Guarding Liberty

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A Plea For Liberty

Patrick Henry (May 29, 1736 – June 6, 1799) was an American attorney, planter and politician who became known as an orator during the movement for independence in    Virginia. A Founding Father of our nation, he served as the first and sixth post-colonial  Governor of Virginia, from 1776 to 1779 and from 1784 to 1786.

On March 23, 1775, Patrick Henry sounded one of the most famous calls to arms in    American history. During a meeting of the Second Virginia Convention at St. John’s Church in Richmond, the 38-year-old lawyer and politician gave an impassioned plea urging     Virginians to form militias to defend themselves against the British. Henry’s brief address—which closed with the famous line “Give me liberty or give me death!”— swayed the Convention in his favor, and his words became a rallying cry during the march to war that soon followed: here is the last paragraph of that famous speech:

“Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”

 Refused to sign the U.S. Constitution

Continuing liberty was so on the mind and heart of Patrick Henry that he refused to sign the U.S. Constitution because the document lacked a legitimate Bill of Rights which would    protect the rights of States and the freedom of individuals. Although James Madison is regarded today as the “Father of The Bill of Rights,” it was Patrick Henry, more than any other, who forced him to introduce those amendments, which have since become a bulwark against governmental oppression. Without the pressure from Patrick Henry and his party, first in the convention, and then in Congress, it is doubtful if the U.S. would have had a federal bill of rights in its present form.

Note: The Bill of Rights was written in 1791 and comprise the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution.  To date there have been a total of 27 amendments to the U.S. Constitution, the last one being added in 1992 regarding congressional pay rates.

Guardians of Liberty 

Our nation was fortunate to have had Patrick Henry around following the origin of our   Constitution.  Without him and others like him our young nation may have slipped right back into the same sort of government that we had rejected. There have been other such guardians of Liberty throughout the ages who valued liberty even above safety.  Harriet Tubman was an American abolitionist, humanitarian, and an armed scout and spy for the United States Army during the American Civil War.  She labored hard for liberty and said:

“I had reasoned this out in my mind, there was one of two things I had a right to, liberty or death; if I could not have one, I would have the other.” Harriet Tubman

Much later Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would lead a movement to continue that fight for liberty for which he said:

 “A piece of freedom is no longer enough for human beings…unlike bread, a slice of liberty does not finish hunger. Freedom is like life. It cannot be had in installments. Freedom is indivisible–we have it all, or we are not free.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Since the beginning of time liberty has always been something that must be fought for and guarded against loosing.  There is always a foe who wants to take it away.  There is also the fool who doesn’t value its invaluable worth until its gone.

Paul, Guardian of Liberty  Galatians 1:1-5, Ephesians 2:8-9

Long before America was ever discovered by its natives (not Columbus), The Apostle Paul was sent to Galatia (around A.D. 53), to be a “guardian of liberty” for new believers there.

Judaizers were Jewish Christians who believed that a number of the ceremonial practices of the Old Testament (OT) were still binding on the New Testament (NT) Church.  They        insisted that Gentile (non-Jewish) converts to Christianity abide by OT rites, especially   circumcision.  They also taught that Paul was not an authentic apostle.

Paul, not unlike Patrick Henry, feared that freedom fought for (by the gospel of Christ) would be lost if he did not speak up forcefully to correct misconceptions.  Not unlike Martin Luther King Jr., Paul labored to extend liberty to all believers in Christ not excluding the Gentile believers. Paul introduced himself as one sent by Jesus Christ and God the Father (which makes him an Apostle).  He then states the fact that Jesus alone “gave” himself for our sins in order to rescue us from evil; establishing the fact that we are saved by the grace of God and not by our own works (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Good News? Galatians 1:6-12, Ephesians 1:7, 12-14, Luke 4:18           

The Greek word “Gospel” translated means “Good News”.  When we hear the good news of Christ and believe we are saved from our sin and become God’s child through faith. He gives complete freedom to those who are His (Ephesians 1:14).  Jesus Himself described this purpose of giving freedom as His mission (Luke 14:8).  Paul rebuked those who were listening to the bad news of the Judaizers. They were perverting (corrupting/ poisoning) the gospel of Christ.  Paul condemns any who would dare teach a doctrine contrary to what Jesus lived and taught.  That condemnation is sure and even frames the last words of the Bible (Revelation 22;18-19). Are you following the gospel of Christ alone?  There is no other good news.  Don’t be deceived by those perverts of the day that add or take away from what Christ established in His blood.  Guard the truth of the gospel, it alone is liberty!

