First Love Pt 1 – Ps Bruce Claridge [04/11/2018 AM]
First love preservers - keys to preserving our genuine first love
Revelations 2:4 (NKJV)
4 Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.
- The statement “Return to Your First Love” suggests there are a whole lot of possibilities that arise as to where we go!
- There is a lot of confusion about this word LOVE.
- We live in a society where people fall in and out of love at a rate that reflects a lack of comprehension of what it means to truly love.
- Bruce told the story of Rosalie Harvey’s parents, Pearce and Olga Grenfell, who celebrated 73 years of marriage last Saturday. It is a marathon love as two 94 year olds enjoyed lunch together.
- Compare this marathon love affair with trite TV shows that assault our intelligence and bring love down to, at the very least a fleeting infatuation or at the other end of the scale simply physical attraction.
- Television shows like, The Bachelor, Love at First Sight, Bride and Prejudice and of “Blind Date
- Marriage as a stable, much revered institution is, in our days, under continual assault and sexual intimacy is considered unusual and out of step with modern society when it is considered to be restricted to the marriage bed.
- The concept that a young couple should wait until they are married to experience their first taste of physical intimacy is almost scoffed at.
So what is LOVE?
- 1 Corinthians 13:3-7…….. This is not just a wedding service scripture but a true indication of agape love.
- Agape is this 1 Cor. 13 love, it is love “in spite of “not “because of”……such a commitment will not be affected by the other person’s inconsistent behaviour.
- From this love we don’t love people because they are loveable but because we are loving!
- It is a love that is always willing for the good of others.
- The Greeks had other words for love which we don’t have:
- Philia– Deep Friendship (love), feeling for family
- Pragma– Long Standing Love, like a Grandparents love extending over many, many years.
- Eros– Sexual Love designed by God to be between a man and a woman in an exclusive marriage relationship.
- Philautia– Love of self, which is important when we consider Jesus’ command to love others as we love
- Because of the inability for our English language to define what sort of love we are referring to, we use this word loosely.
This is why this word LOVE is so misunderstood and so misused
- In the statement “I love ice cream” we surely a different meaning to the word love than when we say “I love my family” or in my case “I love Jan”.
- We are better educated now, there are more books, courses and conferences than ever before on love and marriage ……Christian TV, GREAT local Churches, podcasts and Vimeo along with Bible APPS all make us able to be better equipped Christians, with more biblical understanding……so why do we lose our FIRST LOVE?
Why do we slip into relational complacency with both God and others?
- How have Jan and I stuck at 45 years of marriage?…. was our’70’s “first love “that good?……..I LIKE TO THINK SO BUT NO, IT NEEDED SOME GROWING AND PROTECTING…..I can’t say it was my romantic flair that got us started…..e.g. Flowers covered over with a paper bag, very matter of fact and totally unromantic proposal……a very egocentric young sportsman……no it wasn’t the stunning beginnings on my part.
- From a call of God perspective how we have managed 40 years of ministry is certainly not about gifting or ability…..So how come we still feel so excited about this new season we find ourselves in, especially when not every past season worked out the way we envisioned?
- This excitement now extends to our upcoming new facilities, being again on an awesome leadership team, seeing young leaders emerge who are capable of changing their world…..being in community with all of you guys.
I think we have had a few consistent first love and faith preservers along the journey.
What other group of Believers forgot how to preserve their first love?
- The scripture in Revelation 2:4 reflects on the Ephesian Church’s inability to preserve their first love. To preserve AGAPE love!
- In the original Greek they had literally “permitted it to depart”, implying complacency rather than deliberate departure from the fundamentals of their faith.
- Yet it was Paul’s letter to the Ephesians earlier that centred so much on these fundamentals that they no longer preserved.
- Ephesians 1:1 Their Faithfulness to God
- Ephesians 1:4 Their Relationship with God
- Ephesians 1:11 Their Heritage
- Ephesians 2:6 Their Position
- Ephesians 2: 13 Their Intimacy
- Ephesians 2:21 Their Character
- Ephesians 2:21 Their Ability to flow in the power of God
How can we make every effort to make sure this does not happen to us?
- By ensuring that along our journey we activate our “First Love Preservers”.
- What has also helped is the revelation that our life cannot be compartmentalised into marriage, work, family, ministry, personal development, me time, etc.……..it’s not a predetermined order of life priorities e.g. God-Ministry-Family- Church-me time- close friends- acquaintances- my wider community- the needy- other people groups in whatever priority order you think they should go….
- It’s an “ all in one package”…….after all I did give my whole life to God, not just my marriage or my ministry or my family…..all my life aspects are His.
- This is the first key to maintaining “First Love”…..it’s called the “God owns it all” principle.
- From this premise we can now develop “First Love Preservers”
- Keys that keep you excited about loving Jesus regardless of the circumstances.
- For marriages they are better than any conferences or books as inspirational as they may be.
- They undergird any biblical studies we may complete or successes in ministry that may give us prominence.
The Keys are simple
- The Fear of God- it’s the beginning of wisdom.
Jesus is my friend but He is also God, the creator of the Universe, omnipotent and the judge of the universe. The one at whose words the worlds were formed.
- Keeping an eternal perspective- understanding the reality of heaven and hell and the great white throne judgment ( the judgment of rewards)
I went to a funeral a few months ago where the person leading the service implied we know little about Heaven, the Bible actually has a lot to say about our eternal home.
- Living with the expectation of Jesus’ imminent return- keeps you in a state of readiness
- Realising daily what the sacrifice and power of the cross means in your life. Jesus’ obedience to His Father’s will for you.
- Having a genuine passion and love for the lost.
- Recognising that we are on assignment from heaven and just passing through.
- A realisation that the Creator of the Universe first loved me with such a passionate love that He sent His only Son to die a horrific death for ME.
Suggestions for Discussion Questions
- Discuss what you think the statement ‘return to your first love’ means.
- Discuss the word ‘love’ and how you believe it has become so misused.
- Discuss “First Love Preservers”.