Summary: Message 1 of 7 in a series about the 7 churches and some practical lessons we can learn form each
We are starting a band new series called “Revelation” today. There is something about this book of the Bible take fascinates people, scares people, & confuses people.
Now with the state of the world, people are asking questions like are we living in the “Last Days” or the “End Times” is “Dooms Day” approaching?
With all the unrest in the Middle East, ISIS is on the rise & causing unrest in that region & threatening to bring acts of terrorism to America. It seems like every night on the news there is horrific news from all over the world. Ebola has come to the US. It was a major problem in Africa, but now there are confirmed cases in the States. There is political unrest, economic unrest, racial unrest. Crime & violence are on the rise. And all of this can cause us to wonder, “Is The End Near?”
There is an HBO series called “The Leftovers” based on those left behind after the return of Jesus, this weekend “Left Behind” staring Nicholas Cage opened which has the same theme.
This can be scary stuff. But my hope isn’t to scare people, to discourage people, or cause alarm. My goal is to offer HOPE & PEACE in the midst of uncertain times.
“God blesses the one who reads the words of this prophecy to the church, and he blesses all who listen to its message and obey what it says, for the time is near.” Revelation 1:3
Did you catch that?
There is a blessing for those who read, listen, & obey what is said in the book of Revelation. And That’s what I want for you, God’s Blessing & Favor
Now for me growing up this was a scary book of the Bible, this was used by preachers like Hell was, to scare people into behaving.
Aniti-Christ is going to show up, you’ll have to take the number of the beast (not the Iron Maiden Album) if you want to be able to buy food. If you don’t BEHAVE Jesus will come back & you’ll be left behind. If you didn’t grow up in & around church as a kid you missed all this fun stuff.
There were these TERRIBLE movies, CHESSY in fact, A Thief In The Night, A Distant Thunder all about the rapture &the great tribulation and they would show these in church and scare people into following Jesus. I was always so scared Jesus was going to return & I’d be left behind.
I can remember coming home one day after hanging out with some friends (doing things I shouldn’t have been doing) and NO ONE was home, I ran through the house, they were supposed to be there… I said crap…I’m screwed… it happened… Jesus came back & I was left behind….
Turns out that my parents & younger brother ran to the grocery store in town & my older brother went to a friends.
But you better believe I was on my best behavior for at least the next week :)
Some of you may relate to that. Some of you just find it terribly funny!
But my goal isn’t to try & scare anyone into believing in Jesus or scare you into behaving. FEAR is a terrible motivator because once the fear wears off so does the change.
Here in the first few Chapters of Revelation Jesus is speaking to 7 churches. Congregations, just like us. And He has some good things to say, He has some correction to offer, He has some wisdom to share. And in all of it there are important lessons that apply to us. That can help us, grow us, make us more like Jesus.
I really believe there is some VERY PRACTICAL & LIFE CHANGING PRINCIPLES that we can learn & live out!
So let’s jump right in and look at the first of the seven churches. The Church in Ephesus. All of these seven churches were in what is modern day Turkey. They were all Gentile (Non-Jewish) congregations, so people like us.
Ephesus had an impressive history. This church had some amazing pastors on staff. The Apostle Paul was their first pastor; his right hand man Timothy took over after Paul; and later John (the guy in Jesus inner circle) lead the church. They had great leadership.
They did tons of good in the community.
So Jesus says…
“I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance. I know you don’t tolerate evil people. You have examined the claims of those who say they are apostles but are not. You have discovered they are liars. You have patiently suffered for me without quitting.” Revelation 2:2-3
They were a SERVING CHURCH- they were busy doing good things