Your First Love :: By Nathele Graham

“And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment”
(Mark 12:30).

The more you study Scripture, the more insight you will gain into the heart of God. Is He your first love? Does it matter to you if you please Him or not? It should. Serving Him on earth is just a foreshadowing of serving Him in the afterlife. Serve Him with joy!

Let me ask this question. Do you love Him? What do you love about Him? Do you even know what He did for you? He humbled Himself and gave His life. He took your sin, which separates you from God, so that you can spend eternity with Him. It’s easy to say, “I’m a Christian,” but it’s not as easy to let our life speak for itself. Your life should reflect your faith. Eternity is just that… eternal. You have to choose now if you will spend it in Heaven or in Hell. Just remember, it’s your choice to spend eternity with God or in the lake of fire. He doesn’t want anyone to perish. If you have chosen Christ for salvation, show your love for Him by living for Him.

The Book of Revelation is very interesting. Chapter 4 begins with the Rapture of all Christians, then goes on to describe a beautiful place with God. Prior to that, Chapters 2 and 3 contain seven letters that Jesus dictated to John. These letters were written to real congregations that existed at the time, and when all seven letters are studied in order, they describe seven eras of church history, written in advance. They are a prophecy that is being fulfilled daily. Each era of Christianity faced difficulties, and there’s actually a little of each one in every era. The first letter was addressed to the congregation in Ephesus.

“Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks:” (Revelation 2:1).

Revelation can be intimidating to read, but that’s mostly because we forget to study all of Scripture. In this case, we only need to look back to chapter 1 to see that it’s Jesus who holds the seven stars and walks amidst the candlesticks.

What era in history does the congregation in Ephesus symbolize? It’s the first letter and represents the first era of Christianity. Most of the first Christians had come from a Jewish background and faced overwhelming persecution. When persecution in Jerusalem became intense, many fled to Gentile cities like Ephesus. The Gentile population there was very pagan in their lifestyles; they worshipped gods and goddesses who were, in fact, demonic and embraced horrendous sin. As the Spirit-filled Christians took up residence in the various cities, their love and devotion to Christ showed these Hell-bound pagans the love of the True God. Then the Apostle Paul came to town, and his mission work there established Christianity in the hearts of all the people of Ephesus.

It must have been a challenge to live a God-honoring life while dwelling amongst the demonic and sin-filled lifestyle prevalent in Ephesus, but those first Christians made a difference there. The letter which Jesus wrote commended them.

“I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and has found them liars: and hast borne, and has patience, and for my name’s sake has laboured, and hast not fainted”
(Revelation 2:2-3).

This reveals a couple of very important points. Jesus is watching us. He knows what we are all doing. He sees if you are patiently working to advance His truth among the unbelieving world around you. He knows if you are appalled by the evil that is everywhere or if you are dabbling in the sin. Do you follow every new trend within Christian circles? “Christian Yoga” (which is an oxymoron), contemplative prayer (not acceptable), New Age (ugh), and purpose-driven foolishness (run from it) are all trends that have no place in Christian circles. Put these and all wrong teachings to the test. Use Scripture to discern God’s truth. Jesus knows if you adhere to His truth or not.

Jesus saw that those early Christians had faith that wouldn’t fail. Some of them may have been amongst the crowd yelling “Crucify Him” when Jesus was on trial, but they also may have heard Peter speak on the day of Pentecost and repented. Peter preached a very convicting sermon that day, filled with the love of Christ. Peter’s words weren’t “seeker friendly” but spoke truth and touched the hearts of at least 3,000 people who were immediately baptized. These people fell in love with Jesus. Why? I would say that they realized who He was… God incarnate… and that they had committed great sin against God. Yet, Peter said they could repent and be forgiven. They realized that God had shown amazing love by stepping into His creation to spread the Gospel and forgive sinners. What wonderful love that is.

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast”
(Ephesians 2:8-9).

That love is still available to us today. The secular world cannot understand, but Christians should certainly understand God’s love. We are sinners and make errors, but our sins have been forgiven.

“We love him, because he first loved us”
(1 John 4:19).

Everything we do should reflect Christ. We cannot work for our salvation, but works should be a result of our faith. Works don’t bring faith, but faith should be seen in works.

“Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works”
(James 2:17-18).

Our works should always bring glory to God.

As we read this letter to Ephesus, we might think that these early believers had it easy. Sure, they were persecuted, but Jesus saw their works and was pleased. They stood against evil and wouldn’t listen to false teachers. They were doing wonderful works for God. Yes, Jesus was watching.

“Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou has left thy first love”
(Revelation 2:4).

What was their first love? That love should be our first love today. Jesus. We can do all the great things we want, but unless we love Jesus and do all for Him, our faith is dead. There are ministries with a huge number of followers, but Jesus isn’t their first love. As long as the ministry is raking in lots of money, the leaders are happy. It doesn’t matter to them if they are preaching a different Gospel than found in Scripture. It doesn’t matter to them if the full counsel of God isn’t being taught or that Jesus is compromised. The goal is to make money. They have left their first love. Jesus. The Gospel they spread isn’t found in Scripture.

