Michael Youssef - Growing In Your Love For Jesus - Part 1
There is a very, very familiar sentence that kids often use and parents detest. Now what is that? "I am bored". Now parents, I'm not gonna get into this, but let me give you a freebie on the house here. Have a list of chores ready. So as soon I say, "I'm bored," you say, "Here you go". And that keeps him busy, that will remove boredom. But the truth is, children are not the only ones who experience boredom in life, adults get bored too. The thing about children, is because they are more innocent and less guarded, they blurt it out. They verbalize it, they articulate it. Adults on the other hand, they mask their boredom. Adults often express their boredom by moving from one thing to another, from one interest to another. Adults deal with their boredom by seeking new and exciting experiences.
Please believe me when I tell you, that there are Christians who actually get bored with their Christian life, seen it through the years of ministry. The way they express their boredom by changing churches every couple of years. They hop from seminar, to conference, to some new exciting ministry. They keep going around and hopping from one Christian guru to another. They are looking for the latest trend, and the latest book, and the latest person, who's gonna help them solve their problems. Hear me right, please, they don't understand, that books, and preachers, and teachers, and seminars, and conferences helpful as they are, none of them can solve the problem. There's only one cure to spiritual boredom, and it is growing in your love for Jesus Christ, every day, every day.
When I was studying the first epistle, the first letter to the church in Ephesus, as I was pouring onto studying into that church, and I noticed there's one thing, that was an active church, that was a great church, but the one thing that Jesus had against 'em, was that they have forsaken their first love. Their first love for Jesus cooled off whatever the circumstances may be. All they were doing, they were serving, they were ministering, they were active, they were doing all the right things, but the one thing that they're supposed to do, the love for Jesus went by the wayside in their walk and in their life, because in their Christian life, you either go backward or you go forward, you can't stand still. And that is why we're gonna learn together and the next six messages, we're gonna be learning together how to go forward in your love for Christ, how to fall in love with Jesus and not just stay in love with Jesus, but grow in your love for Jesus.
How to daily discover, daily discover, ways by which you fall in love with Jesus all over again. How to become red hot for Jesus. It's an established fact, that in your growing in your love for Jesus, it is not only gonna sustain you regardless of the circumstances, but it's gonna make you effective wherever you would go. Some of you'll say, "Michael, wait a minute, Michael, wait, wait, wait a minute, wait a minute. I love Jesus, I read the Bible regularly, I have decent knowledge of the scripture, I'm stickler for accurate doctrine, I even memorize the scripture". Wonderful, please, please, please, don't stop, don't stop, wonderful, wonderful.
The problem with the church in Ephesus, it was a church was doing all of that, all of that, and here Jesus says, "I have this one thing against you, that you have forsaken," you have lost, you cooled off your love for Jesus. Others may say, "Well, you know, Michael, you don't understand. I'm into the deeper life, I'm into the exchange life, I'm into the victorious life, I'm into the upward call, I'm into the higher goal". Great, wonderful. That's not what I'm talking about, in fact, these are names of ministries that have come and gone, some of them are still around. Great as all of these are, but that's not what I'm talking about, and that's not what I'll be talking about in the next several messages. Head knowledge of the Bible, must not be our ultimate goal. Healing your past memories of past troubles, should not be your ultimate goal, that's the product.
So the question is this, how do I love Jesus today more deeply, than yesterday? How do I love Jesus more fully today than yesterday? How do I love Jesus more intimately today than yesterday? How do I love Jesus more uniquely today than yesterday? Why should that be your ultimate goal? Why would that should be the ultimate, the ultimate for everyone, not just for people in ministry, everyone. Listen carefully, because when you're daily growth in your love for Jesus, all these other things are gonna fit in place, they're gonna fit in place, but not the other way around. Now, the verse I want you to drink deeply from, not just today, but in the coming days, drink deeply, it literally a verse that will change your life, is Philippians 3:8, Philippians 3:8. "I," regard, "I consider everything a loss," nothing as nothing, "Because of the surpassing worth of," loving or "Knowing Christ Jesus".
