May 2009 - My First Love
MY FIRST LOVE
Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven
stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; I know thy
works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and
thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And
hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.
Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I
will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou
repent. But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate.
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that
overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God (Rev
elation 2:1 – 7).
Do you think the Ephesians thought that they were on dangerous ground with God? I am sure
they would have felt very good about their spiritual life with God. “We are doing great. We are
very conservative. We adhere to the Word of God. We live by the Bible. We are cautious of
deception. We are very careful to stay in God’s Word. We test and examine things in light of
God’s Word. As a church, we really have a desire for the holy things of God and for purity. We
have resisted the evil that other churches have allowed. We’re just staying in the truth.”
I don’t think you would have encountered many people who would have said, “Oh my God, we
are in trouble! We’re not right with God! The hand of God has been raised up against us! And if
we don’t repent God’s hand is going to come quickly upon us!”
The peril of self deception is absolutely frightening. For a person to think that they are in one
particular state when they are actually not, or to think they are on a particular footing with God
and really they are not, is probably one of the most horrific incidents that could ever occur in a
person’s life, especially if they find out their situation too late.
IGNORING THE SPIRITUAL
Now these people here in Ephesus were very diligent; their works were noble, the Lord Jesus
commended them and never wanted them to stop doing these good works, but something
happened with their heart; they left their first love.
These are the things that God has dealt with me about. “We read our chapter, have our short
devotions and rush away, hoping to make up for our deep inward bankruptcy by attending
another gospel meeting or listening to another thrilling story told by a religious adventurer lately
returned from afar … the results of this spirit are all about us. Shallow lives, hollow religious
philosophies, the preponderance of the element of fun in gospel meetings, the glorification of
men, trust in religious externalities, quasi-religious fellowships, salesmanship methods, the
May 2009 - My First Love
mistaking of dynamic personality for the power of the Spirit … we must break the evil habit of
ignoring the spiritual. We must shift our interest from the seen to the unseen. For the great
unseen Reality is God. “He that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a
rewarder of them that diligently seek him.’ This is basic in the life of faith. From there we can
rise to unlimited heights. ‘Ye believe in God,’ said our Lord Jesus Christ, ‘believe also in me’”
(Tozer, The Pursuit of God pgs. 56-57, 69-70). So much of the modern gospel show is about
personal motivation and attainment: becoming successful in this world, successful among men,
being a high achiever.
We must break the evil habit of ignoring the spiritual. We must shift our interest from the seen to
the unseen. For the greatest unseen reality is God. The bible says that we must believe that He
is because He is a rewarder of those that diligently seek him (Hebrews 11:6). We must win the
battle of what we see and what we do not see. We must believe in what we do not see. We
must believe in a God that you physically do not touch, you physically do not smell, you
physically do not hear, knowing still that He is there to be touched; He is there to be smelt; He is
there to be tasted.
There is a constant need for retreat into the presence of God, not a couple of times a year, not
even once a month, but a constant need of retreating to God often and consistently. This was
the habit of Jesus, and it should be the habit of all who follow after Him.
I believe this is one of the traps the Ephesians fell into, they became very busy: they had their
devotions, they read their chapters, they said their prayers, they had their family altar; they were
doing it all! I am sure they felt very confident in their spiritual attainments and advantages.
Would any other voice than Jesus’ have the power to penetrate past the emboldened walls of
religious zeal to tell them they had left their first love?
BE CONCERNED FOR YOUR HEART
There are many Christians who are concerned about their spiritual life, their salvation, and their
testimony. In that concern I would greatly encourage you to remain diligent.
There are Christians who are concerned with their hearts, concerned with their love for Jesus,
concerned for the remedial service that they give Jesus when they know in their heart he is
worthy of so much more.
And let me assure you, if there is any concern for your heart at all, it is only because of the
stirrings of God from within. Dare we ever come to a point in life that we would ever say we
As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul
thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God? My tears have
May 2009 - My First Love
been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God? When I
remember these things, I pour out my soul in me: for I had gone with the multitude, I went with
them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holyday.
Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I
shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance. O my God, my soul is cast down within
me: therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill
Mizar. Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows
are gone over me. Yet the LORD will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the
night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life. I will say unto God my
rock, Why hast thou forgotten me? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the
enemy? As with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me; while they say daily unto
me, Where is thy God? Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within
me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my
God (Psalms 42:1 – 11).
Deer thrive near water. A deer prefers the water, the streams, the brooks and the creeks. For
the deer, the water provides a greater safety, providing the ability to shake off prey. So the deer
is panting after the water. Rarely will the deer ever have a place of lodging that is far from a
stream. And so pants my soul after thee oh God. This means that if I am not with God then I
am in a place of vulnerability. Have you ever felt that?
