Seitse kirja seitsmele kogudusele Efesos

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1 Seitse kirja seitsmele kogudusele Efesos Johannese ilmutus 1: Kui ma teda nägin, langesin ma tema jalge ette nagu surnu. Ning tema pani oma parema käe mu peale ja ütles: "Ära karda! Mina olen Esimene ja Viimne 18 ja Elav. Ma olin surnud, ning ennäe, ma elan igavesest ajast igavesti ning minu käes on surma ja surmavalla võtmed. 19 Kirjuta siis, mida sa oled näinud ja mis on ning mis sünnib pärast seda! 20 Nende seitsme taevatähe saladus, mida sa näed mu paremas käes, ja nende seitsme kuldlambijala saladus on see: seitse tähte on seitsme koguduse inglid ja seitse lambijalga on seitse kogudust. Johannese ilmutus 1 Efesose koguduse inglile kirjuta: Nõnda ütleb see, kes hoiab seitset tähte oma paremas käes, kes kõnnib seitsme kuldlambijala vahel: 2 Ma tean su tegusid ja vaevanägemist ja kannatlikkust ning et sa ei või sallida kurjasid ning et sa oled läbi katsunud need, kes ütlevad end olevat apostlid, kuid ei ole seda, ning leidnud nad olevat valelikud. 3 Sul on kannatlikkust ning sa oled talunud vaeva minu nime pärast ega ole ära väsinud. 4 Kuid mul on sinu vastu, et sa oled oma esimese armastuse maha jätnud. 5 Tuleta siis meelde, kust sa oled langenud, ja paranda meelt ning tee esimese armastuse tegusid! Muidu ma tulen su juurde ning lükkan su lambijala asemelt, kui sa ei paranda meelt. 6 Seda sa teed siiski õigesti, et vihkad nikolaiitide tegusid, mida vihkan minagi. 7 Kellel kõrv on, see kuulgu, mida Vaim ütleb kogudustele: Võitjale ma annan süüa elupuust, mis on Jumala paradiisis. Efesose koguduse ajalugu: Kuigi Perganom oli ametlik Aasia pealinn sellel ajal kui seda kirjutati, tänapäeva Türgi, siis Efesos oli tööstuse, raha ja tõelise võimu pealinn. See oli sadamalinn ja kõige mõjukam linn selle aja Aasias. Oma hiilgeaja tipis Uue Testaendi ajal võis linnas elada umbes inimest ning see oli impordi ja ekspordi kese Aasias. Efesos oli rikas linn ning samuti ka väga patune linn, palju nagu meie suurepärane linn Tallinn. Mõned õpetlased usuvad, et apostel Johannes ja Jeesuse ema Maarja peatusid samuti Efesoses. Kaks ja pool sajandit pärast seda kui Paulus tuli Efesosse, et jagada evangeeliumi, siis raekoda oli muudetud kirikuks ja hiljem oli seda kasutatud ka Efesose nõukojana, kus 431 pkr ametlikult vastu võeti õpetust sellest, et Jeesus oli nii täielikult inimene kui täielikult jumalik. Paulus tuli Efesosse Ap 18:19, kus ta arutles juutidega sünagoogides ning jättis Priskilla ja Akvila sinna, et jätkata seda tööd, mida ta oli alustanud. Ap 19 Paulus tuli tagasi Efesosse, kus ta kohtus mõningate kristlastega ja rääkides nendega Vaimu ristimisest, ei teadnud nad, millest ta räägib. Paul siis kõneles Püha Vaimu ristimisest, mis oli erinev Johannese ristimisest, milleks oli meeleparandus, Paulus pani käed nende uute usklike peale ning nad täideti Jumala Vaimuga, nad kõnelesid keeltes ja prohveteerisid. Paulus jäi Efesosse rohkem kui kaheks aastaks, siis jättis nad, et jätkata jutlustamist ning koguduste rajamist teistes piirkondades. Paulus kirjutas pika kirja Efesose kogudusele ja kirjast (Pauluse kiri efeslastele) võib aru saada, et see kogudus oli küps kogudus. Paulus jättis Timoteusi Efesosse olema pastoriks sealsele kogudusele nagu võime lugeda 1Timoteuse 1:3 Nüüd tagasi Ilmutuste raamatu juurde.. mõned asjad, mida tasub siin tähele panna, sest kõik, mis on Piiblis kirjas, on oluline märgata ja teada.. 