When the Lord awakened my heart to see His beauty and affection in a new way, I experienced a simultaneous awakening of hunger for Him—stronger than I’d ever known before. The wide-open invitation to press into the Word of God and discover the inexhaustible pleasures of knowing Him compelled me like nothing ever had in my life. I remember biblical prayers so new to me pouring out from my heart with the warmth of fresh faith and newborn desires for their fulfillment. One of these prayers was the cry of Paul “to comprehend . . . the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge, that [I] may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:18–19). What did that mean? What did that look like? What would He give to the human heart if He had His full way with it? How far would He let me go in knowing Him if He found in me no reservation or doubt but only a welcoming, faith-filled hunger and agreement? How deeply would He satisfy that cultivated desire?

Fast-forwarding a few decades, I reached a point where my heart quit working as it once did. Somewhere in the middle of all the setbacks, the confusion, the accusations, and the discouragement that accumulated over decades, I had gradually drawn back from those early desires I possessed at first. Not knowing what had caused the subtle waning of my love and affection, I found my heart wrenched in conviction over Jesus’ insistence to keep my first love for Him. I wrestled continually over these resolute words from Revelation 2 that revealed Jesus’ adamancy that I would not only love Him in the general sense but love Him perpetually with the same quality of love I possessed at first. As I set my heart to respond, repent, and return to Him in this, the first thing the Lord did was to fan the flame of those first desires by stirring the early achings and thirsts in me once again.

First Love Is First Desire

First love for Jesus begins when the God-given tasting of His beauty and worth awakens a holy desire in us that refuses to be comforted except with God Himself. New, holy longings born of the Spirit of God lay hold of us, and we begin to groan and ache for more of Him until our aching is met with His fullness. These yearnings are not neutral. They alter the course of our lives and change our trajectories because they get to the bottom of our affections.

When Jesus calls us, as He did the church in Ephesus, to return to our first love for Him, He is calling us to return to our first longing and desire for Him—to induce that thirst again. He
reminds us that the deep aching we had for Him in the beginning was not of our own making but His hand upon us. He has not forgotten or altered His purpose to answer and fulfill the longing He has marked us with. When He wants to draw us after Himself, this is the ache that He pulls upon. He calls our name and beckons us back to those tender affections. He goes back to that first thirst and stirs it, causing us to pant after Him again.

Fervent, holy desires are inextricable to our love for Jesus. They are part of our first love for Him and are never meant to be abandoned or drawn back from. They are inextricable aspects of the ultimate love the Lord is establishing in us to be kept and cultivated into full maturity and intensity. Love and longing are so closely tied that the minute you divide them, you’ve lost the essence of both. Love is not true love without desire arising from it, and desire is not true desire except that it proceeds from love. Thus, to love Jesus is to long for Him.

Longing and desire are the painful parts of love. They are the sides of love that hurt in delay,
that ache and refuse to forget the more that Jesus has for us, unsatisfied with anything less. Our longing for Jesus always proclaims, “He is so beautiful that everything I have tasted of Him is not enough.” Our longing gives testimony to both how we have found Him to be the source of all satisfaction and how we have not been fully answered until the glorious future day when our faith in Jesus is finally made sight and our hope is fully realized. To love Him in this way is not always comfortable, but to love Him in a way devoid of aching is not love.

Longing for Jesus is sweet and welcomed by us in the beginning yet often much more difficult as the years go by and we experience setbacks in our lives. When delays come and confusion knocks on the door, we are prone to wall up our hearts from the vulnerability of the achings for God we had at first. The fires and obstacles we face in our lives can strike us as His denial when we don’t yet fully comprehend the holy origins of our hunger and when we don’t yet see how jealous He is to answer them. Awakened by His hand, these desires are central to our glorious future, serving as the beginnings of where the entire journey is aimed.

What we easily forget and need reminding of—what my own heart needed a shift of perspective on—is that the delays we experience along the way are not God’s denial of our prayers. Rather, they serve as preparatory agents to ready us for the answer to our cries to know Him and to walk in friendship with Him. Though there be a sting in the aching, He wants us to return to this vulnerable yearning as part of our love for Him. He wants us to press through the delays we experience, still believing, still desiring, and still longing for His fullness with an open heart.

