The Amazing Grace of God
In the second and third chapters of the book of Revelation, Jesus had a message for seven churches that He wanted the Apostle John to write down. The first of these churches was the church of Ephesus. As we take another look at Revelation 2:1-7 and see the message that Jesus delivered to the church of Ephesus, I can’t help but to notice that there are great similarities between the church of Ephesus and many modern day churches in America today.
Jesus started off by praising the church that in the midst of all the trials and tribulation they faced, they continued to serve God in their perseverance. Although persecution today in the American church is nothing compared to the persecution the first century church went through, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to be a Christian in American society. Yet, at the same time the faithful few continue to persevere. Secondly, Jesus praised them for the fact that they did not tolerate evil men. Immorality and wickedness have become a normal way of life in our modern American society. It is easy to conform to the wickedness of man’s ways as many churches have. However, most churches today still continue to raise the banner of morality and holiness. Lastly, Jesus praised them for their firm stance on the Word of God by putting to the test those who claimed to be apostles and were not. Liberalism has certainly wrapped its ugly paws around many of our churches, denominations, bible colleges, and seminaries by denying the accuracy and reliability of God’s Word. Yet, when I look at the average Christian that is faithful to the Lord and stands firm in their walk, they believe the Word of God to be nothing short of accurate truth just as God has intended us to have.
Although Jesus had these three words of praise for the church of Ephesus, He also had something against them. Jesus said to this church in Revelation 2:4, “But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.” Although they persevered through trials, stood against immorality, and stood firm on the Word of God by testing those who had contrary teachings, they were a church that was simply going through the motions. They lost their zeal, their passion, and their drive because they had left their first love. They were no longer motivated to persevere, stand for morality, or stand firm on God’s Word because of their love for Christ. Tradition had now set in so that they were simply doing things the way they have always done.
Unfortunately, so many of our churches slipped into this slump and are operating out of a sense of duty and obligation rather than a fiery passion of love for the Lord. Jesus told them what His desire was for them in Revelation 2:5, He said, “therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first.” They needed to repent and turn to their first love. Their first love is none other than Jesus Himself. He also told them to do the deeds they did at first. Looking at this church on the outside, one would think this is a wonderful church doing wonderful deeds. However, their deeds were not centered around their love for the Lord; therefore, they have no power in them. Jesus desired for them to repent, returning to the deeds that were centered out of their love for Him.
Jesus also told the church if they did not repent that He would remove the golden lampstand from their midst. Jesus tells us in Revelation 1:20 that the lampstand is the representation of the church itself. I believe other scripture such as Revelation 4:5 points to the lampstand as being a symbol of the Holy Spirit that anoints the church to fulfill the seven-fold calling that God has placed upon the church that we see outlined in Isaiah 61:1, 2. In other words, what Jesus was saying to the church is that if they do not repent, He then will remove the anointing presence of the Holy Spirit from their midst.
Once a church has left its first love and the Holy Spirit is removed, all that remains is the powerless operation of the flesh. Because of this, we have seen a surge in new church plants popping up throughout America. As a church planter, I am all for new church starts. However, when we see the heart of Jesus towards the church of Ephesus, we see His heart wants to apply grace through their repentance. He wants to heal the existing church through their repentance. Jesus’ heart is that all of His churches are filled with the anointing power of His Spirit. However, if we are not operating as a result of our love of the Lord, then He will not permit His Spirit to move; and we are forced to operate in the flesh. Choosing to operate in the flesh is as foolish as choosing to wage a war with a mighty army using nothing more than water pistols.
How then do we repent and return to the love of the Lord? “And My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways.” God said when we do this, He not only will hear from heaven giving us the power to serve Him, He will also forgive our sins. When we recognize our sinfulness and turn to the Lord, He applies grace to our lives. The grace of God is the unmerited favor of God. As we come to the realization of God’s grace in our lives, I believe we won’t have any other desire but to love Him and serve Him from a heart of pure love.
Day 40 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.
- 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 live out the principles of II Chronicles 7:14
- Pray that the people of God’s faith will move them to works.
- Pray each section of II Chronicles 7:14 over yourself and your church.
- Ask God to hear our prayers, forgive our sins, and heal our land.
- 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 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 that the people of God will be broken hearted over the lost.
- Pray that the church will be a gospel centered church with a heart to evangelize the world while starting in their own back yard.
- Pray that the power of God would fall on the church moving them to prayer and sowing the gospel seed.
- 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.