“Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You”.
Even as the eternal bride of our beloved Lord, He will as a Bridegroom filled with love, will want to share secrets that only He and God the Father and God the Holy Spirit know. No angels will have this eternal marital privilege of Jesus our Bridegroom and having the joy of sharing those secrets with this bride alone. He will never come to an end of sharing, Psalm 145:3, “Great is the LORD, and highly to be praised; And His greatness is unsearchable.” Yes, His greatness is unsearchable (it will never end)! He will always have wonderful secrets to share with His bride.
Scripture tells us that we see through a glass dimly but what we see brings us joy unspeakable full of glory. I truly can’t imagine how great it will be in heaven! He truly wants us to begin now to search out His character and know Him more deeply, growing daily in our love of Him.
Did you ever notice that Jesus, our Messiah, the One who gave His life as a ransom for us because of His great love for us, reveals Himself in a unique way to each of the seven churches in the book of Revelation? And to each He reveals a different reward or blessing for those who overcome. We can’t just rush by these revelations without taking time to understand why Jesus was so specific in His revelation to us. The blessing seems to be very significant to the revelation of Him to each church. The blessing is also tied to both the revelation and the error in that church that must be overcome in order to be in right alignment with the Lord. That does not mean that the revelation nor the blessing is tied to one church, but if we take our time and allow the Holy Spirit to teach us I believe we will be challenged to examine our lives and be convicted of areas where we might be lacking. The Holy Spirit will guide you into all truth, John 16:13, "But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He shall glorify Me; for He shall take of Mine, and shall disclose [it] to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said, that He takes of Mine, and will disclose [it] to you.”
Do you remember when you were in school and the teacher would surprise the class with a “pop quiz”? That was dreadful for many students because they didn’t study until it was announced that a test was coming. Many people live their life that way even among believers. They do whatever they want and think they have plenty of time before the “final test” comes. Unfortunately, that is not the way of Christ. Read our Scripture text for today, it is a journey, each day is important and each day is an opportunity to grow in the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ. Unless we have been transformed to a new life by coming into agreement with the Holy Spirit as He reveals our sins and weaknesses and repent and turn to walking in the way of the Lord, the truth will not be in us. We will be found walking on the broad path that leads to destruction. “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)
Most people are so focused on the end time “events” and trying to predict each situation and predict the time of the apocalypse that they totally miss the tender love that the Lord is speaking to draw us to Himself to encourage us and remind us that He will never leave us or forsake us. (Deuteronomy 31:6,8; Hebrews 13:5) But there is a cost to us and that cost is obedience out of a heart of love. His walk on earth even demonstrated for us how this love is developed and grown so that we too can be “one with the Father”. “that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.” (John 17:21)
As I was talking to the Lord regarding what He wanted to show us He impressed upon my heart a simple truth; we cannot state that one character or attribute of our Lord is more important than another. “God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM’; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” (Exodus 3:14) But there is an order to laying a foundation and if that foundation is not built correctly it will not be firm. Its integrity will have been compromised and there will not be a testimony of truth in its existence or stability. Thus, there is an order to how Jesus addresses the churches. He begins with His authority because if we don’t recognize His authority we have missed the entire message! He is the cornerstone! “For this is contained in Scripture: ‘BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A CHOICE STONE, A PRECIOUS CORNERSTONE, AND HE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.’” (1 Peter 2:6) Therefore thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, a costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed. he who believes in it will not be disturbed.” (Isaiah 28:16)
We need to take note that each of the letters was written to the “head” of each church, that is the leaders. There is a double message here. It is a personal message for those who are “the shepherds” for they are held to a standard of truth for both their lives and also what they are teaching to their sheep. “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.” (James 3:1)
The Lord is challenging the “sheep” as well. Sheep are not known for being “smart”. They are not leaders, they are followers. The shepherd had to establish a relationship with them so that they would follow his voice and be safe. A shepherd is to teach and protect. However, we are living in very dangerous times and the shepherds are leading the flock astray. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10) They use enough Scripture to appear at first glance as being spiritual but they preach apostasy. Are you spiritually alert and grounded in the Word to discern if they are false teachers, apostles, prophets, pastors, etc.? Unfortunately the majority of people in the church are not and this breaks the Lord’s heart. Jesus taught on this a lot but the Word has gone unheeded. The sheep are deceived and following the deceiver who has disguised himself as a vessel of light. “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:13) “No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” (2 Corinthians 11:14) “Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.” (2 Corinthians 11:15)
