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First Things First: Jesus Above All

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
April 25, 2021 6:00 am

First Things First: Jesus Above All

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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April 25, 2021 6:00 am

Pastor Bryan invites us to hear the words of Jesus in Revelation 2, “You have left your first love.” Does God want us to do things for him? Of course. Does he want us to work hard and sacrifice for him? Of course. Does he want us to engage in ministry and to serve others? Of course. But we must never let what we do get in the way of our “first love”—Jesus Christ himself. Never, never, never confuse being busy for Jesus with the first love of Jesus.

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Well good morning Summit family. If you have your Bibles going meet me in Revelation chapter 2 with all that's going on in our society and world sees you get real distracted. I just have a real simple word to give to you this morning. Real simple reminder. Nothing deep today for the deep stuff come back next week and our pastor will be able to jump into the deep into the pool would be the kiddie pool this week, but Revelation chapter 2 pick me up in verse one. This is Jesus talking Revelation 2 beginning in verse one to the angel of the church in Ephesus write the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands. I know your works, your toil, your patient endurance how you cannot bear with those who are evil and have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my namesake and you have not grown weary but but I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you fall in repentance and do the work she did at first. If not I'll come to you and remove your lampstand from its place unless you repent this you have, you hate the works of the nickel latent switch.

I also ate.

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches to the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the paradise of God now got. Would you speak to us. Pray that the seed of your word would follow them good ground that would take root that would bear much fruit.

It's in Jesus name I pray, amen. Several years ago my dad tells a story. There was a colleague of his who had to catch a flight to China and the Davis trip finally came Georgia Bulldogs. God bless you. God bless you amen and amen. I grew up in Atlanta man. You are blessed and highly favored anyways, so the Davis trip finally came, is enough to China and here is any checks his watch is. He's been running errands all day kind of preparing for this trip to China and realizes looks at his watch of the front running perilously close to missing his flight study rushes home the roses you know close and stuff in a suitcases kisses his wife and kids goodbye throws the suitcases in the trunk, slammed the trunk, hopped in his car speeds. Number 105 freeway there in Southern California make his way to LAX go to the next necessary security checkpoints makes his flight just in time to take this carry-on baggage puts in the overhead compartment sits down, breathes a sigh of relief and then as the plane is starting the taxi down the runway. He begins to have this nauseating sense that he's forgotten something really important, but he can't quite put his finger on what it is, in my never been there before, he's kind of man I've forgotten something, and you know can't necessarily quite figure out what it is. Finally at about 37,000 feet in the air somewhere over the Pacific. It hits them what it is he's forgotten very thought of him causes him to double over in agony and is bringing his head was going and how can I be so silly and dumb to forget that seat in his hands to make his flight.

He had just pulled up curbside at LAX hopped out of his car left the car running fix.

The door was open to his car is over the middle of the Pacific. 37,000 feet in the air, and Lord knows what happened to his car seat in his haste to do a good thing. Take a trip to China, he neglected to take care of an essential thing is car seat. While there are many flights to China that day. He only had one car. He exchanged an essential thing for a good thing. We've all been irreverently we've all been there.

As parents we we been there with our kids. We know what it's like to exchange an essential thing for the good things I got 20-year-old 18-year-old 16-year-old man. If all goes according to plan, unit two years from now.

Remember, you know, empty-nesters euro.

Some hundred 27,000 children are like arrows, not boomerangs, and me went with this gorgeous claimant had right now it's for no one giving no one told me I thought having young adults was easy is not easy.

Anyways is another story for another time at 20-year-old or talk on the phone merely calls me to check in attendance and in the conversation come to terms man and he just cannot you notice like dad and I just wish you were around more and I like Ike I got it only see my haste to do a good thing and provide for him.

There were seasons and stretches of my parenting that I neglected the essential thing just time with him in our marriages.

We understand this I mean the essential thing God just common names.

Here's what your marriage should be about Brian Genesis chapter 2 Jesus repeated in Matthew chapter 19 I have just kinda proclaimed over your marriage oneness with Tim Downs call soul level harmony and calling you like to walk in oneness.

And yet, as one person said the problem with life is that life is also daily and we can just kinda going to the seasons where mentors remember just you know want to get T-ball game over here. Another kid on the soccer field and when we got busy stretches and marriage and I got flights to get to.