The truth is, you can literally take the rest of your life unpack this verse, one verse, why? Because until you're able to say, "I regard everything," can you say it again? Everything, my job, my money, my possessions, even my life. Beloved, your day of death is appointed in heaven and you cannot change that. Your worry, and your anxiety, will not change that. It is appointed at once, it's appointed, it's a day written in heaven. And until you get to the depth of understanding that when you got everything, including life itself, you have not begun your love for Jesus. If you place everything on one side of the scale, including life, and loving Jesus on the other side of the scale, find out which one that tips in, which one is gonna tip over the other. Until you come to that point, you have not begun to know what it means to absolutely be in love with Jesus.
Let me ask you to do something, close your eyes just for a minute and just ask yourself the question, "What is the one thing, what's the one thing that I value the most including life itself"? Open your eyes. The answer's yours, it's between you and God, nobody else needs to know that. But I'm here to confess to you, that in my own life, I haven't always said or practiced that everything is nothing, is rubbish, in relationship to my love for Jesus, it wasn't always the case. Now, some of us who are in ministry, listen to me, listen to me some of us in ministry, whether preaching, and there are many preachers are watching around the world, literally, whether it's preaching, or teaching, or serving in any ministry, 80% of this congregation is involved in some ministry of some sort, thank God this is an amazing place.
Whatever ministry you are involved in, here's what I want to warn you, listen carefully, we all, including this preacher, we're all vulnerable to the temptation of confusing ministry with loving Jesus. I am convinced as I'm standing before you today, I am convinced, that God cares more about his children loving him, than what they're doing for him. You see, when you love him, you're gonna do everything that he wants you to do anyway. See, when I compare loving Jesus every day more deeply than the day before, more than anything, I find that helps me to think in the following way; how permanent he is, and how temporary everything else is. Let me stop here for a moment, station identification, or reality check, or call it whatever, I don't tell you why. Because I know, I know, that most preachers including this one, tend to get carried away and make hard things sound easy. You know what I'm talking about?
I try not to fall in that trap I really do, but I'm sure I have fallen into it several times. But if you think that you are the only one, who's tempted to place other things or other people above your loving for Jesus, think again, you're not the only one, you're not the only one, you're not the only one. And beloved, it is not a walk in the park. And so I wanna make sure that I'm not going against my advice because I've got news for you, if you think that I am saying this is easy, this is a walk in the park, you have seriously misunderstood me. The deeper I grow in my love for Jesus, the hotter the temptation for distraction. Now you would think the other way around, right? Right? No, I used to think that, I really did. I thought the deeper I walk in my love for Jesus, the easier the temptation. No, it's not, the deeper I grow in my love for Jesus, the harder, the tougher, the hotter the temptation.
The question becomes, "How do I overcome these temptations? How do I overcome these temptations? How do I regularly choose to love Jesus everyday more than the day before"? First, I need to tell you, that you cannot grow in your love for Jesus simply by amassing head information about Jesus. You cannot grow in your love for Jesus by seeking one new spiritual experience after another. You cannot grow in your love for Jesus by merely hearing sermons, or reading books about Jesus. Believe it or not, loving Jesus begins by being dissatisfied with your current state of love for Jesus. That's where it begins. If you're smug and satisfied where you are, God help you because nobody else can. Loving and growing in love with Jesus begins by your yearning, to know, and experience, and love him more than anything in life. Paul's deepest longing and prayer for the church in Ephesus, the same church that motivated me to do this series, I'm gonna show you, he writes to them in Ephesians chapter 3 verse 18, his prayer, is that they will be able to comprehend the breadths, and the height, and the depths of the love of Christ for them.
Isn't it amazing that 20, 30 years later, that same church that Paul was praying for them, that they will comprehend the love of Christ, because when you comprehend the love of Christ you love him back, that same church, same church, 30 some years later, get a letter from Jesus and saying to them, "I have this one thing against you, you have forsaken your first love," because they took their eyes off the love of Jesus? Until you come to the point of stop bragging about your biblical knowledge and cry out to him and say, "Lord, my love for you is so pathetic. Lord, my personal knowledge of you is so superficial. Lord, my apprehension of your person is so shallow. Lord, my time with you is so one-sided. Lord, my desire for you is just to give me what I'm asking for. Lord, my encounters with you are limited to when I need you. Lord, I have not loved you anywhere near you loved me".
