In Revelation 2 we see our Lord taking a journey through the church of Ephesus. This church had once been a vibrant group of believers deeply in love with Jesus. They had maintained doctrinal purity, they had kept themselves from the practices of the world, and they had a great enthusiasm for service. However, over the years that had abandoned their first love.
Jesus says in vs. 1 that “he walks in the midst of the seven lampstands” or churches. Can you imagine, with me, this picture….our Lord slowly making His way through the churches and he stops, He looks intently and he takes notice. Jesus observes each church and he evaluates their walk and their life. Jesus looks past all their wonderful programs….all the activities….all the ministries….the great buildings….the great pastor….He looks past their church face. Jesus evaluates their heart! You see, the church of Ephesus had gotten so caught up in doing the good things that they had taken their focus off of the Great Jesus Christ. They were not guilty of spiritual immaturity they were guilty of spiritual infidelity.
Let me ask you….what if Jesus were to take a journey through your church or your home and evaluate your life? What would He find? Have you abandoned your first love? Let us look at five warning signs that you or I have abandoned our first love and are in need of revival:
1. I no longer love reading the Word of God
Is the Word of God alive to you and powerful? Heb. 4:12
Do you read and meditate on the Word of God? Ps. 119:9-16
Are you having personal times of devotion? 2 Tim. 3:16-17
Do you crave God’s living Word? 1 Pt. 2:2-3
Are you as much in love with the Word of God as you once were before? Are you willing to drive across town to sit under the preaching of the Word of God, but you will not walk across the living room to pick up the Word of God to read it?
2. I no longer enjoy going to church and serving God
You remember it so well…..there was a time in your life when you could not wait to get to church, but slowly you have began to go less and less. Now it has become easier to come up with an excuse not to go. Or maybe you have began to eliminate Sunday nights or Wednesday night prayer meetings from your schedule of worship.
Is it necessary for you to be entertained in order to be drawn to church?
Do you long for the fellowship and company of God’s people?
Does going to church still create in you a sense of excitement and joy?
3. I have started being entertained by sin
We must be willing to admit that we have abandoned our first love when the things that used to be blatant sins to us are gradually becoming ‘not so bad’. This can happen so gradual that we do not take notice of it initially. The things that used to be black and white have slowly faded into grey. Does this describe you?
Do you keep your mind free from books, magazines, or entertainment that could stimulate fantasizing thoughts that are not morally pure?
Are you continually engaging in gossip?
Are you conversations and behaviors pure and above reproach?
Is there any relationship, practice, or habit in your life that you would be ashamed to have publicly exposed?
Is your private life consistent with what others think of you?
Has it become difficult for you to confess sin?
4. I have developed an unforgiving heart
All of us have been victim to some type of hurt at one point or another in our life. Maybe you have been lied to, a promise has been broken, you have been neglected by someone, a violent crime has been committed against you, you have been falsely accused, you have been cheated or stolen from, you have an alcoholic family member, you have been publicly humiliated, you have been abused….and the list could go on and on. Does this describe you? Sure it does. We have all been victims. As you reflect on the ways you have been hurt do you find that each time you think of the person involved you are still angry?
Do you have a secret desire to have this person pay for what they did?
Do you find yourself telling others what this person did to you?
Are you unable to thank God for this person?
These are all symptoms in the life of a person that is unwilling to forgive the hurts committed against them. As Jesus examines your heart, does He find unforgiveness?
5. I am no longer burdened for the lost
Do you remember a time in your life when you prayed fervently for your lost friends and family members? A time when you cried out to God that He would save them? When was the last time you went to the Throne of Grace on behalf of a lost soul? In Exodus 32 when the people of Israel made for themselves a god of gold God was going to destroy the people because of their sinful and rebellious hearts. However, one man (Moses) was willing to intercede on their behalf. In vs. 32 Moses prays this to God, “Yet now, if You will forgive their sins — but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which you have written.” Moses was saying, in essence,….”God if you are going to send any of these people to hell….save them and send me instead.” WOW! What a heart for the lost! Does this describe your heart? Anything less is an indication that your heart needs a revived love for the lost.
Do any of these “five warning signs” describe you? Well there is good news coming….Jesus gives us the solution. Look at vs. 5….
We must remember: Remember what it was like when you first trusted Christ and your love for Him was fresh, pure, and unrivaled.
We must repent: Agree with God that your love for Jesus is not as warm as it once was, and that other loves have taken His rightful place in your life.
We must return: Invest the time and effort necessary to re-establish an intimate, loving relationship with your Lord. Then you can respond to Him in loving adoration and obedience.
Are you all together right with God? Has there ever been a time in your life when you were closer to Jesus than you are now? Do you need revival? Let us be a people that allows the Lord to examine our hearts and then respond to Him in obedience.
Lord we need You! We desperately need You!