In my attempt to keep busy this summer, a few of my girlfriends and I decided to join a Wednesday morning Bible study that is being offered at our church. We're studying Beth Moore's Here and Now, There and Then, which is a lecture series on the book of Revelation. Revelation is a very intimidating book of the Bible and can at times read more like a fantasy novel than anything else. I have to constantly remind myself that this is God's Word and it is very real. Let me share with you how this book of the Bible that seems so very foreign became very personal to me this week.
In chapter two of Revelation, the Apostle John is reading a prophetic letter from Jesus to the church in Ephesus. Not really remembering much about the church of Ephesus, I looked it up and found out that it was one of the most prominent churches in the Roman province of Asia around 95 AD. In this letter, Jesus commends the Ephesians for their good deeds, their hard word, their perseverance, as well as their recognition and intolerance for falseness. The Ephesians endured many hardships, yet they did not grow weary. Just after Jesus commends the Ephesians for their good works, He goes on to explain one thing that He has against them..."You have forsaken your first love." Beth Moore commented that the Ephesians hated what Christ hated, but they didn't love what Christ loved. The Ephesians got so good at policing that they lost their passion for Jesus.
Ouch...when I heard this I thought, ughh...this is me. How many times have I put Jesus on the back burner? How many times have I detested what I see in the world around me, yet I don't recognize my own sin? Have I lost my first love too? A sweet lady that was part of our discussion group said that when you lose your first love, you can tell because you always resort back to loving what you do best more than you love Jesus. For Peter, it might have been fishing. For me, it's probably shopping and decorating...or even eating sweets. I've found this year to be very challenging for me spiritually. I've let many distractions keep me from focusing my life, my marriage, my relationships, and my work on Jesus. Adam and Eve took their focus off of God in the garden, and confess, I've done it too. God would not settle for 2nd place in their lives and He will not settle for 2nd place in mine. What is so encouraging about being a Christian is that even when you take your focus away from Jesus, He still stands planted at the cross. His love for you remains unmoved and unchanged. My memory verse for the week is from Ephesians 3:17-19. It shows how great our Father is and His wonderful love for His children.
"And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge---that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."
The Ephesians needed a reminder to refocus on Jesus, and I needed a reminder too. Thanks for reading today. I'm leaving you with the words from one of my favorite old hymns. I'll be humming it in my head this week and remembering Jesus as my first love.
Be Thou My Vision
Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart,
naught be all else to me, save that thou art;
Thou my best thought by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.
Be thou my wisdom, thou my true word,
I ever with thee and thou with me Lord;
Thou my great Father, I thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with thee one.
Be thou my battle shield, sword for the fight;
Be thou my dignity, thou my delight;
Thou my soul's shelter, thou my high tower:
Raise thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.
Riches I heed not, nor man's empty praise:
Thou mine inheritance now and always;
Thou and thou only first in my heart;
High King of Heaven, my treasure thou art.
High King of heaven, my victory won,
May I reach heaven's joys, O Bright Heaven's sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my vision, O Ruler of all.