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   “in journeyings often … wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins … in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth … destitute, afflicted, tormented … in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen. in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in danger of hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness … trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment … tortured, not accepting deliverance … beaten with rods … stoned … as chastened, and not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing all things … sawn asunder … slain with the sword …”
  A collage of words, come severally from 2 Corinthians 11:25-27; Hebrews 11:35-37; 2 Corinthians 6:9-10 (King James Version used throughout unless otherwise noted) … and words brought to mind, as we have been reading a book given us, entitled Hearts on Fire, a Voice of the Martyrs publication that reads like the sequel to Fox’s Book of Martyrs about 8 women who sustained unspeakable indignities to their persons, and yet, remained steadfast and sure in their faith.

The Answer of a Good Conscience
   “Welcome to Hell” appears as a subtitle in one account of a section narrating the trials of fifteen year-old Bhutan adolescent, Purnima endured at the hands of her Nepalese tormentors.
  And before making protest, saying, “Yeah, but these are 1st day Chr-stians who observe pagan holidays! They are the ones who think and believe L-rd and G-d are the Father’s and the Son’s Names! They also keep the day of the venerable sun as the L-rd’s Day, because this was the day on which they think and believe, the Savior rose from the dead!
  We admit to all these things, even as we do to our regard for the fervent-in-spirit and zealously-affected Buddhist monks who may think they’re doing Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha, Enlightened One) service by choosing death by immolation (by fire) to renouncing their false religion.
  Nevertheless, as we have been progressing through the text, a recurring question comes to mind: “If these, for whom knowledge of That Which is Perfect is elusive, can suffer the insufferable and, perhaps, for a cause not worthy of death, can I?”
  It is a question each of you, too, must answer … and NOW!
  And a secondary question is also prompted: “If these, for whom knowledge of That Which is Perfect is elusive, can suffer the insufferable and perhaps, for a cause not worthy of death, and maintain their endurance predicated upon, If the world hate you, ye know that it hated Me before it [hated] you. … Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely … Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven, John 15:18; Matthew 5:11, 12, can I?
  Again, it is a question each of you, too, must answer … and NOW!
  Yahshua commissioned twelve men and gave them authority and power against unclean spirits; to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness, and all manner of disease (Matt. 10:1). Before this commendation should go to their heads – as it afterward did, they returning, and affirming, “even the devils are subject to us through Thy Name” (Luke 10:17) – He foretold that they should be delivered before governors and kings, and scourged even. Brother would deliver brother and father, the child, to death; children also, would rise up against their parents and cause them to be put to death. They would be hated of all men for His sake but to not fear them which had power to kill the body, but not the soul, and afterward had nothing more that they could do to them. Yahshua also said that whosoever endured all these tribulations and confess Him before men, He would likewise confess them before His Father, but whosoever among them, would deny Him before men so likewise would He deny them before His Father (Matt. 10:17-23a, 24-25a, 26a, 28, 32-33).
  Nevertheless, these who had traversed Palestine with the Master… yes, these whose eyes had seen; whose ears had heard, and whose hands handled the Word of Life (1 John 1:1) after they were endued with Power from on High, declared Him and made good earlier pledge pronounced before their conversion that they would die with Him, and for Him, yet would they not deny Him (Matt. 26:35).
  But thanks be to Yahweh for the both of Grace and Space to become Converted in an Upper Room. For we know the narrative all too well, some of us making our lives to become punctuated… through sin, with denial of Him.
  Oh, yes! We like very much to identify with, and relate to, the Master. But the truth is we are much more of like passions as His disciples. And before we put forth the finger and accuse these who, in the moment of testing, all forsook Him and fled – later denying and doubting Him – let us examine and judge ourselves in those occasions when, we, too, have cast both vigilance (watching) and diligence (praying) aside and entered ourselves into temptation, and fallen into sin. For of a Truth, we are not any more pious than they who had otherwise endured with Him through most of His trials.
  Yeah, we’re not much different from them. Like them, we covet the best positions in the Kingdom but yet, find ourselves scarcely worthy to advance above His footstool.
  Nevertheless, thanks be to Yahweh for a tinge of conscience that moved Thomas called Didymus to change his mind from asserting, “Except I shall see… I will not believe” (John 20:25) to thus confessing himself, “My Master and My Eloha” (John 20:28).
  Thanks be to Yahweh for a tinge of conscience that moved Simon Peter to go out and weep bitterly upon hearing the cock crow, and turning to see his Master and later jumping into the Sea with his peer’s announcement, “It is the Master” (John 21:7).
  Yes, thanks be to Yahshua Who didn’t hold a grudge against any of them as He, suspended upon a torture stake, looked down to find but one (John) at His feet and Whose providing these others with both Grace and Space, saved and delivered them from the Lake … of Fire!

The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions
   Your good intentions will be proven. But it is certain that He will ask, “Are ye able to drink indeed of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” (Matt. 20:22) and it is certain that we in reply, will make our boast, like they, saying, “We are able.”
  But these eleven, whom Yahshua before His passion had complimented, saying, Ye are they which have continued with Me in My temptations, Luke 22:28 did not, because they could not, endure this, the last of His trials on which even He, might be thought to have waffled, praying, Father, if Thou be willing, remove this cup from Me … Luke 22:42.
  And so, it’s a good idea to count the cost of discipleship from the get-go, because no man is above his Master… it becoming enough, that He be as his Master – not limited to keeping Commandment and working Righteousness, but above and beyond even – having a cup to drink and having a baptism with which to be baptized (Luke 12:50): suffering in his flesh, as He suffered in His flesh that both He and he might learn obedience but having much more need than his Master, to cease from continuing in sin (Matt. 10:23-24; Heb. 5:8; 1 Pet. 4:1).
  It is written of Him that He endured such contradiction against Himself – yes, the contradiction of sinners – striving against their sin, resisting unto blood (Heb. 12:3, 4). But which among us could attest to having accomplished this feat. (Maybe we should pay a little more respect to the fervor and zeal that consumed 8 women who sustained unspeakable indignities to their persons, and yet, remained steadfast and sure in their faith. After all, who’s condemned Apollos for his being “fervent in the spirit… knowing only the baptism of John?” (Acts 18:25)

Conclusion: The Test
   And so, here’s the test: Is, or are, there any of His Commandments which you find grievous?

    • What about honoring his Sabbath(s)?
    • What about observing His clean food laws?
    • What about separating yourself from your past life of continuing in the same sin(s) which had in time, past and present, so easily beset you?
    • What about crucifying past (or present) affections and lusts of the flesh?
    • What about wasting the substance of life, running to excess?
    • What about not yet bringing every thought, every word, every deed into captivity to obedience to the Commandments?
    • What about flirting severally with the works of the flesh?
    • What about yielding your members (mind, heart, eyes, ears, tongue, hands and feet) in service to spiritual wickedness in high places and to the rulers of the darkness of this world?

  Now is the time accepted to behold the day of your salvation. It’s judgment time, as it is written:
  Wherefore let him that thinks he stands, take heed lest he fall. Examine yourselves; prove yourselves; know yourselves, whether you are in the faith. For if you would judge yourself, you should not be judged. Watch, therefore, and pray always that you may be accounted worthy to stand before the Son of Man (1 Cor. 10:12; 2 Cor. 13:5; 1 Cor. 11:31; Luke 21:36).

-Elder John W. Reece

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