“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.”
This second sentence of the Declaration of Independence (click for full text) is easily the most recognizable and oft–quoted.
Today we celebrate this Declaration made 241 years ago by 13 English colonies, signed by 56 representatives. This Declaration announced to the world that these colonies regarded themselves as newly independent sovereign states, no longer under British rule, but instead formed as a new nation – the United States of America.
The final sentence of the Declaration is not as well known, yet it set the tone and the standard for how independence would be achieved and preserved:
“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.”
Amazing! … the “Founding Fathers” literally pledged their lives, their sizeable family fortunes, and their honor to grow and defend a new nation whose future was uncertain.
We celebrate the freedoms that the Declaration of Independence has yielded over the past two centuries plus … but these freedoms are finite and limited by time and geography. The Kingdom established by God offers infinite freedoms lasting for eternity. The Bible declares a hard truth that relatively few people have embraced since God revealed His Kingdom purposes for humankind. God declares that true freedom is found in total dependence on Him.
The Kingdom of God is an “upside–down” Kingdom. Whereas the United States began with a declaration of independence, we enter into God’s Kingdom by declaring our dependence on Him. The following representative Scripture samples from the Law, books of History, Psalms & Proverbs, O.T. Prophetic writings, plus the very words of Jesus, Paul and others reveal the blessings of living in total dependence on God.
Mull over these passages. Study the larger context of each passage. Cross–reference to related passages. Begin drafting your own personal Declaration of “in – Dependence” on God based on His revelation of truth.
- Exodus 14:13–14 … “But Moses said to the people, ‘Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the Lord which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever. The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent.’”
- Deuteronomy 31:6 … “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.”
- 1 Chronicles 29:12–14 … “Both riches and honor come from You, and You rule over all, and in Your hand is power and might; and it lies in Your hand to make great and to strengthen everyone. Now therefore, our God, we thank You, and praise Your glorious name. But who am I and who are my people that we should be able to offer as generously as this? For all things come from You, and from Your hand we have given You.”
- 2 Chronicles 14:11–12 … “Then Asa called to the Lord his God and said, ‘Lord, there is no one besides You to help in the battle between the powerful and those who have no strength; so help us, O Lord our God, for we trust in You, and in Your name have come against this multitude. O Lord, You are our God; let not man prevail against You.’ So the Lord routed the Ethiopians before Asa and before Judah, and the Ethiopians fled.”
- 2 Chronicles 20:12, 17, 20 … “O our God, will You not judge them? For we are powerless before this great multitude who are coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on You … You need not fight in this battle; station yourselves, stand and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out to face them, for the Lord is with you … Listen to me, O Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, put your trust in the Lord your God and you will be established. Put your trust in His prophets and succeed.”
- Psalm 16:8–9 … “I have set the Lord continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices; my flesh also will dwell securely.”
- Psalm 18:1–3, 6 … “I love You, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies. In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried to my God for help; He heard my voice out of His temple, and my cry for help before Him came into His ears.”
- Psalm 23:1–3 … “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.”
- Psalm 40:1–4 … “I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me and heard my cry. He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, and He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; many will see and fear and will trust in the Lord. How blessed is the man who has made the Lord his trust, and has not turned to the proud, nor to those who lapse into falsehood.”
- Psalm 46:1 … “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”
- Psalm 62:5–8 … “My soul, wait in silence for God only, for my hope is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be shaken. On God my salvation and my glory rest; the rock of my strength, my refuge is in God. Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.” Selah.
- Psalm 94:17–19 … “If the Lord had not been my help, my soul would soon have dwelt in the abode of silence. If I should say, ‘My foot has slipped,’ Your lovingkindness, O Lord, will hold me up. When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul.”
- Psalm 118:4–9 … “Oh let those who fear the Lord say, ‘His lovingkindness is everlasting.’ From my distress I called upon the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me in a large place. The Lord is for me; I will not fear; what can man do to me? The Lord is for me among those who help me; therefore I will look with satisfaction on those who hate me. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.”
- Psalm 121:1–3 … “I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; from where shall my help come? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber.”
- Proverbs 3:5–6 … “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”
- Isaiah 40:28–31 … “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.”
- Zechariah 4:6 … “Then he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel saying, ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts.”
- Matthew 6:25–33 … “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
- John 6:66–69 … “As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. So Jesus said to the twelve, ‘You do not want to go away also, do you?’ Simon Peter answered Him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.’”
- John 15:5 … “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”
- 2 Corinthians 12:9–10 … “And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”
- Hebrews 4:16 … “Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
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Over the nearly two and a half centuries since signing the Declaration of Independence, the United States of America has grown in many ways, especially when holding fast to the tenets of this historic document. This is worth celebrating every “Fourth of July”!
As professing followers of Jesus, we also will grow, especially when we hold fast to the simple, clear teachings in God’s Word. This reminds me of a scene in C.S. Lewis’ book, Prince Caspian. One of the main characters, Lucy, encounters Aslan after not seeing him for a long time. Aslan is the Christ–figure of the Chronicles of Narnia stories. Their dialogue proceeds:
“Aslan, you’re bigger,” she says.
“That is because you’re older, little one,” answered he.
“Not because you are?”
“I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.”
Every year we grow in dependence on Jesus, by internalizing the truths about God in His Word, the bigger He will be in our lives.
Peace & Joy!
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