Friday, September 3, 2010

From Prison to His Presence

1 Corinthians 6:20
 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.
1 Corinthians 7:23
 Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.

A young woman named Perpetua stood firm in her faith in the year AD 203 in Carthage, North Africa. Because she kept a diary, we know much about her. This short account is based on her diary. (Kids of Courage)
Perpetua and Felicitas, the servant to Perpetua, boldly faced death rather than deny Christ. All they had to do to get out of prison was to offer a small sacrifice of incense to the pagan gods. Just a pinch of incense to honor the emperor Septimus and they would walk free. Perpetua’s father insisted that something this small should be easy for her to do. Why was she being so stubborn?
"Father,” she said, “Do you see this pitcher?" She asked as she pointed to the water pitcher on the table. "I see it," he replied. "Can it become a dog?" "Of course not!" he exclaimed, looking at her as if being arrested had scrambled her brains. "It is a pitcher!" "You're right. It cannot become something it is not, and it is ridiculous for someone to call it something else. So, Father, she said, “ I am a Christian and cannot be called anything other than what I am. A Christian." Once again, her convictions just didn't make sense to him and he left the prison confused and in despair.
Pepetua was willing to give up everything, even her life to stand for Christ. As she sank down to the hard stone floor, deep anguish pierced her heart. She asked her self, “How could I cause so much pain to my dear father? I only wanted to love and serve the Lord from a pure heart.” The Roman official, Hilarion, was viewing her case, as her father returned to the prison begging her to abandon her Christian beliefs. "If you won't do it for me, then consider your infant son! Surely you don't intend to leave him behind for the sake of this new god you have found."
Finally, the sentence was handed down. Perpetua and Felicitas were condemned to the arena where wild beasts were set in place to kill and destroy. They would be called upon to give their lives for Jesus, just as He had given His life for them. They knew He would strengthen them for what they must do.
The other Christians were also sentenced to death and in their final days together, they prayed, sang and encouraged one another. They rejoiced knowing that their struggle would soon be over and they would be together in the presence of the Savior!

When the believers entered the arena, their faces reflected great joy! They had finally begun their journey from the dark prison walls of death and doom to the light of God's presence.
A mad cow was set loose in the arena upon Perpetua and Felicitas. Perpetua was thrown to the ground first and then the cow charged toward Felicitas. Though her gown was torn, Perpetua was not hurt. She covered herself with her torn garment and pinned her hair back up as it seemed she wanted to look her best to meet her Savior. The two friends embraced, awaiting the end.
The cries from the crowd began to increase and demanded to see their death. As Perpetua looked into the eyes of the gladiator who was to take her life, his hands trembled so badly he could barely hold his sword. Perpetua reached out and slowly guided the sword for him. As she whispered the name of our Savior, she left this world and entered into the everlasting presence of God.
Thought: Would you be willing to give your all? Is all you have, all you cherish and all you dream about, more important than Christ? Would giving your all for Him bring despair to your heart and mind or would the anticipation of being in His presence bring unspeakable joy? It is hard to place yourself in this situation because there are no arenas with wild animals to devour Christians but, there is a world that wants to bring shame and reproach upon the name of Christ. So, Christian, will you stand for Christ no matter the cost?  Will you stand for the One who gave His all, despite the cost, with the thought of you on His mind? 

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