Sermons

Summary: A lesson from the Ephesus church

Title: Do not Depart from the First Love

Text: Acts 19; Revelations 2:1-5

Introduction

After a season of revival, there is a tendency for God’s people to depart from him. This cycle of Revival, Departure, Repentance and Return is repeated again and again in scriptures and even in church history.

I have often told you, it is not how well we have started, but how well we end. We have started well. We have encountered the revival fires of God. However my heart fears a departure from Him after a time of Revival.

I have seen those who were touched by God, those who knew He is real, those who were blessed by Him and yet depart. I remembered them and my heart bleeds for them.

My heart fears for you, that you might one day depart from God.

The church in Ephesus was a church that encountered the fires of revival.

At Ephesus:

• A group of disciples were baptized in the Spirit.

• Extraordinary miracles were performed by Paul.

• Many conversions.

• Objects of socery were burned (50 000 drachmas or 2 million dollars)

• Whole province of Asia heard the gospel

In Revelations Chapter 2, the church was mentioned again. Everything about the church appeared fine. They have a big congregation. They had a lot of programs and activities, but when God evaluated them, something was seriously wrong. They departed from their first love.

The church in Ephesus departed from God’s River of Revival because they have forsaken their first love.

Forsaken - aphiemi {af-ee’-ay-mee} Husband divorcing his wife

The Ephesian church was liken to be one that has been divorced from the bridegroom.

Departing from our first love takes a process. We must learn to detect our departure before it is too late.

Departure from God begins first with:

1. Distraction (Luke 9:62, 1Samuel 10:6, 1Samuel 15:9)

– Putting hands on the plow and looking back.

– Looking back means distraction

– We must guard our hearts against all forms of distractions.

– Once we give our hearts over to distractions, our love towards God will begin to simmer down, till we depart from our first love.

– The Church in Ephesus was distracted from their original calling.

– Saul was a classic example, before his disobedience is a subtle distraction that took place.

“All in the world is glittering bright,

girls, gold and glory is what I need

Till I gaze at the Light of Him

The brilliance out of this world

Then I realize He is all that I need.”

2.Disobedience (Rev 2:5, 1 Samuel 15:9)

“Lord, it’s not that I don’t love you; it’s that I am having difficulty obeying”

The problem is not that we have difficulty obeying.

The problem is that we have been distracted and in the process departed from our first love for God.

That was the problem with the Ephesian church. They were distracted and then departed from the first love and disobeyed God.

When you don’t understand this principle you will always try to reform your behavior but you will always fail.

3. Displacement

Displacement means to transfer.

– A transfer of allegiance.

– Idolatry

– The Ephesians church evidently was proud of their works. But their works without love for God became idolatry.

– Saul became an Idolater 1Samuel 27:7

(Material wealth, Seeking help from a witch)

What are some forms of Idolatry?

a. Trusting in man more than God (Jer 17:5)

b. Love and devotion to money (Matt 6:24)

c. Relationships (Matt 10:37)

d. Ritualistic Worship (Matt 15:8-9)

e. Materialism (1John 2:15-16)

Conclusion

A departure from God will spell discipline, death and destruction. As it is the Ephesus church was destroyed by the invasion of Turks. If you visit modern Turkey you can only see the ruins.

How tragic for a church that was alight to the whole of Asia Minor.

Saul’s life ended with a tragic end, with death destruction coming over him and his whole family. What a tragic!

As a church we must be careful not to depart from our first love for God. Keep check on your heart. Once there is a warning sign, turn back to God immediately.

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