Merciful Father, in the serious business of being Your disciple, grant me some joy and humor as I follow You.
Read REVELATION 2:1–11
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:57). Thank God for his promise of victory, even in the areas with which you struggle.
Given the earlier pattern (God, Jesus, his angel, John, the reader, the hearers; 1:1,2), the angel (1) is best understood as the one who can communicate God’s message to his people, rather than representing the spirit of the congregation. In these two chapters we read not letters (the whole of Revelation is a letter) but royal pronouncements from the one on the throne, declaring affirmations, rebukes and challenges, and holding out a promise (7). The white light of the vision of Jesus in chapter 1 is here split, as if by a prism, into a rainbow of attributes, each pertinent to the appropriate congregation.
Ephesus was a center of wealth and culture, the second city of the empire at the time. The congregation there had much to commend it: committed and ready for hard work, having persevered through hardships. It was discerning, having obeyed injunctions to “test everything” (1 Thess. 5:21, ESV; 1 John 4:1) and rejected the false teaching of the Nicolaitans (6). Yet duty had extinguished joy; hard work had displaced warm love; perhaps even the things of God were of more interest than God himself. Outwardly they looked good—but inside something was wrong. They needed to rediscover their first love for the one who walked among them (1) if they were to enjoy life in all its fullness.
By contrast, those in Smyrna were not fooled by outward appearances (9). Though their city was known as the Crown of Asia and held prestigious games, they knew that there was only one wreath worth competing for. Though others judged them, they knew that only one person’s judgment counted. And though struggling and at the point of death (10), their faith was in the one who had conquered death (8).
Does your outer life match your inner life? Why or why not? Which needs to change: your actions or your heart?
Lord, I know that I often live to please others. The only one I should be concerned about pleasing is You. I make that my priority.
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