We can be like ships passing in the night and you string enough of these things together and the last one leaves the house and you just cannot eat net be obtained together. Look across the table at a stranger give exchange an essential thing for a good thing college students you understand this, you are the essential thing is your year at that university to get a degree but but you've done some good things. You made some connections and billings of relationships is wonderful but don't let that distract you from the essential thing in which are therefore very temptation of life's exchange essential things for good things.

This is the message of the church at Ephesus there are struggles were going to learn is our struggle and then deep for you today. The problem with the church at Ephesus, Jesus says, in essence you have gotten so grown in somewhat more and so sophisticated in your faith that you exchange doing good things for me with being with me and I want to talk about Jesus, he decides to give a piece of mail to seven churches right out the bat. The first church. He says I want to give a postcard to the church at Ephesus. Most New Testament scholars will tell us we cannot possibly understand our Bibles without understanding the church in city of Ephesus there is Paul, he decides to plant a church.

X. 19 in the city of Ephesus. Ephesus was regarded as the New York City of its day.

A very strategic place. Paul walks into the city and he goes to the synagogue and preaches Christ to the Jews.

Some Jews come to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is not done. He then goes to the hollow tirade isn't preaches Christ of Gentiles come to know Christ as Lord and Savior. What is he do these two different ethnic groups can't stand each other.

He doesn't start two separate churches. Nope, he starts one church and calls them to work out horizontally what God in Christ has already accomplished for them vertically, which is reconciliation.

The multiethnic church is one of the strongest pieces of evidence for the veracity of Jesus Christ because I will flesh this thing out soon enough emerging church occurs and it starts to grow and growing scholars tell us that Ephesus becomes the hub of a strong, vibrant missionary community. Ephesus is highly influential. We know it's influential because in antiquity the sequence of numbers oftentimes tells you it's importance. The fact that Jesus Christ is giving a letter to seven different churches in the first church out of the gate is Ephesus tells us that Ephesus is strategic and important begins by addressing the letter when you look at verse one with me to the angel of the church in Ephesus is this mean John MacArthur and other Bible scholars tell us that that, fundamentally, angels are messengers that exist to that kind of bring a word from God to his people that are messengers and that's why MacArthur and other Bible scholar says that the angel is the pastor or the leaders of the church. He goes on to say in verse one the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lamps in order to screen you don't need a commentary or to spend the day in seminary to figure this out. He already answered this for us in Revelation chapter 1 verse 20 look at it with me. As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and the seven golden lampstands. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches here, leaders and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

Jesus Christ begins by saying this I want you to know that I've got the leaders in the churches in my hand. It is a symbol of his control. The fact that he says there in my right hand is a symbol of his powerful control. You understand I am sovereign over your life.

I am sovereign over the summit church.

Not only that, he says actually walk among my people.

I walk among my church is not as a security guard waiting to point out negative things but but this is a symbol of his pastoral care. Put it all together.

Jesus is saying I'm holding your life. I'm holding the life of the summit church in my right hand and I'm walking among you, which means I am exercising right now sovereign, care and control over your life in this church. This Jesus is not on the history Channel.

He is very active in the reality show that is your life and this church all you will make me shout you keep saying amen over here. I love it.

What is this mean for us practically always a safe soon. I need to put some shoe leather on this.

What does that mean when we really understand that God is exercising sovereign care and control over the summit and over my life. It should eliminate worry Matthew chapter 6 Jesus says three times.

Therefore I tell you, do not worry do not worry do not worry. I love what Max potato, that prolific writer in San Antonio says Max potato says that worry is our emotional reaction to a perceived event. It's different from fear. Fear is our emotional reaction to an actual event. Worry is our emotional reaction to a perceived event to what might happen.

I love Tony Evans, Tony Evans says worry he is paying interest on troubled not yet due. Love that we understand God you are exercising sovereign care and control over my life that nothing surprises you that at no point did you ever appear over the balcony of heaven, then look at the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit did you know that that should eliminate worry was this mean for us. Summit church collectively man which we are in a man, an unprecedented stretch.

Talk to the average pastor there expressing deep concern. Maybe some even worry and anxiety about covariate and what's going to happen once it finally abates to my church. Why even have a church orcs menu you just gonna look at the political turmoil that's out there assume the board of Christian University and it's what we spent a lot of time talking recently about what happens if and when the quality act passes and there's deep concern for us. There are useful about the racial climate.

