The Book of Revelation and Church Leadership, PVIII

love lostRead Revelation 2: 1-7

These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstandsYet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.” Revelation 2: 1, 4

How important is it to you to be loved? How important is it to you to love others? How does your church show love? How are these three connected? If you get this, you can grow your church! Thus, consider the ways your church can do to make sure you are a golden lampstand that radiates Christ’s love, and never forget or lose our first love? 

John is asked to write a letter to seven churches, giving them encouragements, blessings, and condemnations. These are areas we all must carefully and seriously examine our own church to see if we are doing our best for His highest! As you read Revelation, consider that each of these seven churches is an actual church, then, and a representation of every church that has ever been, including yours. Read Revelation 2-3 and examine and pray, which one are you?

The letter is a clear proclamation of the sovereignty and eminence of Christ, who stands in authority and judgment to show that He is in charge, that He does care, and that we need to get aligned with His will or else suffer the consequences. His Church is His Church; it does not belong to us even though we are the Church in unity and being. We belong to Him with a distinction and a purpose, we must heed, take to heart, and practice to the best of our abilities and endeavors.

Thus, we need to have the mindset we are in worship and disciple and be effectual stewards of this endeavor to glorify Christ. 

Golden lampstands” refers to God’s Light, as the Church is the light to the world for God’s Glory. Christ is the destiny and pattern we follow and emulate. This shows His care, that Jesus is God and omniscient (all knowing and all seeing), and the One who is to inspire us, lead us and Who we worship.

So, why do so many churches fail and close down?

Because we did not do as we are called to do and as the letter states, as the warning proclaims, remove your lampstand. Judgment will be at hand soon, unless they repent!  The same for us, unless…  Jesus threatens them with judgment if they do not start to love again! This is also a parody of words, since the city of Ephesus had to be removed and then moved. So, is your church a golden lampstand or one whose has flamed out? All you have to do is repent and catch the love again (1 Cor. 13; 1 Thess. 1:3). 

So, keep in mind the principle purpose of the writing is to encourage and chastise them for how they were running their churches (Rev. 2:1-3:22). Which should cause us to heed how we run the ones we are called to steward?

John restated the importance of discipleship and Christian formation so they (we) could be authentic Christians of excellence and distinction, bringing no disrepute to Christ or His Church.

Jesus ends this letter with the importance of listening and heeding His precepts. God wants His Church to succeed, He wants you to succeed. John was fully convinced that Christ would triumph over the forces of Satan and his work in the world. As can we. He then exhorted them to be faithful and discerning between what is false and what is truth, and warned them not to worship the Emperor or to comply with evil, apathy, or compromise.

So what does this come down to?

We are to allow the flow of the Holy Spirit, and to be Love led, Sprit-led and Word led, not self-led, especially with how we lead the Church. A church can only be successful as long as love is penetrating and being modeled from its leadership and members with a zeal for Christ and His love. When love is lost, so is the church (1 Cor. 13; 1 John 4:19)! 

Reflection 

Why do you suppose this church in Ephesus had trouble with loving? Do you think people could become victims of the ‘ugly’ that happens when a key component of doing church is left out? 

What does it mean to your church that Jesus is in charge and that He does care for you? How can this help you be aligned more with His will?

What if your church refuses to heed Christ as Lord? Does He have the right to judge your church? Would you deserve to suffer the consequences? Why do many Christians feel the answers to these questions is “no?” 

What are you going to do now about God’s call to heed Him and love them?

 

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How is your Churches Unity?

Do you have His Complete unit? See John chp 17!

Where Jesus’ prays for all Christians through all time, that we know Him and make Him known by spreading the Gospel! It is God’s role and work that are empowering and saving; we merely respond. Our faith is a response, not a work; we realize Christ because He is revealed to us. All the blessings and wonder that we have and can have are in Christ and He gives us the faith that we turn into more faith by our commitment and obedience (John 3:30; Rom. 6:12; Gal. 2:20-21; Eph. 2:8-9; 5:15-17; Phil. 3:1-21; Col. 1: 3-6, 10-12, 15-29). 

So we can be set apart and holy for God’s work and purpose of conforming us to the image of the Son, and not to stray from Him. Jesus sets Himself apart to do God’s will and work.

