Follow Me: Learning to Love All Over Again

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Follow Me

Learning to Love All Over Again

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Follow Me: Learning to Love All Over Again

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Back in the mid-1960s the Righteous Brothers sang a song titled “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’,” the lyrics begging that the loving feeling would return. Probably many of you, either back then or more recently listening to golden oldies stations, have had spontaneous sing-along moments to the mournful “gone, gone, gone, woah” that ends the chorus.

The Bible speaks of another love seemingly on the wane—in the words of the ascended Jesus Christ addressed to His followers at Ephesus late in the first century. He’s concerned that they’ve lost their “first love” (Revelation 2:4 Revelation 2:4Nevertheless I have somewhat against you, because you have left your first love.
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). He’s sensed they have lost their yearning for responding to His invitation of “Follow Me” given so long before.

Apparently the very real storms of life had taken their toll over the years. Most of the original apostles were dead, dear friends had departed the faith, the Roman emperor Domitian was persecuting them, and Jesus had not returned. Zeal and enthusiasm were naturally affected.

They had made the spiritual tactical error of basing their life’s actions and thus crafting their spiritual bank account on external events rather than their internal heart-centered relationship with God.

Sound familiar? Christ’s words are not simply a message in a bottle washed up on our 21st-century shoreline. For it’s an ageless challenge for Spirit-led human beings to maintain that vital spark of first love.

Christ knows exactly where we are

Perhaps right now you feel so alone and wonder why your Christian walk has seemingly come to a halt. Maybe you feel deflated.

But Christ doesn’t leave us with a mournful “gone, gone, gone, whoa.” He presents a different tune, and He wants you to as well. Revelation 2:1 Revelation 2:1To the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things said he that holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks in the middle of the seven golden candlesticks;
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reminds us that He “holds the seven stars in His right hand” as He “walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands”—referring symbolically to His presence and care in the midst of His Church.

It’s a heavenly amplification of Jesus’ earlier words during His earthly ministry in which He stated, “This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day” (John 6:39 John 6:39And this is the Father’s will which has sent me, that of all which he has given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.
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).

He knows exactly where we are and exactly what spiritual condition we are in and how to help us grow in a loving relationship with God the Father and Himself—not based on mere feelings, but specific actions empowered by the Holy Spirit.

It’s a part of the Christian experience to fall in love again and again with the same God and come to know Him more intimately than ever before.

What is “first love”?

So what is “first love,” spiritually speaking? It’s the excitement of our minds and hearts opening up and being led by God’s Spirit—book by book, story by story, truth by truth.

It’s the excitement and passion experienced upon realizing what God the Father has done for us in Christ that we did not deserve and could never earn by our own human merits.

It’s embracing His revelation formerly blocked by deception or tradition or personal suspicion.

It’s realizing our need for God and our need to follow Him wherever He might lead—and becoming committed to that.

It’s more than fleeting infatuation, because God plainly requests and expects our all—for He’s given His all, and His Son told us right up front to “count the cost” before engaging (Luke 14:26-27 Luke 14:26-27 26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brothers, and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
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).

Beyond that, it’s the joy in coming to understand the fullness of the gospel—that God not only sent His Son a first time, but that Jesus Christ is coming back to rescue humanity from itself (Matthew 24:21-22 Matthew 24:21-22 21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.
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) and to establish the Kingdom of God here on earth (Isaiah 2:1-4 Isaiah 2:1-4 1 The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. 2 And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. 3 And many people shall go and say, Come you, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. 4 And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
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).

It’s possessing faith in God as a sure partner, trusting that “He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6 Hebrews 11:6But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
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) and that He will fulfill His purposes (Isaiah 46:10 Isaiah 46:10Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:
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).

It’s a sense of well-being in what He is to us—a Shepherd in whom we shall not lack (Psalms 23:1 Psalms 23:1The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
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) with a plan “to bring many children into glory” (Hebrews 2:10 Hebrews 2:10For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
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, New Living Translation).

Three steps to regaining it

But now, Christ doesn’t bemoan the matter of His people’s current spiritual state (“gone, gone, gone, woah”) but offers three specific steps requiring our personal introspection and action to regain how we felt in our “spiritual youth” as a basis towards a maturing and lasting love.

These steps are revealed in the exhortation of Revelation 2:5 Revelation 2:5Remember therefore from where you are fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come to you quickly, and will remove your candlestick out of his place, except you repent.
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:

“[1] Remember therefore from where you have fallen, [2] repent and [3] do the first works.” Let’s consider these three steps and put them into play.

1. Remember.

One of the worst human habits is to forget to remember! We all do it. We can so easily get stuck in a self-made room of solitary confinement, lamenting, “Nothing could be worse, and I feel so alone.”

God redirects our thoughts in Hebrews 10:32 Hebrews 10:32But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great fight of afflictions;
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, saying, “But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated …”

God is telling us: Go back—think! Remember where we started together. Remember when life seemed purposeless. And then I knocked on the door of your heart. You opened your life to Me, and I said I would be your God, and you would be My child (Revelation 21:7 Revelation 21:7He that overcomes shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.
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). I said I would never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5 Hebrews 13:5Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as you have: for he has said, I will never leave you, nor forsake you.
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). And I’m still here. I’m waiting. I Always will. Please remember—I love you!

2. Repent.

This means to change—by turning around and going the opposite way from our corrupt human nature and desires. Again, “remember” where and when the invitation of “Follow Me” first found you and how zealous you were in needing to repent in so many ways.

It was more than turning our spiritual man inside out like the proverbial pair of socks. It was becoming a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17 2 Corinthians 5:17Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
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). But with life coming at us, perhaps we’ve settled for a “spiritual status quo,” thinking we know all the ropes—just doing the minimal, not building on God’s deposit.

Let me be clear—Scripture always speaks to the seasons of our spiritual journey: Initial revelation, repentance, return, revival, renewal, restoration and, ultimately, resurrection!

Each season has a reason and a purpose to help us comprehend God’s great love, patience and incredible reach into our lives—and for us to continually surrender those portions of our lives yet opposed to Him.

If your love affair with God has waned then it’s not on His end, but yours. Beginning today, ask Him sincerely: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast [committed] spirit within me … Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit” (Psalms 51:10 Psalms 51:10Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
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; Psalms 51:12 Psalms 51:12Restore to me the joy of your salvation; and uphold me with your free spirit.
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).

God wants you to be close to Him again.

3. Do the first works.

The bottom line is that love isn’t a feeling. Instead it is deliberate action taken by us toward God and toward others. God’s love in us by its nature is outward, out-flowing, away from immediate self-interest. It “does not seek its own” (1 Corinthians 13:5 1 Corinthians 13:5Does not behave itself unseemly, seeks not her own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil;
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). Yet in loving outwardly we ourselves are also blessed.

God’s ways are not theory, but the keys to life. There’s an old Asian proverb that states, “I see and I forget, I hear and I remember, but I do and I understand.”

Isn’t that what God implores us to consider in James 1:22 James 1:22But be you doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
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—“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only …”?

Life is in the doing! What’s holding you back from your love affair with God? Are you afraid, bewildered, confused? Any spiritual recovery towards regaining our “first love” lies on the other side of the panic that “you feel.”

Christ knew well that the road of good intentions down here would be pockmarked with feelings when He extended the invitation of “Follow Me.” His invitation still stands!