Virtual Sunday Message
By Rev Deb
THE REAL ISSUE
While the book of Revelation addressed real issues of John's day, it is also a book of real prophecy that addresses issues that are relevant for today. The apostle John was given instructions to write seven literal letters to seven literal churches in Asia Minor.
The church of Ephesus, historically speaking struggled with somewhat of an identity crisis. Doctrinally they were sound! Ungodliness would not be tolerated nor would they hold back on a rebuke if it was needed. But one big thing they lacked was real heartfelt love. In this area Jesus found them woefully deficient and therefore had to rebuke them.
Jesus, beseeched them to "remember" where they had fallen from and repent! He urged them to return back to doing deeds from that pure heartfelt motive of love, that kind of love they had with Him when they first believed (Rev 2:4,5).
Duty without love is a mere religion of works. A real relationship to Christ is faith motivated by love.
Jesus condemned the religious elites of His day for promoting a religion based on human
efforts. The Lord already knew that we were incapable of living a perfect and holy life, despite humanities most valiant religious efforts. This is why He made a way for us through His Son. All that was required by God's holy and righteous standards,- Christ fulfilled through His death and resurrection! He accomplished all of God's demands! Since He is THE Son of God, His sinless nature was the only thing acceptable to fulfill the law with its demands as payment on behalf of all who would receive it by faith.
WHITEWASHED STONE HEARTS
The Ephesian believers knew and accepted God's gift of salvation, they had been promoting it with an awe inspiring love, but as time passed on they began to develop a crystallized stance of loveless duties.
As far as spiritual obligations, these Ephesian believers were right on target. Outwardly, they were well adjusted, but inwardly where it all counts, they fell short. They were suffering from a deficiency of "divine agapao (love) passion".
This must have recalled to John's mind the words of the Lord, when He said to the religious elites,- "Outwardly you are beautiful! But inside you are full of dead man's bones" (Matt 23:27).
In other words, Jesus told the elites that all their religious duties on the outside was picture perfect, just like the stone caves sepulchres that were ritualistically whitewashed (low cost type of paint made from slaked lime (calcium hydroxide) and chalk (whiting)) for wearied travelers that would come in for the yearly festivals.
Inside, the rock cave was either occupied by the deceased or it was ritualistically cleansed for occupation by the wearied travelers.
These Ephesian believers were being praised for following the Lord's doctrine to the letter, but then rebuked for their lack of passion and love toward others...
It is shameful that many churches today have done the same and have allowed denominational walls of hatred. These callous separations have caused the body of Christ (Church) to become a laughing stock to the world and an outlet of comedic humor! Jesus emphatically stated that the world would know that "we are His disciples by the WAY we LOVE one another."
SOW A SEED REAP A HARVEST
Scripture is irrefutably clear about how believers should love and "reason together" (Isa 1:18). But instead of reasoning the scriptures through love, as the apostles have done (Acts 15), we have allowed ourselves to be caught up with emotional drama and theatrical mumbo jumbo of the flesh,- envy, strife, jealousies, slander, disputes, backbiting, enmities, disputes, factions and the like...
All of these are the works of the flesh, not the divine nature that has been wrought in Christ. The apostle Paul exhorted us to "be of one mind" when it comes to our walks with the Lord. Our walks with Christ and the family of God should ALWAYS promote real love from the heart! It should ALWAYS be willing to love from a pure heart (motive) with a willingness to reason the Scriptures without hatred or jealousies...
Jesus said in John's gospel, "A new commandment I give to you that you LOVE (agapao) one another, JUST AS I LOVED you, that you also love (agopao) one another." Jesus was very emphatic about this command!!
I ask you,- How did and does Jesus love us? Jesus says unambiguously in this passage of John, "JUST AS !!! I !!! LOVED !!! YOU !!!!!!!!!
There should be NO doubt as to the meaning of this verse!
The apostle Paul gives us a clue from his letter to the Philippians 2:4, "do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others."
Jesus life was committed to looking out for the interest others. This is a true definition of agapao love! Through agapao love a believer should see others needs as equally important as their own needs... In this way we are practicing God's love which is unconditional rather than the conditional love of jealousy and envy...
We can never out give God or even out love Him. Because of this, God's love rewards those who follow His commands. Galatians says "we reap what we sow." Most people who do not even read the bible know this principal.
A "principle" implies that what is said is meant to be applied to other circumstances.
For example, you cannot sow a tomato seed and expect to reap a harvest of apples. No more than you can sow a apple tree and expect banana's. In the same way, when it comes to our life and attitudes we fall under this same principle of sowing and reaping.
Sadness begets sadness, happiness begets happiness, hatred begets more hatred and LOVE reaps a harvest of love back to the one who gave it...
"Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure--pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return "(LK 6:38).
What we give determines what we will reap... It may for a while seem that some reap more or better then they give, but really in the end a person will reap what they have sown.
"God cannot be mocked, whatsoever a man sows that shall he (ultimately) also reap" (Gal 6:7).
This is an unmistakable command from the Lord Himself! So why is it that so many believers are walking around with so much hatred and animosity inside their hearts (the sepulchre).
Either our hearts have been whitewashed and only have an appearance of love or we have been WASHED by the blood of the Lamb and allow the washing of the word of God to renew us day by day" (Eph. 5:26).
Is the Lord rebuking your heart? Is He asking you to remember the heights you have fallen from and repent? Do you hear the voice of the Lamb who was slain from the foundation of the world? (Rev 13:8) Is the resurrected Savior knocking at your hearts door and asking to come in?
We believers must listen to the rebuke of Christ and put away the hard heart of stone and love without hypocrisy Rom. 12:9. Jesus' love was pure and unconditional. It was a compassionate and merciful love. A love that went beyond the ordinary to the extraordinary!! His love put others before Himself, it is an all consuming love that keeps on giving. He want's to give you His love,- "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends." (Jn 15:13)
Let's allow the love of the Lord Jesus Christ and the power of His resurrection raise our hearts to new heights by loving one another ! (Jn 13:34,35).
If you would like to know Jesus as your resurrected Savior please click here and ask him into your heart! He is only a heart beat away...