I know your deeds and your toil, and your patient endurance, and that you cannot tolerate those who are evil, and have tested and critically appraised those who call themselves apostles, special messengers of Christ, and in fact are not, and have found them to be liars and impostors, I know that you who believe are enduring patiently and are bearing up for My name’s sake, and that you have not grown weary of being faithful to the truth. But I have this charge against you. That you have left your first love. You have lost the depth of love that you first had for Me.
So remember the heights from which you have fallen, and repent. Change your inner self— your old way of thinking, your sinful behavior. Seek God’s will and do the works you did at first when you first knew Me. Otherwise, I will visit you and remove your lampstand — the church, its impact from its place unless you repent.
Yet you have this to your credit. You hate the works and corrupt teachings of the Nicolaitans that mislead and delude the people, which I also hate.
He who has an ear. Let him hear and heed what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes the world through believing that Jesus is the Son of God. I will grant the privilege to eat the fruit from the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of God. Revelation 2:2-7
Ephesus was one of the largest and most important cities in the ancient Mediterranean world. It had many claims to fame.
Ephesus was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
As the provincial seat of the Roman government in Asia, its political and economic power was supreme. Although subject to Roman rule, it was a “free city”. It coined its own money and governed with a city council.
Ephesus was one of the oldest Greek cities located on the Aegean Sea and a mecca for trade. Located at the end of the East-West trade. It’s harbour exported products to Greece, Italy and the rest of the Roman Empire.
The residents of the city also reaped the benefits of the Ephesian trade. The Agora marketplace, the commercial hub of Ephesus, was filled with items from around the known world. Before entering Agora, all were required to take a bit of incense and drop it in the incense burner. In doing so, the individual was declaring loyalty to the Roman emperor as a deity.
Considered an intellectual center. Ephesus possessed one of the greatest libraries in the civilized world.
With fourteen pagan temples, paganism was the dominant religion. Pilgrims traveled to Ephesus to worship in its grandest temple, which was dedicated to the goddess Artemis. Within the temple sexual immorality was rampant. Orgies and prostitution were common practices. Banking was also conducted within the Artemis temple. Outside the temple was the tree of fertility. Touching the tree supposedly imparted fertility to women desiring to become pregnant and a life of abundance to all.
Ephesus housed the temple of the Roman emperor, Domitian. Constructed on the highest point in Ephesus, it dominated the landscape. It was a daily reminder to the members of the Ephesian church of Domitian’s brutality towards early Christians, second only to Nero.
From the beginning of the Christian era, Ephesus was the key city in the expansion of Christianity. From Ephesus originated many of Paul’s evangelical missions.
Despite the infiltration of paganism into every aspect of community life in Ephesus, the church had remained steadfastly faithful to Jesus. Refusing to compromise the truth of the Gospel despite persecution and cultural alienation.
Even under the leadership of the apostle John— “the one Jesus loved”, they were reprimanded for abandoning their first true love, Jesus.
Do you remember when you first became a believer? It was like Christmas morning, and you had opened the Gift of all gifts.
You absolutely knew that life without the Gift would be unbearable.
Your heart skipped a beat each time someone talked about the Gift.
The Gift was your first thought every morning and your last thought before falling asleep.
But as time went by your enthusiasm faded. The Gift no longer preoccupied your thoughts. Soon gifts from the past were replacing the Gift.
Why was the first letter sent to the church that had abandoned its love— relationship with Jesus?
An undying love for Jesus is Christianity’s foundation.
How important is it?
Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as He went, always pressing on toward Jerusalem.
Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few be saved?”
He replied, “Work hard to enter the narrow door to God’s Kingdom, for many will try to enter but will fail. When the master of the house has locked the door, it will be too late.
You will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Lord, open the door for us!’
But He will reply, ‘I don’t know you, or where you come from.’
Then you will say, ‘But we ate and drank with You, and You taught in our streets.’
And He will reply, ‘I tell you. I don’t know you or where you come from. Get away from Me all you who do evil.’
There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For you will see Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and all the prophets in the Kingdom of God, but you will be thrown out. And people will come from all over the world— from east and west, north and south— to take their places in the Kingdom of God.
Note this. Some who seem least important now will be the greatest then, and some who are the greatest now will be least important then. Luke 13:22-30
This parable should send chills down your back. Just because you…
Recited a prayer of salvation during a church service.
Became a member of a local church.
Prayed for the sick and lost.
Was the instrument of miracles for others.
Helped the poor.
These acts of duty won’t open the door into the Kingdom of God. One and one thing only opens the door.
Do you have a relationship with Jesus and love Him unconditionally?
So many today are hopeless and desperate. To the outside world they appear to have it altogether. In reality a slow, agonizing death haunts their daily existence.
I. like many of you were once counted among the terminal. Regardless of what I did, or how hard I tried. Nothing could quiet the emptiness shouting its name. Nothing that is until I had an up close and personal encounter with Jesus.
In June of 2000, my husband and I were visiting our oldest daughter in Houston, Texas. She shared with us how the church she was attending was changing her life. Begging us to go to church with her, I reluctantly agreed.
As I walked through the doors love overwhelmed my heart. My heavenly Father was there with arms opened wide for His prodigal child, lovingly welcoming me home.
That day I had an unforgettable encounter with Papa and His son, Jesus. They captivated me, touching the innermost parts of my being. Gently reassuring me, I was safe and unconditionally loved.
Today my heart grieves for anyone who has never experienced the exquisite love that is Jesus.
An unquenchable love that makes a lifelong pursuit of Him irresistible.
A tender love that heals the scars incurred on the battlefields in the war for my soul.
An empowering love that showers grace upon me. Enabling me to forgive those individuals who carved scars on my soul, including me.
An encouraging love that declares my best days are yet to come.
It is this love that has sustained me during times of death, betrayal and hardship. Creating within me a heart that is strong as steel AND soft as silk.