Our love for Jesus must be first in priority, just as it was when we first came to know Him.
At last we have come to the end of the letters to the seven churches of Revelation. In an earlier post in this series I gave a summary preview of the contents of these letters, so, Instead of simply representing a similar summary here, I would rather highlight what I believe are my major ‘take outs’. Each letter ends with the words, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches”, and this implies that more than just receiving the message is required. We need to understand what Jesus is saying to the church of our day through these letters, and we need insight into what He is wanting us to take hold of personally.
I use a yellow highlight pen to illuminate any portion of scripture I believe the Holy Spirit especially impresses on me. In the letter to the church in Ephesus I have highlighted the words: “You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.” Every time I read those worlds I remember that when I committed my life it was not to a theology, tradition, or church, but to the Lord Jesus Christ. As a disciple I am defined by my relationship with a divine person and not by my biblical knowledge, ministry, or life-style: These things are products of who I am in Christ Jesus. But, sadly, I need reminding that my love for Jesus must be first in priority, just as it was when I first came to know Him.
You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first
In the letter to Smyrna my yellow pen sets the words, “Do not be afraid” before my eyes. The wine of life is often laced with fret. The devil will sometimes assault me, or I will be foolish and have to reap the harvest of poor decisions, but I need not be afraid of life, for whatever I face the Lord’s words ring in my ears:
To the church of Pergamum, to us today, and to me, the Lord Jesus says, “I know where you live – where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name.” It doesn’t take much perception to see that the devil effectively rules over much of humanity, despite the fact that he has no right to do so. Temptations abound, and life is often hard… yet we always have the ability to remain true to Jesus and never deny Him. His words to us are:
Jesus wrote to the believers in Thyatira; “I will not impose any other burden on you only hold on to what you have until I come”. I have highlighted these words in my Bible but I have never seen them as an encouragement to do nothing more in this life than huddle with the holy until Jesus comes again. Rather, I understand that the call is to focus on what Jesus has taught and modeled and not be led astray by the complex teachings of any so-called prophets. Jesus expects me to simply stay true to Him and His Way.
Hold on to what you have
To the faithful in Sardis Jesus wrote: “I will never erase his name from the book of life” and I too take comfort from this. The Jews of that time believed that on the Day of Atonement each year God would remove from His book of life the name of anyone whose deeds He judged unworthy. But my name is written in blood in the record of eternal life, not by virtue of my worthiness, but by virtue of what Jesus has done.
I will never erase his name from the book of life
The words I have highlighted in the letter to the Philadelphian church are, “I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut.” This does not mean that I will succeed at everything I feel is biblical or worthwhile, but it does mean that if I am convinced that what I am doing is initiated and commissioned by Jesus then nothing can prevent it’s completion. It might be hard, and it may take a long time to accomplish, but it will happen.
I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut
Lastly, Jesus said to the Laodiceans: “those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent”. You may have noticed that I have mentioned only good and pleasant parts of the letters. It’s not that I do not take the warnings and rebukes to heart, because I do, yet I see them as the admonishments of a loving God who cares for me deeply. I would be a fool if I did not repent when confronted with my wrongs, yet I have to confess that sometimes I am a fool… for a while.
Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline
May I invite you to do what I have done? Read through Revelation chapters Two and Three again and highlight in your Bible what you believe the Spirit is saying to YOU through these letters.
My next post in this series will be on something VERY DIFFERENT and I am eager to share it with you.