We as humans have a hard time staying in love with something for a sustained period of time. We get bored, we get distracted, we get our fancy tickled by something else, and we usually walk away. Then we do it all over again. This is the cycle of love that engulfs the world. We toss things away when they lose their relevance in our lives.
The book of Timothy warns us that perilous difficult times will come in the last days and one of the characteristics is that love for God is none existent. 2 Timothy 3:1,2,5 says people will be lovers of self, lovers of money and lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God. What camp are you in? Lovers of self or lovers of God. Lovers of pleasure or lovers of God? Lover of money or lovers of God? Whom do you love more? The reason people do not love God is that they have been seduced, deceived, and bamboozled. We are being seduced away from God to love something else more. Something is more important than God and deserves our love and attention. This is the great battle of love. Our entire life is defines by whom we love.
God is love in all its perfection. God commands us to love Him and to love one another. This is not optional. It should be the fabric of everything we are and everything we do. Love is the measuring stick of our Christian life.
Mark 12:29-31: Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
Agapao: means: a love, which is awakened by a sense of value in an object that causes one to prize it. It springs from an appreciation of the preciousness of an object, and is a love of esteem for the value and worth of an object. It is a love of admiring affection. It is to love with wonder and admiration, prizing the worth of the person loved. It means to cherish with reverence and to have an internal feeling of satisfaction, kindness and regard for the beloved person of His affection.
Figure of speech polysyndeton-many ands-emphasizing the importance of each of these four ways we are to love God. All our heart; all our soul; all our mind; all our strength. This is how we love God. It is a command.
John Piper says “all our mind” means “to direct our thinking in a certain way, namely our thinking should be wholly engaged to do all it can to awaken and express the heartfelt fullness of treasuring God above all things.”
Joshua 23:11: So take diligent heed to love the Lord your God. ”Diligent heed” means to guard, to protect, to watch over-to hedge about-keep like the Garden-Genesis 2:15. Its an attitude of attentive care. We must guard, we must protect, we keep a protective hedge around our love for God for it is always under attack from the enemy. The devil wants to steal, kill and destroy your love for God.
John 21:15:17: When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.
Do you love the Lord more than these? What is the “these” in our life? Do we love him more than our house, our car, our sports team, our job, our success, our money, our 401K, our hobbies, our self-image, our family, our goals, our opportunities, our ministry?
What is the temperature of your relationship with God? Is it hot, cold or lukewarm? How much affection is in your relationship with God? How much passion is there in your relationship? How much of a bond is there between you and God? Does anything come in between you and God? How much time are you devoting daily to your relationship with God? Is it a passing thought before you go to bed or night or a minute devotional before you start the day. Is He a backburner God or a second string God? Is He just another contact that you mean to catch up with? Are you consumed with God?
We have so “evolved” in culture, science and behavior that we just don’t need to be consumed with God anymore or so we are told. Who needs God anymore as long as I have my iPad? Who needs God when I have the world at my fingertips from my computer in my cozy house? Who needs God when I have Netflix, iTunes, DroidX and Xbox? Who needs God when I can Twitter? God has to be more than just on our mailing list. God has to be more than just on our wish list. God has to be a living, burning fire in the depths of our heart. God has to be more alive, more real, more present, more close and more looked to than any earthly thing. An electronic device may fascinate you for a moment, but it can never bring you peace, love, joy or true satisfaction. It is a sad characteristic to this “enlightened” world that God is so dead in the hearts of people.
It is sad to say that there are Ten Thousand and Eighty (10,080) minutes in a week and Five Hundred Twenty Four Thousand One Hundred and Sixty (524,160) minutes in a year and we think we are doing God a favor if we spend sixty minutes of the over ten thousand minutes a week for Him or three thousand minutes a year of the over half a million available. We wonder why spiritual anemia and lack are rampant in our lives. We wonder why God is just not all that real to us and why we are so lacking of the demonstration of the power of God in our lives. We wonder why our heart is dead to God. The white hotness of your love for God is in direct proportion to how much time you spend with him. If we love Him we will place our lives at his disposal.
