Warning From the Town of Ephesus {Acts 19}

11:30 PM

By Sue Desmarais

From all we’ve read in Acts 19, we can see that the Christians in Ephesus were a mighty force for Christ Jesus.  They were spiritually alive and making an amazing impact on their community. Here in this chapter we can clearly see the forces of good and evil at odds to put it mildly and good eventually winning out over evil. I did a bit of research on the town of Ephesus to help us to better understand what was taking place in chapter 19:
"Ephesus was a large city with an excellent harbor, and it was known at this time as the marketplace of Asia. It was also a banking center because of its great vault in the Temple of Diana, which was considered the safest place in Asian Minor. "Ephesus was also an important religious city. The Temple of Diana (or Artemus, as the Greeks called her) was considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The goddess Diana was the patron of all the prostitutes and, with her many-bosomed image, represented fertility and sexuality. Many writers in ancient times described the immorality of the city.
"One pillar in the Ephesian economy was the production of silver images of Diana by the many silversmiths who plied their trade there. Devotees of this goddess brought much gain to the city (Acts 19:23-27). Black magic was also widely practiced in Ephesus."
(There's A New World Coming, Hal Lindsey)

Knowing all of this, we can better understand Paul’s praise to the church in his letter to the church of Ephesus later; “...ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people,  I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.” -Ephesians 1:15-16

Yet, just thirty years later, Christ will write to the church of Ephesus in The Book of Revelation, “You have left your first love . . . I am coming to you, and will remove your lampstand out of its place – unless you repent” (Rev. 2:4, 5).  It took only thirty years for the church at Ephesus to become cold and indifferent towards Christ.  

What happened? How can a whole body of believers do a complete “180” in just thirty years? And if a whole body of believers can, what about our individual walks? One thing I did find in reading the events in chapter 19 is that, things haven’t changed much over the years. People and places can change, but the enemy continues to use the same tactics he did then. We need to be on guard? We need to guard ourselves against leaving our first love lest we become a target for God's discipline. But how?

Leaving our first love is better displayed in how we treat others. You’ll remember Jesus gave His disciples two new commandments in Matthew 22:37-39, “And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’

We can claim to love the Lord. We can attend church, read our Bibles, etc, but our love or lack of love will be more evident in how we love others. So, let me ask you, how are you doing?  Are you busy winning others to Christ?  Do you find it easy to forgive another’s offence against you? Are you embracing fellowship with others, or shying away from it? Are you actively challenging our culture or conforming to it?
I’ll be honest. I’ve been walking with Jesus for almost 35 years and it grieves me to admit that some ...a good number of those who once walked beside me are no longer journeying with Jesus and I.
  • Some were hurt by another and rather than going to the offender to make it right, their pride prevented them and they allowed that hurt to turn to anger, bitterness and even indifference.
  • Some grew angry with God and couldn’t forgive Him for hurts they experienced..
  • Some were enticed by the sins of the world. We all know the grass can look greener…
  • Some just stopped hungering and thirsting after God and found others and other things to fill their void.
  • Others couldn’t accept some of the harsh words found in Scripture, and chose to follow their own ways and ideas.
Not one of them woke up one morning and decided instantly to turn back to their old ways and lifestyle. No, it was more something that happened over a period of time. Which leads me to my next question; what about us?

How can we keep our hearts on fire for God and lead others to do the same, so that Jesus will never place this charge against us? I’ve come up with a few ways, but I’m confident you can think of others and you’re free to add them in the comments!

  1. Beware of anything that competes with loyalty to Jesus Christ. (The greatest competitor of devotion to Jesus is service for him.)
  2. Spend time worshipping and ministering to the Lord through singing, fasting, prayer.
  3. Allow time for Him to minister to you! (I think of the verse in Song of Solomon 2:10 that says, ‘My beloved speaks and says to me: “Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away.” When this verse pops into my head, I’m all about getting away to listen to Him.)
  4. Choose your friends wisely. Find people who are on fire for God and get with them so that they can inspire you and rub off on you. AND Don’t allow negative people to pull you down.
  5. Keep your appointments with Jesus. Keep Him first and don’t allow the busyness of the day to keep you from spending time together.
  6. Give your time and desires to spend time with The Lord up to Him and let Him keep you faithful! I did and He makes sure we have our time together each day.
  7. Turn off distractions! Radios, TV, Internet, Phones, etc.

But what if you sense you’ve already left your first love, or know someone who has; what should you do then? Jesus made it very clear what needs to happen next in Revelations 2;

First Remember: Jesus says,Therefore remember from where you have fallen.” The church in Ephesus fell out of a deep love for the Lord. They fell out of fellowship with Him. The Greek word translated fallen means that they were in a state of spiritual decline.
Second Repent.The Greek word for “repent”  is much more than sorrow, or feeling sorrowful. It’s a complete change of thought and behavior. “Repent” means to change one’s thinking and behavior as seen in the following phrase and do the deeds you did at first.” Repent means “to turn around”.
Third Redo, or start again. Jesus urges the Ephesians to do the deeds you did at first.” I always think of the verse in James 4:8, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” You turn back and He’ll meet you right where you are.

After all, He has always been the God of second chances as long as there is still breath in us! Just look at the promise He has left to all those who will turn back to Him, “...To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.” The one who overcomes by returning to his/her first love is able to eat of the tree of life. Eating with someone implies fellowship and the one who overcomes, will enjoy fellowship with his/her Savior.
In other words Jesus is saying, those who overcome the spiritual battles in this life and remain intimate with Christ through it all, WILL experience the joys and rewards in heaven. The same joys that Adam once enjoyed in the garden in his unfallen state. The same joys God has always longed to share with you!

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