The Special of the Day… From the Orange Moon Cafe…
In the book of Revelation, the Lord Jesus Christ admonished the believers of Ephesus for leaving their "first love" (Revelation 2:4). He affirmed their works, efforts, diligence in truth, and patient enduring of challenge. However, the Ephesians had strayed from the devotion that initially characterized their worship and walk with God. What was the "first love" from which they wandered?
"Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins" (I John 4:10).
Find a new believer in the Lord Jesus, awash in the cleansing blood of Christ, amazed by the grace that freely redeems all who receive God's free gift in His Son, and just birthed by the entrance of the Holy Spirit into their hearts. You will discover one who rejoices in the love of God that results in awed gratitude regarding who He is, and what He has done for them. Certainly, such a one has taken the first fledgling steps of walking with their Lord, and working for Him by working from Him. They know a life of loving God and others must proceed from the womb of grace that birthed them, and the cradle of mercy into they have been laid as "newborn babes" (I Peter 1:2). However, their primary focus of heart and mind finds them ever "looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith." And, ever loving the One whose bestowal of salvation, made possible by His indescribable sacrifice, overwhelms their hearts with bewildered wonder (Hebrews 12:2).
This is the first love of every believer, the love of God that astonishes the heart of the recipient. It is also the love we all must seek to maintain as ongoing love. "Keep yourselves in the love of God" (Jude 1:21) The world, the devil, and the flesh (including our own) ever seek to divert us from the centrality of the Person and work of Christ that fuels every step of genuine godliness and faithfulness. Our enemies can gain victories of distraction and deception that divert our gaze from the only hope we have of truly loving God and people. Indeed, the grace that spiritually birthed us is the same grace that progressively sanctifies us, and will be the same grace that one day beautifully glorifies us (Hebrews 12:28; Romans 8:30). Devils may well know this better than do we ourselves. Thus, they tempt us to forget or neglect the love of Christ for us that came to us, and now dwells within us. That love, residing in us through the Holy Spirit who works in our hearts to glorify and reveal the Lord Jesus, constitutes our sole possibility of obeying the calling to continue our Christian life as we began it. "As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him" (Colossians 2:6; John 14:16; 15:26).
We do well to remember our enemies' constant attempt to move us away from our first love. We do well to recall the native tendency of our flesh to wander or even run from the grace and truth that alone result in love for God and people. But we do best to remember and recall "the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge" (Ephesians 3:19). The wonder that filled our hearts when we believed must become the wonder that fills our hearts as we journey along the path of righteousness only navigable by feet led by the power of grace. We must grow in such wonder so that first love becomes not something to which we must return, but rather that which becomes the motivation and enabling of every footfall of faithfulness. Yes, first love supremely and purely gazes upon God's love, known and received by faith, experienced with astonished wonder, and followed by fixing and maintaining our gaze on the Author and Finisher to whom we will one day direct all glory for every step of love we ever took in this life, or will take in the next.
"The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us."
"In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him."
(I John 4:9)
"The grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus."
(I Timothy 1:14)
Weekly Memory Verse
Of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption, that, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord."
(I Corinthians 1:30)