All that's happening there anywhere living in the middle you that can threaten our sense of confidence what God is saying. I want you to look at Scripture and I want you to look at the witness of church history to the church to survive a global pandemic called the black plague the churches survive bad political leaders.

The churches actually thrive in racially hostile climates.

I think I can get you through this one was true. The church is true of your life, man, this is been a crazy stretch run past differences in 2021 until a lot different. So far feels like December 82nd 2020 said to me I had to constantly remind myself. He takes care of the birds close the lilies of the field, how much more important than I have been made in his image. He's got me.

God's got you. He's got you.

He's got you. Jesus now moves from this and he opens up by giving the church at Ephesus a commendation begins by telling him I know your deeds, the Greek word which is the original language of the text for no it speaks of watch it now, not of a knowledge that comes by reading, but knowledge that comes by experience as Jesus is saying I have been checking you out and never thought Jesus is saying in his own words.

I've been checking you out and there's some things that I love about you rattles off nine things that he loves about the church.

Evans I don't have time to do a line by line audit but but let me just say this. These nine things fit in three big buckets is the first thing I want you to understand is been checking you out and I want you to understand. I've got applaud you. You are a hard working church.

He says in verse two. I know your works, your Toyota were there for toil. It means to labor until the point of exhaustion. He says I've been checking you are hereby concluded you in a lazy church working on the marketplace are doing a 9-to-5 job and then your showing up leading a small group I meet you guys are blessed throughout the week and many are common in your servant in children's ministry or you're out on the parking lot ministry minute you are a hard working church. I just got a tell you I've been checking you out. Laziness is not in your vocabulary. Not only that, he tells them you're a hard-working church with secular.

He tells them you're a faithful church. He says again verse two.

I know your works are toil here it is in your patient endurance. I give endurance. It is the power to withstand the hardship or stress you've been through some things you you've been through 20/20 devil person haymaker set your your marriage has been tested as never before you this school work has been tested as never before.

Look at you. You are still here you are in church.

You endured you've gone through something Natalie that he says are faithful, hard-working, but he says you're a discerning church, he says, but have tested those verse to call themselves apostles and are not, and found to be false, and I love about you.

Jesus says to the church at Ephesus. Just because a person gets on stage on Sunday morning and maybe has the title pastor before their name you're not gullible you're not just taking what they're saying you're discerning what they're saying and sifting what they're saying to the word of God.

You are a discerning church. You are not easily led astray. We get to hear Jesus clapping to church faithful concerts this thing started to me you guys are related in verse four, but just like Jesus defines him wrong but I am laserlike enough time to take my car for simple change in Jiffy Lube, Mandan after an oil change, they come in. Is it all looks great rotated tires is wonderful but the radiator to the Denison for simple cleaning and he would write what you got a cavity as Jesus yet wonderful things but it's I have this one thing against you boys introducing you've abandoned your first love. The Greek word for Brandon hear me now. It's often times in the New Testament translated as, forgive when we forget what we doing work sending away the offense. Now this word is great for grudges. It's horrible for Jesus. Jesus says at some point you got so sophisticated in your faith you got so immersed in the latest Bible study you got so caught up in the latest program that I no longer first contact you then cemented to figure this out about people we come to church talk about individuals who are just, you know, living in the flash is talking about people who sell blue Star go to the conference.

If you take the not talking about church people present at some point your priorities.

Brian got out of what I mean I've been preaching over 30 years. I love preaching. Maybe Jesus is saying that's the problem Brian some point you live preaching more than me you love doing things for me more than being with me now at the Bible because I would have to do math. Math is not my forte infects my kids came home you know anyone in unit called fractions. I tapped out and I said there's an app for that. I do remember that math is, there is a section that we went through called order of operations. You are in order of operations order of operations is the equations that they put inside a parenthesis there is no multiplication. In addition, there is division their subtraction and fundamentally, what order of operation says is that you just don't jump in there and start doing the math that there's a sequence you have to work. In fact, what were of operations actually says is if you get the math right, but the sequence wrong the whole thing is wrong. Jesus is saying I'm proud of myself for using math illustration. Jesus is saying you got the math right, but you got the sequence wrong whole thing is messed up.

