Sermon: First things First; Rekindle the Flame
Scripture: Revelation 2.1-7
Theme: Come back to Your first love.
o 1924 World Series
o Matthew 7.21-23
Matthew 7:21-23 (NIV)
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
o Knowing Christ….. Meeting Him on first base….. first things first.
o Jesus exposed those people who sounded religious but had no personal relationship with Him
o We can focus on 2nd & 3rd and even Home…. If we do not know Him we will be out at home plate.
o “And not everyone who talks about heaven belongs to God’s Kingdom.
o Jesus is more concerned about our walk than our talk.” LAN MT7.21
o It’s our actions; it’s what we do that defines us.
o “He wants us to do right, not just say the right words.
o Your house (which represents your life, 7:24) will withstand the storms of life only if you do what is right instead of just talking about it.” LAN MT7.21
o à à ** George Pierceson ** ß ß
§ He talked… about how people should and shouldn’t be.
§ Always look on the outside. Until came to know Jesus.
o On “judgement day” only our relationship with Christ – our acceptance of Him as Savior and our obedience to Him – will matter. LAN Mt7.21-23
o “What you do cannot be separated from what you believe.” LAN MT7.21
o Fire went out. àHow do we “rekindle the fire”?
o à Ephesus was a center of land and sea trade, for three major land-trade routes converged in the city, and a large port sat on its coast on the Aegean Sea. LAC 1
o 7 Stars à Angels among the Churches.
§ Right hand = Christ Control of everything.
o “walk among the 7 golden lampstands.
o Verse 2 à know deeds, hard work, patient endurance, intolerance of evil people, examining the claims of false apostles, and how they patiently suffered.
o Active Church
§ Youth Group
§ Community Service
§ Sabbath School Classes
§ Children Program
o Theologically Correct Church
§ Revelation Seminars
§ Daniel Seminars
§ Cooking Schools
§ All the right programs
All of these characteristics show a church busy with good works and suffering willingly for the cause of Christ. LAC RV2.2-3
The message to the church in Ephesus shows that false teachers had indeed come in among the believers, but Christ commended them for discovering and weeding out the liars. LAC RV2.2-3
Lost first love à Need to “Rekindle the Flame”
o Revelation 2.4 “Forsaken/Lost your first love”
o Ephesians 1.5
For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints,
o In the battle to maintain sound teaching and moral and doctrinal purity, it is possible to lose a charitable spirit. LAC RV 2.4
o How did this happen to the Ephesians Church?
§ The “Ephesus problem” happens quietly and by gradual, imperceptible shifts of focus. (PR Rv 2.1-7)
o Have you lost your first love?
o Lost that relationship with Christ
o How do we know that we love God?
o How do we know how much we love God?
o How do we maintain that relationship with Him?
1 John 4.19-21
o 19 à God’s love is the source of all human love,
§ and it spreads like fire.
§ In loving his children, God kindles a flame in their hearts.
§ In turn, they love others, who are warmed by God’s love through them
o Undesirable people
o The Unlovable
o Olivehurst à feed the homeless….. Not at church… Might start coming.
o Car Jacking Foiled – The Art Auction – Finish the Race
Revelation 2:1-7 (NIV)
2 “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: 2 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. 3 You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.
4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. 5 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. 6 But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.
1 John 4.19-21
19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.
1 John 4.7-12
7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
The Art Auction
Years ago a wealthy man shared a passion for art collecting with his devoted young son. Together they traveled around the world, adding only the finest art treasures to their collection. Priceless works by the likes of Picasso, Van Gogh, and Monet adorned the walls of the family estate.
The widowed elder man looked on with satisfaction as Mark, his only child, became an experienced art collector. The son’s trained eye and sharp business mind caused his father to beam with pride as they dealt with art collectors around the world.
As winter approached, war engulfed their nation, and Mark left to serve his country. After only a few short weeks, his father received a telegram: his beloved son had died saving the life of a fellow soldier. Distraught and lonely, the old man faced the upcoming Christmas holidays with anguish and sadness. The joy of the season, a season that he and his son always looked forward to, would visit his house no longer.
On Christmas morning a knock on the door awakened the old man. As he walked to the door, the masterpieces of art on the walls only reminded him that his son was not coming home. At the door was a soldier with a large package.
“I was a friend of Mark,” the soldier said. “I was the one he rescued. If I may I come in for a few moments, I have something to show you.”
The two were soon deep in conversation. From the soldier the old man learned that Mark had rescued dozens of wounded soldiers before a bullet stilled his caring heart. The unfolding image of his son's gallantry awakened a fatherly pride that eased his grief. The soldier then recounted how often Mark had spoken of his father’s love of fine art. Placing the package on the old man's lap, the soldier told him, “I’m an artist. I want you to have this.”
The old man unwrapped the package, pulling the paper away to reveal a portrait of his son. The canvas featured the young man’s face in striking detail, though the world would never consider the painting the work of a genius. Overcome with emotion, the man thanked the soldier.
Once the soldier had departed, the old man set about hanging the portrait above the fireplace, pushing aside paintings by masters that had cost thousands of dollars. Then seating himself in his chair, he spent Christmas gazing at the gift he had been given. In the weeks that followed, the man grew peaceful realizing that Mark lived on because of those he had touched. The soldier's gift soon became his most prized painting, its worth to him far eclipsing the value of the pieces in his collection for which museums around the world clamored. He told his neighbors it was the greatest gift he had ever received.
