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Dr. Tony Evans is the founder and senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, founder and president of The Urban Alternative and author of over 100 books, booklets and Bible studies. The first African American to earn a doctorate of theology from Dallas Theological Seminary, he has been named one of the 12 Most Effective Preachers in the English-Speaking World by Baylor University. Dr. Evans holds the honor of writing and publishing the first full-Bible commentary and study Bible by an African American. His radio broadcast, The Alternative with Dr. Tony Evans, can be heard on over 1,400 radio outlets daily and in more than 130 countries. Dr. Evans’ sermons are also streamed and downloaded over 20,000,000 times annually.

First Love is where there is a fire for

him who else died for you who else paid

for your sins who else has given you

Eternal Destiny who else do you call on

when life shuts down on you I’m going to

give you the first day of the week the

first week of the year I’m going to

begin to shift things so that you know I

know you’re



the first church we come to is the

church at

Ephesus it was well known throughout

Asia as the place to

go it was an economic boom

Town it was like a Wall Street it it it

dealt in significant financial matters

because of its strategic

location it was also known for

idolatry the Temple of Diana was located

in Ephesus a major idolatrous tourist


Diana would draw people from all over

that part of the world and so people

from all different backgrounds cultures

would come through Ephesus because of

all that it had to offer the church

Ephesus where you get the book of

Ephesians out of that’s the book written

to the church at

Ephesus the story of the church’s

beginning feel free to read it sometime

is Acts chapter 19 of how in the midst

of sorcery and Witchcraft and economics

people got saved and the church was

established and it is expressed to us in


19 about the energy excitement and

challenges that face this brand new

church but here in the Book of

Revelation he is not writing because all


well he is writing because of a

situation that needed to be

addressed for people who wanted to be

Overcomers as I hope that we

do he makes it clear in the first verse

that this was written for the angel of


house that is God’s messenger the word

angel from the Greek word Angelas means

messenger that the messenger the pastor

if you will was to Proclaim this message

to the

congregation at Ephesus Bible

Fellowship and if you and I will hear

what he has to say he that hath an ear

let him hear verse 7

says then you are on your way to being


overcomer and over

ruler of that which is ruling over

you now he first wants you to know

according to verse one that the one who

holds the Seven Stars in his right hand

the one who walks among the seven

lampstand says this so before he says

anything he wants to let you know where


walking he says he’s walking among the

seven lampstands that’s the seven


so right now as We Gather in our

congregational meeting today there is an


visitor Jesus Christ is walking up and

down the aisles of this worship service

you cannot see him because he’s here in

spirit not in body but he’s very much

there and he says he that walks among

the seven

lampstands says this and the first

phrase he says is I

know so he wants you to know as he

passes by your Pew I know you and I know

you I know who you are I know where you

came from I know where you’re going I

know where you’ve been I know what

you’re thinking right now I

know so right now we might as well get

off the facade cuz he

knows he starts off with a

compliment a commendation if if you will

he wants to congratulate the church

first he says I know your

Deeds I know what you

do I know that you are a serving

church I know about your

programs you are a serving

Church you’re not only a serving church

but I also know verse two says your

toil the Greek word for toil means to

labor to the point of

exhaustion I see you

sweating you’re not only a serving

Church you are then a sacrificing Church

you go

overboard in addition to that I know he

says verse two your

perseverance I know that you don’t quit

when the going gets tough because you

are a steadfast

church when when times are hard you keep

going you don’t throw in the to just

because you may not be feeling it today

I’m well

aware of your longevity I’m conscious of

your 40

years not only

that I am also well aware that you do

not tolerate evil men and you test them

who call themselves Apostles and are not

you are a separated church that is you

are Orthodox in Theology and

Doctrine he says I know something else

about you that is that you have

perseverance and have endured for my


sake you are a suffering Church you have

not grown

weary you’re serving you’re sacrificing

you’re steadfast you’re separated you’re

suffering you

you you are are a model congregation and

I know



but the

Commendation now turns to a

criticism or a

condemnation but I have this against

you you have left your first

love wait a

minute Jesus you just told me five

things that you like about

me about Ephesus Bible Fellowship you

you done just told me five things you

know how irritating it is for somebody

tell you five good things and then come

with one thing that they can’t deal

with Jesus says I’ve seen I’ve seen your


attributes but I have this one thing



you have left your first

love so

evidently you can be a serving church

and a serving Christian and have left

your first

love evidently you can be a sacrificing

church and a sacrificing Christian and

have left your first love you can be a

steadfast church and a steadfast

Christian and have left your first love

you can be a separated church and a

separated Christian and have left your

first love you can be a suffering church

and a suffering Christian and still have

left your first love so evidently you

can be doing right stuff and be in wrong

relationship you can be


precise and spiritually out of

sync what is this

problem that Jesus speaks of that’s so

big that it wipes out five

compliments that it overrules


affirmations he says I just got one

thing but it’s a

