Faith, Worship, Priorities

Lose The Less-Than Love

Gwen Smith Blog, Life Clutter, Priorities, Worship, Worship 83 Comments

WHAT WERE YOU DOING WHEN YOUR FAITH WAS MOST VIBRANT?

I watched a movie about the end times that left me longing for a few answers. So I grabbed my Bible and sat to read from the book of Revelation. In this apocalyptic, end-of-the-Bible book, John speaks of a vision from Christ that he received while on the island of Patmos. In this vision, Jesus unveils events yet to come – which, ultimately, echo His eternal love, power, and justice.

In chapter two, the words leapt from the page to my heart as Jesus spoke to the Church in Ephesus. His tone was heavy and serious, yet intimate, tender, and loving. Clearly this message was meant for Christians throughout history, not just the church of Ephesus. It was meant for me – and for you.

Jesus spoke to his church. “I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.”(Revelation 2:2-3)

While reading this, I sensed the Lord speaking to me. Personally…

I know you work hard, Gwen. I know you spend countless, thankless hours doing mundane tasks like laundry, driving kids around, vacuuming floors, cleaning toilets, preparing meals, and managing relationships. I know you’re exhausted and wish you were more productive and organized. I know you serve at church. I know of your good intentions to spend quality time with me even though your often-inverted-priorities and distractions keep us from deeply connecting sometimes.”

His voice continued the heart-whispers as mine swelled…

“I know ______ … I know ______ … I know ______ … I know YOU.

And I see.  

I see what you are doing. I see the pressure you’re under. I’m fully aware of the pain you have endured and are enduring. I see your temptations and your struggles. I see all that you think is hidden.

I am El Roi.

I see you.

Now…

SEE ME.

More.

Much More.

Your glances toward me are fleeting. Flippant. Casual. Less-than. 

Your worship is often half-hearted… somewhat of an obligation. At times your service to Me is joyless and sterile – a going-through-the-motions of sorts. It should be a vibrant offering.

I am not an obligation.

I am GOD.

I am your Redeemer. I am your Savior. I am your Healer. I am your Strength. I am your Deliverer. I am your Comfort. I am your Portion. I am your Counselor. I am your Hope.

I AM.”

Overwhelmed and undone in His presence, I continued to read from the Word.

“Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken you first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.”(Revelation 2:4-5a)

Repent.

Return to me… your first love.

Do the things you did at first.

I grasp for memories that will take me there. I think back to when I was more on fire… more driven by a white-hot, blazing love for Jesus.

When was I there – at the height of my love for God? What things was I doing?

I wrestle and think… and confess… and bow low in my heart.

When were YOU at the height of your love for God?

What things were you doing?

THE CHARGE for each of us: Do the things you did.

Return to your first love. Return to His perfect love. To pure love. To holy, powerful, sacred, compassionate, everlasting, merciful, grace-filled, trust-worthy, faithful love.

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says…” (Revelation 2:7)

 

Dear Lord,
Who am I that you are mindful of me? That you know me? That you see me? That you love me? Please forgive this wandering worshiper. As I consider your mercy, I confess these things: _________________. Draw me close, once again, with your blood-stained grace and ignite an unquenchable fire of love deep within my heart, my soul, and my mind.
In Jesus’ name, Amen


FOR YOUR REFLECTION AND RESPONSE

What is one thing you did then that you can do today? Will you do it? If you accept this first-love charge, CLICK HERE to leave a comment on my blog telling me about “what you did then”, or simply say, “I will do the things I did!”

While you are in the comments section, take time to encourage and pray for one another.

Love and blessings to you!
GWEN


HEY! LET’S HANG OUT TOGETHER!

{Listen to the GRACEOLOGIE with Gwen Smith Podcast during your commute to and from work… or while you run errands, cook dinner, fold laundry, eat chips and guacamole… all the things}

LISTEN NOW on iTunes

LISTEN NOW on the Website


AND don’t miss this candid episode with my daughter KENNEDY!

LISTEN NOW on iTunes

LISTEN NOW on the Website


And these other episodes…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments 83

  1. Praise God! This is what I needed to hear at this very moment!

    I’m at the first-love stage and the last few days three people have made discouraging statements. They asked if I was afraid of burning out because I’m attending church twice a week and a bible study. They don’t know that I also pray and read every day. All of my strength is provided by God and all the glory is His. I’m so thankful to be reborn and want to use this momentum for whatever God has planned.

