by Tiffany S.
from Virtuous Daughters, October 2017~Volume 17, Number 4
“Take my love, dear Lord, I pour at Thy feet its treasure store.”
I have sung those lines time and time again. The words are beautiful, and I long for them to be more than just a sentiment; my prayer is that they would ring true in my life. In this article, I would like to share a few thoughts regarding keeping Christ as our “First Love” (see Revelation 2:1-5). We are most fulfilled when Christ is our All (Psalm 107:9). I hope these things I am learning in my own journey can be an encouragement to you, dear sisters in Christ.
Rejoicing in His Love
In 2015, Brittany shared Isaiah 30:18 with me: “And therefore will the LORD wait, that He may be gracious unto you, and therefore will He be exalted, that He may have mercy upon you: for the LORD is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for Him.” Have you ever considered the fact that God waits—not only because it is His will, and it brings Him glory, and He is sovereign, and it sanctifies us...and the many other reasons we know—but also because He desires to be gracious to us! That He may have mercy upon us! Because He loves us!
This is an overwhelming truth, because I feel utterly unworthy of such love. But it is true and we should rejoice in it. “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God...”--1 John 3:1 It is impossible to deny the rich, unfathomable blessings of waiting on the Lord. To me, one of the most precious blessings is the continual manifestations of my Savior’s vast, measureless love. I have seen Him answer quiet prayers, send unexpected gifts, and supply my every need.
First Chronicles 16:8-12 exhorts: “Give thanks unto the LORD, call upon His name, make known His deeds among the people. Sing unto Him, sing psalms unto Him, talk ye of all His wondrous works. Glory ye in His holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD. Seek the LORD and His strength, seek His face continually. Remember His marvellous works that He hath done, His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth;”
Every day the Lord bestows His mercies upon us...are we thanking Him? Are we calling Him by His beautiful names? When is the last time we shared with someone else a testimony of His wondrous work in our lives? Are we eager to spread the praises of our eternal Bridegroom? Are we singing to Him? (This is a very practical way to direct our thoughts toward the Lord, and it is so refreshing!) Are we glorying in His holy name? Are we truly grateful to be called by the name of Jehovah God? How often do we spend time alone with our Lord, being still to hear His voice (Psalm 46:10)?
When the Lord worked out many details for a friend to take a trip that had not initially looked possible, she was quick to say that it was the Lord’s gift to her; one of her prayer requests for this time away was that she would enjoy it with Him. The Lord has shown me how good it is to simply delight in Him. Are we enjoying each day with our Savior? Girls, we are never alone. Jesus is with us every minute. “And He said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.”--Exodus 33:14 We are walking with our Savior; it is sweet to be in His presence. Also, as we focus on His goodness, we are not as easily distracted by that which He in loving, infinite wisdom withholds.
Dear sisters, rejoice in the love of your eternal Bridegroom. “His mouth is most sweet: yea, He is altogether lovely. This is my Beloved, and this is my Friend.”--Song of Solomon 5:16 This is our Lord and Savior! Our Beloved suffered, died, was buried, and rose again because of God’s great love for us (see Song of Solomon 8:6-7). He became poor that we might be rich in Christ (2 Corinthians 8:9). Christ, Who knew no sin, became sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21)! Do we realize how vast and measureless His love for us truly is? We are His for all eternity.
Find practical ways to rejoice in God’s love for you! Something I have tried to do is set aside occasional times (separate from my daily devotions) to spend exclusively with the Lord. I particularly enjoy this at Easter time, in celebration of His great love. The Lord has also challenged me to look at promises in His Word from the perspective of how He is fulfilling them in my life right now. This has been life-changing as I learn more about the fullness of my Father's great love! For example, ponder these rich nuggets of truth; how is God accomplishing them in your life today? Psalm 84:11, Psalm 145:15-19, Romans 2:6-7, Psalm 37:4-5, Proverbs 3:5-6, Jeremiah 17:7, Titus 2:13-14, 1 Peter 1:7-8, 1 John 5:14-15
Note: “...God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”--Romans 5:8 If you have not called upon the name of the Lord for salvation, that is the first (and absolutely essential) step in experiencing His love. His love for you is so great that He sent His Son to die for your redemption, but you must choose to believe in Him and place your hope fully in His righteousness for your salvation. Please do not put off this crucial decision that affects your eternal destiny!
