Lucia's Blog: January 2015
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Saturday, January 31, 2015

IN PURSUIT OF A PURE HEART

"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."  
Matthew 5:8


In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus spoke of a number of qualities that characterize the heart of a true follower.  These character traits are commonly known as the "Beatitudes."  In this study, I would like to focus more on:  purity and the heart.  Keeping the heart and guarding it wisely is not an easy task to achieve on our own.  We definitely need God's help to purify our hearts of what is called SIN. We also need Him to help us with our heart's stubbornness and hardness that sneaks in, darkening its corners.  The marvelous thing is that He will help us if we ask Him.  Only God can give us the wisdom that we need.  His counsel is found in His revealed Word which teaches us how to pursue such purity of heart.  But we must seek His wisdom for direction.  This leads me to the following question:  What did our Lord Jesus in Matthew 5:8 mean by the word "heart”?  In the Bible the word heart is far more than a bodily organ.  The Word of God defines the heart as that part of a man that is able to believe, to understand, to desire, to purpose, to feel, to plan and to will.  The mind is that part in us that combines all these qualities as they are found in the intellect, the emotions and the will. Our intellect contains all the facts of knowledge we have acquired. The emotions include all our feelings and desires. The will is the power to convert our wishes into deeds. When Jesus in this "beatitude" said, "Blessed are the pure in mind,"  He meant "Happy are the pure in heart."     Hence, purity of heart and happiness go hand in hand.  No one can be truly happy with an impure heart.

Notice what Jesus said about an impure heart, "For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. These are the things which defile the man."  Matthew 15:10-20.  The apostle Paul added saying, "with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness."  Romans 10:10.  Also, Jesus rebuked the Jews because of their hardness of heart saying, "For the heart of this people has become dull.  With their ears they scarcely hear, and they have closed their eyes, otherwise they would see with their eyes,  hear with their ears, and understand with their heart and return, and I would heal them."  Matthew 13:15.

Since we understand the meaning of heart and purity, let us consider the qualities of a pure heart:
  1. A Pure Heart Yearns to Serve God Alone:  Such a heart accepts submissively and humbly God's ultimate rule to determine right from wrong and clean from unclean, good and evil, true religion and false religion.  Such a heart also strives to live up to God's Law.  A pure heart is one that is in complete accord with the Law of God.  "Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart." 2 Timothy 2:22.  By the way, this passage applies to both young and old.  You don't have to be young to suffer from youthful lusts.  We laugh at the "dirty old" men and women, but what makes it funny is the surprising truth hidden in the humor.
  2. A Pure Heart Lives to Please God Alone:  Such a heart is one whose affections, thoughts, wishes, habits and conduct are clean. The pure in heart repulses and abhors everything vile and evil. Those pure in heart desire to do good.  They hunger and thirst after righteousness. Their desire is to please God, and they strive to be good and do good. They will not compromise with evil.   The pure in heart are those with a clean heart; clean from everything that is sinful, wrong, evil and contrary to God's will. A heart that does not believe in God is an impure heart.  All those who do not obey and abide by God's Laws have impure hearts. They have a defiled understanding.  Purity of heart is a long-life commitment!  What that means is that a pure heart is free from hidden motives or agendas.  In the Bible, the pure heart is also described as a "whole" heart.  It is not divided.  "Do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God."  James 4:4.

In Psalm 24:3-5, we read regarding the character of the heart, "Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord?  And who may stand in His holy place?  He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood and has not sworn deceitfully.  He shall receive a blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of his salvation."  The Psalmist poses the question, "Who can stand with God?”  "Who is acceptable to Him?"  This should be a concern to all of us.  When the Psalmist speaks of "clean hands" he is suggesting a conduct or behavior. That means we must strive to do the right things to be pleasing to God. This is a necessary standard by which we can determine right from wrong.  Notice that the "pure heart" directs our attention to a clear and uncontaminated motive.  Such a motive is to do it with the right attitude.

This leads me to the following questions:  

HOW IS THE HEART MADE PURE OR
 HOW CAN CAN WE OBTAIN A PURE HEART?

Consider the following possibilities:

I.   It Is Possible With God.  Only God can purify the heart of man.  Although it is impossible for us to have a pure heart on our own, God can make it possible through His grace that teaches us how to deny ungodliness and worldliness, teaching us righteousness and godliness.  The Scriptures call this purity of heart.  This is how He purifies our hearts from all lawlessness. 

Consider the promises that God made in the prophets and His intentions to cleanse the hearts of His people:

A.  God's Promises:
  1. In Jeremiah 31:31-33, God promised that He would make a new covenant with the house of Israel, not like the one He gave them at Mt. Sinai.  "But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,' declares the Lord, 'I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.'"
  2. Again He said, "And I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me always, for their own good and for the good of their children after them." Jeremiah 32:39.
  3. He made the same promise in Ezekiel 36:25-26, "Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” God gives us new hearts by purifying our old ones and putting His new Law in the mind, writing it on the heart.  Again He said, "And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances and do them. Then they will be My people, and I shall be their God." Ezekiel 11:19-21.
  4. God spoke to Daniel saying, "Many will be purged, purified and refined, but the wicked will act wickedly; and none of the wicked will understand, but those who have insight will understand."  Daniel 12:10.
  5. The prophet Malachi described God’s plan to cleanse His people as a "refiner’s fire" and "a fullers' soap." He would purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they would bring offerings in righteousness to the LORD.  Mal. 3:2-3.
God's Law was to enlighten people to know and do His will.  He made His Law wise and understandable.   His Law is composed of infallible Truths that are trustworthy beyond all dispute.  All this, God has done and beyond this nothing more is needed.


