#456 (11/10/21) RETURN TO OUR FIRST LOVE
Over the next three weeks, our devotionals will be based on our vision at CCP. If you are not a part of our church, I trust that you will still find these reflections helpful.
Our vision is to be a church community that is,
“Bringing people to Jesus - myself, one another and my community”
This week we are focussing on what it means to bring ‘One another’ to Jesus.
This week we are considering what it means to come to Jesus together. As I prepared these devotionals, I was reminded of the message to the churches in Revelation 2-3. God doesn’t just want devoted individuals, He’s also concerned for local churches to have a shared vision to live lives of worship. The first letter to the Ephesian church begins,
“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. I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.” (Revelation 2:1-5)
‘To the Angel…Seven Stars’ - In 1:20, we read that,
‘The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.’ (Revelation 1:20)
These two symbols - angels and stars - both refer, most likely, to the main teaching elder in a local church (‘angel’ can be translated as ‘messenger’). Jesus speaks to the church through His leaders.
‘Seven golden lampstands’ - This symbol of the lampstand refers to these seven local churches. ‘Seven’ speaks of completeness and so he is also addressing all churches in all ages, all of which are tempted with and contain varying levels of the attributes spoken of in these representative congregations. Jesus walks among them. His presence is in His local church. He wants us to be a holy people for Him.
‘I know your deeds’ - To each of these seven churches, Jesus commends or refutes their corporate behaviour. Jesus wants His church to work together for His priorities.
‘The love you had at first’ - This first challenge in the first letter surely speaks of Jesus’ priority of love. This phrase refers to their love for God and one another. It seems - and this pattern continues today - that this church, at its birth, had a burning love for Jesus and one another; however, this, over time, was waining. Jesus confronts them in very strong terms to return to being a community of love.
‘Consider how far you have fallen!’ - This letter is written to every church in all ages (as are all the others). We are all prone to falling from love. CCP will have people across the whole spectrum of devotion from ‘lukewarm to hot’. I hope that you are joining Jesus in His passion to build a worshipping and loving church community. I trust that you will pray about how you may need to respond to Christ today.
PRAY AND WORSHIP OUT OF THE BIBLE
In keeping with this aim of developing a personal relationship with God through prayer and worship out of the Bible, we’ll be developing our skill in meditation and prayer using the structure that we are taught in The Lord’s Prayer.
If you look at The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13), you’ll see that it can be broken into 4 major themes of Praise (6:9), Petitions (6:10-11), Peace-making (Matthew 6:12) and Protection (Matthew 6:13).
Using Revelation 2:4-5a, use the Lord’s prayer structure (below) to help you to pray.
'Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.' (Revelation 2:4-5a)