I have been reading and studying God’s Word in the book of Revelation as of late. I decided to focus more on God’s LOVE for us all, rather than only emphasize the aspect of PROPHECY–although that issue is also of importance.
Revelation 2:1-7 (NIV):
“To the angel 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:  I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false.  You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.
 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your 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 your lampstand from its place.  But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
 He who has an ear, let him hear what the spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.”
Ephesians 5:21-23 (AMP):
“Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).  Wives, be subject (be submissive and adapt yourselves) to your own husbands as [a service] to the Lord.  For the husband is head of the wife as Christ is the Head of the church, Himself the Savior of [His] body.”
My 50th Wedding Anniversary is approaching…
Last year on my 49th Wedding Anniversary, a much younger friend asked for me to give a brief account of the BENEFITS OF A MARRIAGE with such a long duration and I’m sure this year, on our 50th, we will be asked the same question once more:
“Tell us, Mel, just what is it you have learned from those wonderful years with Dianne?”
“Honestly, I’ve learned that MARRIAGE is the best teacher of all. It teaches you loyalty, patience with one another, meekness, self-restraint, forgiveness…and a great many other qualities you wouldn’t need to know if you were single.”
GOD LOVES MARRIAGE–
God performed THE FIRST MARRIAGE in the garden between Adam and Eve. In fact, the main reason God created Eve from Adam’s side was because (as He said),
“It is not good for man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18)
Some reasons God didn’t want man to be alone…
MARRIAGE changes us!
Marriage improves our lives, transforming us into something we could never become alone.
MARRIAGE can make you wise!
And after being married for almost 50 years, I can certainly testify it can IF…we do it God’s way!
We can learn all kinds of things as we GROW in Love!
Several years before John wrote the book of Revelation, the Apostle Paul wrote a letter to the church at Ephesus (which we call Ephesians).
In that letter, Paul told the Christians about marriage (Ephesians 5:21-33).
In Ephesians 5, God is telling them, and us, how highly He regards MARRIAGE. In fact, God regards marriage so highly–He compares a HEALTHY MAN to a HEALTHY CHURCH.
Husbands and wives should do the same things, to have a healthy marriage as you would if you wanted a healthy congregational church.
So, what does a person do when they have an unhealthy marriage?
How would you go about in healing a relationship between a husband and wife that appears to have gone to the breaking point?
Well, apparently you’d do the same thing you’d do if you had an unhealthy church.
In Revelation 2, Jesus is telling Ephesus that their relationship with Him had become unhealthy, uncomfortable, and strained. Something needed to be “fixed.”
Jesus diagnoses the problem with Spiritual Advice!
He gives them [and us too] some “MARRIAGE COUNSELING” in Revelation 2:5:
“REPENT (change the inner man to meet God’s will) and do the works you did previously [when you first knew the Lord]”
REPENT means to “turn around”, to “go back”! Go back to the beginning and do what you did at the beginning-again! That will bring healing to the strained relationship they were experiencing.
So what had the Ephesians done back at the beginning?
If you haven’t already, you will need to grab your Bible and turn back to ACTS 19:17-20:
When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor ~ verse 17.
Once the assembly of believers in Ephesus began to LOVE JESUS…
— they openly confessed their evil deeds,
— they publicly burned their books of sorcery,
— AND this all resulted in the Word of the Lord spreading widely and powerfully in the surrounding communities.
Another way of putting it: “they changed their ways”.
Their NEW RELATIONSHIP with Jesus changed them so much that they…THOUGHT DIFFERENTLY…BEHAVED DIFFERENTLY…THREW OUT EVERYTHING standing between them and Jesus!
As a result, everybody around knew of this great LOVE they had for JESUS.
MARRIAGE is never a 50/50 percent relationship. It’s a 100/100 percent relationship.
– 40 YEARS PASSES BY IN THE CONGREGATION OF BELIEVERS…
…AND THINGS HAVE CHANGED!
Their LOVE for Jesus had grown stale and empty and their RELATIONSHIP is on life support. Unless they do something drastic, Jesus is going to take His “candlestick” with Him (Revelation 2:5).
And so JESUS says:
LOVE ME LIKE YOU USED TO!
That’s the way to FIX a broken church…a broken relationship. It is also the way you FIX a broken marriage…before the separation can occur.
Going Back…it’s never to late!
Doing the things you used to do when you first got married can rekindle a closer relationship.
I can remember when I was dating my wife, how important it was to open car doors, to be well-groomed before picking her up on a date, having the right cologne splashed all over, the one she had mentioned she liked. I wanted to impress her, to make her notice how interested I was in her and no one else.
As the years passed by all to quickly, honestly, I let things slip. Now Dianne never said, “How come you never do those things anymore!” God’s Spirit spoke to my spirit, “Mel, to show your wife how much you value her, as a suggestion, start opening car doors and build on that.” I’m still in a daily “building” process even after 50 years. It never stops.
Redirecting Our Focus…
When your total FOCUS is on pleasing the other person (100%), and if someone asks you about that person you LOVE…you only say good things about them.
