Repent And Do The Things You Did At First
Brothers and Sisters, As always, I pray that this devotional finds you well, hopeful and mindful of who you are in Christ Jesus.
As many of you know, we have been studying the Book of Revelation that records the words that the Apostle John received while he was on the Island of Patmos. In the second chapter of John, records the following: "To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands; 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” (Rev. 2:1-3 NIV). Now as I read this, it reminded me of many of you who are my brethren. Tree Ridge is blessed to have so many who have "fought the good fight." Many who have worked long and hard to ensure that the gospel message is maintained and is advancing at our station of Zion. I know that you are working behind the scenes: to keep the church clean, to provide food for Sunday morning, faithfully keeping the finances in proper order, ensuring that we have a well prepared worship service, some are even out on the streets sharing the Gospel message. All the while, you are giving faithfully to safeguard our mutual responsibility to God's ministry here and through-out the world. As your Pastor, I want you to know how much I appreciate your faithfulness to the Lord's work. This is an encouragement and motivation for me to do my best for the work of Christ here at Tree Ridge Community Church. For that I thank you! However, the Apostle John is then given a warning that each of us should pay close attention to: "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" (Rev. 2:4-5 NIV). What a strong warning to those of us who are called the faithful! Here is the substance of what the Lord wants us to know; we must be continually renewing and recommitting ourselves to our "First Love." The hymn writer says it this way: "O to grace how great a debtor, daily I'm constrained to be! Let they goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to Thee. Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love; Here's my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for Thy court's above." Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing King David cried out to the Lord and said, "Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10 NIV). What does the Holy Spirit want us to know? We need to be daily mindful of our fallen nature. That we still battle with sin and have a propensity to wander from the Lord and His Work. Not only that, but we also need to be reminded of our propensity to wander from our relationships with each other. The old saying, "familiarity breeds contempt" rings true in many parts of our lives, whether in marriages, or in our families, and especially in our relationships within the Body of Christ. We are by nature a selfish and self-centered people and what drew us to church is never what will sustain us to stay in church. Many times, what drew us to the Lord and His healing power, just turns out to be really all about us. We learn overtime, as we grow in Christ, that it isn't about us anymore but about Him and about living for the benefit of others He has placed in our lives. And the most essential element of making it about Him and others is being in His family consistently through thick and thin, the good and the bad, being all in for the long haul. Historically men and women have said the following words as they stand at the Marriage Alter; "I take thee my wedded husband/wife to have and hold, from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and cherish, till death do us part." Sustainability has to be rekindled daily to maximize the benefits of walking with brothers and sisters year after year. Jesus (as always) said it best: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: "Love your neighbor as yourself." All the Law and Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40 NIV). Like our love for the Lord, which is with all our heart, soul and mind, we must also love our brothers and sisters as we love ourselves. As we all can attest to, it is easy to take for granted the people we have loved the most. We are "prone to wander" away little by little and over time begin to seek other newer interests or more exciting loves. Our fallen nature is a wandering nature. Satan has it, Eve had it, King David had it, and we have it too. So, what does the Lord tell us to do that will prevent us from losing our "lampstand?" "Repent and do the things you did at first,” is the daily exercise that will prevent our falling into the trap of compromise and complacency. The Christian life takes work, study, prayer and faithfulness. We have learned that we didn't choose this life but that we were called into it. Likewise, we were called to succeed, not fail. So therefore, I know that you are like me, in that you want to not only start well, but also to end well. So, it is my prayer for you today, to make up your mind to not take the broad road, the easy road, but to take the narrow road, the tougher road, the road that takes you all the way to the end. So, let's all remember to commit daily to be mindful our old nature, to repent from old wandering ways, and commit ourselves to a daily return to our First Love with our Lord and with our neighbor who is our brother and sister in Christ! May God Richly Bless You My Beloved, Pastor Brad