Daily Archives: January 31, 2018



William Andrew Dillard
Parson to Person

The church of the Living God at Ephesus played a prominent part in the initial spread of Christianity as well as in the makeup of the New Testament. The book that bears its name features some of the best loved verses in the Bible.
The church was born in an idol worshipping city, creating significant, violent protests, yet it was a tremendous work of the Apostle Paul, who went out of his way to pay it one last visit near the end of his free ministry. It was also home to the ministry of Aquila and Priscilla, and a preaching station of glib Apollos.
It was this writer’s delight to visit the ruins of the ancient city which still bears ample evidence of its early prominence, including remains of winding streets, shops, libraries, homes, and huge storage facilities of grain. There are also remains of city laws engraved in stone in prominent places. Indeed the ancient amphitheater that hosted a protest crowd of some 50,000 in the days of Paul is there together with remains of an ancient church house and deep water baptistery. There are also prominent brothels, speaking to the sensuality of the idol worship so prominent, water cooled houses, epicurean regurgitation stations, and other indicators of material excesses of the day.
Again, the church is directly addressed in Revelation chapter two. The underscored criticism of it is that they had left their first love. Commentators, and other theologians have conjectured just what that means, and often skewed it to their own thinking more than to contextual evidence.
It is abundantly clear that the church, and indeed the entire city suffered from devastation of disease and earthquakes, yet the ruins of what once was remains. Evidence abounds that what happened to the church at Ephesus is what continues to happen to churches throughout the age: they left their first love, and their candlestick was removed, even though they may have continued to operate religiously for a time. What is that first love? The same that we all have. It is love for the God of the Word, of whom we want to know more from our spiritual birth onward. Carnality often deals that a mortal blow. Do you love the Word more than this material world? How much time do you spend with it?

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Joshua 24:19 And Joshua said unto the people, Ye cannot serve the LORD: for he is an holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins.

20 If ye forsake the LORD, and serve strange gods, then he will turn and do you hurt, and consume you, after that he hath done you good.

21 And the people said unto Joshua, Nay; but we will serve the LORD.

22 And Joshua said unto the people, Ye are witnesses against yourselves that ye have chosen you the LORD, to serve him. And they said, We are witnesses.

23 Now therefore put away, said he, the strange gods which are among you, and incline your heart unto the LORD God of Israel.

24 And the people said unto Joshua, The LORD our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey.

25 So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and set them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem.

26 And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God, and took a great stone, and set it up there under an oak, that was by the sanctuary of the LORD.

27 And Joshua said unto all the people, Behold, this stone shall be a witness unto us; for it hath heard all the words of the LORD which he spake unto us: it shall be therefore a witness unto you, lest ye deny your God.

How often do we commit ourselves to God without giving much thought to what we say?

Joshua gave a WARNING. Ye cannot serve the Lord: for He is a Holy God. Do we forget His Holiness? He called for Moses to remove his shoes for he was walking on Holy ground. Once again the same command was given to Joshua to remove his shoes. The saying “fools rush in where angels fear to tread” is a true saying. The reverence and worship of God are neglected today. Let me do a rephrase of the last sentence. The reverence IN the worship of God is neglected by some today.

Joshua’s warning contained an element that some ignore today. God is a JEALOUS God. In the Old Testament, the exact dimensions for each item of worship were laid out meticulously. The very act of worship was laid out in detail. We are in a day and age where each person wants to worship in their own way and disregard Gods way. This is called will worship. I will worship the way I want to and disregard Gods way for us to worship.

Joshua says God WILL NOT FORGIVE. Will full sins and transgressions, God will not forgive. Give some serious thought to this. Now some may not like this but willful sin and transgressions will be punished. Willfulness is sin. It reveals a stubborn and rebellious nature. Rebellion is something that God hates. We really need to examine our attitude and make sure we are in the will of God.

God will do you HURT. Punishment does hurt. There are things that happen to us that we might never relate to the punishment of God. God uses things in our life to punish us. Gods punishment can be devastating. When we commit to the service of God we need to do things Gods way and be faithful in service.

Ye are WITNESSES. We commit to God and become witnesses to what we have committed. Could that be the reason that not many respond to an altar call today? If they make a commitment before others there is a Church full of witnesses.

Would it be wonderful to have a Church of brokenhearted people walking the aisles to commit themselves to the Lord?

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