Summary: This is a passage of scripture that really bothers me, & yet it has a tremendous message. It is part of one of the 7 letters to the churches in the Book of Revelation. (Powerpoints available - #210)
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
(Powerpoints used with this message are available at no cost. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and request #210.)
I'm going to read a passage of scripture that bothers me, & yet it has a tremendous message. It is part of one of the 7 letters to the churches in the Book of Revelation, & is found in chapter 2, vs's 1 5.
"To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of Him who holds the 7 stars in His right hand & walks among the 7 golden lampstands: I know your deeds, your hard work & your perseverance.
“I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, & have found them false. You have persevered & have endured hardships for my name, & have not grown weary.
"Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent & do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you & remove your lampstand from its place."
A. One of the hardest things in life is watching someone's love disintegrate, & somehow not being able to do anything about it.
Over the years, I have occasionally gotten a call from someone who wants counseling. Sometimes they were from another church, but they didn't want to go to their own preacher, so they asked if they could talk with me.
ILL. Such a situation happened to a preacher friend of mine. A lady he had never seen before came to his office. She said, "Preacher, you'll be shocked by my story." He assured her that he wouldn't be because after 25 years of counseling, he had heard almost everything.
So she began, "I hate my husband. I hate the way he looks. He has gotten fat, & doesn't take care of himself. I hate the way he sounds. He slurps his food, & chews with his mouth open.
“I hate the way he brushes his teeth. He gulps the water in his mouth & swishes it around. He snores at night & makes all kinds of noises when he blows his nose. I just don't love him anymore!"
She went on with a long list of other reasons why she hated her husband.
The preacher was shocked. He had heard it all before, but never quite as bluntly as she was putting it.
Usually, after any kind of an unhappy tirade, he asks this question, "Has it always been that way?" Often there is a moment of silence, & he can almost hear the wheels turning as people think back over their lives.
As she thought it over, there came a slight little glimmer in her eyes, & a trace of a smile on her face. "No," she said, "It hasn't always been this way.
“He used to be kind & gentle & sensitive. I can remember our courtship, & how romantic he was. I remember intimate conversations & soft music & candlelight. I remember a wonderful wedding & honeymoon.
"I remember those early years of struggling together when we were having children & trying to find enough money to pay our bills. There were some good times. There was a time when we were very much in love."
Hearing this story causes us to wonder, doesn't it? "What happened?" This couple had been married 20 years. What happened in 20 years to change love to hate, to make someone say, "I hate my husband," or "I hate my wife?" Yet that was the situation love disintegrating, love evaporating & going away.
ILL. You know, I enjoy seeing newlyweds, couples who haven't lost the sparkle in their eyes, or the trace of a smile on their lips, who are still wondrously & hopelessly in love with each other. There is something refreshing about that.
But it is extremely difficult when you see the other side, when love begins to disintegrate.
Our modern society tells us that we ought to be happy. And if you're not happy, then walk away from whatever is making you unhappy. So there are thousands of people walking away from their marriages because they're not as happy as they think that they ought to be.
B. The same could be said about our jobs. Most of us began with high ideals about work & career & our future. We began with great enthusiasm & vigor.
ILL. George Washington Carver held a peanut in his hand & looked up to God & asked, "God, what is in the peanut?" Carver said, "God answered me, 'You've got a brain. Find out for yourself.'"
So Carver started searching for all the possibilities in the lowly peanut. He fell in love with his work, & gave his life to it. And all our lives are the better for it.