HAVE YOU LEFT YOUR FIRST LOVE?
by Gary T. Panell
"To the angel of the church of Ephesus write,
“These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands: ‘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; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name's sake and have not become weary. Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. [Notice they had not lost their first love, but left their first love.] Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place-unless you repent.'" (Revelation 2:1-5)
Background to the Book of Revelation and the letter to the Ephesus Church.
I am giving this message because I need it myself!
First Love “The church at Ephesus was off to a good start. And they were doing a lot of good things. But Jesus had one complaint against them. They had left their first love.
“God wants everything we do to be motivated by our love for Him. The problem in Ephesus was that, although they still had the works, labor, and patience of the past, their motivation had changed. They were no longer motivated by love. Other motivations had crept in.
“Jesus called them to remember and repent. Leave the legal relationship and return to the love relationship.” (Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel)
What was it like when I first fell in love with my spouse? When I got back from Vietnam as a soldier I wanted so much to marry Marlene, but she seemed somehow withdraw from me, and I could not for the life of me understand why. So I asked her, she shocked me when she told me why. She explained, you have told me all the "practical reasons" why we should get married, but you haven't told me that you love me." I was so stunned, I was sure I had said it in letters, and other times.
The problem was I had not made it obvious, even though I felt tremendous love for Marlene in my heart; I had really not put those feelings into words. So that night I went home, through many tears, and thought about what she had said, she was right; I had mainly talked about the "practical reasons" for getting married. Then an idea came to me, I went and got some typing paper and some rocks. With these I formed a huge sign on her front yard, which read, "Marlene I LUV U!" Needless to say, she was really quite impressed, and as you guessed, it worked. Remember that saying, "Keep it simple, stupid!" Show her you love her, but also say it, and say it often, until you convince her you really mean it!!!
What was it like when I first got saved? There is a famous poem called The Touch of the Master's Hand :
‘Twas battered and scarred,
“Three dollars once, three dollars twice,
From the room far back a gray-haired man
The music ceased, and the auctioneer,
Three thousand once and three thousand twice —
And many a man with life out of tune,
A “mess of pottage,” a glass of wine,
But the Master comes, and the foolish crowd
Myra Brooks Welch
Paul at Ephesus
And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples he said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?"
So they said to him, "We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit." And he said to them, "Into what then were you baptized?" So they said, "Into John's baptism."
Then Paul said, "John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus." When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Come, Holy Spirit “Now here in Acts, when Paul said to the Ephesians, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit since you believed?' (or ‘when you believed?'), Paul was acknowledging that you can believe and yet be filled with the Holy Spirit at a later time. Paul probably asked the question because he observed a lack of fervency, a lack of love, a lack of passion or fire.
“There were and are many Christians lacking the real dynamic of the Spirit in their lives. They are sort of ho-hum Christians. There is no real fire. ‘Yes, I'm a Christian. I believe in Jesus' but it doesn't go beyond that. There is no real enthusiasm for the things of the Lord. And perhaps Paul observed a spiritual deadness. So he asked, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit,' because the Holy Spirit is dynamic! He is power! He makes us alive to the things of God! He brings in us a fire and enthusiasm! He brings joy! So ‘did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?'”
[What was it like when you were baptized in water? For me it was this way. If you have not been baptized you need to be.] And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. Now the men were about twelve in all.
[What was it like when you were first Baptized or filled with the Holy Spirit? For me it was like this…This is not to say it is the same for everyone that way, but it is important that we are baptized or have an initial filling of the Holy Spirit. So if you have not made this step of faith I would challenge you to do so.]
And he went into the synagogue and spoke boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading concerning the things of the kingdom of God. But when some were hardened and did not believe, but spoke evil of the Way before the multitude, he departed from them and withdrew the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus. And this continued for two years, so that all who dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks. (Acts 19: 1-10)
WITNESSES TO HIM Acts 1:8 “Jesus said that when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you will receive power to live in such a way that you will become a reflection of Him. That's what being a witness is.
“It is interesting that in Antioch the people began to call Jesus' followers ‘Christians' because they were like Christ. The term ‘Christians' was not one His followers took upon themselves. It was a term given to them by the media of that day because they were so Christ like. It was sort of a derisive term, like when they used to call us ‘Jesus freaks' because we were so crazy about Jesus!
“God's desire is that our lives reflect Jesus. Peter said we should follow in His steps (1 Peter 2:21), but we can't do that by our own power. We cannot forgive. We cannot love. We cannot be kind and considerate like Jesus. But by the power of the Holy Spirit, we can be transformed into His image and be witnesses to Him.” (Chuck Smith)
Miracles Glorify Christ
“Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them. Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists took it upon themselves to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, "We exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches." Also there were seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, who did so.
“And the evil spirit answered and said, "Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?" Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. This became known both to all Jews and Greeks dwelling in Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. And many who had believed came confessing and telling their deeds.
“Also, many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted up the value of them, and it totaled fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed.” (Acts 19: 11-20)
What was it like in our country when we first started?
Answer: The best way I can answer that question is with the words of this song, America Again by Carman. (This takes you to YouTube, and a live performance of Carmen performing this song.)
George Washington, Thomas Jefferson
Over 200 years ago they shook off the chains of tyranny from Great Britain By divine call
"Therefore you shall love the Lord your God, and keep His charge, His statutes, His judgments, and His commandments always. (Deut. 11:1)
"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
"And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.” (Deut. 6:4-7)
"And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul…” (Deut. 10:12)
“But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; Let those also who love Your name Be joyful in You.” (Psalm 5:11)
“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment.” (Mark 12:30)
“Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” (John 14:15)
“For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height- to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Eph. 3:14-19)
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