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 nonexistent. 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 defined 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 to love with wonder and admiration, prizing the worth of the person loved. It means to cherish with reverence.
The 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.
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. It’s an attitude of attentive care. We must guard, protect, and 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 business, 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 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, 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, TikTok, Twitter, Instagram, and Xbox? God must be more than just on our mailing list. God must be more than just on our wish list. God must be a living, burning fire in the depths of our heart. God must be more alive, real, present, close, and 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 10,080 minutes in a week and 524,160 minutes in a year, and we think we are doing God a favor if we spend 60 minutes a week for Him or 3120 minutes a year. We wonder why spiritual anemia is rampant in our lives. We wonder why God is not real to us and why we lack the demonstration of the power of God in our lives. 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. Zeal, fervency, and service flow out of our love for God. 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. Humanity has been guilty of revolt. We 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 and trust Him and enjoy His presence. Redemption simply brings us back to 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. When lawlessness abounds, it will test your love for God. Does it grow or fade? Does it 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 2:4: 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. 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. We need to 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.
Psa. 42:1-2: 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. 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 into him and eat with him, and he with me.
Jesus is standing at the door of your heart wanting you to let him in so you can commune and fellowship with him with the deepest love. Will you open the door?
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 humanity 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. 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.
“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?
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 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?
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. 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 hours. 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.”
Have you forgotten to love Him? We fail to love because we forget God hours upon 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 tend to not remember God daily. 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 if 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, music, careers, schedules, success, sports, businesses, families, education, politics, fitness, comforts, and 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 must 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 must 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.
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 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!”
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. 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.
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.
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. Everything in my being, everything in my voice, everything in my eyes simply wants to exude the deep relationship I 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. 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.
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; Keep is an aorist imperative, a command calling for “urgent” attention. 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. Abide in His love by keeping His commandments and your joy will 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, a lover of our soul. We are real, embodied, emotional, relational beings whom He chooses to deeply, personally, and 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?
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 your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all 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.