RETURN TO YOUR FIRST LOVE
 We are living in the last of the last days before the return of Jesus Christ and the catching away of the Church to
meet Him in the air.  This truth makes this time period very critical to God and to us.  The apostle Peter writes this in I
Peter 4:17
"For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will the
end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?”

  We should ask ourselves what Peter meant here when he says “the time has come for judgment.” The first thing we
must accept is that if Peter thought the time for judgment had come 2000 years ago, it is certainly the time for us
today in the modern Church.  So what exactly does this word judgment mean to us?  Peter is admonishing the people
of God to judge themselves. This judgment is not a judgment by God, but it is where the saints take an honest look in
the mirror and allow the Spirit of God to reveal to them what is really in their hearts.  Once the truth is revealed,
there is a genuine, from-the-heart repentance and turning from sin and error. (II Timothy 2:19-21)  As Peter notes, the
saints of God are the first ones to enter into judgment, and this judgment happens now, in this age.  But the
judgment of the world will take place at the Great White throne judgment. (Revelations 20)  Satan, his hordes of evil
spirits, and everyone whose name is not found in the Book of Life will be cast into the lake of fire for all eternity.

 I want to show you the kind of judgment Peter refers to, it is found in Revelations 2:1-7 in the letter to the church at
Ephesus.  Read this passage closely and especially note verse 4.  It is interesting to see that this church was
apparently a very dynamic and persevering church.  The Lord commends them for being hard workers in the
Kingdom of God, for being patient, and for their non-tolerance of counterfeit apostles.  So, we can see that this was a
church that, at least on the surface, looked good.  Perhaps we could liken it to the beautiful church houses around
us with impressive campuses, towering steeples and manicured lawns. They have every imaginable program for
every age and segment of people in society. They have multiple services each Sunday morning and a host of other
activities during the week. Maybe they look like the church at Ephesus did in the first century – impressive.

  But we cannot overlook verse 4.  It is in this verse we see God’s disapproval with them.  We must see clearly what
He says to this church, and make every effort to learn from their mistakes and adjust ourselves accordingly.  To do
this not only wise, it is mandatory.

 There is a strong covenantal phrase in verse 4 that is our key here: “…your first love…” What you are seeing in the
word “first” has a two-fold meaning.  First of all, it implies priority.  When someone is first in the eyes of another
person, they are #1 to them.  They hold the highest possible place of priority.  The second connotation of the word
“first” has to do with the idea of happening first.  Chronologically the first love was the first one with whom they fell
in love.  So as we mesh these two concepts into the meaning of this phrase, we see what God is saying to these
Christians.  He is saying that He wants first place in their hearts (and lives) and He wants it to be as it was when they
first met Him and had that initial sold-out feeling and commitment to Him.  What God is looking for is a pure
relationship with His children.

  The saints at Ephesus had fallen into the performance trap.  They were doing all the right things, weren’t they?  
They looked good.  They had some good things going.  But, their focus that once was on Jesus, had been shifted to
performing within the church.  The danger in this kind of error is that we are lulled into deception; we think we are
OK with God because of all the good stuff we are doing for Him.  Can you see the error in this?  The Lord desires
relationship, not just performance.  Our covenant with Him is built on a family relationship; religion is the practice of
doing good things to impress God or stay in His graces.  As we can see , such a notion is a wrong one that has dire
repercussions!

  We have allowed disappointments to diminish our faith.  We have gotten our eyes over on others and saw their
imperfections, and it caused us to stumble a bit.  We’ve opened the doors of our minds to the evil in the world, and it
has dulled our spirits and sapped our spiritual strength.  Serving Jesus has become a burden.  Something has to
change!

  The Lord was calling the Ephesus church to repentance; He is also calling today’s Church to repentance.  We must
hear the admonition of Father God to “…remember from where you have fallen…” Do you remember there was a
purity and holiness when you were first born again.  Zeal for Jesus consumed you and you could hardly contain your
excitement over your transformation.  You looked forward to being in church and you devoured every word from the
pulpit.  You could hardly wait to get up in the morning to get back into the Word to discover some new revelation.  
Your prayers were faith-filled as the prayers of a child, and you even saw them answered.  You walked with God.  
You communed with God.  You loved God.  He is now calling you back to that fresh, new, wonderful walk with Him.  
Go there.  I encourage you to return to your first love and enjoy the fullness of joy that only happens in the presence
of the Lord.