What Are The Important Lessons From The Letter To The Church Of Ephesus?

Tim Lundy
Jan 17, 2021    39m
Is your love for Jesus strong and healthy, or have you let it die down? The important lessons taken from the letter to the church of Ephesus in the book of Revelation can remind us of how important our love for Him is to Jesus, and it can cause us to reconnect with Him. Video recorded at Los Gatos, California.

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This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

Tim Lundy: 00:00 Well Venture, as we start this new series on letters, I've been reading about some famous letters in history. In fact, there was a letter written August 2nd, 1939 to Franklin Roosevelt, president at the time. And this letter was written by scientists who wanted to bring to Roosevelt's attention, some of the work in the scientific community he thought he needed to be aware of. And so he highlighted, particularly, the work of Enrico Fermi and Leo Szilard. And he pointed out, he said, they're working with uranium, and they're able to create potentially with this chain reaction, a nuclear bomb. Now, the only reason he pointed this out, is he was worried that Germany was getting ahead in the arms race. And he was worried if Germany, particularly Hitler, ever had a nuclear bomb. Roosevelt wasn't too interested in the science, but he was very interested in the potential, and what it would mean. And a lot of people think that letter, which ultimately led to the Manhattan Project, ultimately led to the development of the atomic bomb, that we had in America, that letter was the starting point in it. The reason Roosevelt read the letter, is it was written by Albert Einstein, see, he so respected the writer that he thought it was worth paying attention to.

Tim Lundy: 02:00 Guys, we're starting a series, where there's a series of letters that have been written to real churches, and the reason they're really worth paying attention to, is they were written by Jesus. I mean, can you imagine, we get a lot of letters here at Venture from time to time, usually emails now. Could you imagine if you open a letter though, and you find it was written by Jesus. And so in Revelation 2 and 3, we're going to walk through seven specific letters, and these were letters written to real churches, with real people, and real problems.

Tim Lundy: 02:38 And anytime I say Revelation, and a series in Revelation, immediate everybody goes, oh man, end times, and mark of the beast. And especially with all this going on in the world, we kind of get caught up in all that. Here's what you need to know, the Book of Revelation was written by the Apostle John, it was written about 95 AD, and John was exiled. At this point, there was a lot of persecution going on in the world, the Roman emperor Domitian had exiled John, and from Patmos, he has these unbelievable visions. And some of them are events of things will happen in the future, and some of them are directly related to end times, but the Book of Revelation wasn't just written for the very end, it was for all churches in all times.

Tim Lundy: 03:25 And it begins with seven churches from his time, and Jesus addresses issues in these churches. And here's the amazing part, you're going to see this over the next several weeks, the issues they were dealing with then are the same issues we wrestle with now. And that's why I love God's Word, and that's why I love, specifically, when I see a section where Jesus took the time and he points them out. Now all seven of these churches, I've told you they're real churches. If you look on a map, they were all located in what is now modern day Turkey, it was called Asia then. And if you look at it, Patmos, John's writing from a little Island here, this is where he was exiled. And then each of the seven churches, you can see the red circles, they're surrounding the seven cities of these churches. And the order of it, Revelation 2 and 3, follows right with the order of these cities. We'll start with Ephesus, and then Smyrna, Pergamum, and each of them, as they go.

Tim Lundy: 04:24 And I point this out, because I want you to realize these are real churches, these are real people. They know we're going through, and in some ways we want to understand what they were going through. The first one was written to the church in Ephesus, probably the most famous church, it's the one that we know the most about. Paul was instrumental in planning the church, remember he spent two years in Ephesus because it's such an important city. Because it's right here on the sea port of the Aegean Sea, three major roadways came through here, this is the gateway city to all of the Eastern world for the Roman empire. It was a city, they had a huge temple to Diana or Artemis, and it was one of the seven wonders of the world.

