Have you ever had a scripture that just began to rise up in your spirit and you knew it was the Holy Spirit? I was led to Revelation chapter two, it says to the angel of the church at Ephesus write…
Now Ephesus was not a carnal church. This was not a church like Corinth. Ephesus was a church to which Paul was able to write some of his deeper revelation. This was being written to a very mature church, not to young Christians.
And he said in Revelation 2:2-3 I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot endure evil men, and you put to 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.
Okay, now, that's a pretty good introduction. They discerned good and evil, they chose good for themselves, and they also required the good. And God said, that's good. They were tenacious, they persevered under trial, they determined not to grow weary in well doing. But then He goes on to say in Revelation 2:4, but I have this against you, that you have left your first love.
He wasn't saying that they had turned away from Christ. He wasn't saying that they had walked away and renounced the name of Jesus; He was just simply saying that Christ no longer occupied the place of young first love. He said, you've left that first love. Do you remember your first love?
You couldn't eat, you couldn't sleep? You couldn't think or talk about anything else? You remember that? Okay, this actually happened. A missionary friend was visiting in the home of a pastor, and the young son of the pastor was about 20 and was eating with them that night. After dinner, the missionary asked the young man, "How long have you been in love with Mary?" And the young man’s face turned really red and he said, "What makes you think I'm in love with Mary?" The missionary replied, "Well, we've been at the table for an hour and a half, and you haven't talked about anything else." Okay, that's exactly what we're talking about. That is the mark of first love. And John was saying here, you've left your first love. You've left that place where you can't eat and sleep and think and talk about much else; you've left that place.
Now, I believe that this Bible study is one to be taken very personally and very individually by each one of us so that we can do some soul-searching. I want you to think back to a time in your life, when you had a life-changing experience with the Lord. It might be your salvation experience, but probably something more recent. I want you to think about something in recent times where you just had this brand-new fresh touch from the Lord. Now do you remember how it felt like the excitement of a young first love? You can compare it to that. I've had several encounters with God when I just felt like I was just in this little cocoon of peace almost separated from the rest of the world. And it felt so wonderful just to know that God had everything in my life under control. It was like I could almost feel His arms around me just kind of holding me up close and I know you've experienced that. Remember the times when maybe you've been in a crowd, and you could just almost feel yourself smiling on the inside, because it was like you had this secret because you knew that God was right there with you. And even though the room’s crowded and you've got a lot of people around, you're just smiling. You're almost laughing on the inside because you think oh, God, it's so good to know You're just right here with me. You never leave me. Even in a crowded room, You’re here and I can hear You and talk to You and it just feels so good. Okay, see, the sense of God's presence was so near and so sweet, kind of like an invisible precious companion, and nothing else in the world mattered except that close companionship.
I felt like the Lord gave me three very simple steps to start putting that spark back into our first love. And when I first thought about it, I thought, Lord, these just sound so simple. But the Lord reminded me by saying, if you did all three of those things, don't you think the spark would be back burning bright as ever? And I thought, yes, Lord, that's all it would take. These three steps now, if they're done from the heart, can bring life back into your relationship every single time.
The number one way to put the spark back into our love walk with God is that personal, intimate time with God. Sometimes we hear that so often that we fail to hear it. We hear all the time we just need to spend intimate time with the Lord. But I want you to really hear it because that is a must in order to put the spark back. Like anything else, we have to guard against it becoming ritualistic. God sincerely wants to have time alone with us. The first time it dawned on me that God wanted to be alone with me and wanted to have intimate fellowship time with me, all of a sudden, everything inside of me changed. It wasn't my trying to just find the time to get along with God, I thought God wants to be with me. He wants to have that time with me.
The number two step is to learn to trust God. When we first had our spiritual encounter with God, we were trusting Him for everything. It didn't matter how big the mountain was, our feet weren't even touching the ground anyway. We were so excited about every little thing that God was doing. And we were so much in love, but there was nothing too big for Him. If you'll remember, your faith at that time was very simple. It was very childlike because it's very easy to trust someone with whom you are intimately associated. I began to question: "Lord, how on earth did we lose that childlike trust?" Now, we haven't lost it completely but many of us have moved away from it a little bit. And how did we do that? How did we get away from something that is so good? And the Lord began to show me that as time moved on, and as circumstances and situations began to present themselves, we got back into the old habit of taking care of things ourselves by the arm of flesh, the way we were accustomed to doing before. And then little by little, those old self-sufficient habits began to creep back in. Have you noticed that you do that at times? You know, that happens sometimes without our even noticing it until we just find ourselves back in charge of our own life. See that old flesh nature wants to be in charge. And if we're not careful, just gradually, little by little, we start taking hold of the reins until we become in charge again. And then instead of taking the time to quote the Word when a situation comes and stand up and take the Word of God and say, No, I'm not going to put up with that, the Word of God says thus and so.