Now we know that God will never leave nor forsake us, but have you ever experienced the
sense of vulnerability because you have drifted from the water of life? Now surely you did not
do this on purpose, it just happened in the chase of life. You have found yourself distanced
from that water that has meant so much to you and now there is a desperation to recover the
security that comes from the water of God’s presence.
My soul thirsteth for God, the Living God! I don’t want idols. I don’t want dead gods. I don’t want
dead religion. I’ve got to have the Living God! This is who I am thirsty for. My soul thirsteth for
the Living God, when shall I come and appear before God?
This Psalm makes me ask the question, “When was the last time I poured out my soul?” This is
obviously not just saying prayers right? This is something coming from the deeps of within. You
can’t control it, you actually cry, you actually weep, you actually wail before God. So when was
the last time you had this hunger? When was the last time you were desperate for God like
this? If it has been a while since you’ve sensed this desperation for God, chances are you are
Furthermore, we would rather comfort ourselves than admit we could have heart trouble. We
would try to appease our lack of desperation for God by focusing on all we do for God, like the
“My brother, only the heart is hard that does not know it is hard. Only he is hardened who does
May 2009 - My First Love
not know he is hardenend. When we are concerned for our coldness, it is because of the
yearning God has put there. God has not rejected us.” – Bernard of Clairvaux.
THE DEEP OF GOD
Now consider this in Psalm 42, “Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy
waves and thy billows are gone over me.”
So I did as any good student would do, I got my thesaurus, Bible dictionaries and commentaries
and started studying. When I completed my studies, I was a learned man, but not an
experienced man. I could teach this verse but I didn’t know it. I could explain it. I could tell you
what words mean. I could tell you what the Hebrew meant. I could draw mental pictures for your
comprehension. I could tell you about David’s fight of being troubled and downcast. I could
draw a picture of how it seemed as though troubles and heaviness were surging over him like
the waves of the ocean. When David said that deep calls to deep at the noise of your water
spouts, from my study I could give you a theological answer.
However, I did not want a student’s mind. I did not want some simple answer and on to the next
verse we go! I said, “God I don’t know what this means. Though I could explain it, I don’t know
what this means. I want to know what this means. I want to know the deep calls; I want to know
the deep that calls to the deep!”
And praise God I know it now! I know what this means! I know what this is, this call of God, this
cry of God, this yearning of God, this wailing of God – that wails deep within the heart, the soul
and spirit of a man; that ignites everything within the man, rekindling the fervency of life again. I
don’t think this knowing can be taught, it must be experienced; that deep of God must call to the
deep in you! But I know it now. Oh thank you Jesus, I know it now. I know what this deep call
is. I know what this raging fire is.
Once again Tozer encouraged me from his book, The Pursuit of God, by saying,
“Being made in His image we have within us the capacity to know Him … The moment the Spirit
has quickened us to life in regeneration our whole being senses its kinship to God and leaps up
in joyous recognition… Come near to the holy men and women of the past and you will soon
feel the heat of their desire after God. They mourned for Him, they prayed and wrestled and
sought for Him day and night, in season and out, and when they had found Him the finding was
all the sweeter for the long seeking. Moses used the fact that he knew God as an argument for
knowing Him better. ‘Now, therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, show me
now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight’; and from there he rose to
make the daring request, ‘I beseech thee, show me thy glory.’ God was frankly pleased by this
May 2009 - My First Love
display of ardor, and the nest day called Moses into the mount, and there in solemn procession
made all His glory pass before him … the one vital quality which they had in common was
spiritual receptivity. Something in them was open to heaven, something which urged them
Godward … they had spiritual awareness and that they went on to cultivate it until it became the
biggest thing in their lives. They differed from the average person in that when they felt the
inward longing they did something about it. They acquired the lifelong habit of spiritual
response … ‘When thou sadist, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I
seek.’” Tozer, The Pursuit of God.
SEEKING THE FACE OF GOD
The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me
to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. Though an host should encamp against me, my
heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident. One thing
have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all
the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in his temple. For in the
time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me;
he shall set me up upon a rock. And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies
round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing
praises unto the LORD. Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me,
and answer me. When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face,
LORD, will I seek (Psalms 27:1 – 8).
There are times without number, on any given day, that God would constantly say to every one
of us, “Break away from it all, come and seek my face. Tell your friends you won’t be going with
them to lunch. Thank them for asking, but explain to them that you have other engagements.
Break away from it and come seek my face.”