    Thank you for sharing honestly. May peace be with you.

  2. My frist love, when I exceped The Lord Jesus into my heart, I wanted to Tell ourthers about the Lord Jesus Christ, and what he did in my life,and I still do, and I show them how to except the Lord Jesus into their heart.

  3. I will return to a Eucharisteo mind set. A Thanksgiving attitude even when I feel I am “out giving” all that I have. Only Jesus focused with a Thankfulness and contentment within my circumstances.

  4. Gwen, when I was first on fire, I served more in the church doing Sunday school and vacation bible school, however I didn’t spend any time in the word. Now that I am decades older, I spend more time in God’s word and in prayer. Today, I will spend more time in God’s word, since this has been the one thing that has not been happening lately. I plan to spend several hours today in God’s word- study Ephesians and Psalm 107.
    May the Lord speak to my heart.

  5. Thank you for this post, I’ve been a church-goer for years and realized about five years ago I’ve forgotten my first love. I’ve been wondering and wavering and playing with fire for the past several years and now trying to “get on my feet” spiritually. I’ve heard what I need to do from others, and myself, but have felt incapable of doing it. The way this post is written resonates deeply and sets a great example. I will come back to this one again for sure!

  6. Gwen,

    When I first accepted Jesus in my life I had a passion to go deeper and wider in my walk. I became a leader in Renovare Spiritual Formation in my CA church Menlo Park Presbyterian now ECO Presbyterian – John Ortberg, Senior Pastor. I also had a passion for community engagement as I led relationship recovery small groups, co-led a men’s small group and engaged with my community in social and service groups. I am grateful for your Girlfriends in God devotions on Crosswalk.com which I have been studying for years and recommended to others!

  7. I pray the Holy Spirit gives me the strength and help I need to get more of my servant-heart back. Also, to have more of a sense of awe about the perfect character and unconditional love of the Lord! To thank Him daily, as I had, for His sacrifice on Calvary’s hill.
    HALLELUJAH!

  8. Hi Gwen,
    The Lord showed me that scripture a few months or so ago. I felt the same as you. Felt convicted, but also loved and cared about. So, I realized that what I had done in the beginning was spend a lot of time reading and studying the Word. I couldn’t get enough, I devoured it. The Lord taught me through it, encouraged me, convicted me, gave me wisdom, etc., etc., etc. So I began to spend a lot more time in the Word. I made the decision to get up early to have that quiet time with Him, that I had let slide. WOW, the Lord met me! He has taught me so many new things I didn’t know, drawn me even closer to Him, etc. I love that time with Him! I pray I don’t let it slide again! He has brought me back to His love & He is my first love! I hope you all will do whatever you did “in the beginning”, it’s beyond worth it! He is Faithful & so merciful & gracious! I’m so glad He drew me to that scripture & loved me enough to draw me back!

  9. Since giving birth to my first child in October (answered prayers) I’ve been feeling so tired and lazy. My son still isn’t sleeping through the night and my exhaustion has led to bad eating habits out of convenience and although I still manage to pray everyday, I don’t make it my very first priority when I wake up anymore. I no longer set my alarm for 6 am everyday so that I can spend quality, uninterrupted time alone with God. I long for that closeness to Him that I once felt. I am going to change my eating habits as of today, get back into some sort of work out routine, and try to get as much rest as I can so that my mind can be more clear like it once was so that I can focus on him more. I am going to set my alarm for 6 am so that I can pray, read my devotionals, and journal again consistently like I did before.

  10. The time I felt most connected to God was a time I was away on a job assignment for a period of time. It was during that time I found myself in solitude. I spent time in his word, I spent time worshiping Him and praising Him.

    Over the years, as my life has changed I got away from having my alone time with God. Just within the past year or so I have longed for that time. However, I have not been able to find my way back. I have started several times to reconnect then here comes distraction.
    I will be starting a new job assignment, away from home, soon. I will use this time to reconnect with my “first love”.

  11. I will do the things that I did at first. I need to fix my eyes on Jesus. To be totally surrendered to Him each and every minute of my day. To put Him first in my life and to stop satisfying the desires of my flesh. Food and shopping will not bring me the peace , joy and contentment only God can.. Feel my soul Lord with Your love..

