Return to the First

One of the major themes from Conference this year is found in the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ. Jesus praises the church for its discernment and patient endurance; however, in verse four of chapter two, He mentions a complaint He has with the church of Ephesus. He says, “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lamp stand from its place-unless you repent.” I love Jesus so much for this, because it reveals more of His character. Even in a strong warning, He encourages us and doesn’t hide His desire for us to return to Him in repentance and works.

What comes to mind when you think of Jesus’ charge to the church of Ephesus? What do you see when you read the words “repent and do the first works”? Maybe it’s returning to a specific location or a familiar form of prayer. It could be an outreach activity or a personal form of worship that represents the beginning fire of your relationship with Christ.

Likely, all of us have numerous ideas that signify a fervent beginning with the Lord. As Christians, we should be quick to remember what first stirred our passionate love for Christ and how we can return to the purity of that love. Usually, it’s the complications of life that get in the way of that return. That’s anything from working more hours on the job, more kids (that’s me), or new relationships that we’ve embraced.

I believe wholeheartedly that prayer is the place where we must begin. From the place of intimate prayer, we find heartfelt works. Prayer is always more than a lengthy monologue of requests to God. It’s a dialogue with God mixed with thankfulness, honor, silence, emotion, listening, and grace. To return to our first love, we must ask where did we last have our passion? Where our passionate love for Jesus and His gospel is found, our “first works” will also be found. When love and passion is lost, we typically attempt to substitute it with works, but that’s somewhat out of order. Our works flow from our intense love, not love from works. From the place of intimate prayer, we find heartfelt works. Intimacy is always the predecessor of what we do for God.

My encouragement to you today is simply this: begin with prayer. Let’s start by asking God to help us return to Him. He is a kind and compassionate Father, and He desires to return our hearts back to our first love.

ACTIVATION: Write down 1-3 of the “first works” you believe best describe the passion with which you began your walk with Christ.

PRAYER: In prayer, ask God to bring you back to that passion each week. Pray about one work per week for three weeks.
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