Tim Lundy: 05:08 So it's a city that's multicultural, a city that has lots of business, a city where there's a lot of marketplace of ideas, all of that coming together here in Ephesus. And this church, it's not like any other church, you want to talk about heavyweight pastors, you have Paul, and then Apollos, and then Timothy pastor's it for a while, even John himself was pastor of the church. You know, in the church I grew up in, they had this one hallway and these portraits of the senior pastors, it's kind of like the hall of presidents. It was always kind of weird to me in a way, but you know, each of the senior pastors in the portraits. Can you imagine walking down that hallway at the church in Ephesus, and you look up and they go, well there's Paul, oh, there's Apollos, oh, there's Timothy, oh, there's John. I mean, these are all the heavyweights of the church, and so it gives you some idea of the history of this church.

Tim Lundy: 06:09 And as we read through this letter, you're going to see that history. You're going to see some characteristics about all the letters, they all kind of follow the same formula. They all describe a characteristic about Jesus himself, so we're going to learn about Jesus in this series. Most of the churches are complimented, they are doing a lot right, most of them have a criticism, there's something really wrong. You're going to see a call to action, what you should do. And then the final part is this commitment, this promise he makes to all who are overcomers, to all who persevere in him.

Tim Lundy: 06:43 Let's look at the first part, the characteristic of Jesus in this church. You can see it right there in verse 1, he says, “To the angel of the church in Ephesus." So Jesus is saying this to John, he says, I want you to write to the angel, and this may be a real angel, it probably is the pastor. To the messenger, that word angel could also be messenger. He says, I want you to write these words, "The words of him..." And here it's describing Jesus, "Who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands." So Jesus is describing a couple of things. One, he holds the seven stars, this symbolic of leadership. And then he walks among the lampstands, that's symbolic of the seven churches.

Tim Lundy: 07:26 So here's the two things we learn about Jesus in this. The first thing we learn, is that Jesus holds the leadership of the church in his hand. He says, "I hold the seven stars." I have the true leadership of all churches in my hand. And I've got to tell you, as a church leader, I find great comfort in that, I also find accountability. Because ultimately, any leadership, anything that happens in the church, it goes back to Jesus. Here's the second thing, and I'd hope you'd hold onto this as well. I love that he points out, he is with his church and he's aware of what's going on. He says, I walk among the lampstands, I'm among each of the churches.

Tim Lundy: 08:08 I love in his word, he said, "Where two or three are gathered, I'm with you always." Anytime you have the church gathered, anytime the church people, any activity that's happening in the church, Jesus is not looking at this from afar, he's aware of what's going on. I think for each of us, we need to hold onto that. I'm going to just tell you as a church leader this last year, and I connect with a lot of the pastor's here in the Bay area, and for all of us, we would say, this is the hardest year we've ever experienced of just knowing how to take next steps, what we should do. And to be able to step back, and I don't use this as an excuse in any way, but to rest in the fact that Jesus holds the leadership, that Jesus is with his church, that Jesus is aware of not only hat we're experiencing as a church, but what we experience as church people, and you can hold on to that too.

Tim Lundy: 09:09 He follow it up then with his compliment, look how he compliments this church. He says, "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 name’s sake, and you have not grown weary." And then a little later he says, "Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate." Now he's talking about their hard work, he's talking about the fact that in that time period, and you've got to remember, they don't have written Bibles yet, so it was very easy for false apostles, false teachers to come forward. And this group, the Nicolaitans, they were a group that kind of taught a false grace. The basically came into the church and said, you know, you could love Jesus, but really live the way you want to.

Tim Lundy: 10:01 And Jesus compliments them in all the ways that they really stand up for what's right? Look at the three things that he points out with them. First thing he said is, you're hard workers, you're a very industrious church, your labor, your toil. They're not lacking volunteers in this church, they're not lacking activity, and it's not meaningless activity. If Jesus is pointing it out, they must be doing the right thing. So this is a church that's working hard for Him.

