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Summary: As Christians we should not seek to find personal independence but rather we should live with a radical dependence on God

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Declare Your Dependence

Psalm 23

July 4, 2004

Introduction

Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence?

Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons in the Revolutionary Army, another had two sons captured. Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or the hardships of the Revolutionary War.

They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.

What kind of men were they? Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists. Eleven were merchants, nine were farmers and large plantation owners, men of means, well educated. But they signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the penalty would be death if they were captured.

Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts, and died in rags.

Thomas McKeam was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him, and poverty was his reward.

Vandals or soldiers or both, looted the properties of Ellery, Clymer, Hall, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton.

At the Battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson, Jr., noted that the British General Cornwallis, had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. The owner quietly urged General George Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt.

Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months.

John Hart was driven from his wife’s bedside as she was dying. Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and his grist mill were laid waste. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his children vanished. A few weeks later he died from exhaustion and a broken heart.

Norris and Livingston suffered similar fates.

Such were the stories and sacrifices of the American Revolution. These were not wild-eyed, rabble-rousing ruffians. They were soft- spoken men of means and education. They had security, but they valued liberty more. Standing tall, straight, and unwavering, they pledged: "For the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of the Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor."

SOURCE: Paul Harvey, News and Commentary, July 4, 1974.

They gave us a free and independent America.

Today we celebrate the sacrifices of these brave men and women who paid such a high price for our independence. Our freedom has not been cheap but rather it has come at a high price. In America we have placed a high value on our independence, as we should, but as Christians I believe that we need to place a higher value on the fact that we are dependent not independent.

1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3 he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. :6 Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

This is without a doubt one of the most loved passages in all of scripture, its words are filled with the great comfort and care of God for His people. Within these six short verses I believe we find the basis for living our lives in a complete dependence on God. David clearly focuses on five key areas that we can declare our dependence on God.

I. God gives us His Provision

The LORD is my shepherd,

All of these wonderful and beautiful promises we find here are conditional and the condition is clear and simple. They revolve around the word my. The LORD is my shepherd. Clearly these promises apply only to those who have placed their faith and trust in God. It is impossible to ever be able to experience the care of the shepherd if you refuse to follow Him.

The Hebrew understanding of the shepherd was undeniably linked with the role that the shepherd played with the sheep. The shepherd was responsible for the care and the well being of the sheep. We need to understand that God is the shepherd and we are the sheep. We belong to Him and we belong with Him.

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