B.  God's Provision:  

God sent His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, from heaven to reveal the true God to the world. Our Lord and Savior went to the cross and offered Himself as an atoning sacrifice for the sins of the whole world.  His blood cleanses the conscience. Hebrews 9:13-15 "For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?  And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance."  This new heart Law is the Law of Christ as revealed in the Gospel of Christ, and it impresses the mind with God's offer of mercy and forgiveness and by the promise of immortality and eternal life. The new Law that the apostles and  prophets spoke of, was to be written in the mind, producing a new heart.  Nothing is made pure without the blood of Jesus.  Consider with me, how the blood of Jesus makes us pure of heart:
  1. God's new Law purifies the heart by a twofold process. When God said, "I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh," He referred to a change that begins when one obeys the Gospel of Christ.  Our hearts were purified when we became Christians.  Peter said to Christians, "Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth though the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart” I Peter. 1:22.   Their souls were purified when they were baptized and received the forgiveness of their past sins. Moreover, they were justified, sanctified and saved.  In other words they were given a pure heart.  In Acts 15:9 Paul said that God made no distinction between Jews and Gentiles, purifying their hearts by faith. When we obey the Gospel of Christ by faith, repentance and baptism, God purifies our hearts. He forgives us of our past sins making us clean.  This new and pure heart is only possible through our obedient faith that goes into action in baptism.  1 Peter 1:22 "Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit…"  3:21 "There is also an antitype which now saves us — baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ."  It is after we are baptized that we can keep our hearts pure.  We were a sinful people before, because of our association with the world of darkness.  This leads me to the following question:

HOW DO I MAINTAIN A PURE HEART


Regardless of our lack of ability to provide the means for a pure heart, God does call us to live a pure life through obedience to His will. Ephesians 4:17-18 – "This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart."  We must live and walk with understanding, discerning between right and wrong;  in newness of life, as those who have a new heart which is pure.  This inward purity of heart does not conform to the standards of the world.  How Can I Have Pure Thoughts, Intentions, and Motivations?

I.   The Influence of the Word of God:   The Word of God is crystal clear about what we ought to think on and digest. We must let the Word of God enter our hearts and let it influence us, change us and transform us.  We must live up to God's standards!  We must live in accord with our new and pure heart.  We must remove our impurities.  We must let the Word of God remove the callouses of our heart.  We are to be pure in heart and mind.  Let us seek God so that we may rid ourselves of our impurity and be filled with His living water.   As those who once mourned our past sins and repented, let us cease to practice lawlessness.  Let us walk in righteousness filled with what is right.  Let us also hunger and thirst for righteousness, and be filled with what is good and pure. And let us not grieve the Holy Spirit but rather let us ask God to create a new heart through His Divine Word.  This is the only WAY that God changes the inner person: the heart and mind of man.

A.  We Must Learn What God Wants of Us:

He requires that we spend time in His word. The prophet Jeremiah spoke of a time when God would write His Law in the minds and hearts of His people, Jer. 31:33.  When was this fulfilled?  Consider how this fulfillment was accomplished:
  • As the apostles set about teaching and preaching the Word of God, the Truth that was inspired by the Holy Spirit in them, new hearts and transformation began to happen.  A new heart was created to be in complete agreement with the Law of Jehovah God.  This new heart enlightened them so that knowing His will, they were deeply touched by it. By the power of the Holy Spirit, by the revealed Word spoken through these apostles, prophets and teachers, God was making known His Law to the whole world.  This new Law, the Law of Christ, was written in their hearts and minds so that it could produce a new heart.  Isn't that wonderful and awesome!  This same Law inspires us, influences and affects us the same way it did 2,000 years ago.  God offers man, through Christ's Law, a new heart so that man can receive His mercy and forgiveness as well as the hope of eternal life with Him.  But we must hunger and thirst for the new Law of the heart, the Law of Christ in order to have that pure, new heart.
In Ephesians 4:20-21, The Ephesians were exhorted by Paul to no longer walk as the Gentiles did.  Paul inspired by the Holy Spirit said, "If indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth."  Let us take heed to these words!  There is no other WAY to purify our hearts from all lawlessness!

Although God purifies our hearts when we obey His Gospel, we must keep purifying it by hating all evil and having no fellowship with the kingdom of darkness.  It is a long-term commitment for us, His children.  It does not stop in the waters of baptism.  This purification must continue fervently until the day we die.  This is what His grace does in our lives, a complete transformation of the heart and mind.

  • Our Hearts Are Changed When We Pray and Meditate in His Word, His Law.  We must become very well acquainted with His Law in order to overcome evil and the kingdom of darkness.  Notice how Paul exhorted Timothy, "Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.  Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.”  I Timothy 4:15-16.  How was this possible?  Through meditation of His Word, the things of God.  This was going to save him and those who would hear him.  Do you remember what God told Joshua in regards to His Law?  He said, "This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.  Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” Joshua 1:8-9God told Joshua to meditate upon His Law day and night that he might prosper and God would be with him wherever he went.
B.   We Must "Learn Christ" and Know Him:

