Devotionals

Revelation 2:4-6

Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.
Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place— unless you repent.
Revelation 2:4-6


The “frog-in-the-pot” parable you likely know— the illustration in which a frog is placed into a pot of lukewarm water and with a slow increase in temperature to boiling and tragically the undiscerning frog is boiled to death. Many churches today are in a similar danger. Subtle changes have occurred and increased to a dangerous point. Some contributors to a watered-down church is the emphasis on a seeker-sensitive approach to grow a church, aggressive Calvinism, Replacement theology, the Contemplative movement, kingdom dominionism, Hebrew Roots, the Emerging Church or “Jesus and…” movements.

Those often most likely to sense this are foreign missionaries returning to their home church after years away. Coming home to a church with familiar location and faces, yet a diminished appreciation and emphasis on Jesus as Lord and Savior. No longer living in ways submitted to Scripture, nor in anticipation of His soon return and a diminished view of the reality of Heaven, or Hell.

The church of Ephesus as seen in Revelation 2:1-7 was very much a church which had forgotten Jesus. They had drifted. Jesus himself addresses this church. Their error was to “have left (their) first love.” Lovingly he exhorts them to remember, repent, and do. They were a strong church in many good things— causes and works to help, great patience and tolerance, hatred of evil, truth seeking, and all of these tirelessly. It was just that they forgot and moved Jesus to the back-burner. The departure from one’s love of Jesus, no matter how slight… no matter if couched with a lot of good activity, without the love of Christ as the primary, it is still a departure. He warns them to get right again… love Him with all their heart or else He would “remove the lampstand.” Such removal would result in their no longer reflection of Jesus, who is the “true light.” Such a slide is dangerous, often resulting in a “falling away,” (II Thess. 2:3 & I Tim.4:1).

Dear church family… I can’t remind you enough to keep Jesus as your first love, spend your life to use in ways that acknowledge His love for you as demonstrated by His going to the cross for you. And then responding in holiness and keeping His commandments because of such a great love. Be careful of subtle departure. Hebrews 2:1 warns us of “drifting away.” A drift is not traumatic or quickly noticeable, in fact it can even be smoothly comfortable. The scary part of drifting is its subtlety.

Has that happened? If you are currently drifting simply do what Jesus dictates—remember, repent and do the first works, return to your first love, appreciate your salvation by His sacrifice alone, worship God and love His people, word and ways…

Nothing can separate you from His love!

Maranatha!

I Thessalonians 4:17-18

…we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in
the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.
Therefore, comfort one another with these words.

I Thessalonians 4:17-18


From Acts 17, we learn Paul and his companions were only in Thessalonica for a short three weeks. They were forced to leave because of all the trouble going on there. In that brief time they founded a church and departed leaving it well taught, healthy, and vibrant. The first letter to the Thessalonians was penned by Paul from Corinth, because of his love and concern for the church there. It was quite likely the first writing of such letters we have in the New Testament.

First Thessalonians contains profound teachings on the gospel, lays out methodology for ministry, and useful counsel for the life of the believer. Yet its most distinguishing trait is the constant reminder of the very real and soon Rapture of the church.

Paul instilled into the minds of the Thessalonian believers that the return of Christ could come at any moment. These believers were exhorted by Paul, as we also are, to live with the soon return of Christ in constant mind. I remind you, Paul was only in their presence for three weeks. Many today, and I write of Christians, unfortunately believe that teaching eschatology (the study of end-times), is too confusing and complicated for both young and even mature Christian.

Paul certainly did not feel that way, he would bristle at such a discouraging thought. He included solid teaching on the very subject in his short three weeks with this new and young church. Why? When we live with the expectation of the soon return of the Lord it is both a tremendous comfort and powerful motivation for us to live our lives with the perspective and priorities which bless us and our God. How do I know this? The Bible says so!

Today it is not unusual, even in the church, to hear one say with a snicker—“Yes, I’ve heard it before, the Lord is coming soon… but I don’t buy it… it’s been two thousand years.” Peter addresses that very attitude—from I Peter 3:3-5 … scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts saying, “Where is the promise of His coming… all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” They willfully forget…

Resist those who might entice you to “willfully forget” the joy of living with an eye toward the Lord’s coming…soon! I encourage you to live your life with the wonderful expectation and anticipation of the soon coming of the Lord…it will do your soul well!

Maranatha!

Acts 1:8

But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you;
and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria,
and to the end of the earth.

Acts 1:8


Just finishing up the book of Colossians last week, and next week intent upon beginning the book of I Thessalonians we take a break from our consistent thru-the-Bible-study format and will glean from our dear brother Micah. We are blessed for the next season to have Micah, Marla and their dear girls “home” from the missionary work the Lord has called them to in Brazil. What a great chance we have to fellowship with them. We invite you to pray for them and be of support to them in any way that is possible for you. A great blessing it is for our church family to be linked to them! Concerning missions work a couple of thoughts from Oswald Chambers on that topic which he championed and lived out in the early 20th century—

In Acts 1:8 our Lord said this striking thing—“You shall be witnesses unto Me.” When Christ is formed in us, we are a satisfaction to our Lord and Master wherever He places us. The point of importance is to know that we are just exactly where He has engineered our circumstances. There is no “foreign field” to our Lord.

According to Our Lord, there is not a home church and a foreign church; it is all one great work, beginning at home and then going elsewhere, “beginning from Jerusalem.” Jerusalem was not the home of the disciples; Jerusalem was the place where Our Lord was rejected. “Begin there,” said Jesus.

With Luke 24:47 in mind—“repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name…”
It is easy to forget that the first duty of the missionary is not to uplift the heathen, not to heal the sick, not to benefit a culture, because all that sounds so rational and so human, and it is very easy to arouse interest and get funds for it. The primary duty of the missionary is to preach “repentance and remission (forgiveness) of sins… in His name.” The key to the missionary message, whether the missionary is a doctor, a teacher, an industrial worker, homemaker or nurse— the key is the remissionary purpose of Our Lord Jesus Christ’s death.

Maranatha!