That's where it begins, holy dissatisfaction. Until you come to the point of dissatisfaction with your current condition, in your growing love for Jesus, you haven't begun yet, and that's good news. You have the chance to start today. If you look intently and carefully, into the our precious Lord's earthly life ministry, you're gonna discover that he always longs to nourish our minds with his truth. That he always long to raise our imagination to new heights. That he always longs to open our hearts to his love. He always longs for us to surrender our will to his purpose. He longs to allow his holiness, to challenge the way we conduct our lives. Until you come to that point, that holy dissatisfaction, you will continue in your spiritual boredom and nothing, nothing is gonna cure that spiritual boredom. Not activities, not activism, not books, not sermons, not teaching, not gratifying of the flesh and doing what you wanna do, in fact, all of that in the long run, exacerbates your spiritual boredom. Why? Because our deepest longing, our deepest longing, can only be satisfied with deeper love for Jesus.
And having done that, then begin to love him with greater intensity every day. Think about this with me as I'm coming toward the end, God called Abraham out of Ur of Chaldeans to Canaan. And God said to him, "Leave everything behind and I'm gonna take you into an uncertain future". What I don't want you to forget is this, Abraham did not have a Bible, he did not have a Bible study to go to, he did not have a home group Bible study to go to, he did not have a pastor, he did not have Christian friends, he did not have 2000 years of Christian history. Abraham died 2000 years before Christ, and yet God privileged him to see the day of Christ prophetically, supernaturally. In fact, I think Abraham did not know a great deal about God because his ancestors, people he lived with, they were idol worshipers, and yet he trusted God. He trusted him.
When he said, "Leave everything, come to an unknown future," he trusted him and that is the beginning of your love for Jesus, trusting him, trusting him, and not in one area or two areas, in every area of life. And then he kept on growing. He kept on growing in his love for God. The question is, are you willing to give up everything? Did you hear what I said? Did you hear what I said? Let me repeat it. Are you willing? I didn't say, are you ready? Because I see some of you bristled, you say, "What is he up to now"? Are you willing? In fact, there's an old preacher used to say, "Are you willing to be made willing"? Abraham was willing. When he acted on that willingness to take Isaac, the son of promise, God said, "Hey, I gave you Isaac. I don't want him. I just saw that your willingness is for real". Abraham said, "Hey, he gave him to me," and said, "Am I gonna... resurrection for the first time in the Old Testament"? Are you willing?
And don't ever forget, don't ever forget, that God has given you everything you have. Take a deep breath with me. That's a gift from God. He just gave every one of us, including the breath we have is a gift from God. Abraham's obedience came out of love for God, trusted him completely, and God blessed him out of his socks. I don't know what God is asking you to be willing to surrender, I don't know, this is between you and God, okay. Is it something tangible? Is it a relationship that doesn't belong? I don't know, it's between you and God. Is it nourishing of a resentment that you held onto for years, and years, and you're refusing to let go? You know that, between you and God.
We conclude by telling you this story. Frances Havergal came from a very wealthy family in England, and she was thoroughly converted to Christ. She wrote a hymn, "Take my life and let it be, consecrated Lord for Thee". The Holy Spirit pointing to her special collection of jewelry, I told you she comes from a very well-to-do family. She had a box of precious jewels, really beautiful jewels, expensive jewels. And the Holy Spirit kept pointing that, "That's holding you back, that's holding you back". Finally, she surrendered and she said, "Okay, Lord". She picked up couple of pieces that have a family sentimental memory, and she put the rest in the box and she walked down to CMS office, Church Missionary Society, for those who don't know. CMS took the gospel to Africa and Asia and today the reason we have vast majority of Evangelical Anglicans anywhere in the world, and in Africa because of the work of CMS. And so she walked in the office of CMS and she handed her precious jewels. Then she came home, and immediately wrote an extra stanza. The last one, "Take my silver and my gold, not a mite will I withhold". And that song has blessed millions of people around the world.