I have been so encouraged by reading and preaching through the Book of Acts this summer. Having just completed chapters 19 and 20, we see the writer Luke detailing the establishment of the Church in Ephesus.
The Apostle Paul having spent the better part of three years teaching and preaching “in public and from house to house anything that was profitable” (20:20). In verses 17-38, the Apostle Paul calls for the elders of this young Church and gives and impassioned farewell address with pleadings, warnings and prayers for his beloved Church (20:20, 24, 28-32).
Yet years later, Jesus Christ, the Risen and Ascended One, sends another personal warning to the Ephesian Church: “I know your works, your toil and patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil…I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name sake and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember, therefore, from where you have fallen; repent and do the works you did at first.” (Revelation 2:2-4)
Pretty sobering words from the true Head of the Church. Paul’s third missionary journey (53 AD) to the writing of the Book of Revelation is but a few decades and we see this vibrant, young Church cooling off in its love for God and each other!
As I pondered this fact in my preparations to preach, I sensed through the Spirit of God three key words of protection against the effects of the Ephesians Church. I simply refer to them as the Triple A Protection Plan for the Believer:
Acknowledge Him always! “Trust in the Lord with all my heart, lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways “acknowledge” Him and He will make your path straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Acknowledge that you are a sinner in need of a Savior.
Awareness of His Presence! “I am with you always to the end of the age.”
“I will never leave you or forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)
Once you acknowledge His Presence, His promise to “never leave you” will sustain you.”
Abide in Him! “Abide in me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit unless it abides in the vine.” (John 15:4)
We are still responsible to abide in Him through our prayers, reading of His Word and being in fellowship with others.
Though there are no guarantees in this life, I hope that the Triple A Protection Plan can cause you to always remember:
Awareness of His Presence
Abide in Him
Have a great summer and carry with you the Triple A Protection Plan wherever you go!