Friday, May 30, 2008

Revelations 2:2-6

        “I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that                 you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to                 be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have                         persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not                 grown weary. 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.”

                                                - Revelations 2:2-6

O:        This church in Ephesus had all the right things going for them. They seemed to be doing what the Lord wanted them to do. They held fast to the truth and rooted out any people that claimed to be from God but were not. They hated evil and as indicated in this verse they endured many hardships for the name of Christ yet they did not grow weary of it all. But Christ being the one true God that searches the hearts and minds of people knew what they were lacking. They had gotten so caught up in their performance that they forgot about their love of God. They had become very sensitive to the falsities of people and were able to decipher who was from God and not. They had learned to persevere and to be true they seemed to be doing things excellently. But Christ commands them to “Remember the height from which you have fallen.” Sure they were performing well but God knew that their genuine love and excitement for Him had waned. By their actions we can tell that they were truly devoted to God but God wants more than just actions. He wants hearts. He wants to look into the hearts and minds of these people and see the genuine love and excitement that comes with salvation. They had gotten caught up in ministry that they forgot who they were ministering for.

A:        The Bible is truly a living and active word from God. The actions of the Israelites and the early church are not just left in the past and on these pages. They are still being mirrored everyday. Oftentimes in ministry we start to build a momentum. Teams begin building and programs are running smoothly. Everything just starts to flow. When we reach that momentum it is easy to switch to a managing mode. Just managing where we are at because it works well. As a leader sometimes I get caught up in the day-to-day stuff of ministry. I do my devotions, make my phone calls and e-mails, do my planning, delegate and then I’m off. Everything can be going smoothly and from the looks of it God is being honored. And to some degree he is because of our obedience. But oftentimes I can find myself going through this routine while excluding a very important element, God. Anyone can put on a great program. Anyone can manage and pour into people. The thing that makes ministry different from the rest of the world is the God factor. The fact that we are doing it all for a God who loves us. It is at these times where God humbles me and asks me to return to my first love. Sometimes devotions becomes a routine that I have to do. Instead of the excitement of meeting with God and letting Him speak into my heart it becomes like pulling teeth. Instead of just meeting with my savior I try to find some nugget that I can use in my next sermon. So how do I get back to that excitement, to that first love? Well Christ tells the church at Ephesus to remember where they had fallen from. So I need to remember back to that excitement. Second I need to repent. This might seem odd because there has been no visible sin. No action that desperately needs repentance.

Only there is.

Christ tells us that repentance is needed when we get into this state. We have effectively forgotten why we do what we do. We become no different than the rest of the world.