Leaving Your First Love Revelation 2 2000
Leaving Your First Love
Talk show…guest was a body builder…”Why do you develop those particular muscles?” The body builder simply stepped forward and flexed a series of well-defined muscles from chest to calf…the audience applauded!
“What do you use all those muscles for?”…again the man flexed, and biceps and triceps sprouted to impressive proportions. “But what do you use those muscles for?”…he didn’t have an answer!!
**Our spiritual exercises—Bible study, prayer, reading Christian books, listening to Christian radio—also have a purpose
They’re meant to strengthen our ability to build God’s Kingdom, not simply to improve our pose before an admiring audience!!!
In a seminary missions class, Herbert Jackson told how as a new missionary, he was assigned a car that would not start without a push…after pondering his problem, he devised a plan…he went to the school near his home, got permission to take some children out of class to push him off…as he made the rounds, he would either park on a hill or leave his car running.
He used this ingenious procedure for two years.
Ill health forced the Jackson family to leave and a new missionary came to that station…when Jackson proudly began to explain his arrangement for getting the car started, the new man looked under the hood and said, “Why Mr. Jackson, I believe the only trouble is this loose cable.” He started up the car with no trouble!
*For two years needless trouble had become routine. The power was there all the time. Only a loose connection kept Jackson from putting the power to work.
“Ephesians 1”19-20 “and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which HE worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at the right hand in the heavenly places.”
J.B. Phillips paraphrases Eph. 1:19-20, “How tremendous is the power available to us who believe in God.”
**When we make a firm connection with God, His life and power flow through us!!!
Jesus said the greatest commandment is, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37).
·Love for God has always been first on His priority list.
·God not only wants our duty, He wants our devotion.
If there were any doubt about this, the risen Lord erased it when He aimed pointed words to the church at Ephesus:
I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot endure evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you, and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent. (Revelation 2:2–5)
What an amazing passage of Scripture this is.
When Jesus Christ looked at the church in Ephesus, He saw a lot of good things.
Þ He saw good works,
Þ He saw hard work,
Þ He saw continuing work.
à These folk were not lazy. They were diligent in the things of God.
à They had even endured persecution and hardship for the sake of Christ’s name. So far so good.
When Jesus Christ looked at the church in Ephesus, He also saw doctrinal soundness.
These believers could sniff out false apostles and false teachers because they knew their theological facts. They knew the Scriptures.
àIn fact, there was only one area where the Ephesians had let things slip. Something had gone wrong, and it was this: the duty that was the result of devotion took the place of devotion.
The Ephesians had left their “first love,” their love for Christ Himself.
They were efficient in their Christian lives—but they were coldly efficient. Somewhere along the line, the warmth and excitement of their love for God had grown cold and lifeless.
Well, you say, three out of four isn’t bad.
They had good deeds, they served God with endurance, and they were sound in doctrine. They just needed to work harder on the love thing.
Is that what Jesus Christ told them?
No! He said, “Without your love for Me being what it ought to be, nothing else you do really matters. Unless you return to the love you had for Me at the first, I’ll remove your church’s lampstand from its place!”
* God never meant for our duty to replace our devotion.
Unfortunately, since we are fallen, redeemed people living in a fallen, unredeemed world, there’s a lot around us and even within us that can cause us to take our eyes off Christ and lose our “first love” relationship with Him.
We face some formidable enemies: the world, which according to John includes “the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life” (1 John 2:16), and that old lion the devil (1 Peter 5:8).
Jesus gave such a strong warning to the Ephesian church that we have to realize what we’re risking if we don’t put God back in His rightful place in our lives.
The outline for this is taken from Revelation 2:5, where Jesus told the Ephesians to remember, repent, and redo.
Any child can tell you hospitals are to help sick people get better. Therefore, the most important measure of a hospital is not its beauty, the friendliness of the staff, or its sophisticated equipment. The measure of a hospital is its ability to make hurting people better. If a hospital doesn’t do that, everything else is a waste of time.
I don’t know anyone who goes to a hospital for fun and games or to admire the architecture. Everyone I know who goes to a hospital has only one question: “Can you fix what’s wrong?”
The church is God’s spiritual hospital. It is called to open its doors to people who are sick with sin, addictions, burdens, and hurts. They are welcome to come into the church because it is God’s hospital.
