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Returning to our First Love

Words of Faith Final

Returning to our First Love

Words of Faith 1-14-2021

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2021

Jeff.Hoy@faithfellowshipweb.com

Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL

www.faithfellowshipweb.com

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Today, we begin daily devotions in the book of Ephesians. Words of Faith Devotions have been available by email subscription for the last 25 years. We are adding this devotion to a closed group page on Facebook if this is convenient for you. Please invite others to join in reading and studying God’s Word daily.  JDH

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Ephesians 1:1-3

     [1] Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus:   [2] Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.   [3] Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 

 

        If you go to Ephesus today, you will see one of the most magnificently restored ruins of an ancient Roman city. In modern Turkey, Ephesus was then a port city at the crossroads of civilization and trade. Some have called it the “Vanity Fair of the Ancient World.”  As a result, there was a fabulous Roman theater, an amazing library of the ancient world, and the phenomenal Roman streets and markets.

       Ephesus also had all the signs of paganism with the fabulous Temple of Artemis (Diana), one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.  The Temple had thousands of priests and priestesses practicing cultic prostitution.  It was a city steeped in idolatry that drew people from all over the Roman world.

       Today there is nothing alive there.  No people.  No church to visit.  No games or pagan gatherings.   Why is this?  If we look in the Bible, we see three touchpoints regarding Ephesus: The Book of Acts, the letter to the Ephesians, and the Revelation of John.  We get some clues from each.

        Acts 18 tells us that a fellow named Paul came through this place almost 20 centuries ago in about 52 AD.  He had been a believer for about 19 years and had been a missionary for about eight years. He only stayed in Ephesus a short time on his way back to Antioch from his second missionary journey.  He didn't stay long, but he left Priscilla and Aquila who discipled a preacher named Apollos who would later preach in Corinth. 

      On his 3rd missionary journey, Paul settled in Ephesus for three years from 54-58 AD, longer than any other place.  Of any place that Paul might have called “home” or a “greatest work,” Ephesus may have been the place.  Acts 19 records an amazing ministry in Ephesus. After working with about a dozen disciples that he found there, a great revival broke out.  Paul preached in the synagogue until he was thrown out and then preached in a rented lecture hall of Tyrannus. 

     There were extraordinary miracles through Paul such that even handkerchiefs and aprons touched by Paul would heal the sick.  Fear seized the Jews and Greeks in Ephesus, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor.  Many believed and openly confessed their evil deeds.  Those who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them.  The Gospel's message even threatened the local economy of idol making, causing a riot among the idol-makers.

       Paul wrote more from Ephesus than just about anywhere except prison.  He wrote the large works of 1 and 2 Corinthians and Romans in this town.  Here Paul laid the foundation for the practice and theology of the faith in Ephesus.  This was a place that believed in Jesus and believed in the future.  They supported Paul as he mapped out what the church would look like 20 centuries later.

      The next time we hear about Ephesus is in this letter, written from a Roman jail about two years later.  Paul was kept under guard in rental quarters in Rome, but he kept converting the guards by the power of the Gospel!  This letter poured forth the powerful truths of how we are changed by grace, strengthened by prayer, and grow in love.  We learn from this jail letter how the church is to be organized, how we are to conduct our families, and how we are to do spiritual battle.

       It isn't until 30 years later that we hear about Ephesus again.  This time in the book of Revelation, Jesus spoke to the church at Ephesus: “I know your deeds, your hard work, and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place” (Revelation 2:2-5).

       Ephesus started in amazing glory, was instructed in the way to be the church, but then was warned to return to her first love and do the things they had done at first.

       This is a study which, perhaps more than any other, can instruct us and draw us back to the first love of Jesus upon which we must build our lives.

 

       Father God, draw me close to You in Your Word.  Use these scriptures in this New Year to work in me a deeper understanding of Who You are and Whose I am.  Teach me the careful walk of obedience.  Show me the truth of Your redeeming love.  Work through me to express that love toward others.  In Jesus’ Name.

 

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© Jeffrey D. Hoy 2010, 2021

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy - Faith Fellowship Church (EFCA)       

2820 Business Center Blvd.

Melbourne, Florida 32940 (321)-259-7200

Jeff.Hoy@faithfellowshipweb.com

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The Words of Faith devotion is published five days a week by E-mail, excluding Federal holidays. Please feel free to forward this devotion to a friend who might be blessed by this devotion. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is quoted from the New International Version (R) of The Holy Bible. Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved. Words of Faith (c) 1997, 2010 Jeffrey D. Hoy. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to forward this copyrighted material or use portions of it with appropriate notation of the source for non-profit purposes.