September 06, 2014
There are many things I do in my Christian life. But all of these pale in comparison to one central issue which can be captured in the ultimate question: Do I love Jesus?
Jesus speaks to the church at Ephesus, Chapter 2, applauding them for their ""toil and perseverance"" and their refusal to let evil men control their fellowship. These believers had ""perseverance and had endured for (Christ's) name's sake and (had) not grown weary."" But then He adds what, to me, is one of the most arresting statements in the Bible:
""But I have this against you, that you have left your first love."" (Revelation 2:4)
They had fallen out of love with Jesus.
If you are married, you realize this possibility. There are seasons where you are overwhelmed with love for your mate, but there are other times when you get consumed with busyness, or irritated at each other's faults, or in love with yourself more than your mate. And your affection grows cold.
These are the dangerous moments in a marriage when you must decide if you will turn your attention afresh to your mate, rekindle the love you once had, and let the fires of love and passion burn again. This turn will not occur with a casual attempt. It requires a deliberate, determined repentance from other directions and a single-minded devotion to your beloved.
The same is true in our relationship with Christ. Our souls are made for love and if we are not passionate about Him we will go, as one man said, “in silent search for other lovers.”
I sense this now in me and in our church. There are so many GOOD things happening, but do we love Jesus? Are we so overwhelmed by Him that He is our first thought in the morning and our last thought at night? Are our affections so strong that we cannot wait to talk with Him and so we carry on a conversation all day long? Do we love Him so much that we gladly do everything He says when He asks it of us? Do we find ourselves WORSHIPING Him in spirit and truth? Do songs about Him move us?
Do you love Him as you once did?
If not, it is time to turn from every competing affection and cry out with all you have that this love would be restored afresh. That you would fall in love with Jesus all over again.
""Dear Jesus, forgive me for letting the love of other things seep into my soul. Forgive me for the love of myself; this self-centeredness that is so proud and vain that I want to satisfy my desires and fulfill my will and not yours.
Pull me back, dear Jesus. Help me to fall in love with you again. Open my eyes to see what has taken first place in my heart and give me grace to throw it down with a vengeance, smashing every idol.
Flood my heart with fresh, fervent love for you. Let me enthrone you once again as the absolute Lord and Master of my heart. And give me a ruthless vigilance against every god, including and especially the god of self, that would seek to gain entrance to my heart.
O, Lover of my soul, restore to me the love I once knew so that my life would give you all that is your due and all that gives me life and joy and witness. Thrill me with Yourself, O matchless Savior, that I may delight in You alone.""
March 29, 2023
As a pastor for the last 55 years, I have had the joy of being encouraged and blessed and prayed for by so many people. It is what carries you in your task of shepherding people. As I look back over five decades of ministry, their love has dramatically enriched my life.
But also, a pastor leads. And when anyone leads, there are almost always some who disagree.
March 28, 2023
March 27, 2023