At the prayer meeting last Saturday night, the Lord began to speak to me about First Love. If we’re not intentional, like drifting down a slow moving river, our hearts can move a long way from the Lord before we even realize it. But we must be aware of the condition of our hearts.
Before I go to Revelation 2, this verse from the writings of the Sons of Korah captured me. Listen to what they wrote in Psalm 84:
“My soul yearns, even faints,
for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out
for the living God.”
Can you feel the passion for God’s presence in this song?! Doesn’t it make sense that the heart of the believer would want to be in God’s presence?
I remember the first season of my walk with Jesus as a teenager. God began to reveal Himself to me in wonderful ways! In public worship, I used to endure services that my parents brought me to. Now, I craved more! The worship came alive knowing I was encountering God. God’s Word captured me. Whether I read it for myself or heard it being preached, it was going into me and bringing about life change from the inside out. Prayer became like breathing. I went to every prayer meeting I could! 5am Mondays, 7pm Tuesdays, 6pm Wednesdays, etc, etc, etc. I had a prayer chair in my room. I would sit in it for long periods of time by myself and just be with God. Prayer was never religious or dutiful. The fellowship I had with the Lord was sweet and full. I desired to be with God! I couldn’t get enough of the presence of the Lord! I really felt like the sons of Korah – “My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God!”
I remember a moment at a youth group Friday night party (there were thirty or so people at the house playing games). I was so in love with Jesus that I slipped into the closet unseen just to get alone with God for a few minutes. “Jesus, I just wanted to tell you how much I love Your presence! Even here at this party God I worship You!” I slipped back out and continued having fun with my friends.
What was inside me that made me driven to be with God like that? I believe it’s what Jesus called First Love.
The first of the seven churches Jesus addressed in Revelation 2 was Ephesus. He spoke to them very frankly about the condition of their hearts. Let’s listen to what He said:
Revelation 2:2-5: “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; 3 and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. 4 Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.”
He commended them for some great qualities. They hated evil, valued honesty, were patient, and worked hard. But what Jesus wants most is none of these things. What He wanted most was their heart!
“Maturity” that moves you away from First Love is not maturity. Outward action is important, but it can never replace real passion for Jesus. First Love is so important to Jesus that if the Ephesian Church did not come back to it, He would take them out!
But in gentleness and mercy Jesus gave them opportunity to return. “Repent and do the things you did at first.” And if they did, He would give them great promise – the right to eat from the tree of life in paradise! (See verse 7.)
All of this compels me to respond. I must examine my own heart. More than that, I must allow the Holy Spirit to examine my heart, and I must listen. Have I fell from First Love? Am I passionate for God’s presence? Have I replaced First Love with the outward actions of doing good? Do I need to repent before I lose out with God’s best?
I encourage you to spend some time before the Lord. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you the condition of your own heart. He will do a good work. He will soften you. He will reveal what’s not right. He will help you renew your passion for God. He will help you as you come back to First Love.