------biblical diagnosis and surgery based on Jesus’ diagnosis of the church at Ephesus in Revelation 2:4: “I have this against you, that you have left your first love.”
We must take seriously what Jesus says in Revelation 2.
Looking at the problem through our analogy of medicine, we can say that whatever eats away at our love for Christ is a malignancy that must be cut out.
-----a malignancy that, left untreated, can damage not only individuals, but the life of a church.
** This is the malignancy of sin in the body of Christ that is tolerated, ignored, or excused by the church.
How serious is your love?
When you love people, you take what they do very seriously.
And when someone you love is hurting himself, you, and the people around him, you don’t look the other way if your love is serious.
God is very serious about His love for us and our love for Him.
Jesus had a list of commendations for the church at Ephesus in Revelation 2, but none of it mattered because their love for Him had grown cold.
So Jesus said, “Since you’re cold toward Me, I’m going to snuff out your lamp because you aren’t using the warmth of the flame.”
I hope I’ve made the point by now that if our “first love” for Christ isn’t truly first in our lives, we need to do whatever it takes to return it to its proper place.
If You've Left Your First Love, It's Not Too Late To Return
Þ Maybe your relationship with God has stalled or stagnated.
It can. Jesus repeatedly challenges His followers to love Him, not just serve Him. Devotion always precedes duty.
If a cold, efficient Christian service has replaced the warm, loving relationship you once had with the Lord, reignite your heart's flame.
How? Revelation 2:5 offers a three-step plan for reviving your first love for Jesus Christ: "Remember therefore from where you have fallen, repent, and do the deeds you did at first."
Remember who Jesus is. Think back to your early walk with Christ, when there was no doubt He was the object of your affection.
Remind yourself of His attributes, abilities, and place as your Savior.
Recall His love and sacrifice for you.
Remember who you are.
Þ Sharpen the reflection in your spiritual mirror.
Þ See yourself as a child of the King. You are crucified and resurrected with Christ: dead to sin, alive in Him.
Þ You are no longer a slave to Satan. Thanks to the Emancipation Proclamation of Calvary, you're free to serve a new master.
The glum, sour faces of many Christians. ... They rather give the impression that, instead of coming from the Father's joyful banquet, they have just come from the Sheriff who has auctioned off their sins and now are sorry they can't get them back again.
See the importance of repentance.
Þ It restores and strengthens the intimacy of your cooling spiritual relationship.
à Repentance means a change of thought and action.
Stop two-timing God.
Put away all other loves that might rival Christ.
Cease the adultery of idolatry: carrying on a love-affair with the world while shutting God out of your life.
Divided loyalties lead to unfaithfulness.
Beware of anything that competes with loyalty to Jesus Christ. The greatest competitor of devotion to Jesus is service for him.
¨ Oswald Chambers,
Think with a new mind.
First, use your head, ordered by the Word and will of God. Then walk step-by-step toward your calling.
à Learn the mind of Christ.
à Reprogram your thoughts.
à Meditate on His truth.
As a believer, you, like a butterfly, have all you need to fly - if you'll reject the caterpillar mindset.
Prioritize God's Kingdom.
When you love someone, that person's interests become yours, too.
Care for the church.
As part of Christ's family, you are commanded to help others.
à Comfort those who are misunderstood, hurt, rejected, tired, or weak.
à Work with others to encourage and to stimulate love and good deeds.
à Share, sacrifice, or pool resources to meet needs. It's part of helping to bear another's burdens.
A Special Intimacy
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.” Rev.2:7
When I’m in marriage counseling I tell a couple, “Turn back the hands of time. Do the things you used to do.” People want the relationship they used to have, but they aren’t willing to do the things they used to do.
Let’s move on to verse 7: “To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of God.”
An over-comer is a Christian who does not lose devotion to the Savior while carrying out duty for the Savior —a Christian who doesn’t just do the right things, but does the right things with the right heart.
Christ is saying, “If you overcome your lack of devotion, I will allow you to eat from the tree of life.”
The tree of life was in the Garden of Eden, the original paradise.
It was where Adam was supposed to enjoy intimacy with God.
Þ God is going to provide the overcomers with intimate fellowship with Christ in a place called the “Paradise of God.”
Þ That is, Christ is going to have His own private garden, so to speak, where those who were devoted to Him in this life can have special intimacy with Him in His kingdom.