Jump Start # 3025
Revelation 2:5 “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.”
I’m back teaching in Revelation once again. Love that book. This time around it’s for our deeper Bible study groups. And, rather than walking through the whole book, we are only focusing upon the seven churches listed in the opening chapters. Our verse today comes from that section. It’s addressed to Ephesus. It’s the Lord’s solution to a heart that has become loveless. Ephesus wasn’t stuck. They weren’t dead. They were active. Trying apostles. There was deeds, toil and endurance that caught the eye of the Lord. Evil men, false doctrine and fake apostles didn’t stand a chance in this church. Doctrinally, Ephesus had it all right. Doctrinally pure. Straight as an arrow, one might say. But, there’s more to it than just that. They forgot the heart. Duty must spring from a heart that is willing and wanting, not because it has to.
There are some lessons for us:
First, much too often, a community offers a choice of two congregations. One is like Ephesus. They are doctrinally solid. They will not put up with any fudging the lines where God has drawn them. But, like Ephesus, this congregation lacks love. It’s all about black and white. It’s all about truth and error. And, that is all that matters to this group. But, across town is another church. They don’t always play by the rules. They do some things that are not supported Biblically. However, they sure have a spirit about them. Their singing is passionate. They grab a new face and make him feel so loved and welcomed. Busy in the community and busy during the week.
Often, this is the choice that our college students face. Doctrinally right, but loveless or, loving and not doctrinally right. One or the other. Loveless and pure or loving and not pure. Why does it have to be one or the other? Why can’t a congregation be both doctrinally pure and loving? Why can’t a congregation be busy in the community and busy during the week? A church that lacks love, drains grace from our hearts. It doesn’t take too long for such an atmosphere to turn us judgmental and against about everything. Fear and guilt hold everyone in place in a church that is more about doctrine than Christ. I’ve known places like that. I’ve seen the impact it has. I ran into someone who attended a church like Ephesus. She found out that we were having a guest speaker on a Wednesday evening. She just loved that preacher. She wanted to come so bad. I told her to “Come on.” She looked down and said, “I can’t. I’d get in trouble if I wasn’t at my home congregation on a Wednesday night.” I offered to write her a note of absence. She smiled and said, “I wish you could.” She knew. I knew. The spirit of Ephesus thrives today.
Second, Ephesus wasn’t always like this. Our passage brings out that powerful word, “Remember.” Remember how it was at first. Remember. Peter uses that word often. Jesus used that word when it came to the Lord’s Supper. Remember. How often and how easily we forget. Remember the joy of being a child of God. Remember how excited you were to learn, grow and share things with others. Remember. Often, when love goes, so does our remembering. It’s that way in a marriage. When the love dies, we forget opening car doors, writing silly notes, giving flowers and just sitting beside each other. We forget. And, when we forget, we tend to focus upon ourselves. How unhappy we are. How we get nothing out of worship anymore. How difficult it is to do the things we’ve always done. Troubles seem like mountains and blessings seem so rare.
Remember. It hasn’t always been that way. It wasn’t for Ephesus and it wasn’t for you. Love, passion, zeal have been replaced with discouragement, disappointment and defeat. Few things are right and everything is wrong. The loveless person is not a happy person. The loveless person rains on everyone’s parade. And, Heaven’s answer to all of this is to remember, repent and repeat what you once did.
Third, how does one fire up the engines that have gone cold? How do you rekindle the fire once it has all but gone out? How do you find love once it has slipped away? One thing is for sure, if you continue on the course you are currently on, you won’t find it. The direction you are headed is leading toward spiritual death. It’s not a matter of tossing in the book and forgetting doctrinal purity. That’s not the solution given to Ephesus. Evil men, false doctrine and fake apostles need to be tested, tried and tossed out. Embracing wrong isn’t the answer. Running to idols won’t get you closer to God. Do what you did at first, is the call from Heaven. It’s not less Bible and less worship, it’s more. That’s what we were like at first.
· Get to all the services—all of them
· Bring your Bible, a notebook, pen and come with a heart to learn.
· Change habits at home. Bring prayer back. Carve some time for just you, the Lord and the Bible.
· Start a journal of your daily Bible readings. What do you see?
· Get people into your home and have some real discussions.
· Get with the shepherds and your preacher and pick their brains. Bring questions to the table.
· Ask for studies during the week.
Before long, that ole’ engine will start sputtering, smoking and the next thing you know, it’s running and running well. Changes take place. Your outlook and your spirit changes. It can happen, because God said it can happen.
A loveless marriage ends in divorce and some just sit back and watch it happen. A loveless faith dies. A loveless church deteriorates. Don’t sit back and watch those things take place. Fight for your faith. Fight for your congregation. Don’t let the devil have it. Dig in. Hold on tight. Pull hard. Don’t give up. Give it all you got. And, when you do that, you’ll see compassion, love, commitment and joy returning. They don’t just come back like a lost dog. You’ve got to put your all into it to bring them back. But, they’ll come. They’ll come if you do your part.
Remember…that’s looking backward. That’s seeing how things used to be. That’s precious memories and fond times. That’s the way it ought to be. And, that’s certainly, the way it can be.