The challenge is to keep the flame of God’s love alive in our hearts. Romans 12:9: Let love be genuine (without hypocrisy), vs 11: Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. :Fervent”-boil with heat, be hot. Describes water boiling or metal glowing with heat. Fan into flame the gift of God which is in you-2 Timothy 1:6. Feed it until it is ablaze. We need to feed and stoke our love for God so the fire does not go out.
Look what happened to the love of these great leaders! 2 Timothy 4:10: “For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia.” They forsook Paul, they forsook God, they abandoned their first love.
Tozer: Man unlike any other of God’s creation, is uniquely created to experience God. Not to know God and His intimacy is to deny our fundamental purpose. The human race has been guilty of revolt. Men have broken with God, and the Bible teaches that we are all alienated from Him. That is, we-the human race-are strangers to Him. We have ceased to love Him, ceased to trust Him and ceased to enjoy His presence. Redemption simply brings us back intimate fellowship with God.
Psalm 10:4: In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.
The world does not love you if you walk with Christ. The world hates you. The world hates Him. This causes many to fall away in their relationship with God. False prophets will arise with the purpose to turn your love away from God. When lawlessness abounds, it will test your love for God. Grow or fade. Burn brightly or wax cold.
Matthew 24:9-12: Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. 10 And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.
Wax cold-reduction of temperature by evaporation. Cool by blowing, to wane, to chill. The fervency and intensity of our love for God begins to wane.
Revelation 2:2-4: “‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. 3 I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. 4 But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.
Abandon-to depart, to send away, to let go, to desert, to leave (Left their nets and followed him-Mark 1:18)
Have we abandoned our first love? Has the flame of our love flickered and been blown out? Who in this generation truly seeks Yahweh? Who in our age really seeks God’s face? The wicked has no room in their thoughts for God. They are dead in their love for God. But are we the same? Do we want all of God? Have we created a god in our own image? Is God our most treasured possession? We need to breathe in God’s presence daily. Live in the conscious, vital, living presence of God.
Love for God starts with a love of who is He is. More you know who is He and His characteristics, the more you love Him. Have you studied the attributes of God? What image do you carry in your mind of God? Have you made God in your own image? How much do you seek Him?
Amos 5:4: For thus saith the LORD unto the house of Israel, Seek ye me, and ye shall live.
“I have set the LORD always before me . . .”Psalm 16:8a
1 As the deer pants for the water brooks, So pants my soul for You, O God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
Does your soul thirst for God? Do you pant for God? How thirsty are you for God?
Love God test: I John 4:20,21: If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
We cannot say we love God and hate our brothers and sisters in Christ. How we love others is a measuring rod of how much we love God?
And as he came still nearer to the city, he caught sight of it and wept over it, saying, “Ah, if you only knew, even at this eleventh hour, on what your peace depends—but you cannot see it. The time is coming when your enemies will encircle you with ramparts, surrounding you and hemming you in on every side. And they will hurl you and all your children to the ground—yes, they will not leave you one stone standing upon another—all because you did not know when God Himself was visiting you!” (Luke 19:41–44, PHILLIPS)
Is Jesus crying over you this day? Is He crying out to you, ‘’Must your heart rebel against me forever? I gave my life for you. You have so much potential, so much promise, so much power because of my sacrifice! Why are you wasting it? Why are you not walking in my victory, letting me live through you? Why are you letting your heart become entangled in the trivial matters of this world that have no eternal value?” Jesus weeps over the wasted potential of His church and what could have been. He weeps over the many hardened hearts. He weeps over those who have been deceived. He weeps over those who are enslaved to sin. He weeps over the hearts that have waxed cold and forgotten their first love. He weeps over those who have closed their ears to His voice because they are offended at His words.
To whom can I speak and give warning? Who will listen to me? Their ears are closed so they cannot hear. The word of the Lord is offensive to them; they find no pleasure in it. (Jeremiah 6:10, NIV)
You cannot love God if you do not listen to Him. Your ears determine the temperature of your love.
