Today’s Scripture: I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. 2 Timothy 4:7-8

There were fifty-six men who signed the Declaration of Independence. Twenty-four were lawyers or judges. Eleven were merchants. Nine were farmers or plantation owners. When they signed this document, they were committing treason. They were putting their lives on the line. The odds were not great that these simple colonies could overcome the might of the British army, but these men were willing to die for their dedication to the cause in which they believed – the cause of freedom.

Five of the signers were captured by the British and tortured as traitors before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost sons to the war, and two more had sons captured. Nine fought and died from wounds or hardships of the war.

Carter Braxton, of Virginia, owned a plantation and was a trader. He saw his ships swept from the seas by the British. He was forced to sell his properties to pay his debts, and he died penniless. He lost everything because of his signature.

Thomas McKean was hunted like a fox by the British and forced to move his family five times in three months. He served in the Continental Congress without pay; his family was kept in hiding, and all their possessions were taken.

Thomas Nelson, Jr., had his home taken over by British General Cornwallis to be used as the British headquarters. He urged General Washington to open fire on that house; Washington did, and Nelson died bankrupt.

Francis Lewis had his home and property destroyed. The enemy captured his wife, and she died there in prison.

John Hart was driven from his wife’s bedside as she lay dying. Thirteen of his children fled. His fields and flour mill were laid to waste. For more than a year, he lived in hiding. Upon his return, he found his wife dead and his children gone. Shortly after, he died from exhaustion and a broken heart.

These men and countless others gave all they had for the cause of freedom. Christian, how much more should you and I be dedicated to giving all that we have to declare freedom in Jesus Christ to this lost and dying world? Let the memory of the courage of these men be an inspiration to you.

Devotional by Jim Scudder, Jr.