To whom will you send a valentine this year? Who will send one to you? Do you save the really special ones? The ones that include a personal note or express the intimate feelings of the sender?
In the first century, the church at Ephesus received a letter from Jesus that could be thought of as a valentine. While it was not the traditional kind, it was one that was kept because of its personal nature and because of the revelation it gives us of the Sender’s heart.
Read Revelation 2:1-7
Read Revelation 2:1
- Name some of the Christian leaders whom God had sent to Ephesus. Acts 18:19-21, 24-28; 1 Corinthians 16:8-9; 1 Timothy 1:2-4; 2 Timothy 1:16-18.
- Whose leadership have you been under, either in your church or through their books, CDs or other materials?
- Do you think it is possible to focus more on a person who has helped you grow in your faith than on God? Explain.
- Is access to great spiritual leadership a guarantee that you will grow in your love for God? See Daniel 9:6-7.
- On whom does Jesus immediately place the focus in Revelation 2:1? See also Revelation 1:13, 16, 18, 20.
- What does this teach you?
- Using Revelation 1:20, put the description of Jesus in Revelation 2:1 in your own words. (NOTE: Angels are messengers of God. Based on Matthew 28:19-20 and Acts 1:8, all of us are “angels” in this sense of the word.)
- Apply this particular description of Jesus to your life.
- Think carefully. Where is your focus?
Read Revelation 2:2-3, 6
- From Revelation 2:2-3, 6, list all the things that the Ephesian Christians were doing.
- Why do you think they were so busy?
- Relate the activity of the Ephesian Christians to John 14:23, 21:15-17; James 1:25, 2:17; 1 John 4:11; 1 Thessalonians 1:3.
- How busy are you in service to God? List the various Christian or church-related activities you’re involved in.
- Why are you busy for God? See Colossians 3:23-24.
Read Revelation 2:4
- What did Jesus rebuke the Ephesian Christians for in Revelation 2:4? How did He rebuke Israel for the same thing? See Isaiah 29:13.
- Describe what you think “first love” is. For help, see Song of Songs 3:1-4.
- Give phrases from the following verses that underscore either the priority God places on our love for Him or how we should love Him: Deuteronomy 6:5, 30:6,19-20; Joshua 22:5, 23:11; Psalm 31:23, 69:34-36, 116:1-2; Hosea 4:1, 6:4; Matthew 22:36-37; John 14:15, 15:9; 1 Corinthians 2:9, 16:22; Ephesians 6:24; James 1:12; Proverbs 8:17; 1 John 4:19.
- Do you think the Ephesian Christians deliberately forsook their love for Jesus, gradually drifted from it or wearily buried it in busyness?
- How could the fervency of their love actually have contributed to their fall away from it?
- What work for God have you put before your worship of Him?
Read Revelation 2:5
- What three things did Jesus command the Ephesian Christians to do in Revelation 2:5 to regain their first love?
- Do you love Jesus? Passionately, fervently, obediently, constantly? If not, can you remember a time when you did? In Psalm 42:1-4, how does the Psalmist express love for God?
- Make a list of things you can remember that God has done for you and of times when your relationship with Him was intimately personal. See Deuteronomy 8:2, Job 29:1-5, Song of Songs 3:1-2, Ephesians 2:11-13.
- Define in your own words what it means to repent.
- What happens when we repent, from God’s perspective and from ours?
- List the sins from which you need to repent, beginning with falling away from your love for God. See Hosea 14:1-2.
Jeremiah 15:19; Ezekiel 18:30-32; Luke 13:3; Acts 3:19, 8:22-23, 26:19-20; Revelation 3:19.
- What “first things” do you think the Ephesian Christians needed to return to in Revelation 2:5? See Joel 2:12-14, Zechariah 1:3, Malachi 3:6-10, Acts 20:17-37, 1 Corinthians 1:18.
- What were you doing when you first loved the Lord that you are not doing now? What do you need to do to put that back into your life?
- What were you not doing when you first loved the Lord that you are doing now? What will you do today to put that out of your life?
- What do you think is symbolized by the lampstand? See Matthew 5:14-16, Revelation 1:20.
- From Revelation 2:5, write out the warning Jesus gives to those who do not regain their first love.
Read Revelation 2:7
- What spiritual principles can you draw from Revelation 2:1-6? See also 1 Samuel 16:7, Psalm 51:17, Proverbs 4:23, Mark 12:30.
- To whom was Jesus speaking in Revelation 2:7?
- What two different kinds of ears can God’s people have? Psalm 40:6; Proverbs 18:15, 20:12; Ezekiel 12:2; Isaiah 50:4-5; Acts 7:51, 28:27; 2 Timothy 4:3-4. Which do you have?
- In Revelation 2:7, what promise did Jesus give to those who overcome their lovelessness towards Him?
- What is represented by the tree of life? Genesis 2:9, 3:22, 24; Revelation 22:1-2, 14.
- How did Jesus describe the life He gives? See John 10:10, 17:3.
- What do you think is meant by His promise in Revelation 2:7 that we can eat from the tree?
- What or where is paradise? See Luke 23:43, 2 Corinthians 12:2-4.
- If Jesus’ promise is that those who love Him with a “first love” can eat from the tree of life in the paradise of God now, what does this mean for you?
Jesus desires your love more than all of your service and obedience combined. Don’t put your work before your worship; give Him your heart!