Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Stars and Stripes Forever

When I was a child, the 4th of July celebration was as memorable as Christmas.  We would spend the day at my grandparents house. While my grandma and great grandma would be preparing the dishes for the barbecue, my grandpa would be building the platforms for the firework show he would put on for us and the neighbors.  My grandma always bought the largest box of fireworks and what a show we'd have.  Living so close to Disneyland, it made for some competition.

My sisters and some of the neighborhood kids would dress up as patriotic forefathers and parade up and down the street singing patriotic songs, like "God Bless America," as the sun was setting.  This was the opening act prior to the firework show.  I can remember so vividly how grateful we all felt living in the land of the free.  We would carry a large flag. We carried that flag with pride because we were proud to be Americans.

Our flag is dressed and carries an attitude of what it stands for. One of the nick names for the flag is "old glory". Adorned with stars and stripes, the story of our country is told. The stars represent the 50 individual states and the red strips for the thirteen colonies and the white representing courage. There are some who believe the color red represents the blood that was shed for the freedom that we have in this great nation today.

The atmosphere in our country today is very anti Christian. It is "politically incorrect" for me to share my faith, except in the context of church functions. To be honest, I'm a little uncomfortable writing this blog because of those who disagree with me. I've realized when one side is outspoken, the other must be quiet. When I visited the Mayflower and heard why those people came to this country, it was for religious freedom. In the last 15 years, the name of Jesus is used more as a curse word than one that will set one free.
Before long, it won't be legal for me to profess Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior in public. I can say that I am a Christian now because I live in a free country. As a follower of Jesus Christ, I thought about the "stars and stripes" of my faith. the "stars" in my faith represent couple of things. One when God promised Abraham a large family, He told him he would have as many as the stars in the sky . (Genesis 15:5) These stars are symbolic of the Jewish people who are God's chosen people, which is the line of people Jesus came from. The next symbol of a star is the "Star of David." I was told by our tour guide in Israel that the Israelites needed a symbol to represent them. They were forbidden to carve any images out of wood or stone so instead they chose the symbol of this star. Unsure as to why this kind of star, it is possible that three of the letters in David's name in Hebrew together form this symbol. It could also reflect back to the promise God made to Abraham of his children being like the stars in the heavens.

But another star spoken of in the Bible was the star that lead the wisemen to the King of the Jews. (Matthew 2:2) The star that lead them to Bethlemham also called the "City of David" where Jesus, the Son of God was lying in a feeding trough wrapped in swaddling clothes (burial cloth) in a stable. (Luke 2:7). Last but not least, in the book of Revelation, Jesus is called the " bright morning star" the "offspring of David." (Revelation 22:16)

The stripes on the other hand tell a different story. Isaiah 53:4-5 says it all.
"Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed." (NKJV) The stripes only Jesus could carry for us. The red stripes represent his blood that was shed for our sin and sickness, but the white stripes represent the forgiveness and peace that we can receive when we believe in the sacrifice he made for all of mankind. Because of all those stripes we are healed and free from the bondage of sin in our lives.

Unlike the days that our forefathers formed this great nation, they were "united as one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."  What is bothersome to me is the heart of where Americans are now. Like the days of Noah and Sodom and Gomorrah so shall it be when the Son of Man comes. (Luke 17:26) The issues we face today have divided us which will surely bring us down. But hopefully to our knees! Jesus said in Matthew 22:25 "
Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand." But don't lose heart, Jesus came that we would have life and life more abundant. (John 10:10). We don't put our hope in man because man is human. Psalm 42:5 & 6 says, "Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and 6 my God."  Remember those who put their trust in God, our faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see. (Hebrews 11:1 NLT) A life in Jesus is for eternity. His stars and stripes are forever!