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By Lahry Sibley Rev 2:1 TO THE angel (messenger) of the assembly (church) in Ephesus write: These are the words of Him Who holds the seven stars [which are the messengers of the seven churches] in His right hand, Who goes about among the seven golden lampstands [which are the seven churches]: Rev 2:2 I know your industry and activities, laborious toil and trouble, and your patient endurance, and how you cannot tolerate wicked [men] and have tested and critically appraised those who call [themselves] apostles (special messengers of Christ) and yet are not, and have found them to be impostors and liars. Rev 2:3 I know you are enduring patiently and are bearing up for My name's sake, and you have not fainted or become exhausted or grown weary. Rev 2:4 But I have this [one charge to make] against you: that you have left (abandoned) the love that you had at first [you have deserted Me, your first love]. Rev 2:5 Remember then from what heights you have fallen. Repent (change the inner man to meet God's will) and do the works you did previously [when first you knew the Lord], or else I will visit you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you change your mind and repent. The church of Ephesus by the description above was a very impressive church, even compared to this hour. Let's look at some of its attributes, things that some folks would no doubt take bragging rights too, maybe some in leadership here. This is not make believe, this is true strengths and values that are important in church. Verse 2 says: Rev 2:2 I know your industry and activities, laborious toil and trouble, and your patient endurance, and how you cannot tolerate wicked [men] and have tested and critically appraised those who call [themselves] apostles (special messengers of Christ) and yet are not, and have found them to be impostors and liars. This is not a lazy church, but industrious and active. They are busy folks. They are patient and enduring. They cannot tolerate wickedness. Sound familiar? They are discerning of spirits and have no tolerance for imposters. Verse 3 would indicate that among other things they have endured some persecution for the sake of the Master and His Body. Very noble indeed. Remember, this is not pretend; this is truth as appraised by God. With all these good works and activity, and all of this endurance, God still has a problem with this assembly. They have forgotten the most important part. Worship. Now I'm certain that if these things said above in scripture were said about a church in this hour, surely this church would have a "praise team", great musicians, singing all the latest choruses and songs. In fact, I know of a church in my home town just like this. I've attended church there.
It's an awesome place. If you want to be involved in meaningful ministry, it's the place to be in town. They are doing a lot of good things, outside the box. But I have difficulty finding a tender heart. It's not that they intend to do God any dis-service. Not at all. They want to serve the Lord. They put their activity where their mouth is and their finances as well. There are many young people in this church who are expending their energy in service to the Lord. So what's missing? Worship, from a humble and contrite spirit. I guess I've always had a tender heart. I don't apologize for it. I did not design it or pick it out. It's just me, so there is nothing to boast of. But I've observed church folks for a long time. And I find that those who seem to be worshipping God the most lose sight of what's going on around them. I find that even the thickest skin is pricked in the presence of the Lord. I have seen the toughest of men fall on their face before Him and weep. In fact, I've seen over 500 pastors on their faces before God repenting. It was the most powerful service I've ever attended. The result? Worship. See folks, if you get close to God, worship just happens. You cannot wait for Sunday or Wednesday. Its part of everything we do. The church of Ephesus was doing allot of great things. Their reputation in their community must have been outstanding. But what happened in the process was that they had left their first love, the love of God that results in worship. If we are too busy to worship God....we are too busy. Now I'm not attempting to judge you, I don¶t' even know who will read this. So how could I judge you? But we all know that we have time for what is important to us. We have this priority list of activities that must get done, and then some things that we "want" to happen. We often invest large sums of money in these pursuits, many of which are outside what would be called church activity. Not bad, just not bible. Examples would be a "bass boat" or a "wardrobe". How about a "race car", or "decorating"? These are not bad things. We make time for them, and we often invest large sums of money in them. You don¶t' have lots of money? Ok. What about TV? Most people have a TV. So we sit and partake of others who invest large sums of money in their pursuits. Lifestyles of the rich and famous. Life styles of the not so rich and famous. Everything from "COPS" to "Baseball". It's all there. Americans, even Christians spend many hours a week before a TV set observing the activities of others doing things. Busy. So you are really active in your church and don¶t' spend allot of time with things I mentioned above or something like them? Most of those things mentioned above were not around in the church of Ephesus. So it sounds like your are doing well. You are very active in your church? They were really active in their church too. There are people in this hour who are missing from their family almost every night of the week, doing church stuff. Very noble. God even approves, to a point. But where is the first love? Where are the worshippers? In the temple of God built by Solomon, there were hundreds of worshippers. Worship was happening all the time. Is there worship happening all the time in God's temple today? Before you answer, be sure to remember that we are God's temple, not a building made by hands.
I have often thought how wonderful it would have been to approach Jerusalem in Solomon's day, perhaps late in the day. Most of the commercial activity has faded. Folks are home having supper. The city is quiet expect for the temple. Choirs were singing praises unto God. Worship. Day and night, night and day. Worship. First love. Holy God. Worthy of worship. Do you know that God looks for worshippers? In fact, it is our created purpose in life, worship. Yet we are so busy, we have little or no time to worship. There is just too much to "do". "Sorry God, but I have taken on too many assignments." I don't even have time for myself anymore". "I do want to spend time with You Lord, but I just can't find the time". Beloved, we have time for what we want to do. So where do we go from here? The messenger to the church of Ephesus gave a simple instruction to this wonderful church. Repent. Return to your first love. Why am I writing this? If there was ever a man who had an indescribable and close encounter with our Holy God, it is me. I was so different; people could look at me and see it on my face. I was so different, so clean, and so pure inside, it showed on the outside without me uttering a word. But with tears in my eyes, I tell you that it somehow faded. Yes I love God so much. But there's something missing in me that longs for that time of my "first love". I want to go back to that place where my God so consumed my whole being that I was immersed in God. It's a place that I cannot take myself. Only God can take me there. I've asked Him too over and over again. I've had some experiences from time to time. But not equaling or exceeding my "first love". God is searching for worshippers, those who worship in spirit and in truth. With my mind, I want to worship God. It's on my mind day and night. But what is lacking is a manifestation of His presence, like the first time. I know by faith He is here, in me. But I want to experience Him. He knows I do. So I patiently wait. No, I don't. I occupy myself with other things while I wait. I'm busy.
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