July 4th Devotion

A Prayer to Prepare Our Hearts to Celebrate Our Nation’s 4th of July
By Lynette Kittle

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” - John 8:36

America’s 4th of July holiday is all about celebrating freedom. Although many citizens may be viewing it as a reason for an extended holiday, family gatherings, and setting off fireworks, there is much more behind this national holiday. Many Americans may not realize where the desire for freedom, the kind that stirs the hearts of men and women, originates. 2 Corinthians 3:17 explains its source, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”

Many believe God’s way is to restrain people, but His way is freedom; as John 8:32 explains, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Humankind’s longing for freedom comes from God, who provides the way for us to be free. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1).

Freedom Came to America

Sadly, some Americans have no idea how America came to be the free nation it is today. They haven’t heard or learned how God divinely led Christians from across the ocean who longed to openly serve Him to leave everything behind and risk their lives to set sail for a world where they could freely worship God.

In The Pilgrim Chronicles, historian Rod Gragg traces the Pilgrims' beginnings in 1606 England as Christian separatists who faced severe persecution by the Church of England. But fleeing to Holland in 1609 brought them face-to-face with worldly Dutch ways, causing them to look beyond the Netherlands for the religious freedom they longed to find.

Journeying to the New World offered them the opportunity to find the freedom to worship Jesus in peace. Because they did, the Pilgrims laid the biblical foundation and influence, leading our Founding Fathers to base our Declaration of Independence on godly principles. These truths are why we have been given the right to worship God freely and without reserve.

Freedom Brings Unity
But as the New World grew, England’s King George ruled with a heavy hand, oppressing the citizens and cultivating a widespread desire for them to be free from his control. His oppression led to the Revolutionary War that led to the Declaration of Independence and the creation of the United States of America. Behind this movement was the Church, consisting of Congregationalists, Anglicans, Quakers, Dutch Reformed, Baptists, Lutherans, Puritans, and Presbyterians who came together to pray, overlooking their denominational differences to unite together for a common goal.

Dennis Prager, an American conservative radio talk-show host and writer, explains, “Ultimately, they wanted people to be free to practice their religion and relate to God in their own way. They all knew God is the source of liberty.”

Freedom’s Ultimate Sacrifice
As Christians, we know freedom comes through Jesus’ sacrifice. As 1 John 2:2 explains, “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” Likewise, sacrifice led the way for our nation’s freedom, too. Retired Judge Darrell White describes, “In a nutshell, our founders sacrificed their prosperity for their posterity, us. They pledged their lives, their fortune, and their sacred honor to secure our blessings of liberty.”

Because Jesus laid down His life, we have been set free from sin. This foundational freedom strengthened and led the way for men and women before us to lay down their lives so that we might live in a nation founded on liberty for all. As Dr. Jerry Newcombe, Executive Director of Providence Forum, explains, “We are free in large part because others sacrificed on our behalf that we might be free.”

Let’s Pray:

Dear Father,
Today and every day, we celebrate the freedom You give us and how it laid the foundation for our nation to be free. Thank You for the freedom You give to us through Your Son, Jesus Christ. Because of You, true freedom is possible and stirs the hearts of Americans and people around the world. Let Your name be glorified in our celebrations. Help us celebrate in ways that bring You praise and honor. Remind Americans how You divinely led Christians to set sail and settle this land for Your glory. Show us, too, O Lord, how to be grateful and respectful to the men and women who came before us, sacrificing their lives and futures, braving and suffering hardship, to establish this land for Your glory so future generations could live free.
In Jesus’ name, amen.
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