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March 13, 2023

Ephesus and the Loss of First Love

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

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Read Revelation 2:1-7.

In the Roman Empire, Ephesus was an important and prosperous city—the center of pagan worship. Near the city was the famous temple of Artemis, or Diana, which was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Needless to say, Ephesus was a popular destination for religious pilgrims and tourists alike. The city was so influential that the apostle Paul spent three years there as part of his Gospel mission to the Gentiles.

In His letter, Jesus commended the believers in Ephesus for their hard work and perseverance. He applauded their zeal and how they rejected false teachers who tried to lead them astray. He also recognized that they had endured hardships for the sake of His name (see Revelation 2:2-3). However, even with such a praise report, there was a serious problem. The Ephesian church had forgotten their first love.

May this be a warning to us all. It’s possible to be doing all the right things for Jesus, believing all the correct things, working hard in His name, and living a holy life in the midst of great temptation—and still be missing the most important thing. For what Jesus craves the most is our love. He desires love above everything else we can do for Him. Brothers and sisters, if everything you’re doing to serve Jesus and minister to others does not flow out of your love for the Lord—if all this activity has replaced intimacy with Jesus—then please stop and reclaim your first love. Don’t miss the most important thing!

Prayer: Lord, forgive me for forgetting the most important thing—an intimate relationship with You, my Savior. Help me to hold fast to my first love for You, making You my priority and delighting in You as I seek Your face. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

“Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first” (Revelation 2:4).

Learn more in Dr. Michael Youssef’s sermon Letters from Jesus, Part 2: WATCH NOW

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