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TITLE: Impacting Church
By Alipio Amaral

The first of the seven letters to the churches in the book of Revelation, reveals a church losing impact in the community. Simple and relevant guidelines for a church to impliment for the maximum impact on the society around them, the Lord, through the apostle John, explains step by step how to begin to succeed where so many churches have failed.
If a person falls out of an airplane at 12,000 feet, they have less than 60 before impact. Falling 125 mph will allow a person to travel 12,000 feet in a minute. If they can steer towards a body of water they will survive it wont feel good, but if the water is at least 12 feet deep they still have a chanc. Years ago, a man survived a winter jump from about 18,000 feet in the air falling through pine branches and landing in deep snow. If a person is falling in an urban area, a pool or an RV will suffice - a pool, because there might be enough water to break the fall; and an RV because its durability would absorb some of the energy of the fall. Either way, if a person falls out of the sky, there will be quite an impact when they reach the earth. The Lord in coming from heaven to earth desires to have an impact, and his chosen method of impact is the church.

Revelation 2:1-7 "To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven golden lampstands, says this: 2' I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; 3 and you have perseverance and have endured for My name's sake, and have not grown weary. 4'But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5 'Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place--unless you repent. 6 'Yet this you do have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7'He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.'

Written not only to a church geographically on a local level, but also prophetically on a historical level, the Church in Ephesus, whose name means darling or loved one, corresponds to that era in history from 50 to 100 A.D. following the formation of the early church. Jesus Christ through the apostle John writes to this church and says, ‘The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven golden lampstands,’ He calls himself the one in the midst of ‘the lampstands,’ or ‘the churches’ according to verse twenty of chapter one. He calls himself the one with the seven ‘stars,’ or ‘angels’ in his right hand according to verse twenty of chapter one. Incidently the word ‘angel’ means ‘messenger,’ and in verse ten of Isaiah chapter forty-one, we are told that God will uphold his children by the right hand. Consequently many competent scholars feel that Jesus Christ, through the apostle John, is saying He is in the midst of the church with its pastor or messenger in His hand. Either way, we know scripturally that both are true, for this church geographically and every church historically.

In verse two and three, the Lord says to the church, 'I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; and you have perseverance and have endured for My name's sake, and have not grown weary.’ Wow! Look at all that stuff. This church has a lot going for it. They did a lot, they persevered, they didn’t tolerate evil people or hypocrites, and they endured a lot for the name of the Lord. This church had a lot going for them, or at least just a lot going on. We could say, ‘they were a busy church.’

Now look at the scathing indictment the Lord makes against them in verse four. He says, ‘You’ve lost your first love.’ This church had lost their first love. This church was busy, with all kinds of things going on, and apparently they became so busy they lost their devotion to Jesus Christ. The Lord warns them that if they don’t remember from where they fell, repent of their sin and begin once again having that kind of devotion they had when they first became born-again; he would ‘remove their lampstand out of its place.’ In other words, their lack of love was going to cause a loss of light. Now that is incredibly relevant

A little girl on the way home from church turned to her mother and said, "Mommy, the preacher's sermon this morning confused me." The mother said, "Oh... what part?" The girl replied, "Well, he said that God is bigger than we are. Is that true?" "Yes, that's true," the mother replied. "He also said that God lives within us. Is that true, too?" Again the mother replied, "Yes." "Well," said the girl. "if God is bigger than us and He lives in us, wouldn't He show through?" The answer is ‘Yes.’ God should be shining through our lives, and sometimes as Christians we do things in hope that his light will shine brighter. In Church we do all kinds of stuff in hopes that our light will shine brighter. What Jesus is saying is, ‘In all your business, you’ve forgotten about me – business isn’t what causes your light to shine brighter, rather your love for me does.’ Our love for the Lord is what will impact people, not our business before them. Think about this:
• The church is God in relationship to His people
• We express our love to God by loving others in the church
Jesus said that the world would know that we are his disciples by the love that they see we have for one another. A church can become so busy that it changes from an organism that is living and loving, to an organization that is losing its light. A busy church doesn’t necessarily mean a good church, but a loving Church – one that is cultivating their relationship with Jesus, in worship and fellowship is a church that shines brightly.

Jesus goes on to say in verse six, 'Yet this you do have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.’ Now the average reader would ask, “Who are the Nicolaitans,” to which I would regretfully respond, “I have no idea.” However, though I may not know who the Nicolaitans were, and you might not know either, I can guarantee you that the church in Ephesus knew who they were.’ The Ephesian church hated their deeds, therefore they were certainly familiar with them. We could say that the Nicolaitans were ‘known’ back then. One could say that the Nicolaitans had a reputation. Though the Nicolaitans had a name and reputation, they didn’t turn the world upside-down. It was the disciples through their love for Jesus Christ and love for one another that turned the world on its back. Often times the church can fall prey to the mindset that says, ‘Busy is better,’ or ‘If we can just build up a reputation and a name in the community, then we will have an impact.’ WRONG! WRONG! WRONG! If the church is going to have an impact its going to be through the love of the one that came from heaven to earth, showing through our lives.

A pastor preaching a sermon began to tell a true story about a member in the congregation. “A man, his son, and his son's friend went on a boating trip. When they where a couple of miles out, a storm blew in. Though they tried to out run it, a mile off shore, the storm overtook them. The small boat was so tossed about by the wind and waves that both boys thrown overboard into the stormy sea. With only one life preserver, the father was forced to decide who to throw it to, his own son, or his son's friend. Knowing that his son has accepted Christ, and his son's friend had not, he yelled to his son: ‘I love you’ and threw his son's friend the life preserver. He pulled the boy in the boat, and looked to throw his son the life preserver. But his son had disappeared. The boy was never found. At the end of the service, two unbelievers were baffled at the story and said they did not believe it. The man sitting behind them heard what they had said, and asked them why. They replied that to allow the life of someone who you love dearly to die over someone you barely know does not make sense. Then they asked the man if he believed that story, to which he replied ‘Of course I do, because I was the son’s friend. That is exactly what The Father did for you and me, allowing His Son to be sunk in sin so that we could be saved. When the world finally sees a church that is in love Jesus the way he tells us to, they will finally be impacted the way we want them to.
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