One encounter with the voice of God can change your life forever. Moses, Samuel, Paul, and many others can attest to this truth. Nothing in the heavens or the earth compares to the voice of the Lord:
“Whenever this happens, my heart stops—I’m stunned, I can’t catch my breath. Listen to it! Listen to his thunder, the rolling, rumbling thunder of his voice. He lets loose his lightnings from horizon to horizon, lighting up the earth from pole to pole. In their wake, the thunder echoes his voice, powerful and majestic. He lets out all the stops, he holds nothing back. No one can mistake that voice—His word thundering so wondrously, his mighty acts staggering our understanding.” (Job 37:1–5, MSG)
God’s voice sounds throughout the earth with great majesty, power, and wonder. Nothing can silence it. Nothing can overpower it. Nothing can stop it. Can you imagine being awakened each morning by the tender, gracious, and loving voice of the Creator of all things? It’s so much better than an alarm clock, a Starbucks coffee, or the morning newspaper! Nothing is more satisfying to the heart than to hear from God as a new day dawns. Can you imagine having your ears so attuned to God that every day you hear His voice encouraging and helping you to be your best in your service for His kingdom? We are so accustomed to spiritual deafness that such an idea seems far-fetched and beyond our reach, but God wants you to know His voice like a loving Father and faithful friend. Pray that God awakens your ear to His voice.
Revelation 3:20: Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
Jesus is standing at the door of your heart wanting for you to let him in so you can commune and fellowship with him with the deepest love. Will you open the door?
How quickly spiritual apathy, indifference, unresponsiveness creeps into our love for God. It is a sad fact, but a fact nonetheless, that we are in a constant state of fluctuation. No sooner are our hearts awakened than we are languishing again. No sooner does the Lord revive us than we are again lethargic. The Song of Solomon shows this constant state of spiritual fluctuation
Song of Solomon 5:2- I slept, but my heart was awake. A sound! My beloved is knocking. “Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my perfect one,
for my head is wet with dew, my locks with the drops of the night.” 3 I had put off my garment; how could I put it on? I had bathed my feet; how could I soil them? (Because of her carnal case, she refused the Lord’s gracious invitation to communion. She did not wish to trouble herself, and she did not wish to be troubled. Her heart was so cold that she preferred her ease to the fellowship of Christ.)4 My beloved put his hand to the latch, and my heart was thrilled within me.5 I arose to open to my beloved, and my hands dripped with myrrh, my fingers with liquid myrrh, on the handles of the bolt.6 I opened to my beloved, but my beloved had turned and gone My soul failed me when he spoke. I sought him, but found him not; I called him, but he gave no answer.
If Christ finds His chief delight in us, should we not delight in Him? Should not our principal pleasure derive from Him? We can never get too much of Jesus or be too happy in Him.
The number one enemy of staying in love with God is idolatry. Idolatry dulls the heart for God, steals our love, and extinguishes the flame. Every problem that has ever plagued the human race can be traced back to the sin of idolatry. Tertullian called idolatry “the principal crime of the human race.”[i] Idolatry devours people, cities, governments, and nations. Idolatry has infiltrated every generation, hanging over them like a dark cloud, wreaking havoc like a deadly plague. Idolatry is the great destroyer of civilization.
The prophet Jeremiah proclaimed: “Look now, people of Judah; you have as many gods as you have towns. You have as many altars of shame”—(Jeremiah 11:13, NLT). The sad truth is that in America, our list of gods far exceeds the number of gods in Judah. Our altars of shame are countless, and of so many shapes, forms and categories, that it boggles the mind. We have pursued other gods with a fanatical obsession and have become a nation wholly given to idolatry. Surely God weeps over a world that has sold their souls to an endless list of worthless idols that have corrupted their relationship with Him.
Isaiah 65:1-4 NLT: The Lord says, “I was ready to respond, but no one asked for help. I was ready to be found, but no one was looking for me. I said, ‘Here I am, here I am!’ to a nation that did not call on my name. All day long I opened my arms to a rebellious people. But they follow their own evil paths and their own crooked schemes. All day long they insult me to my face by worshiping idols in their sacred gardens. They burn incense on pagan altars.
