Archive for August, 2010

Have you ever known someone who was truly humble?  Not someone who constantly put themselves down or had very low self-esteem.  That is not healthy nor biblical humility.  Have you known someone with biblical humility?  How did it evidence itself in their lives?

As I continue to dwell on, study and pray about this idea of “returning to my first love,”  two thoughts are revealed to me.

a) Biblical humility is a must for such a return and maintenance of an intimate relationship with God.  Biblical humility – recognizing oneself as a sinner before, and in need of, a holy God.

Isaiah 57:15 – ….. I [God] dwell …. with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.

b) We are beloved by God.

Rom 9:25 – As indeed He says in Hosea, “Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’ and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’

It’s important to have biblical humility in conjunction with the personal understanding that we are beloved by God.  Otherwise we end up only in a guilt complex and/or self-loathing.

Being beloved by God is the true core of our existence.  It is in understanding this, in taking it into the core of our being, that we develop biblical humility.  It is then that we have “godly sorrow leading to repentance” (2 Cor 7:10).  It is then that we will have a true (and healthy) biblical humility that flavors how we see ourselves, others and how we live and move in this world.  It makes Philippians 2:3-8 become possible in our lives.

“But as long as ‘being the beloved’ is little more than a beautiful thought or a lofty idea that hangs above our lives to keep us from becoming depressed, nothing really changes.  We ARE beloved.  We are intimately loved long before our parents, teachers, spouses, children or friends loved or wounded us.”  — Henri J.M. Nouwen in Life of the Beloved.

That’s the truth spoken by the Holy Spirit who lives in all of us who are believers in Christ Jesus.

As you pray, listen!  God calls out to you, His beloved.  “I have called you by name from the very beginning.  You are mine and I am yours.  You are my beloved, on you my favor rests.  I have molded you in the depths of the earth and knitted you together in your mother’s womb.  I have carved you in the palms of my hands and hidden you in the shadow of my embrace.  Wherever you go, I go with you.  You are my beloved.  Nothing will ever separate us.”

This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. — 1 John 4:10

Returning to your first love begins with godly sorrow, biblical humility, and a recognition that we ARE beloved by God — and always will be.

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Our New Community Group (fancy title for Sunday School class) recently dwelt on the impact our faith is having in our lives and the lives around us.  I subsequently spent some time mediating on Revelation 2:1-5 and Jeremiah 17:7-10.

I’m challenged by these passages — Revelation 2:1-5 and the charge to/against the church at Ephesus seems to capture what I think of when speaking of “benign neglect.”  Here was a church body, a people who had done “good works,” endured for Christ’s sake, attempted to remain pure — and yet … they had been weighed and found wanting — how?

They had “left their first love.” (NKJV)  The NIV renders it “forsaken your first love.”

With such commendations as Christ had given the church at Ephesus, how could they have “left their first love?”  And could such a charge be applicable to me?

As I’ve prayed and spent time with God on this, here is what I have concluded:  I’ve left my first love in that I’ve more and more come to rely on self.  I’ve replaced love of Christ (as first love) with love of self.  I find that I “run on the momentum” achieved from an earlier time — when Christ clearly was above all and my relationship with Him was very real and personal.  The farther I get from the “moment of diversion” (which actually happens over time), the less effective, the less visional, the more “set in my ways” and more susceptible I become to the world and Satan’s traps (in the guise of “reasoning”).  Ultimately, I become without salt.

Oh, I love God; I love Christ.  But I’ve subtly substituted myself ahead of that love.  It shows in my elevation of comfort, convenience, seeking of fulfillment in many ways apart from God.  I think of Luke 8:14 – “The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way, they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.”

Thus, I don’t generally value what God values — at least not as highly as He does.  I don’t seek Him and naturally, as a result, I lack a Spirit-filled and guided life — at least it’s not what it could be, and my growth and impact is thus not what it could be.

God has drawn me to Hosea 10:12b — “Break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord, till He comes and rains righteousness on you.”

I desire to “experience Christ” — to go deeper with Him in a lasting way.  I’m wonder if such an experience, such a journey begins with this idea from Hosea.

May all of us return to and/or remain with our first love and do the first works (Rev 2:4).

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