Yesterday the main point of the sermon from the example of Zechariah and Elizabeth (the parents of John the Baptist) was this: Develop a heart that is sold out to the Lord.
I am concerned about the lack of passion for Jesus among American Christians – including myself. We would SAY we are passionate about Him and His kingdom. But where is the evidence? We take church for granted. We take our Bibles for granted. We take study and prayer for granted. All the while we are being lulled into a spiritual stupor and are becoming anemic. To have a heart sold out to the Lord like Zechariah and Elizabeth, I mentioned we need to serve even when we are disappointed, learn from the Lord’s loving discipline in our lives, be drenched with the Holy Spirit and live with confidence that God will keep His promises. All of these were true about them.
This morning I read about some Christians who are sold out in the truest sense of the word. Yesterday in China about 100 Christians and the pastor of Early Rain Covenant Church were arrested. This church has over 500 members meeting in different underground places.
Christianity is the fastest growing religious group in China even though persecution is continuing to rise. There are approximately 60 million Protestants and more than half of them worship at unregistered churches…the registered churches are highly controlled in what they can say and do. In September 344 Chinese pastors of the underground churches signed a faith statement saying, “For the sake of the Gospel, we are prepared to bear all losses – even the loss of our freedom and our lives.” One of the Christians from the church said, “Even if we are down to our last five members, worship and gatherings will still go on because our faith is real. Persecution is a price worthy paying for the Lord. We would rather live through it than to hide our faith.”
Yet, many American Christians find it difficult to get out of bed on Sunday mornings. I realize shame is not a good motivator. But we have to do better than we are doing. And even though shame is not a good motivator, conviction should be.
As for me, I am convicted by the dedication of people like that who are truly sold out. I realize we do not live in a culture with such persecution. And living in that situation would probably bring out that same kind of sold out commitment from us. I’m not praying for persecution! But I am praying for revival!
As you prepare for this Christmas season and New Year Resolutions, pray that God would help you and help all of us to develop hearts that are sold out more than we have been. Pray that God will help you come up with a plan t demonstrate your heart is sold out to Him.