Today, as we enter day 11 of our 40 day fast, we begin to read the prophetic words of Jesus to the 7 churches in Revelation. Jesus knows us inside and out. He knows the spiritual state of us as individuals and he knows the spiritual state of churches corporately. In order to have Jesus’ perspective of our lives, we need to ask the Lord what he wants us to know about ourselves. He will both encourage us and he will correct us. He will strengthen and he will call to repentance. Otherwise, if we don’t ask him for this revelation, we can easily find ourselves in one of two spiritual states of deception. We may try to justify our spiritual state- thinking better of ourselves than we ought- or we will fall into discouragement and despair, in a false condemnation. But, the Lord will give us the accurate picture. No one else will know our hearts and what we need to work on like Jesus. We won’t even know the full picture. Yet, God knows our hearts.
Today, let’s look at his word to the church in Ephesus.
To the Church in Ephesus
These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. 2I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false.3You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.
4Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. 5Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. 6But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
7Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.
Let’s look at what Jesus says to the Ephesians in verse 2.
- He knows they work hard. They are good at persevering. The Ephesians are committed. They are the “marines” of the 7 churches. They don’t put up with false doctrine or false apostles/prophets. They eat false doctrine for breakfast. They are intense about it. They don’t grow weary at all. Ever. They were born for the battle. When the battle is hot- they run into it. Get the picture? Paul had warned them with tears that the Lord showed him false teachers would come in and devour their church, so they stood strong and were resolved to make sure their church wasn’t destroyed by the deception. Not today, Satan.
- However, in their fierceness for righteousness, somehow they forgot the root of righteousness- love. They forgot the foundation of their faith. They lost their way. They were like battle-hardened warriors who were calloused to the fruit of the Spirit and to their true purpose in being saved- to be known by the Lord and to be loved by the Lord.
- Jesus said this is a great fall. This fall from loving God is so great that it will not matter how fierce they are against false doctrine. The true doctrine is rooted in love. So, all doctrine that is void of love and relationship lacks all foundation.
- Jesus tells them this is a great sin and that they need to repent. Apparently, there is something that they did early in their walk with God that is currently missing by the time this message is given to John. Perhaps there was precious time spent with God that was missing? Perhaps devoted worship was missing? Perhaps they forgot that as people of God who love God, they need to show outward and genuine love to their brothers and sisters? Had they lost their fervor? Had they lost their zeal?
- Jesus tells them that he is happy that they hate the practices of the Nicolatians. (Apparently, hatred is easier than love.) Jesus did say it was okay to hate a practice, in this case.
- Unless they repent- he is going to remove their lamp stand. This is a big deal. Unless they renew their love for the Lord- unless they do some deep soul searching on this and fall back in love with the Lord- he will remove their lamp stand. Some people say that a fierceness for correcting people that are wrong is a proof of love for God, but apparently, Jesus doesn’t agree. A love for God goes deeper.
- Jesus tells us we need spiritual ears to hear this truth. Jesus will give us the right to eat from the tree of life in the paradise with God when we overcome the lovelessness in our lives. Let’s look at this further!
I have been this warrior woman- someone who can identify all that is wrong in the world, but not someone who really loves God well. It’s easy to let the injustices and the lies and the evil wear away at you until your heart is hard. But, I can tell you, there is not a more sure foundation than the love of Jesus. The love of God and our love for God and others is the absolute most powerful and amazing place to live from. It is our reservoir.
It is absolutely necessary to fall in love and stay in love with the Lord. It is the entire foundation of our beings, as believers. For the warrior, this can feel silly. It’s easy to poo-poo love as mushy, gushy. But, it was the love of God who brought about our redemption in the first place. He gives it freely to us out of his grace, mercy, lovingkindness, patience and joy. Jesus embraced the cross with joy- not so we can shout someone down on social media with an argument, but so that we can live in the humbling grace and love of God. He wants us to lavish this love on others as he has lavished it upon us.
1 Corinthians 13:1-13
1If I speak in the tongues a of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, b but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Today, let’s spend time in prayer asking the Lord to forgive us for lovelessness. Let’s seek him to hear where our hearts lie. Perhaps, you are not in the same category as the Ephesians. Perhaps, the Lord is telling you something else today. But, let us all make an effort to ask the Lord for clarity and direction on the state of our hearts.
Prayer time! If you spend 2 minutes on each of these points, you will spend a half an hour in prayer. 2 minutes on each point = 45 minutes. 4 minutes = an hour in prayer. (Who’s counting?! 🙂 Let’s seek to do this out of hearts of love for the Lord!)
- Father God, in Jesus’ name, I know you are in heaven, but I also rejoice that you are my Abba. You are my daddy. I rejoice in your love for me. I rejoice in your heart for me. I do not understand your love, but today I ask that you build me up in my inner being that I can be filled with a supernatural understanding of your love.
- I repent of all lovelessness and ask that you take this heart of stone and give me a heart of flesh. Show me where I am stingy with my love. Show me where my pride hides or withholds love from you and others. Am I stingy with my public displays of love towards you? Is my heart cold? What do you want to say to me about this, Lord? What do you want me to know about my love? (Wait on the Lord. Sit in silence, unless the Lord leads you to say something. If he shows you something, ask him what you need to know about what he showed you. Ask him for direction on how to pray.)
- Lord, give me your Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation so I can personally know you better. I want to know your love. I want to understand the hope of my calling. I don’t quite understand being adopted into the family of God. My heart gets hardened and unresponsive. Please forgive me and teach me your heart. Make me like Jesus. I love you, Lord! I love you!
- Spend time in God’s presence worshipping him.
5. “Lord, my heart has hard places. I forgive those people who have hurt me and have caused me to not trust and love. I forgive in obedience to you, Lord.” Give the Lord your hurt from people in the church who have injured you or tested your faith. Name them one by one. “Lord, some of your people have hurt me. I know they are just human, Lord, like I am. But, it still hurts and it still makes me a little gun shy. I am weary and worn out. I need a refreshing from your Spirit. I need to release this pain to you, Lord. I ask that you will heal me. Forgive me for withdrawing from you when Christians hurt me. Forgive me for projecting the sin of others onto you. Lord I surrender all to you. I love you. I thank you for never leaving me or forsaking me. You are long-suffering. You have stood by me when I was far from you. You are deserving of all of my love. I give you my love today, Lord. I love you, Lord. Teach me to put my love for you into action. Show me what you want me to do today to show my love to you. Give me freedom and power to serve you!”
6. You are holy, Lord God Almighty! I will not let your praises leave my lips. Draw me into your presence, Lord. Visit me with your presence, Lord. May there be nothing in my life that comes between us. Thank you for sending Jesus to die for my sin.
7. I intercede for those who are far from you. Your heart is reconciliation and there are many who do not know you. Lord of the harvest, bring more workers into your harvest field. You are a great Lord of the harvest. You know where the good fruit is. Show me where the ripe fruit is. Where are the people who are ready to hear from you? Where are the people who need your gospel? Teach me to share your gospel with all those around me. Lead me into those precious and necessary conversations about Jesus with those who don’t know you. I pray for these people right now: (list the names of those who God lays on your heart). Lord, I ask that you will open their eyes to who you are and their need for you. Draw them by your loving kindness. Bring them into your sheep fold. Have mercy on their souls, oh Lord. Bring deliverance. Bring salvation. Your salvation come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
8. Break my heart for the lost, Lord. I want your heart for the lost. Forgive me for not having your heart. Help me to be more concerned for the lost than anything else. Fill me with your Spirit to bring people to Christ. May I be a blessing to you, Lord! Fill me with your heart.
9. Give me a heart to love others the way you love. Lord, teach me to serve as you serve. Fill me with your Spirit to serve and to sacrifice. Take my selfishness. Take my coldness. Fill me with a fire to love and to do your will. Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Bring your kingdom to my home and my life. Build your kingdom here and overthrown and overcome the gates of hell. May the devil lose terribly. Exalt yourself, Oh Lord.
10. Provide for my needs, Oh Lord. Give me my daily bread. These are my needs, Lord- (list your needs and cares before the Lord. Don’t feel bad for asking! It says in James, “You have not because you ask not.”) Lord, help me not to ask in accordance with my evil desires, but lead me to pray in your will.
11. Lord, use my life to give abundantly to others. Forgive me for times of greediness and stinginess. Forgive me for stealing from your tithes and offerings to spend money on my own pleasures. Please teach me to give generously to you and to your ministry, Oh Lord! You are good! I want to give offerings so your kingdom work can go forward. It says in Malachi to test me in this and see if I will not open the flood gates of heaven and pour out a blessing. Teach me to be kingdom minded, Lord, and not fearful. Teach me to trust you with my finances and not to live in a poverty mentality.
12. Lord, I want to give you the best of my life and my time. I want to serve you. I want to serve you with all the power that the Spirit gives. Show me where you want me to serve you, Lord. Show me how to serve you in ways that will bless you. (Listen to the Lord on this.)
13. I do warfare against the enemy the devil right now. I stand in Jesus’ power and Jesus’ name. I plead the blood of Jesus over my life and my family. Lord, protect my family. I pray you rebuild all the protection and the walls that have been broken down around my family due to sin. Lord, show me what needs to change in my family. Show me what needs to change in me. I pray against all of Satan’s plans to steal, kill and destroy my family, my life and my church family. I declare these truths about Jesus today:
STANDING IN THE PROTECTION OF THE BLOOD OF JESUS
When we open our mouths in declaration, confessing that we are covered by the blood, we are protected! Here are some suggestions of ways to do this. Say these confessions about the work of the blood of Jesus aloud! It should bring you great freedom to do this regularly!
- Through the blood of Jesus, I am delivered from the hand of Satan!
- Through the blood of Jesus, I am cleansed from all my sin!
