Slightly Obsessed #073 "First Love" (Wednesday Devo) by Pamela Thorson on 2014-07-09 11:22:52
I know your deeds and you toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary.
But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. – Revelation 2:2-4
Ephesus was a thriving harbor city in first century Asia. It was a center both for trade and for the pagan worship of the Greek goddess Artemis, the equivalent of the Roman goddess Diana. The splendid Temple of Artemis was considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
The early Christians there endured much opposition to the gospel. Acts 19:21-41 relates the account of a silversmith named Demetrius, who made a good living crafting silver shrines of Artemis until the gospel pulled people away from pagan worship and threatened his business. He was nearly successful in creating a riot that threatened Christians and the work of God in the city.
The Ephesian church had this and other challenges to its existence. Besides the attacks from the outside, the church suffered from false teachers propagating their own brand of theology. The Epistle to the Ephesians addresses their struggles, correcting their doctrine and offering encouragement to this beleaguered body of Christ.
Paul personally warned the Ephesian church:
“After my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” –Acts 20:29-30
Some thirty years later, in His revelation of the last days to John, Jesus acknowledged the Ephesians’ tenacious fight for the faith but chastised them for leaving behind their first love. He told them:
Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent. –Revelation 2:5
Today the area of Turkey where the Ephesus once stood is nearly devoid of any Christian influence. A city that once fought for the faith and shone for Christ now sits in darkness.
This is a sobering reminder for us. Christ’s words were directed to Ephesus, but they were meant for us, as well. We must remember that our faith is not about what we are fighting against, but what we are living for. It is our love for Jesus that ignites the oil of the Spirit in our lives. Our passion for the Savior alone is the flame that drives away the night and illuminates our world.
It’s good to contend for the faith. It’s wise to test those who want to exert authority over us. It pleases God when we endure through hardship and persecution for Him.
But that is not what He wants.
He wants us to be in love with Him. If we do that, the rest will follow. And our faith will set the world aflame.
About Pamela Thorson:
Pamela Thorson is a licensed practical nurse, author, and full-time caregiver. She pioneered in the homeschooling movement from 1982-2006 and authored her first book, Song in the Night, in 2008. She resides in the Northwest with her family.
Slightly Obsessed #186: When the Path Ahead Is Fearsome
The room was dark and shadowed, the only sound within its walls the rhythmic whoosh of the ventilator beside my son’s bed. I sat on an uncomfortable chair jammed into one corner of the room. In the faint light that fell from the window across the pages of the Bible I held, I tried to corral my stampeding fears long enough to find some comfort from God’s Word. Outside the door of his room, a cacophony of voices from the nurses’ station jarred our shattered nerves.
Slightly Obsessed #185: Clean
They were just turning down the lights in the sanctuary as I awkwardly slid into a seat near the back of the church. I was tired and soiled by the previous week. Life had been especially difficult, and I had not handled the pressure well. I felt completely unhinged spiritually and wholly unworthy to be in God’s presence. The worship team began with one of my favorite songs, and I hoped I didn’t look as vulnerable as I felt.
Slightly Obsessed #184: The Mark of Maturity
The infant finishes his bottle and smiles contentedly up at his mother. A trickle of milk courses down from the corner of his mouth. It’s a sweet scene because that’s what babies do. They are born with immature digestive systems and no teeth. Mother’s milk or formula are necessary for the child to survive and thrive. As they grow, their teeth begin to come in, their digestive abilities mature, and they can tolerate solid food.
Slightly Obsessed #183: He Knows Your Name
All sheep look alike to me. Defenseless, timid, and nondescript creatures, they tend to wander and get into trouble. When one falls, it needs help to get back on its feet. Its purpose in life is mostly to eat and make more sheep. It’s easy to see why Jesus equated them to humans. A line of sheep looks like a sea of wool and blank stares, huddled in a timid group behind their leader.
Slightly Obsessed #182 "When Speaking the Truth Makes You the Enemy"
The apostle Paul loved the people of God. After his conversion to Christ, he spent his life not only establishing churches, but also ministering to their needs. He often had the unpleasant duty of confronting issues that threatened the fledgling church, and his letters to the Galatians and to the Corinthians were especially aimed at keeping the churches rooted in the faith.
Slightly Obsessed #181 "The Moment before the Moment of Revelation"
The movie Ten Commandments famously depicted the rise, fall, and restoration of the Hebrew man who would one day lead his people out of Egypt. Set afloat as a baby in a basket to escape the wrath of Egypt, Moses was found by an Egyptian princess and unwittingly restored to his family to be raised as royalty. He was a man with a foot in two worlds, and his choice to follow the faith of his birth family cost him a king’s inheritance.