I want to let you know that this study was placed on my heart yesterday morning during the message from my Pastor. I was particularly struck by the correlation between his message, based on Revelation 2 & 3, and the picture and devotion that I shared before church yesterday.
In case you missed the devotion…I will post it again here.
“Reaping What You Sow (Matthew 13:1–9)
In this haunting parable, Jesus depicts four different groups of people exposed to the Word of God. First come the insensitive. They hear the Word, but it does not speak to them interiorly. The unseen world does not exist for the thinking man. The tales of the Bible are nice for children but not for mature adults. Faith is an outdated conception for those behind the times, a relic of the Middle Ages. After all, you can’t pay the rent with religion . . .
Next, Jesus describes the superficial.
These are the open people—too much so. They are ready to receive everything, but nothing takes root. You meet them at every level of the church’s life, exponents of change for the sake of change. Ardent champions of renewal and reform with a lusty contempt for anything written before 1963. These are the butterfly types who sip on a thousand different blossom cups . . .
The third group are the defeated. They may have fought long and struggled honorably for their faith. They had principles they wanted to live by. A Christian ethic was presumed, a week without worship unthinkable. Their high ideals, however, ran into competition from “the real world.” Love of God got swallowed up in mundane concerns. The thorny preoccupations are many—career, romance, military induction, geographical displacement, progeny, security . . .
Finally, Jesus speaks of the victorious—the seeds that fell on rich soil. But even here Jesus distinguishes three levels of productivity for the kingdom, three different degrees of faith commitment among genuine hearers of the Word of God.
Taken from NIV Ragamuffin Bible”
Our church is having a Revival beginning next Sunday and our pastor is preparing us for personal revival within each member of the congregation, as well as the church as a whole. I know that I personally need a revival within me and that I need to work on my relationship with God and others.
There are hindrances to personal revival and he named four…
1. Uncontrolled anger
I know that I am guilty of harboring each of these sins in my heart and that is unacceptable to God. God finds all sin an abomination!
I MUST repent…truly repent and turn from these sins!!!
You will find that the word “repent” is used many times in the messages to the 7 churches…well to at least 5 of those 7. So, if you have not read Revelation 2:1-7, do that now, and then look over the questions, below the scriptures, and answer them as you go along.
I am looking for personal revival, how about you?
To the Church in Ephesus
2 “To the angel[a] of the church in Ephesus write:
These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. 2 I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. 3 You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.
4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. 5 Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.
6 But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
7 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.
1. Each letter is addressed to “the angel…” (2:1a). Who is this? Why do you believe this to be true? Who is “the One who holds the seven stars in His right hand” and “walks among the seven golden lampstands?” What are the seven stars and seven golden lampstands (2:1b, see 1:20)?
2. What did the church in Ephesus have going for it (2:2-3)? What did Jesus have against them (2:4)? Summarize these strengths and weaknesses in your own words.
3. Why does Jesus use three similar words (“deeds,” “toil,” and “perseverance”) to describe the Ephesian church (2:2a)? What else does He say about this church (2:2b)? How does 2:3 relate back to 2:2?
4. What does it mean to abandon your “first love” (2:4)? Is it hard to keep your first love for God? What causes you to lose your first love? What was it like in the early days of your relationship with Christ? At what point in your life were you most excited about Christ? What were the specific outside influences that contributed to you living a life on fire for Christ? What decisions did you make that resulted in you feeling on fire for Christ?
5. How does the metaphor of a couple’s first love for one another relate to our first love for Christ? Why does the “first love” tend to grow cold? If we do the things we did in the early days or our courtship, will we come to feel as we initially felt? Do feelings follow behavior, or the other way around? If we did the things we did in the early days of our relationship with Christ, will we come to feel the way we felt at first? Again, do feelings follow actions or the other way around? Is this first-love issue primarily an issue of feelings or behavior? Is Jesus concerned with our behavior, or how we feel about Him?
6. Is living a life on fire for Christ largely within our control? Is being on fire for Christ something that God or someone else does to us? How do we stay on fire for Christ? How can we help each other stay on fire for Christ?
7. What did Jesus ask the Ephesians to do about this first love problem (2:5a)? What would happen if the Ephesian church didn’t follow Jesus’ counsel (2:5b)? Is this verse a threat to the doctrine of eternal security (“once saved, always saved”)? If not, what is this verse teaching? Does God punish Christians? Why or why not?
8. Who are the “Nicolaitians” (2:6)? What deeds did they commit that were worthy of hatred? What group or teaching could serve as a contemporary parallel?
9. Each of the seven letters closes in the same way: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” What is being said here? Why is this so important as to bear repeating?
10. How will you ensure that you will be one who “overcomes” (2:7b; cf. 2:25-26a)?
11. If Jesus was writing to our church, what positive qualities might He commend us for? What do you think He might scold us for? On the whole, what kind of grade do you think our church would get? What is the most glaring need for improvement in our church? What can you do to be a part of the solution?