This is the month that we celebrate love. And sending Valentines is a very traditional way to celebrate. Who will you send a Valentine to this year? And who will be sending one to you? Do you save the really special ones? The ones that have a personal note attached or express the intimate feelings of the sender?
In the first century, the church at Ephesus received a letter from Jesus that could be thought of as a Valentine. While it was not the traditional kind, it was one that was kept because of its personal nature, and because of the revelation it gives us of the Sender’s heart.
Read Revelation 2:1-7
I. LOVE’S FOCUS
- Name some of the Christian leaders whom God had sent to Ephesus. See Acts 18:18-21, 24-28; 1 Timothy 1:3-4; 2 Timothy 1:16-18.
- Whose leadership have you been under, either in your church or through their books, CDs or other materials?
- Do you think it’s possible to focus more on a person who has helped you grow in your faith than on God? Explain.
- Read Daniel 9:6. Is access to great spiritual leadership a guarantee that you will grow in your love for God?
- On whom does Jesus immediately place the focus in Revelation 2:1? What does this teach you?
- Using Revelation 1:20, put the description of Jesus in Revelation 2:1 in your own words.
- Apply this particular description of Jesus to your life. Think carefully: where is your focus?
II. LOVE’S FERVOR
Revelation 2:2-3, 6
- From Revelation 2:2-3, 6, list all the things that the Ephesian Christians were doing. Why do you think they were so busy?
- Relate the activity of the Ephesian Christians to John 14:23; 21:15-17; James 1:25; 2:17; 1 John 4:11; 1 Thessalonians 1:3.
- How busy are you in service to God? List the various Christian or church-related activities you’re involved in.
- Why are you busy for God? Read Colossians 3:23-24.
- Have you ever loved someone with all your heart, yet done nothing for them?
III. LOVE’S FAILURE
- What did Jesus rebuke the Ephesian Christians for in Revelation 2:4? How did He rebuke Israel for the same thing? Read Isaiah 29:13.
- Describe what you think “first love” is. For help, see Song of Songs 3:1-4.
- Give phrases from the following verses that underscore either the priority God places on our love for Him, or the priority we should place on it: Deuteronomy 6:5; 30:6, 19-20; Joshua 22:5; 23:11; Psalm 31:23; 69:34-36; 116:1-2; Proverbs 8:17; Hosea 4:1, 6:4; Matthew 22:36-37; John 14:15; 15:9; 1 Corinthians 2:9; 16:22; Ephesians 6:24; James 1:12; 1 John 4:19.
- Do you think the Ephesian Christians deliberately forsook their love for Jesus, gradually drifted from it or wearily buried it in busyness?
- How could the fervency of their love actually have contributed to their falling away from it?
- What work for God have you put before your worship of God? What will you do to put worship of God first in your life?
IV. LOVE’S FAITH
What three things did Jesus command the Ephesian Christians to do in Revelation 2:5 in order to regain their first love?
A. To Remember
- Do you love Jesus? Passionately, fervently, obediently, constantly? If not, can you remember a time when you did? See Psalm 42:1-4.
- Make a list of things you can remember that God has done for you and of times when your relationship with Him was intimately personal. Deuteronomy 8:2; Job 29:1-5; Ephesians 2:11-13.
B. To Repent
- Define in your own words what it means to repent.
- How necessary is repentance, from God’s perspective, and ours? Read Jeremiah 15:19; Ezekiel 18:30-32; Luke 13:3; Acts 3:19; 8:22; 26:19-20; Revelation 3:19.
- List one by one the sins from which you need to repent, beginning with falling away from your love for God. Read Hosea 14:1-2.
C. To Return
- What first things do you think the Ephesian Christians needed to return to in Revelation 2:5? See Joel 2:12-14; Zechariah 1:3; Malachi 3:6-10; Acts 20:13-37, 1 Corinthians 1:18.
- What were you doing when you first loved the Lord that you are not doing now? What do you need to do to put it back into your life?
- What were you not doing when you first loved the Lord that you are doing now? What will you do today to put it out of your life?
- Read Matthew 5:14-16; Revelation 1:20. What do you think is symbolized by the lampstand?
- From Revelation 2:1-5, write out in your own words the warning Jesus gives to those who do not regain their first love.
V. LOVE’S FULFILLMENT
- What spiritual principles can you draw from Revelation 2:1-6? See 1 Samuel 16:7; Psalm 51:17; Proverbs 4:23; Mark 12:30.
- To whom was Jesus speaking in verse 7?
- What two different kinds of “ears” can God’s people have? See Psalm 40:6; Proverbs 18:5; 20:12; Ezekiel 12:2; Isaiah 50:4-5; Acts 7:51; 28:27; 2 Timothy 4:3-4. Which do you have?
- In Revelation 2:7, what promise did Jesus give to those who overcome their lovelessness toward Him?
- Read Genesis 2:9; 3:22, 24; Revelation 22:2, 14. What is represented by the tree of life?
- How does this relate to Jesus’ teaching in John 10:10? John 17:3?
- What do you think is meant by His promise that we can “eat” from the tree?
- What or where is paradise? See Luke 23:43; 2 Corinthians 12:3-4.
His promise is that those who love Him with a “first love” can eat from the tree of life in the paradise of God. What tangible steps can you take daily to renew your love for Christ?
Jesus desires your love expressed through your obedience, adoration and service. Your work and your worship are inseparable! This Valentine’s Day, give Him your heart! ©2018 ANNE GRAHAM LOTZ
Adapted from an article published in February 2006.
Anne Graham Lotz has proclaimed God’s Word worldwide for more than 30 years. Her latest book, The Daniel Prayer, and the accompanying video Bible Study, is available from major booksellers.