I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary.
But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.
Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; Revelation 2:2-5
Can you remember back to your first love?
I was in the fourth grade. Without question, at that point in my life, everything was secondary to baseball. And then I met a girl. You know the rest of the story. I was captivated by these feelings that came from nowhere … for at least a couple of weeks. Most of us have had this experience more than once. A similar feeling is stirred when watching a movie like “The Notebook” or “Sleepless in Seattle.” It's Magical... sort of like the first time a child goes to Disneyland. My grandson, Bennett wanted to know if he could live there. Remember that feeling? All consuming ... Nothing else like it.
But Agape love is different; it is more mature, and a matter of the will, rather than feelings. Well ... feelings come and go; but the promise from Christ is for far more peace and joy than we have ever believed, imagined, or felt in any other experience or relationship. This peace and joy will last for eternity and it continually increases as we walk with Him, and get to know Him better. The problem is we often approach Him the same old way we often approach other relationships … without a clear understanding and commitment to the relationship we have entered. We have been adopted into His Royal Family for eternity ... we need to start loving and living like it.
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. 1 Peter 2:9-10.
When reading the Bible I came to understand that we love Him when we obey His commands … when we humble ourselves to His Word.When we go against the grain of our human logic and feelings, and when we love others in the same way He loves us, we are showing Christ we love Him; and we are fulfilling His mission and purpose.“When the love of Christ controls us, we no longer look at others according to the flesh or from a worldly point of view … Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” 2 Corinthians 5:14-21
What old things passed away, and what new things have come?Well first and foremost is this: other-centered love. If our elders and pastors do not understand and have this love, how can they model, teach and lead the church body into spiritual maturity? The qualities outlined in 1 Corinthians 13 are without question the qualities that should be prayed for and searched for when seeking a new pastor.
Once again I am convinced that years ago we would never have called the pastor that miserably failed at Southwest Community Church, if only we had carefully followed this teaching of the Apostle Paul.
What good is a Christian or Pastor without the love of Christ?
1. That most gifted preacher without love … is a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2. Prophetic words, discernment, and knowledge count for nothing. 3. Faith beyond our imagination, faith that even overcomes our greatest challenges … it's nothing without love. 4. One who has a heart for giving his all to feed the poor, accomplishes nothing eternal without the love of Christ. 5. Even surrendering himself to death by fire … will profit him nothing eternally.
God's 20 Love Questions
1. Is this Christian impatient? 2. Is this Christian unkind? 3. Is this Christian jealous? 4. Is this Christian arrogant? 5. Is this Christian a braggart? 6. Does this Christian act unbecomingly? 7. Is this Christian self-seeking? 8. Is this Christian easily provoked? 9. Does this Christian dwell on a wrong suffered? 10. Does this Christian rejoice in unrighteousness? 11. Does this Christian rejoice with the truth? 12. Does this Christian bear all things? 13. Does this Christian believe all things that are grounded in Truth? 14. Does this Christian find hope in all things? 15. Does this Christian endure all things? 16. Is this Christian a man or woman of faith? 17. Is this Christian standing on the hope that only comes through Christ? 18. Is this Christian a man or woman who is daily living Agape love towards God and all men? 19. Has this Christian done away with the childish things? 20. Would Jesus see this Christian as a mature Christian?
These are the old things that passed away, and the new things that have come.
Now for just a moment, imagine yourself standing in a right relationship with Christ on each one of these questions. Would your mind be renewed and transformed? And have you returned to your first love? Absolutely ... you would be overwhelmed by the presence of the Holy Spirit. Your life would take on new power, new hope, new faith, new courage, and God's love would guide you, moment by moment; day by day. Now envision yourself serving at a church where the elders and deacons and the pastors and every church member were renewed and transformed by God’s Word and by the Holy Spirit and living out the Love of Christ. This church is on fire!
Now that would be the Perfect Church ... don't you think?
And no church buildings would be able to house the new members wanting to join daily.
The First Step … three questions we must each ask ourselves: 1. How do I measure up on each one of these twenty questions? 2. What changes does Christ want me to make in my life? 3. What steps will I take to allow the love of Christ to control me?
Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified.” Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. “For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation!” So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Acts 2:36-42
And all the more believers in the Lord, multitudes of men and women, were constantly added to their number, to such an extent that they even carried the sick out into the streets and laid them on cots and pallets, so that when Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on any one of them. Also the people from the cities in the vicinity of Jerusalem were coming together, bringing people who were sick or afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all being healed. Acts 5:14-16
Without question, we can say that the Perfect Church has been … we only need to ALL return to our First Love.
TO BE CONTINUED ... I have numerous points to cover and will post part four in this series in the next few days.
God Bless you my friends, Bob Copyright: Robert West 2011
often contradict the wisdom of the world. Since we have been programmed by the world ... we have come to accept these worldly ideas as truth ... but when we consider God’s perspective ... we come to understand ... "the Lord's ways are not our ways"
Don't just read these writings ... meditate and pray over God's Word ... Listen to the Holy Spirit ... and be transformed by renewing your mind. He who died on our behalf wants you to ... allow the love of Christ to control you ... so that you might become ... the righteousness of God in Him.
Be an Ambassador of Christ ... with a ministry of reconciliation. Share God's eternal Truth and Love ... with everyone He brings into your path.