Rekindling the Fire

Published 8:25 am Friday, March 27, 2020

If you ever built a fire before, you know it must be tended to keep it burning hot. If the fire is neglected due to distractions, it will eventually wane and go out, leaving the house cold. This was exactly the problem in the church of Laodicea.
Laodicea was a wealthy city founded by Antiochus II and is named after his wife. Strategically located where three major roads converged, it was a highly commercialized city known for its banking industry, manufacturing of black wool, and production of eye ointment from its medical school. The city had theatres, a huge stadium, lavish public baths and shopping centers. It sounds like many of our cities today.
The only real negative thing about this city was its lack of an adequate water supply. It depended on water from neighboring cities called Hierapolis and Colossae. Laodicea had underground aqueducts that carried water into the city from these other regions. Hierapolis had hot water springs, but once the water had made its way into Laodicea, they lost heat and grew lukewarm. Colossae had icy springs, but once again by the time the cold water reached Laodicea, it was lukewarm. If anyone understood what it was like to have lukewarm water, the folks in Laodicea did!
What can you do with lukewarm water? Hot water is great for coffee, tea, and a shower. Cold water is great for hot summer days. We usually don’t have a need for lukewarm water. Lukewarm means moderately warm, halfhearted with little or no conviction. Jesus said that this church had become lukewarm and he would prefer them to be either hot or cold. In fact, he would spew lukewarm out of his mouth! The Bible says in Hebrews 12:28-29, “28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: 29 For our God is a consuming fire.” Since God is a consuming fire, and the church at Laodicea was lukewarm, we can assume that they had drifted far from God. What had caused this departure? Their wealth, entertainment, and luxuries had distracted them from what really mattered: their walk with God. They accumulated the wrong kind of wealth. Laodicea was known world-wide for its soft, raven-black wool, but Jesus said they were “naked.” It is possible to wear tailored suits and designer dresses, but to be naked in the eyes of God. Laodicea was famous for its healing eye creams made in their medical schools, but Jesus said they were “blind.” The church in Laodicea had become victims of their environment.
Now let’s look back about two weeks ago. We had basketball tournaments that had just commenced and local teams with high hopes of winning it all. We had plenty of entertainment and it seemed like our economy was absolutely flourishing. Things were looking wonderful in 2020. We could travel anywhere we wished, and we were all making plans while living life to its fullest. Honestly, it seemed as if the United States was completely untouchable, and then suddenly, the COVID-19 virus arrived, and quickly everything came to a screeching halt. In many ways we were just like the church in Laodicea. We had been so blessed and spoiled that we may have forgotten the one that was supplying it all. We went to church as usual, but I am not certain we appreciated it like we should. We were going through the motions, but I do not believe we were HOT for the things of God. God had taken the backburner to all the other things in our world consuming our time.
Most of the social media posts before last week were about our plans. Now if we fast forward to today, all our plans are stopped, and we are quarantined in a house praying for everyone’s safety during a pandemic. We are all wondering about our safety and financial stability while questioning how long this all will last. Our churches have had to stop meeting in person to ensure the safety of the congregations and to stop the spread of this terrible virus. We have created alternate forms of worship using online platforms where pastors are preaching to empty pews and outdoor drive-in churches where everyone stays in their car while listening. Facebook is flooded with 2 Chronicles 7:14 and posts that are calling for fasting and praying. Pastors and church leaders are sending out devotionals online, and I have seen more of the Word of God spread in the past week than in the first two months of 2020. God is rekindling the FIRE! There is a mighty movement of God!
All the distractions in our life are paused and we can fully turn our attention towards him to be put back on the burner. I have prayed since the start of 2020 for God to show us things we have never seen. I wanted to see thousands accept Christ and the churches full of people and the Spirit of God. I wanted to see addicts freed from addiction and those that were broken to be made whole. I am not saying this virus was God’s perfect will for man, but I am saying he can use it to cause us to look up once again. I feel that we are drawing nigh unto God and he is drawing nigh unto us and once this virus is completely behind us that we will be changed forever. We will once again be a church on fire for God!
I expect the churches to be full and the church members excited about worshipping together again! I expect the power of God to be moving and bringing conviction and sinners come to know the saving power of God! I expect to see innumerable baptisms and revival to sweep across our world! I have high hopes for what God is doing. We must be patient and allow him to work on each of us during this trying time. God is rekindling the fire within each of us, and once we emerge from this quarantine and we unite back together, we should experience the power of God like never before!
In the meantime, while we have ample time at home, please examine your life and identify all the distractions that have caused you to be lukewarm. Pray like never before while incorporating fasting. We need a powerful faith and Jesus said it comes by fasting and praying. Let’s ask God to forgive us, turn from our wicked way, humble ourselves before him, and plan to see God heal our land! I know we will come through this deep valley, and my, how wonderful it is going to feel when we reach the mountain’s summit. Please continue to shelter in place, wash your hands, pray continually, and be patient because, friends, God is stoking a fire that could change us all forever!
(The Solution Column is provided by Pastor Brandon Young of Harmony Free Will Baptist Church, Hampton, and his associate, David Odom.)

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