Blessed! Precious Is Our Freedom

The LORD gives freedom to the prisoners. Psalm 146:7b

Have you ever thought of the river of blood that has preserved our freedoms? As it relates to America, more than 4,000 soldiers died during the American Revolution. More than 2,000 perished in the War of 1812. Approximately 116,000 gave their lives during World War I. The Second World War claimed more than 405,000 U.S. military deaths. More than 54,000 American servicemen died in Korea, and 90,000 died in Vietnam. Another 8,000-plus have given their lives in the Persian Gulf Wars and the War on Terror. Add to that the 498,332 known military deaths during the Civil War, and it’s believed the total number of Americans killed in all U.S. Wars exceeds 1.1 million.

How precious is our freedom!

And how precious is the spiritual and eternal freedom gained for us by the death of the one Man, Christ Jesus. If our political freedom means so much to us, how much greater is the freedom of heart bestowed by Christ that leads to eternity!

We must always cultivate a heart of deepest gratitude for our freedoms and for those who died on our behalf. We must always remember the Savior who died on Calvary’s cross who made us “free indeed” (John 8:36).

My chains fell off, my heart was free, I rose, went forth, and followed Thee. Charles Wesley, in the hymn “And Can It Be”

Power of Persistence

Philippians 3:10-14

Everyone desires success. Simply wanting it, however, won’t guarantee achievement. That’s why many people fail to reach their goal: They encounter hardship and give up.

So let’s discuss one characteristic needed to accomplish what you set out to do: Persistence is the combination of strong desire and willpower. Paul exemplified this capacity to stay on course in the face of difficulty and refuse to quit. He was passionate about sharing the gospel with both Jews and Gentiles across the known world. Acts 20:24 records his purpose: “That I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.” Though he encountered tremendous obstacles like shipwreck, prison, physical punishment, and constant danger, the apostle never quit (2 Corinthians 11:23-28).

What motivated Paul to persevere amidst struggles? First, he had a clear God-given goal and trusted that the Lord would enable him to achieve it. Second, the apostle felt indebted to share the life-changing truth of salvation. Third, he knew the devastation awaiting those who do not know Jesus.

Paul had his eyes fixed on his purpose, which he so valued that no circumstance could deter him. Ultimately, he achieved what almighty God had ordained.

The Father has great goals for His children. Striving for anything less will neither fulfill us nor achieve what He’s planned in our life. Once His direction is clear, we should passionately pursue God’s purposes with the Holy Spirit’s strength and guidance—especially when obstacles arise. Don’t give up!


“Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness.” (Titus 1:1)

In New Testament times it was common to begin one’s letter to a friend with a salutation such as this, which usually identified the writer and the reader and then gave personal greetings.

Contrary to his normal practice, Paul spends the first three verses of this four-verse greeting speaking about himself, but he places the emphasis not on his own authority, but on the nature of the message which he has been given.

First, in designating his position as writer, Paul refers to himself as a “servant” (literally, “slave”) of God. His will had been voluntarily surrendered to do his Master’s will. Next, he identifies himself as “an apostle of Jesus Christ,” commissioned by Him to represent Him and His revelation. He then defines his apostleship as being in agreement with the message to which the elect have responded, and the “acknowledging [literally, ‘advanced knowledge’] of the truth which is after godliness.”

Next, Paul claims that his message is not a new doctrine, but has its past, present, and future aspects. It was “promised before the world began” (v. 2) by God, who has in the present been proclaiming “his word through preaching” (v. 3). Furthermore, his apostolic calling is “in [literally, ‘resting on’] hope of eternal life” (v. 2).

Paul then claims the message as his own, “committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Savior” (v. 3).

In a very real sense, this same message is now committed to us. Our knowledge of the truth and need for faith are at least as great; our call to submission and godliness equally serious. May God grant us the same level of commitment to the gospel and its propagation as that of Paul. JDM

Too Familiar with God

O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together. —Psalm 34:3

Worship rises or falls in any church altogether depending upon the attitude we take toward God, whether we see God big or whether we see Him little. Most of us see God too small; our God is too little. David said, “O magnify the LORD with me,” and “magnify” doesn’t mean to make God big. You can’t make God big. But you can see Him big.

Worship, I say, rises or falls with our concept of God; that is why I do not believe in these halfconverted cowboys who call God the Man Upstairs. I do not think they worship at all because their concept of God is unworthy of God and unworthy of them. And if there is one terrible disease in the Church of Christ, it is that we do not see God as great as He is. We’re too familiar with God.

Oh, God, may my concept of You be worthy of Your majesty. Forgive me for being
too familiar and for seeing You so small. I magnify You and fall on my face in
worship. Amen.

Are You Worthy or Unworthy?

And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge. (Ephesians 3:19)

The love of Jesus is so inclusive that it knows no boundaries. At the point where we stop loving and caring, Jesus is still there—loving and caring!

The question may be asked: “How does the living Christ feel today about the sinful men and women who walk our streets?”

There is only one answer: He loves them!

We may be righteously indignant about the things they do. We may be disgusted with their actions and their ways. We are often ready to condemn and turn away from them.

But Jesus keeps on loving them! It is His unchanging nature to love and seek the lost. He said many times when He was on earth, “I have come to help the needy. The well do not need a doctor—but the sick need attention and love.”

We are prone to look at the needy and measure them: “Let us determine if they are worthy of our help.” During all of His ministry, I do not think Jesus ever helped a “worthy” person. He only asked, “What is your need? Do you need My help?”

Though we have brought forth some fruit unto Christ

Though we have brought forth some fruit unto Christ, and have a joyful hope that we are “plants of his own right hand planting,” yet there are times when we feel very barren. Prayer is lifeless, love is cold, faith is weak, each grace in the garden of our heart languishes and droops. We are like flowers in the hot sun, requiring the refreshing shower. In such a condition what are we to do? “Sing, O barren, break forth and cry aloud.” Sing, believer, for it will cheer thine own heart, and the hearts of other desolate ones. Sing on, for now that God makes thee loth to be without fruit he will soon cover thee with clusters.