In the church of Ephesus, they were working hard.
They had patience through the storms when they prayed and it turned around, and when they prayed but it didn’t turn around. They had been through a lot and had remained. They had a desire for truth and a willingness to stand up for truth. They hated evil. But God had somewhat against them. What horrible sin made the Lord disappointed in them? After all the good things that they are doing, what would make God say that He wasn’t pleased with them?
“Because thou hast left thy first love.”
I’ve heard numerous, wonderful sermons preached on this. Sermons on losing your love to go to church, losing your love to worship. I heard it preached that you’ve lost your desire to fast, to read your Bible, to pray. I heard it preached that you’ve lost your passion to win souls, to evangelize, to do mission work, to give to the work of God. None of them were wrong. They were all such on-time, encouraging words. But I always felt there was more to it. And I’ve come up with this after many, many years of rolling this over in my spirit and digging through the Word.
- John 3:16-17
- Jeremiah 31:3
- Revelation 2:1-5
- 1 John 4:19
- Titus 3:3-8
- Romans 5:6-8
- Ephesians 2:4-9
- Isaiah 53:6
- Ephesians 3:17-19
- Psalm 5:12
- Nehemiah 2:5
- Proverbs 3:3
- Proverbs 11:27
What is your first love?
1 John 4:19 — “We love him, because he first loved us.” Our first love wasn’t about getting the Holy Ghost, being faithful to church, or being passionate about winning souls. Our first love was when we were in a mess and our world was falling apart, and somebody got word to us that Jesus loves us. Before we could ever love Him back, He loved us first.
The Church of Ephesus was fighting devils and carrying loads, but they forgot how much God loved them. They were trying to do it all themselves. “It’s not about you,” God says, “I wanted a friend. I Bled for you. I died for you. It wasn’t you who died for me. It wasn’t your first love, it was my first love. Because you’ve made it your first love, you’re getting into works and you’re trying to do it yourself. Now, you’ve lost my rest.” When it goes from our strength is His love to our strength is our love, we have fallen.
I want to talk about the difference between love and favor.
We don’t have to do anything for God to love us. There isn’t anything we can do to make Him love us more. His love for us will never change. There were millions of people in the world at Noah’s time. Millions of people that God loved, but only one that found grace (favor) in the eyes of God. And that was the one who survived the Flood.
Who would want to die for someone who doesn’t want to change, for someone who didn’t care? Who would want to die for someone working for the enemy? But Jesus did, and that’s the first love right there. While we were in a mess and no one cared for us, Christ died for us.
God’s love is free. God loves you where you are, not just where He’s taking you. God’s love is immeasurable. I believe that if we understand the love of God and it starts flowing through us, no enemy can stand against us.
Now, let’s talk about favor.
Never a day did I not love my sons, John and Micah. But if they did something wrong when they were younger, I might have had mercy and not use the switch I had. They have my love. But at that moment they did not have my favor. They have my love, but they had been disobedient.
If you want to get it right, you don’t just have the love of God, but you have the opportunity to have the favor of the Lord. when you get the favor of God, millions will die in that Flood, but you’ll be safe and sound in the Ark.
“Why should I live right when everyone else isn’t?”
It’s not about everybody else. It’s about you and God. How close do you want to get to God? How much do you want to please God? Let the others sneak around and do what they are going to do. Serve God as much as you can. Love Him all that you can. Walk as close with Him as you can.
What are some ways that we can find the favor of God?
Just because we choose to be righteous, God will bless us with favor. Favor with God will give you favor with man. I’ve walked through seasons where I had so much favor with God, that He would deal with people who didn’t even like me to bless me. And favor is not always fair. Just like David, if you get out there and fight bears and lions, He’ll take you by all your brothers and even Jonathan and make you king. When you have the favor of God, He will put a blessing on you so you can reach and be a help to others.
We do not do what we do to try to earn God’s love.
We do it because we fell in love with Him. When He saved us, He changed something in us and gave us our heart’s desire. That doesn’t mean that He’s going to give that yacht that we’ve been wanting or something like that. He’s going to give me a desire to want to love Him, to serve Him. Our heart’s desire is going to be what He places inside of us. We aren’t doing this because we are afraid that He won’t love us if we don’t. But when the enemy comes in like a flood, I want to know that I have God’s favor. When my world is shaking, I need to know that I have the favor of God.
The three Hebrew boys that were thrown in the fire, if they had the favor of God they would come out. But what about the others thrown in who didn’t have the favor of God? The children of Israel had the favor of God and walked out on the other side of the Red Sea, but the Egyptian army did not have God’s favor and drowned.
When everyone was wicked, Noah got it right. When everyone was wicked, Noah was faithful to church, faithful to God, faithful to prayer, and faithful to family. He was faithful to help others. This is how you win favor.
–Pastor Anthony Wynn