Revelation 2:1-7

Rev 2:1  Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; 

Rev 2:2  I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: 

Rev 2:3  And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. 

Rev 2:4  Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. 

Rev 2:5  Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. 

Rev 2:6  But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 

Rev 2:7  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. 

pastorwardclinton.com

Ephesus is the type of a strenuous Church. There is something singularly masculine in the first part of the description. “I know thy works”—that is, thine achievements; not thy desires and purposes and aspirations, not even thy doings, but thy deeds. This Church in its severe self-discipline affords a welcome contrast to the easily-excited populace amid whom they lived, rushing confusedly into the theatre and shouting for two hours, “Great is Diana of the Ephesians.” The patience of the Church is twice mentioned; the second time it is patience not as a feature of the workman, but the patience of him who can suffer, and suffer in silence. And this virtue has a threefold delineation—patience, endurance, fortitude. “Thou hast patience, and thou didst bear for My name’s sake, and thou hast not grown weary.” There is another mark of the masculine character in Ephesus, a noble intolerance of evil—“thou canst not bear bad men.” And with this intolerance is the power to discriminate character, the clear judgment which cannot be deceived—“thou didst try them which call themselves apostles, and they are not, and didst find them false.” There is no surer mark of a masculine nature than this keen insight into pretentiousness, and fidelity of rebuke. There is so much good in this church that we are surprised to discover that they had left (not lost) their first love.  The honeymoon was over (Jer 2:2).  No amount of separation, sacrifice, or service can make up for your lack of love for the Lord.

It is love in its largest sense which the Church once had and now has lost; the love of God animating piety undoubtedly, but no less certainly the love of men making service sweet. Nor is it the feeling alone which has changed, it is not that love as a sentiment is lost; but love in its far reach has gone, kindliness and tender consideration and disregard of self, the grace that suffers long and is kind, that beareth all things, hopeth all things, believeth all things. The toilsomeness, the endurance, the stern self-judgment, the keen discrimination of character, are obvious; but the spirit that rises above toil or sweetens toil, the grace to woo and wed, has fled. We can understand the history only too well. Life has many sore trials, none sorer than this—that virtues which are unexercised die out, and that the circumstances which call for some virtues and give occasion for their development seem to doom others to extinction. The Christian character cannot live by severity alone. There were two demands which the Church at Ephesus had forgotten—the demand for completeness of Christian character, never more urgent than when the times are making us one-sided; the demand of God Himself for the heart. There must be impulse in His people if they are to continue His people; there must be love in all who, not contented with doing “their works,” desire to do the work of God.

The warning of the fifth verse must have been very surprising to the angel of the Ephesian Church. The Church seemed to be so efficient. Its works had been so hard, and yet they had been done. Its achieve-merits were patent. Especially its service in the cause of truth was conspicuous; the Church had not lost its zeal, its candour, its piercing vision. Ephesus warns us against the perils of the Puritan temper; it warns us also against the stoical temper, with its tendency to a not ignoble cynicism, of which some of our gravest leaders in literature have been the exponents. Puritanism plus love ham accomplished great things, and will do yet more; for a masculine tenderness is God’s noblest gift to men. But Puritanism, when the first love is lost, drags on a sorrowful existence, uninfluential and unhappy; its only hope being the capacity for repentance, which, God be praised, has never failed it. Perhaps the most solemn part of the message is that in which the Lord Himself declares—“I am coming; I will shake thy candlestick out of its place.” The Lord can do without our achievements, but not without love. He can supply gifts unendingly, can make the feeble as David; but if love be wanting He will shake the noblest into destruction, and remove them out of the way. There is one striking word immediately following this warning, a word of commendation; it is the only one of the messages in which a word of commendation does come in after the warning has been uttered, and it is a commendation of feeling. “But this thou hast, that thou hatest,” etc. Hatred is hardly the feeling we should have expected to be commended: but it is feeling, and any feeling is better than apathy or stolidity. Where men can feel hatred, other feeling may come; love may come where men have not reduced themselves to machines like an “Ebenezer Scrooge”.

