Revelation 2 – Jeff Lynn
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Do you remember a time when you were on fire for the Lord and you loved being around God’s people? Can you remember a time when your spiritual life was running on all cylinders?
In Revelations, Jesus is addressing this church that was on fire for God, but over time, had figuratively turned to ashes because of their unwillingness to repent or address certain issues. As we prepare for this new frontier this new season, let us evaluate ourselves and see how we line up against these issues.
“I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars;” – Revelation 2:2
That’s a pretty good resume. First of all, Jesus commends them on their deeds. They were working hard, even to the point of exhaustion, at what God had called them to do. I think about the phrase a labor of love. A labor of love means that you work in your exhaustion because of your love and dedication to someone. They were also working tirelessly through difficult circumstances.
Secondly, he commended them for their discernment. They had the ability to judge, well, those who are evil and those who were imposters. They were sensitive to someone coming in and teaching error. They guarded and defended the truth, and they longed for purity of doctrine.
Thirdly, they had determination. They were faithful and persistent for the cause of Christ, even during hardship, persecution and the threat of execution.
Now, if Jesus were to write a letter like this to you, you might think you’re doing pretty good, but don’t break your arm patting yourself on the back.
Next is what I call the criticism.
But I have this against you: You have abandoned the love you had at first.
Revelation 2:4 CSB
The Greek word for love is agape, which means unconditional love. This is the love that God showed for us when he gave his only unique, one-of-a-kind begotten son to die on your behalf.
The word “abandoned” means that you’ve dismissed something. It’s as if you’ve walked away and left it intentionally. Jesus recognized that they were doing a lot of God, but they were just going through the religious motions.
The greatest commandment is to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. This church was like a married couple doing everything right, but there’s no passion. There’s no unconditional love for one another.
Agape love is not a feeling. It doesn’t mean I got some warm fuzzies about you. This is an unconditional love. You may have offended me. You may have said some things about me behind my back, but guess what? I’m going to love you. I’m committed to you. It’s a covenant type of love. No strings attached; I love you. There are some people with whom I disagree strongly, but I still love them. I still respect them.
Whether you’re a teacher or a preacher, you’re not called to be doctrinally pure and biblically faithful yet have a heart of stone and a disdain for people. The goal of all our teaching, all of our preaching in every church ought to be love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience and a sincere faith.
Maybe you may be dedicated to the things of God and be busy for God without ever really taking the time to spend with God.
It’s possible to do a lot of great things for God, but to dismiss the love that you had at first. As you abide in Christ, you should be manifesting love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control, all of those things.
When you’re connected to the vine, you don’t have to try, you just bear the fruit. You don’t see an apple squeezing and thinking, “Oh oh, I hope I am an apple”. No, just by abiding in the vine, it produces an apple.
There are three things we should look out for that might diminish your passion and your love for God.
Jesus was at the home of Lazarus and while Mary was sitting at the feet of Jesus, Martha was scurrying about the kitchen. Martha started griping, Gee, why don’t you tell Mary to get up and help me? Then Jesus says to Martha, “Martha, you are distracted with much serving.” Martha was distracted from sitting at the feet of Jesus like Mary was.
Adversity can keep you from a passion for God, because many times you might tempt to be tempted to blame God. Sometimes when you go through personal adversity, you have to make a decision to trust in Go.
Do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God and all through the old covenant? They were tempted to flirt with those other gods and their hearts were taken away. And so they found themselves abandoning or dismissing or leaving the love that they had at first. How far have you fallen when it comes to dismissing abandoning and leaving that love that you had at first? How far have you come? Only you can measure that.
Remember when you couldn’t wait to show up early and find your place because you didn’t want to miss a thing and your heart was open and ready for change? Oh, those days you were never afraid to sing, never afraid to lift your hands didn’t care what people would think. You were on fire and church was more than a place and people were more than faces and Jesus was just more than a name.
You’ve got to repent. This is a change of mind. Turn away from that which is stealing your affections. This could mean getting off social media for a while. It may be certain websites or activity, adversity or any number of things.
Repentance may not feel good, but it’s right. The more you repent, the more God changes your heart. You turn away from this, you start pursuing the things of the Lord and a weird thing happens. You start being drawn more and more into the things of the Lord as you rebuke and repent from those things.
What is the one thing from which you need to repent today?
Start taking a step of repentance by walking away from those things that, you know, deter your love for God. Then, return to those things you did to express your love for God and love for others.
Schedule a time tomorrow morning. When was the last time you just sat down or got on your face before God for a few minutes and just shared with Him what was going on?
There are many times I get up in the morning and I may not feel like praying. Once I begin to regurgitate all my feelings and anxieties and fears and all those things and wants and desires, there’s just something that God does when you meet with him.
Have you abandoned, dismissed left the love that you had for Christ at first? Have you been so busy, busy, busy, busy, distracted with much serving that you just there’s no passion anymore?
When it comes to your relationship with Christ, again, this is a wakeup call. You’re here because you believe God is continually doing something in your church, and the fuel that keeps the church alive is a love for God and a love for Christ.