I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.
— Revelation 2:2,3
Whether we want to admit it or not, it is simply the truth that every one of us as believers must make a firm commitment to retain our fire and passion for the Lord. Busy schedules, work, problems, and challenges in life have a way of wearing us down and dimming the flame that burns in our hearts for Jesus. There’s only one way we can make sure this doesn’t happen in our own lives: We must stay firmly committed to do whatever it takes to retain our fire, no matter the cost.
This was the core of Jesus’ message to the church of Ephesus when He appeared in a vision to the apostle John (see Revelation 2:2-7). The Ephesian believers were full of good works and were widely respected for their soundness in doctrine — and Jesus commended them for it.
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In Revelation 2:2 and 3, Jesus said, “I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.”
But after praising the church of Ephesus for its stellar performance, its faithful adherence to truth, and its excellence in doctrine, Christ went on to say in verse 4, “Nevertheless…” The word “nevertheless” served as a warning signal to the Ephesian congregation, letting them know that something else mattered to Jesus even more than all their good works. Then He continued, “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee…” The word “against” is the word kata, which in this case means, “I have one thing against you — a downward strike, a negative point, or a mark against you.” Essentially, it describes something that was obviously not in the Ephesian believers’ favor.
The believers of the Ephesian church had fallen into the trap of busyness in ministry at the expense of fervency in fellowship with the Lord, and Jesus rebuked them for it. And His message is no less relevant and urgent for us today than it was when He first delivered those words to the apostle John for the church at Ephesus on the island of Patmos almost 2,000 years ago.
Productivity for God must never take the place of passionate love for Him. Christ requires us to be both productive for Him and passionate about Him. Yet it is easy to become so consumed with the busyness of the ministry that we fail to stay focused on our passionate love for Christ.
I learned this during a period of several years that Denise and I maintained an extremely busy schedule, which eventually escalated to an unsustainable pace. There were times I could only vaguely recall what country I was in when I’d awaken during the night. I was trying to accomplish as much as I could for the Lord, but I was moving at a pace He never intended.
For so long, Denise and I had stayed continually busy doing good things with excellent results. Lives were changed, and the Kingdom of God was furthered. But my spiritual fervor had dimmed, and it became clear to me that God was calling me to come aside and get still before Him. So I recommitted myself to reviving the fire of God in my own heart.
Speaking from my own experience, I urge you to take a moment to evaluate yourself and ask yourself the following questions:
- Are you just going through the motions in your ministry?
- Have you come to a place where you substitute more activity for times of stillness in the presence of the Lord?
- When you do attempt to get quiet before God, is your body still while your mind continues to race with thoughts of all you want to do or need to accomplish?
- Do you remember with longing what it was like when you first fell in love with Jesus and were so thankful for your salvation?
- What were your habits and devotional life like when the flame of your passion for Jesus burned with the highest intensity?
These are the kinds of questions every one of us should ponder, allowing them to sift through the embers in our souls and stir us to rekindle the flame of our first love for Jesus. When we take the time to do whatever is necessary to revive and retain spiritual fervor and freshness in our relationship with the Lord, our hearts will find renewed satisfaction in our walk with Him and in the ministry He has called us to fulfill. But more importantly, the Lord will be satisfied with us, because He will find us to be men and women after His own heart. And when all is said and done, nothing else could please Him more.
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, I desire to retain the fire in my heart that I had when I first came to know You. Life has become busy, and I confess that somewhere along the way I allowed the busyness of it all to dim the fire in my heart. Although I’ve become more experienced and professional, I am less passionate than I used to be. I repent for this, and I confess that it is wrong. Holy Spirit, I ask You to help me return to the place of my first love. I have lost sight of loving You more than anything else. For this I repent, and I ask You to forgive me. Purify my heart so that Your presence will ignite a flame in me until You are the highest priority and goal in my life.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that I refuse to allow my productivity for God to take precedence over my passionate love for Him. I will not offer diligence toward duty as a substitute for devotion toward Him as I approach my God-given assignment. I return to the place of my first love. I commit to pull away often from the busyness of life and ministry so I can be still in the presence of the Lord in order to maintain a vital connection with Him. I will not attempt to serve God without a fresh touch of His Spirit upon me. In the morning I will lift up my eyes, my heart, and my voice unto the Lord while I wait until His Word speaks to my heart in a fresh way for each new day. From that place of union with Him, I will stay focused on what really matters.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- Do you spend time with the Lord as you once did, or do you find that setting aside time to be with Him is getting more and more difficult for you to do? What does this tell you about the temperature of your spiritual life?
- If Christ evaluated you by the questions asked in today’s Sparkling Gem, how do you think He would answer the questions?
- What changes do you need to make in your life to return to Christ as your first, passionate love?