Tim Lundy: 10:30 Look at the second thing he points out with them, your faithful doctrine, that did not allow false teaching or practice. I mean, if you were to read their doctrine statement right down the line, they get all of it right, it's crystal clear. They're not wavering on any of the parts, they're not going to astray, and they don't allow anybody to come in and teach false teaching, and he applauds them for that.

Tim Lundy: 10:53 Look at the third thing he points out, he says, "Your courageous endurance in spite of opposition." And I told you Domitian was the emperor at this time, and so there was a lot of opposition and persecution. Sometimes it was in different pockets, you're going to see some of these churches are under greater persecution than others, Ephesus was one of those cities. I mean, we see it when Paul planted the church, there, there was actually a riot in the city over it, so they'd experienced persecution in the past. And Jesus points out, I mean, you guys, no matter how hard it gets, no matter how much persecution, you stay faithful.

Tim Lundy: 11:29 Now I want you to stop and think about this for a minute, I mean, look at that report card. If you were to come into a church and I said, hey, I've got a church over here and they are working, they do hard work, and they're doing the right things. I've got a church, they believe the right things, their doctrine statement, what they believe, what they hold to, man, it's crystal clear, it's so good, man. Man, this is a church that though they're persecuted, they're unwavering, they're so courageous. I mean, if we were to look at a church like that, we'd go A plus, man, let's write books about it. Everybody, that's the church with it. And I think that there's a lot of those kinds of characteristics that we might be drawn to, that we might look at our church, and we'd go, man, as long as we're doing those things, we're okay.

Tim Lundy: 12:21 But remember how Jesus described himself? He said, I'm the one who walks among the churches, and I know what's really going on, and I got a serious criticism for you guys. Despite all that, despite everything you're doing, look at this criticism. He says it right here in verse 4, "I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first." You abandoned...Here's the criticism, if you wanted to summarize it, you could just say it in these words, you left your first love. You left your first love. And when he says that, he's not just talking about emotions, like you don't feel like you used to. Because God knows emotion can come and go, but he's talking about the core within that, he's talking about our faith. Remember what was the first command, the greatest of all commands? "Love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. And it goes hand in hand with the second command is, you love your neighbor as yourself." I mean, if you're going to summarize all the law, if you're going to summarize the gospel, the point of it, what it calls us to is, how do we love God well and how do we love others well. And Jesus looks at them and says, despite all the good things you're doing, man, you have left your first love.

Tim Lundy: 13:48 And this is so important guys, because here's what you need to realize, whatever you love shapes your life. Whatever is the center of your love, it is shaping everything else in your life, it shapes your decisions, it shapes how you live. So when Jesus looks at a church and he says all these good things happening. When Jesus looks at a person, he says, you're doing all these things. But if he knows that at your core you've left your love for him, he knows how serious that is. And as you think about it, I mean, it can happen in a marriage. You can look at a marriage where they're doing all the right things, but then one spouse looks at the other and says, do you love me? Do you really love me? Because I've seen this happen, I have to guard it in my life. And as I thought about it as a pastor, you know, it's not just this one instant decision, oh, I'm going to my first love. In fact, I've seen it show up in three ways, three different ways that are distinct ways that I see that people do this, where they leave their love for Christ.

Tim Lundy: 15:03 Here's the first one I would say, you love your idea of Jesus, more than the real Jesus. You start loving your idea of Jesus more than the real Jesus, and here's what I mean with that. As you look at it in the world today, if you asked anybody, I mean, most people on the planet would say they love Jesus, they're all for Jesus. But here's what they mean, they love their idea of Jesus. You know, as Voltaire said years ago, "That in the beginning, God created man, and we've been trying to repay the favor ever since." Here's what he means in that, he's saying that we want to create God to be the kind of God who looks like us, and I'd say a lot of people do this with Jesus. When you ask them about the Jesus they love, you ask them about the Jesus they respect, the Jesus, he always makes the top of the list of what people love. But you start drilling down, it's this idea of Jesus they have. And the more you drill down, the Jesus that they love, agrees with them in the things that they love. The Jesus they love, is the idea of Jesus who sees the world the way they see the world. But then you come to grips with the real Jesus, you start reading in the Bible, when you see the real God man in history, and you come across things that he talks unlike anyone else, and he calls us to things, and he calls us to obedience in things, and he speaks truth in things. And you have to make this choice, do I want to love the real Jesus or my idea of Jesus?

Tim Lundy: 16:45 And I'd say this, even the disciples struggled with this, guys. Part of the whole struggle for the disciples, they had an idea of what the Messiah, of what Jesus was supposed to be. And if you look at even their journey with him, they're always coming up against this, of the reality of why he came. Even the last night before his crucifixion, when Peter looks at Jesus and he says, Hey, everybody else will fail you, I won't, man, I'm going to be for you, I'll be with you. Because his idea of Jesus, is Jesus is about to go out of here and we're going to pull swords, and we're going to overthrow Rome, and he's going to be the conqueror that I need him to be. And then that night, instead of being a conqueror, Jesus is put on trial, Jesus is beaten. And in the middle of the night, instead of standing up for him, when he's confronted with the reality of Jesus, Peter denies him, not once, three times, just like Jesus said he would. But guys, God used that in Peter's life. And when Jesus died and was resurrected, and Peter was confronted with the real Jesus again, remember what Jesus asked him when he was restoring him? Remember what the question was? Out of all the things Jesus could ask, he looked at Peter and he said, do you love me? Do you love me, Peter, do you love me? Because here's the reality, Peter, if you love me, we can deal with all the rest. I can use you, you can be the leader you never dreamed you could be, but it starts at a heart level. And it starts with the reality, do you love me, the real me?

Tim Lundy: 18:55 And I think that's the question maybe for some of you that Jesus asked, do you really love him? Not the Jesus you want him to be, not your idea of Jesus, but the reality of who he is.

Tim Lundy: 19:11 Look at the second reason I think people leave their first love, you love your own life more than him. You love your own life. I'll be honest, this is where I struggle. And the reality of this one is, you don't leave him through denial, you leave him through distraction. Where I can get caught up in my own life, and in those daily choices, I'm choosing me over him. Where every day, instead of spending time with him, I want to spend time with the things I want to do, the things I want to read, the things I want to watch. I want to be caught up with the distractions, and the worries, and the other things, all these things that are going on. And what I'm doing in those choices and what we do in those moments, we're making little decisions that, frankly, my life is more important than your life. And Jesus said, if you're going to be my disciple, you lay down your life, you lay down your cross, you make a choice to love him even more than my own life.

Tim Lundy: 20:19 So the third way that I see this happen, you love Jesus, but you don't love the people he loves. See those two commands, love God and love others, they always go hand in hand. And if you're going to love Jesus, you love the people he loves. And I'd say there's three distinct groups that kind of stand out.

Tim Lundy: 20:41 The first one I say is, if you're going to love Jesus, you love his church. You love his church, because he loves his church. He calls the church his bride, he is passionate about his church. And some of you need to hear this, because you don't love the church. You would freely profess that you love Jesus, but you don't love the church, and maybe there's good reason, maybe you've been hurt by the church. But you need to hear me, if you go cold on the church, you'll go cold on Jesus. I've seen it happen too many times, and so maybe you need to deal with what happened or deal with what went on. But know this, Jesus loves his church, and loving him means you love what he loves.

Tim Lundy: 21:32 I'd say, secondly, if you love Jesus, you love the lost. You love the lost, and this is a different group. There are some of you, boy, you love the church, you love the people of the church, but when it really comes to the world, you don't love them. And Jesus says, I love the world, I gave my life for the world. I didn't come to rescue righteous people, I came for the sick, I came for the broken. He loves people whose lifestyles and perspectives are so different than anything he teaches, but he still loves, he still wants to see them come to him. And I would just challenge this as well, when a church and when people in the church stop loving the lost, man, the love starts drying up in the church as well, they go hand in hand.

