Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. – REVELATION 2:5
“I know your heart is strong. I know your lungs are healthy. But I have this against you: Your appendix is about to burst!”
That would be an honest diagnosis, right?
In Revelation 2, Jesus – the Great Physician – gives seven churches an honest diagnosis. To the church in Ephesus he says, “I know your hard work. I know you have not grown weary. But I have this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.” Rev 2:2-4
That’s an honest diagnosis too, right?
Seven churches. Seven diagnoses.
Some are healthy. Some are dying. Most are “lukewarm.” Rev 3:16
In our modern world, we think, “Lukewarm is not so bad. I’m loyal enough. There are others who are worse.” Well, do you remember how Jesus judged “lukewarm”? He said, “Because you are … neither cold nor hot, I am about to vomit you out of my mouth.” Rev 3:16 Yikes!!
Sometimes a great physician has to offer a sobering diagnosis. Fortunately The Great Physician offers a prescription and a cure. He says, “Behold! I stand at the door and knock! If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into his home and share a meal with him, and he with me.” Rev 3:16
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The only thing that truly heals is an honest diagnosis and the correct treatment.
A Revelation diagnosis is urgent! Jesus is reminding us that he could come soon. Even if you’re not living with prophetic urgency – which you should – our time may nevertheless be short. “We could be hit by a bus and meet Christ in the air tomorrow. Are you ready?”
Jesus invites us to consider how this diagnosis might be for us. “I know your hard work. I know you have not grown weary. But … you have forsaken the love you had at first.” Rev 2:2-4
What, then, is the treatment? The Great Physician lays out this treatment protocal. He says, “Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.” Rev 2:5
Wait, let’s put that in terms of our study …
- ReConsider how you have fallen.
- RePent of your sins.
- ReTurn to the things you did at first
So let’s get a baseline. Ask this question: What was your best spiritual point ever?
Why? What, perhaps, were you doing at that point that drew you close to God.
In a few days I may invite you to RePent of your sins and ReTurn to the things you did at first, but we won’t get anywhere until we first ReConsider how and why we may have fallen.
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Our book of the day is Revelation.
It’s obviously about the second coming of Christ, about God’s eternal and victorious plan to ReStore and ReNew. Fortunately, before we get to the seven-year period of tribulation, Jesus, in the seven letters to seven churches, invites us to ReConsider how we live, RePent of our sins, and ReTurn to God … so we can be rescued from trials and live eternally with God!
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ReConsidering is today’s theme, and the easiest way to address any backsliding might be to give you a checklist. I could ask: Are you praying enough? Are you serving enough? Are you worshiping enough?
Fortunately faith is not a to-do list!
Nevertheless, what if we asked the same questions in an even more diagnostic way? For example, instead of “Are you praying?” what if you asked, “Am I praying with faith?” “Am I serving with passion?” “Am I worshiping … with joy … with expectancy … in Spirit-filled power?”
Do you see the difference? Faith isn’t to-do-list actions. It’s the quality of the heart engaging in Christian principles!
A deeper heart flows from the confidence that God is who He says He is … that “the Word of God is [truly] alive and active, sharper than any two-edged sword” Heb 4:12 … and that the Gospel truly is “the power of God for salvation to all who believe.” Rom 1:16
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Power! We see it in Revelation! And we remember it as God delivered the Israelites from Egypt. Exodus 12:12 calls the ten plagues “judgments” “against all the God’s of Egypt.” For example …
- Darkness was a judgment against the Egyptian “sun god.”
- Boils were judgment against their god of healing.
- Locusts judged their agriculture god.
- In a deathly dry desert, turning water into blood judged their very “god of life.”
- Even the death of the first born was a judgment against a Pharaoh who thought he was a god and sought to kill all the Hebrew boys.
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Why do I bring this up? Because I saw a quote recently from Christian scholar Conor Sweeney who said, “As the power that brought down the pagan gods seems to die out in our hearts, so too does our capacity to resist evil.”
When we begin in any way to make God smaller in our imaginations than he really is – denying his “power,” for example – something begins to “die … in our hearts.”
A faith that is even slowly dying will systematically rob us of our “capacity to resist [negative things like] evil” and make us vulnerable to sin. (Dying faith will also rob us of positive blessings like love, joy, and peace.)
So where will we go to encounter blessings like “the peace of God that passes all understanding” Phil 4:7 … if we’re not actively believing in The God of Peace?
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We [keep] find[ing] ways of rubbing the sharp edges off the gospel’s [power-filled] elements. [But as we deny] the power that brought down the pagan gods, [something] die[s] in our hearts, [and] so too does our capacity [for] resist[ing] evil [and for experiencing joy]. We can either recover the living foundations of Christian belief … or we can head to the cultural and social abyss created by the rejection of Christ. The only thing that may remain within our power is our own faithfulness. It forces us to fall on our knees …”
Today, we are invited to fall on our knees and ReConsider our living faith. This may be step one in ReNewing and ReIgniting our faith.
How big is your God – not in theory, but in the practical daily ways that you live, pray, and trust?
Now, fall on your knees and pray for God to ReNew a hunger for deeper, living faith in you …
Today, read Revelation 2 (and 3) if you’re able.