Hello, again! I hope that you are getting ready to experience a restful and relaxing Fourth of July! Of course, being Independence Day, I think that we all should take a moment and express our gratitude for the freedoms that we enjoy as Americans. I wonder if there are times when we have become so comfortable in our freedoms that we perhaps take them for granted? I hope that on Monday you will take a moment, in the midst of picnics, parades, and fireworks displays to just say a quiet prayer of thanksgiving to God for the freedoms that we as Americans enjoy!

Freedom really is a wonderful privilege; nowhere on the face of this Earth are the privileges of freedom available like in the United States of America. We are assured in our Declaration of Independence that we have been “endowed by [our] Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness…” Truly, freedom is a wonderful blessing! Our Constitution affords us freedoms!

As with anyone who has experienced captivity, slavery, or even incarceration, freedom is something that is earnestly longed for. Men and women coming out of our prisons often count the days until their release, yearning for that day when walls and razor-wire no longer deprive them of their freedom. As understandable as that is, let me suggest to you that freedom is not quite all that it is purported to be! Why? Because along with freedom comes the ability to make choices! Right ones; wrong ones; profitable ones; and consequential ones! Yes, it is a blessing to have the freedom to choose, but along with the freedom of choice comes the opportunity to choose wrongly, and in doing so, reap the consequences of our choices!

The Apostle Paul, in Galatians 6.7, tells us that “…whatever a man sows he will also reap, because the one who sows to his flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit.” Often, when those to whom we minister obtain their release from incarceration, their delight in experiencing freedom once again holds no boundaries. They can go where they want; do what they want; and be what they want to be, but in doing so, they make themselves accountable for their choices. If they choose to surround themselves with the Body of Christ, the Church, and make choices that honor God, the chances of them succeeding on the outside are much greater than if their choices are to return to their old “playgrounds”, to their old “playmates”, and to their old “playthings”! Those choices represent those things that they chose to make a part of their lives prior to incarceration; those things that resulted in harsh consequences that deprived them of freedom.

The freedom that Christ wants to bring to our lives is a freedom to make choices that are profitable for us. Choices that will give us the opportunity to pursue real Life, real Liberty, and to pursue Happiness that can only be found in Christ! Christ calls us into freedom that walls, razor-wire, or even the bondage of slavery cannot take from us; it is a freedom that resides within us, knowing that whatever our “exterior” lives may experience, our “interior”—that is, that part of us that exterior circumstances cannot affect—has been “set free from our sins by His [Christ’s] blood…” Jesus Christ has called us into freedom that cannot be taken from us! That is real freedom!

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