It’s NOT about you…
“If only they would”….
“…if only I could get my spouse to do that…everything would be just fine.”
“…if only my husband would say he loved me like he used to, then…”
“…if only my wife treated me the way she did at the beginning we wouldn’t be in this MESS!”
Sharing My Little Secret…
Allow me to let you in on a little secret I’ve learned in 50 years:
GOD NEVER SAID “Husbands love your wives IF they deserve it.”
GOD NEVER SAID “Wives submit to your husbands IF they deserve it.”
A MARRIAGE CAN’T BE FIXED by saying:
“If only they would do this then…”
“If only they would do that!”
You can’t FIX marriages like that. You can only FIX a marriage by deciding that YOU will do what it needs to be done.
AND it works. Sometimes–even if you do it for the wrong reasons–it still works!
ILLUSTRATION: (See References [i])
GEORGE CRANE, a Newspaper columnist and minister tells of a wife who came to his office full of hatred toward her husband.
“I not only want to get rid of him, I want to get even before I divorce him!”
Thinking for a minute, Dr. Crane came up with an ingenious plan:
“Go home and act as if you really loved your husband,” he told her.
“Tell him how much he means to you. praise him for every decent trait. Go out of your way to be as kind and considerate and generous as possible. After you have convinced him of your undying love and that you cannot live without him…then drop the bomb. Tell him that you’re getting a divorce. That will really hurt him.”
And she followed his instructions with enthusiasm.
Two months went by…and she didn’t return to her counselor, so Dr. Crane called her.
“Are you ready now to go through with the divorce?”
“DIVORCE?” she exclaimed.
“Never! I discovered, I really do love him.”
Without realizing it–in OBEYING God–her marriage healed. She didn’t realize she’d “REPENTED” and done the things she’d done at first. But when she did, she fell in love all over again.
This is what JESUS is explaining to the church at Ephesus: 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…(Rev. 2:5 AMP).
“You’ve Lost that Loving Feeling”–
A DEEPER KIND OF LOVE is more than just “feelings.” It’s a heartfelt, deepened relationship as your marriage progresses and in the same manner, a closer relationship with Christ.
“Your happiness is going to be based on who you decide to share the rest of your life with.” [ii]
One of the reasons many marriages fail today is they’ve forgotten what the attraction was about.
– You got bored with the old routine.
– You’ve become complacent in the everyday things in life.
JESUS says, “I have this one charge to make against you: that you have LEFT the love that you had at first” (verse 4).
It wasn’t that the ‘church people’ no longer had any LOVE of Jesus at all, rather it was the QUALITY of their love for Him had weakened; grown stale over a period of time.
The GREEK word translated “LEFT” means “to depart, leave alone, forsake, and neglect.” It can also be used of DIVORCE and the image it gave me is powerful. [iii]
When you lose your keys, where are they? When you lose your sunglasses, they are right where you left them. I sometimes find them on my head.
That’s the way it is with your FIRST LOVE. If you’ve lost it, guess where it can be found. It’s wherever you left it.
Wherever it is, it’s still there because God hasn’t moved! He’s waiting for you to come back.
Imagine ladies, that your husband comes home and says, “I don’t love you anymore. But nothing will change. I’ll still earn a living and pay the bills. We’ll still sit together and sleep together. I’ll still father our children. I just don’t love you anymore.”
Would that reasoning set well with you? No way! You’d be devastated.
Yet we say that to the Lord.
“Jesus, I don’t love You like I did in the beginning. I’ll still come to church every week. I’ll still serve You. I’ll still witness for You. I just don’t love You like I used too.”
That’s NOT good enough for Jesus either.
This brings back to Revelation 2:7 in conclusion:
“He who is able to hear, let him listen to and give heed to what the Spirit says to the assemblies (churches). To him who overcomes (is victorious), I will grant to eat [of the fruit] of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God. [Gen. 2:9; 3:24.]”
THE “LAMPSTAND’ REMOVAL:
Jesus tells us, unless we rediscover our FIRST LOVE and repent, He will remove the LAMPSTAND (verse 5 b.).
No way is the Lord saying that the people of the church (we are the “church”) have lost their salvation. For the OVERCOMERS will be granted to eat of the tree of life, which is in paradise.
Removing the “LAMPSTAND” means that your light, your uplifted TORCH LIGHT, has been extinguished in the surrounding communities.
So if you find that “MARRIAGE COUNSELING” is in order, in your marriage or in your spiritual relationship, you may need to return to a relationship of FIRST LOVE…then REPENT of your negligence, complacency and go back to the beginning.
[i] Tests 1939 “For Husbands and Wives” The chicago Daily Tribune January 1-12, 1940.
[ii] “Winning in Troubled Times” by Dr. Creflo A. Dollar.
[iii] Expository Dictionary of Bible Words.
EPHESUS – “The Church With No Doors” by Van Gogh atwww.christimages.org/biblebooks/Book of Revelation.html
Photo Pin – Free Photos for Bloggers.
The New International Version.
The Amplified Bible.