As Tozer said, the difference between the average person and those that had fervent heat was
spiritual receptivity. For the believer who soars the heights with God, the spiritual became the
biggest thing in their life. When God said, “I want your time.” They said, from their heart, “God
my time is yours!” When God said, “Would you just not go with the friends today? Would you
be with me?” Their heart said, “Oh God, I will be with you.” What companionship! What
But this intimacy of acquaintance seems to be foreign to many believers. Surely someone
would ask, “Is it really possible for God to call upon you like that? Is it really possible for God to
groan deep within you, desiring to be with you?” And my response would be, “If He is the Living
God, who searches the earth for worship, then would you settle for anything less?” I will not!
My heart cries to the Lord, “My heart hungers for you, I thirst for you!”
May 2009 - My First Love
Many years ago, a minister was fixated upon the worship of God. The one thing he knew was
that he was failing as a worshipper. He contacted an aged and respected minister whose life
exemplified worship, inquiring for a special time of instruction.
He asked the aged man, “What is it really like to be with God and to worship God?” The old man
responded, “While you are here with me, we will spend our time together. I will teach you all
that is possible, everything I know. However, I cannot teach you experience. There will come a
point when you hear a call from deep within, it is extremely important that you give complete
diligence to that call. If you do, you will experience the worship of God!”
The aged worshipper of God told the young man, “You will meet with me at all my appointed
times of prayer.”
Several times during the day the two men would go off to pray and shut themselves in with
God. Truly the young man was stirred by the intimacy the aged worshipper had with God, and
sought with great effort to have the same. However, the harder he tried the more difficult the
most common spiritual exercises became.
Unable to sleep, the young man was fumbling around the house in the early morning hours. He
noticed a light on in the study. Gazing through the opening in the door he saw the aged
worshipper holding the globe in his arms, as though he were hugging it. The old man’s tears
were flowing, hitting the globe and running all over the world. The young man said that he
learned more about worship in that moment than he had in all the days of his life.
He realized that worship has nothing to do with the energy of the flesh and trying harder. It is
not the routine of religious exercises, but the consummation of a heart to the fire of God! It is
something that happens to you because you walk with Jesus. However, the young man was
discouraged because he feared that he could ever have such a receptive heart as the old man.
The next day the weather turned bad, it was rainy as the storms rolled through. After attending
to a few duties in town the young man returned to the aged worshipper but he was not home.
He discovered that the man was down in his office. The young minister reported, By the time I
got to his office down in the center of town, it was pouring … rain was really splashing down. I
made my way around the corner to this little, inauspicious office where he met with God. Before
I saw him, I could hear him. I could hear him singing. He was singing the lines from that great
hymn, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” I stood alone in the darkness and the rain,
listening … pondering the truth I heard.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,Prone to leave the God I love;Here’s my heart, o, take and
seal it,Seal it for Thy courts above.
As I stood outside, seeing the flicker of the candle in his room, I felt I was standing on sacred
soil. His private worship was obvious to me. And I walked away having learned more in that
brief moment than I could have learned in a year of instruction. I shall never forget his model.
He worshipped publicly because he worshiped privately.
The young man listened as the aged worshipper gave his heart to God all over again, as
May 2009 - My First Love
though it were the first time he had ever met Jesus. The young man could sense the urgency of
the old man’s cry, that the thing the old man feared more than anything was a cold heart! The
young man pondered the fact that this aged worshipper of God was not worshipping God
because he was a great worshipper, but because God is a great God. The old man feared his
heart and did the only thing with it he knew to do; he gave his heart to God – everyday!
The young man spoke with his mentor and confessed that he overheard him praying in the
early morning and now at the office. He then said to the old man, “However, you told me all the
times that you prayed, but you didn’t tell me about those times. The aged worshipper said,
“One of the things you've really got to learn about God if you want to have a fiery baptism of His
Spirit, is you make appointments with God and you always keep them.” The old man continued,
“Son every time you and I prayed together that was my appointment with the Father, but those
other the times of prayer was the Father's appointment with me! When He called me in that
morning hour my heart said, “Your face oh God will I seek.”
“Let the average man be put to the proof on the question of who is above, and his true position
will be exposed. Let him be forced into making a choice between God and money, between
God and men, between God and personal ambition, God and self, God and human love, and
God will take second place every time. Those other things will be exalted above. However the
man may protest, the proof is in the choices he makes day after day throughout his life. – Tozer,
The Pursuit of God.
THE HEART OF THE MATTER
It is a heart problem; it has always been a heart problem, and it always will be a heart problem.
Satan works very hard, not to make us atheists and agnostics, but to make us love the things of
God rather than God Himself!
