10 Facts You May Not Know about Ephesus

In our new series, Connected we are gleaning truth’s from the New Testament book of Ephesians.  Ephesians is a letter from the Apostle Paul to the church in Ephesus.   Here are ten facts you may not know about this important city.

 

  1. Ephesus was “the most important commercial center in the Roman province of Asia[i].” It was a large and very influential port city. Today think New York or Hong Kong.
  2. Because of its size, location and influence Paul planted the church in Ephesus on his third missionary journey and Luke records that from this base “the whole province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.” (Acts 19:8-10)
  3. Paul stayed and pastored the church in Ephesus longer than any other single church. 3 years!
  4. Timothy was the next pastor placed there by Paul, “As I urged you when I went to Macedonia, remain in Ephesus.” I Timothy 1:3
  5. If you could write one letter to your children or grandchildren passing on your cherished beliefs what would you say? The letter to the church in Ephesus is often called “quintessential Paul” as it concisely summarizes the essence of Paul’s faith and theology.
  6. According the church history, the apostle John was the pastor of the church in Ephesus. He lived there with Mary, the mother of Jesus. Why was Mary with John? Remember that John was entrusted by Jesus to care for his mother after his death on the cross. (John 19:26-27). According to tradition, John built a house for her and she lived there for nine years.[ii]
  7. From Ephesus, the Apostle John wrote the Gospel of John, 1 John, 2 John and 3 John.
  8. John wrote the book Revelation from the Island of Patmos, an Island just off the coast of Ephesus.
  9. In Revelation, John records a message from Jesus to seven churches. Which church is listed first?  Ephesus.  Why? It was either the largest church of the seven or the first church on the Roman mail route.  Either way the church in Ephesus was very influential.
  10. According to church history the apostle John was buried in Ephesus around 100 AD. After 313, when Emperor Constantine ended anti-Christian persecution in the Roman Empire, Ephesian Christians built a chapel over the apostle’s tomb.[iii]

Ephesus was an influential city with an influential church led by influential leaders but guess what?  That influence continues today as we live out the message penned by Paul.   Ephesians all about Christ and his church and how we can be connected which has great influence in any generation.   I hope you can join us this Sunday and get connected!

Darrell

www.RidgeFellowship.com

[i] The Essential Bible Companion, pg. 96, Zondervan, 2006.
[ii] Bible Hub, http://biblehub.com/library/emmerich/the_life_of_the_blessed_virgin_mary/xviii_the_death_of_the.htm
[iii] Our Sunday Visitor, https://www.osv.com/MyFaith/Article/TabId/586/ArtMID/13752/ArticleID/977/Archaeologists-discover-the-tomb-of-St-Philip-the-Apostle.aspx
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Are you Connected? Your Life May Depend on It

Are you connected?   Not just socially but spiritually?  Hundreds of research studies show the link between being connected to Christ and church and your health.  Here are some of the positive effects:

  • You will Live Longer. Those who attend church services once a week live an average of seven years longer than those who never attend, a nationwide study found.
  •  You will Be Healthier. Those who live out their faith in a faith community have fewer health problems than the non-faith practicing according to researcher and epidemiologist Jeff Levin author of God, Faith and Health.   Church goers are healthier than non-believers and less likely to die prematurely from any cause.  Prayer and your faith can also speed recovery from physical and mental illness, surgery and addiction.
  •  You will Recover Faster. Patients comforted by their faith had three times the chance of being alive six months after open heart surgery than those who took no comfort in religion, Dartmouth Medical School found.
  •  Your Heart will be Healthier. Those who prayed regularly were 70 percent less likely to have coronary heart disease.   People who went to church services regularly had a significantly stronger immune system according to Dr Harold Koenig MD, author of the Healing Power of Faith.
  •  Your Blood Pressure will be Lower.  Duke University researchers found a significant protective effect against high blood pressure among those who attended church regularly.
  • Your Mental Health will be Better. Attendance at church is related to lower rates of depression and anxiety according to a Duke University study.   Duke Medical Center conducted a study of seriously depressed men and women and found that those who put spirituality at the center of their lives recovered 70% faster than those who didn’t
  • You will Have Reduced Stress. Those under psychological stress experience raised blood pressure and raised heart and breathing rates.  This strains the body and lowers immunity.  But according to Dr Herbert Benson of Harvard Medical School, prayer and meditation lowers blood pressure, heart rates and breathing rates.

