Monday, May 19, 2014

The Seven Letters, Part 1: Reclaim the Love

"To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: 'The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands. I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my names sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.'" Revelation 2:1-7


Martha wiped her hands on the apron tied around her waist as she surveyed the table overflowing with food. The bread was running a little low, as well as the figs and water. She would have to grab more of those. Martha could see her sister, Mary, sitting at Jesus' feet. She was just hanging on every word he said.

I would love to just sit and listen, too, but if I don't serve the food, then no one will eat. Mary certainly isn't helping me.

Martha squeezed past some of the men who accompanied Jesus everywhere. She overheard someone say they were his disciples. Martha tucked the jug of water into her left arm, grabbed the loaf of bread, and with her right hand, picked up three more figs. She carefully maneuvered past the men again, only to get to the table and discover the cheese was almost gone now.

She huff as she unloaded the food onto the table. She caught sight of Mary sitting there, totally oblivious to the fact that Martha was running herself ragged and needed help.

That's it! 

Jesus had stopped speaking for the moment. Everyone was talking among themselves. Jesus was taking advantage of the opportunity, and eating a piece of bread. She would get him to send her some help so that she could eventually sit and listen, too.

She walked over. Jesus saw her immediately, and smiled, giving her his full attention. "Lord, I've been running all over the place trying to make sure everyone can eat and rest, but I've been doing it all alone. Mary hasn't moved from her spot all night. I need help."

The left corner of his mouth turned up. "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and focused too much on troubles. All that you've done is important and necessary. Thank you for serving so diligently." Martha smiled a little, thinking he was going to send Mary to take her place. "However, you've become so focused, you've forgotten what's really important. Mary chose to focus on that. I won't take that away from her."

Martha realized what he was saying. She blinked trying to hold back tears. She started turning away when Jesus' voice stopped her. "You can join her. Let the others get the cheese if they want it. Focus on me."

Based on Luke 10:38-42

Can you imagine sitting in church on Sunday, and all of a sudden, someone bursts into the sanctuary. The man is exhausted. He was clearly running here using every fiber of his being. He's doubled over, huffing and puffing, and in his hand is a crinkled letter. Everyone stands up, and forms a circle around the man, all curious about what is so important. Finally, he stands straight, and hands the letter to your pastor. "It's an important revelation from God. Full of prophecy, warnings, victory, and a personal note to your church."

The seven letters found in the beginning of Revelation are still very relevant to us individually and united in our churches. And that is what we are going to be studying. God has sent us a personal message with these letters, and it's time to dig in deep.

The first thing we hear is that we've abandoned the love we first had for Him.

How did we do that?

Jesus praises the church at first. He's seen all their good works, and He is thankful for their diligent serving. But that's all it's become. Serving. Where is the love?

When you fall in love with someone, you are consumed with it. You constantly think about them. You always want to be with them, talk with them, and listen to them. In order to remain in love, you have to continue doing all those things. It's easy to get complacent, and forget how special those things really are.

When did church, reading our Bibles, and prayer become such drudgery? It's become something we have to do, instead of something we love to do because we are so in love with God.

I love Martha, and I can relate to her so well. We can get so distracted with stuff we have to do, that we forget we are really here to be with God. If it's going to interfere with the time we need with Jesus, then everything else can wait. We are serving and living for Jesus, but how can we really do that if we've lost sight of that love? It's the reason we do what we do. Without the love, we lose the light and slip into distraction.

It's time for us to return to Jesus' feet because we love to be there! It's time for us to reclaim our love for Him. It's time to be consumed with our love for Him. Outside of Him, without Him, nothing else matters.

V. Joy Palmer

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