New Years Wisdom (Wise Men Still Seek Him)

wisemenNew Year’s Resolutions…Again?                                                                                                        A new year often equals a new list of what we will accomplish in it.  Most often that list is never realized.  Why is this the case year after year?  Let’s face it, we just aren’t that serious about doing what’s on the list.  The inconvenience, effort, self-sacrifice and time just aren’t worth it to us.  If it was, the list would be accomplished.  This year may i suggest throwing all of your lists away and focusing on one solitary thing?  I suggest that we all learn from some very wise men that did this very thing over 2000 years ago.

Epiphany   Matthew 2:1-18, Philippians 3:7-14                                                                              Epiphany is the celebrated manifestation of Christ to the Magi.  (Celebrated traditionally on January 6)  Defined, this word means the moment of striking personal relation or insight.  The personal realization or insight that the wise men received from God was to go and search for the greatest treasure on earth—the Christ.  We can spend our time and effort on many things in this world but the greatest treasure forever remains our personal relationship with that same Christ.  In fact, we may have everything that the world has to offer and still be spiritually “poor, blind, and naked”—dammed forever.  (Revelation 3:17)  So…unless this quest is at the top of your list this year, then the rest of it is vain, and simply a diversion from the most important journey of your life; which is to know Christ. Where does getting to know Christ more deeply fit into your New Year’s resolution?

Who were these Wise Men?                                                                                                                  These were heathen, affluent men of royalty, most likely from Persia.  They were Magi (priest).  Likely, those who studies Astrology.  (This is why they were so attuned to the Eastern star that they followed.)  The word magic is derived from the old and occult practices of the magi.  These practices are forbidden in God’s law.  (Leviticus 19:31, 20:6) Once again we can see how God extend His grace and direction to those who are lost.  These wise men were not wise at all.  They were priests of other gods, practitioners of the occult.  God led them to His truth with a sign that they would take heed to.  They had evidently read the biblical prophecies and longed for a savior.  When the star appeared they left everything to follow it.  They were actually following their God-given longing to meet the Christ.  Note:  No matter how lost in sin or religious practice (or lack of it) you are, God will honor your desire to follow His guidance to the truth if you will only seek it.  (Matthew 7;7-11)

“They came to the house where the child was”  Matthew 2:11                                                The Magi came to the house sometime after Jesus’ birth.  We must note that “they came to Him”.  God will put the desire in our hearts to search Him out, and He will even guide us in our search, but He insists that we come to Him.  We must put aside our self-centeredness to seek Him on His terms.  (Matthew 6:19-21, 33) Are you ready to seek Christ on His terms or are you waiting for Him to come to you?

Four Gifts:   They also brought their gifts to Him.  Only three are mentioned but God was only impressed with the fourth one,  That is themselves—their worship.  This is truly the only gift that we can offer God.  Our freewill makes our worship unique.  The other gifts that God inspired the Magi to bring were reminders of the prophecies regarding Christ’s titles:  Gold=King of kings, Frankincense=Prophet of God’s word who would lead the people to God.  (Frankincense was used by priests in worship to God.  Its aroma drifted upwards to heaven as do the prayers of God’s children.  Myrrh= ( a burial perfume) Symbolic of Christ’s priesthood, the sacrifice for man’ sin.  All of these items were most likely sold by Mary and Joseph to pay for their flight to Egypt and Jesus’ earthly needs, but the worship of the Magi was priceless!  What gift will you offer to Christ this new year?

Another Route  1 John 1:9, 2 Corinthians 5:17-18                                                                                It is noteworthy to read that the Magi had been changed by their encounter with Christ.  They were no longer influenced by royal protocol, (ie: Herod’s order), but by the Lord’s direction.  “They went back to their country” another way (Matt. 2:12).  One could assume that after this experience the magi became Wise Men.  Likewise, repentance is a change of direction.  We who meet Christ through our own journey will also be changed.

God’s guiding light today  Matthew 5:14-16                                                                               Many would say, “Hey, I would go to Christ too if I had a giant star miraculously lighting my way.”  But there is a grater light that God has provided for man to follow today.  That light is in God’s children.  If you are a child of God (born-again Christian) then you are the Eastern Stars of today!  You are God’s light to the world, guiding unbelievers to the Christ so that they can be reconciled to their heavenly Father.

“Out of one hundred men, one will read the Bible, the other ninety-nine will read the Christian.”   D.L. Moody

Lead the Way   Daniel 12:3                                                                                                                       It is appropriate to end our study with a quote from Daniel because it was likely his legendary life hundreds of years earlier in Babylonian captivity that inspired the magi to know his God and ultimately to travel to meet his Messiah.  Wise men still seek Him…truly wise men will change their route and lead others to the Way.