I'm not your first love is first love what what what differentiates first love from second love. Third love for fluff 2011 what what what what what's unique about first love one word passion passion never gives January 1998 I was in church on those old-school churches there in LA we were all squeak.

We would sit as ministers would sit on the pulpit and I looked out man is like a light just shone down this woman man half Mexican half Irish all fine grooming Cory as narrator now found that she had just gotten saved and I felt led by the Holy Spirit, be part of her discipleship or spiritual formation.

So we started hanging out Mandan soon enough we we fell in love and forget that Cory her apartment was in North Hollywood. My apartment was an paramount and both of us like to group called Casey and JoJo think that would work in this crap we like Caucasian JoJo into what we would do is we take our CDs.

These little discs and we should be in North Hollywood I'd be an paramount and we put both put the casing JoJo CDN at the same time and we go to track 11. At the same time, and we hit play at the same time and put repeat song at the same time and in week we would talk all night with Casey and JoJo in the background. Someone said we would do that because there's first love you tended to cheesy stuff like that as you turn this introvert into extrovert first love.

Then it happened.

We got married in about six months later Cory comes to me and says were off and just not feeling that connection anymore with off even say it this way but but the passion was gonna get my response.

Forgive me. I hope this is a safe place for me to confess my sin. But what I sent to her. If you ever doubt my love for you.

Just look at the roof. I pay the rent here in the refrigerator and filled with food and go over well. Why did he go well because in Corey's mind doing things for her could never take the place of being with her. You can tie the knot have Jesus as your first love.

You go overseas on a missions trip and not have Jesus as your first love.

You can leave a small group and not have Jesus as your first love.

Jesus is saying never confuse doing things for me would bring with me that you that you look, I'm not ripping on you because your 77 I grew up in Atlanta. I grew up in Bible Belt fill elder brother Phil the danger of cultural Christianity. One person said that the scary thing about ministries you can learn to do it just becomes this lifeless autopilot thing we've all been there.

Not you all have been there. We all have been there. So when I get my priorities out of whack. What do I do Jesus as you ask good questions. Here's what you do verse five remember therefore from where you have fallen repent and do the work she did at first is what he saying Brian when your priorities are out of whack.

Do these three things. Remember, repent, redo, remember, repent, redo, remember, repent, redo, would you say that with me.

Remember, repent, redo, when Barklay Bible scholar says the way back to Jesus begins with memory never read the Old Testament. Most times when God moves in the Old Testament he calls his people to build an altar of remembrance nation of Israel crossing the Jordan River at springtime at harvest time is present when when they crossed the Jordan River actively got open will get 12 stones build is ultimately why because in the future when you and your son are out traveling somewhere, you and your daughter out somewhere you and the family also were used to randomly come by these 12. When asked you what's this about stop and remember, remember that move of God that refueling for the present. I hope this is a place to my sons Corian and my youngest are down and rock Hill Fort Mill somewhere in South Carolina. He's is your basketball tournament is this weekend and so perfect o'clock today. They placed of Christine and so there down there in August. I don't do well when my wife is going when I'm out of town I could just put it when my boo is going mischievous that's tough is a safe place. I'm about to turn my man card but sometimes I get so jacked up that actually sleep on her side of the bed asleep on her side a bit, so I can just smell her scent. I know I know there's other times in which actually walk on her side of the closet and just smell her clothes. I know I know that's weird that's weird times measure this illustration and guys have come to be like Nicodemus came to Jesus and confess their sins as well. There's a connection between your sense of smell in memory sense of her makes me think of her thinking of her makes me long for Jesus says when you've gotten off track. I need you to remember. I need you to think back before you were so sophisticated and so mature in the faith. I need to remember when you first got saved and you know any Scripture, but your telling everyone moving about this Jesus, remember that. Remember when you know all the sophisticated theology and uniqueness even know how to play the right way, you couldn't got all your theological eyes across all your theological teeth. But there was a freshness that wasn't intimacy there what you are talking to Jesus. You want talking to other people through your prayer was heartfelt. Remember that. Remember when the word of God was it some reading plan to check off list and to make sure you're tracking but remember what it was his intimacy.

There was this connection pickle with families is repent.

