What about us? What about the Church, the Bride, and what can we do to best display Him?
It is clearly stated for us in the letter the Spirit wrote to a church that would have gotten an “A” in today’s current evaluation system by most people:
Revelation 2:2-3 NKJV
2 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;
3 and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name's sake and have not become weary.
So we know from this:
- They worked hard.
- They showed the fruit of patience.
- They hated evil.
- They had good discernment to know who was authentic and who wasn’t.
- They persevered.
- They had patience.
- They pressed past their tiredness to continue on.
Wow, they are pretty awesome, don’t you think? And for today’s church you could also add:
- Great programs
- Good lighting
- Great social media
- Awesome worship teams
- Great conferences
- Anointed speakers
And there is nothing wrong with the first list or the second list, is there?
Except the ONE THING that GOD desires above all!
He wants you to be ALL OUT for Him and Him alone. He sees all the wonderful things they have accomplished, but His love for them demands something more!
Revelation 2:4 NKJV
Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.
This means they have laid aside, put away, omitted their love of chief importance. They laid aside their love feast for HIM.
I am broken as I write this, thinking of the “accomplishments” people list to others and especially before God when they are proving their worth as an existing church. Accomplishments are cool, but what about the greatest accomplishment of REACHING HIS HEART? What about keeping Him the primary purpose of every deep desire. Look at what He tells them:
Revelation 2:5 KJV
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.
When He says they are fallen – it is literally translated that they dropped away; they have been driven off their path and become inefficient. They have failed.
But how could it be? They are still being productive, aren’t they?
Yet He is calling them to repentance (to reconsider) and return to their first works.
Aren’t their first works like the rest of their works? Obviously not, if the Lord is addressing this. So what is He talking about in returning to these works? Their first works have to be different than their current works.
Let’s turn to Hebrews to make sense of it:
Hebrews 4:11 KJV
Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.
He is saying it is work to turn to God wholeheartedly and stay in that state of longing for Him rather than “working for Him.”
Have you ever tried to pray for any length of time, and suddenly remembered the grocery list, the job list, or the return phone call you need to make? Have you suddenly felt so tired you can hardly keep your eyes open while you were praying?
Isn’t it HARD to stay determined to focus on HIM? We have to fight to keep moving forward. We have to fight for our attention and our affection to be on Him, or we will lose. What will we lose? We will lose our faith and move away from His presence into performance.
That is our human nature to perform to please. Isn’t that how you are rated to get a raise at work? Isn’t that how you are given grades at school? Isn’t that how you receive approval from parents? Isn’t this the proper way to be accepted in our natural way of speaking?
But we are not to live in the natural system. We are to live in the spiritual system God has laid out for us.
Matthew 6:33 NKJV
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
We don’t get brownie points from God for anything we do that He didn’t ask us to.
Re-read the above statement.
It isn’t that He doesn’t have assignments for us. Of course, He does; but He asked us to seek Him first.
Let’s go back to this church (Ephesus – or us – or all the churches today that need to re-evaluate) and see what else He says:
Revelation 2:7 KJV
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.
Who is He talking to? The CHURCHES.
What is He talking about? OVERCOMING THE TEMPTATION TO GO BACK TO WHAT WE KNOW TO DO, INSTEAD OF WHO WE NEED TO PLEASE.
Let me just restate what I know God is saying to every Christian: We need a new baptism of love and passion for Him first!
We are not here to satisfy men. We are certainly not here to please ourselves.
Someone recently said it this way, “Jesus can’t be all about you, if you are all about you.”
We are here to please God and become more like Him. Let your life be a conviction of what truth looks like.
Mark 12:30-31 NKJV
30 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.
31 And the second, like it, is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.
We need to be the people to raise the standard back to normal—according to God.
The Church cannot negotiate holiness. If it does, the Church isn’t living as God intended.
2 Corinthians 5:21 NKJV
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
This is not a powerless gospel. It is a gospel to save you and to change you. It is not to see you walk the same as the world and act like satan’s children instead of God’s children.
Sin has no dominion over you if you labor to live above your feelings and live by the Holy Spirit within you.
Jesus is available to us 24 hours a day. Our flesh may be weak, but our spirit is not!
If we individually make a decision to sell out completely to God, then imagine what we can accomplish as a team! Imagine how it is to be together for the purposes that He has in His heart!
That is when we will be the most secure, have the most joy, and look forward to more of Him every day. Let us move towards Him starting here:
I John 1:9 KJV
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
I want to be YOUR Church, Your Bride. I don’t want to lose my first love. Please render my heart helpless without You. Give me my passion back for You as the utmost, vital necessity of my life today. I am ready to be emptied out before You and to go ALL OUT for Your love. I am ready to receive Your attention and Your affection that I need to stay on track. Fill me, and all of Your Church with Your fire and let it never become just an ember ever again.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.
The Wick – Housefires
Waste it All – United Pursuit
Whom Have I but You – David Ruis
What was your “ah-ha” moment?
How can you apply this in your relationship with God, and what changes will you have to make?
How can this help you with your family?
How can this help you with others in your daily life?
Think BIG: By applying these truths, how are you expecting this to impact your family, others I your everyday life, your city, and the world?