The word “Nicolaitans” means “conquer the people.”  Apparently, a group in the church lorded it over the people and promoted a separation of “clergy” and “laity” (see Matt 21:20-27; 22:1-12) The priest hood was set up by God, but its purpose is not to “lord it over” the people but to serve and produce high quality disciples of the Christ.  Some of the priests and pastors started out good but lost their way somewhere along the pathway.  Ephesus had too little of what so many have too much of—sensibility, passiveness, willingness to receive, to be made something of, to be quiet and let the Blessed One save them who had long been striving, and of late so ineffectually, to serve Him. Good as strenuousness is—and of human virtues it is among the chief—even better is the responsive spirit. Why was the one we call St Paul given a vision when none of the other priests, as far as we know, in his day given one?  Much of the reason likely had to do with his sincerity and earnestness to do the will of God coupled with a responsive spirit that none but God was able to see during the time when he was a persecutor of those called Christians.

— A preview from my forthcoming book on the Revelation of Jesus the Christ. – pastorwardclinton.com

Stay Alert

Veronica Keith 

A good little bit before we moved in, we saw a tiny little mouse in the attic. We never saw any signs of it anywhere else in the house. Even after we moved in, we looked for signs, but nothing.

A couple of weeks after we moved in we started smelling the weirdest, most off-putting smell and it was always near plumbing (bathroom, water heater, etc). We tried everything. Cleaned thoroughly, and flushed the lines thinking it might have been stagnant water because the water was on way before we moved in so we thought that could be it. Even thought it might be the treatment plant. To no avail…..

Yesterday morning I walked through the kitchen, right past the dishwasher barefoot. I was headed to the laundry room to start laundry and was DISTRACTED. Derek walked RIGHT BEHIND ME, following my steps. He saw faint movement and looked down. And there it was, the small rat snake. He picked it up and took it outside.

He came back in and said, “there was your smell”. Rat snakes put off an awful odor as part of a defense mechanism. He had been in our house for at least 2-3 weeks. Since he’s been out….no smell.

He came in looking for a mouse. That mouse was valuable to him. He wanted it and he came looking for it.

I asked Derek how he thought it got in. And his response got me thinking this morning. He said, “he could have slipped in when any of us left the door cracked just a bit”. As we were moving, or kids going in and out, maybe walking out to the grill. It was small and sneaky and very well could have slipped right past us and us not even know he got in.

So this morning the Holy Spirit said to me, “do you see what can happen when you’re distracted? How quickly the enemy can sneak in your door, and sliver right past you? If he thinks there is something valuable there, he is going to try to sneak in and take it”.

And that’s how it happens. We miss one church service that turns into 6 months, we have one drink that leads back into an old lifestyle, we send one text that leads to an affair, we tell one fib that turns into a trail of lies and deceit.

The signs were there. I smelled the smell. (anyone that knows me understands this). I knew there was an enemy in the camp. But I was too “busy” to continue to look. So I just cleaned around it to try to make it “better”.

If satan can’t have you, he’ll distract you. Once you are safe in the Father’s arms and your name is written down, he can’t have you, so he tries to distract you. He tries to interrupt your holy living, he tries to break up your family, he tries to corrupt your mind, and he tries to fill you full of bitterness and unforgiveness.

LISTEN TO ME: He tries to stop you from getting any other names in that book!!!!!!! He tries to stop you from witnessing. He tells you you can’t, he ruins your witness through lies.

Don’t leave the door cracked. Lock it down. Be on guard. Put that armor on first thing. Stay prayed up.

“The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10 NIV

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” Ephesians 6:10-11

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12 NKJV

“I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” Luke 10:19-20 NIV

Awake Not Woke

The leftists want us divided- pastorwardclinton.com

Americans would do well to become very aware of the language employed by progressives in order to erode fundamental American freedoms and our traditional way of life. Freedom of Religion gets changed to Freedom of Worship, which sounds innocent and harmless but it is not.

The left’s hate machine is very deceptive and dangerous but God’s word imparts strength to overcome their machinations. Be awake and be wise.

God’s Word Imparts Strength

Keep this Book of the Law on your lips: meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:8-9)

God’s word imparts strength and courage. When we base our lives on His instructions and believe that what He tells us is true, we can have confidence to face great challenges, knowing He is with us. As you might have noticed, God does not usually remove obstacles from our lives, but He helps us as we walk through danger and trouble. In Joshua 1 we are given three keys to success: Obedience, faith and courage. We will need all three of these in great measure as we walk through the difficulties that lie ahead of us.

