“From the Heart” teaching by Drs. Rodney & Adonica Howard-Browne.
“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: 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. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. Revelations 2:1-5 NIV
In the book of Revelation, the Lord speaks through John to seven churches: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. He commends them, encourages them and rebukes them. The Lord commended the Ephesian church for working hard, being committed to the truth and persevering through hardships without giving up. But He had to rebuke them because they had forgotten to enjoy their relationship with Jesus and to keep Him first in their priorities.
You cannot work for or earn anything that God has given you or anything He has done for you. It is all a free gift given by grace and received in humility. Humility is the ability to receive that which you do not deserve. If the devil can’t stop you from serving God then he tries to get you so busy laboring and working hard FOR the Lord that you forget to have a relationship WITH the Lord. Jesus was your first love and He must remain your first love. The Greek word for “first” means foremost – in time, place, order or importance. It is translated variously as “before, beginning, best, chief, first of all, and former.” Jesus is the most important person in your life – your first love and your only love. When you marry your earthly true love, you commit to love them only and forever. You love them so completely that you are not ever tempted to even look around at another.
We are to commit to the Lord for eternity like we would to a marriage that will last a lifetime. God hates divorce and separation because when He commits to us, it is forever for Him. When we are flaky and uncommitted in our earthly relationships, then we will most likely be inconsistent and unfaithful in our heavenly relationships. The Lord loves us with all His heart. He longs to have a close relationship with us. He longs to fellowship and commune with us. The closer we get to Him, the closer we get to His protection and His blessing. He will never leave us alone – we are the ones who stupidly make the mistake of moving away from Him and the blessing of His presence.
If Jesus is your first love then you should treat Him like your first love. You should respect Him, reverence Him, notice Him, regard Him, honor Him, prefer Him, venerate Him, esteem him, defer to Him, praise Him, and love Him exceedingly!
What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all– how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died— more than that, who was raised to life— is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:31-39 NIV
God is FOR us – He is on our side! He did not spare His OWN SON to redeem us from the pit. WHO is there that can accuse us when GOD has justified and acquitted us? Jesus, Himself, is actually PLEADING as He intercedes on our behalf at the right hand of God. NOTHING in heaven, on the earth or under the earth will stop the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit from loving us! When you know how much God has given and how much He has done to show His love for you – how can you be fickle and wishy-washy about loving Him? Give Him your ALL – He is worthy of it! He is worthy of the best that you have. He is worthy of ALL your love, ALL your devotion and ALL your praise. Stop wasting your time on things that do not matter in eternity and show Him how much you love Him today. Give Him your heart and your life and He will never let you go!