Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Tuesday's with Jesus #131

#131 "My First Love"
January 22, 2008
"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." (Revelation 2: 4-5)
Somehow, no matter the time that's gone by, we all are able to remember our first, real love. The memories remain clear through the passage of time and the pain when it ended can cut the heart just as if it were happening today. What we wouldn't have done for that first love! Whether it happened during the teenage years or later in life, we were so taken by that love, that it will never be forgotten.
In their duet, Lionel Richie and Diana Ross put it this way: "My love, there's only you in my life, the only thing that's bright. My first love, you're every breath that I take. You're every step I make. I want to share all my love with you. No one else will do.. Two hearts, two hearts that beat as one...And love, oh, love, I'll be a fool for you. I'm sure you know I don't mind. 'Cause you, you mean the world to me. I know, I've found in you, my endless love." 
In Revelation, Chapter 2, Jesus implies that at one time, He was our first love. But He says that He has been forsaken. Was there a day that you can remember when Christ was your first love? When He was the "only thing" in life that mattered?  Today, is He "every breath that you take and every move that you make"? Is your heart beating as one with His? Are you abiding in Him so that He may abide in you? (John 15) Does He mean so much to you that you would "be a fool" for Him? That kind of endless love is what causes us to do some pretty remarkable things.
It is what made Noah build an ark when he didn't even know what an ark was, let alone rain?! Mrs. Noah must've wondered what in heaven's name her husband was up to for 120 years. While the folks in his neighborhood were living life as usual, there was Noah, working on his project because he loved God and did all that He commanded him to do. First love..endless love, is what made Abraham walk up the mountain and lay Isaac out for sacrifice when he had been promised that this only son would be the fulfillment of the promise that he would be the father of many nations. First love made Joseph hold on to his integrity and land himself in prison. That same love for God sustained him until God moved him from the pit and prison to the palace. It is what made stuttering Moses stand boldly before the most powerful ruler of Egypt and say "Let my people go".
First love, endless love, caused Esther to go before the king unsummoned, against protocol, and save a nation from annihilation. Only true love can cause a young peasant girl to say, "If I perish, I perish." It made Joshua look at the grapes instead of the giants. It made Gideon go out with 300 men and defeat the Midianites. David slew Goliath with a slingshot. Nehemiah supervised the rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem amidst the taunts of his enemies, Tobiah and Sanballat. Only a deep love would have caused Isaiah to speak for God and be sawed in two for all of his efforts. Jeremiah was thrown in a pit and a prison and kept on prophesying. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego chose to be thrown into a furnace rather than worship a pagan king. Daniel defied the king's edict and worshiped God and found himself looking into the mouths of some hungry lions.
A "first things-first love" mentality led Mary to say, "May it be done to me according to thy will." It made fishermen leave home and families to follow an itinerant preacher who had no place to lay His head. It caused a woman to pour out one year's wages on the feet of Jesus and wipe them with her hair because, "he who has been forgiven much, loves much." And ultimately, first love...endless love...caused that same Jesus to carry a one hundred pound crossbeam on His shoulders and let those who hated Him nail Him to a Roman cross.
Forgive me, but I need to go on....the song says, "I'll be a fool for you." Were those people fools? What about the first love attitude that causes a woman to hang in there with her unsaved husband, demonstrating God's love day in and day out because that's what the Bible says she is to do? First love mentality causes a husband to work hard, keep his integrity and believe for God's provision without compromising his beliefs, in order to support his family. It causes a teenager to face ridicule and bullying when he doesn't follow the crowd in his high school. Nothing but knowing Jesus as his first love could cause my pastor to walk the streets at night, alone, in order to reach the neighborhood for Christ. A not so safe neighborhood to say the least. Nothing but first love for Christ will cause us to love our enemies or give when we don't have much ourselves. What makes folks give up their weekends to hang with those less fortunate than they are? Like my dear friend who spends her Saturday mornings with women who have been discarded from society and need to be valued and cared for and loved. Only love for Christ would make a housewife spend years of her life studying faithfully and preaching to empty walls because she knows that God has called her to cities and nations and kingdoms. She just hasn't seen it yet. But oh, how she believes His calling! Only a deep, abiding, first love for Christ can make us do these "foolish" things! "The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing.." (1 Corinthians 1: 18) Other people may say that we're all fools. That we live an upside down life that makes no sense. But our motivation is love, first love, endless love. Christ! My love! 
Are you still "in love"? Or have you forsaken your first love? In Jeremiah 2:2, God says: "I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me and followed me through the desert, through a land not sown." That is the meaning of love. You'll follow Him anywhere. Through the desert, through the flood, through the rains and through the winds. In the good times. In the bad times. When you look like a fool. When no one else is following. First things are first. Jesus is first when He is truly your first love. You are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses who know that God is first. (see Hebrews 12:1) Old time heroes of the faith and modern day ones as well. Those who walked in the dark, who had no light, who didn't understand, but trusted in the name of the Lord and relied on their God anyway.
..."And, yes, You'll be the Only One...because no one can deny, this love I have inside and I'll give it all to You...my Love, my Love, my Love...My endless Love." 
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