Mature Love for Jesus Means Desire at Full Capacity

Before Jesus’ return, the Body of Christ will know Him as their Bridegroom and identify themselves corporately as His Bride, fully embodying the qualities of first love with desire and longing for the Son of God in full maturity. A betrothed bride is the quintessential picture of first love, and the biblical testimony attests to the aim of God’s leadership in our lives to bring forth and establish such love in us. The finale of this age is a great wedding as the pure and spotless Bride, the Church, is prepared and made ready for the wedding supper of the Lamb.

With joy and exultation that have been pent up in long, anticipation-filled waiting and groaning for all the ages, finally, with one voice, we will cry out in glorious proclamation:

Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready. . . .
Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb! (Revelation 19:6–9)

The first commandment expressed in maturity—to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength—is also to desire at full capacity. Full love must be undergirded by full desire. We want Jesus with all our being and with all of our affections. This is what we see at the end of the story as Jesus brings His Church into fully mature love—knowing and comprehending the height, width, depth, and length of His love—and made ready to be presented to Him, glorious and without blemish (Ephesians 3:16, 18–19; 5:27).

Out of the substance of true relational knowledge of Jesus will arise a lovesick, all-consuming, unified, desirous cry. This isn’t an uninformed desire. This isn’t a cry for only some aspects of Jesus. The corporate song of the Bride of Christ will be: “He is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend” (Song of Solomon 5:16). And out of every tribe and nation will come forth this comprehensive calling out for Jesus to return, an eruption of holy longing and agreement with the Lord (Revelation 22:17). This is Jesus’ inheritance: a lovesick Bride—a yearning Church. He has set His heart upon it, prophesied it, and jealously works within our hearts by His Spirit to bring it forth (Matthew 9:15).

It is with the full weight of this future that Jesus’ appeal to return to first love comes—a call increasingly poignant as this present age comes to a close. If we have never known such holy awakenings, He calls us to come to Him, to drink and be satisfied that our souls would live—to find His love better than every other pleasure (Song of Solomon 1:2; Isaiah 55:1–3). Jesus beckons His Church, individually and corporately. He calls as the Bridegroom with the heart and message He has always faithfully conveyed: He wants love and desire at the center of our relationship with Him, and He refuses that love to grow cold (Matthew 22:37; 24:12).

Does your love for Jesus need a refreshing? What steps can you take?


Dana Candler
Speaker and Author

“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength” – (Mark 12:30).

Our greatest privilege is to hunger after God and seek Him with all our heart. There is nothing else more fulfilling than living wholeheartedly for Him in this life, but so few live lives that provoke us to this kind of radical lifestyle. Even many in the unconverted world are looking for people who have such a passion that no sacrifice will stop them in their pursuit.

One example just recently is the 64-year-old long-distance swimmer, Diana Nyad, who broke the record with a 53-hour, 110 mile Cuba-to-Florida swim. This was her 5th attempt and her life-long dream of 35 years. Against all odds, including jellyfish, age, distance and sharks, she came on shore welcomed by crowds snapping photos, with the simple message, “We should never give up. You are never too old to chase your dreams.” Diane was passionate, radical, and determined. It was on national news. A newspaper article said that this was an inspiration to Baby Boomers everywhere!

If one person can inspire multitudes through passion in swimming, shouldn’t we as Christians influence many who are lost by our wholehearted consecration to God?

But in order to do this, each one of us needs the heart revelation that God loves us wholeheartedly. We need our heart to be awakened to this incredible truth. God is not asking us to do something that He himself does not do. He loves us first. Our wholehearted God is wholehearted towards each one of us. He gives us grace to receive His love and to give it back to Him. The revelation of this incredible love of God is the very launching point for a consecrated life of total and wholehearted abandonment.

Consecration to God is something we see little of in a world that is looking for excitement, quick fixes, and glamor. Where are those that can say?

“I want God and nothing else in this world. I want to go as far as it is possible for a human to go in seeking after God and living abandoned to Him. My heart pants after God (Psalm 42). I want to provoke others to jealousy by my choices day-by-day and hour-by-hour to live for God and Him alone.”

This is the kind of life that will touch the world with the reality of what it really means to be a lover of God. The world has only a false glamour because it doesn’t really satisfy. It promises high rewards, but it only leads to disappointment and death. But what does it mean to live a consecrated life? What are some ways to begin to live like this?

A Consecrated Life

This generation is tired of lukewarm Christianity. They are looking for the real thing, the one thing to give their lives to that will truly make them alive inside.

