PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• Happy Fourth of July!
Today, Americans celebrate our declaration of freedom.
Each year, we pause to reflect on the freedoms our founding fathers established.
Whether you’ve read the Declaration of Independence in its entirety or not, most Americans know the infamous line, “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.”
Right there in the opening lines of our country’s Declaration, our founding fathers recognized the gifts given to each of us by our Heavenly Father.
In our daily lives, we often forget these things.
We forget (or take for granted) the gift of life.
We don’t remember the gift of choice He gives.
We hang on to the chains of guilt, shame, confusion, anger, hurt, and despair.
We forget that when Jesus died on the cross, He offered us freedom from all of that.
All week, God has been speaking to my heart about this.
It started on Sunday when I was waiting for church to begin.
The past few days had been very difficult, and I felt very discouraged.
In the bulletin, an introductory paragraph said, “The love of God is more splendid than purple mountains majesties. God’s word of grace fills the spacious skies. The amber waves of grain remind us of God’s abundant care. Above the fruited plain is God’s eternal joy in anyone who turns from sin and follows the path of truth. In every nation, in every heart, God is working for good. Let our songs rise; let God’s praise be heard from sea to shining sea.”
Isn’t that so beautiful?
In fact, every Fourth of July reference kept jumping off the page at me.
And I knew God was giving me a much-needed reminder about the freedom He’s given me.
I jotted down some notes, including “Jesus came to give life and set me free. Break the chains, Denise! He isn’t holding them on you, but you refuse to take them off.”
You see, I’m very good about reminding others of this truth — God loves you and forgives you.
I’m not so good about reminding myself.
I know it.
I absolutely believe it with my whole heart.
But I struggle to let things go.
“What-ifs” tend to haunt my thought process and in doing so, I let them distract me from the freedom God gave me when I accepted Jesus as my Savior.
It’s something that has been at the front of my mind all week, and I’m working hard (with the help and constant reminders of the Holy Spirit) to clear the muddy thoughts in my mind so that the clear truth can run through.
This week, God has reminded me that He’s there.
In control of every situation, even the ones that feel hopeless and out of control.
God even used my friend Tracey to remind me that I need to step back and get out of His way.
Psalm 118:5 says, “Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free.”
And that’s what He’s done!
I’m always going to need reminders that God doesn’t need my help or suggestions — He’s got this.
I’m always going to need reminders that He has a plan.
But what I want to do is fully embrace the freedoms He offers me, but freedoms I’ve taken for granted for too long…
The freedom to trust.
The freedom to know I’m forgiven.
The freedom to know that I am loved.
And the freedom to know that He’s not going to leave me alone.
He will always be beside me, through every challenge.
And He will do the same for you.
Galatians 5:1a says, “For freedom Christ has set us free…”
While we embrace our American freedoms with fireworks and hamburgers, let us embrace the freedoms given by our Heavenly Father with our whole hearts.
Today, as you pray, thank God for the freedoms He gives.
Thank Jesus for setting us free from sin.
And if you’re struggling to remember, or you’ve taken the freedoms offered for granted, ask the Holy Spirit to help you live them and embrace them every day.