Why?  Because knowing Christ requires a pure heart.  It leads one to put to death the flesh, our old manner or conduct of life, with all its lawlessness and walk in the Spirit.  "But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth." Ephesians 4:20-24.  The Word, the Law of Christ, can transform, change and turn our hearts away from our old manner of life corrupted because of sin.  It leads to righteousness and holiness of the Truth.
  • The process of putting off the old self and putting on the new self in the likeness of God is not a simple one.  It requires effort, submission, obedience, death to self, willingness and a love for His Law, His Truth.  A pure heart purposes in his heart to love righteousness.  This is how the heart is renewed or recreated, by putting off sin and evil and putting on what is right: righteousness and holiness. Notice Paul's admonition regarding this, "We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. 29 For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me."  Colossians 1:28-29.
  • Later in the letter to the Colossians, Paul admonishes them regarding their new birth and the new self saying, "Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them.  But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth.  Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him—"  Colossians 3:5-10.  Repentance, a change of heart, is the main focus of God's message and Law.  The pure heart, the changed one, never resists repentance and confession of sins.
  • It is only in seeking God's face through His Word and praying that we are going to be able to turn our hearts away from all evil conduct.    If you desire a pure heart, then start spending time, meditating on His Word.  In Psalm 119:9-12, we read this beautiful exhortation regarding the heart, "How can a young man keep his way pure?  By keeping it according to Your word.  With all my heart I have sought You; Do not let me wander from Your commandments.  Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You.  Blessed are You, O Lord; Teach me Your statutes."

II.   The Influence of Pure Thoughts:  The Bible is crystal clear about what we are to think on and "digest" inside our hearts.  We are not to dwell or give much time to that which is not pure and fitting to God's standards.  It is not by simply reading the Bible that we are going to influence our heart to pure thoughts.  It is by choosing to be busy and to engage our thoughts with healthy, holy, spiritual and righteous thoughts and ideas.  Notice what Philippians 4:8 has to say about keeping our thoughts with all excellence, in order to guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, "Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.  The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you."

Also, there is a connection between purity and the cleansing our mind, regeneration and the renewing of our heart and mind, "To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled."  Titus 1:15.  The Greek word translated as "pure" means clean, unsoiled, clean from guilt, guiltless, innocent, sincere, upright, virtuous, void of evil, clean doctrinally and morally.

A.  This Calls for Self-discipline:  We must gird up the loins of our minds, "Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance:  But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation."  I Peter 1:13-15. 
B.  We Must Battle With False Ideas:  We must ask God to make us aware of seeing the danger and influence of false ideas, subjective vs. objective Truth.  Lest we forget, the mind is the battleground of our soul. "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.  We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ."  2 Corinthians 10:3-6.
C.   We Must War Against Impure Images, Pornography:  Everyone who claims to be a true follower of our Lord and Savior must war against impure images.  Our Lord Jesus directs our attention toward our hearts and specifies how sin begins within our heart. The war is first waged in our mind.  In Matthew 5:28, we read, "But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart."  These impure thoughts and impure images take us captive in our mind.  In the end, they are sinful even if there is no physical contact or fornication.  Such things affect our mind and emotions in the same way that pornography does.  Let us take heed and be wise!  According to Jesus, fantasizing in your mind about someone other than your spouse or indulging in even literary sensual voyeurism is SIN.   Why is it SIN?  Because sin is ultimately a heart issue.  Let us be careful about what we choose to ingest, take in or participate in.  This includes magazines, books, movies, videos, television, websites or anything that would provide for the lust of the flesh.

Consider the pervasive influence and the impurity of thought in our culture today:
  1. There are about 4.2 million pornographic websites today. That is 12% of the total internet site.
  2. A new pornographic video is created and promoted every 39 minutes in this country.
  3. The average age of first exposure is as young as nine years old.
  4.  90% of all teenagers admit to viewing pornography on line.
  5. The average child will watch an average of 8,000 murders on TV before he finishes elementary school.
  6. By age eighteen, the average teenager has seen 200,000 acts of violence on TV, including 40,000 murders.
  7. The average TV shows and Hollywood movies are bombarded with sensual innuendo and voyeurism.

My question is:  Can we think on these things and remain pure in our hearts?  One cannot walk in the light with an impure heart.  God simply will not accept us.  The one who is pure in heart will see God in this life, come to know Him, love Him, obey Him and find happiness in this life.  The pure in heart will honor and appreciate the Father and the Son.  He, the one with a pure heart, will enjoy fellowship with Them in his life. That is the blessing of those who are pure in heart.  "Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God."  What does see God mean?  What is the blessing?  What does it mean we shall see God?  It should be obvious that the word "see" does not mean to see with the physical eye.  We all know there are two kinds of sight:  the physical and the mental.  We can see the Son and the Father by mental vision.  All Christians walk by faith and not by sight.  We see God by faith, with the eyes of understanding.  Some saw Jesus with the physical eye but in reality they never saw Him.  Although we cannot see God with the visual eye, we know that He exists because the Bible tells us so.  We understand and believe so we see Him.

When Jesus said, "Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God," He meant that those with a pure heart would recognize His existence and enjoy HIM.  They will enjoy Him and walk with Him hand in hand like good and close friends.  Our friendship, fellowship, relationship and our understanding of God's ways and thoughts depend on our purity of heart.  There is no other WAY with God.

In Conclusion, one who is a follower of the Son and the Father must keep the heart pure with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life, Proverbs 4:23-27.

The pure in heart is seen by a)  the way he lives as Peter said, inspired by the Spirit, "So as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God."  I Peter 4:2  b)  Jesus said, "There is nothing outside the man which can defile him if it goes into him; but the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man."  Mark 7:15.  Jesus points out that what comes out of a person’s heart is what defiles him.  "That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness.  All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man."  Mark 7:20-23.