1. Jeesus kirjutab seda kirja mitte kogudusele mitte Johannesele. Johannes on rohkem nagu kohtu stenograaf, kes kirjutab üles, et meie saaksime lugeda, mida Jeesus Johannesele kirjutamiseks dikteeris. 2. Need on sõna otseses mõttes kogudused, kellele need kirjad olid adresseeritud, reaalsetl funktsioneerivad kogudused sel ajal. 3. See on Jeesus, kes justkui teeb ülevaate kogudusest, nagu vaimuliku inventuuri, et soovitada kogudusele teatud asju ning noomida seal, kus kogudus on mööda pannud või eksib, et hoiatada kogudust ja tuua siis koguduseni tõotuse. 4. Igas selles kirjas tahame me näha seda, mis Jumalale meeldib ning mis Talle ei meeldi ning hoida nende asjade ligi, mis Talle meeldivad. Seal on hoiatus meie jaoks täna nii kogudusele kui meie isiklikule elule ning samuti tõotus. Johannese ilmutus 2:1 1 Efesose koguduse inglile kirjuta: Nõnda ütleb see, kes hoiab seitset tähte oma paremas

2 käes, kes kõnnib seitsme kuldlambijala vahel: Sõna ingel siin võib tõlgendada erinevat moodi. Üks neist võib tähendada inglit nagu Miikael või Gabriel, taevane olend ja teises mõttes võib sellest aru saada kui sõnumikandjat ning mõned tõlgendavad seda ka kui koguduse pastorit. Probleem pastori ideega on see, et igas muus kohas, kus sõna ingel on kasutatud, siis seal Johannes täpselt peabki silmas ja räägib taevasest olendist.. päris inglist. Jeesus kõneleb ingliga, kes on Efesose koguduse tegevuse ülevaataja. Nüüd mõtle selle peale hetkeks, et kui olid inglid koguduse üle varastel aegadel, kas on siis raske uskuda, et tänapäeval meie kaasaaegses maailmas, on samuti ingel vaatamas üle Vineyard Tallinna tegevuse? Läbi kogu Pühakirja me leiame, kudas inglid suhtlevad inimkonnaga, ja Piibel isegi kõneleb meile, et mõned on olnud inglitega ja nad isegi ei teadnud seda.. Hb 13:2 Kuula uuesti Jeesuse sõnu, Ta hoiab koguduse ingleid oma kätes ning ta kõnnib lambijalgade keskel, mis ongi kogudused. Jeesus just praegu kõnnib läbi meie koguduse vahekäikude, Tema lähedalolu on siinsamas! Mõned on öelnud noh, kogudus lihtsalt ei ole minu jaoks. Sellest on kahju, sest tundub, et see on just Jeesuse asi ja ta on just täna kõndimas läbi koguduste. Johannese ilmutus 2:2-3 2 Ma tean su tegusid ja vaevanägemist ja kannatlikkust ning et sa ei või sallida kurjasid ning et sa oled läbi katsunud need, kes ütlevad end olevat apostlid, kuid ei ole seda, ning leidnud nad olevat valelikud. 3 Sul on kannatlikkust ning sa oled talunud vaeva minu nime pärast ega ole ära väsinud. Efeslaste kogudus oli raskelt tööd tegev kogudus. Sõnad, mida siin kasutatakse, tööd, vaev ning kannatlik vastupidavus räägivad kogudusega, kes ei kartnud olla osa Jumala Kuningriigi üle ehitamisest kuni ülekurnatuseni välja. Kui sa kunagi vaatad edukate inimeste elu, siis märkad, et neil peaaegu alati on midagi ühist, väga kindle tööeetika, nad ärkavad vara ja lähevad hilja magama, nad pidevalt otsivad võimalusi, kuidas parandada ning täiustada seda, mille kallal nad töötavad ning väsimatult teevad tööd kuni vajalik tehtud saab. Metodisti koguduse