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Juneteenth, 4th of July, and Freedom in Christ

Thirteen days ago, on June 19th, we celebrated the first official national holiday called Juneteenth, which signifies the day in 1866 when the enslaved people around Galveston,Texas learned that they had been set free, even though President Abraham Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, in the middle of the horrible Civil War. Imagine hearing that you had actually been free for 2 1/2 years, yet you had continued to be a slave because no one allowed you to know.

I spent some hours with our African granddaughter Birti recently and asked her what she thought about Juneteenth. Her answer wasn't all that surprising: "What's that? I don't watch the news." She's 13 and lives in a white family. It's understandable that she hasn't been affected by some things. But, I believe if she'd been the granddaughter of a slave in this country, she would have known ALL about it. It matters to MANY people. And Birti will certainly start to understand more as she gets older.

In two days, the United States will celebrate the 4th of July, representing the day the Declaration of Independence was signed stating that we were no longer going to be under the rule of King George III. The 13 American colonies officially separated themselves from Great Britain. It took a war and the lives of many soldiers on both sides to actually gain that freedom.

All of this leads me to some spiritual applications. Every one of us, not just in America but in the world, was born with a sinful nature making us slaves to sin. But, hallelujah, Jesus paid for us to be free through His death on the cross. Someone owed a ransom to keep us from being imprisoned eternally. Jesus did what no one else could do, and as a result, when we accept His free gift of salvation, we are no longer in bondage.

Political freedom --- to vote, to make our own choices, to be and do whatever we want to do as long as it doesn't hurt someone else, to come and go as we please, to say or write what we want to say -- is a beautiful thing.

But spiritual freedom means . . . . well, read these verses and see it for yourself.

Galatians 5:1 -- "For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery."

2 Corinthians 3:17 -- "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom."

1 Peter 2:16 -- "Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves."

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

Colossians 3:11 -- "Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all."

A sermon could be preached on each of these verses, in fact, I'm sure dozens have been preached. I am not a theologian, but the longer I live, the more I understand the wonder of being free in Christ. Since I am His child, I am no longer a slave of sin or legalistic expectations. I have His strength living in me to overcome, AND I have the amazing anticipation of heaven. If you don't have that freedom, I urge you to accept Jesus Christ and find it.

P.S. Today is the last full day of Cousins Camp 2021. Thank you so very much for your prayers for the health and safety of the 11 grandchildren who are with us this week. They have been heard and felt. Even the weather has been good.

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