To go along with our Podcast today, here is a devotion with an easy breakdown of the threat to our love for God and His ways. In this breakdown, we examine three churches from the Book of Revelation who either struggle with their love for God or are under direct threat of losing that love. God addresses each of them, the problems they face and the solutions he has to offer. Let's dive in and see what He has to say:
1. Iniquity in the World Can Make Us Lose Love For Souls
The Church of Ephesus
They did not like evil and had made sure that false doctrines weren’t present in their church(v.2)
They stuck with God’s plan and done it for God’s sake (v.3)
The problem: They left their first love (.4) That love was souls.
They had gotten so angry about the sinful world around them, they had left the pursuit of souls. They got misguided in what their purpose in Christ was.
The Solution: Get back to basics (v.5).
The first work of the church was to reach the lost (Matthew 28:19). The Ephesians had lost that message, even though Paul had implored them through Timothy to hold to it (2 Timothy 4:2).
We can get so caught up in how bad the world is and it can lead us to recede into our cocoon of Christianity. God didn’t call us to do that, though. He called us to love the lost and reach for the sinner. If we falter in that pursuit, we disrespect God because that is His purpose. Even though we earnestly serve Him otherwise, God’s desire is that none would perish. God’s desire must become our desire. We don’t need to love what sinners are doing (v.6). However, we must reach for them all the same.
2. Pressure from Persecution Threatens Our Hearts
The Church of Smyrna
They were a devoted church. They did the work despite the trials (v.9)
The problem: When God addressed this church, he didn’t find a fault in them, but still had a concern. They were overwhelmed by the enemy and the persecutions and trials of the world (v. 9)
It must have been overwhelming to endure such trials and tribulations. God understood that they were weighed down with concern and let them know that he was with them and would stand with them in the face of their trial (v.10)
The solution: Fear none of the things you face (v. 10).
What we face in this life is overcome by what God has planned for us.
Fear is a burden that God doesn’t give us. We heap that on ourselves when we face struggle. God’s peace, love and comfort makes those struggles light. Our fear makes them heavy. A heavy burden fused with fear can lead to a bitter heart. Letting God intervene with our burdens will lead us to love and rely on Him more
3. Complacency Leads to Not Caring
The Church of Laodecia
They were a wealthy church
All of their successes and pursuits did not impress God (v.17).
The Problem: They were complacent (v.15). They didn’t want to get involved in the fray for anything and so they stayed out of witnessing, out of standing for righteousness, and out of developing themselves and others in relationship with Christ. That led to a lack of care.
The Solution: Make a choice, preferably to serve God (v.18). Let God try our hearts and lead our minds to serve Him. He might remove some of these possessions and pursuits that have led us to complacency, but we’ll come through that process wealthier and more valuable than before.
It’s easy to get caught up in this life, especially when success comes our way. However, God hasn’t called us to be successful in the pursuits of this life but in the focus on the next. When we’re on the path of temporal success, we risk getting so caught up in that we don’t want to do the work God has called us to do. This is different than Ephesus because they were actually doing God’s work but got misguided in their pursuit. Laodecia chose to live for this life and not the next. We can’t do that, because that leads to being separated from God (v. 16). Choose God and His ways. Let Him try us so that we don't end up alone and in the cold dark of the world.
There are a lot of things that put us at risk of losing our love for God and His ways and pursuits. However, we serve a God who wants us to succeed. He gave us solutions to the various reasons we might lose that love. God does this because he loves us, believes in us and wants to see us succeed. Knowing that in these last days should comfort us as we go forth to do the work of the Lord.
Chris Farris is the author of The Way, a manual detailing how to implement the Beatitudes into your life. He review events and other media and offers other insights into writing and working for the Kingdom of God.