All Head and Hands but No Heart
Evaluation – Standing in front of preachers in class – “belt-buckle doesn’t line up with buttons…” Since that day, I’ve been self-conscious about my belt-buckle and buttons… Reality – we need evaluation, even if we don’t like what we hear.
· Imagine if our church received a letter of evaluation from Jesus – what would it say? Seven churches in Asia received letters from Jesus in which Jesus evaluated them on what they were doing well and not well. These letters will probably give us an idea of what Jesus might be saying to us.
· John is the messenger – an old man. 80 years old – exiled to the island of Patmos – and is given a grand vision of Jesus and what is to come for God’s people.
· Vision starts with seven different letters to seven different churches in Asia Minor – (modern day Turkey) – First letter to a church that seemed to have it all together – but Jesus tells them they aren’t as together as they think they are.
· Church at Ephesus founded by Paul on third missionary journey. (Think three long mission trips recorded in Acts – churches established church grows)
· Ephesus was a very large city – about 250,000 people
· On the sea – an important city for trade and commerce
· Famous for its worship – the Greek goddess Artemis – the goddess of the hunt – a massive temple built to worship her – one of the seven wonders of the ancient world – people traveled from all over to worship
· No Gospel presence in this city – Paul planted a church and it flourished. This is not where you expect a church to grow!
· Acts 19:10 – Within 2 years everyone in Ephesus heard the Gospel. Can you imagine if we made it our goal for everyone in the North Charleston to hear the Gospel in 2 years? Paul did it without the aid of the internet, television, or the radio.
· Many believed. City overturned by the Gospel. One of the city’s greatest industries began to suffer. Demetrius made silver shrines of Artemis and people weren’t buying his idols. Can you believe Paul is saying our idols are not gods? Can you believe that he is bringing our business in disrepute?
And you see and hear that not only in Ephesus but in almost all of Asia this Paul has persuaded and turned away a great many people, saying that gods made with hands are not gods. And there is danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis may be counted as nothing, and that she may even be deposed from her magnificence, she whom all Asia and the world worship.” Acts 19:26-27
· Can you imagine being a part of a city-wide revival where thousands turned to Christ? Unfortunately, as years passed, the city drifted back to idolatry, and the church at Ephesus had grown cold. They had lost their passion and zeal and effectiveness.
· Jesus speaks to this church to help them see what they had lost. Vs. 1 – Jesus introduces Himself uniquely to each church…holds seven stars (seven angels – Jesus has authority over the message) – Seven lampstands – the churches lighting the world with Gospel witness. Jesus walks among – He knows, He sees. He knows what’s taking place in Ephesus.
· Church at Ephesus seems like a great church. A great founding – a history of faithfulness – Jesus knows what’s really going on in the church, but He doesn’t ignore the good they have done.
o Hardworking church – Your toil and patient endurance – Wouldn’t that describe us as well? I’ve been encouraged by so many in this church who give tirelessly of their time… Saved to serve (Eph. 2:10)
o Theologically grounded church – hate the works of Nicolatians – a group that opposed the cause of Christ – Great pastors – Paul, Timothy and John – So important to know the Word – to be grounded
o An enduring church – As the culture changed they didn’t change in their beliefs. They held on to the truth. They didn’t turn to idols. They kept working, proclaiming, etc.
· If the letter would have ended here – great! But it didn’t. Something was missing in their church. You ever feel that way? You ever feel like something is missing in the church in general or at Northwood specifically? We’re doing all the right things. Right doctrine, right ministries, etc. but something’s missing.
· What’s missing? A passionate, intimate love for Jesus. Ephesus’ problem is our problem – all head and hands but no heart. (Giving up golf – passions changed – I gave it up. Their passions changed but they kept going through motions… Faith had become cerebral and works oriented rather than fueled by intimacy…)
· Warning: They can’t keep existing this way – lampstand taken away – church will not be a Gospel light in the community. The church is not to be primarily known for good works and theological knowledge but for passionate intimacy with Christ.(Pulled pork at Fleet Landing? Not known fo that) Why? It’s love that drives us and gives us the right motivation to serve. When we serve and know God out of intimacy – we serve passionately instead of out of obligation.
· How do you know if you’ve lost your love? You know longer step out of what’s comfortable to demonstrate how passionate you are about God –Real love is always sacrificing. Some of us have gotten really comfortable with church culture – we’re here, but you can’t remember the last time you really stepped out in faith… (Ill. – Reptile show – why? Love…)
How do we restore intimacy with Christ?
1. Remember how you got off track.
· What happened that caused you to stop praying? To stop seeking out spiritual growth? To stop you from being plugged into the local church for accountability and encouragement in your faith?
· A relationship went bad? A sinful habit developed? You started making something other than Christ the priority of your life? Your child’s activities became more important than Christ? Your job?
· Christ hasn’t stepped away from you – you’ve stepped away from Him. Why?
· If you have waned in your love for Christ, identify what happened. This week, ask God to help you see where you went astray.
2. Repent of getting off track.
· Why do you need to remember how you got off track? So you can repent.
· Repentance is to change your direction after you have acknowledged that you’ve been going the wrong direction.
· Acknowledge that the bitterness you are holding on to is damaging your intimacy with Christ, or your focus on other priorities, or that sin you are holding on to. Acknowledge that it is hindering your spiritual growth and repent. Change direction. With the help of the Holy Spirit, determine to change course for the sake of your relationship with Christ.
· To renew intimacy with Christ this is where you must start.
3. Rejoice in what God has done for you.
· “Do the works you did at first…” what had the church done at first? Probably the same works they were doing now but out of a heart of love – not a heart of obligation.
· Acts 19: Extraordinary miracles at the hands of Paul. If Paul touched a handkerchief people healed. Delivered from evil spirits.
· Sons of Sceva – a priest with seven sons trying to do the same things Paul was doing by invoking the name of Jesus but they had no relationship with Jesus.
· A demon said to one of the sons: “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” Demon overpowered the sons and what happened became known to all the residents of Ephesus. As a result verse 17 says the people feared Christ and extolled Him.
· How can you not worship this amazing God? And, how can you not love God when you realize that the greatest act of His awesome power was to deliver you from eternal death by sending His Son to die for you? The good news was good news for them!
· This is what we’ve lost – the beauty of rejoicing in what Christ has done for us. We cease to be impressed with what God has done for us. We’re not amazed with Him anymore. We don’t desire intimacy with Him because we’re not impressed with Him. For some of us, the Good News has lost its goodness. We’ve moved on from that excitement and zeal that used to lead us to desire intimacy with God.
· This week:
o Remember His faithfulness. Look back. What have you seen God accomplish in you and through you? Undoubtedly, it’s been amazing and awe-inspiring. Unfortunately, we often focus on what God hasn’t done rather than what He has done.
o Share His faithfulness. Your story inspires worship and awe. Share it tonight.
· Remember where you got off track, repent, and worship – and see your intimacy renewed. As you reflect on what He has done for you and give Him praise you can’t help but to fall in love with Him.
· Maybe you have never encountered the greatness of God in Christ Jesus. This morning, know that the God of the universe loves you and desires intimacy with you. He has gone to great lengths to have a relationship with you. You were separated from God because of sin and deserved death. God gave His Son – Jesus – who died in your place so you could be forgiven. He rose again so you could have eternal life. Repent of your rebellion and surrender your life to Him.
· Renewal and revival will happen as we choose intimacy – to pursue the greatest calling of our lives – to love Christ completely.