Tim Lundy: 22:22 And there's a final group he calls us to love, and this one is really hard. He goes so far as he says, love your enemies. Love your enemies. Love those people that are so antithetical, those people that are so opposed, those people that even when he was dying on the cross, he was able to say, Father, forgive them, they know not what they do. He loved his enemies and he calls us to love our enemies. Now let me be clear in this, I'm not talking about some kumbaya, we all get in a daisy chain, if I could teach the whole world to sing, we'd all have a Coke together, and everything's going to be alright. Jesus knows there's a full battle, Jesus knows there's a real enemy, and his name is Satan. And Jesus came to do battle, and we'll come back to do battle one day. So I don't diminish that part of it at all, but until that day, you know what he's called us to? To love the very people who would persecute us.

Tim Lundy: 23:30 And some of you need to hear this, I need to hear this, I'll be honest, I don't like loving my enemies. It's so much easier and it feels so much better to be angry with them. Man, it's fun to be angry with them. And some of you are going, yeah, Tim, you know, there's a righteous indignation, it's okay to be angry. And I agree, it's not a sin to be angry, but remember this, scripture puts an expiration date on it, we only get to handle anger so long. That's why Paul said, don't let the sun go down on it, don't go too long in your anger, because you give the devil an opportunity. And I would just say anger is like acid, it's so powerful, we don't have the ability to hold it very long before it starts eating through.

Tim Lundy: 24:22 Now, God does, he can hold a righteous anger. That's why he says, vengeance is mine, that's why he says, you give that to me, you trust me with that. So maybe you're angry about injustice in the world, maybe you're angry about events, maybe you're angry about something that was really wrong, and God looks at it and he says, it's wrong, he's not diminishing that. But here's what he's telling us, you don't have the ability to hold it, and if you keep holding on to it, and you keep burning towards your enemies, it'll start impacting all of your relationships, and ultimately, even your love with him. Give it to him.

Tim Lundy: 25:06 See in all these ways, whether it's you love your idea, whether you love your own life, whether you don't want to love the people he loves, all of us can be impacted, even in the best of churches. Remember Ephesus is the best of churches. So Jesus gives them a call to action, look at the call to action in this next verse with it, he says, "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." He's taking this serious guys, when he says, I'm going to remove your lampstand, what he's saying is I'm going to pull the light out of the church, I'm pulling the plug on this church. Now you guys might be able to keep the doors open, you can keep the lights on, there's a lot of churches, they're able to continue to function, but they don't have a lampstand anymore, they are dead. And sometimes we get so scared of a church dying, Jesus looks at it and says, hey, if this thing's going to die, I'm going to go ahead and pull the plug on it. His church will never die, the church universal. But individual churches, he looks at him and says, you've got to deal with this.

Tim Lundy: 26:18 So how do we deal with this, if maybe it's true in our own life. Look at the three thing, it's real simple. I love how he puts it, he says, remember how it was once? Remember how it was once, the power of remembering. Remember what you fell for, remember what it was one time. And he's not telling us to drum up a bunch of emotions, he's not saying you got to feel like it was at the very beginning and the excitement all the time, he's beyond that. But he says, remember what he's done, remember what you've gone through together, remember what Christ has accomplished for you.

Tim Lundy: 26:51 And then with that, look at the second term, repent with godly sorrow and commitment. Repent, this is a word we don't use a lot, you know, the only time we use this word is we're talking about really serious sins. You know, you tell people repent, they've been morally wrong, or sexually wrong. Or we kind of, you know, that old school kind of, you need to repent. Jesus is looking at a church full of good people and he says, hey guys, you've left your first love, this ought to impact you with godly sorrow. You need to repent, you need to confess this.