This leads me to the following questions:

  • Why is sexual immorality (fornication) so pervasive in our culture today?  Because of impure hearts.
  • Why is lying so pervasive in our culture today?  Because of impure hearts.
  • Why do marriages so often end up in adultery and divorce today?  Because of impure hearts.
  • Why are we so discontent with what we have in our culture today?  Because of impure hearts.
  • Why are there so many quarrels and fighting among us in our culture today?  Because of impure hearts.
  • Why is it that we find it easier to think bad of a person instead of good?  Because of impure hearts.
  • And finally, why would most people rather be lost eternally rather than change their hearts in repentance?  Because of impure hearts.

What is the standard for purity?  Jesus said, "Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."  God Himself is our standard and nothing else.  We cannot please God until we change our heart for a pure one as He is pure, perfect and holy.  Only those who are pure in heart may enter the kingdom.  Only God can give us a new heart, "therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come."  2 Corinthians 5:17.

I want to leave you with these beautiful and encouraging words from Revelation 21:3-7.  "And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them....  And He who sits on the throne said, 'Behold, I am making all things new.' And He said, 'Write, for these words are faithful and true.  Then He said to me, 'It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost.  He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son."

May we take away the layers of impurity from our heart to have more purity in our lives.  May we yearn to be holy and pure toward God in our manner of living.  May we dwell in that which is true, honorable, pure, right, lovely, of good repute, of excellence and worthy of praise.  May we practice these excellent things so that we may see God and have peace.  May our hearts be pure according to God's standards.  May our hearts be pure so that we may please Him.  May our hearts be pure so that we may enter the kingdom of the Father and the Son.
"Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord?  And who may stand in His holy place?  He who has clean hands and a pure heart."  Psalm 24:3-4.
Luci

The following beautiful Hymn expresses well this thought of a pure heart:

Purer In Heart, O God

Purer in heart, O God, help me to be;
May I devote my life wholly to Thee:
Watch Thou my wayward feet,
Guide me with counsel sweet;
Purer in heart, help me to be.

Purer in heart, O God, help me to be;
Teach me to do Thy will most lovingly;
Be Thou my Friend and Guide,
Let me with Thee abide;
Purer in heart, help me to be.

Purer in heart, O God, help me to be;
Until Thy holy face one day I see:
Keep me from secret sin,
Reign Thou my soul within;
Purer in heart, help me to be.

Friday, January 16, 2015

CLAY IN THE HANDS OF A MASTER POTTER

"But now, O Lord, You are our Father, we are the clay, and You our potter; and all of us are the work of Your hand."  
Isaiah 64:8


What can you do with a hardened heart? A hardened heart cost Pharaoh his kingdom in the days of Moses. A hardened heart kept many Jews from following their long-awaited Messiah. On the other hand, the disciples of Jesus were molded and shaped into powerful spokesmen for the Lord. He patiently shaped them as a potter might fashion a lump of clay into a vessel of beauty and usefulness. Let us consider the great things that God make of us when we are pliable in His hands.

Isn't it amazing that as true children of our God, we are not unchangeable or stuck forever with what we used to be: the disfigured and unrefined old man of sin?  It is our God who does the refining, the molding and shaping in us. This process of metamorphosis or transformation can only be accomplished through His everlasting Word because it can pierce our soul and spirit, judging the thoughts and intentions of our heart.  But we must turn to Him with our whole heart, listen to Him and obey Him.

Sadly, the world of darkness cannot grasp or understand how a man of sin can be transformed into a vessel of righteousness.   They do not realize that God can change, shape, refine and mold the heart of man.  Our God can change man into the likeness of Christ, in His image.  It is a fact that we cannot accomplish this change or transformation on our own without our Master Potter.  Our Potter can take us as a lump of clay, changing us into something beautiful and new for His glory.  It is His everlasting Word that is able to accomplish this in us if we allow that Word to work in our hearts.

Our Lord and Savior came to wash away our sins through His blood, shed on a cruel cross.  It is through His blood, when we obey the calling of His Gospel, that we become a new creation.  To be changed and renewed means that we do His will daily so that He may dwell in us and we in Him, walking hand in hand.  Are we willing to surrender our heart, all of our will, to Him in complete obedience, that He may change and renew us?  Let us open our hearts and listen to Him!
"The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests hearts."  Proverbs 17:3

God searches and sees deep into our hearts!  He knows us well!  There is nothing hidden from Him. He created us, and He also loves us.  He is able to guide us, teach us and mold us.  When we obeyed Him in the waters of baptism and were forgiven of our sins, we became His slaves, and He became the new Master of our hearts.  Sadly, when we let our old self continue in the old man of sin, the corrupt one, the power of the message of our Lord and Savior is taken away.  His sacrifice is in vain!  Since we have refused to take it into our hearts.  We forget that our Father in heaven did not send His Son, Jesus our Lord and Savior, so that we could remain the same old man corrupted by sin.  He sent our Savior to redeem us, to change us into His image, and to make us His own possession.  God will test and try our hearts!  He will smooth us out on His potter's wheel.
"And I will bring the third part through the fire, refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested.  They will call on My name, and I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are My people,’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.'"  Zechariah 13:9

Did you know that the melting point of pure silver is 1761 degrees Fahrenheit and the melting point of pure gold is 1945 degrees Fahrenheit?  God has told us that He will take us through the fire so that we may be refined like silver.  He does this in order to purify us like gold!  He, being the Creator of these precious metals, knows well that such metals must be heated to very high temperatures before they can be molded and shaped.  He also knows that the heart of man is stubborn and hard to change. Yet, as a loving Father, He desires to guide us through that fire so that we may be changed.  In like manner, the goldsmith or silversmith never leaves his crucible once it is on the fire.

