Center of Hope Devotion – September 9, 2020

Dear Friends,

As we examine the letters to the churches remember that Jesus is revealing both His character and his heart for the church. Letter number one is to Ephesus – a good church, but with something missing.

Jesus reveals Himself as Him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. Remember the lamps are the churches. Jesus holds the church and he is among the church. Jesus is God with us.

“I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance” (Revelation 2:2).

The Ephesians are a hard working church, with sound doctrine and strong determination, and Jesus knows it. He sees their work and their perseverance, and he commends them. But in verse 4:

“Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first” (2:4).

In all their hard work, in all their diligence and doctrine, they forgot love. Agape. The word Ephesus can mean “darling” or “first” – a term of endearment for young lovebirds. But the relationship that this church had with Jesus was like a good marriage gone stale. Not bad, just cold. They were going through the motions, but lost the emotions. So Jesus challenges the church in verse 5:

“Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first” (2:5).

Jesus tells us to go back. Remember when you first loved God. Jesus says, if you’ve lost that loving feeling, go back and do the things you did at first. Repent. Return to love.

Now for every church, no matter the struggle, Jesus makes a promise for those who overcome.

To the one who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God” (2:7).

Now that is a serious reward! So read this letter from Jesus, and take it to heart. Strengthen your own foundation by coming back to who Jesus is. Return to love, return to the One who love you.

Anchored in Hope,

Pastor Phil Johnson