From the book EDIFIED!
“…I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.” Revelation 2:4
Barbara says it’s easy to tell when I am “in cahoots” with God, because then I am in tune with her. What she is referring to is the condition of my first love for Christ. I can perform all the spiritual disciplines correctly (quiet time, prayer, attendance, giving, being nice) but Barbara can tell when the connection with God is missing, when I have no passion for Him.
As you may remember, when Jesus spoke to the Ephesians in the opening chapters of Revelation, He had a lot of positives to say about them, but ended with rebuking them for losing their first love. They had all the mechanics right, but their hearts had grown cold.
His command to them was, “Remember therefore from where you have fallen. Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place” (Rev. 2:5).
So it is with us: we get busy, we give our heart and passion to something else, like our work/ministry/hobby/sport. As a result, our relationship with God grows cold, so slowly that we don’t notice it. But our spouse often does because our marriage relationship reflects the warmth or coolness of our walk with God.
What can we do to nurture, strengthen and deepen our first love for Christ? Here’s what I’ve found effective in rekindling that love.
First, repent: acknowledge that our relationship is not what it should be.
Second, remember: take the time to think about the early days of our walk with Him, the delicious sense of freedom from condemnation, the giddy wonder of having a new start, the soothing warmth of being fully accepted by God.
Third, reveal: practice lifting our souls to God, regularly telling Him honestly what we are thinking (mind), wanting (will) and feeling (emotions), then evaluate these by the Word, surrendering each to Him.
Fourth, rejoice: spend time daily in personal worship, extolling Him for who He is without thinking about how that benefits us. This kind of worship is standing in the light of God, seeing more and more of Him, having sin exposed, being transformed (2 Cor. 3:18), reveling in His love and grace. As I do this, usually by writing my worship thoughts in my journal, there is continual renewing of my first love, there is a growing passion for Christ—and Barbara can see the difference!
Here’s an example of personal worship, using Psalm 84, meditating on the name “Lord Almighty” or “Lord of Hosts”.
“Praise be to you, Lord God Almighty, Commander of the hosts of Heaven. To you we give glory and honor and praise, for you, Lord God, King Jesus, Gracious Father, Holy Spirit, are the most High, the most Wise, the most Powerful, the most Good and the most Holy of all.
You are without beginning or end. You are the junction point of seeming opposites: justice and mercy, truth and grace, holiness and redemption. Only you could be so, only you are worthy of honor and praise. It is right to bow down in worship before you. It is right to surrender all to you. It is right to rise up in obedience. Praise be to you, Lord God Almighty.”
I encourage us all to make a fresh beginning for our first love for Christ, and intentionally nurture it. With time, those around us will be amazed at the difference!
Prayer: “Lord, I confess my failure to intentionally nurture my first love for you. Forgive me and help me to do this every day in worship, in your Word, in praise and in obedience to what I know to be right. Amen.”