The following spring, the old man became ill and passed away. The art world stirred in anticipation of the public auction of the old man's estate. He had stipulated that his collection be sold on Christmas Day—the day he had received his greatest gift. On the appointed day art collectors from around the world gathered to bid on the spectacular paintings. Many who coveted the reputation of owning the greatest art collection waited eagerly for the auctioneer to open the bidding.
The auction began with a painting not on any museum’s must-have list—the soldier's painting of the old man’s son. “May I have an opening bid,” the auctioneer requested. The room was silent. “Who will open the bidding with $100?” he prompted. Minutes passed and still no one spoke.
“Who cares about that painting?” shouted a bidder from the back of the room.
“It’s just a picture of his son,” commented another. More voices echoed agreement. “Let’s forget it and go on to the good stuff.”
“No, we have to sell this one first,” replied the auctioneer. “Now, who will take the son?”
Finally, a friend of the old man spoke. “I'd like to have the painting. I knew the boy. Will you take ten dollars for it? That’s all I have.”
“I have ten dollars," called the auctioneer. “Will anyone go higher?” More silence. “Going once.” The auctioneer raised the gavel. "Going twice," he said looking around for any takers. “Gone,” he said at last, letting the gavel fall.
Cheers filled the room. “Now we can get on with bidding on these treasures!” remarked the man from the back of the room.
Over the microphone the auctioneer said. “Thank you for coming. The auction is now over.”
Stunned disbelief quieted the room.
“What do you mean it’s over?” growled an irate bidder.
“We didn’t come here for a picture of some old guy’s son!” said another.
“What about all of these other paintings?” shouted the irate bidder coming to his feet. “There are millions of dollars of art here! I demand that you explain what’s going on!”
“It’s very simple," replied the auctioneer. “According to the will of the father, whoever takes the son...gets it all.”
Where to Take It from Here...
And that is the will of the Father today. Whoever takes the Son...gets it all. When you take Christ as Savior, you will have the riches of life to its fullest. (John 10:10, Matthew 6:33) Jesus is God’s greatest treasure, his “pearl of great price” (Matthew 13:45-46).
Finish the Race
The Barcelona Olympics of 1992 provided one of track and field’s most incredible moments.
Britain’s Derek Redmond had dreamed all his life of winning a gold medal in the 400-meter race, and his dream was in sight as the gun sounded in the semifinals at Barcelona. He was running the race of his life and could see the finish line as he rounded the turn into the backstretch. Suddenly he felt a sharp pain go up the back of his leg. He fell face first onto the track with a torn right hamstring.
Sports Illustrated recorded the dramatic events:
As the medical attendants were approaching, Redmond fought to his feet. “It was animal instinct,” he would say later. He set out hopping, in a crazed attempt to finish the race. When he reached the stretch, a large man in a T-shirt came out of the stands, hurled aside a security guard and ran to Redmond, embracing him. It was Jim Redmond, Derek’s father. “You don’t have to do this,” he told his weeping son. “Yes, I do,” said Derek. “Well, then,” said Jim, “we’re going to finish this together.”
And they did. Fighting off security men, the son’s head sometimes buried in his father’s shoulder, they stayed in Derek’s lane all the way to the end, as the crowd gaped, then rose and howled and wept.
Derek didn’t walk away with the gold medal, but he walked away with an incredible memory of a father who, when he saw his son in pain, left his seat in the stands to help him finish the race.
Where to Take It from Here...
That’s what God does for us. When we are experiencing pain and we’re struggling to finish the race, we can be confident that we have a loving Father who won’t let us do it alone. He left his place in heaven to come alongside us in the person of his Son, Jesus Christ. “I am with you always,” says Jesus, “to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).
Car Jacking Foiled!
Not long ago in California, an elderly woman went to the grocery store to do some shopping. When she returned to her car, she noticed four men getting into it.
The woman dropped her shopping bags, reached into her purse, and pulled out a small handgun that she carried for protection. She ran to the front of her car, aimed the pistol at the men, and began screaming at them at the top of her lungs. She ordered them out of the car and warned that if they didn’t, she would blow their brains out.
“I know how to use this gun, and don’t think I won’t!” she screamed.
The four men didn’t hesitate. The threw open the car doors, scrambled out, and started running as fast as they could.
The woman was trembling, but kept her composure. When she was certain the men were gone, she put the gun back in her purse, picked up her bags, and loaded them into the back seat of the car. She then climbed into the driver’s seat and decided to go immediately to the police station to report the incident.
But there was a small problem. Her key wouldn’t fit in the ignition. A quick glance around the interior confirmed that she was in the wrong car! Her vehicle was parked four spaces away in the same aisle of the parking lot.
She loaded her bags into her own car and drove to the police station to confess what she had done. When she told the story to the sergeant, he couldn’t control his laughter. He just pointed to the other end of the counter where four very shaken men were reporting a car jacking by a mad, elderly white woman.
The woman apologized, and no charges were filed.
Where to Take It from Here...
Things are not always as they first appear, are they? Have you ever jumped to conclusions about someone only to later find out that you were badly mistaken? You may not have pulled a gun, but you may have hurt someone with unkind words or gestures. You may have spread a rumor that wasn’t true or refused to include someone in your circle of friends.
Like the woman in the parking lot, many of us have a tendency to assume the worst about people. We don’t think; we just “know” that we are right and they are wrong. Until we find out otherwise.
Jesus taught his disciples to avoid judging others or accusing them falsely (see Matthew 7:1; John 7:24). If you follow that example, you won’t have to worry about being embarrassed or having to apologize later.