rajaja John Wesley kohta on öeldud, et ta reisis rohkem kui miili, kirjutas enam kui 400 raamatut, jutlustas rohkem kui jutlust ning 85 aasta vanuselt oli ta öelnud, et ta ei ole rahul sellega, et ta peab nii hilja ärkama, kuna ta on hakanud kergemini väsima, ja ta ärkas kell 5 hommikul Jeesus kiitis Efesose kogudust nende väsimatu töö tõttu evangeeliumi heaks ning kogudus oli kasvamas, seega nad pidid olema seotud paljude erinevate tegevustega oma teenistuses.. me teame, et väikegrupid või kodugrupid olid osa koguduse dünaamikast, sest Paulus rääkis sellest mitmeid kordi, kui ta jutlustas inimeste kodudes. Kogudusena täna Jumal kiidab neid, kes teevad tööd, et ehitada Kuningriiki. Jeesus ei ole rahul hooletu, laisa koguduse ja inimestega. Meie koguduse visioon ja mission on ARMASTADA JUMALAT, ARMASTADA INIMESI ja TEENIDA LINNA. Seda saab teha vaid siis kui kõik me tegutseme teenimises koos. Kogudus kuulub Jeesusele mitte pastorile või vanematele, kogudus saab alati kuuluma Jeesusele kuna Tema ongi koguduse pea. Ma lugesin alles hiljuti uurimust, mis ütles, et 20% kogudusest teeb ja maksab 80% koguduse töö eest, teine 20% kogudusest teeb ja maksab 20% eest, mis jätab 60% kogudusest üle, kes ei tee mitte midagi. See ei saa olla Vineyard Tallinn, et mõned meist teevad suurema osa tööst ning annetustest ja enamus istuvad rahulikult ja naudivad me igatseme luua sellist paika, kus igaüks saab leida oma koha, et olla aktiivne ja tegutseda. Kui sa näed midagi, mis vajab saada tehtud või alustatud või on sul ideid, kuidas paranada meie üldist efektiivsust, siis võta initsiatiivi ja alusta midagi! Jeesus samuti kiitis kogudust selle võime eest läbi katsuda jutlustajaid ning apostleid, et saada teada, kas nad olid Jumalast või mitte ning nad olid võimelised kaitsma kogudust valede doktriinide eest. See on samuti veel oluline ka meie jaoks täna, teada, et mitte igaüks, kes kutsub Jeesust Issandaks, ei ole Jumalast. Paulus hoiatas Efesose kogudust Apostlite tegude raamatus, et olla tähelepanelik inimeste suhtes, kes tulevad ning püüavad õpetada valesid õpetusi. See on samuti tõsi ka tänapäeval, et meie kogudusena peame teadma, mida Piibel räägib ning kuidas käsitleda Tõe Sõna, et olla võimelised kaitsma oma usku ning pöörduda ära valeõpetajatest.

3 Piibel räägib meile, et isegi Jumala valitud võivad saata petetud: Matteuse 24:24 24 sest tõuseb valemessiaid ja valeprohveteid ja need pakuvad suuri tunnustähti ja imesid, et kui võimalik, eksitada ka valituid. Üks kogudusevanemate iseloomu omadusi koguduses on võime kaitsta tõde ja osata kaitsta kogudust valedkotriinide, kogemuste ja õpetuste eest. Jeesus samuti kiitis kogust, et ta pidas vastu kannatlikult ja ei jäänud kurnatuks. Efesoses oli paganate kummardamist kõikjal. Artemise temple oli sel ajal üks seitsmest maailmaimest. Templi juures olid temple prostituudid, kelle töö oli see, et kui inimesed tulid ülistama, siis sel ajal kui inimesed ülistasid ning andsid templile, nendega seksida. See oli kultuuri nii sügavale sisse imbunud, et inimeste jaoks äkki sellest loobuda, loobuda elustiilist, mis oli ekstravagantne ja tääis seksuaalset perverssust ning ülistada vaid üht Jumalat ning nimetada Teda tõeliseks Jumalaks, tõi kaasa tagakiusamist nagu tooks ka täna. Jeesus kiitis kogudust ning selle inimesi, et nad ei kukkunud sellesse kultuurilõksu, tuues seda vabanduseks kõige tegemiseks, mida nad teha tahtsid. Täna Jeesus kiidab neid, kes hoolimata sellest, et ei ole kerge ning kelle üle heidetakse nalja, siis nende põlved ei nõtku suvalise kultuuriga ja nad jäävad tõeliseks Ühe Võimsa Jumala ülistajateks. Johannese ilmutus 2:4-5 4 Kuid mul on sinu vastu, et sa oled oma esimese armastuse maha jätnud. 