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Wednesday, August 21, 2013
"Wrestling for Thee"
“So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure:” II Thessalonians 1:4
From my childhood, one of my favorite stories has been about the forty martyrs of Sabaste. I heard a preacher tell this story and it has never left me. These forty soldiers, all Christians, were members of the famed Twelfth Legion of Rome's Imperial Army. One day their captain told them Emperor Licinius had sent out an order that all soldiers were to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. These Christians replied, "You can have our armor and even our bodies, but our hearts' allegiance belongs to Jesus Christ."
It was midwinter of A.D. 320, and the captain had them marched onto a nearby frozen lake. He stripped them of their clothes and said they would either die or renounce Christ. Throughout the night these men huddled together singing their song, "Forty wrestlers wrestling for Thee, O Christ." One by one the temperature took its toll and they fell to the ice.
On shore, the captain made the other soldiers build fires to seduce the men to turn from Christ. At last there was only one man left. He lost courage and stumbled to the shore, where he renounced Christ. The officer of the guards had been watching all this. Unknown to the others, he had secretly come to believe in Christ. When he saw this last man break rank, he walked out onto the ice, threw off his clothes, and began to sing, “Forty wrestlers wrestling for Thee, O Christ.” When the sun rose the next morning, there were forty bodies of soldiers who had fought to the death for Christ.
As we read these words, the bodies of hundreds of Christians lay dead in Egypt. Persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ, these Christians are feeling the full force of martyrdom. I have always thought of martyrs as being in the distant past or at least in distant lands, but now we see that these are very present and real dangers.
How should we respond to all this?
Pray for the saved worldwide. “Brethren, pray for us” I Thessalonians 5:25.
Love one another. “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:” 1 Peter 1:22.
Reach the lost. “And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds. Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed” Acts 19:17-20.
Live a pure life before God. “The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion” Proverbs 28:1. “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesu.” Acts 4:13.
Remember, we are in a war! We wrestle with spiritual battles, and powers beyond flesh and blood. Let us be wrestlers wrestling for Thee, O Christ!