Tim Lundy: 27:25 And then the third part on it is, then return and do the deeds you once did. He says, do the deeds, do something with it. As great as the steps are, remember repent, part of repentance, a key part, is you do something. Man, I've seen this so often when I'm in marriage counseling, you know, over the years when I would counsel people. And especially when I was a young pastor, you know, I'd to have a couple come in and their marriage is in really bad shape. And we'd have this just miraculous session, and identify, and they'd remember what was going on and what they wanted their marriage to be. And then they would repent, they'd look at each other, and they would cry, and they'd apologize, and we pray together, and be so excited and they would walk out of there. And especially when I was a young pastor, I mean, I would walk out thinking, I am the greatest marriage counselor ever, this was amazing. And then they'd come back in a couple of weeks, and a lot of times, it was worse than it was before. It was like we were back to square one, or even worse with it. And I would look at them kind of like what happened, I mean, what happened since you left? And one of them would speak up, well, I tried to do that, but she's still blah, blah, blah. And then the other one, well, he still did that...And they kind of go back and forth with it. And then I'd always kind of ask, hey, did you do any of the things we talked about? Well, we couldn't really do that. And I'd get so exasperated, I'm like, are you kidding me, this is a big waste of my time.

Tim Lundy: 28:55 Now, what I learned in the process, I'm not a long-term counselor. I mean, I hit these kinds of bumps, and I'm like, okay, there's somebody a lot more patient than me. And so it was good to learn that, and I am so thankful for those who are gifted as long term counselors, who can patiently go through that. For me, I mean, it's pretty much, we're going to diagnose, and we see this, but are you going to do something about this? Are you going to put this in action? And so as you look at this, I would just challenge you in the same way. It's one thing to remember, and another thing maybe and feel it in this moment, but Jesus says, hey, are you going to do the deeds.

Tim Lundy: 29:38 Can I give you three things that I think I want to call you to do? One, you've got to spend some time with Him in the Bible and prayer every day. You've got to spend time with him, it really is that simple. I mean, can you imagine if Lea came to me and she was asking, hey, I want to grow deeper in our relationship. And she said, do you love me? And I say, well, look, I'm doing all the right things, I'm faithful, I come home, I do my share around the house, I mean, I think I'm living up to what I'm supposed to. But then if she looked at me and said, hey, do you want to spend time with me? Well, no, not really. Do you want to listen to me? Well, no, not really. Do you want to talk to me? Well, I'll talk to you when I have a request, then you'll hear from me. Could you imagine how that conversation would go? Yet the reality, it's a lot of times how we treat Jesus. And I just say this, guys, there's no relationship that ever grows without time together. And spend time in His word, this is his living communication to you. Spend time talking to him.

Tim Lundy: 30:58 You know, we started this Bible reading plan as a church, we're going through the New Testament this year. And I'm telling you, these daily chapters in Matthew, and the way that Christ speaks in them, and the way he speaks into my life. And you need to know, man, my time in the word, my time with him, it's not this ooey gooey time where I'm just sitting there going, oh Jesus, I just love everything you say, I love doing this. It doesn't feel like that, you know more than days than not, I find myself wrestling with him, and struggling with what he's calling me to do and calling me to live out. But in that moment, in that time together, we grow in relationship. For a lot of you, it really is as fundamental as this, you need to start spending some time with him if you're going to grow in love with him.

Tim Lundy: 31:50 The second thing I'd say with that, you need to obey him. This isn't from me, it's from Jesus, John 14. He says, "If you love me, you keep my commandments, you obey me. And at a fundamental level, and again, I've seen this as a pastor, when you stop obeying you stop loving. I've seen this cycle where someone decides in their life, you know, I really don't want her to obey that command, I really don't want to obey what God says about my finances over here, I don't want to obey sexually and give that part of my life. And here's what we do, we stop obeying, and then we start resenting the church. Because you start feeling guilty about it, so you resent the church and those judgmental people in the church. And then we start reframing what God actually said, and we start creating a God, a Jesus, in our own image. And here's what you say, well, I don't think God really cares about that, I know church people do, I don't think God really does. And you watch the cycle of someone that came across something where Jesus said, hey, I want you to obey me. I don't want to do that. And you can watch that journey play out. And here's what I would encourage you, don't follow that. If you follow that journey, and you'll be real close to this ideal Jesus that you've created, but you're going to be miles away from the real Jesus. Obey, and obey Him the first time. And here's what you can know, when he tells you to obey something, it's always for your good. He never does it because he's holding out, he never does it for our harm, it's always for our good.