doozy you have left your first

love his complaint is they don’t love

him first

you have left your first love you may

still love

me but you no longer love me

first God cannot stop

existing because he’s Eternal so he

can’t do that there some things he


do let me tell you something else God

can’t do he can’t be

second when it comes to giv God says

give to the Lord the first fruits of

what he’s given you all through the

Bible this thing of first first first

first first because God assumes if he’s

not first he must not be

worthy God demands to be first Amen in

our affection in our attention in our

priority he demands to be first because

that’s what he


and when he is no longer

first and has been repositioned with

something or someone in place of him

you’ve just created an

idol because you’ve made something else

first and whatever is first becomes your

God so now God has competition in your

life he not saying you don’t love me

he’s saying you don’t love me

first that I am not your priority and I

don’t know how to be

second we individually and corporately

have often committed the

sin of making Ministry for him more

important in relationship with him and

the cost has been great in in our

spiritual experience of

him he says you’ve left your first love

you’ve compromis religion for

relationship and you’ve left me he says


left your first

love what does it look like when you

leave your first

love it

means that you have to find time for him

when you have time for other

things it has to do with

priority he he wants to know he’s

first that he has been relationally

prioritized not just

programmatically included he’s not

against the


but he wants make

sure that you do not allow religion to


you the first message to the first

church about being an overcomer is about

being relationally driven over


driven he doesn’t want a program per se

he wants a relationship that leads to a

program so what do we do about this and

why will it

matter verse five tells you what to do

three things he says remember from where

you have

fallen the three Rs the first one he

says I want you to

remember when you first got saved you

didn’t know anything but John

3:16 and you just knew one little hymn

you couldn’t you couldn’t wave your hand

in the air like you just don’t care you

didn’t have all of that all you you knew

was your sins were forgiven you were on

your way to heaven because you had come

to Jesus Christ you didn’t have much you

you all you had was me you better

remember remember when I’m the one that


most second ARA he says

repent okay there’s only one thing you

repent of in the Bible and that’s sin

the only thing you’re ever called to

repent of and that’s sin so guess what

leaving your first love is sin it’s not

just a bad habit it’s not just a

mistake when the relationship becomes

secondary to the program you’re living

in sin I’m living in sin we collectively

are living in sin when the relationship

is secondary to the program he’s not

just calling it oh my I got to get my

priorities together no you got to get

your sin

fixed because he says repent you only

repent repent of sin so he doesn’t

review this just as a scheduling issue

he views it as a sin

issue that I am no longer the priority

in your life you have programmed me to


second and all the programs are

wonderful he says You must repent you

must turn you must

turn he says and then you must repent

repeat do your first works over again

verse 5

says do what you did when all you had


me cuz when all you had was me you had

time for prayer when all you had was me

you had time for spending time in my

word when all you had was

me you found out that I was kind of all

you needed cuz I kept coming through for

you and yeah you found out how real I

could be but now you’re a little


sedid you can do it without me you can

do it on your own you can be your

independent self while carrying on the

program repent and go back and do your

first works over

again First Love is where there is a

fire for


and everything else surrounds that he’s

not just fitted in when we have an extra

moment or

two John 14:21 is a powerful verse he

says if you if

you love me you will keep my

Commandments and to the one who loves me

watch this I will disclose myself to him


whoa I will talk to him I will show him

or her I will reveal myself the reason

why we’re not hearing from God the

reason why we’re not getting guidance

from God the reason why we’re not

experiencing Victory from God is cuz he

doesn’t feel free to disclose himself to

somebody who going to treat him

second why should I unveil my plan for

you when you going to kick me to the

curb after you get it

and replace me with something

else but I will disclose myself to the

one who loves

me he drives it home now he says now I

do have to compliment you because verse

six you hate the Deeds of the

nickads now they’re going to come up

again and so I’m not going to spend time

on them now the nians were Christians

who were abusing professing Christians

who were abusing Grace they thought

Grace was an excuse to

sin because I have Grace I can just go

do anything he says I know you hate that

so I want to commend you I want to

commend you but this first love thing

watch this he that hath an ear let him

hear pay attention now he that hath an

ear let him

hear what the spirit is saying to the

churches so I’m talking to the churches

but are you listening as an individual

he that hath an ear she that hath an ear

so forget your neighbor right now the

question is what are your ears picking

up he that hath an ear so now it’s an

individual question but being delivered

to the whole congregation do you have an

ear to ear well everybody in here has

ears but you can have ears and not hear

he wants to know are you paying

attention to what is being said here

about the Primacy and

prioritization of God in your life and

if you have an ear that is willing to

hear and to rep prioritize relationship

over religion devotion over Duty he says

if you have an ear this is what

happens to him who over comes is our

word Nike

swish Victory that’s the word means

Victory to the one who

overcomes overcomes what overcomes the

pressure to not put me

first cuz there