Above all other things, idolatry breaks the heart of Almighty God for He created men and women in His own image and greatly desires fellowship, love, adoration, praise and worship from His precious creation. But idolatry ruined everything and caused a wall of separation between God and the human race as they gave their love to another. Idolatry is the human choice of substituting their Creator for a thing, image, person, or ideal. Idolatry is an act of treason against the God who gave us life. The sin of idolatry declares God is not good enough, not great enough, not glorious enough, not complete enough, and not all that He claims to be. It says that something else is more worthy to be loved and served. Who do you love the most? Do we love God? Do we really love God or has an idol replaced Him?
The price to pay for idolatry is extremely high as it demands everything, and ultimately will destroy our lives. It chokes the life of God from our hearts. This condition of the idolater’s heart is described in Isaiah 59:11: “we grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we had no eyes: we stumble at noon day as in the night: we are in desolate places as dead men.” The idolater has lost his eyes to see the magnificence of the God, lost his ears to hear the loving voice of the faithful God, lost his way to see the path of the righteous God, and lost his life to the service of a dead god that mocks his reason for existence.
A.W. Tozer said in The Knowledge of the Holy that “the essence of idolatry is the entertainment of thoughts about God that are unworthy of Him.”[ii] Idolatry begins when we lose the sense of awe and wonder of God and relegate Him to a simple concept that gets lost in the thousands of other things that bombard our minds daily. God becomes mundane, unneeded, unimportant and bothersome in the schemes of our lives, and other things become more exciting and valuable to us. This is fertile ground for idolatry.
Your wickedness will punish you; your backsliding will rebuke you. Consider then and realize how evil and bitter it is for you when you forsake the Lord your God and have no awe of me,” declares the Lord, the Lord Almighty. (Jeremiah 2:19, NIV)
“Listen to me, descendants of Jacob, all you who remain in Israel. I have cared for you since you were born. Yes, I carried you before you were born. I will be your God throughout your lifetime—until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you. “To whom will you compare me? Who is my equal? Some people pour out their silver and gold and hire a craftsman to make a god from it. Then they bow down and worship it! They carry it around on their shoulders, and when they set it down, it stays there. It can’t even move! And when someone prays to it, there is no answer. It can’t rescue anyone from trouble. “Do not forget this! Keep it in mind! Remember this, you guilty ones. Remember the things I have done in the past. For I alone am God! I am God, and there is none like me. (Isaiah 46:3-9, NLT)
God has no rivals. He alone is God, and nothing from the tiniest blade of grass on earth to the remotest star at the far reaches of the universe, can be compared to Him. He is the first and the last; He is the beginning and the end; He was, is and always will be. He is unchangeable in the beauty of His character, and the holiness of his nature. He is everything we could ever dream Him to be in all His perfection, and a billion times more! God’s wisdom is infinite, His understanding limitless, His love fathomless, His righteousness untouchable and His mercy boundless. He alone has the right to be worshipped, praised and loved above all else. How can we not love God?
Frederick Faber said, “Only to sit and think of God, oh what a joy it is! To think the thought, to breathe the Name, Earth has no higher bliss!”[iii] Who would even dare to label themselves a god in His presence? Who would even dare to usurp His throne? Who would even dare to think that they are equal to God? Who would be crazy enough to compare an idol to God? God is infinitely greater and more powerful, and no idol is even worthy to bear the name “god.”
Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them; (Deuteronomy 11:16, KJV)
The Hebrew word for “deceived” means to be wide open for enticement, spacious, and to make roomy. Derivatives of the Hebrew word mean a doorway, opening, and gate. Another derivative verb means to carve or engrave. To be deceived literally means to open wide the doorway of the heart and make it spacious and roomy for the idols to march in. This generation thinks there is some virtue in being open to all ideals and alternatives. “Accept everything and make room for it in our hearts” is the social cry of this age. Yet this is an invitation to let the Trojan Horse of idols into the inner sanctuary of the heart. Once inside these idols carve their name as special guests, they take ownership of the heart.
