Would Anyone Know You’re a Christian?

Grampa Dave giving grandson, Brandon, a golf lesson!

Grampa Dave giving grandson, Brandon, a golf lesson!

“Darn it!” my husband Dave muttered after hitting his golf ball into the woods.

He was playing golf in a scramble game with a group of men he’d never met before.

“Is that all you have to say?” asked one of the men.

“Yes, that’s it,” said hubby.

Later in the game, Dave made a birdie putt that earned his team a 3rd place finish. The team captain was elated, “Somebody buy that man a beer!”

Hubby, “Thanks, I don’t drink, but a Diet Coke would be great.”

A man in the group,  “Are you LDS?”

Hubby, “No, I go to the Community Church.”

When my husband relayed these conversations to me, God put several thoughts on my mind:

  1. My husband’s actions were a great witness on the golf course.
  2. But why did they assume that because he didn’t swear or drink that he was LDS? Why didn’t they ask if he was a Christian?

Actions Speak Louder Than Our Words, or in this Case, Lack of Words

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:18

Saved to follow ChristI’ve heard many Christians justify their actions and words by saying they can reach more people for Christ if they “fit in,” but you’ll never find that practice supported in the Bible. Instead, the Bible instructs us to put off the old way of life and put on the new. It also tells us that we’ll be in the world, but we’re not to conform or “fit in” to the world.

18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.

20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.

Ephesians 4:18-25

In last week’s blog post, How to Mentor in a World Forsaking God, I mentioned that corrupt tax collectors, Zacchaeus and Matthew, each invited Jesus to their home and He went. Many people like to use these two scenarios to justify their own actions in participating in worldly activities. It’s true, Jesus did receive criticism for hanging out with sinners, but He had a mission and a purpose. He didn’t go to their homes to party with them and participate in their sins and corruption … he wasn’t going to cheat people out of their money like these two men or celebrate and condone their deception with a drink and a toast.

Zacchaeus and Matthew had invited friends to their houses and Jesus had a readymade audience. He went there to tell them about the Gospel and how they could turn from their wicked ways and sins, ask for forgiveness, and become new men in Christ. He went into their world to tell them about His world–to make them His followers, not to follow them! A caveat many people miss.

 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.

When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.

All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”

But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”

Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:1-10

As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.

10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9:9-13

The Great Commission, Matthew 28:16-20, commands us to go to those who don’t know Christ, but our mission is to share Jesus with them, not hide our faith.

Daily Walk Devotional, August 4, 2015, Suggests an Enlightening Exercise:

Think back over the last seven days and count the number of people you have talked to: family members, coworkers, classmates, friends, neighbors, service people, store clerks [golfers or other sports participants]. Don’t forget those you communicated with by phone or e-mail, or over the back fence.

Now subtract the number of those who are already Christians. How many are left—5, 10, 20, or more? That represents the number of opportunities you have each week to offer hope, encouragement, and a word of witness to a lost world.

We Should Never “Fit In,” There Should be Something Different About Us!

Set  yourself apart. You weren't made to fit in. You were born to stand out!

“Set yourself apart. You weren’t made to fit in. You were born to stand out!” Jim Caviezel

Jim Caviezel is the actor who portrayed Jesus in Passion of the Christ. As I was writing this blog post, the Lord got my attention on Facebook with a picture of Jim in an article that talked about his Pro-life commitment and adopting two Chinese children with brain tumors. But as I read further, I came across a video of Pastor Dave Cooper interviewing Jim at Rock Church in San Diego. As I listened to the interview, Jim said exactly what I had already written here in this blog! In the heading above, I had used the same words he uses in saying that Christians should never “fit in.” I would encourage you to watch the entire powerful interview. Here are several quotes from Jim Caviezel, a follower of Jesus:

“We all have a choice. Freedom exits not to do what you like, but to do what you ought.”

“God doesn’t send anyone to hell; they choose hell.”

Many Christians want to be a little bit pagan to fit in. They don’t want to be Holy”.

“You have to take Jesus with you in your life every day. He’s part of you. People need to see God in you. They’ll want what you have.”

When you live in holiness, when you really try to stop sinning, you become braver. You become more courageous, you become a man of your word. You become a man of conviction that you’re not willing to sell out and you’re really a true knight in shining armour.” [From another related article]

How Do We Take Jesus with Us?

  • When others are laughing at dirty jokes, we don’t laugh and change the subject.
  • When others are cussing or taking the name of the Lord in vain, we don’t. We might respectfully say, “Hey, that’s my Father [or God or Jesus] you’re talking about there. Is He yours too?”
  • When others are getting drunk, we don’t. We sip on a nonalcoholic beverage.
  • When offered a drink, and we don’t drink, we say, “No thank you. I don’t drink, but I’d love a glass of water.”
  • When someone asks us to do something we know isn’t right, i.e. take drugs, watch a movie full of sex and bad language, cheat, hang out with the wrong crowd … we refuse and try to get them to not do it also.
  • When others accept something we don’t accept—abortion, gay marriage, couples living together—we don’t go along with the conversation, which insinuates we agree with them. We kindly let them know we’re not in agreement and why.

Silence conveys confirmation.

We don’t give in on the little things or the big things.

12 Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, with integrity and godly sincerity. We have done so, relying not on worldly wisdom but on God’s grace. 2 Corinthians 1:12

Why Did They Ask My Husband If He Was LDS?

The short answer to that might be because we live in a heavily populated Mormon area. But the long answer is that many Christians have let the world influence them instead of them influencing the world. Christians don’t stand out from the crowd anymore. They should, but they don’t.

Christians differ with Mormons on theology, but the one thing you can’t differ with is that you don’t see Mormons drinking, swearing, or telling dirty jokes, and they make their family a priority. Maybe you’ve see some who differ from this, but I live amongst them and I haven’t seen it yet. They are kind and generous, and I don’t think they would ever be mistaken for being “worldly” or trying to “fit in.”

So what’s wrong with Christians? We know the Truth. We know that Jesus is the son of God, He went to the cross to save us from our sins, and Jesus is the ONLY way to eternal life with Him. It’s a personal decision no one can make for us, and no amount of works or being good will save us. But familiarity can lead to complacency. We’re bombarded by tolerance to sin today, even the legalization of sin by our government.

Christians can become desensitized to sin around us and in our own spiritual life.

Desensitization: a process by which a patient with allergies receives injections containing an increasing amount of the substance to which that patient is allergic. As a result, the body in time becomes accustomed to the foreign substance and is no longer irritated by it.

Because Christians rely so heavily on grace, it’s easy to become complacent and tolerant of sin in the world and in our own life, despite the apostle Paul’s warning in Romans 6:1-2: “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?

We’ve seen in the world, and even in some Christians lives and churches, sins once considered unthinkable are first tolerated, then condoned, and ultimately openly endorsed. Instead of the Christian faith influencing the world to turn from their sins and wicked ways, many Christians have let the world influence them to accept and condone some sins.

For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 1 John 2:16

Those men on the golf course knew from my husband’s actions and words that he was a man of faith and they respected him. He can still play the game of golf and be in the “world,” without compromising his beliefs, faith, or conservative standards. And guess what, they still want to play golf with him; he still “fits in” the golf world even though he doesn’t swear or drink with them and they now know he’s a Christian. What a mission field he has.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. Romans 12:1-3 

What ways do you see Christians trying to “fit in” with the world?

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Remember Your First Love

 

I don’t have to tell you that Saturday is Valentine’s Day. You may have special plans with your sweetheart to celebrate this day devoted to “love.” Hubby and I are going to the only “tablecloth” restaurant in our little town, so we knew we had to have reservations early. I’ve mailed Valentine cards to grandkids, and have the perfect card ready to sign for my sweet husband.

Romantic love is God’s plan. He wanted us to be madly in love with our spouse and never forget the passion, and maybe even infatuation, that drew us together.

“Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you.
Rejoice in the wife of your youth.”
Proverbs 5:18

For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her.Ephesians 5:25

These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands. —Titus 2:4

It might seem strange to us that young women would need training in how to love their husbands, as it says in Titus 2:4. We think that comes naturally, and it usually does . . . at first. But what happens to love after years of being together and going through life’s challenges? Many of us say the circumstances of life draw us closer to each other, but other couples struggle to love each other as they did at first.

Loving Jesus As You Did at First

Just like earthly love can mellow and grow lukewarm, so can our love for Christ. That’s exactly what happened to the church at Laodicea, much to the Lord’s chagrin:

But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!

Revelation 3:16

Some of you might be shaking your head in denial right now: “No, that could never happen to me!” Well think back to what you were like when you first became a Christian. Remember your zeal and passion to tell everyone about this newfound relationship with Christ. Was everyone excited to hear about it, or did you start to get push back from people and decide that maybe you would just keep your relationship with Christ private and to yourself?

Then life got busy and your Bible started collecting dust. Oh, you still dutifully go to church on Sunday, joined a small group, tithe, and have a bumper sticker from your church on your car. But do people know that you are deliriously, head-over-heals, madly in love with Jesus? Does your spouse even know that?

Don’t you wives realize that your husbands might be saved because of you? And don’t you husbands realize that your wives might be saved because of you?1 Corinthians 7:16

Could it be that you still love Jesus, but maybe not like you did at first. Jesus has His place in your life, but if you’re honest, you’d have to say Jesus doesn’t hold 1st priority in your activities, finances, energy, time…maybe even in your heart. This happened to the church at Ephesus and it can happen so easily to us today too.

The Church at Ephesus Forgot Their First Love

In Acts 2:42-47, we see the devotion of the first believers at the church in Ephesus:

All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper) and to prayer. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity— all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.

Paul commended the next generation of believers in Ephesus for the depth of their love for Christ:

So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.—Ephesians 3:17-19 (NIV)

But in Revelation 2:2-4, this same church became a dutiful church lacking in love:

I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance. I know you don’t tolerate evil people. You have examined the claims of those who say they are apostles but are not. You have discovered they are liars. You have patiently suffered for me without quitting. But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first!

How did the Church at Ephesus go from devotion to brotherly love for Christ, to the 2nd generation, rooted and grounded in Christ’s love, to the 3rd generation forgetting their first love?

It seems that the second generation got so caught up with how to do church, that they forgot why we have church—because we LOVE Jesus! They didn’t pass down the love of Christ to their children and grandchildren.

Do our children and grandchildren know why we’re taking them to church and Sunday school? Do they know that we are Christians because we love Jesus more than anything in the world? Do we role model our love for Christ to the next generation?

Remember Your First Love

The letter to the Church at Ephesus has the answers to reclaiming Jesus as our first love:

  • Remember: Look how far you have fallen!” (v. 5)
  • Repent: “Turn back to me” (v. 5)
  • Refocus: “and do the works you did at first.” (v. 5)

Or else . . .

  • Removal: “If you don’t repent, I will come and remove your lampstand from its place among the churches. Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. To everyone who is victorious I will give fruit from the tree of life in the paradise of God.” (v. 7)

Removing the lampstand meant they would no longer be an effective church . . . or effective Christian witness. . . or effective role model to the next generation. And my friends, if Jesus slips from first place in our life, we too will stop being effective Christians.

God wants us to maintain the passion and excitement we had when we first fell in love with His Son, Jesus Christ. Have you been around a new believer lately? They have a radiance and glow . . . just like a new bride. New believers are on fire for the Lord. There’s a contagious joy and exuberance about them. Others want to know the source of their happiness.

Only when we place Jesus first in our life and heart—and keep Him there—can we love others with a genuine Christ-like love. His love fuels us to be better spouses, parents, friends . . . Christians.

If you would like more specifics on how to reclaim Jesus as your First love, I wrote about this in my blog last year, Who’s Your First Love?

Have a Happy Jesus is “My First Love” Day!

*Unless otherwise noted, all Scriptures are from the New Living Translation

 

Elizabeth and Mary: Generation to Generation

older and younger women together You’ve probably read the story many times of Mary’s visit from the angel Gabriel in Luke 1:26-45. It’s an amazing revelation to a young teenage girl that she is to become the mother of the Messiah. But there is another parallel story told in these verses—the story of the relationship between Mary and Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist who would be the forerunner of Jesus. The passage in Luke actually sets the scene by pointing out that Elizabeth was six month’s pregnant. Two women with miracle pregnancies–one very old and one very young.

The Birth of Jesus Foretold

 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee,  to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”  “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.” “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.—Luke 1:26-34

Mary Visits Elizabeth

At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”—Luke 1:39-45

Elizabeth Makes Time for Mary

Gabriel gave Mary a shocking message from the Lord, However, Mary also received the second part of the message that her elderly relative Elizabeth was in a similar circumstance, and that Mary would find comfort and reassurance in spending time with her. Gabriel’s mention of Elizabeth compelled Mary to go to her immediately, no matter what the inconvenience, time, energy, or sacrifice. Mary did not stop to count the cost, consider the hardships of the travel, analyze if that was really what the Lord meant, or worry about how it would affect her schedule, or wonder if Elizabeth was too old to relate to her. Mary also didn’t send a message to Elizabeth that Elizabeth should come visit her—after all, she was carrying the Messiah. No, Luke 1:39 says, “Mary got ready and hurried” to Elizabeth’s house. Young Mary seemed to know that she needed Elizabeth, and Elizabeth might need her. From Elizabeth’s response at Mary’s arrival, it doesn’t seem like Elizabeth worried or fretted that the house was a mess, or she was out of coffee and cookies, or that she looked a sight and her husband, Zechariah, really wasn’t himself these days since he could not speak after doubting God. She didn’t tell Mary that there were a million things to do to get ready for her own new baby, so this probably wasn’t a good time for Mary’s visit. She wasn’t repulsed that her unwed, pregnant, teenage relative was on her doorstep. Instead, she joyfully welcomed Mary and they had a blessed reunion!

How Does the Story of Mary and Elizabeth Apply to Us?

Today, our lives are so busy we sometimes feel we don’t have time to invest in true friendships and relationships. We fill our days with work, soccer games, church activities, house cleaning, shopping, errands—you know the routine. All good, necessary things. Yet how much of our day do we also fill with TV viewing, Internet browsing, and shopping for things we really don’t need that cause us to work more to acquire and maintain? Mentors and mentees often complain that the hardest part of their relationship is finding time in their busy lives to meet, even though they know it would benefit them both. Others report that when they surrender their schedule to the Lord, He seems to give them more time and energy in their day to accomplish all the things he knows are important. Just like Elizabeth and Mary, God will work miracles in our relationship, if we just give Him the time. I would love to hear about your “Elizabeth and Mary” experiences. Please share in the comments so others can be blessed.

Spend time with someone 20 years older and you’ll leave wiser

Spend time with someone 20 years younger and you’ll leave energized!

Sections of this post were excerpts from Face-to-Face with Elizabeth and Mary: Generation to Generation. This study has questions to do on your own, with someone else, or as a group. It would make a great gift to give to yourself and a friend to do together and learn more about this beautiful relationship.

Elizabeth and Mary cover

 

Jesus On Entertainment Tonight

A bible, cross and lily making an Easter image

Mindlessly turning on the television and channel surfing for something to watch while cooking dinner last week, I put down the remote as I heard the name “Jesus” being used as an introduction—not in vain, the usual mode for TV and Movies. The hosts of Entertainment Tonight were actually talking excitedly about … Jesus and the Bible!

They weren’t questioning whether Jesus was real or the Bible was true. No, instead they were raving about the new TV Miniseries, The Bible, and informing their television audience that “This Sunday Jesus will meet Pontius Pilate.” Almost as if they knew Jesus and Pilate like they knew all the other celebrities and famous people they interview on their show.

They talked about the millions of people watching the series and how the first Sunday night’s airing beat out every other program on TV that night, and the next Sunday found millions tuned in to watch more of The Bible! There was no hesitation mentioning the name of Jesus. They said His name like everyone should know who He is and, of course, know the Bible that the series is based on. They weren’t embarrassed or apologetic. They were enthusiastic and passionate as they encouraged viewers to tune in next Sunday night for what’s become a “wildly-popular mini-series.”

One article about The Bible series said, “Not since Cecile B DeMille’s ‘The Ten Commandments’ has there been quite as much Biblical buzz in Hollywood.”

I have to admit, I never expected to hear Jesus proclaimed on Entertainment Tonight, but I couldn’t stop laughing and praising. Only God could take a secular TV program and use it as an advertisement for the Gospel. Only God could make the series the most watched program on TV on Sunday nights….not to mention the other nights it airs during the week. Only God could put the name of Jesus and The Bible on peoples’ tongues as they gathered around the water cooler on Monday mornings.

Only God could have given the vision for this series to Roma Downey and her husband, producer Mark Burnett, in what they describe as a “spiritual calling.”

We don’t need to make more TV,” Burnett said. “This is way more than that. . . . It’s a movement. It’s the Bible. It’s something everybody should know. Even if you don’t want to go to church, or believe, you should know these stories.” Their goal was to get people talking around the water cooler on Monday mornings and looking in their Bibles to see if that’s the way it really happened.

Of course, it’s a movie series and they’ve filled in some of the blanks where the Bible is silent, such as portraying what Sarah might have done when Abraham took Isaac up the mountain to sacrifice him. And since they’re covering Genesis to Revelation, they couldn’t hit on every story.

Here is Roma’s vision she proposed to her producer husband:

 “Mark, we should do this. We should make a TV series on the Bible. Not unconnected Bible stories, but the overarching, sweeping, loving narrative. A dramatic rendition that goes from Genesis to Revelation. We could tell that story in five two-hour episodes. We could bring it to life.”

Her husband protested: “I stared at her. It was an incredibly ambitious idea, and it’s not like we weren’t busy enough, raising three teenagers, and also producing some of the most demanding shows on TV (including The Voice and Survivor).

“How can we possibly take this on, and how can we tell this story in only ten television hours?” I asked, shaking my head.

“Think about it, Mark,” she said. “The Bible story is all the things that great television should be. It has adventure, it has drama and it has redemption.”

And that’s the story every Christian should be telling! And every Christian should be embracing this series…not criticizing it or trying to find inaccuracies…but sharing the amazing story of God brought to life in millions of viewers living rooms on Sunday night. Only God could do that!

Quotes were from a Guideposts story written by Mark Burnett himself and listening  to both Roma and Mark share their calling in a CBS interview.

Who’s Your First Love?

True Love Heart

February is the month of love and romance. Red and pink hearts are everywhere in honor of Valentine’s Day—the universal day for showing and sharing love. Of course, we don’t just love in the month of February—or one day a year—but it is the day we focus on finding ways to demonstrate our love.

Little children certainly don’t limit their display of love to just one day! Whenever my grandkids come to visit, they leave me love notes with their sweet heart drawings all over the house and on my white board. And at home they do the same for mommy and daddy. They seem to have an abundance of love and they don’t mind telling the world about it!

Brandon's love note

Fill in the blank with the first thing that comes to your mind: I LOVE_________

 Love is a word we often use loosely and it can take on many different meanings….

  • I love pizza!
  • I love pink!
  • I love my husband!
  • I love my kids!
  • I love my new vacuum!
  • I love Trader Joe’s!

I think you get the idea. Obviously we love our husbands and kids more than we love pizza. So how would you fill in the following blank?

My FIRST love is _____________.

You might have had trouble completing that sentence. 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 fill in that blank with…My FIRST love is Jesus . . . 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

You probably know people who would fill in the blank with …

  • My FIRST love is myself.
  • My FIRST love is my career.
  • My FIRST love is fame and fortune.
  • My FIRST love is my car or house or bank account…..

Every day we see on the news or in our neighborhoods, the tragic results of lives lived with the wrong priorities.

Analogy: Earthy Love and Love for Jesus

I once read a satirical advice column:  Dear Dr. Lovelorn, Where do I go to find a lukewarm love for the rest of my life to grow old with?

Of course, none of us ever plan for our romantic love to turn lukewarm. Remember when you were first in love: when time, money, and energy were never a concern. You talked lovingly about each other nonstop, couldn’t stand to be apart, showered each other with affection, and wanted the whole world to know you were in love.

Then when you marry and children join your happy family, it becomes harder and harder to find the time, money, and energy to expend on each other. Yes, your love has matured, but you have to be careful that mature love doesn’t mean the passion and excitement has turned to lukewarm and routine. Even God wants our marriages to stay as on fire, as when we were first in love….

“Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you.
Rejoice in the wife of your youth”
(Proverbs 18-18 NLT)

God also wants us to maintain the passion and excitement we had when we first fell in love with His Son, Jesus. Have you been around a new believer lately? They have a radiance and glow…just like a new bride. New believers are on fire for the Lord and there’s a joy and exuberance about them that’s contagious and often leads others to want to know where this new found joy came from.

But as we spiritually mature, we may become like the church in Ephesus who Jesus spoke of in Revelations 2:4-5 (NIV): “Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love.  Remember the height from which 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.”

Removing the lampstand meant they would no longer be an effective church . . . effective Christian witness . . . effective role model to the next generation.

Only when we place Jesus first in our life and heart, can we love others with a genuine Christ-like love. It’s His love that fuels us to be better wives and mothers and grandmothers. . . . women. Jesus helps us do things for our families lovingly, not dutifully. There’s a difference between preparing a delicious meal because we love our family, versus throwing something together just to get them fed.

How Do We Return To Our First Love?

Just like we have to make an effort to rekindle the romantic fire in our marriages, we occasionally have to reignite the fire for Jesus in our hearts! Here’s an acrostic for L O V E that works for me, and I know it will work for you too:

Linger with Him!

“Oh, how I love your instructions!  I think about them all day long.”—Psalm 119:97 NLT

Find ways to have a quiet time with the Lord every day. I know that’s not always easy if you Susanna Wesleyhave small children; but take a tip from Susanna Wesley, the mother of John and Charles Wesley, the founders of the Methodist movement. Susanna had 19 pregnancies, and 10 of her children lived past the age of two. That in itself requires great faith, but even with 10 children running around, Susanna believed strongly in daily prayer and if she couldn’t find a private place in the house to pray, she put her apron over her head as a sign to the children to be extra quiet, mom was praying!

 

Find that private place in your home where you can “throw your apron over your head” and help yoMother Daughter prayingur children learn to respect your time of prayer and reading your Bible. This will teach them more about the value of prayer than any Bible study. My daughter has three children 4, 7, 8 and she just read the Bible in a year on her phone by using YouVersion.

cell phone

 Obsess 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:

  • Preoccupied
  • Dominated
  • Fixed
  • Immersed in
  • Gripped by
  • An Infatuation
  • A Passion

AH…that we would all be deliriously, madly, and obsessively in love with Jesus!

Value Him!

“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:

  • Worthy
  • Worship
  • Love

We can tell what we value most by looking at our checkbooks and our calendar. Where do you spend most of your money and time? Ask yourself if it has Kingdom value.

Enjoy Him!

I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence.—Proverbs 8:30 NIV

Happy In the Lord

When we L O V E Jesus Christ with total abandonment, our hearts begin to change and we’re able to reach out with His love to those around us and L O V E them 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 and how you L-inger with O-bsess over V-alue and E-njoy Him!

Have a Happy Jesus is “My First Love” Day!

PS: You might also find it helpful to do my Bible study Face-to-Face with Priscilla and Aquila: Balancing Life and Ministry