Thursday, January 7, 2010

Revelations Chapter Two (Part I)

By Odon Bulamba (2 March 2001)

Revelation 2To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: these are the words of Him who holds the 7 stars in His right hand and walks among the 7 golden lamp stands says this:

This letter was written to the church of Ephesus. Ephesus means to keep your first love. John the Pastor of this church was given this message to inform everyone about the Lord’s return. As God does with all the churches on earth, if there is a problem or something is not right, God doesn’t hesitate to talk. If God talks it is only to improve the way of that church.

An angel wrote this letter to the church of Ephesus and said, “It is not me, but the One who holds the seven stars in His right hand and walks among the seven lamp stands”. Jesus said, “I know your deeds”. It tells us that God knows everything we do on this earth and nothing is hidden. Whatever you do under the water or under the stars, He can see everything. God also mentions positive things about the church of Ephesus. God said, “I know what you have done for Me and not the for the devil’s good, I am thankful for what you do”.

This is a message of encouragement. Many Christians don’t acknowledge what people do for them. God wants us to acknowledge those we live with and to acknowledge what they do for us.

“I know the hardship you are going through”. These people use to work hard for God’s glory; they were not afraid to suffer for God’s glory and accepted to be humiliated so that God’s name would be lifted high.

How many times do we suffer for others? How many times do we give our lives for others? How many times do we sacrifice our own interests for others? The Bible says that, “It is impossible to love God if you don’t love the one next to you”. You must love your neighbour as you love your own soul. A soul has great value in God’s eyes and nothing on earth has a higher value than a soul. As Jesus said, “What would you profit if you were to gain the whole world but lose your soul?”

Today many Christians sacrifice their souls to win bread. A Christian can sacrifice their soul to win money.

God acknowledged the patience of the Ephesus church. Patience is very useful for Christian life. If you are not patient it will be hard for you to humiliate yourself in a given situation. It is difficult to carry on in Christian life if you are not patience. Remember when Jesus was arrested. Jesus was tortured and suffered a lot but He did not complain or answer back, even at the end He said, “God, forgive them”. Who can suffer this way and forgive after it? Jesus was abused everywhere He went. Jesus did well to people but He received evil in return. God wants us to show Him our patience. He needs to see our patience in everything we do.

Remember Jacob and Esau. These two men were twins born at the same minute. Their father was holy and their mother was holy. They lived in the same womb until they were born. They were educated Christians and served God according to His will.

Esau use to work harder than Jacob. Esau showed people he was a hard worker. He hunted in the forest, he could go to the mountains and find food, but Jacob was always at home with his mum in the kitchen. Maybe Jacob was a lazy person. In Africa there are some cultures that forbid a man to go into the kitchen and can even be fined. If I compare this with Jacob’s life everybody in Africa will hate him.

Jacob had a reason to be in the kitchen. Although people talked against him, although he was weak physically, the one thing Jacob wanted was Esau’s birthright. Jacob wanted to be born first. As a church today we cannot live and show people that we are good if we are not born again.

We need to have this birthright in our lives in Jesus Christ. You can work for 1000 years and do whatever you can on earth, but if you haven’t had the second birth your work is useless before God. This is why God said to the church of Ephesus, “I know everything you do, you have made an effort to please Me, you have worked hard to please Me and you have had patience through your suffering, but I am going to tell you something. The way you have discernment to know true and false apostles I the Lord of eternal life will teach you something so that you will know yourself”.

Everybody in this church was probably surprised when God said this, “how can God tell us this, we have the spirit of discernment, we can discern evil people among us, we have done everything for God’s glory, so why does God say this?” So they wondered among themselves thinking of what was happening as Jesus’ disciples did. “Is it I”? Everybody wanted to know who was guilty. Jesus said, “People just want to hear positive things, so I’m going to give them something written in Revelation 2:4. “I hold this against you, that you have left your first love, it is true that you have suffered because of me and I acknowledge that you were not discouraged, but you have lost you first love.”

This is the meaning of Ephesus. We must keep our first love. When people get married and can’t see their loved ones it becomes a problem. However, after living with one another for 5 or 10 years things start to change. This love starts getting old. They forget that God Himself is love and that God never gets old. It means that love should never grow old because love is eternal.

(Example) When Michael and Sylvie were first married, they used to see each other 10 times per day. Now Michael stays at work for two weeks without seeing Sylvie. This is how people make love under felt, at the beginning love is strong, but over time it loses its strength.

This is what happened with the church of Ephesus. When you are a new Christian you are always willing to read the Bible, pray and be with God’s servants so that you can give glory to God, but after a time you lose interest.

People in Ephesus would make excuses before John their Pastor hoping that John would tell God about their problems. People made God’s love become old. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 says that, “love is patient". Because these people lost their first love for God, patience was lost as well. Kindness also was not among them anymore because kindness is a part of love. Without these fruits envy becomes a problem and with envy comes pride. People were doing shameful things before God. They became selfish and unforgiving Christians.

Christians rejoice when someone has a problem, but when the truth is spoken everybody loses their joy. With time the church of Ephesus started losing their faith and hope. They started losing God. Even though they continued with God’s program, (praying for example), love was not with them. God says that, “if I let My people carry on this way, I will lose them completely, this is why I am telling you because you need that first love, remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first, if you do not repent I will come to you and remove the lamp stand from its place”.

Christians today find it hard to know where they have fallen; they always want to be right. A Pastor or great Prophet today cannot accept to kneel down and repent before the church. To go before a child and confess is a problem. If you go to God only for forgiveness and not the child you offended; God won’t listen to you.

The Bible says that, “if you have a problem with someone and you want to give an offering to God, first, go and make peace with that person, then give your offering. If we are in sin God will refuse it. This is why we should meditate on our day to know where we have fallen and repent.

After each discussion, after each action, assess what you have done to know where you have fallen. Then we must change. Once you have acknowledged that you have done something wrong it must touch your heart. Nothing is higher than forgiveness and nothing is higher then humility. When you know how to humiliate yourself and know the secret of forgiveness, you’ll be a great Christian.

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