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First Love

by Carl Carmody

I was recently looking at the seven letters to the churches in the book of Revelation. In chapter two, the
opening letter is to the church at Ephesus where the phrase “FIRST LOVE” is used. The context is not one
of courtship or honeymoon love; rather it is the first love of when we first become a Christian.

Do you remember when you first came to Christ? The church at Ephesus would have been like a model
church today. The word Ephesus means desirable and indeed, at least on the surface, it was. Jesus first
takes time to commend the Ephesian church, beginning with the fact that God knew all about the
church. Often we do things as a church and as individuals, which are not honoring to God. I sense that
we never take time to contemplate the reality that God sees everything we do, whether it be good or
bad. However, I am confident that if we took time to recognize this fact we would not rush into the sin
that so easily besets us.

Nonetheless, Jesus had an interesting list of commendations for the members of this church. In today’s
terminology they would be described as a model church; a well-programmed, biblically sound church;
doctrinally they were on the ball, not tolerating sin and false doctrine; and they worked hard for Jesus.
As impressive as this list is, Ephesus had a potentially terminal spiritual illness. Having listed some ten
characteristics of commendation, Jesus earmarks just one problem that threatened to undermine all
that this church stood for.

In Revelation 2v4, Jesus declares the Ephesian church had left their first love. This lack of love brings into
question the motivation for all that the church was doing well. Externally a church can look the part, can
look the model church and yet internally not be in tune in their relationship with God. Notice that the
church had left their first love, not lost it.

Leaving something infers a deliberate action. It is not an accident but rather a choice that is made,
perhaps beginning with an imperceptible drift away from God’s Word, prayer, witnessing and church
attendance. Often this starts with a church or individual moving away from sound biblical priorities. This
letter reveals that a church or individual can be seen to be doing everything right and still leave their
first love. Thus, this observed activity could be relegated to ritual instead of a spiritual reality. It can be
relegated to habit instead of the Christian. If we do not read the Bible daily, we will not grow spiritually
and will lack faith.

Reading God’s Word brings GREAT PEACE to our heart, as David beautifully says in Psalm 119v165. Reading God’s Word is how God teaches us about Himself, ourselves, the world, and Satan to mention a few. Again, David in Psalm 119 expresses his constant desire that God would teach him. Reading the Word of God is how we LEARN THE PROMISES of God and HOW TO APPLY THEM. This is especially so when going through tough times. Reading God’s Word helps us to MEDITATE on His Word: “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His Law He meditates days and night” (Psalm 1v2). The Christian can only meditate on the Word that he or she has read. Meditation may involve marking, underlining, highlighting or making notes in your Bible. This meditation process can continue as we commit verses of scripture to memory. Reading the Word of God is a vital part of the process of knowing God’s will for your life. Romans 12:1-2 gives us great direction on this matter.

Lastly reading God’s Word gives us WISDOM AND DISCERNMENT in our daily walk. As we read the Bible,
we are able to obtain the necessary wisdom and discernment required in our decision-making and
choices. I firmly believe that because the Bible is not being read many Christians are making poor
decisions, such as marrying a non-Christian or getting caught up with some form of immorality.
Therefore, we need to see that once we have found the Word of God we need to read it daily so it
becomes an integral part of our growing, loving and serving relationship with God.

CARL CARMODY, EDITOR CHALLENGE
August 2017

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