Our First Love
“We love Him, because He first loved us.”--1 John 4:19 How do we respond to the love of our Lord? Do we love Him back? Of course we love Him, but do we love Him supremely? One of the most convicting sermons I have heard was on the topic of keeping Christ as our “First Love.” The truths the Lord revealed to me that day have been essential in my journey of waiting on the Lord. Revelation 2:2-5 tells the tragic story of the church at Ephesus. Though faithfully serving the Lord, patient in their work, and quick to shun false prophets, the Lord had a word of rebuke: “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.”
The timing of this sermon was significant—it was the day after my twenty-fifth birthday. I had just experienced God’s love in countless ways and was still rejoicing in that gift. During the Invitation Hymn, I remember thinking that Christ was definitely my “First Love” right then! But I pleaded with Him for grace to not lose sight of my “First Love” in the months and years to come. I knew this commitment would be tested, yet I longed to be faithful.
Throughout the following years, I have struggled at times by allowing myself or my desires to usurp Christ’s rightful place as King on the throne of my heart. Psalm 16:4 comes to mind: “Their sorrows shall be multiplied that hasten after another god...” Though we would never bow down to worship a pagan idol, how often do we place something above the Lord Jesus in our thoughts or hearts, thus committing idolatry? This can include a myriad of things: selfishness with our time, a friendship, wrong habits, our desires, our plans...you know what it is in your life. (Consider this quote: “The evil in our desire typically does not lie in what we want, but that we want it too much.”~John Calvin) I always know when I am neglecting Christ as my “First Love,” because my joy begins to diminish and I start to lose fulfillment in serving Him. It is just as Psalm 16:4 warns. “Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee: know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the LORD thy God, and that My fear is not in thee, saith the Lord GOD of hosts....Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? yet my people have forgotten Me days without number.”--Jeremiah 2:19,3
Yet, in His great love and tender mercy, our God is longsuffering. He promises in 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” In Psalm 103 we are told that the Lord is gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy; He has not dealt with us after our sins nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. His mercy toward those who fear Him is as high as the heaven is above the earth, and He has removed our transgressions as far as the east is from the west. “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear Him. For He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust.”--Psalm 103:13-14 What wondrous love!
In Revelation 2, Christ gave the church at Ephesus an opportunity to repent; He offers us the same opportunity when we are struggling. The pastor who preached the sermon on this passage shared practical insights for how to return to making Christ our “First Love”...
First, we need to Remember where we began leaving Christ as our “First Love.” What was it that drew us away from Him? Our God is jealous for our love! Second, we should Repent. “First Love” is ultimately a description of Jesus Christ. This is not going back to an act of love, but to Christ Himself. Third, we should Re-Do the “first works.” What were the things we did in the past that delighted the Lord? We will eagerly anticipate doing those things once again as we re-embrace Jesus Christ as our “First Love.”
I have found that keeping Christ as my “First Love” is an ongoing choice. My pastor explained that if there is anything that excites us more than Christ, it’s likely we have left Him as our “First Love.” He shared that the difference between David and most other kings of the Old Testament was that there was not a trace of idolatry in David’s life. Nearly every other king has the sad epitaph: “the high places were not removed.” A “high place” in our life can be anything that becomes higher than the Lord, thus robbing us of our deep, abiding fellowship with Him. It is an issue of the heart. As my pastor shared, a “perfect heart” is not one that is sinless, but rather it is a heart that is free from idolatry. The theme of 1 John is said to be “love,” yet how does the book conclude? “Little children, keep yourselves from idols...” Idols (including idols of the heart) steer us away from Christ as our First Love.
We should remember that we are in the most beautiful and fulfilling love relationship possible—our Prince died for our salvation! Sometimes as older single girls, we might feel a twinge of sadness that we have no husband with whom to share our love. It is true that God placed in our hearts a natural desire to give our love and yield our service to a godly husband. But if in His perfect wisdom the Lord is withholding this, we must realize the special privilege of channeling that heart of love and service to Someone infinitely more wonderful.
