I don’t have to tell you that yesterday was Valentine’s Day—the universal day for showing and sharing love. Red and pink hearts were everywhere and it was fun to see many of the women, and some men, at church wearing red and pink. The bouquet of red roses next to the Bible at the front of the church, reminded me of how appropriate it was that Valentine’s Day was on a Sunday this year, because we were in church honoring our First Love: Jesus Christ.
The children of our church will never forget this Valentine’s Day either, and Who we should love above all others. When the congregation walked out of the sanctuary into the fellowship hall, the children’s ministry during Sunday school had decorated the entire ceiling with heart shaped balloons and streamers. At the end of each streamer was a card with a handwritten note from the children: “Jesus loves you” and “God loves you.”
The children were so excited to see us all walk into the room and ooh and ah over how beautiful the room looked.
My heart swelled as I thought about the precious Sunday school teachers who helped these children focus on Jesus as our First Love and serve the congregation. In Forsaken God, Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten, I stress how important it is for the next generation not to just hear about the love of Jesus, but to experience His love personally and then to share it.
What’s Love Got to Do With It?
Love is a word we use freely….
- I love pizza!
- I love pink!
- I love my husband!
- I love my kids!
- I love my new vacuum!
- I love my new shoes!
Obviously, if we were prioritizing that list, we love our husbands and kids more than we love pizza or shoes. But would we put Jesus at the top of the list?
If you’re married, how could you possibly differentiate between your husband and your children as your first love? If you have more than one child . . . how could you determine which one of them you love first? You can’t.
But when you make Jesus your FIRST love . . . He gives you the ability to have limitless love for Him and for others.
Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.” —Matthew 22:37-40 The Message
Remembering Jesus, Your First Love
Here’s an excerpt from Chapter 21 in Forsaken God?, “Remembering His Love”:
One of the first verses we learn as children or new believers is John 3:16. This verse emphasizes how much God loves the world and wants everyone to have an opportunity to trust in him and his Son, Jesus Christ, and have eternal salvation. It’s hard to imagine how anyone would turn down this kind of sacrificial love, but you and I both know people who don’t accept God’s love invitation. Sadly, they don’t understand the consequences of rejecting God’s love. The Message translation of John 3:16-18 clearly states their fate:
This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.
Loving God is a lifetime relationship. He never falls out of love with us; but believers who have fallen away from God, or who don’t love him the way they did at first, are cautioned in Revelation 2:4-5 to remember and repent … or else:
But I have this [one charge to make] against you: that you have left (abandoned) the love that you had at first [you have deserted Me, your first love]. Remember then from what heights you have fallen. Repent (change the inner man to meet God’s will) and do the works you did previously [when first you knew the Lord], or else I will visit you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you change your mind and repent. (AMP).
Do you remember the zeal and excitement you had as a new believer? How grateful you were for salvation and Jesus’ love and the intensity of your love for him … the thrill of feeling forgiven. You wanted to tell everyone about Jesus, until you realized not everyone was receptive to hearing about your new love. You became more cautious about sharing your faith for fear of rejection or ridicule. Your enthusiasm waned and soon you didn’t talk about Jesus unless you were with believers, and maybe not much then either.
In the beginning of your faith walk, you had enthusiasm without knowledge. Don’t let knowledge and time diminish enthusiasm. Spiritual maturity should intensify adoration, not spawn complacency. Otherwise, your light will dim, as will your relationship with Christ, and you won’t effectively share Christ’s love with others. Remember, Jesus extinguishes lights that don’t shine brightly for him (Rev. 2:5).
God wants us to maintain the passion and excitement we had when we first fell in love with His Son, Jesus Christ and He wants that love to motivate everything we do and say and never forget how much He love us and we love Him. Only when we place Jesus first in our life and heart, can we love others with a genuine Christ-like love. His love fuels us to be better wives, mothers, and grandmothers. Jesus helps us serve our families—and Him—lovingly, not dutifully.
Ways To Return To Our First Love
Periodically, we have to rekindle and reignite first-love fire in our relationship with Jesus. The following acrostic for L O V E helps me keep Jesus in first place in my life and I hope it helps you too
L-inger with Him!
“Oh, how I love your instructions! I think about them all day long.” —Psalm 119:97 NLT
Let’s find ways to have a quiet time with the Lord daily and talk to Him all day long as we go about our life.
O–bsess Over Him!
“I will praise the Lord at all times. I will constantly speak his praises. I will boast only in the Lord; let all who are helpless take heart. Come, let us tell of the Lord’s greatness; let us exalt his name together.” —Psalm 34:1-3 NLT
The dictionary describes obsession as:
- Immersed in
- Gripped by
- An Infatuation
- A Passion
Let’s be deliriously, madly, obsessively, and passionately in love with Jesus!
“Let the whole earth sing to the Lord! Each day proclaim the good news that he saves. Publish his glorious deeds among the nations. Tell everyone about the amazing things he does. Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise! He is to be feared above all gods.” —1 Chronicles 16:23-25
Synonyms for value:
Let’s show Jesus how worthy He is of our love through our worship and praise.
“I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence.” —Proverbs 8:30 NIV
Let’s enjoy being a Christian and let the world know we LOVE Jesus!
When we L O V E Jesus Christ with total abandonment, our hearts change—we can then love others as Jesus commanded:
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
—John 13:34-35 NIV
Share with us ways you’ve found to keep Jesus first in your life!
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*Excerpts of this blog are from my new release Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten.