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Next Level Living - Where Do We Start?

Next Level Living  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Introduction

Today, I want to begin a new direction. I think it is fitting since yesterday was graduation at Union and now those students are moving in a new direction.
High school seniors now have their sights on the fall, beginning a new set of classes, college and making their way into adult hood.
High school seniors now have their sights on the fall, beginning a new set of classes, college and making their way into adult hood.
As Christians we are called to set our eyes on a higher plain than this whole world. Scriptures tell us to set our eyes on that which is eternal in the heavens, on a new destination… heaven; a place whose city and maker is God and or course to become a new, continuing to be made over, made into the image of the Son.
So how do we get there?
How do we get to the next level in our living of the Christian faith, how do we become better… more like Jesus in all that we do?
I cannot say to you my friends that there is a simple marvelous plan.
There is a methodology to living for Jesus, there are simple parts we are to be involved in, but that is where it becomes difficult for most I believe…
The simplest things become often the most difficult when mankind gets his or her hands upon the process...
So lets begin…
Do you have your Bibles today....?????
Can I convenience you today that our Bibles are so important.
Keep it with you.
Back a few months ago I noticed the postal truck that picks up the mail in here in East Stone, the driver was on a stopping point, i guess a mandatory break. and their he sat in the cab of the truck, reading his bible.
Pretty good.
Ok, lets begin, take your Bibles or the ones on the back of the pew and lets find the Book of Revelation.
Revelation 2:1–5 ESV
“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands. “ ‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.
Now you might wonder why did I choose this passage, why this particular one?
Because I believe in these verses is a message for every child of God.
Here is why....
Next Level Living, rising above where you are right now requires that you look to the basics of our faith.
You see my friends, good Christians, can do the good things, excellent works but there is still something missing,
And we are not rising above, we are not growing and becoming the person Jesus has called us to be…
So lets begin here.

1. Do Not Dismiss the Holy Spirit’s Message...

Now I am starting off here because I think it is really important for us to hear. God has placed his Holy Spirit in us to lead us, guide us, teach us and yes, our responsibility is to listen.
But do we listen?
I think we often hear, but we resist, we talk ourselves out of where he is leading.
I was chatting with a friend the other day, he was out on a jog and there was a man working on a fence out beside the road and as he passed he told me the Holy Spirit spoke but he dismissed it....
And so the Holy Spirit kept prodding him… and on the next lap around He told the Lord, if he is still out, he would stop.
And on the next pass, there was the man, still working and he did stop.
The Holy Spirit was calling him to witness to that man...
and likewise
The Holy Spirit leads us to work, witness and serve.
Now think about this passage... Jesus speaks to the church at Ephesus, one of the 7 churches in Asia Minor.
He knew their works...
In our passage… Jesus speaks to the church at Ephesus, one of the 7 churches in Asia Minor.
and listen to verse 2-4
Revelation 2:2–4 ESV
“ ‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.
What do I want you to pay attention to from this passage...
A. The Holy Spirit
B. He calles us to change
We are not rising above, we are not growing and becoming the person Jesus has called us to be…
So what I can I share with you today that the Lord would be pleased with....

1. Embrace the Necessary Changes

When we consider the thought of moving up, Next Level Living that we are talking about today, there is one component that we have to notice early on that it central to all we do today and tomorrow ....
It brings to mind a word that scares us for some reason.
The word is change...
Change, depending on the situation can have positive attributes or it can have negative...
But here is one truth my friends, .... Change is always necessary my friends.
Change is always necessary my friends.
When I look at the totality of the message Jesus has for each of these churches here in Revelation chapters 2 and 3 there is one solid truth we must hand onto.. Jesus was calling for change..
Consider the passage we are looking at this morning...
Revelation 2:2–5 ESV
“ ‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.
Jesus tells them, look I see....most literally I know the works that you have already done.. those things are good
And then you see it.... BUT...
Jesus said But I have this against you....
Against you refers to holding a grudge a someone for something that did or didn’t do...
Why have I reminded you of this,- Here is the reason. No matter how good you are doing at times… there is more!
More to do, more that could be done better - when you look at His words you know there comes a time, we have missed the mark, taken a wrong turn or forgot something really important...
So we have to make some changes to get back on course.
So let me ask you a question here right from the start...
Are you on course or off course?
The church at Ephesus as a great group, they did so much well.. but still they got off course, they missed the one thing they should have not, they lost their main focus.
Are you on track.
Is He pleased with your works?
Is He pleased with your works?
Now lets think about a second thought....

