Windsor Parish Church
I found an interesting .pdf book online, Early Christian Prayers. I've been reading the section, 'Prayers of the Martyrs.'
First of all, why were those Christians martyred? Because they were criminals? No. It was because they dared to claim allegiance to a King other than the earthly king or emperor. What did this allegiance to King Jesus look like? It looked like following Jesus - showing kindness, generosity, humility, helping the poor, feeding the hungry, putting others before themselves and their own comfort. Those aren't exactly things that anyone should object to, but as is true in any generation, even our own, people in power don't like competition.
Here's an excerpt from 'Prayers of the Martyrs' in 'Early Christian Prayers':
'Besides praising God and thanking him, the witnesses to the faith call in their prayers for God's help at the critical moment. They ask him to put their sin out of his mind, to forgive their executioners and to strengthen the faith of their brethren. Then they resign their souls into their Father's hands.
'What makes these prayers so moving is that they are essentially the expression given in the imminence of death to a faith soon to be sealed with blood.'
"Carpus was a bishop martyred at Pergamum in Asia Minor, under Marcus Aurelius. The account of [his] sufferings come from eye witnesses.
Carpus was fastened to the post. As the flames began to burn him, he gave a loud shout and said:
'Blessing to you, Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God; you have thought me fit to share this fate with you, sinner though I am.' So saying he yielded up his soul."
The other accounts are similar, the Christians being burned at the stake or being tortured first and then burned at the stake or killed by the sword, but all blessing God for the opportunity to suffer for him.
This reminded me of some verses in Hebrews 11, referring back to God's people throughout the ages:
'They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword, they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy)...'
Even today, in many parts of the world, there are Christians being persecuted for their faith in God, their love of Jesus Christ.
Pray for fellow believers who are enduring persecution.
Have a blessed Lord's Day.
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