“Dying For What You Believe In”

Is there anything that you feel strongly enough about that you would die for it? A cause, a belief? Few of us today in American really know much of anything about sacrificing to the point of death, but there are stories in history that tell us amazing accounts of those who have suffered and died for a cause or belief. One such story took place in 328 A.D. in a city high in the icy mountains of Armenia.

It was a bitterly cold winter, and in the middle of that winter an order came from the Roman emperor that every man, woman, and child under the rule of his empire must bow down to him as a god.

Now there was a powerful force of Roman soldiers in that Armenian city known as the “Thundering Legion”, and their reputation as a powerful military force was well known throughout all the Roman Empire. But the emperor was not satisfied with just their military service – he wanted each soldier to bow down to him.

But, when the time came for each soldier to bow down, 40 could not. They were faithful soldiers, but they were Christians – they could not obey the emperor’s order to make him their god. They said, “We can only worship the one true God.”

Well, when the word of these 40 soldiers refusing to bow down and worship him was received by the emperor, his command back was simple, “Bow down to me, reject your Christian God, or die”. But the 40 soldiers did not bow down – so the decision was made that they would die.

But how should they die? Should they be fed to the hungry lions? Should they be burned at the stake? These were both terrible ways to die, but an even more cruel death was prescribed –

they were to be frozen to death in the bitter cold winter.

So, they took the 40 soldiers to a frozen lake in the middle of a terrible winter storm. They stripped them of all their clothing and left them to freeze to death.

But the general in charge did not want to lose these 40 good soldiers. He said, “Simply bow down to the emperor and save your life?” But they would not.

The other soldiers taunted and laughed at them saying, “soon you will be back; you will bow down”. But the laughing stopped when these 40 Christians bravely walked barefoot across the icy freezing lake.

Well, through the night the soldiers lit a fire and cooked food to tempt the Christians to give up. But the Christians prayed to God to make them brave, and they began to shout,

“Here die 40 men for Christ”!

The freezing bitter cold night went on until finally, the cold was too much for one of the men. He staggered back to the fire and agreed to denounce his God and to bow down to the emperor. But the remaining 39 Christians would not give in, even though they were literally freezing to death.

Then, amazingly, something happened that they could not believe – one of the Roman soldiers sitting by the fire, having watched the bravery and courage and faith of these dying Christians, he stood before the general and uttered these words,

“I will take that man’s place – I will be a Christian.”

As the general watched in amazement, this Roman soldier removed his clothing and walked onto the icy lake to join the other 39.

Well, the Roman soldiers sat by that fire all night long, and the last thing they said they could remember hearing through the howl of that terrible freezing winter storm was the now 40 Christian men shouting,

“Here die 40 men for Christ”.

In the morning, sadly, there were 40 frozen bodies; men who had sacrificed and died for their faith and belief in Christ.

A full 350 years later, in the chapel in the forum of Rome, there was dedicated to these 40 soldiers a plaque, a simple plaque which still hangs there today. It has these powerful words engraved on it,

“Here Die 40 Men for Christ”.

 

What cause would you be willing to die for?

Where do the people come from who accomplish great things in life? Where does God find the people to get the hardest jobs done? Do you wish that you could accomplish more in your own life? I can tell you how – “Get in the Wheelbarrow”. You say, “huh, what are you talking about?” OK, here we go!

After spending years of studying history and the lives of hundreds of successful people, I have found this to be true in almost every case – God uses ordinary people just like you and me to accomplish great things, and He give us the Power to do it. Look at some of the people in the Bible. Moses didn’t want to be the one to talk with the Pharoah – he said that he had a speech impediment – but God sent him anyway. And with God’s Help, the mighty Pharoah didn’t have any trouble understanding what Moses had to say.

Look at King David. When the prophet Samuel searched the land looking for the next king of Israel, God sent him to Jesse’s house and asked to see all his sons. But Jesse left David out – clearly his own father didn’t think that David was king material. It wasn’t until Samuel asked, “Are these all of the sons you have”, that Jesse told him about David. Jesse, David’s own father, didn’t see David’s potential to do great things – but God did.

Even Jesus Himself didn’t pick the most gifted and educated men to be His disciples. In fact, He picked men who were so ordinary that later when two of His disciples, Peter and John, talked to the Religious Council, they were literally amazed at just how boldly and powerfully they spoke. Think about it – why does God use ordinary people to do His Great Things when there are so many gifted and extraordinary people to choose from? It’s because so many times God has a hard time using people who are so full of themselves that and they don’t leave any room for Him. And here’s the sad part – smart, gifted people who spend their lives attempting to do great things in their own power, truly miss the opportunity to do even greater things – with God’s Help.

But you say, “Jerry, where do I start? How do I know what to do?” Of course, everything starts with prayer. How often do we say, “Well, I guess there’s nothing we can do but pray.” Wow, that’s all we can do? That should be the first thing we do. Think about it – the God of all the Universe, the God Who made everything, Who Is Everything, is anxious to talk with us about His bigger plans – wow! We pray? You bet we pray! And when we have prayed, then what do we do? That’s it exactly – we DO. We don’t try – we DO.

The story is told of a great circus performer who set out to do the seemingly impossible – to walk across Niagara Falls on nothing but a tightrope. It seemed insane, but he was determined to do it.

Well, the big day came; it was a windy day, certainly not the kind of day to attempt such a dangerous stunt. As the crowd gathered, the performer asked, “Is there anyone here who believes that I can do this?” The crowd was silent – they looked at the great Falls, they looked at that tiny wire going all the way across – surely it was impossible – surely, he would fall – surely that day he would die!

He asked again, “Is there anyone here who believes I have the ability to travel on this tiny wire across these great Falls?” There wasn’t a sound, and then one man stepped forward who was pushing a wheelbarrow. He said, “Yes, I believe that you can do it. And I believe that you can push this wheelbarrow across with you.” The performer focused on this man as he walked toward him and his wheelbarrow. “You truly believe this?” The man was emphatic, “Yes.”

“Then I am ready”, the performer said. “I will cross these great Falls – I will push this wheelbarrow with me across this Niagara Falls – and one more thing – you, sir, will go across with me – get in the wheelbarrow!”

Wow, now that’s a story about Doing, but just how many times do we have a thought, a leading, a strong call to DO, but we end up instead sitting and doubting, and the “DO” never does. So today, if you are determined to accomplish great things – if you have determined to rise above what others think you can do – if you are prepared to face the adversities and failures that you will surely encounter along the way – then get in the wheelbarrow – God is ready to push you across.

God bless you all! Please send me an email telling me of your “DO’s”. Until next time, keep looking up!

About Jerry Stewart

I am a story teller. Since 1998, I have been telling the true stories of our nation and those Americans gone before us.  To say the least, these stories have been well received by Americans, both young and old.  So, here’s where the stories have taken me.  In 1998, I was broadcasting my stories on just one radio station in Washington State.  Today, from Texas 15 years later, these programs are now broadcast through a syndicated radio network to over 400 radio stations all across America, with literally millions of listeners.

Featured Image: By Ildar Sagdejev (Specious) – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4386851

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