Derek Smith, Lead Pastor LHBC
“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands. 2 “‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. 3 I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. 4 But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. 6 Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’
From time to time our little dog Monty will decide that he wants to run off from the house. We will let him out to go to the bathroom and off he goes around the neighborhood. The funny thing is, once he stops he is scared out of his mind. The momentary temptation of chasing some rabbit or bolting after some squirrel has taken him away from the place where he is loved and provided for.
The Church at Ephesus was the leading Gentile Church of the early New Testament age. Paul, Timothy, and John all pastored this church. This is arguably the most prominent of the 7 churches listed in the book of Revelation with an amazing heritage of perseverance, service, and rebuking false teachers, and yet they left their first love.
In Acts 19 we see the beginning of this great church. In verses 18-20 the Scripture reads,
“Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. 19 And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20 So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.”
What sweetness in their worship! What tenderness in their work! What grace in their dealing with others as they were looking to their own sins before God! You can just see and hear the love of God overflowing in and through these people. You can close your eyes and hear them sing to the Lord as they cast their sinful books in the fire. In your mind’s eye you can see them crying as they confess their sins to the Lord and to one another.
Somewhere over the years as the Lord grew the church and the people, as their ministries grew, as their prominence in the Christian community expanded, as the number of converts increased, and as the believers grew in knowledge, sinful pride crept in. They moved away from love for Jesus, and their hearts became cold and hard. Now there’s no song in their service, no cheer in their giving, little love in their labor, little brokenness in their bible study, and no worship in their work. They’ve become a harsh, critical, puffed up, negative group of people.
Child of God, have you left your first love? Have you run from home? Jesus is the reason we got saved, and it’s so easy to lose the wonder of our salvation. Has bitterness crept into your life? What about criticism, legalism, and skepticism? Does the world around you know more about what you don’t like or approve of, rather than how much you love Jesus? I invite you today to rest in the love of God. Remember how sweet your salvation was and is, and return to that pure walk you had with Jesus at first. Recover the wonder you once had when reading God’s word. Retrieve the amazement you used to have in worship. Rekindle the passion you once had for prayer. Remember that it’s all about just loving Jesus, and everything else is sin. Child of God, come back home and rest in the love of Jesus.
PRAYER FOR TODAY:
Father God, I’m coming back to the heart of worship. Jesus, forgive me for serving, giving, and worshipping out of obligation. Forgive me for being so negative and critical at times. Fill me with your love today. I worship You, Jesus. Amen.
MEMORY VERSE OF THE WEEK:
All things are possible for one who believes.