Psalm 27:8 NLT My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “LORD, I am coming.”
What do you do when the Lord calls? Too busy? Get to him later? How is your bonding and affection with the Lord? How would you describe your relationship with the Lord? Is their affection? Is there a tender bond?
A recent survey indicated that the average Christian spends 8 minute a day in prayer and the average minister 12 minutes a day in prayer. Are we too busy for God? How often do we practice His presence in a day? How often do we seek his face?
Do you know God? Really know Him? Do you know the Lord Jesus? Really know Him? Do we experience God intimately on a personal level daily? When was the last time you sought his face? Really sought his face?
Tozer: How many Christians really harbor within their own spirit the daily expectation of God’ presence? How many truly expect a personal encounter with God? It is quite important to cultivate a daily expectation of God’s presence in your day. Jeremiah 29:13 admonishes us, “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” Proverbs 8:17 states, “I love them that love me, and those that seek me early shall find me.” Each day presents a new opportunity to experience God and fellowship with Him. Nothing should so occupy the mind of the Christian than discovering God in his day.
Psalm 63:1,6: NKJV: O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land Where there is no water. When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches.
I met God in the morning, When my day was at its best, And His presence came like sunrise, Like a glory in my breast. All day long the presence lingered; All day long He stayed with me; And we sailed in perfect calmness, O’er a very troubled sea. Other ships were blown and battered, Other ships were sore distressed, But the winds that seemed to drive them, Brought to us a peace and rest. Then I thought of other mornings, With a keen remorse of mind, When I too had loosed the moorings, With the Presence left behind. So I think I know the secret, Learned from many a troubled way; You must seek Him in the morning, If you want Him through the day. Ralph Cushman
When did you last seized Him and cleaved unto God and say, “Lord, I can’t go another inch without meeting You this morning.”
Dr. Tozer said as a mature man in his sixties that there were times when he lay on the rug for an hour, two hours, three hours, four hours and never uttered a word of prayer, and never uttered a word of praise. He said, “I’m lost in adoration, I see Him in His glory, in His majesty, in His beauty. I can hear those holy beings crying, ‘Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord.’” And he said, “I’m silent in adoration before Him. I had no language, it is beggared.” And he had a vocabulary as good as any man I know,
Have you forgotten to love Him? We fail to love because we forget God hours and hours and He doesn’t even enter out mind. One of the great flaws of the human heart is to fall into habitual forgetfulness of God. We have a tendency to not remember God on a daily basis. A parent’s heart would be crushed if their beloved child forgot them. A bride’s heart would be wounded if her groom forgot about her love and devotion to him. There may not be a worse feeling for someone than to feel that you have been forgotten. No one wants to be a distant memory. Yet God is consistently forgotten day after day in the busyness of our hectic lives. God easily disappears from our thoughts with a troubling constancy. The heart forgets. The heart does not remember. God fades from our memory with a relentless persistency, and the heart of God is grieved that His very own children have so easily forgotten Him.
Can a virgin forget her ornaments or a bride her attire? Yet my people have forgotten me days without number. (Jeremiah 2:32, ESV)
You were unmindful of the Rock that bore you, and you forgot the God who gave you birth. (Deuteronomy 32:18, ESV)
This is the great tragedy of forgetfulness that we live our lives unmindful of God, barely giving him a thought. We have forgotten the God who intricately knitted us together in our mother’s womb and beautifully formed every physical detail of our bodies. We cannot love God is we forget.
The Hebrew word for “forget” means to ignore, to wither, to cease to care. We must not allow God to wither from our hearts by ignoring Him and giving Him little attention. We cannot cease to care about God being at the center of everything we do and everything we are. We must never let God be labeled “the forgotten one” in the depth of our hearts.
