Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Don't Forget Your First Love! - Part 14



Yesterday's post was all about our spiritual check up, kinda like a medical exam our doctor's give us. Jesus in this case is asking us to take a hard look at our spiritual life and He's fine tuning us to be more efficient in what we do whether at our jobs, our homes or anywhere we interact with people whether verbally or non-verbally. We are all bearing a witness to the world showing what a Christian life looks like to those around us. So without further adieu, let's dive right back into our study about the church of Ephesus and taking our spiritual temperatures again. After doing this study, I have a hard time reflecting on how much I fall short in being a Christian. But the great thing is that its not too late. We can always jump right back in with God's help, nothing is impossible. 

Are we very much in love with Jesus Christ? (verse 4).

Revelation 2:4-7 ~ "Yet I hold this against you. You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. But you have this in your favor. You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God." (NIV). 

It would depend on where our hearts are at.The church was effective 99% but Jesus called them out and told them where they were lacking. Where are you in the midst of this study? I hope you hear Jesus asking you, "Are you with Me or not? Are you really in love with Me? The love you have for Me should come before anything else in our lives." Can you say you love Him like that?

Revelation 2:4, ~ Yet I hold this against you. You have forsaken your first love."

In the original language it reads better.  "Nevertheless, "It's I against you," because you have not included me and you've went without me."

In the Greek the word "left" is "aphiemi" meaning to go forth in various applications (as follow) to cry, forgive, forsake, lay aside, leave, let (alone, be. go. have) omit, put, (send) away, remit, suffer, yield up, to onward without having packed it, like leaving something behind that you didn't mean to, but you did anyway. When's the last time you asked yourself if you really LOVE Jesus? Have you left Him behind while you're out busy in your lives. Martha, remember her, always busy, cooking and cleaning. Her sister Mary sat around and did nothing. Jesus was even rubbing it in, telling her she wasn't doing the right thing. Mary loves Jesus, but did Martha? Depends on where our hearts are.

No human being on the planet then or now, could have ever known what Jesus knows... that is He sees the inside of things, with His perfect x-ray knowledge.

1 Samuel 16:7 ~ "a human being looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on his heart."

God knows the inside our hearts, so honestly, how do you look on the inside? We really don't know what is going on in the inside our body, but God knows. He knows exactly what your intentions of our hearts despite what we look on the outside. The church at Ephesus had lost their first love. Let's look at Revelation 2:4 again but this time in the amplified version of the Bible for further clarity.

Revelation 2:4 ~ "What qualities you do have do not matter any longer all because of this; what I have against you is: you do not love me now as you once did at the first."

So they had left their first love, what does that really mean? Let me tell you what it doesn't mean. "First love" doesn't mean loving one another; "First love" doesn't mean loving His Word; "First love" doesn't mean loving His return. Because according to Jesus Christ, you can't be excited about loving His Word or loving His people or even loving His coming back to earth, unless you are "in love" with the person of Jesus Christ.

"First Love" in those early days when you and Jesus made a majority. When your awareness of Him was in every conversation and you felt Him in every situation. Your relationship with Him was the most important thing in your life. You were wreckless for Jesus, but ever so slowly you got busy. You got important. You began to manage your life on your own. You were still a Christian, still going to church, still serving in fact, but you left that honeymoon part of that spiritual life behind.

That is why some of you older Christians, not based on age, you have become so refined and mature, that you have fossilized in your pews. I'm talking about your experience as a Christian. You do nothing, with no one, but for you! You once gave of your time because your time belonged to Jesus. You once shared Jesus with others because you couldn't keep your mouth shut. You once gave of your money because you believed it would reach others for Jesus. And so your new name could be Lazarus! You've been resurrected from the dead, but now your wrapped in old stinking grave clothes. We should do something but we don't.

