Stage 4 – A Call Back to Commitment
14 "Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. 15 But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."
16 Then the people answered, "Far be it from us to forsake the LORD to serve other gods! 17 It was the LORD our God himself who brought us and our fathers up out of Egypt, from that land of slavery, and performed those great signs before our eyes. He protected us on our entire journey and among all the nations through which we traveled. 18 And the LORD drove out before us all the nations, including the Amorites, who lived in the land. We too will serve the LORD, because he is our God."
19 Joshua said to the people, "You are not able to serve the LORD. He is a holy God; he is a jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins. 20 If you forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, he will turn and bring disaster on you and make an end of you, after he has been good to you." 21 But the people said to Joshua, "No! We will serve the LORD."
1"To the angel[a] of the church in Ephesus write:
These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands: 2I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. 3You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. 4Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. 5Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. 6But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
Even good people need to be called back to repentance. Joshua has lead the Israelites faithfully for his entire life and he is now at the end of his time on earth. He takes the opportunity to call everyone back to decision about their relationship with God. If we have been through a time of spiritual discouragement it is important and encouraging to realize that we can and need to repent. Repentance brings times of refreshing from God (Ac 3:19). It is amazing that we long for refreshment but resist repentance. A call back to commitment is not something that we need to regret but rather see as key to a fresh and invigorating relationship with God.
I am startled by the long list of compliments that the church in Ephesus receives; hard work, perseverance, endured hardship, strong stand on sin, excellent judgment about false teachers, and not grown weary. This reminds me of so many people that I love and respect for just these reasons! Jesus pours on the praise and then loves them enough to call them back to recommitment. Great people need to repent too. Many of us are good at commending but rarely call others to regain their first love. We all have memories of our best days in the faith, days of zeal and dedication and making a difference in the lives of others. We remember the height from which we have fallen and we like the Ephesians need to repent and do the things we did at first. Without repentance there can be no recovery.
Signs and Solutions for a Call to Recommitment
- Leadership is Required
- Deuteronomy 1:9-18 There has been a popular myth circulated that God’s people will flourish without any leadership. That is utter nonsense and those that espouse that view have clearly spent more time talking than helping meet needs in God’s family. Leadership is cover to cover in the Bible. It has its downfalls and limitations but it is absolutely essential to the healthy function of any group large or small.
- Money Matters
- Nehemiah 13:10-13 Two thousand five hundred years ago God’s people had drifted from him and were in need of serious of spiritual recovery. Nehemiah addressed two sins very directly indeed; greed and mixed marriage. Things are not much different all these generations later. Greed and sexual misconduct are the very first things that enter a stagnant fellowship. Jesus said it is hard for the rich to enter the kingdom, we have seen the pursuit of wealth destroy the faith of many and yet most are uncomfortable talking about the love of money. We need to repent and help others to do the same.
- Gossip/Slander/Factions/Divisiveness are sin
- Joshua 1:18, Titus 3:9-11, Mark 7:22, Galatians 5:20 Gossip and slander can bring down sports dynasties, divide loving families, destroy a work environment, and paralyze a church. It is vital that Christians feel that they are free to express themselves in a godly and balanced way (Eph 4: 20-32). This freedom cannot be abused and allowed to damage the hearts and faith of our brothers and sisters around us. We must see this as not just the leaders’ responsibility but rather a conviction that all disciples are passionate about.
- Devotion to the Fellowship
- Hebrews 10:23-25, Acts 2:42-47 Devotion is a word that describes a level of passion and dedication that is extraordinary. That is the word used to describe the level of commitment that we are to have to meeting with our brothers and sisters. Many of our fellowships have become lax in this area essential to our spiritual development. Some have become ‘Sunday only” Christians with no hope of helping other disciples or the lost to be saved. We must recommit to being devoted to the fellowship!
The best news of this entire article is that if we do decide to come out of darkness and denial and we walk by faith again and are willing to recommit our hearts to God, He never fails to bless our efforts. The Boston congregation is where much of our movement blossomed from. More than 50 churches were sent out from here and hundreds of leaders were raised up in this place. But as one of the older congregations in our fellowship she faced many trials earlier than others and struggled to find solutions. But in recent months she has been blessed with a spirit of revival and a time of refreshment. These victories are shared to give hope to others who have felt stuck in their faith and struggled to find hope.
Boston Church of Christ – Signs of Recovery
- Every Member Into a Family Group and Discipling Restarted
- Clarified Membership – 1,952
- Reenergized the Campus Ministry
- Ministry training program – 8 interns
- Baptisms increase from 5 to 30
- 3 new campus graduates hired fulltime
- Reversed Decline in Missions Giving + $200,000 = 10X Weekly
- Increased Weekly Giving by $300,000
- Reestablished Support for HOPEww
- Increasing Eldership from 5 to 12
- Congregational Teaching Program Established
- Surging Singles Ministry – Hired the Folkers Fulltime
- Increased Disciples for the First Time in 7 Years ~ 80 Disciples