Dear CSOPC brothers and sisters,
Listen to the words of the Lord through the prophet Isaiah: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest? All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be … But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word” (66:1-2).
God is the exalted Lord and Creator of all; but he has condescended to dwell with his people. But who are the ones to whom he comes? The humble. The ones who humbly confess they are sinners and cannot do anything to earn salvation. He comes to those who love his word; who submit themselves to his word. For to submit to God’s word is to submit to God himself.
This week ask the Lord to give you a humble and contrite heart; and an ever-deepening love for his word!
- This week we will continue our Sunday school discussion of the doctrine of election and our sermon series in Mark.
With Thanksgiving and Christmas just around the corner, please take note of the following dates:
- Men’s Christmas breakfast will be Saturday, Dec 6th. Location TBA.
- Ladies’ Christmas party will be Saturday, December 13 at 5:00PM at the Arendale’s home.
- Fellowship lunch on Sunday, December 6th. Judi thought it would be fun to have a pie contest during the lunch. I, for one, think that is a great idea … especially since the elders get to be the judges. I love chocolate, pumpkin, cinnamon … j/k 🙂
- Finally, this week’s devotion (attached) from the book of Revelation on Jesus’ words to the church at Ephesus.
God bless and I look forward to seeing you this Lord’s Day!
From the Pastor’s Desk
“To the Church at Ephesus”
Revelation 2:4, “But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.”
The book of Revelation opens with a glorious picture of the Lord Jesus Christ (1:9-20). And following this vision we find the seven letters to the seven churches of Asia Minor (2:1-3:22). These were real, historical churches dealing with real, historical issues; but these words were also written for the church today (Rom 15:4). The first of the seven letters was written to the church at Ephesus (2:1-7). The church at Ephesus receives much ‘press’ in the New Testament (Acts 19:1-41; Ephesians; 1 Tim 1:3; Acts 20:17-38), and the passage recorded here is the final canonical word concerning this church. Let’s take a moment to reflect on the Lord’s word to this church.
First, who is speaking these words to the church? Who is addressing the church? These are the words of him who “holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands” (2:1). In context, this is a reference to Christ. Christ ‘walks’ among his churches (1:20). He is present with his church. He is intimately acquainted with and concerned for his church. And here he addresses his beloved and struggling church at Ephesus.
Second, what is Christ’s commendation of the church? For what does he approve and encourage them? In short, he commends their perseverance and their zeal for truth (2:2-3, 6). The warning Paul gave the Ephesian elders (Acts 20:29-30) has come to fruition; and the church has heeded Paul’s call to ‘be alert’ (Acts 20:31). They loved the truth. And they persevered to defend the truth. They hated false teaching just as Christ hates false teaching (2:6).
Third, what is Christ’s rebuke? For what does he rebuke them? “But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first” (2:4). They had left their first love. While they were zealous for the truth of Christ, their hearts had grown cold to the Christ of truth. They had left Christ – not so much intellectually, but experientially – not so much with their heads, but with their hearts. In effect, Jesus rebukes their ‘empty intellectualism.’ To love the truth about Christ without loving Christ himself is vain and destructive.
Fourth, what does Christ call them to do? In his mercy, Christ doesn’t leave them to their coldness. Rather he calls them to do two things: “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” (2:5). Christ called them to remember God’s grace first revealed to them (see Acts 19; Eph 2:1-22; 4:17-24). Christ called them to remember their love for the gospel that characterized them in the beginning. And Christ called them to repent. He called them to turn from their sin and their coldness to the glory and grace and love of Christ. The way of repentance is always open to the wayward believer and the wayward church. In fact, it is the only way for the wayward believer and the wayward church.
Brothers and sisters, may we heed the warning of Christ. May we repent of our cold intellectualism! May we not abandon our first love! May we remember his amazing grace that drove us to our knees in the beginning! May we cultivate a deep love for our Savior. May the truth about Christ always lead us to the person of Christ. And may we look forward to the day when we will see and worship our Lord face to face – when we will eat of the tree of life – in the paradise of God (2:7).
Rev. Robert Arendale, Pastor of Cornerstone Presbyterian Church (OPC), www.csopc.org