On this Independence Day, are we practicing our independence?
Last November, the U.S. House of Representatives voted on a resolution “reaffirming ‘In God We Trust’ as the official motto of the United States.” The next day, President Obama responded, “I trust in God, but God wants to see us help ourselves by putting people back to work.”
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney commented, “I believe that phrase in the Bible is ‘the Lord helps those who help themselves.’” (www.denisonforum.org, 11/3/11).
Ugh! That phrase is not in the Bible, though 75 percent of Americans believe it’s in there somewhere. It actually appeared in Poor Richard’s Almanac in 1757 and has found its way into homespun wisdom passed down through the generations.
That thinking, however, asserts Dr. James Denison, president of Denison Forum on Truth and Culture, is the most dangerous belief in America today.
God helps those who help themselves is the battle cry of the religion of self-reliance.
Denison stated, “We are a self-made nation, created by hardworking, courageous pioneers who risked and sacrificed their lives to build and defend our country. We believe we can do anything if we get up earlier, stay up later, work longer and try harder. We baptize our self-reliance in the belief that the more we do, the more God will bless us.”
What’s wrong with self-reliance? Self-reliance is rooted in self-centered pride that basically declares independence from fully relying on God. We’re saying, “God, I don’t need you. I can do this myself.”
And we’re wrong. Proverbs 16:18 reads, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” The reality is that we live as if we’re leaving God out of our lives, and certainly we’re not allowing Him to lead us. Far be it that God should even think about interfering with our lives.
We’ve departed from His ways, and thumbed our nose at His commands. And we wonder why our nation is in such a mess.
What America needs most the government can’t deliver, an improved economy can’t deliver, and a clean sweep on election day in November won’t deliver. What America needs most is revival and spiritual awakening that shakes us from our self-reliance, brings us to our knees in humility and turns our eyes to God.
Lamentations 5:21 reads, “Turn us back to you, O Lord, and we will be restored. Renew our days as of old.” The prophet Hosea calls us to “break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord, till He comes and rains righteousness on you” (Hosea 10:12).
Revival is a supernatural outpouring of God’s presence and power that awakens the spiritual lives of believers and causes them to draw closer to God and live for Him. True revival also causes many unbelievers to realize their lostness and come to Jesus in salvation.
Revival doesn’t just happen. God outlined His conditions in 2 Chronicles 7:14. “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
As we celebrate our nation’s independence, we realize that we’re a great nation, but not a perfect nation. We have a lot of problems and issues that only God can fix.
Several years ago, a family dropped out of church. The pastor and members encouraged them to get involved again, but to no avail. One day the father and sons were working in the fields and a rattlesnake bit one of the boys. He immediately became ill, and the doctor was called. The doctor did all he could, then told the family, “All we can do now is pray.” So the father sent for the pastor.
The pastor came and prayed: “Dear Father, we pray for this boy’s recovery. But we also thank you for sending this rattlesnake. This family hasn’t been in church for years, and we pray that this serpent will be used to bring them all to a spirit of genuine repentance. Already, this snake has done more to turn them around than all the pleas of their fellow believers.
“On second thought, Lord, maybe what we need are bigger rattlesnakes!” Will you join me in praying for revival?
Dr. David L. Chancey is pastor, McDonough Road Baptist Church, Fayetteville, Georgia. The church family gathers at 352 McDonough Road and invites you to join them this Sunday for Bible study at 9:45 a.m. and worship at 10:55 a.m. Visit them on the web at www.mcdonoughroad.org.