    1. Praise the Lord, Amen! Praying for you Mady! Praying that we all keep Him first! “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
      ‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭12:2-3‬ ‭(NIV‬‬)

  12. Wow, so glad to be reminded of this. I know that God sees me and my situation- but I need to See Him. I struggle to be still, try to figure things out and just rest in Him. The things I did at first, I worshipped, I journaled prayers, I prayed. Gave up my worldly music, fed the homeless, saturated my mind with his truth. There are always things to do, there’s a lot of distractions- there has been heartbreak and betrayals in my family. It hasn’t been easy, but God is my defender and my provider. He is good. Thank you for reminding me of this. To look to Him and to not grow weary. 🦋

  13. Thank you so much for today’s devotional. I am older – this was especially relevant to me – to look back to that first love, that Fire. I confess to a tiredness lately – another label may even border on laziness from time to time. I am afraid I use the “too tired” too often as I struggle to keep up with grandchildren I am blessed with raising following the death of my son. My prayer is that I may once again get my priorities straight. God and love and worship for Him FIRST.

  14. I have been praying for months for one of my sons who happens to be the youngest of seven. I took away my oldest sons BB gun because it looked too real. I’ve told him he couldn’t have one but when he moved, he got one. Well, I took it and their father hid it on our shelf in our bedroom. Thinking it was hidden away very well, we didn’t think anything of it until one day we get a call from the school telling us our youngest had taken the BB gun to school and fired it in the bathroom. There was a bully involved. Of course he got into trouble with the school but they allowed him to take his finals (6th grade). Last week we got a call stating he had to appear in juvenile court. My heart sank and I prayed very hard. The charges were dropped after the judge had a one on one with him. Thank God because he’s a great boy. We’re used to AB honor roll with him, not court cases.

  15. “Lord, show me how to reignite that fire that used to burn inside of me!”
    This has been my prayer for a few months now, and with many attempts I have not felt that fire I so desperately need to feel. I’m thankful that God doesn’t give up on me! He has shown me the way, I’ve just been too “busy” to veer off my path onto His. This devotion today is a calling to me from the Lord. It is His way of letting me know that He’s here and He’s still waiting for me to follow Him.
    I want to thank you, Gwen for being a servant of our Lord, for if you did not follow your calling to write I would not have heard God speak to me through your devotion today. ♥️

  16. I needed to hear this. I love the Lord and I love my church. But my fire has dimmed. We have just finished a 2 year building renovation on our church. I was on the building team and it was a wonderful experience, but I got so caught up in the business of building and every day life I have put my Jesus Journey on the back burner. I need to return to reading the Bible more, it’s what catches my heart on fire for Him! Thank you for reminding me. 😊

  17. I don’t SING anymore! I spend time in God’s Word, in His Presence, but I don’t SING anymore! I reflect back on my life and those times I loved Him most. I was singing! In choirs from CA to MS to TN!

    Father, I want “sing a new song to You”. In worship, in praise, in adoration. My voice is not what it used to be but I desire to try. Forgive me for not worshipping and praising You with song!

  18. I will do the things I did. I want to return to my first love where nothing else mattered but the love, protection, grace and mercy from the Lord. Amen

    Mary Calloway

  19. This was for me today as I sit here at home with what feels like a million things to do – dirty laundry piling up, dishes scattered everywhere, reschedule my daughter’s missed appointment which was supposed to be this morning (it didn’t make it to the fridge calendar) etc. I told myself I just need to sit down a read my devotional, I longed to hear from God and He spoke right to my heart through Gwen this morning. I want to do the things I first did like read my bible, listen to worship music to remind me of Him and lift my spirits, pray for others to know him…
    I will start with reading his Word. And I’ve set my alarm to wake up at 6 tomorrow morning to spend time with the Lord before my day starts.

    Father God, you know the thoughts and intents of my heart. Help me today Lord to spend a little time reading my bible and take in your Word which gives life. All praise and glory to your name!

  20. I really needed the ‘I know’ segment today. Also the reminder that serving our Lord is a privilege, I shouldn’t treat it like a mundane task. Great stuff this morning! Thank you.

