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Sunday, November 4, 2012

Falling In Love With Jesus

“We love him, because he first loved us.”
1 John 4:19 KJV
This past summer I had the wonderful opportunity to invest in the spiritual lives of my two grandchildren, Abigail and Joshua. While they were visiting our North Carolina home we enjoyed five fun filled mornings of walking with Jesus. This crash coarse in discovering new things about Jesus was accomplished each day through a story, a scripture verse, songs, activities, crafts and snacks that all pointed to Jesus and the many things that he did when he lived on this earth. There is so many wonderful things about Jesus, that when examined closely cause us to fall deeply in love with him.
It is my desire that my grandchildren will fall in love with Jesus not just because their parents and grandparents teach them about God but because Jesus is an amazing God! I wanted the children to learn about Jesus’ part in creation and I wanted them to experience his miracles. I wanted them to see Jesus’ example of serving others as a model for them to follow. I wanted the children to see Jesus as both God and man. I wanted them to know where Jesus is now, and best of all I wanted them to know that he left us with the wonderful promise that he is coming again. It was my objective for Abigail and Joshua to connect the dots of Jesus’ life in such a way that they would fall in love with him in a way that would make an eternal difference in each of their lives.
As I taught the children, a very interesting thing happened in my own life. I fell deeper in love with Jesus in a fresh and new way! How can anyone who believes fail to marvel at the life and ministry of Jesus Christ? How assuring it is for us to know that Jesus has always been in existence even before the foundation of the world and He was with the Father and the Holy Spirit as they spoke the world into existence and breathed life into all living things.
Jesus is unique because he was both God and man. As God, Jesus is all-knowing, all-present, and all-powerful God. As man, we know that Jesus felt all of the same emotions and pain that we feel. Jesus knew both the dread of the cross and the joy of doing the will of his Heavenly Father.
The baptism of Jesus was a visual sign of Jesus’ obedience to his Father. Jesus understood that this act of baptism was symbolic, indicating his coming death and resurrection.  Jesus’ baptism was also a pattern that we too are to follow. It symbolizes a believer dying to our sinful nature and being raised into eternal life. Jesus taught us so much about what was important in life. When I meditate on his teaching regarding baptism, it is not hard for me to fall deeper in love with him. Jesus came into our world to accomplish the will of his Father and now following his baptism he was about to begin the work of God’s heavenly business. God chose the moment of Jesus’ baptism to send the Holy Spirit to assist Jesus in his ministry on earth. Likewise, baptism is a beautiful public expression of our desire to follow Jesus after we accept his gift of salvation.
The temptation of Jesus is especially dear to me because I now know that Jesus completely understands the temptation and the deception of Satan. During his forty days of temptation Jesus experienced Satan’s cunning lies. I love Jesus because when he walked this earth he modeled for me how I am to live. He covered all of the bases! He even taught me how to fight Satan’s deception through the example of quoting scripture to the “deceiver”. I continue to fall in love with Jesus because he is familiar with the pressure I feel during my times of temptation. Because he understands, Jesus has instructed me as to how I am to deal with my temptation! How different would my life be if I didn’t know that Jesus had also been tempted in all ways? Jesus, just like me, has experienced temptations regarding temporal things, temptation for power and control, and temptation to worship things other than God. I have a special bond with those individuals who relate to my situation because they have gone through the same thing that I am going through. It makes perfect sense to me that I will love Jesus more when I remember the bond we share in the realm of temptation.
I loved teaching the grandchildren about magic vs. miracles! How wonderful it is that Jesus is not about trickery and deception but he is about holy, unexplainable mysteries that glorify his Father. My heart is stirred when I reflect on the compassion, mercy, love and forgiveness that flowed out of my Savior when faced with the results of sin in this world. Jesus’ heart is moved in compassion when he sees pain, suffering, and death. His empathy for those who are hurting was and still is amazing. Jesus still weeps with us when we weep. His death on the cross allows him to identify with with us in our pain and suffering. No one ever suffered more both physically, mentally, and emotionally. The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ willingly laid down his life for us. How can we help but love him?
My granddaughter, Abigail was very excited to dress in lace to attend the wedding of Cana and partake in the yummy sweet wedding treats. The reenactment of this event reminded us that Jesus enjoyed relationships and celebrations. Jesus’ first miracle was when he changed water into wine. This miracle occurred at the wedding of Cana. Later Jesus fed the multitudes reminding us that Jesus Christ meets all our needs. Jesus is interested in our relationships, our social needs, and he cares when we are hungry. Jesus is with us when we are sick, and more importantly, he provides the antidote for our sinful hearts. I am comforted to know  that even in death Jesus will be with me until the end, which will actually be the open doorway to the beginning! Why wouldn’t I love this wonderful guy? He is the amazing God-Man.
My grandchildren also learned that Jesus was a super hero and so did I. Who else can walk on water and command the winds and the waves to be still. The disciples had witnessed Jesus caring for the needs of others but now it was personal. They were in trouble! Jesus came to their rescue as he calmed the storm. It is wonderful to know that not only will Jesus help my friends but he will help me too! Sometimes I forget that.
Feet washing taught me a great deal. As I washed the feet of my grandchildren, little Joshua said, “Oh Mimi, this feels so good.” My heart’s reply was Oh Jesus; I love you because it does feel so good to have you lovingly care for me. My heart was opened up to see the selfless example of humility and serving others modeled by our Lord. When I saw that Jesus took the towel and washed the feet of those who should be washing his, I immediately recognized my need for more humility as I attempt to serve others in the name of Jesus.