When you give God your all, life changes. God is looking all over the earth for those who are consecrated, those who will pray, those who will give their 100%. Recently we has a couple in their 90’s, Frank and Marie Drown, speak to a group in our home. They were missionaries in Ecuador for 34 years. Frank is the one who recovered the bodies of the five missionary martyrs reaching the Alca Indians in Ecuador in 1956. Jim Elliot and Nate Saint were two of them. Perhaps you know of Jim’s wife, Elisabeth Elliot, who has written many books. Frank shared the details of this heart-wrenching experience with tears.

Frank and Marie have lived consecrate lives. To this day they speak a message of consecration and sacrifice. It was a joy to listen to ones who had lived out commitment in the face of danger and all odds, reaching headhunters with the love of God. They shared with joy, and we experienced the overflow of consecrated lives.

What does it mean to be consecrated? Consecration is a voluntary act of committing oneself to worship, prayer, and service to God. The word “consecrated” literally means:“to unite by force with the sacred.” John the Baptist lived a consecrated life.

“From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of God suffered violence and the violent take it by force” (Matthew 11:12).

There is an overflow of a consecrated life. You can’t hide it. Others see it, are drawn to it, and want it. Some are convicted and others hate it because it points out and rebukes the luke-warm and the dead. Spiritual violence is the expression of our willingness to pay any price of self-denial in seeking and obeying God. This is consecration. This is what revival is all about – a personal dedication to Jesus and no other; a commitment that is lived out only by grace and the power of God. Can you say to God?

“I’m hungry. I want more! Take me into the consecrated life. Nothing else satisfies. Make my heart alive in you and nothing else. Show me how to truly live for your glory.”

We are in the most intense time in human history. The pressures are mounting. In light of this, God wants us to walk in the greatest anointing this world has ever seen. We must be consecrated to God in times of crisis. We must separate ourselves from sin and unto union with God. How can we do this? We must set aside time for focused seeking after God, fasting, and devotion. We reap what we sow (2 Corinthians 9:6-7). The impact of focusing on God produces:

A purposed heart – A desire in the heart to draw near to Him.
A changed lifestyle – A lifestyle and behavior change. You spend your time, energy, and money in different ways.
A reaping of consequences in God -When our actions change, we reap positive consequences in our relationship with God.

Daniel was an example of a consecrated life. He separated himself unto God and lived differently than others. He positioned his heart after God and prayed three times a day. He fasted. He sought after God when no one was watching. His life was marked by miraculous deliverances (lion’s den, fiery furnace), visions and dreams, and God’s favor. His life was alive to God’s purposes. He and John the Baptist led a consecrated life that has challenged and overflowed throughout the generations.

Here are some simple ways to start:

Cut out the unnecessary – Begin where you are, and ask God to help you focus and cut out those things that are not necessary.
Make times for fasting and pray – Put it in your schedule, and consecrate these times to the Lord.
Study Biblical examples – Study the book of Daniel and other Biblical characters who lived lives of devotion and consecration like John the Baptist, Moses, Paul, Joseph, etc.
Pray through the Sermon on the Mount – Read and pray through the Sermon on the Mount on a regular basis (Matthew 5-7). It is all about a dedicated lifestyle.
Receive grace to walk it out – You can’t do it yourself. You need the Holy Spirit’s help. Realize that none of us is fully committed yet. Don’t condemn yourself when you fall. We are all on the road. But we can walk day by day in all the light we receive. When we make a mistake, we push “delete” and start again. We need God’s grace for consecration. Join or like my Intercessors Arise International Facebook Page for regular prayer quotes, international prayer alerts, and motivation in prayer.
Live in expectation – Receive God’s love in your own heart, and know that you will reap positive consequences by living a consecrated life.
Will you not recommit your life to Jesus today? Let Him take you by the hand into a life of consecration step-by-step, a life of total commitment. The joy of the Lord will be your strength, and He will give you daily grace to walk it out.There is no greater joy than full surrender and a consecrated life. There is an overflow of blessing from a consecrated life.

Debbie Przybylski | International House of Prayer

The Lord’s Prayer is recorded in two of the four gospels: Matthew 6:7-15 and Luke 11:1-13. There is a phrase in that prayer that has been emphasized in church circles more and more in recent years – Your Kingdom Come. There are several movements in Christendom (especially in worship communities) that are praying that same prayer, “Your Kingdom Come!” We all want to see Heaven on Earth, but what if it’s already here? If you will lend me the next few moments you have, I hope to encourage you and inspire you to believe.

