Start…Again!

Have you ever wished you could go back and start something over?

Maybe a diet, a budget, an exercise program…maybe a conversation?

If only you could call a ‘time out’, and go back to the beginning. Then, knowing what you now know, you’d start better. You’d be more consistent, more committed, more faithful, more attentive.

Sometimes, unfortunately, we can’t do that. The opportunity has simply passed us by, the possibility is no longer there, or the other person(s) are not open to it.

The great news is that, with God–through Jesus–the possibility IS there–always!

As some of us heard last Sunday, the Ephesian church was in precisely that situation. The Apostle Paul had prayed that they would be given “A spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that they would know Him more…” (Ephesians 1:17). 30 years later, the Apostle John got a message for that church, and it showed that there was a problem:

 “I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance. I know you don’t tolerate evil people. You have examined the claims of those who say they are apostles but are not. You have discovered they are liars. You have patiently suffered for me without quitting.

“But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first.”  (Revelation 2:2-5)

Despite having good theology and being a ‘solid’ church, they’d forgotten one very important thing: Their love for God!

They had rules, they had theology, they had strict adherence to God’s Word–all very good things; but they had ‘lost their love for God’.

What does theology with no love for God lead to? Dry, crusty, legalistic, harsh, punitive ‘religion’.

I believe this to be THE problem in the lives of many Christians today.

(To be sure, there are others who are ‘in love with Jesus’, but have poor theology…but that’s another story.)

Many Christians, who fill the pews of many churches, have forgotten the importance of keeping a LOVE FOR GOD alive–that relationship has to be the driver behind what they do.

Their love for God must be the ‘Why‘; their obedience is the ‘What‘.

If we forget the ‘Why‘, and only have the ‘What‘, we are in danger of becoming like the Ephesian church.

Something inside of us knows that is not the way it’s supposed to be! The Holy Spirit shows us that we need Him, and we want to be closer to Him! That’s why many of our church responded last Sunday to a call to repentance and asking God to ‘renew our passion’ and ‘Revive’ us.

We want to be close to the Lord, and to have Him lead us into the joy of knowing Him closely, reflecting Him more. We want to move closer to Him every day, and our hearts ache to have that intimacy with Him.

So, how do we do it?

How do we change–once we realize we’ve gotten off track?

Look at verse 5 again: Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first.”

First, we get an accurate look at ourselves, admitting ‘how far we’ve fallen’, then we ‘Turn back to [Him]’ (repent), then we ‘do the works we did at first’.

If we want to experience ‘Revival’–in ourselves as well as in our churches, we must Honestly acknowledge the things that have taken us away from Him–our hobbies, our pursuits, our interests, our comforts…even those things that aren’t ‘sinful’ in themselves may have been some of the very things that have stolen our love from Him.

We must then Turn Back–REPENT! We must turn back to Him in a very real, practical, lived-out way. We must refuse to make excuses or to blame others, but must instead take responsibility, seek His forgiveness, and commit to following Him!

Finally, we must ‘DO’ things…we must make the priority decision to seek Him…spend quality time in Prayer, seeking His face; spend time in His Word, studying and meditating on it; seek Him in prayer. We must pray–not about our ‘lists’ of people and issues, but about Him! We must spend time simply ‘seeking His face’, and being humbled there.

IF we are willing to do these things, He may restore us and revive us. If we genuinely seek Him, He will not turn His back (see Luke 15:11-24). As the Scriptures say, “The faithful love of the Lord never ceases. His tender mercies are new every morning! Great is His faithfulness!” (Lamentations 3:22-23).

Christian, don’t delay! Take time today to restore that relationship with God. Admit your distraction and sin, repent and turn to Him, then do the things you must to get close to Him. Ask Him to ‘renew’ and ‘revive’ you, and share what He does with others!

Then our lives will work the way they’re supposed to, and then He can and will use us to spread the good news about Jesus to others…and our world will notice again!

You’re never too far gone!

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