Truth and Love in Ephesus

Summary

I take to time to examine Jesus’ words to the Church in Ephesus, Revelation 2:1-7. Commending them for their hard work and perseverance, Jesus focuses on their lack of love in word and deed for those around them. In this thought provoking sermon, we examine the question, what is more important, Truth or Love? What do these traits have to do with bringing people to what the passage calls the ‘Tree of Life’ which is presence with God in paradise forever?

You can download the Powerpoint Notes for the Podcast using the link below:

Light in a Dark World, The Letter to the Church in Ephesus

This podcast was recorded at South Church, Mkushi, Zambia 7th August 2016

© Copyright, Jon Paul Witt, 2016

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Don’t be a fool

No FoolsIt can be quite jarring how life’s priorities can be turned upside down in an instant. There I was just thinking I was coming out of a malaise of activity with no time to think. I felt that I was beginning to be able to breathe again. New plans were forming in my mind, new directions were taking shape and BANG! they all didn’t seem to matter.

My wife, Jude, fell down a 6ft car pit and seriously injured herself. Both of us, a long long way from the specialist care she required. Thank God she is OK and definitely on the mend. However there were a few, seemingly long moments where I thought she may not make it. She shared the same thoughts. They are humbling moments.

Our kids left at our place in Zambia not really knowing what had happened. I’m left in a maelstrom of thoughts, emotions and activity, desperately trying to get those first few hours sorted out. Every love and passion you hold falls into insignificance. It’s true place in your life cruelly exposed for the unimportant sham and it really is.

Mortality has a way of grabbing our attention like nothing else.

Many people have re-assured me that God was there. To be honest, I feel that some of those people are simply re-assuring themselves. An agreement from me, re-enforces what they hope to be true. Such a jarring, shocking event doesn’t simply shock those directly involved, it shocks all around. Maybe that is why I have written this.

Let me tell you something. I know God was there. I’ve been there before. I’ve been in deep trouble that I am powerless to defend myself against, usually in the continent of Africa. You learn to see the signs of His presence. He mobilises people, help, intervenes in the situation. In the middle of the night, people came to give blood, the insurance company didn’t play up, thousands (literally) of people prayed and Jude lived. I know that the story could have been very different.

We don’t fully understand why bad things happen in this world. Maybe we never will. We are however given a choice. Do we have no hope that we are on our own, abandoned in this wide universe? Do we believe there is someone who gives everything sense, direction and security? It’s very easy when life is well to say we don’t believe in God, to say that religion it’s a crutch. It is another thing entirely when the chips are down, maybe you will die…. it’s quite another thing to not believe in God then. You need a crutch then, you will do anything for one. We see and understand just how weak we really are.

Both Jude and I are indebted to the thousands of people who prayed for us, and especially prayed for Jude. We are indebted to the many people that have helped us with practical details in the last two weeks. Sometimes we feel out on a limb when we are in Africa, maybe the last two weeks have taught me just how much the family of God means to us. There are people out there, who if we are in trouble will go to the end of the earth to find us (you may have to one day!). I also never lose my sense of wonder at how God mobilises events and people when it really needs to happen.

Jude is still healing up and will be for a while. It still hurts her to even breathe. Both of our emotions are occasionally a little raw, but we know God is around us, helping us and we will definitely live to fight another day. We are not that easily put off. 🙂

In such times, there are precious viewpoints to be reflected upon. Such events do not come along often, we thank God for that. However, when they do, they give you a viewpoint of your life, your love and your relationships like nothing else. They help you appreciate your place in the order of all things, and the place of the God you say you have a relationship with.

The Bible says such troubles are light and for this moment. How can the Bible say that? In the light of all things, from the beginning till the end of time, they probably are. Yet they are up close and personal and the pain can be searing. Yet that same pain teaches, gives wisdom and helps us to live better. The viewpoints suffered achieve wisdom and correct perspective in life. Evil is somehow turned for our own and this world’s good.

It is the fool that becomes bitter at God at such a time for they ignore the source of life and healing. I don’t intend to be a fool and whatever your pain, maybe you shouldn’t too….

Decisions

Making decisions is often difficult, is it not? You evaluate the options and plot possible consequences. If it involves money you check your bank balance…..often….. Jude and I have been making a few decisions lately as well. One of them has an immediate consequence for us. We’ve decided to stop renting our current house in Mkushi. We returning to the UK for 3.5 months and it didn’t make sense to spend lots of money on wasted rent. This is a late decision, but one which saves us quite a lot of money. So, sensible, even if makes things a little heart wrenching!

We have also been talking to some friends here in Zambia for a few months about the possibility of getting some land. We’ve decided to go with that. Last monday we spent some time using a GPS and other handy equipment to mark out around a hectare of land in virgin bush in Zambia. Scary monsters! This means that when we come back next year, we don’t actually have somewhere to live, but we will also be building a house. We don’t have the money at the moment and it’s all a little different from the UK, but we are doing it nonetheless. As if we didn’t have enough to do or worry about 🙂

This is a fantastic decision. We both decided to take January off. Absolutely brilliant decision! I dole out advice to people so often about getting some perspective from a different physical and emotional place. It’s time we took some of our own advice. The bottom line is that so often, you get to a point where you can’t see the wood for the trees….. this year we have definitely been there sometimes.

There are also some big decisions regarding the kids education. How to do it? Where to do it? As with most things here in Africa, there are no very simple answers to anything. You make a best fit. If we then add in all of the decisions we need to make with our work, phew! it can get more than a little taxing and complicated.

Making decisions, especially lots of them can be quite overwhelming, especially if there are complicated interactions between those decisions. The only thing we can do is to pray. The ‘unknown’ is a constant companion in the battle to make decisions and guess what! you can’t know it, because its’ the unknown. You must make the decisions not knowing everything. It is a great help being able to appeal and talk with a God who is above all.

Psalm 37 verse 5 says,

“Commit your way to the Lord, Trust in Him and He will act!”.

That is the bottom line. When the decisions are flying, when the unknown seems to be crowding in, you simply have to commit your way to the Lord, and trust in Him. There are no shortcuts, no magic answers but these words are tremendously freeing and faith inspiring.

So next time you need to make a decision, do all you can and leave Him to do the rest….