I strongly believe this is one of the reasons that Jesus spoke to John the Revelator the specific things He did to the seven churches. IT IS ONE LAST WARNING! Jesus will return in a flash but it is not without warning. Today there are many watchman on the wall discerning the apostasy being taught and sending out a warning but they are being ignored by the vast majority of people who perceive themselves to be saved. Please take heed to this warning and be diligent to take it to prayer. If you sincerely desire the truth the Holy Spirit will open your eyes to the truth of what is being taught in your church and where you may have gone off course. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) “Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments; “(Deuteronomy 7:9 emphasis mine) “My eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me; he who walks in a blameless way is the one who will minister to me.” (Psalm 101:6 emphasis mine) And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He *said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” (Revelation 21:5)
To the church of Ephesus, “The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven golden lampstands,...” (Revelation 2:1) Jesus first wants us to understand that He is the One who gave the revelation to the Apostle John. His Word is true. Jesus *said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6) “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1 emphasis mine) “even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life. This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (John 17:2-3)
Scripture builds upon Scripture and Jesus doesn’t introduce anything “new”, He is bringing further understanding to what He revealed while on earth. His words also reflect that which was taught by the prophets and writers in the Old Testament. Remember that the Old Testament is still vital to us today, we are seeing it fulfilled. Jesus said, “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” (Matthew 5:18) If our beliefs are anything other than what He is speaking our foundation is not firm. “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16) Also note that in the previous scripture the Apostle Paul addressed Timothy directly about his own life, and it applies the same to you and me today. “and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 3:15) The “all Scripture” in verse 16 is the Old Testament (Hebrew Scriptures), and the “sacred writings” in verse 15 are also referring to the Hebrew Scriptures. There was no “New Testament” at that time so everything being written about was taken from the Hebrew writings. Those who teach we are no longer under the Old Testament are teaching apostasy! The above Scriptures alone prove the importance and relevance of ALL Scripture!
His right hand represents His authority and integrity. “But from now on THE SON OF MAN WILL BE SEATED AT THE RIGHT HAND of the power OF GOD.” (Luke 22:69) He is the head of the church and will judge all and hold those who are His to accountability for what they have or have not done according to God’s plan for their lives. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:10) “He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.” (Colossians 1:18) We do not have a firm foundation if we are not obedient to the Word. “And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell--and great was its fall.” (Matthew 7:25-27 emphasis mine)
Did you notice that He speaks of seven churches and seven lampstands? Seven represents sanctification, holiness, being set apart for the Lord. The churches and lampstands are actually the same, they are the churches which are to burn their oil continuously to guide the lost to Jesus! They are to preach the pure Word of God, nothing more, nothing less. They are to be unstained by the ways of the world. The believers are also to be holy and blameless in the sight of God. (Blameless does not mean that we are sinless but that we are living a life of holiness and no one can point a finger that we are doing something wrong that can be seen in our walk.) If we are trying to fit into the world we will fall far from this admonishment of our dear Lord. Unless we are truly in love with our Lord we will have a struggle in discerning why obedience is so important and why an intimate relationship is so important. You will find the Word of God oppressive rather than finding freedomYou will find the Word of God oppressive rather than finding freedom! “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1) “So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, ‘If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.’” (John 8:31-32 emphasis mine)
When we talk about obedience, it is obedience to the Word, not to man’s addition to the Word to oppress people into following man’s laws. That is exactly what the Pharisees did and Jesus condemned them because they followed the tradition of the elders rather than the Word of God.(They had added more rules to obey that are not in the Word.) “And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, that you should walk in it.” (2 John 1:6) It also applies to the extreme in the other direction. If you are chasing the appearance of angels and gold dust and great signs, you too have strayed from God’s Word. A disciple will grow in understanding and put away childish things. “So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.” (Romans 14:12) “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ;” (Philippians 1:9-10) “so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world,” (Philippians 2:15)
“Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.” (Romans 13:11-14)
The veil was torn when Jesus cried out with His last breath, “It is finished”! His death made a way for you and me to enter into the Holy of holies and meet with Him face to face. But His holiness still stands. Nothing unclean can live in His presence. This is the area that satan has greatly deceived people today and it is so prevalent in our churches today. There is a false teaching that “grace” will overlook our sins. God’s grace is the door in which we enter to repent of our sin and be washed clean. “Come now, and let us reason together, Says the LORD, ‘Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool.’” (Isaiah 1:18) There is a special message for us in this passage, Jesus uses the number seven twice, He is emphasizing the need for sanctification of our lives. Without this sanctification we will not have this “first love” love relationship with the Lord and we, too, will be condemned. “but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.” (1 Peter 1:15-16 emphasis mine) Remember we will never be completely holy as our Lord in this life but it should be our loving spiritual desire to become more like Him each day so that we should be able to look back and see how we have changed to become more like our Lord. The Apostle Paul wrote, “Not that I have already obtained [it,] or have already become perfect, but I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12) our Lord is pleased when that is our all encompassing desire. This is what an intimate loving relationship with our Lord is all about.
The “stars” which are in Jesus’ right hand are God’s messengers (angels) which are watching over the churches. When I think of these ministering angels I feel both wonder and fear. The wonder and amazement of God’s lovingkindness which sends heavenly messengers to watch over and protect us; the fear of their power (not fear as afraid but with heavenly reverence) as to their presence. There is nothing hidden and they see all and know all and are a witness against us when we sin! Leaders of the congregations should take heed to this truth that they do not become so hardened of heart that the Words of Scripture should condemn them, “THERE IS NO FEAR OF GOD BEFORE THEIR EYES.” (Romans 3:18) My dear friend, do you “fear to hurt the One you love”? Or do you believe that because of grace you don’t need to repent and you are “safe” because one day in the past you said you believed in Jesus? “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe--and tremble!” (James 2:19) A couple of Scriptures which may help guide you into His presence to reveal your heart are: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.” (Psalm 139:23-24) “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?” (2 Corinthians 13:5) “and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14) God’s Word has not changed. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8) “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)
Why does Jesus reveal His authority to the Church of Ephesus? “He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.” (Colossians 1:18 emphasis mine) “and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority;” (Colossians 2:10 emphasis mine) Does He have complete rule and authority over these believers? There are many areas in which they are standing firm in His Word. That is good. They are hard working and do not grow weary in serving. Good...right? They test those who call themselves prophets and apostles and do not allow false teachers or leaders. Another good thing...right? They also appear to have a firm foundation because they have continued to preach the Word even in the midst of persecution. While all of these things seem good, there is a major problem...‘But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.’ (Revelation 2:4) They have become a church of “works” and they have forged ahead and left Jesus behind! He is not the center of the church, He is not their heart! “keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.” (Jude 1:21) Let’s take this one step further, the Apostle John also gave us a strong word in another of his letters that we need to be reminded of as we ask the Holy Spirit to show us the true meaning of the words of Jesus. ”... God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” (1 John 4:16)
They remind me of a social service agency. And, yes, you can have a pastor preaching the Word but without any presence from the Holy Spirit. I’ve been in those churches. They are active! They are growing! They are serving the community! They teach the Word without power, “holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; avoid such men as these.” (2 Timothy 3:5) “But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they were saying to you, ‘in the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.’ These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit.” (Jude 1:17-19)
How serious is their situation? Very serious to Jesus! But because of His great love, He is giving them a strong warning because He does not want any to perish! “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9) “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves;” (2 Corinthians 4:7)
‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.’ (Revelation 2:7) There is a dramatic difference between hearing someone’s words and “hearing with understanding and obedient action”! Jesus ends each of His warnings to the seven churches with the warning to not block the revelation of the Holy Spirit to what He is saying. He repeats it seven times! Sanctification, holiness! Nothing less than a serious walk with the Lord. We have been reminded over and over again in this devotional that we are to be holy and blameless. The first step is that of sanctification, setting ourselves aside for the Lord. Be emptied of ourselves and be filled with Him and He will transform our lives but also be able to work through us to touch the lives of other lost souls. As Jesus said to His Father in the garden, He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, ‘O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.’ (Matthew 26:42) He also taught us in the Lord’s Prayer, And he said unto them, ‘When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.’ (Luke 11:2) John the Baptist, the forerunner to the revelation of Jesus Christ, told his disciples, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30) This is the ONLY way that we will be overcomers. We can’t do it on our own, it must be done by the Holy Spirit living in us!
Before we can receive any other “crowns” or blessings from the Lord, we must be overcomers and granted our eternal home with the Lord. That is the privilege of eating from the tree of life, eternal life in the Kingdom of God! Dear friends, this is our first step. Can you truly say with the Apostle Paul, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” (Galatians 2:20)?
Abba Father, Thank You for Your words of love and life. Thank You that You care so deeply for us that You have continued to give us warnings to convict us of our sins and call us to repentance. Your Word is sweeter than honey and more precious than gold! (Psalm 119:103) Your words are life to me! My heart cries out for Your return. Help me to be continually reminded that I am now living in eternity with You and am a being of light in this dark world. It is Your will that I desire to know and rest in You. Thank You that You are for me and not against me. Thank You that Your ways are higher than my ways. Thank You that Your word will not come back void, it will return with the revelation of truth. Thank You in advance as You continue to wash away my sin as I repent of that which is in my life that is not in right alignment with You. Job asked a very important question that each of us must deal with if we are going to continue our journey with you. ‘Can mankind be just before God? Can a man be pure before his Maker?’ (Job 4:17) Until we are surrendered and acknowledge that it is only by the power of the Holy Spirit in us that can transform us into Your image can this be true. This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel saying, ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD of hosts.” (Zechariah 4:6) I again lay down my life and desire to be wholly acceptable in Your sight. This I pray in the blessed name of our dear Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! Amen!