The Lord has reminded me what a precious thing it is to be able to give myself wholly to my Savior Lord during this season of singleness. If my twenties are some of my “best years,” shouldn’t I be delighted that I have the opportunity to spend them on my Lord Who loved me first?! There are so few gifts I can really give to the Lover of my soul in light of His gift of salvation to me....so to give Him my youth with grateful energy is an opportunity to express my love for Him. “...the unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord...”—1 Corinthians 7:34
“But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and He that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art Mine.”—Isaiah 43:1 The Lord is jealous for our love. This is amazing but true. My experience has been that anything—no matter how good it is—that distracts me from Him or comes between us, He will be faithful to remove. This is how strongly God desires fellowship with His children. “I am my Beloved’s, and His desire is toward me.”--Song of Solomon 7:10 May we rejoice in His deep love for us!
Colossians has become one of my favorite books. Chapters 1-2 reveal the foundation for our lives—Jesus Christ!—and chapters 3-4 provide many practical applications of this glorious truth. Colossians 2:8-10 is fundamental: “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in Him, which is the head of all principality and power.” We must ask the Lord to guard our hearts against anything that would rob us of our close walk with Christ. However, we also must “do our part” to vigilantly guard against anything that becomes greater than—or even distracts from—our desire to know and love God.
There are many wonderful by-products of making Christ our “First Love” which will be experienced in our future marriages if that is God’s plan for us. Just think of the heartache we will save our husband if we have learned to have our deepest desires met in Christ, instead of placing unreasonable expectations on a mere human being. Also, a woman who has made Christ the Object of her love will be a suitable helpmeet to a man who has done the same; together, they will be able to serve the Lord more effectively. And of course, we will be able to raise children to love and serve Christ passionately if we have been faithful to love and serve Him in our youth.
I share these thoughts in hopes that they encourage each of you to keep Christ as your “First Love.” I still have so much to learn, and I long to more fully grasp the truths God is teaching me...truly it is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed because His compassions fail not (Lamentations 3:22). Knowing the Lord’s love and endeavoring to truly love Him back is a beautiful thing! Many times I have pondered Psalm 101:3: “...I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.” It can be easy to slide into a “routine” mindset, forgetting Who we are serving and why. But as Hudson Taylor shares in his book, One with Christ: “Far from lessening our power to impart power and joy, the consecration of all to our Master increases both our power and our joy as we minister.” He also explained that as the bride of Christ, we cannot be truly satisfied in His love if we are not fully surrendered to Him. May we seek to keep our hearts fixed on the Lord continuously. “I have set the LORD always before me: because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.”—Psalm 16:8
I would like to conclude with the words of a song that has ministered to me the past year, “O Wondrous Love”:
O wondrous love that will not let me go, I cling to You with all my strength and soul
Yet if my hold should ever fail, Your wondrous love will never let me go
O wondrous love that’s come to dwell in me. Lord, who am I, that I should come to know
Your tender voice assuring me Your wondrous love will never let me go
I’m resting in the everlasting arms, in the ever-faithful heart, the Shepherd of my life
You carry me on Your mighty wings of grace, keeping me until the day I look into Your eyes
O wondrous love that sings of Calvary the sweetest song this sinner’s ever known
The song of Your redeeming Son Whose wondrous love will never let me go
O wondrous love that rushes over me, I can’t escape this river’s glorious flow
You overwhelm my days with good. Your wondrous love will never let me go
Dear sisters, the more we get to know our Lord Jesus Christ, the greater we rejoice in God’s great love for us, and long to love Him back through joyful service. May we keep Christ as our “First Love,” exalting Him in every area of life. He is the only One Who truly satisfies. “But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”—Jude 20-21
Special thank you to my pastor, whose sermon about “Keeping Christ as Our First Love” had a great impact on my life. Many of the thoughts I have shared in articles over the years were learned from my pastors faithfully preaching the Word in our church.
The Article Library
This "Library" contains articles that were published in previous issues of Virtuous Daughters. It will keep growing as we continue to upload articles from the 20 years of printing. We pray they are an encouragement to you!