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Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Grin and Grow with Kathy 03/11/20

The First Love

my first love first loved me

STORY: My High School Sweetheart

When Russ and I had dated a while, we started to get serious, and I started to get sick. Russ experienced the same symptoms. At first, we wondered if it might be mono. One day, Russ’s mom figured out what was wrong with us. We were lovesick. She said this was a classic case of falling in love. We were so excited we actually had physical symptoms. Similarly, when our entire being is focused on worshipping the Lord, we might experience lovesickness. It’s the ache of homesickness that misses a person rather than a place. (Taken from The Grin Gal’s Guide to Joy, ©2020 with permission.)

STUDY: The First Love

Jesus first loved us

I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. (Philippians 3:12-14 NLT)
  • Paul was transparent that he didn’t have his life all together. He pursued holy perfection by reaching out for Christ, who first reached out to him. What do you think when you realize Jesus first loved you even when you were smack in the middle of your mess?
  • How does thinking about Jesus’ love for you help you keep your eye on the goal?

We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.

Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. We love each other because he loved us first. If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their fellow believers. (1 John 4:16-21 NLT)

  • What causes you to know how much God loves you?
  • Think about what God knows about you. What he knows doesn’t diminish his love for you. Knowing that, how can you put your trust in his love more?
  • How is it that mature love can banish fear from your thoughts and feelings?
  • How does knowing that Jesus loved you before you ever loved him help you to love others—even the hard to love ones?
  • Why is it easier to love a God we can’t see than to love people we spend time with? How can we rectify that?

Our first love

“To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, ‘These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands: “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent. But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.” ’ (Revelation 2:1-7 NKJV)

  • This passage has significance outside of the personal application for which we are reading. But we can still extrapolate principles that apply to our Christian living.
  • What is on the list of positive traits God would acknowledge that he sees in your life? (In this passage it mentions: works, labor, patience, intolerance of evil, perseverance, not becoming weary.)
  • What do you think it meant that they had left their first love? When you first came to faith, what was your love of God like? Has that love matured or wavered? How can you get back the zeal of your first love but also mature it to an enduring love?
  • What first works have you let slip that you want to get back to doing as part of the way you practice your faith?

STEPS: Loving Like Jesus

  1. Admit what mess you are in the middle of right now (whether self-induced or externally caused). Imagine it as your junk room.
  2. Reach out to God, knowing he loves you regardless of the mess. Imagine him entering your junk room just because he wants to hang out with you.
  3. Talk to God from this place of awareness—that he loves you despite the mess.
  4. Love others with the same love you just received from God, despite their junk.

Copyright © 2020 Kathy Carlton Willis, used with permission.

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