The Lord wasn’t the one that moved. He didn’t move and He’s been there for you, still in the same place where He was. Now the words love walk and trust walk are synonymous. And God is calling us back into that trust walk. And that's what's going to begin to rekindle that spark, the trusting. Now one of the very first scriptures that the Lord gave me, after I experienced this love walk was Colossians 2:6 in the Living Bible. Just as you trusted Christ to save you, trust Him, too, for each day's problems; live in vital union with him. The first time I read that out of the Living Bible it just jumped off the page. And I thought, you know Lord, it was very easy to trust You with my salvation because even by the arm of flesh I couldn’t do anything about that. He said just as you trusted Me to save you, now trust Me for each day’s problems. Live in vital union with me. That’s what He’s calling us to do, to trust Him with every little thing that comes along. Now this second step, this rekindling our trust; it is going to lead us directly back to our love walk. The more we trust, the more we’re going to back in that place of being in a love walk with the Lord. Trust in Him now for everything.
Okay, the number three way back to rekindling this love walk: the Lord showed me that what put the strain on our love walk and pulled us away in the first place, were the worries and the cares. Have any of you had any worries and cares lately? Any heaviness that you've been carrying? Okay, I want you to think about it. What pulled you away from your love walk with the Lord was probably not some deep dark sin that seduced you back into the world. Probably it was a worry and a care that started making you feel very oppressed and very heavy laden. We look around and we see that there's more to do than we have time to do. And so what do we do? We get uptight, we get very tense and uptight. Sometimes it seems that we have so many more bills than we have money to pay those bills. I'm not minimizing the importance of doing spiritual warfare to take care of the harassment of the enemy but have you noticed that there are legitimate things that do have to be done in a day? Not everything's coming from the enemy. There's a lot of things that we just have to take care of, and they're legitimate, and those legitimate things can bring pressure. So, what about just the daily things that are necessary when they become worries and cares and tend to rob our love walk? Well, God has an answer. And sometimes his answers seem so simple, but they do work. The Lord reminded me that during those times when my love walk was really fresh and alive when it was at its optimum, that I was appreciative about every little thing. That was one of the things that the Lord brought back to me. He reminded me that I noticed every tiny little intervention when He would intervene in my life, and boy, I would just rejoice, and I'd get so excited and I would acknowledge it. I even kept a diary and wrote down every little thing that the Lord was doing. And I could hardly wait to call up somebody and tell them the latest thing that God had done. I can remember that that was the main topic of conversation. I mean, you'd call somebody and it wasn't what the worry and care was, it was what God had done. But you know, as time went on, and the pressures and the worries and cares, and the distractions came in, then all of a sudden, that tension and that pressure began to mount little by little. Even though we were still appreciative, we were not always taking the time to notice every little incident when God intervened. And we were not rejoicing and being excited, like we once were. As we get before the Lord, and we began to count the blessings, and just send them back to God an hour goes by and you've just begun. But what that does, all of a sudden, it begins to put the spark back in our love walk. Because of the pressure, we're in a rush and what we do now most of the time, as we're hurrying on our way, we sort of look back over our shoulder and say, oh, Lord, thank You for what You're doing. God is saying, come back to your first love. Come back to those days of simple appreciation. Begin to just be grateful to Me for all the little things that I'm doing in your life. Sometimes we may think, well, I can't even think of anything God's doing. But anytime we think that it's because we're uptight, we're under tension, and we're under stress. But if we'll go back before the Lord and start naming the things He's done, it all comes back. It's almost like the enemy tries to give us amnesia; we can't even remember some of those things, until we get back to that time of spending time with the Lord. He wants us to give Him credit again, verbally, for the good things that are coming our way and all the little miracles that He's doing. He wants us to practice a lifestyle of gratitude.
You can put that spark back in it by coming to a place where you say Lord, I chose to trust You. I chose to trust You and I choose to be appreciative of every little thing You’re doing. You can take this three-point checklist and as simple as it sounds, I promise you it will work. Father, I thank You, Lord, I thank You that You gave us that love walk to begin with. Lord, You could have been a God that created us, and then put us down here, and then never paid any attention to us again.
Listen to an audio teaching of Returning to your First Love.
-Peggy Joyce Ruth