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Can You Handle the Truth?

“…and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”

John 8: 31-32 (NRSV)

Can we handle the truth?  Especially when that truth is measured against the authority of Scripture and the lordship of Jesus Christ?   To walk in biblical truth while living in a postmodern world will be a major challenge for believers as we enter into this second decade of the 21st century.

With all the political rhetoric and social bantering, it is clear that this world is in need of truth.  But can we handle it?  Behind the news bytes and sound bits, there is an intention movement currently underway to redefine what truth is and what it isn’t.  This is nothing new.  This inclination to “repackage” the truth comes directly from the father of lies, Satan himself (John 8:44).   Be careful how you define truth or you too may fall prey to the subtly of deception.  “Did God really say you must not eat any of the fruit in the garden?” (Gen. 3:1, NLT)

In decades past, people could depend on the media to communicate the “truth” with regard to specific issues of the day.  Newspapers, magazine publications and newscasters were committed to operate at the highest ethical standards.  In addition, people could depend on their local leaders—civic or religious—to offer truth, as they knew best.  But over time that has changed.  Unfortunately both media and individuals can only offer their own opinions based on personal agendas or corporate bias, leaving individuals still “in search for truth”.  Truth is now shaped by social media and image consultants—by the number of “likes”, “retweets” and “followers” one can amass.

What is truth?  Truth is defined as that which agrees with reality.  The believer’s reality and meaning is grounded in God.  That reality began in the Garden of Eden.  Created in God’s image, our purpose and destiny is tied to our identity in Him through Christ (Col. 3:3).  This reality was sidetracked by sin and replaced with Satan’s counterfeit that placed self on the throne where only Christ was to be seated and exalted.  Because of Jesus’ atoning work on the Cross, our sins were forgiven and we are now reconciled back to God (2 Cor. 5:18, 19).  When we affirm our faith, we acknowledge that we have died to our old sin nature (Gal. 5:24) and walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4).  We no longer follow the worldview—its influence was negated by the Blood.  Our meaning and reality is now realigned with God (2 Cor. 5:15).   “For in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28a).

More than ever before, believers must connect with the only True Source of Truth, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior (John 14:6).  God’s Word and the Spirit of Truth stand ready to silence the lies, myths and fables we might hear  (2 Tim. 4:3-4).  God is the only source of truth for our lives.  Can you handle the truth?

What I Learned in 2019

 

The door to 2019 has closed marking the end of our first decade in the 21st century.  I didn’t see all the contraptions featured in “The Jetsons” but I did note changes that, centuries earlier, were only described in science fiction.

As a society, are we better off as a result of man’s accomplishments these past ten (10) years?  Only history will determine that.  The Apostle Paul warned the church at Corinth to “judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God” (1 Cor. 4:5).  We would do well to follow his advice.  I can, however, share what I learned in 2019.

To learn is defined as “acquiring knowledge or skill by study, instruction, or experience.”  As I prayed over this annual exercise of “things learned”, three (3) areas surfaced which fit within the range of this definition.  The things I learned in 2019 are the practice of gratitude, the power of simplicity, and the privilege of family.

The practice of gratitude taught me to appreciate God and to be thankful for His provision, His protection, and His presence.  Failure to practice this spiritual habit often resulted in envy, jealousy, greed and bitterness—fostering dissatisfaction and discontentment. Practicing gratitude equipped me to live life emotionally confident and spiritually content (2 Pet. 1:2-3).

Also read, “Gratitude

The power of simplicity redirected my attention from the trivial to the important things of life.  Jesus sent out His disciples with the bare necessities to accomplish their extraordinary mission (Luke 9:3; 10:4).  The pursuit of simplicity helped me to eliminate “the extraneous” from my life.  This included both things and relationships that hindered my spiritual journey by keeping me tethered to this world (1 John 2:15-17).

The privilege of family reminded me of the value of memories, tradition, and heritage.  As my family came together to celebrate my 70th birthday, they shared bittersweet stories and family customs with a new generation.  It was within the confines of the family that I witnessed our collective identity and shared values entrusted to us by our parents and other relatives long gone but not forgotten. The privilege of family began at Creation (Gen. 1:28; 2:24) and its importance is still critical as we enter this new decade.

