Isaac Watts, 1674-1748

Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.
II Timothy 2:3 & 4

The Church founded by Christ has been built on the blood of martyrs. It has been estimated that at least 50 million men, women, and children have suffered a martyr's death since the crucifixion of our Lord. Even today, in our 21st Century "civilized" culture, large numbers of believers live under conditions of harassment, persecution, and--yes--even martyrdom.

According to historical writings, many of Christ's disciples and followers were persecuted by enemies of their Master with the following fates:

Matthew - suffered martyrdom by being slain in the city of Ethiopia
Mark - died at Alexandria after being dragged through the streets of that city.
Luke - hanged on an olive tree in Greece.
John - put in boiling oil. Later branded at the isle of Patmos.
Peter - crucified at Rome upside-down.
James the Lesser - thrown from a pinnacle of the temple, then beaten to death.
Bartholomew - flayed alive.
Andrew - bound to a cross, where he preached to his persecutors until he died.
Jude - shot to death with arrows.
Matthias - first stoned and then beheaded.
Barnabas of the Gentiles - stoned to death at Salonica.
Paul - after various tortures and persecutions, beheaded at Rome by Emperor Nero.

In Isaac Watts' time, much persecution was inflicted upon the English Dissenters -- those who refused to join themselves with the official, state-run, Anglican church. Stalwarts such as Isaac Watts became resolute and fearless in their proclamation and defense of the Gospel. "Am I a Soldier of the Cross?" was written in 1724, following a sermon by Watts entitled "Holy Fortitude or Remedies Against Fears". These words are still a challenge for us today.

Am I a soldier of the cross,
A follower of the Lamb,
And shall I fear to own His cause,
Or blush to speak His Name?

Must I be carried to the skies
On flow'ry beds of ease,
While others fought to win the prize,
And sailed through bloody seas?

Are there no foes for me to face?
Must I not stem the flood?
Is this vile world a friend to grace,
To help me on to God?

Sure I must fight if I would reign;
Increase my courage, Lord.
Iíll bear the toil, endure the pain,
Supported by Thy Word.

Thy saints in all this glorious war
Shall conquer, though they die;
They see the triumph from afar,
By faithís discerning eye.

When that illustrious day shall rise,
And all Thy armies shine
In robes of vict'ry through skies,
The glory shall be Thine!

*For Today*: I Corinthians 16:13; Ephesians 6:10-20; I Timothy 6:12; Jude 3

Even now, pray for those who are suffering persecution for Christ and the work of the Gospel in difficult areas around the world.

Music url: The Cyber Hymnal

Taken from Amazing Grace -- 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions © Copyright 1990 by Kenneth W. Osbeck. Published by Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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