May 25, Thursday

The AMI QT Devotionals from May 22-28 are written by Phillip Chen, college pastor intern at Church of Southland. Philip, a graduate of University of California, San Diego, is currently studying at Talbot School of Theology.  He is married to Esther.  

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

“Remembering Our First Love”

Revelation 2:1-7 (ESV)

“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands. 2 “‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. 3 I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. 4 But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. 6 Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’”

John was writing this to the church of Ephesus that was planted out of an awesome fear of the Lord. There was a great display of God’s greatness and power and might, which led to true repentance. Acts 19 tells us that the Holy Spirit moved so mightily in their midst that even handkerchiefs that Paul touched were used for the healing of people—these were people of incredible faith and incredible expectation. The accounts go on that the seven sons of Sceva tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus as some sort of ritual or sorcery. Basically, they were trying to copycat what Paul was doing but to no avail. It says that they were overcome by evil spirits, and most importantly, when people saw this and heard of this occurrence, there was a great fear that fell upon them. People repented to the degree that they came and confessed their sins; not only that, they brought their books of sorcery and occult, and burned it.

They were adamant about keeping sound doctrine, vigorously growing in their knowledge of God and vehemently protecting the faith from heretical teachers who would seek to lead the church astray. However, despite all of the good that was happening in the Ephesian church, the focus of this message actually is on this indictment. One scholar says that this isn’t just a slipping of their first love, but this can be described as a definite and sad departure. Spurgeon, a great English preacher, said this: “A church has no reason for being a church when she has no love within her heart, or when that love grows cold. Lose love, lose all.” He is saying that without love towards God and people, the church has betrayed her purpose and has no reason for existence. Therefore, we must be careful to check our hearts and see whether we have stumbled to a place where we have lost our first love.

I was looking at the weather channel as I was writing this, and an article caught my eye: “9 Abandoned Lighthouses Around the World”—Forgotten Beacons. In the tagline, it said: “They used to guide ships safely into harbor but the lights are now out at these eerie, abandoned and inactive lighthouses.” As lighthouses are meant to guide ships safely into harbors, churches are meant to guide lost souls safely into the arms of our Father. When light is extinguished from a lighthouse, it no longer serves its purpose. Similarly, when love is extinguished from a church, it no longer serves its purpose. And when we lose our love, we lose our purpose.

The sad thing is that today, modern day Ephesus is in Turkey, and in doing a cursory look of Christianity in Turkey, we find that there are very few Christians (relatively-speaking) in this area. Turkey is 98% Muslim. Whereas Christianity was once the official religion in 380, it slowly disintegrated and Islam became the major religion. Currently, there is estimated to be 120,000 Christians and 26,000 Jews residing in Turkey today. When they left their first love, they left their purpose.

Prayer: Father God, remind me again of my first love. When ministry gets tough, when things seem to become routine in my life, I pray that You would remind me of Your sweet presence. When it seems so difficult to continue pressing forward, help me to remember Your love that captivated my heart that very first time, and remind me once again why I am running this race. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Deuteronomy 20


LUNCH BREAK STUDY

Read Matthew 22:35-40 (ESV): And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him.36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Question to Consider

  1. What is the greatest commandment?
  2. How important is this commandment?
  3. Have you grown weary of loving God and loving others?

Notes

  1. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. Love Him with all of your might! We are also to love our neighbor as ourselves.
  2. Not only is this the greatest commandment, but this is the commandment that acts as the cornerstone for all of the Law and the Prophets. All other commandments that were given were with a basis of loving God and loving others.
  3. Personal reflection.

EVENING REFLECTION

Think about what “first love” looks like. One story that comes to mind is the woman with the alabaster jar (Matthew 26:6-13). As you think about the way this woman lavished her love upon Jesus, reflect upon your own life. Is this the way you lovingly approach the Lord?

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