This message was preached by Lasya V via zoom at Word Of Grace Church on Feb 7th,2021. for the audio please click here.
Last week Manesh brought such a timely word to us about the importance of belonging to God and to one another. He spoke about the urgent need to stay connected in right relationship to God and to one another, to stay in biblical fellowship and the first way we can do that is by receiving God’s love and he quoted this verse from 1 John 4:19 – We love because He first loved us.
This stirred up in me the theme
of First Love that has been on my heart for several months now. There is
another place in the bible where this phrase is used. In Revelation 2: 2-5 - ‘I know
your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with
those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are
not, and found them to be false. 3 I know you are enduring patiently and
bearing up for my name's sake, and you have not grown weary. 4 But I have this
against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember
therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at
I want to draw out 3 principles for our life from this passage – especially verse 4.
1. The principle of priority.
a. God’s first love - God’s first love: 1 John 4:19 – We love because He first loved us. Ephesians 1:4-5 “even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us[b] for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will”
Have you ever made a vision board for yourself? What do you put in there first? (Dad’s house analogy) Psalm 139: 16 ““Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them” To confirm that our names were sealed with him before the foundation of the world it says in Revelation 13: 8 “and all who dwell on earth will worship it (speaking of the beast, the devil), everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.”
b. God’s first command – Deut 6:4-5 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” In fact when Jesus was asked to sum up the ENTIRE law this is what he said in Matthew 22:37- 38 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.” This is the command – to seek first his kingdom, to first love him. First love is not puppy love but priority love. To love is to be set apart – holy! Put him first in your day, your tithes, your love.
2. The principle of remembrance
a. God’s Remembrance – 168 times in the bible
i. Lev 26:42 “then I will remember my covenant with Jacob, and I will remember my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land.” Does God remember because he tends to forget? Does he have a bad memory from having always existed? No, he’s omniscient, he knows everything! But for God to remember a covenant means he will bless us in accordance with his promises. Genesis 30: 22 “Then God remembered Rachel, and God listened to her and opened her womb”.
ii. Then again, the Bible also says that he will not remember some things. In Isaiah 43:25 “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”
iii. It is in the nature and character of God to remember His covenant and forget about our transgression. Knowing this David cries out in Psalm 25:7 “Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O Lord!”
b. What are we called to remember?
i. God’s call to remembrance is not to look back but to look up. Remember from where you have fallen. It is not meant to be in derision – it is a call back to first love. Remember God, his nature, his love, his covenant, his sacrifice.
ii. The first command to remember that comes to mind is of course the communion. In 1 Corinthians 11: 24 – 25 “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” We are called to remember the new covenant in Jesus’ blood as often as we eat bread and drink wine. That’s pretty often, isn’t it?
iii. But this is not a new testament command – in Exodus 20:8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” Numbers 15:40 “So you shall remember and do all my commandments, and be holy to your God.”
iv. Why is it important that we remember according to God’s word? What can our remembrance do? Numbers 11:5-6 “We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. 6 But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at” Do you remember what happened to them? The whole generation died without seeing the promise land. There is a remembrance that leads to death and a remembrance that leads to life that is why God says in Colossians 3:1-2 “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.”
v. On the other hand, Joshua 4:6-7 “When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ 7 then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever.” It is important what we remember in accordance with His word. What are the memorials in your life? What are you remembering daily? What is in the forefront of your mind?
3. The principle of returning
Returning/ repentance has to do with our heart and it is a gift from God. It is the rerouting system of our spirit. God had never had to repent of anything because primarily, repentance is the means for us to access right belonging with God. Jesus has never had to do that but since we are born in Adam we are born with a sinful nature, and repentance is the only way we can adjust that relationship with God. Peter shared the glorious gospel to thousands – with great boldness and filled with the spirit. The people were impacted – they were cut to the heart but realise that being impacted or touched by a message is not the same as repentance. There is something we need to do with it. So Peter says in Acts 2:38 “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Now, repentance for salvation is a onetime thing. But there is a repentance that is ongoing. If we are always in step with the Spirit, we will not have to repent that much… but when we sometimes let the flesh lead, we take wrong turns, and need to repent. There are 2 things that repentance does apart from the forgiveness of sins:
i. It returns us to intimacy with God. Malachi 3:7 “Return to me and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts.” God is not one to punish us by withdrawing himself when we are broken. He gives grace to the humble.
ii. It refreshes us - Acts 3:19 “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord” Matthew 11:28 “Are you weary, carrying a heavy burden? Then come to me. I will refresh your life, for I am your oasis.”
Our response – is to follow Jesus’ example
1. Cultivate a secret life with God- Mark 1:35 “And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.” Matt 6:6 “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you”.
2. Let his interests become your interests – John 2: 13 – 17 “The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. 15 And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. 16 And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father's house a house of trade.” 17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.””
At another gathering, in Matthew 12: 48-50 he says “While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. 48 But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.””
When the zeal for His house consumes us, we are able to set our houses straight. There are a million things demanding our attention from the second we wake up, but the right order of priorities will return to our lives when we put him first.
3. Remember God’s promises and His covenant – don’t look back, look up. Pay attention to what you remember, what is in the forefront of your mind and heart. Is it the way people let you down, is it the way you let God down sometimes, is it guilt, is it shame, it is pride or offense, what occupies your mind most of the time? Take time to remember what is true, write it in your journal, every time you eat, remember Jesus, in your waking, your lying down, remember his promises and his steadfast love, his faithfulness… Deuteronomy 11:18- 21 ““You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 19 You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 20 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, 21 that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth”
4. Return/ repent – as often as it is needed. And bear fruit in keeping with repentance. Matthew 3:8 Grief in itself is not repentance. 2 Corinthians 7:9 “As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting”, but the true test of repentance is in the fruit it bears. The rich young ruler went away after hearing Jesus’ words feeling very sad, but he did not repent. On the other hand, Zaccheus did not shed a single tear but he gave back all the money he stole and lost all his riches in an instance. If anything he was rejoicing, but that was true repentance. That is the true gospel as Paul also testifies before King Agrippa in Acts 26:20 “that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance.” And what are the deeds in keeping with our repentance? Rev 2: 5 “repent and do the works you did at first.””
Word of Grace is an Evangelical (Born Again), Spirit-filled (Charismatic), Reformed, English speaking church in Pune that upholds the Bible as God's inspired Word for life. We are a church community that has people from every part of India and parts of the world. We are here to put the Great Command and the Great Commission into practice by equipping and releasing every member into works of service. Word of Grace is a part of a wider international family of Churches called RegionsBeyond.To know more about us please log onto www.wordofgracechurch.org.
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