"But I have this against you, that you have left your first love." Revelation 2:4
In this week’s devotional we are looking at the first of seven churches addressed in Revelation, the church of Ephesus. It begins with a description of our Lord:
The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven golden lampstands, says this:
"I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false, and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary.
May we become aware of the fact God knows our deeds. These people were acknowledged for toiling and perseverance. They did not tolerate evil in their church. They exposed the false apostles within their church, and rid themselves of them. These believers have endured and persevered for His name’s sake and not grown weary.
Now let us sift our lives through these verses. Can we say the same of our lives and the churches we are attending? The church is made up of individuals. It will only be as strong corporately as we are privately in our relationship with God and His Word.
These folks seem to have their deeds in order. They had to have good fellowship and encouragement from one another, because they had perseverance and had not grown weary for His name’ sake. They hated evil and did not tolerate it among them. They held the apostles accountable to the authority of God’s Word. They were doing a lot right! But what did He have against them?
"But I have this against you, that you have left your first love."
We must keep our priorities right as followers of Christ. Our first priority is our personal relationship with God and His Word, and the Holy Spirit. We must spend more time alone with the Lord, in His Word listening for the Holy Spirit’s voice deep within us, than fellowship with others. This same error is rampant within the church today, and that is why it is weak and immature. We prefer fellowship with one another, doing our good works, seeking approval from one another, rather than from God, Himself. The result is a lack of maturity.
I meet a lot of people who claim to be followers of Christ, but in truth are sheep following sheep. There is only one true Shepherd, and every sheep has access to Him. Read and study John 10. Very seldom do I talk with believers who are telling me what they have been hearing from God in their quiet time. Most tell me the latest podcast they have been listening to. They quote other sheep more than the Shepherd simply parroting one another as our media does. This is a great tragedy! It has become the norm. Therefore, there is a real lack of discernment, and knowledge of God’s Words.
Remember He told us the greatest commandment multiple times in scripture, old testament and new, is to love Him with all our heart, mind, soul and body — with our all!
(Matt 22:34-40, Duet 6:4-7, Luke 10:25-28, Mark 12:28-32)
Take the time to look up these verses and read them. If He said it is the first and foremost commandment it is worthy of your time and effort. We must get this truth above all deep inside our spirits. It is the firm foundation that must be laid in all our lives to become a bondservant of Christ, which is our calling, if we follow Him fully. There is no other way. It cannot be achieved by good works. It is about the love relationship from Him to you, and from you to Him. It must be the motive for all you do. Our lives become surrendered and obedient as a result of our love for Him. It is what anchors us, and enables us to be overcomers.
When God exposes our sin He doesn’t leave us there. He shows us the way out. Let’s look at the remaining verses pertaining to this church and us:
Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place — unless you repent. Yet this you do have that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitians which I also hate.
This is much like a couple madly in love who gets married and stops doing the things they did in the beginning of their relationship. They go through the motions of married life void of the love that motivated them in the beginning. Good marriages require a lot of continuous, intentional, effort to remain good. God established marriage to represent the relationship between Jesus Christ and His Bride. He is the Bridegroom who is coming back for His Bride! Yes, this love relationship must take priority over all others. The result will be the ultimate marriage as you both allow His love to flow through you to one another. Everyone wins when He is allowed first place in all things.
He is admonishing the church to repent quickly, or the lampstand will be removed from them. I believe this is the pesence of the Holy Spirit. What does a lampstand do? It guides us giving off off light, expelling the darkness. The Holy Spirit leads us into all truth. We must have it in our lives to fulfill our purpose and calling. If they do not repent it will be taken from the church! That is true in our lives as well. The intimacy is lost in any relationship with a hardened, divided heart.
The deeds of the Nicolatians are for someone more scholarly than myself to address. Some understand from the meaning of the name, "conquering of the people," they were a group that promoted a clerical hierarchy. God does hate this because we know we are all level at the cross. He shows no partiality. None of us have any righteousness of our own. All our righteousness was bought and paid for by our Lord and Saviour. Jesus Christ, and is to be the head of the body of Christ and no other. I Timothy 2:5-6 declares:
" FOR THERE IS ONE GOD, AND ONE MEDIATOR ALSO BETWEEN GOD AND MEN, THE MAN, CHRIST JESUS, WHO GAVE HIMSELF AS A RANSOM FOR ALL, THE TESTIMONY GIVEN AT THE PROPER TIME."
The letter in Revelation concludes with this powerful admonition:
"He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."
Pray for ears to hear what the Spirit is wanting to speak to you this morning, and let us become overcomers according to His Word.
"To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God."
Let us heed the message to the church of Ephesus, and be overcomers, that we may enter into the paradise of God, and eat of the tree of life!
In His love.
A wonderful weekend celebrating my two oldest grandchildren’s birthdays. Isaiah turned 17 and Caitlin 16. The party included skeet shooting, flag football, and the Virginia Reel! What a time to be had for two very special teenagers!