Today’s Scripture: Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s. Psalms 103:2-5

In the early 18th Century, the British monarchy had authority over much of the known world. Every colony under Britain’s jurisdiction had to declare allegiance to the British Crown. This made the actions of the thirteen colonies in North America equivalent to high treason when, on July 4, 1776, their congressional leaders gave an explicit oral statement declaring their independence:

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

I hope that as you celebrate Thanksgiving today, you will give special thanks for your freedom as an American. But I want to tell you about a declaration which is even better than that which secured our national sovereignty 235 years ago. It is the declaration of the sinner’s righteousness by Jesus Christ. This declaration, enacted the moment after we believed in Christ, released us from the penalty and power of our sins and guaranteed for us a home in Heaven.

I am thankful to be an American. I thank God for the declaration of my independence from sin. But I believe the best declaration ever is when I tell others of God’s goodness to me. Isn’t that what Thanksgiving is all about? Tell someone else about the goodness of God in your life today.

Devotional by Jim Scudder Jr.