2005-03-09 - Heartfelt Devotion
Origianlly Published 2003-12-12
I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance. I know you don't tolerate evil people. You have examined the claims of those who say they are apostles but are not. You have discovered they are liars. 3 You have patiently suffered for me without quitting. 4 But I have this complaint against you. You don't love me or each other as you did at first! Rev 2:2-4 (NLT)
Busy work does not equal affection.
Jesus is rebuking the mega-church in Ephesus for not loving Him or each other as they did when they first believed. Some of us are too busy making a living to live. We get too busy and distracted, to keep our focus on loving Christ and loving people. My wife once told me that I worked too much and when I was home, I was not "home." My reply was, "Don't you like what all my work is producing for us?" Her wise reply was that she and the kids did not want all the "stuff", just me. That is exactly what Jesus was telling the church. He did not want all their busy work, just them, their devotion and their love. What keeps you from loving God and loving people? What are some practical ways we can avoid these distractions?
The avoidance of evil is not a demonstration of devotion.
I want your constant love, not your animal sacrifices. I would rather have my people know me than burn offerings to me. Hosea 6:6 (TEV)
God wants our full devotion, our love and our obedience. There is a huge difference between living to avoid evil, and living to love God. Living in fear of evil desires ironically attracts us to those same desires. Living to love God and love people leads us to just that, loving God and loving people. Our focus should be directly on Christ, just as He focused directly on the cross. Focus on living for Him. Can you think of examples of living to avoid evil? What are examples of living to please God?
The momentum of the local church is full devotion.
Jesus replied, "You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind... A second is equally important: 'Love your neighbor as yourself." All the other commandments and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments. Matthew 22:37-40 (NLT)
Jesus is simply saying love God and love people. These are the greatest commandments. We love Jesus because of what he has done for us. We love people out of our love for Christ. Jesus provides the fuel for our love.
High School physics taught us the formula for momentum below:
Momentum = Mass x Velocity2
In the local church, momentum is expressed as people times devotion squared.
Momentum = People x Devotion2
The momentum of the local church has been in a decline. Church consultant Jim Griffith reports that from 1990 to 2000, more than 100,000 churches have closed their doors. That is an average of 833 per month, or 192 per week. He also reported that about 85 percent of all churches in America are in the decline stages.
We treat church as another task on our "to do" list. We go on the weekend and give ourselves a little star for going. Momentum has faltered because we lack full commitment, full devotion and full focus on Christ. We may have many people, but without devotion, we can not have the momentum that Christ designed the local church to have. We can not be effective followers without full devotion. We can not and do not impact the world around us, without full devotion and love. We need momentum to regain the impact the early church had on the world.
What are ways the local church can generate the momentum God longs for us to have? What are ways that we can move toward being fully devoted followers of Christ?
Questions or Comments?
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