WHY?  According to Dale Matthews, MD, professor of medicine at Georgetown University School of Medicine and author of The Faith Factor: Proof of the Healing Power of Prayer:

  • Your body responds positively to being connected spiritually. “Blood pressure and pulse rate tend to be lower, oxygen consumption better, brain wave patterns slower and immune function enhanced that is if you practice your faith regularly.”
  • Your mind is at peace. Having faith gives you a sense of peace and the ability to look beyond your present problems with hope which can reduce stress, lower your risk of anxiety and depression.
  • You take better care of yourself. People who practice their faith are “less likely to drink and smoke and their more likely to take their medicine and wear their seat belts.”
  • You’re part of a healing community. Numerous studies have shown the healing power of social ties.  For many people the church is family.  It’s there they feel a sense of connection, meaning and purpose.  “Friends can be your secular version of faith, but religion is more powerful insists Dr. Matthews.  “As part of a spiritual community week after week, month after month and year after year you have opportunities to obtain all of these healing benefits on a regular basis.”

There are lots of good reasons to be connected!  Do you attend church regularly?  How about pray or connect with other believers?  If so, you will be glad you did for so many reasons!   Why not join us this Sunday at The Ridge?  We would love to have you.  It will be good for you, literally.

See you Sunday,   Darrell

For more about The Ridge Fellowship go to www.ridgefellowship.com

The above was adapted from the following articles, “Miracle Healer” by PREVENTION /December 1998 and “Faith Heals” by READER’S DIGEST, May 2001.
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3 Benefits & 3 Downfalls to Education

17 So I set out to learn everything… But I learned firsthand that pursuing all this is like chasing the wind. Ecclesiastes 1:17

Solomon is not discrediting education.  What Solomon is discrediting is man’s attempt to try to REPLACE God with education.

Education is necessary and needed and has many positive benefits.  Real quickly we see from Solomon’s life that…

 Education Can Bring…

 1. Respect

 28   …the people were in awe of the king, for they saw the wisdom God had given him for rendering justice. 1 Kings 3:28

Gaining education often brings respect.  It is easy to respect someone who has extensive knowledge in an area that we don’t.  I generally respect and you probably do as well, Doctors, teachers or anyone who knows their field of expertise well, computer programmers, auto mechanics, architects and so on.  Education will bring us respect.  It can also brin

2. Fame

31 He was wiser than anyone else… His fame spread throughout all the surrounding nations. 1 Kings 4:31

Because of his wisdom and knowledge Solomon became very famous.

Education can bring fame.  Who hasn’t heard of Albert Einstein?  Sigmund Freud or Thomas Edison?

3. Wealth

 1 When the queen of Sheba heard of Solomon’s fame…she came to test him with hard questions. 2 She arrived in Jerusalem with… large quantities of gold, and precious jewels…1 Kings 10:1-2

Education can bring wealth in addition to fame and recognition.   We will see in an upcoming message just how extensive his wealth became.  Under Solomon and his wisdom from God, Israel was at the height of its power and wealth. Solomon’s riches became legendary. Great men and women came from many nations to listen to Israel’s powerful king. Jesus would later refer to “Solomon in all his splendor” (Matthew 6:29)

 Solomon was the wisest man to ever walk the face of this planet until Jesus,  His wisdom paid big benefits.  There were also so unpleasant side effects of having too much emphasis on education.  Through God’s inspiration, Solomon opened the window of his life and gave us a transparent, brutally honest, and sobering look into his pursuit of education.  What do we find?  We find a man whose choice to fill his tank with knowledge and education left him feeling, unhappy, distressed, and exhausted.

Education Can Also Bring…

  1. Grief

 18 The greater my wisdom, the greater my grief. Ecclesiastes 1:18a

The literal Hebrew word is “vexation[1]” What does it mean to be “vexed?” Quite simply, vexation means to be provoked into a frame-of-mind that is frustrated, irritated, and angry.  Central to its meaning are the experiences of being provoked and harassed.  Have you ever been provoked?  How about harassed?  How did those experiences leave you felling?  We’re you angry?  Did it leave you feeling unsettled and irritated?  Probably so!  Solomon also says that a faulty focus on education can cause…

2. Sorrow

…To increase knowledge only increases sorrow. Ecclesiastes 1:18b

Solomon says that filling your life with ONLY knowledge and education will increase your “sorrow.”  In essence, the moment scientific and philosophical knowledge become a person’s primary purpose for living, they become increasingly unhappy and distressed.

I began thinking about this a lot this week.  Why would education bring grief and sorrow?  Solomon doesn’t say specifically but as I thought about this here are some things to consider:  I asked Niki why would education bring sorrow?  Here’s what she said, “The more education you have the more debt you have!” Student loans,  financial aid, etc.  That is true, even if you don’t personally then your parents did.  It’s expensive to educate with the taxes we pay, with the tuition, the more education you get the more you have to pay.  How many of you love to read books?  I love to read books and it gets expensive! Niki also brought up the fact that the more you learn the more you realize how much you DON’T know.  So many times what we learn about a subject is only the basics. There are far deeper levels of understanding, and we realize that as we get into it!

