“For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Cor. 3:17).
- As the women arrive, play the Gaither song “Let Freedom Ring,” which is available on YouTube.
- Prepare the following scripture verses on parchment paper tied to represent a scroll: John 1:12; Galatians 3:26; Romans 8:2, Romans 8:14, Romans 8:15, Romans 8:16, Romans 8:17; Isaiah 61:1; Galatians 5:13; Ephesians 3:12; 1 Peter 2:16; 2 Corinthians 3:17. Invite the women to share their scroll throughout the devotional.
- Freedom release. Print an American flag on card stock and give it to the women. Invite the them to write or draw on the back of the card the following:
a) Something they would like to be free from.
b) Something from their past that the Lord has set them free from.
Invite the women to share what they have written. Place the flags in a basket and pray over them.
Tables: Cover the tables in red, white, and blue tablecloths. Use copies of the Declaration of Independence as centerpieces. Use these as table favors for the women to take home. Altar: Completely cover the altar with a blue cloth. Top it with a smaller red cloth. Add a round yellow cloth, napkin or doily in the middle. Or use a Salvation Army flag of an appropriate size. Put a Bible and a framed copy of the constitution on the center yellow cloth. Place a small American and Salvation Army flag to each side of the altar.
The following songs from The Salvation Army Song Book can be sung: 451; 522; 314, 453, 795.
In the 1942 movie Holiday Inn, Bing Crosby sings a song about American freedom, which we celebrate every year on the 4th of July. The song speaks of the freedom Americans have to travel where they wish; to worship how they choose; to speak and to listen; and not to live in fear. At a time when the world was in the grip of the Second World War, this was very poignant. Freedom was what Americans were fighting for.
Freedom has always been central to the American way of life. The Revolutionary War was really about freedom. It was not, as is usually assumed, started to free the Colonies from British rule. The Founding Fathers did not actually want to separate from England. They just wanted to be treated fairly by the British Monarchy and government. It had to do with taxes and the requirement to ship everything made in America to England before it could be sold back to the colonies at an exorbitant rate. When their request was denied, they felt that there was no other choice but to separate themselves from such unreasonable restrictions. This required that they fight to gain that freedom.
The Civil War could be said to be about freedom also. Although slavery was not actually the original issue, it became the catalyst that fueled the war and its abolition is remembered as its greatest victory, granting freedom for those unwillingly enslaved. Slavery is perhaps the antonym of freedom, although not definitively. Bondage, captivity, oppression, servitude, suppression, repression—these all limit or control freedom. So does sin. Sin enslaves us, but if we turn to the Lord, the sentence of spiritual death that comes as a result of our sin is commuted. It is replaced by the life–giving grace of our Lord Jesus and the spirit of life that sets us free in Jesus. We are all born slaves to sin, but there is freedom waiting for us if we choose to accept it.
Over the past 242 years since the signing of the Declaration of Independence, which gave freedom to the American people, thousands and thousands of people have come to America for that freedom. The National Center for Constitutional Studies describes the US Constitution (which the American Independence spawned) as embodying a unique idea. That is, something the like of which had never been done before. It contains the recognition that the American people’s rights are given directly by our Creator, that is, God. The Declaration of Independence contains the phrase, “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.” That should be a precious thing to all Americans, but especially to us as Christians. The Declaration, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights together form what is called the “Charter of Freedom.” This makes our national freedom unique, for all other governments place the responsibility for deciding what citizens can and cannot have squarely on the shoulders of that government without acknowledging those given to us by God. This uniqueness gives us something to celebrate each year on Independence Day.
As Christians, we are children of God; His sons and daughters; brothers and sisters of Jesus. All humans are creations of God, but as Scripture tells us, only those who receive Him, who believe in His name, have the right to become children of God. This gives us the special freedom that comes with faith in Christ. Not freedom to do whatever we fancy, or anything we might think is fun, or even what the world tells us we should want to do. Rather, we have freedom over sin, evil and darkness. Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would come one day to proclaim freedom for prisoners. Jesus tells us that He has fulfilled that promise.
Christ has set us free and we are called to be free. It is through faith in Jesus that we may approach God with confidence. We are to live as free people, but it is important that we do not think we can use this freedom as a cover up for evil or to indulge the flesh. Our freedom over sin calls us to be slaves to God, always doing His will and following His ways. Not a slavery of oppression and pain; but one of freedom and joy as we live to serve our Savior. That gives us something very special to celebrate every day of every year.