RECAP: FIRST LOVE based on Revelation 2:1-7
Revelation was written toward the end of the first century, during the reign of Domitian, one of the most ruthless of all the Caesars. Under his reign, all who dwelled in the Empire must proclaim Caesar as lord, and those who chose not to do so would face prison, public humiliation, and even death. Of course, many of the early churches refused, and the persecution soon followed. At the writing of this book, the intensity of the persecution separated the true followers of Jesus from those who were afraid to continue to follow under the pressure. So Revelation was Jesus’ final words to the church under fire to encourage them to remain faithful, for, in the end, evil will not endure, for Jesus will return as King of Kings and Lord of Lords!
The encouragement to remain faithful came along with words of correction. Seven churches received a letter (Revelation 2 – 3). In each letter was an encouragement for what the church was doing well, as well as some guidance to fix something that was robbing the church of being vibrant and strong in the face of such persecution. And these letters can also help us learn how we can be spiritually healthy and strong, no matter what pressure we face!
The first letter was to the church in Ephesus, who had forsaken their first love. Ephesus is the church we know the most about; two chapters in Acts are devoted to Paul’s ministry there. We also have an epistle of Paul and, in addition, the two letters to Timothy who became the leader there. This was a church that started big, from the baptism of the Holy Spirit to miracles of healing to divine deliverance to a mass riot. This was also a church that was vital in gathering funds for the collection in Jerusalem and accompanied and prayed over Paul right as he traveled back to Jerusalem before being arrested. This was a church that was happening! But over fifty years they lost their first love. Over time, their zeal for following God waned, and those “glory days” had gone. Sometimes that also happens with us: over time our desire for God might fade, and what once was is no longer the case.
How can one recover their first love? What was the Ephesian church encouraged to do? And how can we today see that passion renewed?
1) Remember. Jesus told the church to remember the height from which it had fallen. This was not a statement of shame, but an encouragement to remember, to literally recall and place on the forefront of our minds. 49 times the scriptures encourage us to not forget, and many more call the believer to remember. For when we remember where we came from, it gives us the strength to continue to be faithful, no matter how strong the pressure! When the church started, seven sons of Sceva wanted to imitate Paul’s deliverance ministry. When they confronted an individual with a demon (Acts 19), the individual professed knowledge of Christ and recognition of Paul’s authority but had no knowledge of these seven. He then proceeded to badly beat all of them. The event showed the depth of the spiritual battle, leading to a deep commitment of the church. They gathered all of their sorcery scrolls (valued at over 50 thousand days’ wages!), burned them, and corporately confessed their sins to each other. It was a high watershed moment, a time when they first really committed to following Jesus.
Do we remember those watershed moments in our lives, when Jesus really came through or we know we met with him? Do we remember the day of our salvation, the depths from which we were delivered? Paul constantly referred to his past as motivation to draw even closer to Jesus. To recover our first love, we need to remember those times. As we cling to those moments, we find the strength to draw closer to God and stand, even under immense pressure!
2) Repent. Jesus asked the church to repent and return to what they did at first. Repentance is not saying “I’m sorry” and going back to do the same thing; repentance is a change of orientation and direction. Of what did the Ephesians need to repent? The epistle points to a few things that crept into the life of the church: apathy, compromise, disunity, loss of the Spirit, and syncretism (blending Christianity with other faith traditions). The church stopped doing what made it successful and had gone a different direction. To find vibrancy again, they needed to correct their course and get back on the path. The same is true with us; to recover our first love, we have to go back to what we were doing when we were thriving the most, confess those things that have led us astray, and remove them.
3) Listen. Jesus encouraged those who had an ear to hear. In other words, he wanted to church to pay attention and listen. Listening starts with hearing the Word, then processing it, and finally acting on it. The church needed to take Jesus’ word seriously and dive into its correction and counsel. Then the church needed to see what changes needed to be made, and then act upon it. Unless action is taken, then the word is ignored and no listening has taken place. Too often we hear what God says or read about it in the Word, but do not like it, change it, ignore it, or even rewrite it. But to recapture our first love, we need to listen to God’s Word, apply it, and then act on it.
Jesus gave Ephesus everything they needed to restore their first love. Remember. Repent. Listen. We can see our love for God grow exponentially the more we do the same.
Questions for Reflection
1) What is the most impactful memory you have in your faith walk with Jesus? How did that moment shape your life?
2) What things do you struggle with that have thrown your faithful walk off track? Can it be released to God?
3) What steps can you take this week to reorient yourself to follow God more?
4) In what way this week can you act upon this message?
This Sunday, Pastor Ryan will continue the series called “Faithful in Unfaithful Times” with the sermon titled, “Under Fire,” based on Revelation 2:8-11. Of what did God warn the church at Smyrna? What can we learn from this church under fire? Come or tune in Sunday to find out!
Daily Bible Readings for August 2 – 8
August 2: Judges 16:1-20 How did Samson not even recognize he had lost his connection to God?
August 3: 2 Samuel 11:1-27 What can happen to a person of faith if they forget to take care of their first love for God?
August 4: 2 Kings 23:1-27 How did Josiah try to restore Israel’s first love?
August 5: Ezekiel 23:1-49 To what did God compare Israel’s unfaithfulness and abandonment?
August 6: Hosea 2:1-23 How did God try to restore Israel’s faithfulness?
August 7: Daniel 1:6-20 How did Daniel and his friends find themselves under fire? How did they remain faithful?