I also thought about the biblical fact that the more you know the more you are responsible!  Jesus says,  “to whom much is given much is expected”  (Luke 12:48 paraphrase)  When you know what is right you are responsible to do it and to inform others.  We become accountable for WHAT we know!  What would you call someone who knew the cure to cancer and then failed to share that?  Evil.  We learn and then are burdened with our responsibilities to act on them.  Have you ever said, “I wish I didn’t know that!” “That’s too much information!” “I was really better off NOT to know that!”   Maybe children are happier and laugh more because they know less!

3.  Exhaustion

12 But, my child, let me give you some further advice: Be careful, for writing books is endless, and much study wears you out. Ecclesiastes 12:12

Finally, Solomon says that filling your tank with the fuel of knowledge and education will bring on exhaustion. “Much study wears you out.” If you ever pulled an all nighter studying for an exam or writing a paper, you know exactly what he is talking about!  Niki reminded me that James Dobson, child psychologist, author and president of Focus on the Family says that in his opinion, elementary children should not have more than 30 minutes of homework a day.  They are already tired from being at school all day and then they have to do an hour or more of homework?  Its too exhausting for them. So Solomon offers us a transparent window into the heart and soul of an empty man, he warns us that making knowledge and education our primary goal is to invite irritation, distress, and exhaustion into our lives.

Is it any wonder that so many people are unsettled, irritated, exhausted, and despondent over their life?  Since the dawn of the Enlightenment Age and the premium placed on rational learning and reason, people have been encouraged to make the pursuit of knowledge and education a central focus of their lives.  Yet, what has such a focus produced?  Honestly?  Look around and see for yourself.  The results are sobering.  When knowledge and education becomes primary in a person’s life, it has produced nothing but empty tanks.  They’re immobile, lonely and powerless.  Why? Because our lives weren’t created to exist for intellectual pursuits alone. Our lives were meant to be filled with a personal, life transforming relationship with Jesus Christ.

In the next post we will look at how to have meaning beyond education.

Darrell

http://www.RidgeFellowship.com

[1] (Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright (c) 1994, Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, Inc.)
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Are You Seeking Meaning in These Four Pursuits?

Does your life lack meaning?  Here are four questions to consider:

Is My Life Centered On…

  1.   Education?

17 So I set out to learn everything. Ecclesiastes 1:17a

We have a lot of people pushing us hard to center our lives on education. We spend the great majority of our early years in school.  About a quarter of our lives!  Then there is the pressure to go to college.  My dad said, “Son there are only 2 schools, Sunday school and Texas A & M! And your going to go to both!   Getting an education.  See if you can finish this statement:  “Education the key to ________? SUCCESS!  Education is necessary and needed but its NOT to be the center of our lives.   We will look at this in more detail in future post.

2.  Pleasure?

10 Anything I wanted, I would take. I denied myself no pleasure. Ecclesiastes 2:10a

See if you can finish this statement:  “If it feels good  ________? DO IT!   This is one of our gods today.  We are all looking to be entertained, looking for comfort and ease.  We easily neglect what is RIGHT to what FEELS RIGHT.  What FEELS RIGHT takes the center stage in our lives. What we WANT becomes the highest value. If we have to lie, cheat, steal, cut corners and go into debt we will to get what we want.   Solomon did this, we do this and it leads to emptiness.   Again please hear me.  God gave us pleasure and wants us to experience pleasure.  We will look at this in more detail in a few weeks but when pleasure becomes the center of our lives leaves us broken and disillusioned.

If you make pleasure the goal of your life you will eventually become a hypocrite.  You can’t be in pleasure all the time so you start pretending like you’re having fun.  It’s like the old bumper sticker:  Are we having fun yet?  I’m supposed to be having fun but I’m not.

3.  Work?

10 …I even found great pleasure in hard work, a reward for all my labors. Ecclesiastes 2:10b

See if you can finish this statement:  “I owe, I owe so off to  ________? WORK I GO!

Our work is a way to pay the bills but for so many work is WHO we are.  Our lives are wrapped in what we do that it becomes our identity. If you are around people for five minutes the question will arise,  “So, what do you do?”  Work is not only our identity but it becomes the vehicle to greatness in society’s eyes.  If you work at it, one day you will be somebody.  The truth is you are already somebody! God wants us to work and put our heart into our work, but work CANNOT be the center of our lives.  We will take a week and look at a balanced approach to work.

