Revelation 2:1-5 NASB The message to the church in Ephesus
To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: 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.
Ephesus was a mega city and housed the first Christian mega church - a shinning beacon of the kingdom in the ancient world. The church had done so much right - they had helped put Christianity on the map, worked hard, didn't tolerate wickedness, tested false apostles, endured hardship... the church was doing great things for God!
But there was an issue...
As good as the were, God had a problem with their Christianity.
Revelation 2:4 But I have this against you, that you have left your first love
If we lose our love for God - we have lost it all. Our love for God keeps our faith alive!
Think of the people who used to be so on fire... But they lost it. They got proud or disappointed or offended or distracted and are now doing their own thing.
They stopped having an encounter with God.
We all need a fresh encounter with God.
When was the last time you had a real encounter with Him?
Have you lost some of that fire? Have you lost your first love?
God wants to call us back
Revelation 2:5 Therefore, keep in mind how far you have fallen. Repent and perform the deeds you did at first. But if you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.
It's not a small thing to loose your first love. See it for what it is. Jesus Says to consider how far you may have fallen. Jesus is saying it is a gulf, which we should not minimise.
Philippians 2:12 Work out your salvation daily with fear and trembling. If there is no fear and trembling anymore - a desire to be right with God, then salvation has also gone!
Even the mighty fall. Just like the great church of Ephesus.
Peter denied Christ.
Samson let his passions overtake the call of God.
Remember when you first got saved
For me - it was one of the greatest times of my life. I got saved and got filled with the Holy Spirit - I was on fire! I formed a band - we did out reaches, played on the streets, did street evangelism. We had late night prayer meetings to worship sessions on a Friday night. I was in a connect group and developed in God. I received the call of God. It was a time of God's transforming power.
What happened for you?
Did God get squeezed out somewhere along the line?
Turn back towards God, turn around.
James 4:8 Draw close to me and I will draw close to you.
Come back into his presence. If you've been cruising in your faith, repent and come back. Repentance is the gate for salvation. Most of us come into church as a prodigal. I came back. From growing up in a large Pentecostal church, I left at a young age to do my own thing. But I came back to God. Maybe you need to come back.
The key is to keep a humble spirit before God
James 4:6 God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble
Keep your humble spirit. Christians get into a zone of "I'm good". God Doesn't want you good - he wants you alive in Christ! He wants you abundant! A humble spirit will help you admit you have become distant from God and to come back to Him.
The apostle Peter came back.
David came back.
Moses came back.
Samson came back.
People and churches who won't continue to turn back to God will loose his presence and his favour
The Pharisees were once God's people who got more interested in God's rules than God's presence. They ended up killing Jesus.
In the end, Jesus removed the lampstand from the churches in Revelation.
Today, Turkey is one of the least Christianised countries - 0.2% less Christians in Turkey than Iran, Iraq than in China and NOrth Korea. When Asia Minor/Turkey was once the home of all the seven churches and the hotbed of the church. The people lost their first love and became religious.
How to have an encounter with God
1. Humble yourselves
2. Draw close to God
James 4: 8 Draw close to me and I will draw close to you