The pages of time and history are stained in crimson by the blood of brave men and women whose lives were required of them on account of their commitment to the gospel. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs recounts their struggle in graphic detail. The book is a testament to their resolve to play for keeps.

Shortly before His crucifixion, Jesus spoke to Simon Peter and said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. (Luke 22:31–32) Peter had no idea how true these words would become. The sifting Jesus described involved the intense persecution which Peter and the other disciples would suffer for their faith. Peter had to pay the ultimate price when he was crucified upside-down at the hands of Nero. All of the other disciples except John and Judas also suffered martyrs’ deaths.

But did you know the “you” in Luke 22:31 is plural? It refers not only to Peter and the other disciples, but also to every committed believer. Many Christians have since taken up the challenge and endured unparalleled suffering for their Savior. They played for keeps. Dedication calls for nothing less. The Word of God emphasizes this reckless abandonment to the pursuit of God’s will, and the urgency of time demands it. What will you do about this challenge?

Friend, I believe God is looking for Christians who will be dedicated, come rain or shine. If this means serving Him in a hostile setting where you will face persecution, so be it. If it means working faithfully with a cheerful heart in a Christian environment, then let it be so. Regardless of where you serve, what you are called upon to do, or what difficulties you experience, commit yourself to your Savior. That’s playing for keeps.

Devotional by Pastor Jim Scudder, Jr.