8 Minute Read
To the best of your ability, get rid of all distractions. Take a couple of minutes to breathe deeply, to quiet yourself in the Lord’s presence. Then, prayerfully ask the Lord to speak to you in this time and let Him know that you will be listening and will make whatever adjustments He will reveal to you.
Today’s Bible Reading:
Listen to the Lord
Slowly and reflectively read the following verses and listen to what God will say to you through them. Then, consider writing down any insights He reveals to you.
Revelation 2:4-5 (NLT): “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. If you don’t repent, I will come and remove your lampstand from its place among the churches.”
Reflections from Scripture:
The book of Ephesians is one of the climaxes of the New Testament. While the church in Ephesus had its troubles, it was a great church. And it received a gem when Paul wrote his letter to them.
But, when we fast-forward about 40 years later into the ’90s, when many believe that John wrote the book of Revelation, we see that something happened in the church. While they maintained their doctrinal purity and did some great things for the Lord, and while they courageously stood up against error and false teachers, they lost something. They lost their love.
Revelation 2:4 (NLT): “But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first!”
They were still standing up for truth and doing some wonderful deeds. But, their motive had changed. They weren’t doing it because of love anymore.
- Maybe they did everything because they felt it was their religious duty.
- Maybe it was because they wanted to be respected by others.
- Maybe it was because they would feel guilty if they didn’t.
- The possibilities of various motives are endless when we give up on love.
While they may not have felt that their change in motive was a big deal, God gave them a very stern warning…
Revelation 2:5 (NLT): “Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first. If you don’t repent, I will come and remove your lampstand from its place among the churches.”
In Revelation 1, we realize that Jesus was walking among the lampstands as He took care of them. That picture seems to illustrate that Jesus takes ownership over and cares for each of His churches.
So, when the threat is given that the lampstand would be removed, it seems to mean that the church would lose its legitimacy in God’s eyes. Jesus wouldn’t claim ownership over the congregation nor feel compelled to care for it. The church would continue to meet, but Jesus would not meet with them.
Being motivated by love is not a small thing. If we don’t love the Lord, nothing we do matters. Absolutely nothing matters.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (NLT): “If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.”
Friend, are you motivated by love? Do you do what you do because you love God and love others? If not, then ask God to help you grow in your love for Him and others.
Because if you don’t, nothing you do matters. Absolutely nothing.
Spend Time in Prayer
Lord Jesus, please increase my love for You and others. Loving You and others is the greatest two commands, so I need to get it right. But I cannot cultivate it within my own heart without You joining me in the work. So, I thank You in advance for enabling me to obey You. I pray this in Your Name, Amen.
Matt Ellis is the pastor of First Baptist Church in Polk City, Florida (fbcpolkcity.com). His latest book is God’s Grace in the Real World. Connect with him on Facebook or Twitter.