Am I better off as a result of the things I learned?  Absolutely!  With each experience, I have learned to see God with greater clarity—His ways and His works—His goodness and His greatness.  It is with this renewed clarity that I can focus on:  #1 what’s truly important, #2 what’s of eternal value, and #3 what glorifies God.

Now it’s your turn.  What did you learn in 2019?

Living Life on the Dash

So teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.  Psalm 90:12

I’d like to share a few thoughts to consider as we prepare for 2020.  New Year’s gives us the opportunity to both reflect on the past year while considering how we want to spend the upcoming year.  To help us with this insightful exercise, I’d like to pose this question, “how do you want to live the rest of my life?”  I refer to this as “the dash”, the timeframe between birth and death.  We see it on cemetery tombstones to frame one’s lifetime but do we seriously consider the possibilities that lay “on the dash”?

The subscript for Psalm 90 is “A Prayer of Moses the man of God” and deals specifically with the eternality of God contrasted with the mortality of man.  The thrust of this magnificent prayer is to ask God to have mercy on frail human beings in a sin-cursed universe.

Moses remembered God’s protection, sustenance, and stability as He guided over 4 million people across the desert to God’s Promised Land. He was their dwelling place—their sanctuary in the desert (Ps. 90:1-2).  Verse 2 says, “Before the mountains were brought forth or the earth and world was formed,

God was.  Almighty God is dependent on nothing or anyone for sustenance or favor.  He will forever be Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.

Man, in contrast, was formed from the dust of the ground and came into existence after God breathed the breathe of life into his nostrils (Gen, 2:7). This life was spirit—it was that part of man that would never age and would, like its Creator, live forever. Then man became a living soul—with a mind, a will, and emotions.  Man was dependent upon God for all things.  God could be trusted to guard man’s life.

God can still be trusted today even in the midst of social, political, and financial upheaval.  Even in the midst of calamity, the beauty of the LORD—His delight, approval, and favor—is still available to those who turn their hearts to Him (Ps. 90:17).  In our frailty, God gives us His strength. “But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me” (2 Timothy 4:17)

Each of us has been given life by God.  We celebrate our beginning annually on our birthday—life before the dash.  Our “earthly end”—life after the dash—represents the end of our mortal life and the beginning of our eternal life with Christ.  God has created us for His purpose; it is in that place of created purpose, that we live our lives—we live our life on the dash.  This is where the daily events of living take place and we become “God’s workmanship” (Ep. 2:10).  As you prepare for 2020, make the most of your life on the dash.  Like Moses, pray, “Teach us to make the most of our time, so that we may grow in wisdom.”  (New Living Translation)

God Goes Before Us

The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Deuteronomy 31:8 (NIV)

As 2019 winds down, 2020 prepares to emerge with new opportunities and challenges. In Asian culture these two realities of life—opportunities and challenges—are often combined into one word which is interpreted as “change”.

In our text today, Moses is communicating several key changes for the Israelites. Moses announces that he will not be accompanying them into the Promised Land and that God had chosen a new leader to continue the Exodus journey. It will now be Joshua who must complete the work that Moses began. This announcement, I’m sure, caused great fear and anxiety for the 2+ million people who had put all their trust in Moses.

However, God wanted Joshua and the Israelites to know that they would not be expected to accomplish these new challenges by themselves. God would not send warriors or angels to help them but it would be God Himself Who would assure their success. God would go before them (vv. 3 and 8) and God would be with them (v. 6). To “go before and with them” speaks to God’s omnipresence. He is “everywhere present” in His totality and at the same time. No one but God could make such a promise. To further dispel their fears, God added His promise that He would “never leave nor forsake them”.   Jesus offered similar words of comfort to His disciples prior to His crucifixion (John 14:1-3).

Change comes on many levels in our lives.

Change may occur at a macro-level—that which deals with the events on a broad social, political, or economic level. Look at the affect world events have on the price of gas, or medical discovery has on the availability of adequate healthcare.

Change may surface on a micro-level–up close and personal. We may change our job, relocate to a new city, or introduce new people into our circle of friends. Wherever the point of entry of the change or the size of the challenge, believers must remember we are never left alone to face them.

God’s promise to the Israelites and Joshua should be a source of strength and comfort as believers today experience the enormous changes in the 21st century. God never changes. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrew 13:8). All His promises are yes and amen (2 Corinthians 1:20).