- Through the blood of Jesus, I am protected from the destroyer!
- Through the blood of Jesus, I am made righteous before God, and declared not guilty of my sin!
- Through the blood of Jesus, I am whole, delivered, saved and redeemed.
- Through the blood of Jesus, I have a place in the family of God.
- Through the blood of Jesus, I triumph over the devil!
- Thank you, Lord, that the blood of Jesus speaks a better word for me than the blood of Abel.
- Thank you, Lord, that through the blood, I am being sanctified, made holy and brought near to you!
|Father, In Jesus’ name, I praise you because you are glorious. I praise you for Jesus Christ your Son, our Sovereign Lord.I ask that you fill me with the Spirit of wisdom and revelation that I may know you and understand this battle that I am living in. Open the eyes of my heart so that I may see you and the hope that I have in you, in Jesus’ name. I need to know that I have hope in the battle, Lord. Right now I acknowledge that my battle is not against flesh and blood. I am not battling people in this world. I am not battling against my spouse or children. I am not battling against non-believers or family members. I am battling against spiritual rulers and authorities in my life. I am battling against things seen and unseen that raise themselves up against the knowledge of Christ Jesus.I stand against lies and darkness that come against me in Jesus’ name. |
No weapon formed against me shall prosper, in Jesus’ name. I acknowledge the power of Jesus and I praise you that I am seated with him in heavenly realms above all rule and power and authority.I know that in Christ and his resurrection power I am victorious. So, I stand in the armor of Jesus right now. I put on the helmet of salvation. I praise you for my salvation, in Jesus’ name. I thank you for your protection and that you protect my head, my life, my authority through Christ. I rejoice that my name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.I stand firm in the truth of Christ.
I buckle your belt of truth about my waist. I pray that your truth will secure my life. Defend me against the lies of Satan, in Jesus’ name. I know that I am vulnerable apart from you, Lord. I ask in Jesus’ name that you will reveal to me any lies that I am believing and allow me to walk in your truth.
Today, I thank you for the righteousness that is imputed to me in Christ Jesus. I ask for the power of the Holy Spirit to walk in that righteousness. I pray that the righteousness of Christ and the power of God to live a life of holiness will protect my heart. I put on that breastplate of righteousness. Teach me to submit to and obey your truth in the grace that God provides me, oh Lord, in Jesus’ power and holy name.
I also pray, in Jesus’ name, that you will ready my feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace. Everywhere I go, oh Lord, may I be ready to bring your message of good news. Do not let me lose my footing in this area. May my feet truly be the beautiful feet that bring good news to those who are lost and need to find their way. Use me, oh Lord, to bring your salvation to the lives of those who are not in your family. Bring people into my life, in special moments, who need you. Ordain for me opportunities to minister the gospel of Jesus to them.
Father, fill me with faith, in Jesus’ name. I pray that your Spirit will ignite faith in me that I can fight against the devil and be protected from his diversions and lies. I take up your shield of faith, Father. Hide me in the shadow of your wing, oh Lord. Build up my inner spirit in faith. Minister faith to me and help my unbelief, in Jesus’ name!Also, I take up your Holy Word, the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. I ask that daily I will be filled with your Word. I ask that the truth of your Word will work like a mighty weapon in my hands. Teach me to fight the enemy with your Word, oh Lord. Develop in me the spiritual gifts and abilities you want me to use in this battle, in Jesus’ name!
Fill me with your Spirit’s power right now. None of this is possible in my flesh. I trust in your Spirit. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
14. I pray that you will lead me today, Lord. Lead me in paths of righteousness. In these trying times, show me how to live. Show me how to pray. Speak to me. Give me supernatural leading. I want to hear from you through your Word, and also in my spirit. Teach me how to prepare my family for the times that are coming. You, Oh Lord are the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. You are in the future. You know what my family needs to do and how my family needs to be led. I trust you for direction. (Spend time waiting on the Lord. Write down anything that comes to your heart.)
15. Lord, I pray for our nation. I know we are under your judgements, because of our great sin. Be merciful, Oh Lord. Raise up a holy remnant in your church- your body of Christ- to serve you during this dark time. Help the people of God to wake up from their spiritual slumber. Raise up leaders. Wake up leaders. Protect the leaders, the pastors and the teachers from Satan’s attacks of depression, sexual temptation, suicide, greed, deception and worldly-mindedness. Protect their marriages. Protect their families. Raise up your people, Oh Lord. Bring repentance in the church. Bring prayer back to the church. Have mercy on us, Oh Lord, according to your unfailing love. You have been patient for so long. Please hold us in the palm of your hand. Keep us in the protection of your holy name- the name of Jesus. Raise up the church to be a light in these dark times. Snuff out the fires of fear and ignite the fires of the Spirit of God in our hearts. Stretch out your hand to give us boldness in sharing the gospel and to pour out signs and wonders to bring glory to your name. Bring your name glory in us. Your kingdom come. Your will be done. In Jesus’ name. Amen.