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EL CAJON, Calif. (BP)--While the loss of love is a disheartening experience in any area of life, there is one area in which the consequences are most serious: when we lose our spiritual love for the things of God. I have seen this happen to many Christians in my years as a pastor, and, like all Christians, I have even felt the temptations myself. Without diligence, the fire of love that burned brightly when we first met Jesus Christ can begin to fade and provide lesser and lesser amounts of light in this world.
There is no greater love than the love we have for Christ. But, regardless of the object, love is love. The way we leave our love -- whether love for Christ, the Scriptures, prayer, our family, or our ministry -- is the same in every case.
-- We leave by lusting. If we do not guard against the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life (1 John 2:16), we can leave the things of Christ in pursuit of the things of this world. Money, position, power, influence, possessions -- these are powerful enticements for the one who has not maintained a close walk with Jesus.
-- We leave by lack of attention. It stands to reason that what we ignore, we will eventually care little about. If we ignore the Bible, our spouse, our responsibilities as a parent, our life in the church -- it will only be a matter of time before we find little or no love for those parts of our life. It takes years for a woodwind or brass instrument player to develop the embouchure in his mouth and lips that allows him to produce beautiful music. But it only takes a few weeks of inattention to the instrument for it to be lost.
-- We leave by lack of perseverance. The greatest myth about sacrificial, heart-based love is that it is easy. The truth is, nothing could be harder because true love is the opposite of human nature. Love takes work, diligence and perseverance. It's easy to sleep in instead of rising to pray and read the Bible, and easier to take a spouse for granted than to practice acts of kindness. And it's easy not to take up our cross and follow Jesus as His disciples when the way gets hard.
-- We leave by laziness. Sometimes it's not temptation or trials or time or the world -- it's just us! We can easily go through life as a couch potato, surfing the channels on TV or surfing the web on our computer. We can while away an hour, a half day, a weekend ... we can while away a lifetime by living an unfocused, self-centered, lazy life. It's human nature to do so, and the quicker we recognize that pattern and correct it, the sooner we'll find love returning.
-- We leave by lapsing. Finally, we can leave our love by lapsing into sin -- and staying there. We're going to sin in this life. But if we don't confess and repent of our sin when it happens, we are opening up the door for that sin to become a lifestyle. Jesus told the church at Ephesus that unless they repented, He would remove the lampstand -- the light of His presence -- from their midst (Revelation 2:5).
HOW TO KEEP YOUR LOVE
God calls us to love Him, our spouse, our children, the church, the lost -- there are many objects worthy of our sacrificial love. But if we ever leave our first love -- our love for Jesus Christ -- we will not be able to love anyone or anything else as we should.
The way we rekindle and keep our love for Jesus and others is by reversing what we did to lose it. In short, stay close to and focused on serving those you should love. Rekindling the flame of love for Jesus will cause that flame to spread and burn brightly for everyone and everything in your life.
David Jeremiah is the founder and host of Turning Point for God and senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, Calif. For more information on Turning Point, go to www.DavidJeremiah.org.