On January 28, 2 days after the passing of basketball great Kobe Bryant, I was sitting in my living room watching what should have been a televised NBA game. Instead, other NBA greats formed a panel to discuss their thoughts about Kobe and his untimely passing. I was half watching until I heard the "big man", Shaquille O'Neal, begin to break down as he shared lessons he learned through this tragedy. To see what he shared, click the following link: https://www.cbssports.com/nba/news/shaquille-oneal-opens-up-about-kobe-bryants-death-relationship-i-wish-that-i-could-say-something-to-him/
I don't share any of this to relive a past tragedy but it reminded me of a principle of life whenever tragedy does strike. It is not whether tragedy, trials or problems arise in one's life. It is truly how one deals with those things that matters most. And for the Christian, we are ever reminded that God allows things to happen in order that we might learn the lessons He would have us learn (2 Cor. 12:1-9; James 1:2-4; 1 Peter 1:7-9). I have no doubt one of the greatest lessons we can learn through tragedy and trials is how to have a revival of heart and life for the things of God. Allow me to take the word REVIVE as an acrostic and share with you 6 ways to make the most of this Corona virus confusion.
R - Revive my heart Psalm 85:6 says "Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee? O how many times our life grows cold and almost lifeless. Often when things are going "well" we coast along in the Christian life. God is not looking for those who are lukewarm or cold but instead those who are on fire for Him. I suppose a few questions could be asked to see if you are hot or cold. Do you have a passion to share your faith with others? Do you look forward with eagerness to spend time with God in the Word and prayer? When sinful thoughts come to your mind, are they immediately pushed aside? Do you have a longing to be in God's house and with God's people. However you answered these questions will determine whether you are hot or cold. And if you are cold or lukewarm, then begin to get alone with God and ask him personally, "Wilt thou not revive ME again!"
E - Engage in the Word Isn't it wonderful that God has not left us alone to figure out life by ourselves. He has left us with a manual for life, the Word of God. Not only is this book a necessary guide for life but it is also a source of comfort, strength, wisdom, spiritual food and is God's love letter to us. It is truly sad to see the statistics that show how little time Christians spend in the Word of God. In this time of "social distancing", do not make God one of those whom you are distancing yourself from. He wants to talk with you and share with you His unchanging news for these changing times. Take the time to connect with your Father in heaven. This is probably a great time to get your face in His Word and out Facebook. Psalm 119:105 "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path."
V - Value what's most important As Christians, we are some of the most unique people in this world. While we live in this world, we have citizenship in another. Jesus said that we are in this world but not of it (John 17). Yet, there are many Christians who you would say that they are in this world through and through. It seems that they have laid claim to everything they can have in this world and not given a lot of thought to the next. While there is nothing wrong with material possessions, we will not take those things with us. Ask yourself what is most important? My relationship with God! My relationship with my family? My own life and its spiritual needs. In other words, get back to having a vibrant relationship with God. Patch up those problems with that family member? Take care of those things in your life that are keeping you from living a dynamic Christian life. These are the things that are of value!
I - Increase in my relationship with Christ In all truthfulness, the reason we are not as close to Christ as we ought to be resides within our own power. Paul told us that Jesus Christ was made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption" (1 Cor. 1:30). We have everything we need to live the Christian life and to be like Christ. Yet our focus, our desires, our aim and our zeal seems to be more for the world than for the One who died for us. In this downtime and refocusing of energies and priorities, may one of those be the enlarging of our relationship with Him. May we as sheep nestle in the fold and find nourishment from the Great Shepherd.
V - Veto anything that would stand in the way of my living for God There is so much vying for my attention in this world. And sadly, many of those things have to do with the flesh. In the points mentioned above, many of the reasons we don't have a vibrant relationship with Christ and aren't engaged in the Word is because we have allowed sin to creep in and take root in the soil of our heart. It is high time for us to begin digging out the things that are sinful and then saying no to those things that want to direct my focus away from God. My friend, the devil doesn't make you sin and your flesh only does what you allow it to do. You have veto power, made possible by the blood of Christ and His life within you, to say no to sin and yes to God!
E - Embrace the cross I would challenge you to read once again the gospel records of Christ's crucifixion. Allow the reading of it to saturate your heart and give you a fresh meaning of what Calvary is all about. What is Calvary all about? Well, it certainly is the means of my salvation but now as a Christian, when I look back upon it, I ought to reflect on the following things. Embracing the cross means dying to myself and my desires. Embracing the cross means doing the will of God not my will. Embracing the cross means sharing a love with the world around me that Jesus is the answer for the problems we face. Don't be ashamed of Him. He died for you, in your place, where all could see, in order that you might have life; and have it more abundantly.
I don't like the changing of things anymore than you do. This past week has been unnerving and disruptive in so many different ways. But, let's stop and refocus our energies on that which is most vital: REVIVAL. Habakkuk 3:2 "O Lord, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O Lord, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy.