My First Love

August 25, 2001 PM
Pastor Chris Abernathy
Columbus, Georgia

...the book of Revelations chapter two. Just signify by saying, "Amen." This evening we're going to look at one of the churches in Asia, and that church being the church at Ephesus. Amen? In verse one of chapter two of Revelations, John wrote,

1. Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;

2. I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:

3. And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.

4. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.

4. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.

5. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works: or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.

6. But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate.

7. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches: to him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

Let us pray.

Most holy and gracious heavenly Father, we come before You with thanksgiving in our hearts, thanking and praising You for this day, thanking and praising You for the Anointing that removes burdens and destroys yokes.

Father, hide Your servant behind the cross, that Your people would see You and not me. And Father, as I decrease, I ask that You would increase. And let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight. I place my flesh up under Your subjection.

Satan, you are bound and forbidden to operate. In Jesus' Name. Amen.

During the time of the apostles, Ephesus was a great and wealthy city. They even call Ephesus the market place. Ephesus was a place where there was a lot of commercialism going on. There was a lot (glory to God) of exporting of goods that was going on in Ephesus at the time of the apostles. Ephesus was a place (glory to God)... I should say it was the greatest city in Asia.

But also as we look at Ephesus, it was a place of great idolatry. In Ephesus they worshiped the goddess Diana. There were many prophets and prophetesses, and priest and priestesses (glory to God) that worshiped Diana in Ephesus.

But God in the midst of all of that, He established a church at Ephesus. And at the church at Ephesus (glory to God) there was a people that was fired up for the Lord. There was a people (glory to God) that knew (glory to God) that the Gospel was the truth and that Jesus Christ was Lord to the glory of God the Father. There was a people that understood that you couldn't get to the Father except by the Son. Glory to God.

But during the time of this writing...(tongues.) Forty years had passed on as John began to get this revelation from Jesus Christ. Forty years had passed. So those that had established the church at Ephesus (glory to God), they were dying off and there was a new generation that was coming in.

And what happened was, this generation wasn't as fervent about God. This generation (glory to God) did not have the love of God in their hearts the way the old generation had the love of God in their hearts. That's why Jesus said, "Repent, because you've left..." Oh, I feel Jesus. "...your first love."

One thing about this group of Christians, like the church today they didn't have a lot of those problems. They were perseverant. They didn't have a problem with perseverance. They were good workers. They didn't have a problem with good works. Glory to God.

They were longsuffering. They didn't have a problem with (glory to God) suffering for the cause of Christ. They were not weary in well doing (glory to God), so there was not a problem with them reaping the harvest. They had great discernment, so when someone came into the church and said that they were something that they were not (glory to God), they were able to identify them. They didn't have a problem with that.

The problem lied in this, that they had left their first love. That's why Jesus said, "Repent and do the first works first." You see, every now and then we've got to go back to the last, the old landmark. Because what happens is, we get caught up in doing good works.

Good works without a fervent love for God are dead works. It doesn't matter, because your works and my works are going to be tried by the fire to see what they were really all about. And once they're tried by the fire, if they weren't done truly in the Name of Jesus, if they weren't done with the love of God in our hearts (glory to God), our works will be burned up, and there'll be no reward.

You see, in heaven when we get there, many of us are going to have rewards. We're going to get our crowns. Glory to God. But there are going to be some rewards that are given out. Oh, you don't hear me tonight.

You see, some of us (glory to God) are going to get a reward for a certain thing, and others of us are going to get rewards for other things. But I don't know about you. But I want every reward that's supposed to be coming to me.

He said, "I have somewhat against you."

They said, "What, Jesus?"

"You've left your first love."

You see, in the body of Christ today we don't realize just like in verse one where it said that Jesus walked into the midst of them. Jesus walks in the midst of us. Once He comes into the midst of us He can really discern what's really going on. You see, He doesn't look from the outside trying to look to the inside. He does things from the inside out.

So no matter how we try to cover it up, no matter how we try to wrap it up... You don't hear me. He's in the midst of it, so He knows everything that's going on. He's not working from the outside in. He's working from the inside out.

That's why, saints of God, we can't continue to stay in the outer courts. He's trying to invite us into the inner courts. You see, you stay on the outer courts, you're going to miss something.

But once I get into the inner courts (glory to God) I'm going to come unto Him and He's going to come unto me. I'm going to sup with Him and He's going to sup with me. He's going to make His abode with me, and I'm going to make my abode with Him. Glory to God.

