Summary: Make your first love your first choice
Churches of Revelation#1 - Ephesus
February 2006 • Chris Rowney
These messages are also available as audio podcasts at www.tcfnet.org.au/podcasts
In a couple of days time it is Valentine’s day
Now I know we really don’t make much of a thing about that in Australia usually (though the marketing arms of chocolate makers and florists are trying to change all that).. But it got me to thinking about Love..
Have you ever ‘fallen in love’? I have…
Have you ever ‘fallen out of love?’ You know I’m not really sure that people DO fall out of love.. instead I think we just wander away from it.
Sometimes we don’t even know.. we’ve been going along doing things and we don’t even miss it, until we look to see if it is still there and we can’t find it anymore.
We can do that, and so can a church… For the next seven weeks I want to look at things Jesus wrote to some churches in what is now Turkey, but that the Spirit of God collected together as part of the Bible and so I think they speak also to us here and now.
They are found at the start of the Book of Revelation.
TALK ABOUT REVELATION IN GENERAL, SYMBOLS, NUMBERS
“9 I am John, your brother. In Jesus we are partners in suffering and in the Kingdom and in patient endurance. I was exiled to the island of Patmos for preaching the word of God and speaking about Jesus.
10 It was the Lord’s Day, and I was worshiping in the Spirit. Suddenly, I heard a loud voice behind me, a voice that sounded like a trumpet blast.
11 It said, “Write down what you see, and send it to the seven churches: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.”
12 When I turned to see who was speaking to me, I saw seven gold lampstands.”
Revelation 1:9-12, NLT.
I was surprised when preparing this to notice where John was.
Exiled to the island of Patmos.
He wasn’t there on holiday, it wasn’t a stop on his cruise of the Aegean sea..
John hadn’t chosen to live and work there… and there be a Christian.
He CHOSE to be a Christian,, and because of that.. found himself where he was.. on Patmos, in exile,, basically under arrest..
What hit me was how often we want to make our own choices about our lives.. where will we live, what kind of house, what kind of job, and we make that choice FIRST, and let our Christianity, our faith follow on, and find room amongst everything else that is our ‘life’…
But the expectation of the New Testament is different, at least for those we find leading and shaping the early church.
The first choice John had made was that of Joshua in the OT
“As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord…” and sadly perhaps for him, that led to his arrest and exile on Patmos.
One Sunday, he was praying and worshipping and he heard a voice commanding him to write what he sees, and send it to these seven churches.
(Map seven churches in Asia.)
The seven churches.. (some have felt they are symbolic of seven church ages from Christ to the Second coming.. doing this because they look a Laodecia (being lukewarm) and say .. that is the church today.. we must be in the end time. BUT every age has done that!
They WERE actual historical churches, being written to by Jesus, ,speaking to John.. But they speak (each one of them!) To our church today..
John, turning to follow the voice sees an amazing sight.
“13 and among the lampstands was someone “like a son of man”, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash round his chest.
14 His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire.
15 His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters.
16 In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.
17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last.
18 I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.
19 “Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later.
20 The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.”