It is sad to say, but most of us give more attention to our grocery list than God. We have become consumed with everything else, but God. We are consumed with our television shows, our music, our careers, our schedules, our success, our sports, our families, our education, our politics, our fitness, our comforts and our finances. We remember more about our iPhone apps than we remember about God. We remember the latest sport scores and statistics more than we remember God. God has to be more than just on our mailing list when we send Him a nice card from our hearts twice a year on Christmas and Easter. For a Christian, God should be more alive, important, and thought of, than any earthly thing. God has to be the living and burning passion of our hearts. We cannot follow the ways of this world where God is dead in the hearts of people. God must be more than a fleeting thought or a desperate prayer when we are in trouble. God must become the lifeblood of our heart, and the reason for every breath we take. We must cultivate in the soil of our hearts an expectation and excitement of knowing, experiencing and fellowshipping with God in a deep and meaningful manner.
However, most of us have not given our hearts to God completely, without reservation, and with nothing held back. Too often we have honored God with our lips, but our heart is far from Him. We have a whole religious culture today with churches on every corner, but so few of us have ever really given God all of our heart, with no strings attached. If God does not have your heart, then you will forget Him. God is knocking at the door of your heart right now. He is pleading with you to let Him in. Dine with Him! Abide with Him! Give Him the keys to your heart! Don’t shut Him out! Don’t forget Him! God cries out daily like He did in Proverbs 23:26: “My son give me your heart!”
Listen to His passionate plea to His children in Jeremiah.
“I thought to myself, ‘I would love to treat you as my own children!’ I wanted nothing more than to give you this beautiful land—the finest possession in the world. I looked forward to your calling me ‘Father,’ and I wanted you never to turn from me. But you have been unfaithful to me, you people of Israel! You have been like a faithless wife who leaves her husband. I, the Lord, have spoken.” Voices are heard high on the wind swept mountains, the weeping and pleading of Israel’s people. For they have chosen crooked paths and have forgotten the Lord their God. “My wayward children,” says the Lord, “comeback to me, and I will heal your wayward hearts.” (Jeremiah 3:19-22, NLT)
The Hebrew word for “forget” has even a deeper meaning when we look at its word picture. Remember that Hebrew is a pictographic language, and each letter of the Hebrew alphabet represents a picture. Every word in Hebrew is formed by adding these pictures together to visually illustrate the meaning of a word.
The Hebrew pictograph for the word “forget” is Shin-Kaf-Chetand means what destroys the fence around the open palm or hand. He has put a fence or protective boundary around our heart that allows us to live separate from the chaos of this broken world. To forget is to tear down and destroy this fence.
Skip Moen in his “Hebrew Word Studies” explains in more detail this pictograph for the Hebrew word “forget”:
To forget is to tear down the fence that provides life … God fences us in on purpose. The broken world is a dangerous and unhealthy place. God protects with His instructions, often in ways that we cannot comprehend. When we forget, we tear down the fence that keeps life and chaos apart. When we forget, we let sin in. When we forget, we open the door (as Paul says) and life tumbles.[iv]
You make the choice, whether your heart is going to remember God or forget Him. It is interesting that one of the root words for “sin” in the Hebrew means forgetfulness. At the core of sin is a heart that has forgotten the majesty, grandeur and holiness of God. At the core of sin is a heart that has erased God from its thinking, forgetting His instructions, and deliberately choosing to follow another god.
Yet that is the danger we can fall into. It is so easy to become an Ephesus church, focusing on doing everything right. Right doctrine, right works, right programs—all at the expense of losing what was so precious in the beginning. God help the bride of Christ who suddenly needs a pamphlet to talk about her Bridegroom. “Can I tell you about Jesus? Wait, I have it here somewhere. There is a pamphlet here that describes Him. Yes, let me tell you about my Bridegroom.” No! Our hearts should be captivated! Just as it says in the Song of Solomon, “Have you seen him? He is the fairest among ten thousand! He is altogether lovely!” (see Song of Solomon 5:10–16). That is first love.