5 Tuleta siis meelde, kust sa oled langenud, ja paranda meelt ning tee esimese armastuse tegusid! Muidu ma tulen su juurde ning lükkan su lambijala asemelt, kui sa ei paranda meelt. Jeesus nüüd manitseb või tahab korrigeerida kogudust. Kõigi nende õigete asjade seas, mida nad tegid, oli kaduma läinud kõige olulisem asi.. nende esimene armastus! Jumal on armukade Jumal ning Ta ei tolereeri meie eludes seda, et oleme täis muid asju, mis on meile olulisemad kui Tema. Igas koguduses igal ajal ja ükskõik kelle meie eludes, me võime teha kõiki neid õigeid asju ning ikkagi kõndida eemale oma esimesest armastusest. Kuidas saab olla, et õigete asjade tegemisest ning õigete doktriinide omamistest hoolimata võime kaotada oma esimese armastuse? See on lihtne.. mis on kõigi meie õigete doktriinide ja õigete tegude motivatsioon? Kas see tuleb suhtumisest, et meie oleme NEED ÕIGED ja teised ei ole nii head? Kas me tgeelikult võime olla tegemas asju sellise motivatsiooniga, mis baseerub rohkem MINU TEGEVUSES ja selles kui hästi ma Jumalat tunnen? Ära unusta, et see kogudus oli sündinud ärkamisest. See on kogudus, kus on kirjas, et erilised imed sündisid läbi apostel Pauluse. Kui talle toodi vaid taskurätik selleks, et ta võiks oma käed panna sellele ja see viidi tagasi haigete juurde, ning nad said terveks, see on koht, millest kirjutati, et kogu Aasia kuulis evangeeliumi, ja koht, kus maagiliste kunstide ja nõiaraamatud hõbetüki väärtuses põletati päevapalka.. või mitmed miljonid dollarit. Esimese armastuse kaotamine on midagi, millega me kõik peame ettevaatlikud olema. See võib juhtuda kõigiga meist ning see võib juhtuda mitmeid kordi meie elus. Esimese armastuse kaotamine on lihtsalt Jeesuse juurest eemale kõndimine, kes peaks oleme meie peamine põhjus, miks me üldse midagi teeme. Kas sa mäletad, kui sa esimest korda tulid Kristuse juurde, kui kogudus ei olnud lihstalt koorem või kohustus või lihtsalt vaimulik distsipliin? Kas sa mäletad, millal lugesid oma Piiblit ja see polnud mitte ülesanne vaid rõõm! Tuleta meelde, millal sa esimest korda nägid kadunuid ning mõistsid, et just sina olid üks neist ja sa olid nous ükskõik mida tegema, et peatada inimesi põrgusse minemast? Kas sa mäletad kui ülistus oli midagi muud kui muusika ja see oli aeg, kus sa võisid olla intiimses läheduses Jumalaga ning tunda tema ligiolu nii lähedal? Jeesus hoiatab Efesose kogudust ning ta hoiatab ka meid täna, et me võime kukkuda suurelt, kui Tema enam ei ole meie esimene armastus ning ta kutsub meid üles meelt parandama, mis tähendab, et me mitte lihtsalt ei lõpeta millegi tegemist vaid alustame millegi muu tegemist. Mida me peaksime tegema hakkama? Esimesed asjad, mida me varem tegime, kui me alguses armusime Jeesusesse ning mõistsime, et tegelikult Tema armastas meid enne.

