Greetings In The Name of the Lord:
Romans 12:1 (NLT)
And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.
There is a lot of talk in the Church these days about persecution. However, to us America we see persecution as not being able to pray or read our Bibles where we would like. A recent Face Book post by a Pastor friend of mine in Pakistan about a Christian family who was burned alive for their faith in Jesus was a sobering reminder that we do not have a clue when it comes to persecution. I ran across this story that gives the true meaning of being a living sacrifice. “History knows them as the forty martyrs of Sebaste. They were soldiers in the famed Twelfth Legion of Rome’s imperial army, around A.D. 320. One day the captain informed his troops that Emperor Licinius had sent down an edict commanding all soldiers to offer a sacrifice to his pagan god. Forty of the soldiers were followers of Christ, and they refused. ‘You can have our armor and even our bodies, but our hearts’ allegiance belongs to Jesus Christ,’ they said. “The emperor decided to make an example of the soldiers, so in the middle of winter he marched them onto a frozen lake and stripped them of their clothes. ‘Renounce your God and you will be spared from death,’ he told them. Not one man came forward. So he left them there, huddled together to contemplate his offer. Throughout the night the man stayed together, singing their song of victory: Forty Martyrs for Christ. When morning came, thirty-nine of the men had frozen to death. The one survivor finally relented and crawled to safety, recanting his confession of faith in order to live. The officer in charge that night had been so moved by the scene that during his watch he’d come to Jesus, so he broke rank and walked out onto the ice. Stripping his clothes he openly confessed his faith in Christ. The furious emperor demanded that he renounce Jesus, but he refused. When the ordeal was over, the Roman soldiers carried forty frozen men off of the ice” (Lahaye, Tim, Jerry B. Jenkins and Frank M. Martin ed., Embracing Eternity, Living Each Day With a Heart Toward Heaven: The Persecuted,. Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, 2004).
The next time you think that giving up a bad habit or getting up earlier to spend time in prayer is difficult, remember what others are going through and remember what it really means to be a living sacrifice.