  21. I will spend more time in Your word, prayer and study.

    Heavenly Father I ask that You would help me to rise earlier so that I can be with You before my day begins. Help me to put aside the distractions and cares of this world and focus on who You are and all You are doing. Help me to remember what You have done when fear comes, help me to remember Your great love for me ,Your faithfulness, Your mercy and grace. Help me to seek You early and to hear You quietly speaking. Lead me by Your Spirit, give peace and rest. Help all those and their families represented here to draw closer to You, to seek You, to trust You, to love, serve and obey You. Work mightily in each life and receive all praise, honor and glory. In Christ’s name I pray. Amen

  22. God really spoke to me through this devotional. I have turned my “devotional” time into an obligation, a task and find myself so distracted most of time and now I am clear as to why, because I wasn’t worshiping my first love like I use to. I need to clear the clutter of to do’s in my morning devotionals and get back to the basics. Read The Word and journal. Sit still. Pray. Seek Him.

  23. As I read the words “I am your healer. I am your strength” I am sitting here in shock and amazed by God’s grace. I haven’t slept, I am so concerned and anxious with work and how I can make sure I am fixing a mistake I made at work, punishing me and blaming myself, full of guilt, sorrow and fear. I remember the biggest trial I had been in my life and I remember having that amazing intimacy with God and that made me fear nothing. I need that back again, as I look how stupid my current trial is and how shaken I am, I ask myself how come have I allowed myself to be in this position again? Of fear and doubt? I will keep reminding myself that God has me at the palm of his hands and I am the apple of His eyes, like all of us, his children. Have good faith and trust the Lord. He is better than us! Thank you for this amazing words today!

  24. Can so relate I once was so on fire for my Lord and savior but have found myself further away from Him not spending time In His word nor having the quality time In prayer with my Father. I soo need to give all to Him and trust that He Is In control. Thank you for sharing

  25. I will intentionally pursue Him not just in the morning or evening but especially throughout the day when I have downtime that could I spend with Him, but I tend to fill on social media, playing on my phone, and doing whatever else.

  26. I will do things I did. I will spend more time in prayer, listening to the Father speak to my heart. I will journal and think on things that He shares with me. I will love Him with all of my heart. In Jesus name. Amen

    Lord, bless my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Keep our hearts on fire with your love and grace. Forgive us for those time we wander and bring us back home to You. We thank You Lord and bless your Holy name. Let us keep praises to You on our lips and live live with a heart of gratitude. In Jesus name we pray. Amen

  27. I took back control of my life….I NEED DESPERATELY to give it back. This whole post really spoke to me. Thank you.

  28. I will continue to read a little from my Bible each day, be at church more listening to the message, and PRAY!

  29. I will do the things I did!

    Divorce changed me, at first i was so on fire and ready to remain connected. Now that’s changed little by little and I can feel that I’m not the same. I long to be connected like I once was, when going before the lord was all I needed.

  30. I will do the things I did!

    As a teenager, I was on fire for the Lord and then a tragedy happened in my life. I’ve gotten back into church and the Lord has been speaking to me about my relationship with Him. I long to have that fire again. I was being fed by the Word constantly.

  31. It will always amazes me how God gives you what you need when you need it. Thanks Gwen for allowing God to use this platform to encourage others. I so want to get back to where I began. Thank you for sharing these words and thoughts today. They reached into my heart.

  32. Then, I intentionally woke up early, connected with the LordGod through an individual quiet time and was overflowing with truth that uplifted myself and others – whatever the present life circumstances.

  33. I will spend more time in God’s word.
    God has called me to work with children and teens but I have been so busy with my own challenges that His purpose and call on my life is not being accomplished.

  34. I will be attending the ladies seminar on Knox pa on nov. I am looking forward to meeting & hearing you. I have been attending & helping with the seminar since it began. It has been such a blessing & help to many, many woman in the past 32 years! You have, & will continue to be, in my daily prayers. God bless you & your work

    Mary Jane Anderson

  35. This has lifted me UP When I definitely needed it. Thank you.🙏🏼✝️💜
    I had a bolderness AND I WANT THAT BACK!
    I was so in LOVE and couldn’t BELIEVE everyone didn’t KNOW THE TRUTH!✝️

  36. God has been speaking to me about being more aware of the opportunities around me each day to share His love as I go about my daily tasks. When I am walking closely with Him, I see people differently. His spirit seems to highlight those who need a word of encouragement from Him that day and He is giving me the opportunity to be His conduit. When I was first saved I was so aware of the possibility that someone around me might not know about Hus amazing love and I wanted to tell everyone to be sure that they had the opportunity to know Him like I did. There was no “political awareness”…just an overwhelming urge to share His love with everyone. He’s calling me back to that.