Tim Lundy: 33:43 The third thing I'd just call you to, love the people he loves. And some of you need to spend some time on this, some of you, you need to love the church again, you need to love church people again, as hard as that can be. Some of you need to love lost people, people that are far from God, man, Jesus loves them. And maybe you're hearing this, and you're so far from God. Do you know what? Jesus loves you. He said, this is why I came, I came for people who, no matter how far away they are, they want a relationship with him.

Tim Lundy: 34:20 And maybe the hardest, some of you need to spend some time and love your enemies. Love your enemies. Some of you are so angry right now, you're so angry at people, whether it's over politics, whether it's over events in the world, whether it's over your personal life, and the last thing you want to do is love them. And you're letting that anger and all of that bleed through, and it's impacting you, and it's impacting the people you do love, and ultimately, it's going to impact your relationship with Him. Tell him that, turn from that.

Tim Lundy: 34:59 Guys, he closes with a commitment, a promise. A promise that he makes not just to this church, but to everyone. who's an overcomer. If you look at it here, look at the commitment to the overcomers, "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." He's going back to the Garden of Eden again, remember in the garden of Eden, after Adam and Eve sinned, he said they can't eat of the tree of life. Because if you eat of the tree of life, you live forever. And he says, I don't want them to live forever like this, as sinful people. And so in Revelation, we see these same images again. But now the tree of life, it's not in the Garden of Eden, it's in heaven, it's part of eternity. See, here's the last commitment to all of us, look what he promised us, the promise of eternal life in a perfect place. That if you're going to live forever, don't you want to live forever in a place that's perfect? Don't you want to live forever where there's no more sin? Don't you want to live forever where you're surrounded by people and everyone's in a love relationship? Don't you want to live forever in the presence of the one who made it possible, Jesus Christ?

Tim Lundy: 36:24 See, that's why it comes back to a love relationship with him. I'm going to ask you today, if Jesus wrote you a letter, what would he say? And if he asked you in that letter, do you love me? What would you say? What would you say honestly? You know, we're going to take a moment now, in a way that he taught us to be able to remember him. And in this time of remembering him through communion, we're going to remember what he accomplished on the cross, that his body was broken, his blood was shed, to cover all of our sins. Paul tells us this is a great time to reflect as well, to examine your own life, and maybe it's a point to repent. And not just repent of those bad things out there, but maybe repent of heart things that here. Jesus, do I really love you?

Tim Lundy: 37:35 And through this action of communion, of taking this together, we return, we return to that place, we return to that love, we make that commitment to him. So if you've got your elements, I'll go ahead and invite you to get them now, and I'm going to grab them here, and I want us to do this together. I want us to remember, first of all, remember his body broken for us. Let's remember, as we eat. Remember his blood shed for us, let's remember it as we drink.

Tim Lundy: 38:20 And I invite you to pray with me, right where you are. Father, we come before you, and we thank you for Jesus, we thank you for what he accomplished on the cross, we thank you for what he's done in our lives. Lord, I thank you for the strong words to this great church, and I'm convicted by it because there's so many things in this church that I can identify with, and then I'm convicted how easy it is to leave my first love. Lord, I pray for anybody hearing this today, maybe they've been far from you for a while, they need to return. Lord, maybe they've never known you, and they need to come to you for the first time. Lord, we thank you that we have the ability to love you, because you first loved us, and we recognize that, we remember that, and we celebrate that now in Christ' name. Amen.

Recorded in Los Gatos, California.
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Venture Christian Church
16845 Hicks Road
Los Gatos, California 95032