 Even so God will never leave or forsake us while our hearts yearn to be refined and changed.  God does not offer us a bed of roses.  He requires a lot of dying to self and letting go of what we value or treasure here on earth.  Of course, the easiest path is to remain permanently the same and not be open to change; just "coasting" through life.  The tragedy is that in the end, the path that we have chosen will lead us to our death.  Why is it tragic?  Because we rejected the abundant living that God intended for us. Instead of living and walking as one who is wise, we chose to follow a life of complete foolishness of heart.  You see, the other and wiser path through God's refinement process would have led us to peace.  Let us learn to be wise and not foolish of heart!
"You made men ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water, yet You brought us out into a place of abundance."  Psalm 66:12

After the clay is molded and worked on the potter's wheel, the final product is beautiful, usable and designed by the potter.  In the same way, God has promised us a place of rich fulfillment only after He has led us, guided us and changed us.  After all, it is God's riches that are worth fighting for and pursuing in this life.  They lead us to eternal life, to peace, the refinement and shaping that only our loving God could do.  In the end, it is that trial by fire that gives us richness and abundance.
"For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good; but if the salt becomes unsalty, with what will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another."  Mark 9:49:50

There is much said about the beginning of our walk with Christ:

  • that we are saved when we obey the Gospel of our Lord and Savior.
  • that our sins are washed away in the waters of baptism.
  • that we become new creatures of righteousness.
  • that we have the hope of eternal life;
  • that we have to work out our own salvation in order to receive our final reward which is heaven.  

Yes, these are all foundational truths that we learn, yet God in His revealed Word speaks often of His children being refined and tested.  Our faith must be tested by fire!  This is a vital part of our Christian life and walk. While God's grace is freely given to us, it does not give us any license or permission to keep on sinning.  It does not free us from complete and faithful obedience.  We have not come to know Jesus as our Lord and Master if we have not changed the old man of sin, the corruptible one, and are still stuck in our old fleshly ways of thinking, our old carnal habits, and our old sinful attitudes.

In like manner, if we have not been transformed into the likeness of Christ, and if our whole worldview and way of life has not been shaken and changed, we have not passed through the fire and allowed it to refine us into vessels of righteousness.  That means is we have allowed other insignificant, worthless and earthly things to take His place.  It is only when we accept Christ's sacrifice that we come to appreciate and accept what He did for us with humble and obedient hearts. It is only then that we willingly accept His Lordship and His divine rule.
"Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?"  Romans 2:4

Our Lord and Savior in His mercy looks for those souls that are humble enough to allow Him to shape and mold them into instruments of righteousness that they might reflect His praise and glory. He demands that we do His work also.  As clay in the hands of our Potter, our Father, we are totally pliable to our Creator's will, in subjection to his acts of creation, desiring to be the product of a great Creator.  It is a true fact that God can mold us into whatever instruments of service that He and the Body of Christ needs and requires.

My question is:  Are we willing to become that servant, be humble and meet the needs within the Body of Christ, as clay?  Are we willing to become that servant when our Lord needs zeal and enthusiasm?  Our Lord wants useful, holy vessels and He will make sure to find those who are willing and who humbly submit to Him, allowing Him to remove all the impurities of the soul.  It is not an easy task being the clay!  There is no glamor to it.  It is not something one would brag about, except for the fact that we are willing to be compliant, moldable, submissive pieces of clay.

"Can I not, O house of Israel, deal with you as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel.'"  Jeremiah 18:6

We are all aware of Job's fiery trials and that he was put through the fire of such trials but remained faithful, trusting and hoping in God.  He humbly recognized and accepted that all of his trials had a purpose.  Job did not give up even when his own wife rejected him and his friends discouraged him. He did not give up even in the greatest weaknesses!  He knew well this furnace of affliction would be good for him.  He was aware that he was going to be refined as pure gold after he had been tested and tried by the fire.   We need to have Job's attitude of heart.  This is the only way to victory!

"But He knows the way I take; when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold."  Job 23:10.  

Such powerful words Job speaks!


Like Job we all go through our valleys of trials, tears, sorrows and afflictions.  We must trust in God and the beautiful work our God is doing in us.  It is all for our good!  This is what our faithful and loving God has promised us.  We must believe in His promises!  He will never go against who He says He is.  It is not in God's divine nature.  God cannot lie.  All that He asks of us is that we be faithful to Him and serve Him.  He wants us to listen to Him, His Word so that He may change us and mold our stubborn and hard hearts into something pure and new.  Isn't that remarkable and amazing!  I have complete confidence that our God can change us if we humbly let Him.  With God, we can be assured that we are not helpless and hopeless.  With Him, there is always hope for renewing, refreshing, refining and change.  With Christ, there is always hope to be made anew and be brought back to life from the death penalty of sin.  What a wonderful, marvelous and all merciful Savior and Father we have!
"So that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ."  I Peter 1:7

The following is a beautiful Hymn, which pictures God as the Potter and us as the work of His hands, "Clay in the Potter's Hand" written by Mr. and Mrs. Clyde Williams.