Give me a new Christian any day! This is the reason that the Bible says to be like children. It is the reason we love hanging out with new believers. They will build the church by light speed, by their love for Jesus Christ. We need to never forget to love Jesus Christ first. Keep saying that over and over again. Get back to your first love, the way you first felt when you came to know Jesus, when you were on fire for Him. Willing to risk it all without any thought for yourself or what people thought, you simply want to share it all with as many people as possible. Never forget to love Jesus Christ.

The church of Ephesus had left that love behind. They had grow cold in their hearts on the inside. Invisible to all but God.

So again, I ask you are you very much in love with Jesus? Then it matters "what" we do about it now!  (verse 5a).

Revelation 2:5a ~ "Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first."

Now we get the diagnosis that will bring about a cure for what spiritually ails us. We know that every good doctor has a treatment and here is what Jesus' prescription was to the church:

1. Remember! - Have you ever been in love? Your friends even called you stupid then, because we did stupid things and we loved it. Remember means to rehearse, to mention to yourself and others, to put back into the mind, therefore from where you have fallen. Take time to go back and ask yourself, "What was my early Christian life like back then?" "What did I hold dear to then?" I couldn't wait to get to church then. I couldn't wait to sing in the choir and I don't even sing! Jesus is saying, "Come be silly with Me again!" In marriage counseling it is the same thing, remember what drew you together, how you treated each other in the beginning. Go back to those simple things. Jesus just wants our life.

2. Repent ! - Calling this apathy, this negligence a sin in our lives and deciding now to change it. Change the course your on, change your mind.

3. Repent and Do the First Works! ~ The "Loving Jesus" kind of things. Do it cause you can, the feeling will follow. If you're married, you know what I mean, "do it cause you can, the feelings will follow." Love works that way often as a sacrifice. The first works are "Loving Jesus." Love Him like you did in the beginning. It doesn't matter how we feel, we do it because it's right. Do those love things. Pray, set your alarm a little earlier, walk and talk with Jesus, read your Bible. Just go through the motions and trust me your heart will follow. Trust getting on your knees or your face, sing songs to Jesus. Your heart will follow. Go through the motions of love. Lift your hands, close your eyes, focus on Him and then something happens, love kicks in!

Jeremiah 33:11 ~ " the sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of bride and bridegroom, and the voices of those who bring thank offerings to the house of the LORD saying, "Give thanks to the LORD Almighty, for the LORD Is good and his love endures forever." For I will restore the fortunes of the land as they were before, says the LORD."

Feelings will follow action every single time. This week I heard him say to me, (1) sit with me early while it's still dark. Beat the day! (2) renew your Bible time with me, (3) tell others about My love for You and for Them. You know what? I found my heart beating again with childlike joy.  Kids just love to hang out and just be with their dads, and if something happens or they do something - it just makes it all the better.

Are you in love with Jesus Christ? Now is the moment of truth. Always NOW! (verse 5b).

Revelation 2:5b ~ "If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place."

You will lose your witness. You won't be shining anymore. Get your love life in order now, or else I will take away whatever ability you have of being a witness. You Ephesians, you are on the brink of spiritual uselessness.

2 Corinthians 13:5 ~ "Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you - unless of course, you fail the test?"

This was a church that used to be. What do we learn from Ephesus? That you can be so biblically correct, so orthodox, you can have a bulletin so full of events, you can have a wonderful heritage, you can be so right, that you become dead right.

Think about this, what am I describing to you right now, based solely on description? What I am thinking about, has silver and gold and beautiful wood. Soft luxurious fabric, adequate space, in America, everybody is familiar with it? Guess what I am describing to you?

Give up? It's a coffin, a casket. And inside is a dead silent body, no longer speaking, no longer caring, no longer crying. A respected body, all dressed up with no place to go.

Are you determined to make a change? (verse 6-7)

Revelation 2:6-7 ~ " But you have this in your favor. You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God." (NIV). 

What kind of church are we? What kind of Christian am I? Our feelings will lead us astray. It goes opposite of what the world wants you to do. Step out and simply do the right things, dive in and trust me, your feelings and heart will follow. Just be obedient.

1 comment:

Denise said...

really like this.