Mike talked about this pizzeria back in Kentucky that used to be an old church. He said there's nothing sadder than eating pizza in a church where the light has gone out. Ephesus was in danger of its light going out, so Jesus dictated a letter to John for them, and you can read it in Revelation 2:1-7.
Here are some of my notes:
This church was 40 years old at the time and complacency had set in. They were doing everything right but not for the right reason. Jesus told them "you have left your first love."
It is easy to get so busy serving God that you stop seeking him. But God wants us to be in love with his person, not just his purpose.
When we study the book of Ephesians (Paul's letter to the church at Ephesus) we tend to focus on the practical exhortations in the second half of the book, but we risk missing the essential first half, which is all about the person of God, and knowing Him better.
"[I] get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit - not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength - that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you'll be able to take in with all Christians the extravagant dimensions of Christ's love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its lenghth! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Life full lives, full in the fullness of God. " -Eph 3:14-19 (msg)
Our first goal should be to know Him, not to check off a list of spiritual good deeds. When we try to put our focus on the "purpose" and not the "person" we set ourselves up for failure because it is the intimate, dynamic relationship with God that produces fruit in our lives and keeps us going.
How do you recapture that love? Christ gives three directions to the church; Remember, repent and return. It is obvious by the strength of the language used that this falling out of love is not viewed as just a natural part of the church getting older, but a serious sin that needs to be repented.
When you look at Jesus' life his greatest passion wasn't teaching, or healing, or leading, it was his relationship with the Father. Intimacy with God should be our number one priority as well.
If it's not, we are like travel agents handing out brochures to a place we've never been.
The church has donated $100,000 for Katrina victims and raised another $110,000 that has yet to be disbursed. As soon as the church gets word on more we can do (supplies and volunteers) they will let us know. Meanwhile evacuees are coming to two local mental hospitals for shelter (won't that be lovely for them) and they will keep us updated on that.
This weekend Bill's giving an updated version of the Holy Discontent message that brought the house down at the Summit. And making a big announcement about something or other.
Then next week Mike continues the We've Got Mail series.