4.  Possessions?

8 I collected great sums of silver and gold, the treasure of many kings and provinces… I had everything a man could desire! Ecclesiastes 2:8

This is another one of the American gods.  We have literally so much and yet we are so empty.  We live in such abundance.  Did you know, as Americans we spend more on trash bags than 90 other countries spend on everything!  The receptacles of our WASTE cost more than ALL the goods consumed by nearly half of the world’s nations!

We have more possessions in the history of the world of any country, yet we are still NOT satisfied.  In fact as Americans we are about approximately 6% of the world’s population but take 70% of all the drugs produced. 

We HAVE but in reality WE HAVE NOT.

Its time to rethink life.  Are you ready?

Why is this book Ecclesiastes in the Bible?  I think God is trying to teach us that here are some dead ends you can avoid. Save your time, save your money — it’s not found in these things.  We tend to overestimate things we haven’t experienced yet.  Solomon comes to the conclusion in 2:17 “So I came to hate life.” Solomon was fed up and frustrated.   Many of you are having the same feelings.  You are fed up, frustrated, ready for a change.  Your life stinks.  Here is some good news.

 For My Life to Have Greatest Meaning, it Should be Centered On God

1 Don’t forget your Creator. Honor him in your youth before you grow old and say, “Life is not pleasant anymore.” Ecclesiastes 12:1

Forget your creator.”  This is good.  That’s what we often do.  We get busy, we focus on other pursuits and forget to pursue our relationship with God.  We forget to center our life on the unchanging and center it on fleeting, temporary and the  unfulfilling.  Our lives were created with a God shaped vacuum that only He can fill.  Only He can satisfy.    I love what Jesus says in John 10:10

Jesus: “10 My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. John 10:10

That’s why Jesus came.  That we might have “a rich and satisfying life.”  But no, too often we say, “I know what will satisfy!”  “I know what will give me a rich life!” and then we pursue our way to find that it is empty.  Jesus doesn’t mince words, when asked the most important thing in ALL the bible.  He says it is to have the Lord our God at the center of everything.

37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. Matthew 22:37-38

Some of you know about Christ intellectually.  But you do not know him personally.  You have heard about Him from parents, church, from friends, you are familiar but not intimate. You have him in your head, but not in your heart.  There needs to be time that you cross the line.  A time where you say, “My way is not working, I need you Jesus.”  “I cannot enter eternity without you”  “I have blow it and I need your forgiveness”  This is the honest type of faith and belief the bible is referring to.  Have you invited Christ in your life?  Today can be the day where you say, “I trust you Christ.  I ask you to forgive me.  I want you in my life.”   Then there is another difficult process that is life long.  The process of following Christ with your life.   Not only do we need Christ for salvation. We need him in every area of our lives, like our decisions.

Decisions, decisions, decisions! Lets talk about the big three:  Time, Money and Relationships.  God has a plan and a way that is right for handling each of these.

We live in a world that changes all around us.  Nobody knows what the future holds.  This is uncharted territory.  You don’t know what the future holds but God has given you direction.  It is the values that are in His word, the Bible.  They have been the same since the dawn of time.   That is why at The Ridge Fellowship we build everything around the words in this book.  He tells us His love for us, His plan for us. That we can be forgiven, He tells us how to grow.   He tells us to give of our income.  He tells us connect with one another in worship and fellowship. He tells us to serve.  Everything we need for living TODAY is in God’s Word.

I do a lot of thinking about this as a parent. I realize that my three children are going to face a different world that I did when I grew up. I can’t possibly know all of the temptations they may go through.  I may not  be there to help them make their decisions.  And since I don’t know what the situations are going to be how can I help them as a parent?  I can help them make decisions that are based on God’s word.

Why would we want to follow God’s word?  Why would we want to make decisions that are centered on God?  Because we seek to honor him with our life.  If I center my life on a career then when it crumbles my life crumbles.  That means I’d better center my life on something that can never be taken away from me.  That is my relationship to God.  We were made to know God and center our life on him.

Some of you just in the last few weeks or couple of months, have hit the wall.  You’ve had a major crisis in your life, financial crisis, health crisis, relational crisis in your marriage, a career crisis,  you’ve lost a loved one.  In those moments you start asking questions like, “Is my life centered around the right things.  Am I living the right way?  Are my decisions leading me in the right direction?”  If you’ve had that crisis and you’ve asked those questions recently, I want to say to you “Congratulations.”  Not that I’m happy for your pain.  I’m not saying that.  But if your pain gets you to ask the important questions that you wouldn’t ask if your life were in cruise control mode, I’m glad for that.  Because I don’t want you to waste your life and neither does God.  You were made to know Him and His plan and purpose and live by this.  And when you know God and live by His values, life unfolds in a way that you can’t imagine is possible.

Darrell

http://www.RidgeFellowship.com

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