RETURN TO YOUR FIRST LOVE
I don’t know about you, but I want to finish this race the way I started. I want my marriage to finish even better than it began. I want my love for Jesus to increase. I don’t want to preach in different places and have people conclude, “Wow, he sure is theologically accurate. He sure can rip apart the false prophets. He sure can labor without fainting.” I would much rather people notice, “He sure does love Jesus! Everything in his being, everything in his voice, everything in his eyes simply exudes a relationship that I would like to have!” Perhaps you started out so in love with Jesus, yet somewhere down the road that love has degenerated. In your heart you know that your relationship with Him is not what it used to be. It has become all about works, doctrine, and learning to endure. If this is the case, Jesus would say to you today, “If you can overcome this declension and get back to your first love, all that I have will be yours again. I will fill your heart with compassion. There will be light in your eyes, and people will ask you the reason for your hope.”
How do we come back to our first love? I believe it starts with asking the Lord to ignite our hearts once again, and then simply reaching out and embracing Him. Jesus told Peter, “Stretch out your hands.” He was talking about embracing the Lord—embracing the heart and will of God; walking together with Him in intimacy again.
Jude 21: Keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.
The Greek word of “keep”: To attend to carefully, to guard, to preserve and stand firm in. It means to watch as one would guard some precious possession. Used to Keep the commandments and guards kept watch over Jesus tomb.
Keep is an aorist imperative, a command calling for “urgent” attention The readers to heed the command and guard themselves from anything that would negatively affect our abiding in the sphere of God’s love. Let love be the “atmosphere” you breathe and in which you obey.
John 15:9-11: As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
Commandment: Abide in my love-keep his commandments-joy to be full.
You see, the opposite of love isn’t hate. It’s indifference. “I don’t care” is far more painful than “I hate you.” Hate implies strong emotional connection. Just like love. The relationship remains, even if it’s a hostile one. But “I don’t care” wipes away the relationship. Not hot. Not cold. Nothing. It says, “You don’t matter to me. You’re nothing to me.”
God knows us intimately, like a best friend, lover of our soul. We are not collections of facts. We are real, embodied, emotional, relational beings whom He chooses to deeply, personally, compassionately understand. Do you know that God thinks about you all the time? Do you know that God’s love for you is immeasurable and unfathomable and to such a degree that it transcends human understanding? Do you know that God longs for you to fall into His embrace and to cleave unto Him with all your heart and strength? Do you know that God wants to be wanted by you, He wants to be loved, He wants to be cherished, He wants to be adored, He wants to be treasured, and He wants to be worshipped? The Psalmist says that God’s thoughts toward us are so many and so wonderful that they cannot be numbered.
God has always loved you no matter what you have done. God has always been there even in your darkest hour even though you may not have ever realized it. God will never give up on you for He is a loving God and not just a fickle person. God will never quit chasing you for His love for you burns deep and true. God is pleading to you, please let me be your God, your everything, your reason for breathing and let me bear my mighty arm for you and show you my goodness and glory. God has never forgotten you, not ever, not even for a second. Don’t you want to know and love this God?
Galatians 4: 4-7: But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.
Abba Father: Abba conveys a warm, intimate sense just as with our expression “Dear father.” Abba emphasizes the warm, intimate and very personal relationship which exists between the believer and God. In Abba tenderness, trust and love find their combined expression. Abba was the word used by a young child to its father; it was an everyday family word, that we can speak to our heavenly Father in as childlike, trustful, and intimate a way as a little child to its father.” What intimacy we can have in our love for God!
Don’t let you’re your love for God be diminished in this critical hour. Come back to your first love, whether you have walked with God for fifty years or for ten. Simply come back to that place where you love Him with all of your heart, all of your soul, all of your mind and all of your strength. We must have the flame of first love burning brightly in this dark hour. This is what our testimony should be; this is what will bring Him glory in our generation!
[i] Tertullian, On Idolatry (Whitefish: Kessinger Publishing, LLC, 2004), 3.
[ii] A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy: The Attributes of God: Their Meaning in the Christian Life (New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 1961), 3.
[iii] Frederick Faber, Hymn: My God How Wonderful Thou Art, 1849.
[iv] Skip Moen, “”For Whom the Bell Tolls (2), Hebrew Word Study, February 25, 2011, http://skipmoen.com/2011/02/25/for-whom-the-bell-tolls-2/