Your first love

Revelation 2:1-7 talks about the church at Ephesus and how they are going as a church. There are some positives, some negatives and a challenge.

At the start of the passage in verses 1-3 we see that the Lord commends the church of the good things they are doing. He commends their labour in doing good works, for being patient, for opposing evil and exposing false teachers. All good things that deserve being commended.

Then in verse 4 of the passage changes. He says, “You no longer love me as you first did”. In this simple statement we see that the church at Ephesus had lost its first love for Jesus. They had been doing some great things, things that the church should be doing, but they had forgot the reason why we do church in the first place – Jesus.

In verse 5 Jesus offers them the challenge and the call to repent. He says, “Repent and do the things you did at first”. Jesus is calling them back to re-focus their hearts on Him and their relationship with Him.

I think as Christians we can all learn from this passage. Human nature is that we get all excited at first and then over time our enthusiasm wanes. This happens to many people when they first get married. The love and excitement is overwhelming and then in time it fades and many relationships fall apart. Today as Christians we can start off loving Jesus passionately, but in time we can get caught up in serving Him like the church as Ephesus and we can lose our first love.

How are you going? Is Jesus your first love or have other things got in the way? Is it time to come back and check in with Him today? Is it time to re-focus your love and adoration on Him and then move out into the world from there?

God Bless,

Dave

The lost sheep

I have been reflecting on the lost sheep parable the last few days (Luke 15:3-7). This is the one that talks about a shepherd with 100 sheep and one goes missing. The shepherd leaves the 99 and goes to look for the one to bring it back into the fold. When he finds it he rejoices at the find.

There are two reasons I think I have been looking at this passage. One is because I am going to be doing a Pastoral Care unit this semester and the other is that I feel I have been prompted by God to reflect on it.

Traditionally I have been good at noticing when someone is struggling and slipping out of the fold. I generally am able to pick up on the signals and then I pray. It is then it is usually confirmed and I keep praying. I try to speak to the person at church and encourage them, but normally that is where I have left it. I have never been good at following them up during the week by giving them a call or a visit.

I have friends who are brilliant at this and I see the difference it makes to people. Many times I have seen people who are slipping away being returned to church or home groups as a result. A few simple calls or visits can make a huge difference to them long term.

I have a feeling this is one of the major areas God is going to speak to me about over the next few months. If I really get this message and take it on board I feel my ministry effectiveness will dramatically increase.

How about you? Have you got people in your life that might benefit from a call or a visit? A few calls or visits over a couple of weeks might make a huge difference long term.

From undertakers to preachers

I was reading the story of the resurrection from Luke 24:1-12 this morning. It is interesting that when the ladies went to the tomb they were hoping to anoint Jesus’ body with spices (Mark 16:1), much like an undertaker would. However they found an empty tomb and two angels standing there.

At this point the story takes an amazing turn. They came to anoint the body of Jesus, but found the angels who told them had risen to life. At this great news they remembered what Jesus had told them. He said that on the third day He would rise (Luke 24:7-8).

These faithful ladies had come to care for Jesus’ body, but instead they ran to the others to tell them the great news of Jesus resurrection. In a few simple moments they changed from morning undertakers to excited preachers.

The death of Jesus

I have been reflecting on the death of Jesus the last day or so. When you read the account from Matthew 27:45-55 you see it was no ordinary death.  A number of amazing things happen when Jesus gave up His spirit.

1. Darkness covered the earth – some commentators say this was a sign of God’s displeasure.

2. Temple curtain torn in two – this was a sign that the way to God is open to all people and there is no need for a priest to be an intermediate.

3. The earth shook violently – this was a major earthquake that caused major damage.

4. Graves and tombs opened – verse 52 tells us that people were raised to life and several days later they went to the holy city.

5. Fear gripped the people – verse 54 tells us that after all that had happened people were terrified.

6. The centurion confessed – a hardened roman soldier who had possibly overseen many thousands of crucifixions proclaimed his thoughts on Jesus. “Surely he was the Son of God!”

The death of Jesus was an amazing event. In His death Jesus paid the price for our sin and opened the way for us to be in relationship with the Father. I am glad He did it, but I am glad I was not there to witness it. Not only was it a gruesome event, but it was one that would has been very scary for those watching.

God cares for the widow

I was just reading over 2 Kings 4:1-7 again that I mentioned the other day. Another thing that I hadn’t thought about was that God took care of the widow’s needs after the death of her husband.

This reminded me of a recent call with a telemarketer from my bank. They were trying to sell me life insurance. I said I don’t need it. They asked why. I said that I have no debts and enough money in the bank to see my family through. They said what happens if you die all of a sudden, who will look after your wife. The conversation changed dramatically when I said God. One simple word changed everything for the telemarketer and they realised a sale was not forthcoming!

In a world that trusts in money and possessions and tries to sell you the fear of the “what if”, it was nice to give a simple answer that God is in control and that He cares for my family and I. If I get called home before we plan, I trust He can still look after my family.

Just like God looked after the widow’s family in 2 Kings, I trust He can and will look after mine.

Elisha helps a poor widow

I was re-reading through 2 Kings 4:1-7 this morning. This is the story about the poor widow who was in so much debt that her two sons was going to be taken away as slaves to pay the debt. I found a few interesting things in the story.

1. The widow didn’t take her situation lying down – her sons were going to be taken and she needed to act fast. She didn’t just accept it as a done deal. She was proactive in bringing solution.

2. The widow knew who could help – verse one tells us that she was a widow of a prophet, so it makes sense she went to Elisha the prophet who was a proven godly man. He was able to ask some key questions that brought the solution.

3. The widow made available what she had – she told Elisha that all she had was some olive oil. Elisha then told her to get some big jars and poor the oil in. As she did it multiplied and she was able to sell the oil to pay her debts. It even said she would left over to live on.

The thing I really love about this story is that she was proactive and didn’t just accept things. She took her problem to God through Elisha and a great result happened. It would have been easy for her to sit back and lament and see her sons be taken away.

This made me think about some of the problems in my life. Am I taking them to God? Am I being proactive in finding a solution? Is the solution already in my own home?

God’s peace and presence

A friend of mine was over the other day and he commented on how you can feel God’s peace and presence in our home. This got me thinking about what we do that makes our house feel that way to people who come in to it.

Here are some of the things we do and try not to do.

  • We play worship music during the day and worship God as we go about things.
  • We pray a lot in our home. This is during our personal quiet times, as a family and for each other.
  • We openly read and study the Bible.
  • We invite God to be a part of our home life and we expect Him to come and be with us.
  • We try to honour God in all we say. This includes in how we speak to each other and how we speak about others.
  • We filter what comes into our home via the TV. We try to think that if it is not suitable for our kids to watch or listen to then we shouldn’t either.
  • We don’t watch or listen to anything that contains supernatural themes, adult themes or violence.
  • We don’t watch or listen to things where people on the show has overly coarse or offensive language.
  • We don’t watch or listen to things where people have bad attitudes towards others or themselves.

I guess in many ways we just try to honour God and allow Him to reign in our home. We also try to filter out as much as we can that is not beneficial for us or honouring to God.

As the Bible says in Phillipians 4:7-9, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you”.