4 Ja siis Jeesus hoiatab meid, et kui me ei tee seda, siis me jõuame kohta, kus Tema kui koguduse pea võtab lambijala ära oma kohalt.. paik, ilma Jumala ligioluta.. iikabod! (au on lahkunud, 1Sa 21) Johannese ilmutus 2:6 7 6 Seda sa teed siiski õigesti, et vihkad nikolaiitide tegusid, mida vihkan minagi. 7 Kellel kõrv on, see kuulgu, mida Vaim ütleb kogudustele: Võitjale ma annan süüa elupuust, mis on Jumala paradiisis. Jeesus siis taas kiidab kogudust, sest nad vihkasid nikolaiitide tegusid, mida Jumal samuti vihkas. Nikolaiidid olid sekt, mis kasvas välja varakoguduse aegadel. Nad olid Nicolase järgijad, kes mõningade spekulatsioonide kohaselt oli üks esimesest seitsemst diakonist, keda mainitakse Apostlite tgeudes 6:5-6. Peamine mõte siin on, et nikolaiidid kasutasid oma vabadust Kristuses, et elada nii nagu nad tahtsid kogu selles seksuaalses perverssuses, üks uskumas oli, et selleks, et olla tõeliselt vaba maailma kiusatustest, siis pidid neile järgi andma. Teine aspekt nikolaiitidest on midagi, mis me leiame nende nime tähendusest. Sõna otseses mõttes see nimi tähendab inimeste vallutajat. Mida nikolaiidid tegid oli see, et nad tahtsid ranget kontrolli inimeste elude üle, millal ja mida nad tegid. Juhid oleksid siis inimeste vallutajad ja võisid prkatiseerida äärmuslikku kontrolli. Tänapäeval millal iganes koguduse juhtimine on pigem juhtide teenimine ja juhtide poolt inimeste teenimine, siis nad on samuti sellesse lõksu langemise ohus. Kus sa leiad okultse või kultuseliku sarnase tegevuse, siis võid alati leda äärmuslikku kontrolli inimeste elude üle ning seksuaalset perverssust. See kiri, mida Jeesus kirjutas Efesose kogudusele ei ole vaid kogudusele sel ajal vaid Sõna ütled, et kõik, kellel kõrvad on, need kuulgu. Tõotus on antud meile, et kui me hoiame tõde ja tuleme läbi, siis me saame süüa elupuust, mis on Jumala paradiisis! Küsimused meile mõtlemiseks ja vastamiseks: 1. Kas ma olen selle 20% seas, mis teeb 80% või 60% sees, kes teeb peaaegu, et midagi? Ja kui nii, siis mida saan ma teha, et olla Kuningriigi teenimises aktiivsem? 2. Kuskohas oma elus olen ma lasknud kultuuril, milles elan, mõjutada seda viisi, kuidas ma elan oma elu Jumalas? Positiivselt või negatiivselt? 3. Kas Kristus on ikka veel minu esimene armatus? Kuidas ma seda kindlaks saan teha? Või kas ma pean meelt parandama ja minema tagasi ja hakkama tegema asju, mida tegin varem, kui olin armunud? 7 Letters to the 7 Churches - Ephesus Revelation 1: When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, "Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18and the living one I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. 19 Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this. 20As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches. Revelation 2: "To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: 'The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands. 2 "'I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. 3I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name s sake, and you have not grown weary. 4But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. 5Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. 6Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.' History of the church at Ephesus: Although Pergamum was the official capitol of Asia at the time of this writing, present day Turkey, Ephesus was the capitol of industry, money, and true power. It was a port city and the most influential city of its day in Asia.