"O Lord, you know my strength indeed is small,
Lest thou should lead I'm prone to slip and fall;
Guide and direct, o'er evil help me stand,
Make me as clay in the potter's hand."


The first stanza speaks of our weaknesses.  We sometimes faint in the day of adversity because our strength is small: Prov. 24:10.  As a result, we are prone to slip and fall, 2 Peter 3:17. Hence, we must diligently seek out the weaknesses in our hearts, so that our Lord might strengthen us against the wiles of Satan, Eph. 6:10-11

"Thou art the Potter, I am the clay,
Make of my life as pleases Thee each day;
Weave into beauty as You have it planned,
Make me as clay in the potter's hand."


The second stanza refers to God's plan for us to be refined, molded and shaped.  In Jeremiah 18:1-3, God is pictured as the Potter and man as the clay.  Our main goal should be to strive with a humble heart to live in harmony with His will, doing what pleases Him each day of our walk here on earth, I Thess. 4:1.  It is only in this WAY that we can fulfill what God has planned for us that our souls might prosper abundantly, Josh. 1:7.

"Father, we pray for power to be strong,
Let not our lives be marred by sin, and wrong;
Lead to Thy throne, by love take full command,
Make us as clay in the potter's hand."


The third stanza refers to our desire for God’s strength in our weaknesses.  It is vital that we pray for God to give us the power to be strong in Him, Eph. 3:16.  This strength will help us to keep our lives from being marred by sin and evil, Ps. 119:11.  It is only in living in this way that we will be enabled to meet God’s conditions so that He may lead us to His throne, Rev. 22:1-3.

"Mold me, make me, as You'd have me be,
Take me, use me, that the lost may see;
Guard me, guide me, thru this pilgrim land,
Make me as clay, in the potter's hand."


In the chorus, we are asking God to help us have the heart with the pliability or flexibility of clay in His hands.

In conclusion, let us submit to God's will and His plan for us.  Let us melt in His presence and allow Him to mold, shape and refine us into instruments of righteousness; into the pure Christians that He desires for us to be.  He wants us to be like clay in His Hands, in the Potter's hands. And let us not become "stiffnecked" which is the opposite of a heart that is submissive, pliable, moldable and shapeable like clay in the hands of a Master Potter.

May our Lord help us always to please Him while we walk our Christian journey so that we can have a home with Him in heaven one day.  May He help us to be "Clay in the Master Potter's Hand."


Luci

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

"YOU HAVE LEFT YOUR FIRST LOVE"

"But I have this against you, that you have left your first love."  
Revelation 2:4



There are few sights that are sadder than the spectacle of the flames of a love that burns out. When the love for Jesus flames out, His heart is broken. Let us re-examine our LOVE for Jesus.

The image of a love which could be called "first love" is portrayed by the newly formed church in Acts 2:46.  The early Christians are often portrayed as being of one accord in their gladness of heart (Acts 2:46); rejoicing together (Acts 5:41); rejoicing after being baptized (Acts 8:39); rejoicing greatly for having believed in God (Acts 16:34).

It is sad as well as tragic when someone abandons the "first love" they had when they first married. When the affection that existed during courtship and the honeymoon is all gone, it is equally tragic. The same thing happens to Christians.  Sometimes it happens soon after baptism, when they abandon their faith and stop rejoicing and can no longer bear Jesus' yoke.  Although His yoke is easy and His burden is light, they think that it is difficult with its many "commandments and obligations" to follow and obey.  They don't realize that all of God's commandments are for our good to save us from the sins that will destroy us in hell. The obligation to meet on the Lord's Day to remember the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, by observing the Lord's Supper as well as our songs of praise and our prayers of worship and petition to God and our weekly contributions to the cause of Christ are calculated by our loving God to preserve our souls to the end.


I.  The Good Qualities of the Church at Ephesus:

In the Book of Revelation, Jesus knew the works of each of the seven churches of Asia, even as He knows the good qualities and good fruits of each local church today.  In the Book of Acts chapter 19:1-5, the church at Ephesus is established.  In Revelation 2:2, Jesus told the church at Ephesus, "I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance."  Here we see two qualities, toil and perseverance, which are vital to spiritual growth for any given church.  "And that you cannot tolerate evil men."  The church practiced real discipline.  They did not tolerate those members who refused to embrace the Gospel of our Lord that could change and transform their hearts.  "And you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false."  It was a very strong church that did not tolerate or embrace doctrinal error and false teaching. Let's consider some of these good qualities:

  1. The elders were putting into practice most of what Paul had taught them from "the whole counsel of God."  They were on guard and watching out for the flock, the local church, as true overseers, shepherding the church, which the Lord our Savior purchased with His own blood. They had resisted and confronted the savage wolves that rose up among them and had avoided apostasy and division. Acts 20:28-29.  
  2. Timothy was urged by the apostle Paul to help and instruct these brethren against those savage wolves, their doctrinal error and false teaching::  "As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines, nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith."  I Timothy 1:3. 
  3. In I John 4:1, we are warned that we must test every teacher:  This is vital if we are to stop false teachers from taking total control and leadership in the church.  It is the only way to stop apostasy and division.  It will save many souls!
  4. Their two biggest enemies were:  a) the Judaizers who would impose the Law of Moses on the Gentile Christians; b)  and the Gnostics that turned the freedom in Christ into a license to sin.
  5. Without a doubt, the church at Ephesus had the good reputation of being steadfast (faithful) and very strong:  strong because of her courage to take a stand, to defend and to retain sound doctrine, the sound words of love and faith of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These were sound and conservative brethren in word and deed.  I Timothy 1:13.