The last I checked in the Bible. The only thing you repent of his sin and context. Jesus is saying if I'm not first, it sin not first love. Something has taken my place and for anything to take the place of Jesus.

We call it an idol in his Tim Teller says an idol is anything, even a good thing that has become an ultimate repent. Thirdly and finally says redo CS Lewis says it this way, CS Lewis using the analogy of marriage to point to our relationship with Christ.

He says, in essence, if you've lost your passion in marriage if your spouse is not precious. Don't wait until that spouse feels precious. Do the deed and then the preciousness will follow. So binder driving down the street, many union courier off.don't wait until you feel like it. Just pull over right now. Get some flowers from from from whole paycheck I'm coming whole foods just just just pull right over there. Do the works of the feelings will come 20s do what you did when I was first love. It may mean you you you may need to do what you did at first, I would be fasting do that the feelings will come. What happens as we close, when we do these things in Jesus becomes first love. He ends with an incredible promise, he says, verse seven he who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. I love this to the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the paradise of God.

Was this mean whenever you see paradise in the Bible it always has this common denominator. The presence of God. Genesis opens up with paradise, and in fact it says in Genesis chapter 3 that when they heard the sound of the Lord God walking they get themselves. I love this. There's a lot of stuff walking in the garden. There's elephants and giraffes would how I know on sound an elephant. That's not a giraffe that's got this. I have experienced his presence to cross Jesus says to the thief, today you will be with me in paradise. In the Bible. Paradise is the presence of God hears what he saying believers can never lose the presence of God. But when Jesus is first, here's what he saying you will experience the manifest presence of God in your life.

Many says how it comes from the tree of life Greek word for tree to be translated. Exuberance can be translated abundance it can be translated. Happiness here is, it can be translated joy. Psalm 16 brings that these two things together joy and presidency, says in his presence. I love it. There is some joy when Jesus is first fullness of joy joy is a divine protest against the tyranny of circumstances. Joy says circumstance, you will not dictate my attitude because the presence of God is abundant in my life. Imagine a young man he has just finished his PhD dissertation.

He hit send and send it into his advisor couple days later as advisor inspectors is my got some great news. I got some not so great news. Great news management.

I reviewed your dissertation looks great. Think it's ready for school the next step and schedule your defense.

He says now for the not so great news. I hate to bum you out but I talked to the registrar's office and I know you should've done this on the front end what's meant somehow to slip to the court. The cracks didn't take German in order to get this degree conferred upon you. You have to take German so this young man man he goes out and finds German German tutoring for the next six weeks, three hours a day five days a week since now the German tutoring he just checked it off the list. There's no excitement there's no joy there to do now not imagine another individual meets a young woman one evening in his heart is smitten something him just grandma Mary goes over to her and feels a connection he starts trying to talk to her and realizes she can speak English can only speak German. So what is he doing goes out hires a tutor for the next six weeks, three hours a day five days a week meeting with this German tutor you think is excitement there. You think there's anticipation.

There you think there's joy there. Why, because on the other side of the task is to design not just the Bible reading plan.

Jesus is not just giving report Jesus not just any event for you hop on a plane and go overseas Jesus. I'm not just a program.

Those things have its place but on the other side of the plant. On the other side of the trip. On the other side of the program is a living person whose name is Jesus never gets around in your faith. Brian you neglect first things first, I will pray for us. Father we've all been there. We've all been there.

Jesus you're not just reading plan. Jesus you're not just giving report not just the program you are a person who loved us so much that you got on the cross and you died for everything we've ever committed, are committing or will ever commit, you love us so much.

Jesus says you are rich in mercy, you have more mercy than we have met you pour out your kindness and your grace on us Lamentations this morning by morning new mercies was so fat. I pray first off that person is here today.

There is no US Lord and Savior. I pray in the name of Jesus that you would lovingly draw them in what I have given today is not a list of things to do. It's not lifeless religion.

It is trying to extol the beauties of a living person Christianity as we walk with the living person who walks with us and talks with us along life's narrow way.

So I pray Lord God, they would see their need for Jesus. For those of us who are in relationship with Jesus and yet your spirit has been messing with us over the last several moments together and we say yes that's me. I've got my priorities out of order got the math right, but the sequence from both of the grace to remember repent and redo this in Jesus name we ask all these things

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