Isaiah heralds a coming King in his prophecy – Isaiah 9:6-7 NKJV:

For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

These are good tidings of great joy. The government that Jesus ushered in was a kingdom – the very Kingdom of Heaven! Jesus explained it to the religious leaders in Luke 17 (NCV) like this:

God’s kingdom is coming, but not in a way that you will be able to see with your eyes. People will not say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ because God’s kingdom is within you.

We can see the setup. Throughout His time teaching here on Earth, Jesus taught on things pertaining to the Kingdom. The Kingdom of Heaven exists in a living, breathing Spirit – the very Spirit of God. His final days spent with His followers, Jesus instructed them to go and wait for the Promise of the Holy Spirit. I love the way Paul declares it in Ephesians 4:10 KJV

He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.

WOW! The same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead dwells in all who believe – manifesting Heaven on Earth! So instead of praying that Heaven come down, let’s bear in agreement for Heaven to come out! The very nature and character of God that Jesus bore so well is now ours because of Him! It is perfectly conveyed in Philippians 2:1-18 NLT:

Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless. But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy. Yes, you should rejoice, and I will share your joy.

Paul paints a beautiful picture of communion and community when he writes the Ephesians:

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore He says: “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men.” (Now this, “He ascended”—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and for and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head — Christ — from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. – Ephesians 4:1-16

Unity of the Spirit – let’s go after that! I love the way in which Paul says to approach this endeavor: with all lowliness and gentleness, with long suffering, bearing with one another in love. This requires true humility. We don’t bring anything of our own to the table. All that we have to offer, as individuals, are free gifts from God (our talents, skillsets, abilities, ideas, etc.). Paul instructed Timothy so well with these words:

The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith. – 1 Timothy 1:5 NLT

The unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace is walking in forgiveness with a clear conscience, becoming that forgiveness to others with a sincere heart, and believing (agreeing with) truth fully. We must become LOVE. So, how do we do that? We must not only humble ourselves with one another – first, we must humble ourselves to come before the Lord, get a hold of His truth (perspective), and surrender to His getting a hold of you. It is with our intimacy with our Father, the very thing Jesus made possible, that we receive our true identity of LOVE. It is in communion that we find the seeds for community. We can’t truly love one another if we can’t love and be loved by our Father. Dan Mohler said it well in this short clip.

Getting alone with the Lord, allows us to get over ourselves. As He fills us with who He is, we are enabled to go out and look like Him. When we re-present Him to others, His presence draws them into that intimate place as well. This new creation life is contagious! I will leave you with this:

If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care—then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion. Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father. – Philippians 2:1-11 MSG

There is a lot of talk today about boundaries, toxic relationships, and narcissisms. Although these subjects are valid in some respects, the prevalence of their frequency in social discussions has somewhat created a stigma against relationships in general. Let me preface what I’m going to say with – I don’t believe anyone should helplessly remain in an extremely abusive situation; however, there is such suspicion toward one another that we often assume the worst. This has resulted in offense, bitterness, rejection, broken marriages, estranged family members, church splits, and the list goes on. Unfortunately, self-preservation has become commonplace in the church – Jesus’ own body. Let’s listen to the heart of Jesus in this scripture:

“No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded.” – John 10:18 NLT.

As Jesus when about His life and ministry, He continually kept His eyes on the Father, watching what He was doing, listening to what He was saying. The Father sent Jesus to accomplish the mission of redemption. The pleasure of fulfilling His Father’s will was the “joy set before Him!” Even in his preparation for that sacrifice, Jesus affirmed, “Not my will, but Yours be done.”

John, The Beloved, so beautifully showed us the heart of the Father in 1 John chapter 4:

“Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love . . . We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.” – 1 John 4: 7-8, 16-17 NLT.

Jesus also taught us practically how to look like the Father in Mathew chapter 5:

“You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the supple moves of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that. In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.” – Matthew 5:43-48 MSG.

Wow! Are you hearing the heart of the Father through Jesus?

As ambassadors of reconciliation, we are to make every effort toward unity. When self-preservation is our default, we miss the joy of giving our lives away to others. Jesus said,

“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.” – Luke 9:23-24 NKJV.

We can get so caught up in our day-to-day lives that we forget, as sons of God, we are to lay our lives down for others. This doesn’t look like self-preservation at all. This looks like Jesus. We are not victims! We are streams of living water! If we stay “tapped in” to our Source (like Jesus did), we can live as life-giving spirits with no fear of man – because “prefect love casts out fear.” – 1 John 4:18 NKJV. This is the evidence we belong to the Father. So, let’s drop our defenses and pursue one another in love.