5 At the height of its importance in NT times the city would have had some 250,000 people living there and was the export and import hub for Asia. Ephesus was a wealthy city and also a very sinful city, much like our great city of Tallinn. Some scholars believe that the Apostle John and Mary the mother of Jesus may have settled in Ephesus. Two and a half centuries after Paul came to Ephesus to preach the gospel the town hall was converted into a church and later used by the counsel of Ephesus in 431 AD formally accepting the teaching that Jesus was both fully human and fully divine. Paul came to Ephesus in Acts 18:19 where he reasoned with the Jews in the Synagogues and left Priscilla and Aquilla there to continue the work he had started. In Acts 19 Paul came back to Ephesus where when meeting with some Christians and talking with them about the baptism of the Spirit they did not know what Paul was talking about. Paul then talked about the Holy Spirits baptism which was separate from the baptism of John s which was repentance, Paul laid hands on these new believers and they were filled with Spirit of God, they spoke in tongues and prophesied. Paul stayed in Ephesus for more than 2 years, then left them to continue preaching and planting in other regions. Paul wrote a long letter to the church at Ephesus and from the letter we read, the book of Ephesus, we understand that this church was a mature church. Paul left Timothy in Ephesus to pastor the church there we read that in 1 Timothy 1:3. Now back to Revelation a few things we want to notice here because everything in the bible is important to notice and is important for us to know 1. Jesus is writing this letter to the church not John. John is more of a court stenographer here writing down for us to read what Jesus was dictating to John to write. 2. These are literal churches that these letters are addressing, actual functioning churches at that time. 3. It is Jesus who is kind of taking an overview of the church a spiritual inventory of sorts to commend the church in certain things and to reprimand where the church is wrong or off the mark, to warn the church and then to bring a promise to the church. 4. In each of these letters we want to see what God likes, what He does not like and stick to the things He likes! There is warning for us today in our church and in our personal life, and a promise as well. Revelation 2:1 "To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: 'The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands. The word here angel can be interpreted in a few ways. One it can mean Angel, like Michael or Gabriel a heavenly being, and the other can be understood as messenger and some have interpreted it to mean pastor of the church. The problem with the pastor idea is that in every other time the word angel is being used here John is specifically talking about a heavenly being an actual angel. Jesus is speaking to the Angel that is overseeing the activity of the church at Ephesus. Now think about this for a moment that if there were angels over churches back in the early church days, is it hard to believe that today in our modern world that we too have an angel overseeing the activity of Vineyard Tallinn? All across scripture we find angels interacting with mankind, and the bible even tells us that some have been with angels and they did not even know it Hebrews 13:2. Listen again to the words of Jesus, He holds the Angels of the churches in his hands and he walks among the lampstands which are the churches. Jesus right now is walking through the aisles of our church, His presence is here! Some have said, well, church just is not my thing. That is too bad because it seems to be Jesus thing and He is presently walking among the churches today! Revelation 2:2 3 "'I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. 3 I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name s sake, and you have not grown weary. The Ephesian church was a hard working church. The words being used here, works, toil and patient endurance speak to a church that was not afraid to get involved with building the Kingdom of God to the point of exhaustion.

6 If you ever look at the life of a successful person you will notice that they almost always have one thing in common, a very diligent work ethic, they get up early and go to bed late, they are constantly looking for ways to improve whatever they are engaged with and will work tirelessly until the job gets done. The founder of the Methodist church John Wesley is said to have traveled more than 250,000 miles, wrote more than 400 books, preached more than 40,000 messages and at the age of 85 it is said that he was not happy that he had to get up so late because of how tired he was, he got up at 5AM Jesus commended the Ephesian church on their tireless work for the gospel as the church grew they must have been engaged in many ministry activities we know that small groups or house groups were part of the churches dynamic because Paul had said many times the he preached in peoples homes. As a church today God commends those who do work to build the Kingdom. Jesus is not happy with sloppy, lazy churches or people. The vision and mission of our church is to LOVE GOD, LOVE PEOPLE and to SERVE THE CITY. This can only be done as each of us engage in ministry together. The church belongs to Jesus not to the pastor or elders, the church will always belong to Jesus as He is the head of the church. I read a survey recently that said, 20% of the church does and pays for 80% of the work of the church, another 20% of the church does and pays for 20% which leaves 60% of the church doing basically nothing. This cannot be with Vineyard Tallinn that a few do most of the work and the giving and the majority sit back and enjoy we desire to create the kind of place where everyone can find their place to be active and take action. If you see something that needs to get done or started or if you have ideas that would improve our overall effectiveness then take initiative and start something! Jesus also commended the church for its ability to test preachers and apostles to find out if they were from God or not and they were able to defend the church, protect the church from false doctrine. This is still important for us today, to