Progressive Sanctification

God’s purpose is that each Christian should press onward in the life of holiness aiming at final perfection, like a runner in a race. God has made provision for each Christian to be a “perfect” runner.  In running a race, it is half the battle to make a good start.  And in the Christian race, it gives a tremendous impetus to the believer if he starts and continues with a clear, steady faith in Christ for full deliverance from sin.  What is the greatest hindrance to a Christian starting and continuing in this glorious race?  Surely it is indwelling sin.  But praise God, as we shall show, we may be set gloriously free from this indwelling, entangling hindrance, we may be made perfectly whole and clean within and filled with the blessed Holy Spirit. This is “Perfection the True.”  Thus we can, through grace, fulfill the command, “Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith” (Heb. 12:1, 2) – Brockett

The unchristian world that walks by sight and not by faith and knows not the dignity of the Christian nor what the Christians are entitled to.  The Christian is favored by heaven and will be an inhabitant of that place where the unchristian as well as the antichristian person cannot go.  The unchristian and the antichristian alike will see Jesus with His frowns, the terror of His majesty and vengeance but the true Christian will see His smiles, the glory of His majesty, His beauty.  The impure will be terrified by His purity.  Those who hope to live with Him must strive to be more pure.  “It is the hope of hypocrites, and not the sons of God that makes an allowance for the gratification of impure desires and lusts.” – Matthew Henry

The work of the Holy Spirit in the progressive sanctification of the newborn soul is indirect: in opening the heart to receive the truth, the instrument of purification; in giving vigor to the spiritual life; in strengthening the will to resist temptation, and in diminishing the power of evil habits. It is repressive of depravity rather than totally destructive. 

The entire eradication of the propensity to sin is by the direct and instantaneous act of the Holy Spirit responsive to a special act of faith in Christ claiming the full heritage of the believer. It is in reference to this distinctive act of the Sanctifier that it is noted by an eminent expositor “that in the New Testament we never read expressly and unmistakably of sanctification as a gradual process.” This is said in view of the almost universal use of the aorist tense of the verbs to sanctify and to cleanse. – Dr. Daniel Steele

An excerpt from my soon to be released book “Jesus the Christ made a statement,” Pastor Ward

Jesus the Christ Made a Statement

It is somewhat understandable why many people mistrust certain Christians; however, there are other Christians whom it is quite dangerous to despise.  Those Christians and their way of living may make you feel a bit uncomfortable regarding the life-choices you have made or may be currently making but since they are actually embarking on the spirit-walk we are all called to travel in then it is wise to take note and move in the same direction and along the same pathway and in the same manner as they are.  “Blessed are the pure in heart ….” – Jesus.  And God commanded, “Be holy even as I am holy.”

Wherever a number of Christians have associated together, with the evident and exclusive aim of promoting purity of heart and life, they have prospered.  The most profound attention to the history of the general church will show the same unvarying truth.  Under the influence of apostolic purity, the early victories of the cross were as decisive in the reformation of individual character and public manners, as they were unparalleled in their extent and power.  But the gradual departure from primitive simplicity, and the immense accumulation of corruption in heart and life which followed, by slow degrees destroyed the power of the church to act as a reforming agent.  There are punctuated periods of pursuing heart purity throughout church history and we stand in dire need of another.  The possibility of the perpetual presence of the empowering Spirit of God is real but the spirit cools for whatever reason and the fervent flames of reformation fade until problems provoking punishment from the Supreme Moral Authority again multiply.  See 2nd Chronicles 7:13-15

The pure in heart — Those whose hearts are purified by faith; who are not only sprinkled from an evil conscience by the blood of Jesus, but cleansed by the Spirit of God from vain thoughts, unprofitable reasonings, earthly and sensual desires, and corrupt passions; who are purified from pride, self-will, discontent, impatience, anger, malice, envy, covetousness, ambition; whose hearts are circumcised to love the Lord their God with all their hearts, and their neighbours as themselves, and who, therefore, are not only upright before him, but possess and maintain purity of intention and of affection in all their designs, works, and enjoyments; serving him continually with a single eye and an undivided heart. They shall see God — Namely, in the glass of his works, whether of creation, providence, or grace, here, and face to face hereafter: they shall have fellowship with him in his ordinances, and shall endure as seeing him that is invisible, while they walk by faith on earth, and shall be admitted to the most perfect vision and complete enjoyment of him in heaven. – Joseph Benson

The above is an excerpt from my book Jesus the Christ Made a Statement