“But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him”
(2 Corinthians 11:3-4). 

It’s easy to point fingers at these megachurches, but then we need to get the mote out of our own eye. We must examine our own life and our motives. Are we true to our first love? Do we fellowship with fellow believers only if it doesn’t interfere with what’s on television? Do you intend to study Scripture in the evening but can’t fit it in because you’re too tired? Although you can find time to read the newspaper or stop off at the bar on your way home from work, you can’t find time for God. That’s sad. You’ve left your first love.

Many Christians have left their first love. Notice Jesus says they “left.” It’s a choice. People choose to allow the world to come between them and God. We need to remind ourselves that Jesus first loved us, and we must choose to love Him better.

“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”
(Revelation 2:5). 

Think back to when you first met Jesus. You had a burden of sin that weighed you down. Were you happy? By the standards of the world, you probably were. Then, you heard and received the Gospel message. Maybe a preacher actually preached a sermon that didn’t tickle your ears and make you feel good about your sin. You were convicted, not condemned. You saw that your sin separated you from God, and you were on the broad road to Hell. Many people think Hell doesn’t exist, or they think it’s temporary and you can work your way out of it. Others think it’s a place where all of your unsaved friends gather for a good time of eternal fun and games. Scripture makes it clear that Hell does exist, and there is no fun there. Your choice must be made while living in this life; there’s no second chance. It’s a place of eternal torment with no partying.

Satan is a liar, but he is good at making the unbearable look appealing. Don’t believe the lies; believe the truth that God gives us in Scripture. When you come to the realization that God won’t send you to Hell but your own choices will, that’s the time you recognize that you’re a sinner in desperate need of Jesus for salvation. That’s when you need to repent.

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God”
(Romans 3:23).

Even though everyone has sinned, that doesn’t make sin acceptable. Jesus is our example, not worldly attitudes. All sin can be forgiven, but you have to repent. You need to change your mind about sin, and you will find forgiveness.

“Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus”
(Romans 3:24-26).

Thank You, Jesus, for your love and forgiveness of sinners such as me. I do love You.

When you realize your sins are forgiven, your love for Jesus will cause you to experience great joy. The weight of sin was a load that caused great unhappiness, but when that load of sin was forgiven, the joy was indescribable. Most likely, you shared your joy with others and felt compassion for others. Then, time went on. The world began to beat you up again. Maybe you felt persecution just like the Ephesians. Maybe you stumbled a few times in your walk with Christ, and you “…left your first love.” It’s not too late to get back into a right walk with Christ. “…repent and do thy first works.” Study Scripture. You will find out that God is ready to forgive.

Our sin nature will always be a problem to us while living on this side of eternity, but Jesus loves us enough to have allowed Himself to be beaten, mocked, spit upon, and crucified in order to offer us salvation.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God”
(John 3:16-18).

That should make you love Jesus, and if you’ve left your first love, He will forgive you. Return to Him now.

God bless you all,

Nathele Graham

Recommended prophecy sites:

All original scripture is “theopneustos,” God-breathed.

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How Do You Approach Jesus? :: By Nathele Graham

Jesus was well-known in Israel. Some people admired Him, while others vehemently rejected Him and wanted to kill Him. Oddly, those who despised Him the most were the ones who should have loved Him. The religious leaders never approached Jesus without trying to silence Him. They were very critical of Him, and they didn’t like the fact that He didn’t kowtow to them but stood against their self-righteous pride and rule over the people. These men served their own self-interest and didn’t honor God. There was one Pharisee who decided to humbly approach Jesus and seek truth.

“There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: the same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him” (John 3:1-2).

I like Nicodemus. He didn’t go along with his fellow Pharisees and despise Jesus but went to Him to find out truth. Jesus spoke with Nicodemus and told him to be born again.

“Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).

Because this visit was recorded by John, we learn a great truth. When we are born into this life, we have a sin nature that will always cause us to stumble, but when we truly come to Jesus and are born again, we are a new creation in Christ. We will always have the sin nature, but from that point on, God sees us through the blood which Jesus shed for our salvation. We need to submit to Christ and turn from lust of the flesh and our own prideful desires. We need to walk in the Spirit, not in the flesh.

“That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6).

This conversation changed Nicodemus’ life. He was there with Joseph of Arimathea to bury Jesus after the crucifixion. Joseph was a Pharisee who secretly followed Christ.

There were many women who approached Jesus, and He was always kind and gentle toward them. One day, Jesus and the disciples were going to Galilee and traveled through Samaria. Near a city named Sychar, He sat on Jacob’s well and sent his disciples to town to buy some food. It was noon and time to eat. That’s when a woman came to draw water. Most women drew water early in the day when it was cool, but this woman came after the others were gone. She was a woman of Samaria, and He was Jewish. There should have been no contact between them, but Jesus asked her for water.

“Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? For the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans” (John 4:9).

Jesus told her that if she had known who He was, she would have asked Him for water and He would have given her living water. The conversation went on, and she was a little flirty with Him. He kept talking about the living water she could get from Him, and the woman finally said she wanted the living water. Jesus knew of her sins but wanted her to find salvation. He told her to call her husband to come to the well, and she said she had no husband. Jesus knew she was living a sinful life but didn’t condemn her. He told her she was right when she said she had no husband.