In Revelation 2:3 we read, "and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary."  Truly they had toiled without growing weary.  They were steadfast and immovable.  In verse 6, He goes on to praise them again saying, "Yet this you do have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate." The Nicolaitans promoted sensuality affirming that their body's behavior, the deeds of the flesh, did not affect the spirit.  Many today talk of being patient with those members who teach false doctrine and error not taking into consideration that our Lord Jesus and those brethren who are sound and faithful do abhor false teaching and doctrinal error. Every congregation that makes a claim to be sound and faithful must abhor, reject and fight tooth and nail every false teaching and doctrinal error as well as their false teachers, if they are to retain sound doctrine, saving many souls.


II.  But In Spite of All Their Good Qualities, They Were Deficient:
  • The Lord had something against them, "But I have this against you, that you have left your first love."  At first their love was as the love of newlyweds. They loved each other with a love that was not feigned or fake.  The love for Christ and the love for our brethren are inseparable. They go hand in hand.  Consider some examples from Scripture:
  1. In Jeremiah 2:2 we read, "Go and proclaim in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord, 'I remember concerning you the devotion of your youth, the love of your betrothals, your following after Me in the wilderness, through a land not sown.'"  It is sad to say but this happens in many marriages.  The love that they both promised to cherish and to keep is all gone.
  2. Their early affection turned into a cold routine.  There were no "problems" and everything seemed to be going smoothly and normally.  Then the fountain of life ran dry.
  • In the beginning they loved the Lord with all their heart, mind and soul.  They hungered for God's Word.  They had brotherly love for one another.  Acts 19:19-20.  "For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints, do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers."  Ephesians 1:15-16.  But something happened! 
    • They lost their first love, their love for the Word of God, the Gospel.  In John 14:23 we read, "Jesus answered and said to him, 'If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.'" They became disobedient by not keeping the same Word.  They lost that fellowship with the Son and the Father that can exist only when one abides in it.  They had lost that indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  It is faith in the Word of God that produces love.
    • They had forgotten to imitate Christ, having the same mind in word, in deeds and in thoughts.  This is what love produces in us.  It makes us love His Word, His Law, His Precepts, His Judgments and Statutes.  
    • It is the "first love," that love for Christ and His Word, that makes us love our brethren, His church.  "If someone says, 'I love God,' and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.'"  I John 4:20.
    • Thus the “first love,” that the Ephesian brethren had, was a fervent love toward Christ, His Word and the church, the brethren.
  • The state of this church had changed for the worse.  Our Lord had warned that that would happen, "Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name.  At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many.  Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold." Consider how cold their love for Christ, His Word and the church grew:
    • They had lost all their zeal and enthusiasm.  They became anemic and lifeless.  They were not steadfast in their faith anymore.  They were not fervent in spirit anymore.  They did not love one another with fervent love and affection.  They were like many married couples who remained together but without any affection whatsoever.  It is sad to say but there are many married couples who live under the same roof like strangers.  Their first love ceased to exist.  This is sad!
    • In Matthew 15:8 Jesus said, "This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me."  We "must" show honor to God in the way we greet and treat each other, in the way we sing, in the way we pray, in our contribution, in the way we partake of the Lord's Supper.  I am afraid to say but we do everything as purely routine.  Our hearts are not there!  The fire of our love has been extinguished. There is much talk about "commandments."  For example we speak of the Lord's Supper as "commandment."  The contribution as "commandment."  The question is:  Are all of these "commandments" a burden rather than a "privilege" and a "blessing"?
    • If our obligation and motivation is nothing more than to not disobey "commandments,"  I am afraid to say that we have fallen into the same error or mistake of the Ephesian brethren.  We like them have left or forsaken our "first love" and we are just "enduring."
    • When we correct or confront error as well as admonish our brethren, we must do it without being harsh, hostile, suspicious, arrogant or whining.  Let us be careful not to leave or lose our "fist love."
  • So often many young children come to church with their parents only because their parents take them.  But when they become young adults they leave the church.  Their so called "religion" was pure tradition or habit, a family thing.  We forget that our God does not have grandchildren.  Our young "must" have their own conviction, their own steadfast faith, their own love for God and the church.  They "must" be faithful even when their parents are not. They must assemble even when their own parents don't come.
  • The Hymn "My Jesus I Love Thee" written by  William Ralph Featherston around 1864 says,

My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine;
For Thee all the follies of sin I resign.
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art Thou;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I love Thee because Thou has first loved me,
And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree.
I love Thee for wearing the thorns on Thy brow;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,
And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath;
And say when the death dew lies cold on my brow,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

In mansions of glory and endless delight,
I’ll ever adore Thee in heaven so bright;
I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.


This amazingly beautiful hymn expresses a sincere and unique love for Jesus.  We ALL need to meditate in the words of this song, both young and old.  This song makes my eyes tear!


III.  To Leave Our First Love is to "Fall"

It is as if we are no longer on the mountain tops of enthusiasm and zeal but rather in the wintry, soulless, lifeless and discouraged valleys.

