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Focus Verses: Revelation 2:1-4
1 "To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands: 2 I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. 3 You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. 4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love.
In John's vision, the glorified Christ has words of commendation and warning for seven churches. The first was the church in Ephesus. He commended them for good deeds, hard work, perseverance, holiness, and discernment. He warned them that, despite all these good qualities, they had forsaken their first love—their love for him.
It is unsettling to realize how it is possible to do good, work hard, be committed, and exercise commitment, and yet somehow lose sight of a genuine love for Jesus himself. While a sincere love for Christ will always produce the good qualities and actions the Ephesians displayed, these commendable qualities, without love for Christ, are bound to deteriorate into religiosity and law. What results is a churchianity that is both unsustainable and empty.
Response and Action:
I must cultivate my love for Jesus. My obedience and commitment to Christ must be rooted in my love and trust for him. I will nurture my love for Jesus through worship, expressions of thanks, and meditation upon the things he did and the words he said. I will remember that following Christ is more than belief, obedience, and perseverance; it is love.
Lord Jesus, the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, I believe you are the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Help me to love you with my whole heart, so that my obedience and deeds and commitment might flow out of that love. Thank you for your great love for me. Forgive me for the times I lose sight of you and forget that you want more than my belief and my behavior -- you want my love. Amen.
Spiritual Formation Verses: Deuteronomy 6:4-5
4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
by Michael Spencer