He worked from the midst. When you have a church that's supposed to be called by His Name, He works from in the middle. That's why He said, "Where two or three are gathered together in My Name, there I am in the midst, because I want to see what's really going on." You don't hear me today.

When the three Hebrew boys were in the fiery furnace, they said there was another person there in the midst. He wants to see what's really going on. Glory be to God. He works from the middle. That's why He knew that they had left their first love.

When we look at who Christ is, we can call Him a thermometer. Because He's always going to check the climate of His church. He's going to check the climate of the worship. He's going to check the climate of His people, whether or not they're on fire for Him (oh, you don't hear me), whether or not they're just doing it or they're doing it out of a heart full of love.

He knows when we're obedient. He knows when we're disobedient. He's trying to bring the church to a place of accountability.

You see, a lot of times people don't want to be held accountable for anything. That's why they only come to church every now and then. Oh, you don't hear me. Because they don't want to be fully accountable. But see, once I really make a commitment, once I really love Jesus. Oh, you don't hear me today. I don't care what's going on in my life, I'm going to stick with my first love.

It's sort of like a bride, isn't it? When she marries that man, she'll dare you to say anything about him. You don't hear me. She'll dare you to look at him with eyes that are not like God.

You see, we should be like that about Jesus. We should get to the point where we dare the enemy to come up into our midst. There should be so much love in here that the vessel would come on in, but the spirit that's not like God is going to stay outside.

He said, "I have somewhat against you." He said, "You're doing everything the way it's supposed to be done. But you've left your first love." It seemed like Ephesus had it all together.

When we look at the Greek word for "left" it's aphiemi, a-p-h-i-e-m-i, which means to let go or to forsake. One thing about it, He wasn't saying that they forgot Him. But He said, "You left me." There's a difference. Sometimes when you leave somebody they'll give you the opportunity to come back. Oh, you don't hear me.

They still loved Him, but they had left that fervency of love that they had, that intensity that they had about Him. It was gone.

Sometimes we come to church and it seems as though it's business as usual. But He's checking our love. He said that we're supposed to love Him with all our heart, soul, and mind. Every part of our being should exude His love, love for the Father, love for the Son, love for the Holy Spirit, love for my brother, love, love, love.

Without love, the apostle Paul said in First Corinthians thirteen, we're like sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal. Without really loving God when we begin to praise and worship Him, it's like sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal in His ear, nothing but noise, and He doesn't want to hear it.

In verse five, He told them to repent. Repent.

5. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works...

He wasn't threatening them. But He said,

5. ...or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.

Remember those candlesticks were the angels that were sent unto the different seven churches. He was saying to them, he was saying, "I'm going to remove the candlestick. Therefore I'm going to remove you from your position of influence. And then after a while once I do that, you will cease to exist. You will come to a place of total destruction."

Because if you can't hear God in a place, if God is not in a place, then that place is going to come to nought. If God is not in it, it won't last. He wasn't threatening them. He was on them. He was telling them that you will be destroyed. Listen saints of God.

He told us to work while it is day. For the night cometh when no man can work. Repent and do the first works first. Repent and go back to loving the Lord like you first loved Him when you first got saved. Because when you first got saved, when you were really saved, you wanted to tell everybody about Jesus. You didn't have time to hear about nobody talking about nobody else, because you were in a love relationship.

You know how it is when a man and a woman are in love? They think about that person all day long. When I used to sit at my desk at AT&T in Atlanta, I would have paper on my desk. And people would just be walking by my desk.

And I'm sure if they looked down all they saw on my paper all the way down was Adrienne, Adrienne, Adrienne, Adrienne, Adrienne, Adrienne, Adrienne, Adrienne, Adrienne. Then I would put Adrienne Abernathy to see how that look. Adrienne Abernathy, Adrienne Abernathy, Adrienne Abernathy.

I could do nothing but think about her all day. All over my paper. If they came to get my work, I would have been in trouble.

Listen. Love with a fervency, love God with a fervency. Love Him with a fervency. When you really love Him with a fervency, you will walk in His atmosphere. He'll want you in His atmosphere. You might just feel somebody tap you on the shoulder and you look around and don't see anybody there. He's trying to get your attention.

Love. Go back to your first love. Go back to your first love. God first. See, when you love, really love God, then everything else is going to fall in line. Because the Bible says that love never fails. It never fails. It can't fail. Real love can't fail. If it's real, it can't fail. It'll make mistakes on our half, but it won't fail. Do you hear what I'm saying? Oh, Jesus.

He said, "Repent, and do the first works first."

Give God a handclap of praise.

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