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Summary: Why is church attendance slipping? This sermon answers that question!

HAVE YOU LOST YOUR FIRST LOVE?

Revelation 2:1-5

1 "To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, 'These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands:

2I 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;

3and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name's sake and have not become weary.

4Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place--unless you repent.

One of the hardest things for me to watch

is seeing someone's love fade away.

One Sunday after church, a lady asked to speak to the preacher.

He could sense that something was wrong so he agreed.

As they sat down on the front row of the church,

the lady began to pour out her heart.

She said, ""I hate my husband. I hate the way he looks.

He has gotten fat and doesn't take care of himself.

I hate the way he chews with his mouth open.

He snores at night and makes all kinds of noises.

I just don't love him anymore!"

The preacher asked her, "Has it always been that way?"

As the woman thought it over, she began to smile.

"No," she said, "It hasn't always been this way.

"He used to be kind and gentle and sensitive.

I can remember when we were dating how romantic he was.

I remember intimate conversations

and the romantic evenings we spent together.

I remember our wonderful wedding and honeymoon.

I remember those early years of struggling together

when we were having children

and trying to find enough money to pay our bills.

Those were some good times.

There was a time when we were very much in love."

That story causes us to wonder, "What happened?"

That woman had been married 20 years.

What happened in 20 years to change her love to hate?

What happened to make her say, "I hate my husband?"

Our modern society tells us that we ought to be happy.

So if you're not happy,

then walk away from whatever is making you unhappy.

There are thousands of people walking away from their marriages

because they're not as happy

as they think they ought to be.

The same could be said about many churches today.

The saddest example of lost love

is when someone loses his or her love for Jesus.

This passage in Revelation describes a church

that once was alive and enthusiastic about serving Jesus.

Point #1. MANY CHURCH FOLKS HAVE LOST THEIR FIRST LOVE.

1 "To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, 'These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands:

The church in Ephesus began with just a few people.

They heard the preaching of the Apostle Paul

and accepted Jesus as their Savior.

They met together in homes.

They read God's Word together and they prayed.

They went out into their neighborhoods and among their friends

and shared their faith in Jesus with others.

Soon, more people accepted Jesus and their attendance grew.

They were known as an exciting, loving church.

They encouraged each other and built each other up in the faith.

Then, as the years passed, things began to change.

It's hard to determine why or when,

but somehow, sometime along the way,

they lost their dedication and their excitement.

Maybe it wasn't anything they decided to do.

It was something that just happened.

Their love for Jesus faded.

This passage in Revelation concerns me.

Could the same thing be happening here?

Are there some among us who have lost their first love?

However, this passage also encourages me.

Why?

Point #2. SOMETHING SHOULD BE DONE IF WE LOSE OUR FIRST LOVE.

When love is alive and exciting,

it is always described as something warm, or hot, or passionate.

When love begins to fade it is described as cold.

Jesus talks about this in Matthew chapter 24.

12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. 13But he who endures to the end shall be saved.

Is it possible that your love for Jesus has grown cold?

David wrote in Psalm 51:12,

"Restore to me the joy of your salvation..."

There ought to be joy in salvation.

When you are saved from your sin,

the result ought to be joy.

The book of Acts tells about people rejoicing

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