was familiar territory for me back in medical school, but the cross street was 1917 St., which I had never even heard of before. I tried asking for directions from passersby – many different people from all walks of life – but they were all too busy to assist me.

Most ignored me and rushed away, and one elegant, middle-aged woman in a fur hat and suit trimmed with a fur collar and cuffs said, “I can’t help you, and you’ll never find a taxi at this hour.”

I became increasingly panicked as it was getting late; I had no idea where I was or how to get to our dinner destination; and there was no way to contact my father as I had no phone.

I awoke with my heart racing and my stomach sinking with regret over not being able to see my father, who passed away decades ago. Wondering about the dream’s meaning, I realized that it concerned a nightly engagement I have with my Heavenly Father to seek His face in prayer. This was symbolized as a dinner engagement, as He knocks on the door of our hearts, and if we answer, He will come in and dine with us (Revelation 3:20).

Once we are saved by trusting in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6), what a blessing to have a promised seat at the Lord’s table, where we can feast on His Word!

Although I always intend to keep this “dinner engagement” with our Father, sometimes the stresses, distractions, and time drains of the day lead to rushed “fast food” crammed in just before bedtime, instead of a leisurely banquet beginning at the appointed time and continuing until I am fully nourished.

The apostle Paul says we are to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17), and David reminds us to meditate on God’s Word, day and night (Psalm 119:148, etc.). It is good to schedule a designated time for quiet communion with our Lord, but that does not mean that we should ignore Him the rest of the day!

In the dream, I arrived early in the city where I was to meet my Father, near a place of higher education, symbolizing the wisdom and knowledge to be found only in His Word (Psalm 119:105). Yet instead of preparing myself for this divine appointment by listening to His still, small voice (1 Kings 19:12), confessing my sins so that my prayers would not be hindered (1 John 1:9; 1 Peter 3:7), and meditating on Scripture, I allowed myself to become distracted by worldly pleasures.

The amusement park symbolized time wasted on frivolous pursuits, more appropriate for my old life before I was saved (hence the aged appearance and sound effects of the ride). The dinosaur theme may have been a warning to avoid evil lest I fall prey to Satan’s traps (Ephesians 6:11; 1 Peter 5:8), but the crumbling dinosaurs and their feeble cries had no such effect, perhaps because my conscience was seared (1 Timothy 4:2) by ignoring such warnings before.

As often happens in life when we allow ourselves to become distracted by meaningless pursuits, Satan uses this opportunity to carry us where we had no intention of going. King David discovered this when his idleness on his roof one evening while his troops were in the midst of battle led to the sins of lust, adultery, deceit, and even murder (2 Samuel 11).

In the dream, my visiting an amusement park instead of preparing for my meeting with my Father led to delay, losing my bearings, getting trapped in the world system, and missing my appointment altogether. I couldn’t find my way; I had no help from those in the world, and I could not even contact my Father, as I had no phone.

Thankfully, we don’t need a phone or even an appointment to contact our Heavenly Father. But unconfessed sin in our heart – including the sin of idolatry allowing worldly pleasures or other distractions to come between us and God – can hinder our prayers and make Him seem distant, although He is very near to us (Acts 17:27). Sometimes our prayers go unanswered because we are asking for what we want, instead of in accordance with His perfect will, or even worse, because we fail to ask at all (James 4:1-3).

In the dream, in crowded Manhattan at rush hour, I found myself at Lexington Ave., which was familiar to me. The name “Lexington” means “Town of the New Law” – perhaps a reference to the new law of liberty in Christ (James 1:25). Christ’s followers were freed from the Mosaic laws of temple worship, for Christ Himself was the perfect, complete Sacrifice paying our sin debt in full (Hebrews 10:10; 1 John 4:10). Now we have direct access to the Father, just as the nine-foot-thick veil separating the people from the Holy of Holies was split in two at the crucifixion, top to bottom, for God in the flesh came from Heaven to earth to give us that access (Matthew 27:51; Hebrews 9:7-15).

But I still could not find my way in the dream, because I was at the intersection of Lexington Ave and “1917 St.,” which does not exist. I believe this number refers to the date of the Russian Revolution and the darkest days of World War I, a time of rebellion, chaos, destruction and devastation.

I believe the dream is warning me to keep my priorities straight, always giving Jesus Christ and His law of liberty the pre-eminence, so that I will keep my divine appointments with our Father, communing with Him through prayer and mediation on His Word. At His table can I be fed with wisdom, avoiding Satan’s traps and the destruction he desires! 

© 2023 Laurie Collett

Saturday, July 1, 2023

Independence Day


Photo by Amaury Laporte 2020

On July 4, the United States of America celebrates Independence Day, commemorating signing of the Declaration of Independence. This document, drafted by Thomas Jefferson and approved by the Continental Congress on July 2, 1776, proclaimed independence of the thirteen American colonies from British rule.

As important as July 4 is in our US national history as a celebration of liberty from tyrannical oppression, an even more crucial date in the life of every Christian is their spiritual birthday. At the moment we were born again (John 3:3-8), we trusted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, Who died on the cross to pay our sin debt in full and rose again on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-4), so that all who believe in Him have eternal life (John 3:16).

