The warning from Jesus to the church of Ephesus was simple: Repent or I will remove the golden lampstand from your midst. In Revelation 1, we find the beloved disciple, John, banished to the Island of Patmos as punishment for proclaiming the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus. We find him in the Spirit worshiping the Lord on the Lord’s Day when Jesus appeared to Him with a voice as the “sound of a trumpet.” After hearing this demanding voice Revelation 1:12, 13 proclaims, “Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands; and in the middle of the lampstands I saw one like a son of man” He saw Jesus standing in the midst of the lampstands.
With the symbolic portrait of Jesus in Revelation 1 we have to decipher the meaning behind the symbolism. However, in regards to the lampstands, Jesus gave us a full description. He says in Revelation 1:20, “the seven lampstands are the seven churches.” For Jesus to remove the lampstand from the church of Ephesus would then mean that Jesus removed the very fact that they are a true Holy Spirit-anointed church.
I can’t help but to wonder how many meeting places there are in this world that have the name church on a sign just outside of their building. They function as a church. They call themselves a church. Others more than likely view them as churches. They are likely members of a denomination that have many true Holy Spirit-anointed churches within its ranks. However, they chose at some point in their history not to heed the warnings of Jesus and repent. For that reason, they gave the Holy Spirit an eviction notice because they are more in love with their ways than they are with God’s. It is not our place to judge churches as to whether or not they are true Holy Spirit-anointed churches. However, the frightening fact is that I believe the above stated scenario is played out in cities, towns, and communities all over the world.
Drought brings about death, and death is the absence of life. This statement is simplistically elementary; yet for some reason we have such a difficult time comprehending this very truth in spiritual life. If there is no function, there is no life. God has created the church to function. He has created the church to worship Him, to evangelize the lost, and to actively engage in missions and ministry. If we are not a functioning church, are we truly a living church?
I am not making a moral argument for or against artificial life support. However, we need to understand that when dealing with the church, artificial life support is nonexistent. Jesus is the only life support the church needs. Anything else is false fire which is manmade, man centered, and insulting to a holy God. We think having exciting music or excellent orators or an abundance of wealth is a sign of God’s blessings; yet, Jesus said to the church of Laodicea in Revelation 3:17, “you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.”
Exciting music, excellent orators, and an abundance of wealth are wonderful things if they are Jesus centered and used for His glory. However, when we view these and things of the like as signs of life rather than the presence of the Lord in our midst, we are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. We stand in need of repentance.
We have also fallen into the trap of thinking numbers, size, and finances are signs of the life and vitality of a church. An elephant void of vital signs is just as dead as a mouse in like condition. Likewise, a poor man is just as dead as a rich man when he breathes his last. Regardless of the size or wealth of the congregation, the true question is what is my church doing to have an impact for the kingdom of God in the name of and for the glory of Jesus Christ? Is my church functioning, is it moving, or is it simply existing? Jesus didn’t call us to simply exist; He called us to “go therefore”!
A church that is experiencing spiritual drought is not necessarily a dead church. Unresolved drought brings about death, but drought in and of itself is not death. It is a warning that the vital signs of the church are in critical condition and stand in need of action. If the church takes the appropriate action by repenting and turning back to Jesus, there will be revival. However, if the church refuses to respond to the looming reality of drought, death is inevitable.
I believe that God has given to us a great example of a healthy church in Acts 2:41-47. If our churches are healthy and vibrant, they should be devoted to the similar things that the first Christian church was devoted to. A church with the same devotion and passion as the first church is a healthy, vibrant church. However, if our churches are not lining up with the biblical model that God has given, we stand in need of repentance.
Before we move further I would like to give a warning. Often times we view a church that is dead or dying as a lost cause and lose hope for that church. We may then as vocational ministers of the church or as laymen have an inclination to jump ship and move to another church. I believe that this is one of the very reasons many of our churches are in such poor shape. Often pastors will stay at a church just long enough to discover that the church has problems only to go to another church to discover they too have problems. The problems are then left unattended and the church remains unhealthy and ineffective.
If churches were beyond hope, there would be no point in this study. The purpose of this study is not condemnation; it is for restoration leading to revival. Let us not forget that the same Jesus that called Lazarus from the tomb is the same Jesus that is working to restore our churches this present day. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8).
With this in mind let us set in our hearts and minds that we will be the light that shines on a hill and the salt that preserves the life of the church. As the old hymn says, “though no one join me I still will follow, no turning back, no turning back”. With humble hearts set on being the Lord’s servants, let’s set our goal to be the one who is “steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord”. And though we may stand alone, let us be the one who stands in the gap! Let us not be a part of the problem but a tool of the Lord for a solution to the problem.
Day 9 Prayer Guide
- Ask God to reveal any sin or mindset that would prevent Him from hearing your prayers.
- Repent of any such hindrance and ask for God’s forgiveness.
- Ask God to remove any doubts and keep you focused on Him.
- Seek the Holy Spirit to consume you during this time to lead you. Be obedient to Him.
- Ask yourself why you serve God. If it’s not out of love, repent.
- Spend some time praising God for the fact that He is able. Quote some scriptures or some of His characteristics to Him in praise.
- Pray that the people of God will repent of sins and mindsets that dishonor and hinder Him.
- Pray that the people of God will seek the presence of God in their lives and their churches life.
- Pray that the people of God would hunger and thirst for Him and therefore, seek His face.
- Pray that the church as a whole would return to their first love.
- Pray that the people of God would be passionately in love with Jesus.
- Ask God to raise up a mighty army of prayer warriors.
- Pray that the people of God will stand in faith knowing God can reclaim this land.
- Pray that our churches would be devoted to, and peruse the things that honor God.
- Pray that our churches will be a house of prayer.
- Pray that our churches will be shining bright lights on a hill.
- Pray that the people of God would see the need for revival and begin to seek God for it.
- Pray specifically for revival in your church. Pray for your pastor and church leaders.
- Pray for a great awakening in your community. Name off streets and neighborhoods.
- Do not be judgmental in this, but pray that if there is any within the church who do not have a genuine relationship with Jesus that God would convict their heart and save them.
- Make a list of individuals who are not saved and begin petitioning God for their salvation.
- Pray for repentance of sin and a great awakening in our nation.