For us, with the image of consecrating priests for God, it is the application of our redemption, of setting us apart from sin. This is the growth we have and do in Christ—in our trust and obedience that He provides. This is not saving action; it is a response action where we become more like Christ’s character. The work of the Spirit is to intercede in us; our response is our progressive growth and spiritual formation in Him. God can use anything to be sanctified, even places and things (Gen.2:3; Ex. 28: 38-41; Num. 18:9; Isa. 10:20-22; Joel 2:32; Amos 9:8-12; Luke 24:26; John 8:31-32; Rom.15:16; Gal. 6:14; Eph. 2:1-10; 5:26; 1 Thess. 4:3; 5:23; 2 Thess.2:13; Phil.2:13, 3:10; Heb. 2:10-11; 9:12-13).  

God calls us as leaders of His Church to carry out His plans and accomplish His mission of reproducing communities of Christ-formed authentic disciples.  

We do this by equipping our people to know and teach Christ’s redemptive reign as missionaries sent by God, to be real and to visibly live and proclaim Christ’s Kingdom to the world. This is the model we are to use to show God’s love to the world, because our unity has an evangelistic intention and example! Our infighting and often bitter divisions destroy churches and create an extremely bad witness. When we do not live as we should, our un-forgiveness becomes malice and actually grieves the Holy Spirit! We should be clear on this. A healthy Christian is one who puts aside the malicious traits of an evil, sinful nature, and embraces others in love. What comes out of love is the release of our feelings of betrayal and hurt. The Christian is called to model kindness, love, empathy, and compassion; out of these, forgiveness will flow. God wants us to get with it, to wake up, and seize the wonders and opportunities He gives us. An unforgiving attitude and its ugly rotten fruits will choke us off from His wonders (John 13:34-35; 15:13-17; Gal. 5:22; Phil. 1:23; 1 Thess. 4:17; 1 John 2:10; 3:14-16)!  

We are called as a church: “May be one.” Unity is a crucial attribute of the Godhood—the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, which is our call as a Church to be unified by His indwelling and the fulfilling of His purpose. This means to be in unity with those outside of our culture and/or our socioeconomic, age, and ethnic standings as we are all one in Christ for mutual survival in an oppressive situation and cooperation for a successful church and the example and work of the Gospel (Psalm 78:3-7; Isa. 46:13; John 10:16; 11:52; 12:20-23; 14:23-24). 

When we receive Christ as Lord and Savior, a radical change and new birth occur. We are no longer of the world; we belong to Christ. However, we will continue to live in the world until we are called home to eternity. So, in the meantime, we become the “salt and light,” the example of the Gospel while not being corrupted by the world’s ways. This also means we do not retreat into seclusion; rather, we engage our culture with the power of the Gospel, good character, and social action, and by being positive influencers (Matt. 5:13-16; 6:19-24; 32; 24:14; Luke 12:13-21; Rom. 12:1-3; 10:18; Col. 1:6; 23; 2:20-23; 1 John 2:15-19).

 

Does your church have e the “Full measure of Joy?”

Full measure or to be filled with Joy. Is God’s outpouring to us!

What we have in Christ is wondrous beyond our thinking or dreams and no one can take away our Lord’s redemption—not Satan, not humans, or circumstances. This also means God’s purpose is complete and will continue from our salvation into eternity with our relationships on earth and our relationship to Him forever. Be aware that our life of contentment is trapped between the walls of experiences and the ceiling of things we desire, while we tend to ignore the door of the Truth. Real joy is found in the practice of our faith; we are to enthusiastically show to those around us this joy and peace that is only found only in Jesus (Luke 24:33-52; John 10:28; 17:13-26; Rom. 6:9-10; Phil. 1:6; Heb. 7:24-25)!  

Joy is our strength from our byproducts of trust and obedience that lead to our inward confidence, contentment, and peace from our harmony with God and others.

 These then lead to expressions of rejoicing and gladness from an attitude and mindset of optimism and delight from God working in us. Joy is not a mood or mere happiness or a fulfillment of pleasure, because we may not be content and pleased with our situation. Rather, joy is hope; it is our hope in Christ. It is not a meager wish, but rather the unshakable confidence in our future in Christ. Our pleasure comes from knowing He is in charge and caring for us! This will allow us to enjoy our relationship with Christ, His creation, others, and our circumstances with Him. We are called to count it joy in James, referring to declaring our situation as happy and fulfilling even when it is not. It is to change our mindset and focus. It is realizing God’s perspective, the sovereignty of God, and that He is in control, even when life seems to be turned upside down and inside out that gives us the confidence and patience to endure anything. To be happy, we first must seek to be holy (Neh. 8:10; Psalm 20:5; 32:7-9; 34:1-8; 51:12; Prov. 15:13; John 4:34; 15:11; 17:13; 2 Cor. 12:9; Phil. 4:10-20; 1 Thess. 5:18; James 1:1-4; 1 Peter 4:12-19; Heb 10:34)!