2. Return to Your First Love

Love is a wonderful topic, but so often all we have is the world’s interpretation of what love is or means and sadly, it misses the mark altogether.
So many see love as convenient, shallow, a easy come and easy go type of emotion… but there is nothing father from the truth.
Love has its origin not in man but God.
And the love defined by God is faithful, true, steadfast, caring, holy and giving. There is nothing shallow in that type of love.
So now think of the words Jesus says to the believers at Ephesus..return to your first love…
Revelation 2:4 ESV
But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.
Now the word “abandoned” is special.. Let me share this thought with you before we move on … We find that word “abandoned” mentioned in as well..
Matthew 4:20 ESV
Immediately they left their nets and followed him.
Now . is from the passage where Jesus first called his disciples, and when he called them… what did they do?
They abandoned everything… life, earnings, family and yes even self to follow Jesus.
Now consider what Jesus is saying to those of the Ephesian church. He tells them the charges He had concerning them were “You have abandoned your first love...”
Now i think we would recognize what Jesus is saying, He is reminding them Those Ephesians were guilty of abandoning their love for Him...
How could this be?
Believe it or not.... it happened to them before they ever realized it.
Jesus said they knew their works and they were good. Actions do not always truly define the heart or the love therein...
How can I say that?
I can say for certain .... our ways are not perfect.
People can do all the right things, actions .... they can serve, give their time, give their money, they can deny their self.... but..
It doesn’t mean you love the Lord...
And here is where it gets really important
If a person is not communing with the Lord, how can they say they love Him?
A person cannot...
And here is where it gets really important, to try to serve in ones own strength, apart from Jesus presence, failing to commune with Him in prayer is sinful.
It is sinful and powerless, because unless a person live for and with Jesus, how can one have success?
They cannot my friends, no sir ree.
Jesus told them...
Remember.....
Revelation 2:4–5 ESV
But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.
Remember where you have fallen from..
So the call is for them to repent and return..
Why did Jesus call disciples? We could say many reasons… the first is for salvation, to save them.
They once lived in a loving relationship with the Lord, they walked with Him each day
Suddenly they were not now...
So Jesus calls for people to return.. come back to Me He calls.
So Jesus calls for people to return.. come back to me.
Come back and walk in the power and strength of my fellowship.
So Jesus calls for people to return.. come back to me.
Think of this..
Why did Jesus call disciples? We could say many reasons… the first is for salvation, to save them.
The second is to use them, to empower them and have them enjoy the blessing of being God’s instrument in the world, like ole Paul.
This could only continue as the Ephesians came back to the Lord.
And friends, the same is true for us as well.
Is there a solution? Yes!
Is there a solution? Yes!
Jesus calls for them to repent…
Let me ask you a question, have you ever done something wrong, and had to say ‘I’m sorry.”
Yes, we have.... we all have..
Jesus is reminding them, repent. In fact Jesus tells John, unless they do, he would remove the church (lampstand) from his presence.
Repentance is turning back the right way, turning back to Jesus.
Now that makes one stop and think for a minute, just what does Jesus mean?
Well the phrase
How is your walk with the Lord?
Are you walking in love? In His strength and power? Or are you walking in your own strength?
So ask the Holy Spirit to evaluate your walk with the Lord this morning, is there a “true love and devotion” as you walk alongside of the Lord, or is it empty?
You see unless we master some of these basic steps, how can we have success
Do you love Him? Are you dying to self to prove it, are you giving “you” to show it ? Is there a heart felt devotion that you give back to Him.
You can never return if you do not look back home....

Now just one last thought this morning....
You can never step up if you are not on the step right before the one the Lord is trying to prepare for you..
Are you living in the power of the Lord.
invitation
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