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Summary: No matter how dark the day may appear, keep dreaming of the possibilities God has in store for those who love Him.

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Dream on!

Luke 4:16-30

Cecilia had a dream. She didn't dream to live among the aristocracy or to be adorned with the finery of high society, she already had tasted of that lifestyle, but it left her cold and empty. Cecilia, who lived in the second century, was a child of the aristocracy, the elitist class in Rome, but she turned her back on her place of privilege and chose to align herself with the despised followers of Jesus who had been persecuted in her city for more than one hundred years. Cecilia, when she accepted Christ's death on the cross for the forgiveness of her sins, pledged herself to be a virgin for the rest of her life so that she might be "wed" to the message of her Lord. As a result of her commitment she gave her entire life to getting the message of salvation out to the masses.

Cecilia's father was a man of honor and high societal standing, so he could not stand for some fanatical decision made by his daughter to ruin his reputation. Cecilia's father pledged her hand in marriage and she had no choice but to go along. A young man named Valarium, another member of the aristocracy, married Cecilia but didn't know what he was getting into. Valarium had a brother with whom he was very close and not long after Valarium married Cecilia, the young man and his brother accepted Christ.

It would be a wonderful story if it all ended there, but sad to say the Emperor ruled that Valarium and his brother should be put to death with Cecilia looking on to try and detract her from her fanatical faith.

Shortly after the death of Cecilia's husband and brother-in-law, Cecilia became even more of an activist for the Gospel of Jesus. The word got out that Cecilia hadn't quieted her fanaticism so the Emperor ruled that she too should die. Cecilia's home was nice, maybe beyond nice, as within her home Cecilia had a modern-day sauna room called a caladarium. The caladarium operated by having a fire blazing in a room underneath the room to be used as the sauna. The fire would heat the floor of the upper room and thus create great heat. The Emperor decreed that the heated room should be heated seven times hotter than normal. When the targeted temperature was reached, Cecila was to be placed in the caladarium to be suffocated. The room was heated for a day and a night before Cecila was placed inside the room that would be sealed.

The next day when the Emperor's men arrived to unseal the room they found Cecila seated and singing wonderful songs of praise to her Lord. That would be another wonderful ending, but Cecilia could not escape the death sentence of the Roman Emperor. He ruled that she should be decapitated by the executioner's sword.

The day arrived and Cecilia faced execution with everyone looking on. The sword was drawn back and then finally brought down upon her fragile and frail neck. The first blow didn't sever her head so the executioner brought his sword a second time -- and then a third, but to no avail. Roman law forbid him from trying a fourth time so the Emperor told the men to let her die a slow death. Cecilia's neck was mangled and she was left bleeding. She lived for three long days and during that time she told everyone who came around about her Lord and Master. Finally, Cecilia became so weak that she could not talk. At that point she held out three fingers on one hand and one finger on the other to show every passerby that there is but one God -- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.


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