August 8: Daniel 2:10-49 How did Daniel and his friends find themselves under fire? How did they remain faithful?
This Week’s Events:
Sunday, August 7–First Sunday Breakfast
Sunday, August 7–Chasing the Lion Bible Study at McAvoys (5509 Sagefield Dr) @ 4 pm
Thursday, August 18–Leadership Team Meeting–all budgets due!
Friday, August 19 – Sunday, August 21–Church Retreat @ Natural Chimneys
Sunday, August 28–Lenten Vespers
Sunday, September 11–Instachoir practice begins
Sunday, September 11–Pastoral Epistles Bible Study Begins
Sunday, date TBD (October)–Love Feast
First Sunday Breakfast and Offering
We are at the first Sunday of August, so once again it is time for First Sunday Breakfast and offering. This month the offering is to support the local chapter of Gideons International. If you would like to learn more about the Gideons, you can reach out to Alda Miller, John Jordan, Joe LaPrade, among others in the church.
If you are a newer attendee at Beaver Creek, please call the office or leave in the offering plate your birth date. We want to make sure that no one’s birthday is missed.
Bible Study Opportunity!
It is not too late to start the study! You can read the information below. This week will meet at the McAvoys (5509 Sagefield Dr).
Six Weeks of Lion Chasing: A Study Series
Do you feel called to step out and do something great in your life? Or are you looking for what to do next? Then this six-week series may be for you! Based on the best-selling Chase the Lion by Mark Batterson, this series has as its theme: If your dream doesn’t scare you, it’s too small
This small-group series will meet at 4 p.m. on six consecutive Sundays starting July 17. It will be led by a team of two educators, Lynne Miller Lent and Bill Wood.
Child care will be provided through a close-by kid zone. There will be lemonade and ice water and cookies for the kids — and participants. Each session is designed to go for one hour. We will be covering the first six chapters in Chase the Lion and then gauging the interest in follow-up sessions for fall.
Adult participants of all ages and backgrounds are welcome. Child care will be for those age 2 and up.
To register, fill in the form at williamcwood.com/lion.
About Chase the Lion (from publisher’s description):
Based upon 2 Samuel 23, Chase the Lion tells the true story of an ancient warrior named Benaiah who chased a lion into a pit on a snowy day—and then killed it. For most people, that situation wouldn’t just be a problem…it would be the last problem they ever faced. For Benaiah, it was an opportunity to step into his destiny. After defeating the lion, he landed his dream job as King David’s bodyguard and eventually became commander-in-chief of Israel’s army under King Solomon.
Written in a way that both challenges and encourages, this revolutionary book will help unleash the faith and courage you need to identify, chase, and catch the five-hundred-pound dreams in your life.
We will have our final summer vespers on the final Sunday of August. We will gather for a meal over the fire, sing some hymns and camp song favorites, play a camp-style game or two, and conclude with a vespers devotional. Come out and enjoy!
Call for Worship Leaders and Children’s Story
We are still in need of both worship leaders and children’s stories. If you would like to serve, contact Alice Over (worship leading) or Tammy Stine (children’s story).
Call to Prayer
Let us continue to pray for our nation in the following ways:
1) National return to God
2) Repentance of personal sin
3) Repentance of corporate sin
4) Healing for the brokenness of relationships
5) Our leaders
7) Guidance for our congregation in the days ahead
We will have our first Church Retreat post-COVID at Natural Chimneys from Friday, August 19 through Saturday, August 21. Come rent a lot, pitch a tent or park a camper, and spend the whole weekend, or come and go as you please. It will be a great time to get away and simply enjoy each other at Beaver Creek!
What do you want to see at Beaver Creek? What are some ideas you have for the long-term growth of our congregation? Any outrageous outreach ideas? Please either email Pastor Ryan or write them down and place them in the brown suggestion box in the narthex. Dream big!
The Christian Education Team is looking for volunteers for the nursery during the Sunday School hour. If you are willing to help, even if it is just for a Sunday, please reach out to the Christian Education Team and let them know.
Four Ways to Give!
1) Mail your tithe into the church office
2) Drop it by the church office on Tuesday, Thursday or Friday, 9 am – 1 pm
3) Our online giving platform: https://beavercreekchurchva.churchcenter.com/giving
4) Drop off in the offering plate on Sunday!
Continue to Keep in Prayer our members in Skilled Care Facilities: Mary G Miller, Shirley Miller, Stanley Suter & Carolyn Wine
John Bennington (health)
Sandy Bennington (health)
Donnie Cornwell Sr (health)
Patsy Dastoli (health)
Elijah Tucker Dean (health)
Natalie Dodge (health)
John Fix (addiction)
Cindy Heatwole (health)
Bob Hess (health)
Tori Jackson (peace)
Darlene LaPrade (health)
Leroy Makely (health)
Mark Martin (health)
Barbara Meadows (health)
Torrey Meyer (well-being)
Meda McNett (health)
Alda Miller (health)
Betty Miller (health)
Mary G Miller (health)
Marty Moore (recovery)
Tami Plaugher (health)
Lottie Ritchie (health)
Ann Simmons (health)
Crystal Smith (health)
Whitmore family (various)
Mary Whitmore (health)
Winnie Wilfong (knee & health)
Shelvy Wittig (health)
Owen Wright (health)
Pastor Ryan Cooper
Beaver Creek Church