Summary: How to recover from losing your first love.
Where is your first love?
1) Patient: Ephesus - immoral, pagan city with strong church in it’s midst
2) Physician: Jesus who supports those who faithfully bring His message and knows everything about us individually and as a fellowship.
3) Positive: hard working, Bible believing church, patient in the midst or trials.
4) Problem: Left behind the most important part of what it means to be a Christ: Our love for Jesus and the fact that that is the motivation for doing what we do in our spiritual lives.
Tonight: Share three symptoms of having left our first love. How do I get back to where I need to be? What is the price to pay if I don’t and what are the rewards if I do?
Worship is like a TELESCOPE: When you have the love of Jesus it makes a unique difference: Look through wrong end it makes every distant and far away, things don’t make complete sense(worship having left your first love). Here, God seem far away, prayer seems difficult, Bible study seems laborious. Turn the scope around: Enhances all of life, see things out of focus before, God seems near, Bible so relevant, feel prayer to your inner core.
THE PROBLEM (4) But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.
1. Human love is not meant to stay the same with regard to feeling of infatuation. There is an excitement with the newness of things that, as wonderful as it is, is surpassed by a deeper love that develops out of companionship, devotion, shared experiences, like-mindedness & common goals.
a) The test of a marriage is not the honeymoon era but the years that follow: Test of commitment is the evidence of genuine love. All marriages have honeymoons but the goods endure the years of real life.
b) Marriage doomed to failure: husband and wife just clock in, pay bills, food on table, passing through life together.
1) No husband would be happy with a wife who didn’t love him no matter how clean the house was or how good the meals.
2) Churches have bills paid, budgets met, good attendance, full staffs but their hearts have long ago become cold towards Jesus. They do religious but irrelevant things.
2. THREE SYMPTOMS:
a. Loss of Joy and glow of Christian life: humdrum & routine, heard it all already, Worship has no impact but seems mechanical, routine, dull & drab. Q’s What is wrong with this church, this sermon, this Sunday School? What is wrong with me?
b. Lose your ability to love others: Love Him because He first loved us. Lose that consciousness of the wonder of Jesus’ love and our love fades for people. They are too difficult to love, demands too much of us, we become critical, complaining. Begin to choose our friends and associate only with those we automatically like. We lose our compassion and patience with others.
c. Lose the right perspective of ourselves: Become more important in our thinking. What I like, what I want instead of what God might be doing. Become sensitive and touchy and division develop. No longer interested in evangelism but focused on ourselves, our comfort, our pleasure. Self-centeredness has set in.
We have all felt these debilitating symptoms attack us from time to time but imagine whole congregations that reflect that atmosphere.
THE PRESCRIPTION(5) Remember from where you have fallen; Repent and do the first works,
Long time pastor Dr. Bob Munger was doing a pastor’s retreat when he stood up before the pastor and surprised them. He drew and X on the blackboard and said, ’Most of my life I have lived here, what I felt was the center of God’s will, Jesus was real and vital and important to me. He drew another X to the side and drew and line connecting the two. These last years I have drifted here, I am praying and please pray for me that God will lead me back to where I once was’
1. THREE STEPS
a. REMEMBER: Lit ’keep on remembering, verbally rehearse as an actor’(tree in grade school play) What God has done for me, what He wants of my life, what needs to change. Psalmist device.
1) Remember from where we have fallen: heights of where we used to be. Idea of looking back up from the valley to the edge of the cliff you once were at. DRIFTING: pilot off course, ship drifing
2) Remember the joy you once had, the closeness you felt with God, ease with which you prayed, delight in other believers, excitement in the Word, faith that God could do anything, love of being in God’s house. REMEMBER
b. REPENT - Change your mind about what has taken place in your life - choose not to accept it: Give up all that ambition, pride, seeking position and approval that has become so important to you and put Jesus Christ back into the center of your life.