On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight.  There were many lamps in the upper room where we were gathered….  And when Paul had gone up and had broken bread and eaten, he conversed with them a long while, until daybreak, and so departed. —Acts 20:7-9, 11

            As I read about Paul I am truly challenged.  He spoke until mid-night until the young man fell out of the window and died.  Then after the Lord raised the young man from the dead through Paul, Paul went on to speak until daybreak!

            The book, Heavenly Man, is a testimony of the underground church in China and the true story of Brother Yun written by Paul Hattaway and Brother Yun.  It is about the intense persecution of house church leaders and the commitment of the Chinese church.  Westerners were coming over to help with training the church, but many would come and speak for just 20 minutes or maybe even an hour.  Graciously westerners were asked not to come unless they could speak for at least 2 ½ hours.  The reason behind this was many of the Chinese travelled long distances to the training and wanted to hear much more of the Word of God than 20 minutes or an hour.  They had a thirst that 20 minutes or even an hour would not quench.

            It is amazing in our culture that many churches share God’s Word for about 20 minutes when the church gathers.  Wow!  Is that all we can handle.  People go to sports games and sit for hours.  They will also do so for movies or other things that interest them.  People will sit for long periods of time for concerts or plays.  Why is it that people only desire short hearings of the Word of God in our culture?  Do we not truly thirst after God, but thirst after other things?

            From discussing this very question with missionaries over the years and my own observations it is because we are comfortable and distracted by many things that keep us from what is most important.  Who we are flows from whose we are.  If I am spending time with Jesus then I will be thinking more and more like Him and have His desires.  I will be listening to what He has to say and talking with Him about what is most important.  I will have a growing desire for His whispering, for His Word, for worship, for witnessing and for His will to be done in and through my life.  There is no way around this.  Following Jesus is not for the couch potato of the faint of heart.  Who or what has me?  Whose am I?

            Again, in this book, Heavenly Man, it is mentioned that when the persecuted church sends out missionaries the missionaries know that they will probably never return but be killed in service to our King.  In a video about the underground church in Iran there is the same attitude under persecution.  Believers in Iran walk through the door of their home in the morning realizing they may not return that day, but be killed.  It is interesting that in both of these nations where persecution is intense that the church is rapidly growing.  Apparently persecution purifies the church and then the church focuses on what is truly important.  Is that what it will take for the church in the United States it to be faithful and flourish?  Whether it does or not the church in the U.S. needs to focus on what is important according to God’s will.  May we do so!

Dear Father may I truly focus on what is important, on the things You desire me to focus on.  May this be so in the power of Your Holy Spirit and in the authority of Jesus.

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