Repent, Return, Repeat

Cornerstone Church,

Revelation 2:4 Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.
In one of the most stunning rebukes in all of the Bible, Jesus tells the church at Ephesus that they had abandoned their first love. This indicates a deliberate decision on their part; they “have left.” At first we might be tempted to think of an old forgotten love. Like the one sung about by the Righteous Brothers… “You’ve lost that lovin feelin.” You might be tempted to think that, but you would be wrong, wrong, wrong.
They did not lose it nor did it wane over time. They left it behind. Abandoned. Love here could be defined by love for Christ, love for other Christians or love for the lost. This love is the greatest virtue according to 1 Cor. 13, had been intentionally set aside for something else.
The church in Ephesus did not lack Labor, Longsuffering, Lordship or Loathing Nicolaitans. They had the right doctrine, right discipline… What changed? Well, as with many of us, along the way they traded down for religion, ritual and routine.
In a marriage, sometimes the couple will fall into routine… ritual… and fall out of the reason they began the relationship in the first place; Love.
The church in Ephesus was doing all the right things for the wrong reason. This is in contrast to what had been true of them prior. 
Ephesians 1:15 (NKJV) Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints..
Lest we forget, the 1st and Greatest Command is to Love the Lord your God. The primary way that we are to relate to God is Love. It is also the way that we are commanded to relate to one another.  John 13:34 (NKJV) A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
I love that the doorway back is the same one they took on the way out.
Revelation 2:5  Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place--unless you repent.

There is first of all, a Call to Remember. The tense of the grammar here indicates a perpetual action of memory. Keep in remembrance. Keep reminding yourself of the love that motivated you in the honeymoon of your salvation.  
Nowadays, we set alarms, and reminders on our phones. In old times they tied strings around their fingers. We put notes on our door and bathroom mirror and ask others to help us remember.

Why are you doing what you are doing? Is it motivated by love? If not, REMEMBER!  Recall, Reflect, Remind yourself… then Repent.
Repentance involves genuine grief over sin, personal acknowledgment of the particulars of the wrongdoing. It is a change of heart that leads to a change of action; a forsaking of sin and casting oneself upon grace.

God, I am heartbroken that I was so quick to exchange love for ritual and religion. I see how that hurt you and disregarded the cross. I vow today to repent of that as sin and to seek your forgiveness and restore a right spirit within me.

repent and do the first works…

First in time, but also first in priority of importance. The Call to Repentance and return to the first works comes with a warning that if they fail to return and if they continue to serve out of religion and ritual that their lampstand (light) would be removed; Lost influence.

Too many churches have fallen into sin, fallen into false doctrine… fallen into the right things for the wrong motives. We are not immune! May we learn the lesson of the church of Ephesus and repent, and return to serving God out of a heart of love.

- Pastor Joel Johns