We love the Bible. We love worship and praise music. We love the fancy church buildings. We
love the friendships and fellowship. We love the power of God. We love the comfort of God.
We love the peace of God. We love the joy of God. But do we love God?
Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and
mind. Can I say something to you? Chances are, if you haven't had a serious fast within the last
few months, your heart is not right with God.
When was the last time you were so hungry for God’s presence that you could not eat? When
was the last time you craved the fellowship of God that you could not get to your prayer closet
Please ponder what I am about to say. I have been to third world countries before. I have
seen the harsh conditions in which the people must live. I have been to the remote deserts of
Mexico, to the jungles of Honduras, to the isolated beaches of the South Pacific.
I have traveled hours off road, through river beds, forging a way through jungles and sleeping
on concrete slabs to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to those who have never heard of
May 2009 - My First Love
I have been in the homes where people had mud floors and the walls made of bamboo. The
roofs were thatched with branches and the provisions were minimal to say the least: no
electricity, no water, and no bathrooms.
Honestly I would say to myself, “Thank you Lord Jesus that I live in America. Thank you for my
comfortable home. Thank you for my comfortable car. Thank you for the potholes in Baton
Rouge, thank you Lord. Thank you for the traffic. Thank you for the red lights. I thanked God for
everything that I would normally despise, because I realized how blessed I have been.
I would think, “Oh these poor people, they have to live like this. I get to leave in a week. They
have to live like this! So to make myself feel better I would assure myself saying, “Well they just
don’t know what they’re missing. This is their life. They don’t know the kind of homes that they
could live in. They don’t know the kind of cars they could drive. If they only knew what air
condition felt like in a hot Mexican summer; if they only knew, but they don’t! If they don’t know
what they’re missing then they cannot miss it!
And then I would think, surely they have seen pictures, heard stories and watched video of how
other people in the world live. Surely they have seen the comfort that is afforded us in the
western world. That is why they want to leave here and migrate to America! They want a better
life. They have never touched it, they have never experienced it, but they believed in it because
they heard about it and saw it in pictures.
That is when it hit me. Spiritually there is a world that many people have never known. You
see, I was living in my world. I was living my life and it was my life, it was comfortable. It was my
Christian life and it was safe. I’m going to heaven when I die. I’m going to be with God forever,
and I’m so glad I’m born again.
Then all of a sudden, Moses told me something! Moses told me that the wealth of Egypt does
not compare to the reproach of Jesus. When he told me that, something stirred inside of me; he
was talking about a world I did not know. Then David came and told me, “His loving kindness is
better than life!” I cried, “David what are you saying?” And David said to me, “I’m telling you
that there is a world you don’t know. You see, there’s only one thing I do, there’s only one thing
I’m about – that I may sit in His presence and gaze upon His beauty and dwell in the courts of
the Lord all the days of my life.” Then it struck me, this is a king speaking! He has it all: a
throne, riches, wealth, might, fame! Yet, there is only one thing he wants, and that is the
presence of God! I had to consider this. I had to take into account that here is a man who has
the world at his finger tips, and yet he is telling me that the loving kindness of God is better than
Then Paul spoke to me. He told me that everything this world has, everything this world can
offer, everything this world can give you, is dung compared to the knowing Jesus. I cannot think
of anything much worse than dung. Paul said that he suffered the loss of everything for Christ.
Wow! How wonderful must Jesus be that a man is willing to suffer the loss of everything for
Him! I cannot think of many people who would suffer the loss of everything for their children.
May 2009 - My First Love
Sure they would die for them, but sometimes dying is easier than “suffering” loss. Paul
considered having Christ as having gained everything.
So I cried out, “Moses, David, Paul what are you telling me?” And they were telling me that
there’s something more than just going to heaven when you die. They were telling me that
there’s something more than just going to church on Sunday. They were telling me that there’s
something more than just reading your bible verse for the day, and having your devotion. They
were telling me that there is a Living God who cries out to you saying, “Seek my face! Seek my
face!” And just as individuals living in third world poverty would leave everything for the chance
of a better life, all because they saw it in a picture, then would I leave all because Moses, David,
and Paul told me about a pursuit that is greater than anything I am presently involved in?
So when the deep cries of God come to you, what will you do? When He wakes you in the
early morning hours will you go meet Him, or stay in bed? If He calls for you, will you tell your
friends that you cannot have lunch today so you can spend that time with God? When God
whispers to you, and it’s even at the part of your show that you love, would you just slip out,
knowing that He has something so much better? That’s what Moses, David, and Paul were
telling me. All these toys do not compare to the absolute joy and intimacy of Jesus Christ.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009