  37. He never came in second, when I felt that fire. He needs to be first place with me everyday!!! He has blessed me beyond measure!! I need to treat Him as special as He treats me!! My prayers go out to all ladies, may He fill your hearts with fire for Him!! Take delight in Him and He will give you the desires of your heart! (Psalm 37:4).

  38. I will lay before God and pour out praise as I wholeheartedly seek His Face, His Glory and the filling of His Holy Spirit.

  39. It breaks my heart but I try to think of a time when I was on fire for the Lord and I can’t really recall one. I want to feel that way. Right now I”m under an enormous amount of stress caring for my mother. Maybe I just don’t handle it well but it’s killing me watching her mind go and hearing some of the things she says or thinks she sees. I want to give it to the Lord and I’ve begged for help. I know He helps me but I’m struggling. Maybe it’s because I’ve never done anything different and I treat God like an obligation. I don’t want to be that way.

    1. I know what you’re going through as I am dealing with my sister with Alzheimer’s. I have responsibility for all her needs. I struggled with resenting the time she was taking from my family and my fear of doing it wrong. I finally realized that God has given me a beautiful opportunity to be His hands and feet. I won’t say I never struggle but I do know He walks with me on this journey.

  40. I am going to stop being so busy ….when I was unemployed I got to spend a lot of time with the Lord….so I am only going to be working 2 days a week as of July 22, so I will be able to spend more time with the Lord…..I miss that time I had with Him

  41. I will take time to walk and talk with the Lord. Spending time to read his word and continue to heal from a volatile life…the first 26 years.

  42. I will do the things I did so I can find strength in God who strengthens me even in my weakness because his weakness is stronger in my strengthen. I will leaned not on my understanding and seek his guidance because his thoughts are higher than my own.

  43. I will immerse myself in a heartfelt, gut-wrenching prayer that draws tears, joy, and awe from my weary self.

    1. Gail that was so eloquently put and I think this is exactly how I feel. Praying for God to ignite that fire once again.

  44. I will do what I once did.
    Thank you for this post which spoke deep to my heart. The reminder “I am your healer. I am your strength” was exactly what the Lord knew I needed today, battling breast cancer and doubt, fear and anxiety. God always knows what we need.
    Heading back to my first love. 💖

    1. Lord I lift Judy up to you for your amazing healing. Please give her the desires of her heart to be cancer free, and serving you with gusto. In Jesus name, Amen.

    2. Judy thanks for sharing and allowing me to be reminded that He is everything to everyone whenever we need Him. I will lift you in prayer as I seek Him today.

  45. I will go back to going to Sunday School. I will give out tracks more. I will go to Sunday evening service at least once a month( schedule). I will cultivate a mindset of gratefulness instead of complaining. Thank you Gwen for this reminder that we are never standing still; but are either moving backward or moving forward in the will of God!

  46. I will open myself up to You more. I will listen for Your Voice and Instruction. I will follow through. I will remember Gratitude first and stop complaining. Help me to remember as I was first getting to know and before I put You in any kind of a box.

    1. Jana thank you for sharing gratitude for complaining. And yes I often forget there is no box to contain the great I AM.

    1. How about having a prayer partner? And also looking at some of the prayers in the Bible? Using God’s word as a tool helps pray His priority. Stay encouraged. I hope this helps. It helped me. Also I engage God in my everyday activities so He becomes my fiend who I talk to regularly.

      1. Yvonne, I love that – “pray His priority”.
        Yes, let me be fervent in my prayers and blessed in knowing His priorities, and put those forth, Throughout the day may I follow in His path.
        P.S.
        When I think of someone who’s on fire for the Lord, greedy for His love, the best example I know is you, Gwen Smith. Your example keeps me facing the right direction.

    2. Yes there seems to be times like this but they service only to prompt us to bigger things, that yearning calls us. I so relate to this.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *