“You have forsaken your first love.” Revelation 2:4
I must confess: I’m a romantic at heart, which means I love to hear stories of how people met and fell in love. What’s more, I love to hear stories of how they stay in love! Unfortunately, you don’t see too many 50th wedding anniversary celebrations these days.
Take Barb and Bob, for instance. Barb was a beauty queen who caught the eye of Bob, a talented athlete. It was love at first sight and romance at its best. Bob took great pride in his home and marriage, reveling in the fact that he was free to be a success in his profession because of his wife’s good work at home. She kept house, chauffeured the children, cooked, and accompanied him to social events. Without realizing it, however, Bob was shifting from a vibrant relationship with his wife to a complacent involvement with the “institution of marriage” and the organization called home. The intimacy of their love for each other was fading, until one night Bob confessed that he had in fact lost his love for Barb.
If we’re not careful, the same shift over time can happen in our relationship with Jesus. It’s fresh and exciting at first, but after a while we find ourselves more into the “routines” of Christianity than into the Redeemer Himself. You know the routines—the things we started doing out of love for Jesus that now are done simply out of habit or, worse, guilt. Routines of teaching, Bible reading, prayer, witnessing, counseling, missions, note taking, conferences, and camps are all admirable; yet they can become dry habits if they are merely rituals without relationship.
In Revelation 2:1-29, Jesus is concerned about this slide from relationship to ritual in the lives of his followers at Ephesus. He notes that they are doing all the right things for the wrong reasons. They have, according to Jesus, lost their first love. But they had not simply lost it; our text says that they had abandoned it. Evidently, after falling in love with Jesus, their lives became distracted by the lesser things of this world, and “Jesus” became just another thing in their day-timer as they ticked off their to-do lists. Maybe you can identify.
So how do we keep that from happening? Here’s what Jesus tells the Ephesians to do: Repent! As He put it: “Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first” (Revelation 2:5). Jesus knows that duty without devotion is a mundane low-level experience compared to the heights of doing things that flow out of a heart that loves Him.
So He lovingly calls us to repent. Repentance literally means to turn around and go in the opposite direction. Thinking of your devotions and prayer life as a time of personal interaction with Jesus, of serving Him in your church as an act of worship to Him, of giving because you love Him, and of obeying because He is a leader you want to follow are all the kinds of change in attitudes that will recapture your first love for Jesus.
There are some things in life that we can never get back: our youth, the thrill of our first kiss, or our carefree college days. But doing all that we do because we love Jesus is a joy that can be reclaimed.
If you’re talking about loving Jesus the way you used to, then let’s hear it for the “good old days”!
Joshua Blessed Caleb
From: Through The Bible
Joshua 14:13-14 (NIV) 13Then Joshua blessed Caleb son of Jephunneh and gave him Hebron as his inheritance. 14So Hebron has belonged to Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite ever since, because he followed the LORD, the God of Israel, wholeheartedly.
Caleb reminisced about spying out the Promised Land some 45 years earlier with Joshua. He reminded Joshua about how faithful he was to report that they could take the land because he had godly convictions. Then he reminded Joshua about the promise Moses had made to him. He could have whatever land he walked on. Caleb picked the Hebron area. There were still fortified cities with giants in them, but Caleb knew the LORD was with him. He felt as strong at 85 as he did at 40.
Joshua blessed Caleb and honored Moses promise, because Caleb wholeheartedly followed the God of Israel. It sounds like Caleb was going to take the area with his own clan, without the assistance of the other tribes. What a guy! 85 and he’s ready to take on giants and start a new homestead.
What was Caleb’s secret? He wholeheartedly followed the God of Israel. He stuck with his convictions in spite of what the majority said. He did not fear but recognized the hand of God was with him, no rationalization, no justification, just convictions backed up by action.
Do you have a spirit like Caleb’s? Why not? He wasn’t born with it. It was instilled in him, because he was willing.
Meditation: The LORD rewards those who follow Him with their whole heart.
Luke 2:29-32 (NIV) 29″Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. 30For my eyes have seen your salvation, 31which you have prepared in the sight of all people, 32a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”
When God delivered Israel from the last plague on Egypt, He spared the firstborn through the blood of the lambs on the doorposts. From that time forward, God claimed the rights to every firstborn male. The parents had to buy back the child with an offering. Mary and Joseph had gone to the temple to give this offering. When they arrived, a man named Simeon greeted them. He was not like the ritualistic religious leaders of his day. He communed with the Holy Spirit. It was revealed to him that he would not die until he saw the Anointed One that would save his people.
When Mary and Joseph brought Jesus into the temple, Simeon knew in his spirit that this baby was the One. He uttered the prophecy in our passage for today. He had seen the One, and now he was ready to die. He saw the salvation that God prepared right before everyone’s eyes. This is the One that would fulfill the prophecies of being a light to the nations of the world, and the glory of God’s people, Israel.
What a special person this man was. Only one other person had the insight in the Temple that day. His whole life was waiting for the arrival of God’s salvation, Jesus. Just to see that He had come was enough for him. It should be enough for us too. Just to know that God has provided a way, that He loved us so much that He sent His only Son, should be enough to satisfy us. Simeon’s whole being longed for the moment of His coming.
Consider: Today we are to long, with the same intensity, for His return. Come quickly Lord Jesus! Is that your heart’s cry?