As we read Paul’s letters to the Ephesians, we see how he compliments them at length. He addresses them as “the faithful in Christ Jesus … blessed … with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:1-3).
Paul adds that they are a forgiven people, and he prays they would have “the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know … what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe” (1:17-19).
In the book of Revelation, Jesus also compliments the Ephesian Christians, “I know your works, your labor, your patience” (Revelation 2:2). In other words, “I know all the good things going on in your lives. You are diligent in good works, and that is very commendable.”
Jesus continues to compliment them, pointing out, “You cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars” (2:2). He is saying, in essence, “You hate sin with a passion, and you don’t tolerate it in your life, your home or your church. You have not been tossed about by all the latest teachings of the flesh, and you’re able to rightly judge false teachers and false prophets.”
It is obvious that the Ephesians are not just a bunch of novices or lukewarm saints. Yet Jesus points out that something is deeply wrong when he says, “I see all your works — your hatred for sin, your love for truth, your righteous courage — and yet somehow in all your labors you have allowed your affection for me to wane” (see Revelation 2:4).
This should grip your soul! As you faithfully labor for him and practice righteous living, ask the Lord, “Jesus, have I lost my first affection for you?” A good measure of this might be found by a close look at what holds your heart right now. How do you spend your time? What robs you of quality time alone with him? What do you make a priority?
Go back to your first love today! Ask your Father for grace and strength to guard your affection for Christ, your Lord and Savior.
It is wise to remember that no matter how pure, holy and spotless you feel or how secure you think you are, you are not above being tempted! When you love Jesus, when he is the savior of your heart and ruler of your will, you are a marked person in hell. Satan will try to cut you down to the ground and it is a wise believer who realizes this in order to be equipped for the battle.
Paul explains why God permits the devil to try us so severely, “We had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead” (2 Corinthians 1:9). Satan’s purpose is to engulf believers in guilt, fear and condemnation and make them discouraged and downcast, but the Lord takes care of his children.
David said, “If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, when men rose up against us, then they would have swallowed us alive” (Psalm 124:2-3).
David was sorely tempted, fell into adultery, lied and murdered an innocent man. When the prophet Nathan exposed him, Satan surely was convinced that David was down for the count. He expected the king to throw up his hands and exclaim, “What’s the use? I have disgraced God and committed the very sins I’ve preached against. God can never use me now!”
But listen to David’s cries after he repented. “The Lord has chastened me severely, but He has not given me over to death” (Psalm 118:18). He said, “I was tempted and tried, but God would not turn me over to Satan’s power!”
Beloved, if the devil comes at you with powerful temptations, it is not always because you have sin in your life. He could be attacking you because you have turned to the Lord and he is trying to destroy your faith. Let the following scripture encourage your heart:
“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
In the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, vile wickedness ruled and God was not pleased. He sent two angels to Sodom to warn Lot, the nephew of Abraham, of the destruction ahead. Lot was a righteous man (see Genesis 18:19) who lived in this city full of rampant evil and God wanted to alert him to the upcoming annihilation of Sodom so that he could escape with his family.
Lot was hesitant to get out of the city, so the angels literally took him and his family by the hand and led them away from the destruction. “The Lord being merciful to him … they brought him out and set him outside the city” (Genesis 19:16). It is important to note that even though Lot was righteous and God saw something great in him, he was delivered because of the Father’s mercy.
In the church today are righteous people who serve God and live moral lives. Yet, it is only because of the blood of Jesus Christ and not because of any goodness or morality the Lord has seen in them that they are rescued. Think about when you were saved. The Spirit of God took you by the hand, pulled you out of your sins and set you outside the reach of wickedness and rebellion. He brought you out of judgment — out of Sodom — and led you far away from destruction.
We talk about the terrible sins of Sodom but looking around our world today, we see the sins of our society mounting to heaven. Sensuality, immorality and evil are growing bolder and bolder, unrestrained almost to the point of being unimaginable. How is it that we are not swallowed up in it? Why have we not been carried away with the moral landslide?
I tell you, it is all because of the absolute mercy of God! “But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth” (Psalm 86:15).
Beloved, search God’s Word and believe all he has said about his mercy toward you.
The devil loves to tell you that you’re no good, useless, weak. He tells you that you are a total failure and will never measure up to God’s standard. On top of that, he wants to convince you that God is angry with you.
These are all lies that come straight from the pit of hell! The enemy of your soul is determined to undermine your relationship with your heavenly Father and sidetrack you from the purpose for which you are called and anointed. Since you know Satan is a liar, let’s look at proof that Jesus has made you worthy by his sacrifice on the cross.
“He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:14).
The Father has made us fit, worthy, qualified in character “to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints.” What Jesus did on the cross qualifies you for eternal inheritance, and if God has qualified you for eternal life, he will make you fit in character as well.
You cannot obtain the righteousness of Christ by working for it, but you can obtain it by believing in it and trusting God for it. Not only are you saved by faith but you are sanctified by faith, justified by faith, healed by faith, kept by faith. It all happens by faith in what the Savior has done.
Don’t make the mistake of listening to Satan’s lies about your walk with Jesus. Truly, you are worthy because of his sacrifice; his love endures forever! You can stand before all of heaven and earth in full assurance and confidence.
Jesus’ followers were gathered together in the Upper Room when the Holy Spirit came and filled everyone in the place (see Acts 2:1-4). As a crowd gathered outside, Peter was emboldened by the Spirit to preach and three thousand people came to Christ (see Acts 2:41).
Following this historic spiritual awakening, Peter and John were walking to the Temple when they encountered a crippled beggar. As the man pleaded for alms, Peter told him, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” (Acts 3:6). Instantly the beggar was healed.
This miracle had a riveting effect: “While he clung to Peter and John, all the people, utterly astounded, ran together to them in the portico” (3:11). The healed man “clung” to Peter and John; it was as if he was saying, “God’s presence is real. I have been here for years, begging for help, but I never experienced anything like this. God has stirred my soul beyond anything I’ve ever known.”
God loves to be clung to. He loves a heart that pursues him and cries, “Lord, your glory is too great to let it pass by. I cling to the hope you give me — hope for healing, for transformation, for your presence in my life and my world.”
In verse 11, all the people were astounded and came to see what had happened. When God manifests his glory, the greatness of his power demands the attention of everyone around. If such a miracle were to happen in your local church, there would not be room enough to accommodate the throngs that would come to observe and be a part of it. You see, people are hungry for the touch of God in their lives, believers and nonbelievers alike. Everyone wants to experience newness of life, something that is real.
God has placed all his majesty, glory and power in one source: Christ. Because of his transforming power, you can experience his presence and live a victorious life that gives forth a testimony to all those around you.