What a wonderful opportunity it was to teach my grandchildren about the meaning of the bread and the wine used in communion. I loved teaching what the sacraments symbolized and what a special privilege it is to partake in the holy sacrament of communion. Communion is sacred and should not to be entered into lightly. The sacraments should never become an insensitive, thoughtless, religious ritual of habit. Communion is a celebration for all Believers. Those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior are invited to partake. It is humbling to remember Jesus Christ, became the sacrificial lamb as he took my punishment for my sin. I must never partake of the precious sacraments without allowing God to examine my heart. Before I partake must confess any sinful behavior that God brings to mind. It is a holy sacrament, not be desecrated by sin. Remembering the wine, the shed blood of Jesus Christ and the bread, his body that was broken beyond human imagination, I continue to fall deeper in love with my Jesus. Without accepting the gracious gift of this sacrifice I would remain separated from God and his goodness forever.
The prayer of Jesus in John 17 leaves me nearly speechless. It is in that prayer that Jesus prayed for himself, his followers, and for all those who would come to know him through the message of his followers. My heart skips a beat and tears flow when I realize that even before one day of my life began Jesus prayed for me, he prayed for you, and he prayed for my grandchildren. I know this is a bit repetitive but once again, how can I help but fall deeper and deeper in love with Jesus.
Wow! Jesus’ death on the cross, his burial in the tomb, and then the glorious resurrection! What a magnificent message of hope. Just when one might be tempted to think it was all over Jesus conquers death for all mankind! Yes, indeed Jesus is our super hero! No one saves like our Jesus. No one gives hope like our Jesus. This reality is a note of joy, a song of hope, and a symphony of praise for both the young and old. I am in love with Jesus because He is risen! He is risen indeed!
Now the risen Lord does something amazing as he shows up on the shore of Galilee and cooks breakfast for the eleven. I ask myself, what about that breakfast Jesus cooked on the seashore for his deserting disciples. Even though Peter had denied three times that he knew Jesus, he was included in this early morning breakfast. I love Jesus because he is all about love and reinstatement. This breakfast that was eaten so many years ago, on the shore of Galilee is such an encouraging story about how God takes the messes in my life, forgives them, and then makes something wonderful out of my unfaithfulness to him. Peter the failure became Peter the rock. The disciples, who once scattered in fear, later gave their lives for their Savior. This wide, high, deep loving forgiveness was given by Jesus, the very one who they had offended. This type of forgiveness and love is inconceivable. This is a love that will not let us go. The knowledge of this grace makes me fall love deeper and deeper in love with Jesus.
Last, but not least, is Jesus’ ascension into heaven and his two spoken promises before he left this world. Those promises were for his followers then and they are for us today. One promise is full of hope for tomorrow. “I am coming again!” The second promise came on the heels of Jesus commanding his followers to wait in Jerusalem for the gift. You see, the “seen” Jesus was about to become the “unseen” Jesus. But Jesus, in his “all sufficient” style, informed them that the Father would soon be sending the Holy Spirit. Jesus was leaving their eyes but he was sending his replacement. He assured his followers that this Comforter would be even better. The Holy Spirit would never leave them even for one second. At this point the disciples may have remembered that at times during Jesus’ ministry Jesus had left them  to pray, to rest, to teach, and then to die. Other times Jesus sent them out alone to run errands or to teach, heal, and preach in his name. But now he was promising to send the One who would never leave them or forsake them. The invisible, Holy Spirit was going to dwell inside of each of them and inside every believer who would ever live after them. Needless to say, the hope that is found wrapped up in these two promises is a perfect reason for throwing a “Falling Deeper in Love with Jesus Party”.
I believe that falling deeper in love with Jesus is so important because when we love him as we should it is easier to listen to him, trust him, and obey him. I have found in my life that when I fail in any of those areas it is because I have a deep need within my spirit to fall deeper in love with my Savior, Jesus Christ. To continue to mature in our faith we must give up more of ourselves and desire more of Him. When we are full of ourselves, it doesn’t leave much room for Jesus.
1. What part of Jesus’ life causes you to fall deeper in love with him?
2.What part of reflecting on Jesus’ life has challenged you to desire to fall deeper in love with him?
3.Why do you think that falling deeper in love with Jesus is so important?
4.What one thing will you do to make an effort to fall deeper in love with Jesus?
5. How would falling deeper in love with Jesus make a difference in your life?
Dear Jesus,
Oh how I love you, oh how I adore you! I worship you because you alone are worthy of my worship. I thank you for all of the breadcrumbs you have dropped throughout your Word for me to follow. These are breadcrumbs of love, mercy, and grace that lead me straight into your heart. Help me to desire your Word so I can learn more about you and fall deeper in love with you. Jesus, today I pray that I would open wide my heart to receive more and more of you. I believe with all my heart that the more I love you the easier it will become for me to trust and obey you. Forgive me for the sin of indifference in my life. I know that coldness in my spirit does make a difference. Your Word says that indifference and disobedience grieves the Holy Spirit. Today and everyday I want to choose to fall deeper and deeper in love with you. After all Lord, what’s not to love about you? You are altogether lovely in every way!
In your name I pray. Amen