Living in this fast paced, ever changing world, we need the Triune God Who will not only go before us but will also never leave us. We can rest assured that not only does God continually goes before us (Ps. 85:13) but we can confidently proclaim that we are never out of the presence of God (Ps. 139:7-10).

The Second Advent, Part 2

 

“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope–the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” Titus 2:11-14 (NIV)

Expectancy influences preparation. One’s expectancy allows them to anticipate and plan for events that could potentially impact their life. We rise early to watch the morning traffic report and weather forecast for the day. Why? Because we want to be prepared–no surprises! If it’s true that expectancy influences our preparation, how are we to prepare for the certain return of Christ?

We are to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions. The 1990 War on Drugs commercial instructed young people to, “Just say no!” We are to be of the same mindset as we resist the pull of this present age. Christ has redeemed us from ALL iniquity. He has paid the price for our “freedom from sin and death”, a price that no one on earth could ever pay (Heb. 2:14-15).

We are to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives. Christ has left us His presence and power to assist us in living a holy life. The Holy Spirit enables us to walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4) Reading His Word and prayer daily transforms us into the image of Christ (Rom. 12:2). “He who began a good work in us, is able to perform it (keep us holy) until the day of Jesus Christ (His second return)” (Phil. 1:6).

We are to wait for the blessed hope. As we wait for His return, we are to be working. God desires that we be zealous, “eager to do good.” Uncertainty surrounding the future is the perfect backdrop for sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ. “The fields are already white for harvest.” (John 4:35)

Expectancy influences preparation.  Christ is coming again. He will first return for His Church at a time called the Rapture and take us back to heaven to be with Him (1Thess. 4:13-18).  Nonbelievers, however, will be “left behind” to enter a seven-year period of trouble and desolation known as The Great Tribulation.  At the end of the Tribulation, Christ will return to the earth to judge mankind for their unbelief and their sins (Rev. 20: 11-15).

Expectancy influences preparation. By anticipating future events, we can make adequate plans for events that could potentially impact our life. Christ’s return is a certainty. With His Second Coming the world, as we know it today, will change forever. That being the case, should we not give even more attention to prepare for His return? By accepting Christ as Lord and Savior TODAY, believers have made adequate preparation for Christ’s return TOMORROW because “God has not appointed us to wrath but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thess. 5:9).

The Second Advent, Part 1

No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. (Mat 24:36 NIV)

Retailers kicked off Christmas 2019 in October. They hope this will improve their chances to rebound from loses they experienced in the first half of the year. Parents utilize layaways and presales to fill Christmas gift requests without “breaking the bank.” Recipes are being exchanged and updated as families prepare for special meals with friends and families.

Christmas pageants and carols are being practiced until perfection is accomplished. All this and more is being done in preparation for Christmas—the celebrated arrival of Emmanuel, the Messiah, The Christ Child.  However, I have this one question: “How are we preparing for the Second Advent—the Second Coming of Christ?”

The first arrival of Christ was foretold by many of the Old Testament prophets. We read many of these prophecies during Advent programs and church services; the most frequently cited are found in the Book of Isaiah.

  • (Isa 7:14 NIV) Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
  • (Isa 9:6 NIV) For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
  • (Isa 11:1 NIV) A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
  • (Isa 28:16 NIV) So this is what the Sovereign LORD says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed.

Luke chronicles two believers who faithfully and enthusiastically anticipated the first coming of Christ. Simeon awaited the “Consolation of Israel” (Luke 2:25-32).  Anna, an eighty-four (84) year old widow “did not depart from the temple and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem” (Luke 236-38). That’s anticipation!

Jesus spoke of the certainty of His Second Coming (Matt. 24:27-31; Mark 13:24-27; Luke 21:25-28).   Although He was pressed by His disciples to give the “day and hour” (Matt. 24:36), Jesus instead emphasized faithfulness, watchfulness, stewardship, expectancy, and preparation. As He ascended to heaven, the angels foretold the disciples that “This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven (Acts 1: 11). That certainty!

While Christ’s first arrival marked the offering of salvation and deliverance to all mankind, His Second Coming will be ”very different” (Read Revelations 19:11-16).   The child in the Christmas manger will return as the “righteous judge” (2Tim. 4:8).

It is important that we fully embrace the reality of Christ’s Second Coming. It is equally important that we prepare for it!  For nonbelievers, the reality of Christ’s return is an invitation to repent and turn to Him TODAY. For believers, it reinforces the need to share the Good News of Jesus Christ EVERYDAY to EVERYONE God places in our path. Are you prepared for His Second Coming?

Prayers of Invocation

“Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his face continually.”

1 Chronicles 16:11 (KJV)

For my 2019 Advent reading I added several books that focused on worship litanies and prayers. I have especially enjoyed reading prayers of invocation. Prayers of invocation are designed to invite the Presence of God into the time and space we’ve designated for worship. Advent, the beginning of the new Christian year, is a great time to incorporate this type of prayer into our personal spiritual discipline. Why you might ask?

Prayers of invocation cause us to give pause during the busyness of our life and refocus on God. We often forget our true purpose and eternal destiny. As children of God and joint heirs with Christ, we are to no longer live for ourselves but to live for the glory of God and service to mankind (2 Cor. 5:15). Prayers of invocation remind us of the sovereignty of God.

“Lord, into your most holy presence we now come. Calm our anxious spirits. Remove the distractions that would keep us from you here today. Break down the walls of separation that we have built to keep you from our hardened hearts. Lead us in joy and celebration of the only reality worth knowing, that you love us as we are. Free us for joyful obedience to your claim and call on our lives this day and every day.  Amen.”

Prayers of invocation open us to the work of the Spirit and help us to realize the power of God’s love. As we pray in “spirit and truth”, we invite the Holy Spirit to enter those “secret places in our heart and in our mind”—the places where the transforming work of sanctification can begin. As the Holy Spirit works within us, we are set free from the bondage of sin, healed of our brokenness, and conformed into the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29).

“Let us rise and meet our Creator. Let us raise our hands and voices in acknowledgment that God’s Holy Spirit moves among us, calling us to new life in Christ. Let us raise our eyes, knowing that this new life of stewardship for all God’s creation is seen in the life of Jesus the Christ, our Lord and Savior.  Amen.”

Lastly, prayers of invocation reveal our prideful and independent nature. When this happens we relegate God to a subordinate place on our lives. We deny the truth that God is the “Great I AM.” God is and will continue to be whatever we need to navigate in this life. Our Eternal Father is and has all we need for this present life and the life to come (Rev. 1:8).

“Lord, we come before your throne of grace not trusting in ourselves but in your marvelous and gracious love as it seeks expression among us. May we listen for your still, small voice as it speaks to us today and as it boldly proclaims the undeniable reality of your love that will not let us go. Stir our hearts and our imaginations that we may see beyond appearances of what is to the reality of what can be. In the name and spirit of the holy child, Jesus our Lord, we pray.  Amen.”

In 2020, add prayers of invocation to your prayer discipline. Invite God into your time and space in this new way. Your prayer life will be greatly expanded when you do.

Prayers from Advent and Christmas, David N. Mosser

Psalms for Thanksgiving

Oh give thanks unto the LORD.”  Psalm 105:1 (NKJ)

Tomorrow we will celebrate Thanksgiving—again.  As we prepare to join with friends and family during this time of gratitude and appreciation, my question to you is “what are you thankful for this year?”  For my answer, the Holy Spirit guided me to the Psalms.  The Psalms are recognized for their ability to capture the feelings and emotions of people “doing life”.  With that in mind, I’d like to share three psalms, Psalms 105-107, in gratitude for Thanksgiving 2019.

The opening lines of Psalms 105-107, “Oh give thanks to the LORD,” links together this trilogy of songs which praise God for His goodness and mercy to Israel.  Psalm 105 and 106, possibly originated by command of David to Asaph on the occasion when the ark of the covenant was first brought to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6:12-19); Psalm 107 most likely were written during the post-Exilic period, that timeframe after the seventy-year period of Babylonian captivity.  As I read these psalms today, it is evident that their strength and intensity lie in their ability to present events of the past clearly and unabridged.  By communicating them to future generations, the nation of Israel would make sure that they would never forget what God had done for them and would result in unending praise to Him.

Psalm 105 remembered and praised God for His eternal faithfulness. “He remembers His covenant forever, The Word which He commanded, for a thousand generations” (Psalm 105:8).  Israel’s covenant relationship with God gave them “favor” as the seed of Abraham and children of Jacob.  That covenant guaranteed God would both protect and provide for His own people.  It began in time past and is still promised to the nation of Israel in the 21st century.  God is “not a man that He should lie…as He spoken it, He will make it good” (Num. 23:19).  God’s faithfulness is extended to believers today through Jesus Christ, the Mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance (Heb. 9:15).  He will do everything He promised and more (Ep. 3:20).

Psalm 106 remembered and praised God for His certain forgiveness.  “We have sinned…committed iniquity…done wickedly.  Nevertheless He saved them for His name’s sake…” (Psalm 106:6-8)   Israel’s history is replete with accounts of their disobedience and turning away from Jehovah God.  Sometimes it took the form of idolatry; other times it was willful wickedness and rebellion.  Wherever they found themselves, the nation of Israel quickly forgot God and adopted the sinful patterns of their neighbors

(v. 13).  But God always extended mercy to them.  Believers today are blessed that we can ask God for forgiveness of our sins and He will faithfully and instantaneously forgive (1 John 1:9).  There is no need for the blood of bulls and goals or heifers (Hebrews 9:13-14).  Jesus paid it all that we might freely receive forgiveness.

Psalm 107 remembered and praised God for His great works of deliverance. “Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy…and He delivered them out of their distresses.  And He led them forth by the right way…” (Psalm 107:2-7).  In God’s faithfulness and because of His forgiveness, He would continually show Himself strong on behalf of His people (2 Chronicles 16:9).  His works of deliverance would save them from their enemies (vv. 1-3), their sinful consequences (vv. 4-22) and the other storms in their national life (vv. 23-29).  And with that deliverance, came unmerited blessings—“wildernesses would be turned to pools of water and dry land into watersprings.”  Today, God continues to be our strength and very present help in time of trouble (Ps. 46:1).  He has delivered us, does deliver us, and we trust will still deliver us” (2 Cor. 1:10).

This Thanksgiving create your own psalm in honor of God’s love and provision.  Know that He loves you with an everlasting love (Jer. 31:3).  Sing praise to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who demonstrated His love for us.  Even while we were in sin, He died for us that we might have everlasting life (Rom. 5:8).    Praise the Lord and give thanks!

Return to Joy

Delight yourselves in the Lord, yes, find your joy in him at all times.  Phil. 4:4 (Phillips Translation)

We began this series, “In and Out of Season:  A Call to Return” with admonitions from the Old Testament prophets Isaiah and Hosea to “Return to Repentance” and “Return to Faithfulness”.  Both teachings acknowledged our “bentness to sin” and our responsibility as individuals, the Church, and a nation to repent and come back to God.  We learned in “Return to Your First Love” that God’s love for us never changes in spite of our shortfalls and failures.  It is up to us to move back into loving relationship with Him.   This week, we close our series with an invitation to “Return to Joy.”

What is Joy?

Joy is defined as gladness of heart and is listed among the top five things[1] people desperately want in life yet “never seem to be able to get”.  Joy’s illusiveness, in many cases, is the result of people’s tendency to define joy as external to themselves—a person, place, or thing.  This conviction holds to the belief that joy is only possible when certain outcomes are achieved and is generally expressed in phrases like:  “I’ll have joy when…” or “The only thing that will make me happy is…”

Joy under Attack

As we survey the world we live it, gladness of heart is under attack.  Our attempts to navigate 21st century living seem more daunting and challenging with each new day.  Financial worries served as a significant source of stress ranking higher than three other major sources of stress: work, family responsibilities, and health concerns.  So how can we find joy?   The Apostle Paul shares the secret of not only how to find joy but also how to return to it in spite of the pressures we might face.  Paul invites the Philippians (and us) to “delight in the Lord…find you joy in Him at all times.”

Source of Joy

Paul exhorts the Church at Philippi to holy joy and delight in God.  Paul reminds the Philippian believers of their duty and privilege to rejoice in God—at all times and in all conditions—even when they suffered and were afflicted for God.

We too must not think the worst of God during our hardships or difficulties.  There is enough in God to furnish us with joy even in the worst of circumstances.  David prayed to God that He would not take His Spirit away and acknowledged that “in God’s presence is fullness of joy” (Psalm 16:11).  Jesus prepared His Disciples for the Great Commission by teaching them how “to live in The Vine”—in Jesus’ holy presence (John 15:5-11).  Jesus shared this with His Disciples so that “His joy would remain in them and be full”— complete or perfect in every way. (v. 11)

Returning to Joy

It is God’s desire that we return to joy regardless of life’s circumstances or difficulties.  Jesus describes these as “tribulations” (John 16:33).  Tribulations and trials are “natural outcomes” believers suffer as a result of living in a fallen world.

Returning to joy strengthens our resolve and helps us to continue with the purpose God has set before us (Nehemiah 8:10).  Such strength can only come from Eternal God Who sustains us through the worst of circumstances.   When we come into the presence of the Lord, we connect with His great and eternal power that exceeds anything we can do in our own strength (Phil.  4:13).

We as believers are invited to claim the power and victory that come from serving God who is sovereign and who has overcome the world (Ps. 119:89-91).  Isn’t it time for you to return to joy?

Also Read, “A Closet Full of Joy, Part 1”

[1]  Top 5 include:   Happiness, Money, Freedom, Peace, Joy

 

Return to Your First Love

 

Nevertheless I have this against you,

that you have left your first love.

Revelation 2:4 (NKJV)

The late Bishop Gilbert E. Patterson shared the story of a couple that had been married for “quite a few years”.  As they drove down the street, the wife complained, “You don’t love me like you use to!  We use to cuddle under each other so close that you couldn’t tell where one person began and the other ended.  And look at us now!  You’re sitting way over there and I’m sitting over here by the door. The husband gently turned to his wife and explained, “This car is designed one way with the driver located on the left side of the car.  So, who moved?”

Are you feeling distant and estranged from God?  Are your prayers routine and repetitive?  Is your praise and worship predictable and puny?  When you read the Bible, do you have difficulty hearing God’s voice?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, then it’s time for you to examine yourself (2 Cor. 13:5) and see what is hindering your personal relationship with the Lord.  God never changes (Malachi 3:6) nor has God moved.  Maybe it’s time to return to your first love.

The church at Ephesus had persevered and endured hardship for the Lord.  This was a critical part of the early church’s responsibility to insure a clear and true presentation of the gospel (Ep. 4:1-2).  In general this church had continued in its faithful service to God for more than 40 years.   While all these “efforts” were important in the development of the early church (as it is now), there was something that was noticeably absent.  They had left their first love.

Jesus lays a charge of carelessness in cultivating their relationship with the Him.   In the literal translation of today’s text, the order of the words in Greek emphatically denote the strong rebuke directed to the church. “Your first love you have left!”  This second-generation of believers, had retained purity of doctrine but were lacking in deep devotion to Christ.

As believers, we must ask ourselves if we too are careless in cultivating our relationship with the Lord.     Remember the first time you professed your love for Jesus Christ?  With that experience came excitement and anticipation.  Are we now guilty of taking our eyes off the Lord?  Are we more concerned with our personal agendas than practicing the presence of the Holy Spirit?  Have we left our first love?

And what can we say about the Church, Christ’s bride (Rev. 19:7-9)?  The Church needs to heed the same warning given to the Ephesian church.  Orthodoxy and service is not enough.  Christ wants hearts as well as our hands and heads (Matt. 22:37).

If you feel you have left Jesus, your First Love, here are some strategies to help you return to His side (1 John 1:3).

Recommit yourself to Him.   Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? (Rom. 6:16)  Repent and return to Him.  Nothing you can do will ever separate you from God’s love (Rom. 8:39) and He stands faithful to forgive you (1 John 1: 9).  Recommitment involves renewing your loyalty to Christ and His lordship over your life.  This includes directing your time, talents, and treasures to the service of the Lord.

Renew your love for Him.  I will love You, O LORD, my strength (Psalm 18:1).  Tell the Lord how much you love Him.  Although He is all-knowing, He still wants to hear you tell Him how much you love Him.    Let Him know you desire Him with all your heart and soul (Ps. 42:1-2).  Show your love for Him through your praise and worship.  You are never closer to Him than when you “love on Him” (Ps. 22:3).

Reprioritize your life around Him.   Christ set the standard for priority when He said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matt.  6: 33).  However, to make God the center of your life is counterculture.  Everything in modern society encourages and rewards people who place themselves “at the head of the line”.  But when we place Christ first in our life, we are assured that we have chosen the “Good Part” (Luke 10:42).

During your quiet time, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal if you have left your first love. He will not condemn you (Romans 8:1) but gently redirect you to Jesus’ arms.