know that not everyone who calls Jesus Lord comes from God. Paul had warned the church at Ephesus in the book Acts to beware of people who would come in and try to teach false doctrine. This is still true today that we as a church need to know what the bible says, and how to handle the Word of Truth to be able to defend the faith and turn away false teachers. The bible tells us that even the very elect of God can be deceived: Matthew 24:24 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. One of the characteristics of an elder in the church is to be able to defend the truth and to be able to protect the church from false doctrines, experiences and teachings. Jesus also commended the church for enduring patiently and not growing weary. In Ephesus pagan worship was everywhere. The Temple to Artemis was at that time one of the 7 wonders of the world. Within the temple were temple prostitutes whose job it was as people came to worship to have sex with people as they worshiped and gave at the temple. This was so engrained in the culture that for people to all of a sudden give that up, give up a lifestyle that was extravagant and full of sexual perversion and to worship only 1 God and call Him the true God brought on persecution as it would today. Jesus commended the church and its people for not falling into the trap of culture as an excuse for doing whatever you want to do. Today Jesus commends those who although its not easy and can and will be made fun of will not bow our knee to the culture of whatever, to stay true to the worship of the One Great God! Revelation 2:4-5 But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. 5 Remember

7 therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Jesus now rebukes or brings correction to the church. For all the right things that they were doing that had lost the most important thing their first love! God is a jealous God and He will not tolerate our lives that are full of other things that are more important that He. In any church and at any time and in any of our lives we can be doing all the right things and still walk away from our first love. How can that be that from doing all the right things and having all the right doctrine we could lose our first love? Its simple what is the motivation for all of our right doctrine and right deeds? Is it from the attitude that we are THE RIGHT ONES and the rest are no good? Can we actually be doing things from a motivation that is based more on MY PERFORMANCE and on the outflow of my knowing God? Remember this is a church that was born out of revival. This is a church where it is written that special miracles were done by the apostle Paul where handkerchiefs were brought to him to simply lay his hands on them and being brought back to the sick people were healed, this is the place where from here its written that all of Asia heard the gospel, and the place where books on witchcraft and magic arts were burned to the cost of 50,000 pieces of silver 50,000 days wages or several million dollars. Losing our first love is something we all have to be careful for. It can happen to any of us and can happen even several times in our lives. Losing your first love is simply walking away from Jesus as our primary reason for doing anything. Do you remember when you first came to Christ, when church was not a drag or a chore or just a spiritual discipline? Do you remember when reading your bible was not a task but a joy! Remember when you first saw the lost and realized that you were one of them and you were willing to do anything do stop people from going to hell? Do you remember when worship was more than music and it was the time when you could be intimate with God and just feel His presence close? Jesus warns that church in Ephesus and He warns us today that we can fall a long way from Him being our first love and He calls us to repent which means not to just stop doing something but to start doing something too. What are we to start doing? The first things we used to do when we first fell in love with Jesus and realized that He actually first loved us. And then Jesus warns us that if we do not do this that we are in a place where He the head of the church would remove the lampstand from its place a place without the presence of God Ichabod! Revelation 1:6-7 Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.' Jesus then commends the church again because they hated the works of the Nicolaitans which God also hated. The Nicolaitans were a sect that grew up out during the time of the early church. They were followers of Nicolas which some speculate was one of the first 7 deacons mentioned in Acts 6:5&6. The main thought here is that the Nicolaitans used their freedom in Christ to live as they wanted in all sexual perversion, one belief was held that in order to truly be free from all the temptation of the world you had to indulge in it. Another aspect of Nicolaitans was something we find in the meaning of the name. Literally the name means conqueror of the people. What the Nicolaitans did was to have strict controls over peoples lives, what they did, when they did it. The leaders would be conquerors of the people and would exercise extreme control. In our day whenever leadership in a church is more about serving the leader and the leader serving the people they are in jeopardy of falling into this trap. Where you find occult or cult like practices you will always find extreme control over peoples lives and sexual perversion. This letter that Jesus wrote to the church at Ephesus was not only for the church at that time but as the scripture says to anyone who has an ear to hear.

8 The promise is given to us that if we hold on to the truth and overcome we get to eat of the tree of life which is in the paradise of God! Questions for us to think about and Answer: 1. Am I among the 20% doing 80% or among the 60% doing close to nothing? And if so what can I do to be more active in ministry for the Kingdom? 2. Where in my life have I let the culture I live in to influence the way I live my life for Christ? Positive or negative? 3. Is Christ really still my first love? How do I qualify that? Or do I need to repent and go back to doing the first things I used to do when I was in love?

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