True New Testament Revival: Getting Back to Our First Love, Part 5 (Revive the Family, Revive the Church, Awaken the Nation, O Lord #283)

spiritual-warfare

A homily is “a short talk on a religious or moral topic; a usually short sermon; a lecture or discourse on or of a biblical theme.”


TEXT: Revelation 2:1-7:

1 Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;

2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:

3 And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.

4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.

5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.

6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate.

7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

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John Owen said, “We can have no power from Christ unless we live in a persuasion that we have none of our own.”

Leonard Ravenhill said, “There is one qualification that proves we’re filled with the Holy Ghost and that is living a holy life.”

In their book, The Ten Greatest Revivals Ever, Elmer Towns and Douglas Porter share with us: “Throughout his ministry, evangelist Asahel Nettleton strongly opposed anything that looked like sensationalism in the pulpit, but his actions in Bridgewater demonstrated his own flair for the dramatic. If his preaching could not bring revival, perhaps God could use his silence. Without informing the church of his intentions, Nettleton left town. The church first learned of his absence as they sat waiting for him to preach at the special fast day service. The “thundering silence of the vacant pulpit” had a profound impact. Some of the people were disappointed, while others were irritated. But when they reflected on what had happened, attitudes began to change. Many began to search their own hearts, wondering whether their steadfast refusal to apply their pastor’s messages had driven him away. Smitten with the unusual rebuke of the pastor, they organized a day of prayer and confession to deal with the problems they had so long avoided. It became a day of “deep repentance and humiliation before God.””

—-

After Jesus calls out the church at Ephesus for having left their first love, the question we are left with is: How do we regain our first love? Jesus says, “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works…”

Dr. Warren Wiersbe comments, “‘First love’ can be restored if we follow the three instructions Christ gave. First, we must remember (literally ‘keep on remembering’) what we have lost and cultivate a desire to regain that close communion once again. Then we must repent — change our minds — and confess our sins to the Lord. Third, we must repeat the first works, which suggests restoring the original fellowship that was broken by our sin and neglect. For the believer, this means prayer, Bible reading and meditation, obedient service, and worship.”

The first step for this church — and all churches — in regaining their first love is to “remember” the place where they used to be. Was there ever a time when you were more in tune with the Spirit of God? Was there ever a time when you resided in God’s presence every day, all day? Was there ever a time when your interactions with others really were just an extension of God’s work in your life, unsullied by bitterness, jealousy, lust, envy, animosity, dishonesty, hypocrisy, and all those other things that mar human relationships? If your answer is “yes” — if you admit that something you once had is missing in your life — then you have taken a good first step.

In order to regain something, you must realize what you have lost. In order to get back up, you must admit that you have fallen.

The church at Ephesus had fallen. Their heart-love for Christ had fallen into head-knowledge of Christ. The fellowship they had once enjoyed was now taken over by simple duty. They were like the son who comes home and says to his father, “I don’t love you anymore. But nothing will change. I will still do my school work and work hard on my chores. We can still eat dinner together every night. I’ll still do the things you tell me to do. But I won’t do it out of the same heart of love I did it before.” No father would accept that. However, This is what we do to Jesus, and He won’t accept it either.

The truth is, we all must look back to where our relationship with Christ began, and ask ourselves if we love Him the way we used to? Sadly and Unfortunately, the answer in most cases will be “no.” But, once you admit this to yourself, you are already on the way to getting back to your first love.

Andrae Crouch’s famous song, “Take Me Back,” embodies the prayer we all ought to be praying:

Take me back, take me back dear Lord
To the place where I first received you.
Take me back, take me back dear Lord
to where I first believed.

I feel that I’m so far from you, Lord
but still I hear you calling me.
Those simple things that I once knew,
the memories are drawing me.
I must confess, Lord, I’ve been blessed,
but yet my soul’s not satisfied.
Renew my faith, restore my joy,
and dry my weeping eyes.

Take me back, take me back dear Lord
To the place where I first received you.
Take me back, take me back dear Lord
to where I first believed.

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