“For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly” (John 4:18).

God has established marriage to be a lasting covenant between a man and a woman, and “living together” isn’t condoned by God. The conversation went on, and the woman ended up recognizing that Jesus was the Messiah. This woman of Samaria was much more perceptive than the Scribes and Pharisees who should have known who He was. This woman went to the city and told the men, “Come see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?” (John 4:29). The men of the city came to Jesus and believed. Because the woman was brave enough to approach Him, she met Jesus and brought others to Him.

Another woman who approached Jesus had been ill for twelve years. She had spent all of her money on seeking medical help, but doctors couldn’t help her. She was in a crowd around Jesus when a man named Jairus approached Him. His daughter was dying, and he had faith that if Jesus would lay His hand upon her, the little girl would live. Jesus didn’t hesitate. He got up to follow the man and heal the girl. The woman who was ill knew she had to do something.

“For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole” (Mark 5:28). She had faith but wasn’t a show-off; she quietly touched the hem of His robe and was healed. “And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said Who touched my clothes?” (Mark 5:30). The woman was scared but fell down before Him and confessed that she had touched Him. Jesus wasn’t angry but full of compassion. “And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole: go in peace and be whole of thy plague” (Mark 5:34).

We should never be afraid to approach Jesus in faith.

Then He went to where the little girl had died. There were mourners making quite a noise, but Jesus told them the girl wasn’t dead. “And they laughed him to scorn. But when he had put them all out, he taketh the father and the mother of the damsel, and them that were with him, and entereth in where the damsel was lying. And he took the damsel by the hand and said unto her, Talitha cumi; which is being interpreted, Damsel, I say unto thee, arise” (Mark 5:40-41).

Can you imagine the emotions of the parents when their daughter came back to life? Only Jesus has conquered death for all who believe in Him. Approach Him today in faith and humbly ask for salvation.

The next ones to approach Him were two blind men. “And when Jesus departed thence, two blind men followed him, crying, and saying, Thou Son of David, have mercy on us” (Matthew 9:27). He asked them if they believed He could heal them, and they said yes. “Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you” (Matthew 9:29). It was their faith that allowed Jesus to heal them. They asked Him for mercy, and He showed them mercy.

As I read of the many different ways that people approached Jesus, I see that He always had compassion on anyone who needed His compassion. How do you approach Him? Are you one who demands that Jesus give you everything you want? Scripture gives many accounts of Jesus providing for needs, but I don’t see where He gave power and riches to people. We can look to the life of the Apostle Paul to see that Jesus meets our needs but doesn’t always give us what we think we need. Paul had something that troubled him greatly. He approached God about removing the problem.

“And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure” (2 Corinthians 12:7).

Paul was a man who lived by faith and served God every day. He established many congregations and wrote letters that edify us today. He could have been filled with pride over his accomplishments but understood the thorn in his flesh was to keep him humble. He didn’t like it but didn’t get angry with God for not taking the problem away.

“For this thing I besought the Lord thrice that it might depart from me” (2 Corinthians 12:8).

What was this thorn? Scholars have debated that question for centuries. Nobody truly knows, but we can learn a lesson from this. Not all troubles will depart just because we pray. We need to understand that God is sovereign.

“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

That’s the best way to approach God. Be humble, but make your petitions known to Him through prayer. His answer may be different than what you want, but He knows all things. He also knows what you will do if He gives you what you want. Will you use His healing to glorify Him, or will you believe you deserve all the material things you want? If you ask Him for a bigger house or more money, will you use it for His glory, or will you use it to puff yourself up to look important?

Paul’s attitude was one of submission and humility. “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).

We need to be humble when we approach Jesus. James and John had to learn that lesson. “And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, come unto him, saying, Master, we would that thou shouldest do for us whatsoever we shall desire” (Mark 10:35).

That sounds like a “name-it-and-and-claim-it” type of approach. That’s not a good way to approach Jesus. Jesus asked them what they wanted, and their request was very selfish and for their own glory.

“They said unto him, Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory” (Mark 10:37).

Jesus told them they had no idea what they were asking. To their minds, it was a simple request – lift us up above all the other disciples – but they didn’t understand what would be required of them to be so honored. Too often, we don’t see beyond our own selfish desires, then blame God for not showering us with all we ask of Him.

“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up” (James 4:10).

Jesus knows what the future is and what we can handle. If we can’t pay the price of our wants, then He won’t give them to us. If our wants will ultimately harm us, He won’t answer our prayer. James and John would have a lot of persecution in their future, and James would be killed for his faith while John spent time in prison and on Patmos. They are with Jesus now, but are they sitting in places of honor? We won’t know until we are gathered Home.

Instead of asking Jesus to give you what you want, why not approach Him and ask Him what you can do to serve Him. After all, He has given His all for you.

God bless you all,

Nathele Graham

Recommended prophecy sites:

All original scripture is “theopneustos,” God-breathed.

If you’d like to be on my mailing list to receive the commentaries, just drop me an email and let me know.