On that date of our second birth – our spiritual Independence Day – we trusted the One Who came to proclaim liberty to the captives (Isaiah 61:1; Luke 4:18), to free us from the tyrannical rule of the devil, to break the shackles of sin and death. Yet, our independence from Satan, sin and death is accompanied by our realization that we are totally dependent on the God Who knew us from before the beginning of time (Psalm 139:13-16) and has an amazing plan for each of us (Jeremiah 29:11; Ephesians 2:10).

We cannot live apart from Jesus Christ any more than a branch can grow grapes when cut off the grapevine (John 15:5). Without Him, we can do nothing, but with Him, all things are possible! (Matthew 19:26). It is only when we come to the end of ourselves, realizing our complete helplessness to free ourselves from sin (Ephesians 2:8-9), that we can let go and let God! Jesus Christ completed His work on our behalf on the cross (John 19:30) and rose again. All we need to do is to accept His freely given gift of salvation (Romans 6:23) and believe He is Who He says He is.

One of the most widely quoted excerpts from the Declaration of Independence is: "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."

The truth that there is a Creator God (Isaiah 40:28; 1 Peter 4:19) is indeed self-evident, as His infinite wisdom and power are implicit in the magnificent design of His creation (Psalm 19:1). Scripture teaches us that all who deny this are without excuse (Romans 1:18-20).

In an ideal government, all are treated equally, following the model of Christ’s rule over His Kingdom. We are one in Christ Jesus, regardless of race, gender, family heritage, worldly power, status, or education (1 Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 3:28). As God is love (1 John 4:8), Christ loves each of His children infinitely, meaning that He could not love any one of us any more than He already does, and hence, He loves each of us the same amount.

Not only did Jesus Christ create each of us, and everything else, but He gifted each of His children with rights that nothing and no one can take away from us. If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31). Nothing and no one – no person or power -- can separate us from the love of God, throughout all space and time (Romans 8:35-39). We are kept in the hand of Jesus Christ, which is kept in the hand of God the Father (John 10:28-29), which is sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13; 4:30).

What do our unalienable rights as born-again Christians include? God has transformed us from His enemies (Romans 5:10) and children of the devil (John 8:44) to His friends (John 15:13), ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20), children (1 John 3:10), betrothed, beloved (Ephesians 5:25), and joint-heirs (Romans 8:16-17) with His Son the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Declaration of Independence refers to the unalienable Rights of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. Christ came to give us not only eternal life with Him in Heaven (John 3:16), but abundant life (John 10:10) here on earth, for He gives us richly all things to enjoy (1 Timothy 6:17).

Liberty in Christ means that we are freed from a legalistic adherence to the law that cannot save us (Romans 8:3) but can only show us how far we have gone astray (James 1:22-23). No man can keep the law perfectly, for all are sinners, and if we break even a part of the law, we would be found guilty of breaking the whole law (James 2:10-13).

Jesus held us to an even higher standard, saying that our very thoughts and words, and not only our deeds, could condemn us. If we look at someone with lust, it is as if we have committed adultery in our hearts, and if we lash out in anger against someone, it is as if we have murdered him (Matthew 5:21-30).

But Christ gave His followers liberty from sin and death. We are now freed from the power of sin, for the Holy Spirit within us provides the way to refrain from sin even when we are tempted (1 Corinthians 10:13). We are freed from the penalty of sin, which is death (Romans 6:23), and one day in Heaven we will even be free from the presence of sin, for our glorified bodies will be unable to commit sin (Jude 24-25; 1 John 3:2).

Yet liberty from sin is not license to sin – as the apostle Paul says, God forbid!  (Romans 6:1-2; 14-18). Although Christ has washed away our sins in His own blood (Revelation 1:5), paid our sin debt in full (Colossians 2:13-14), and clothed us in his perfect righteousness (Isaiah 61:10), we are to honor Him by following the law of Christ. This is to love God above all and to love one another, treating each other as we would like to be treated, for all the laws given to Moses are summarized in this one commandment (Luke 10:27).

Our Founding Fathers promised us the right to the pursuit of happiness, which depends largely on our external circumstances. Yet Jesus Christ promises us the joy of His salvation (Habakkuk 3:18), and the peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7), which are far better. No matter what trials we may face, we can have true joy in our Father’s love (1 Peter 1:8), the Holy Spirit within us (Galatians 4:6), and our best Friend (Proverbs 18:24) Who will never leave nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). We can rejoice in our living and blessed hope (1 Peter 1:3; Titus 2:13), meaning the anticipation of our wonderful and sure destiny. 

John Adams, one of the Founding Fathers, wrote to his wife Abigail that Independence Day “ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty.” As Americans celebrate with parades, fireworks, and barbecues, may we take time to worship and thank God not only for the freedom we enjoy as a nation, but for our spiritual freedom from sin and death through the sacrifice and resurrection of His Son!

© 2023 Laurie Collett