pressure sometimes to put God first you

got to go against your inclinations you

got to go against other people you have

to go against your schedule you have to

go against your there’s pressure not to

put him first

so you got to overcome that

pressure you got people all over the

place waiting for that blessing why they

make God last he demands to be

first because he says if I am not going

to be first verse 5 says I will remove

your lampstand out of its place I will

shut that Mama

down you’ll go to church but I won’t be

there No Love No

Light you’ll run your life but I won’t

be hanging with you cuz I’m not going to

hang with a

Believer who doesn’t value me enough who

else died for you who else paid for your

sins who else has given you Eternal

Destiny who else who else do you call on

when life shuts down on you well if you

think that they your savior go to

them go to

them but if you really want me to be all

out in a bag of chips I need to be

first and to him who

overcomes the pressure not to put me

first to that one to he cuz he says he


overcomes I’m going to reward

her he who overc

comes I will grant to eat of the tree of

life which is

in the paradise of

God oh this is this is

powerful I will grant him not

everybody only the

Overcomers I will grant the overcome not

every Christian because he’s only

talking to Christians

here so every

Christian doesn’t

overcome even though they are an

overcomer to he who overcomes that which

Christ has already overcome for

them I will grant

him to eat of the Tree of Life in The

Paradise of God he’s speaking about a

future reward that will

come but that future reward receives a

down payment in this life it’s not all

experienced here now because we live in

a sinful

world what is this eating of the Tree of

Life in The Paradise of God that I can

begin to experience some of it now and

much of it

later whenever I go to speak for a

pregnancy center I speak for a number of

pregnancy centers around the country who

are promoting

life they always ask me would I come an

hour earlier and the reason they ask as

me to come at 6 is because they have a

special donor

reception this is a reception for major

donors to the Pregnancy Center to thank

them for their support of their Center

so they asked me because I’m the guest

speaker to come and to meet the special

guest at the

reception the reception is held in a

separate room from the general banquet

the banquet may have a th people but

there may be just a hundred people who

are the specially invited guests to the

reception they have their own special

food we stand up and we take pictures

with the various guests they give

special gifts and special recognition

because they are special people although

they are among the bigger

crowd God says I have a private

reception in a private hospitality room

called The Paradise of God with a

special tree called the tree of life but

only the invited guests get in there now

yeah you going to go to heaven if you’ve

accepted Jesus Christ but you don’t get

to the reception where you get this

private audience and this private

participation and this private

interaction when you’ve lived your life

making me second third fourth and fifth

and I’ve given you eternity no the

reception are for those who Buck the


to make me anything less than the Risen

Lord that I am who Buck the temptation

to yield to the world’s exclusion of me

in order to be safe secure and popular

he says for that

believer oh no they get a private

audience they get special

consideration so the question is do you

want special

consideration ultimately there but he

will disclose himself beginning now

John 14:21 says to you and

me now if you’ve left your first love

the keys are still in the spot you left

it that

moved so he’s waiting on you to meet

with him every day every day he’s

waiting for me and and I I know what it

is to to lose

that one year many years ago we went on

a family vacation to Niagara

Falls drove up from Dallas to Niagara

Falls we got there at night and Iago

Falls has a American side and a Canadian

side we went to the Canadian side we

went into the hotel at night I pulled

back the curtain and I could see the

falls in the distance and I went wow the

next morning we got up and had breakfast

and we went to the Canadian side of the

falls and on the Canadian side of the

falls there’s a park so we stood in the

park o this was different than the hotel

room hotel room I couldn’t hear a thing

I could just see it but now I’m standing

on the Canadian side and that water is

going over the precipice and going into

the Basin of the falls and I could hear

the thunder of the Roar as the water

splashed down in the falls and as the

wind blew up the water it actually

crossed the street and I got dots of

water on my face from the fall you see

when I was in the hotel room I could

just see it and be impressed by it but

once I got a little closer to the park I

got affected by it cuz I could hear the

sound and I got little drops of water on

me so I felt a little something

something because I had relocated

myself oh but there’s another way you

can see the Falls it’s called the Maid

of the Mist these are little little

boats down in the Basin of the Fall if

you decide to get on the ma of the Mist

they going to give you a raincoat and

they going to give you an umbrella cuz

you about to be drenched by the falls

cuz you are so close see some Christians

are satisfied to see Jesus from their

hotel room they look out they never hear

from him they never get to see him up

close they just impressed from a

distance and every now and then they

look his way but then there are a few

Christians who will come to the park and

they like the sound and they will be a

little closer and every now and then

they’ll feel a little something

something but then there are those few

Christians who are not satisfied to look

at him from the hotel room they’re not

satisfied to look at him from the park

they want a raincoat on they want an

umbrella over them because they want to

be drenched by his glory may God raise

up Saints who leave the hotel room not

satisfied with the park but want to be

drenched with his glory and overwhelmed

by the king of kings and the Lord of