  • "Therefore remember from where you have fallen."  In Luke 15:11-32, we read about the "prodigal son," the younger of two brothers, who pushed his father into giving him his inheritance.  When he had gathered it, he left his father going to a far land and wasting all his wealth in careless, thoughtless and sinful living.  When he was penniless and homeless, a great famine occurred where he was.  He found himself working in the fields, feeding swine.  He longed to eat the pods that the pigs ate.  He was hopeless, helpless and desperate.  He then came to his senses and said, "How many of my father's hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.'  And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.  And the son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.'  But the father said to his servants, 'Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet.  And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate.   For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.' And they began to celebrate.'"  Luke 15:11-24.  My question is:  What was the first step that the "prodigal son" took toward recovery?  The first step was to remember how good and blessed his life was before he left the comfort of his own home:  all the blessings he had forsaken and left behind. Consider why it is always good and wise for us, the church, to remember and bring to memory where we came from and how far we have come in Christ:
    • It is always good for each member of the Body of Christ to remember those precious days when we first obeyed the Gospel of our Lord.  We must also remember the joy, the zeal, the enthusiasm, that fire we first had to listen, to thirst and to hunger for the Word; the same desire we first had to want to assemble to worship and participate in Bible classes.
    • Those days when we devoured our Bibles, studying, searching and longing for the Word of God like babes; longing for that milk to feed and nourish us in order that we might grow to the stature of Christ.
    • Those days when we wanted to tell everyone of the "good news" of Christ.  We wanted everyone to have that joy and hope we have in Christ.  We passionately wanted to teach and share the Gospel with everyone.
    • Those days when we loved to have fellowship with our brethren; we wanted to share everything and be together at all times.
    • Those days when we purposed in our hearts to come to worship early enough and not have to rush.  We so truly wanted to make sure we had enough time to greet everyone with a smile.  We did not want to be late for services. 
    • Those days when we wanted to come prepared for Bible class.   We had studied ahead of time before coming to church.
    • Oh, how ready we were!  How ready for any activity.  There was such enthusiasm, motivation and eagerness not just to assemble at the local church but also visiting other faithful congregations during their Gospel meetings.
    • Oh that we could remember those days, when we opened the doors of our homes with hospitality in order to teach others and encourage one another in songs and Bible reading.
    • If anyone is thinking and saying, "but I never had that kind of zeal, encouragement and joy," then I am afraid to say you never had or experienced that "first love" in your heart. You cannot remember it and make it return since you never had it.  It never existed.  You cannot reclaim something you never had!
  • It is a very serious condition or state.  It is not a tiny sore that needs a bandage; rather it is like cancer.  It is SIN that needs godly sorrow and repentance.
  • This leads me to the following question:  How critical and serious is it to leave or forsake your "first love"?  Very serious!  We run the danger of losing our hope of salvation.  If each Christian as well as each church does not repent with a sincere heart and start doing the deeds we did at first, Christ will come and take away His lampstand out of its place.  What that means is that our Lord Jesus will remove His approval of that church.  Perish the thought that we be found not worthy of His kingdom of righteousness!


IV.  The Remedy:  Remember.... Repent... And Do the First Works:

  • Remember what?  Their love for the Word of the Lord and their love for one another.  Let us read what Acts 19:20 has to say to this matter, "So the word of the Lord was growing mightily and prevailing."  Again we read, "And they began to weep aloud and embraced Paul, and repeatedly kissed him."  Acts 20:37.  Consider how low they had fallen:
    • Their fall had been slow.  They did not leave their "first love" overnight, in one day.  They let it go little by little through months and years.  The danger that so many churches as well as brethren run into when they leave their "first love" is that they don't even know it or realize it.  Why?  Because it happens slowly.  They are not aware is happening!
    • But remember now to compare your present state or condition with that of the beginning of your walk with Christ.  Notice the difference.  Is it not big?  It is as if you were two different Christians or two different churches.
    • It is vital for each church and each member of the Body of Christ to take inventory, to reflect, examine and self-evaluate.  Ask the question:  How do I compare myself and my faith with that of the beginning?  How does this church compare herself with that of the beginning?  Have we or they left our "first love"?
    • So often in the beginning of a new church, there is an ardent and sincere faith and love.  It is as Isaiah said, "Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary."  Isaiah 40:31.  Do we still have that fervent and sincere faith and love for the Word, for Christ and for His kingdom?
  • Repent:  Do we see ourselves and our present condition or state through the eyes of Jesus?  Are we having a change of heart, mind, outlook and thinking?  Are we resolved to change?
  • Do the first works as a genuine proof of your love for Christ and His rule.  Without works there is no love.  Let us take heed and not allow our crushed souls to lead us to despair but rather to seek pardon, repentance and a change of heart and mind.  


V.  The Terrible Consequences of "Lukewarmness"

"So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. Because you say, 'I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,' and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see."'  Revelation 3:16-18.

Consider the following about a church that forsakes and leaves her "first love."


  • The church that leaves the "first love" and does not repent ceases to be a church of Christ.
  • "Or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent."  My question is:  Did this church cease to exist to all apperances?  Perhaps not.  It just had no lampstand when Jesus took it away.
  • Without a doubt, this is the Biblical process when a church leaves her "first love."  It is vital for such a church to:  Remember... Repent... And do the first works.


In Conclusion, it is impossible to worship and serve God with a divided heart and mind ("double minded," James 1:8).  God simply does not accept us on that basis.  We must love the Lord with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength.  There is no other WAY!

If for any circumstance or reason we have left or forsaken our "first love," let us resolve to remember, repent and start doing the first works in order that we might receive God's mercy and not be found naked. Let us be clothed with the first works and cover our nakedness so that God may be glorified by our beauty.

May the Lord help us to keep our "first love" and the light of our lampstand burning brightly.


Luci