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“Honor the government.” (1 Peter 2:17 LB)

When we mark Independence Day, we don't celebrate merely on July 4th; we expand our festivities for days beforehand and afterward. That extra time highlights the enormity of God's gift to the United State of America: the gift of living as free people. On our knees, we should be thanking Him for it, because it is a gift without equal, and nothing can substitute for it. If we were not free, what else could we be that would make us feel alive?

The most prized portion of freedom is the freedom to worship. A handful of people who meet to praise God inside a one-room rural shack have as much right to do so, as do the multitudes in famed cathedrals or megachurches.

Americans who are Christians realize this: God doesn't want our nation free just for the sake of being free. He wants us free so we will "live as those who are free to do only God's will at all times" (1 Peter 3:16). There's no other way to be happy on earth. God makes everybody on earth free to do the one thing which counts most — to take His salvation available through Jesus… "For the free gift of eternal salvation is now being offered to everyone" (Titus 3:11).

Rightly, we Americans think of ourselves as the people who take political freedom to people held hostage by their own governments. But God has something unutterably better for America to do. He wants us to bring the world spiritual freedom. He is telling us, "Through you, I am saying to prisoners of darkness, 'Come out! I am giving you your freedom!'" (Isaiah 49:9).

by Mary Wilson