Loving and Praising Jesus
In my article called
The Rapture of the Church
I explained that as Christians, we are the
of Christ. For example, take a look at these passages:
"I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy.
I promised you to one husband, to Christ,
so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him." (2 Corinthians 11:2)
Since we are the bride of Christ, we should give Jesus all of our love and passion and devotion and adoration. We should
for His coming, and we should frequently tell Him how passionately in love we are with Him! This is the type of intimate relationship that He longs to have with us, because He told us that
the first and greatest commandment
""For this reason a man will leave his father and mother
and be united to his wife,
and the two will become one flesh."
This is a profound mystery--but I am talking about Christ and the church."
"Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.
Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear." (Fine linen stands for
the righteous acts of the saints.)"
the Lord your God
with all your heart
with all your soul
with all your mind
with all your strength"
(Matthew 22:37-38, Mark 12:30)
Do you love Jesus
with all your heart?
Do you love Jesus
with all your soul?
Do you love Jesus
with all your mind?
Do you love Jesus
with all your strength?
to love Him that much!
Has He totally captured your heart yet? Is He your greatest passion in life?
If this is how a human bride feels for her human bridegroom, then how much greater should be our passion and devotion for our
bridegroom! If we truly love the Lord then we should spend as much time alone with Him as possible, and meditate daily on His Word in order to get to know Him better. The Bible is not a collection of dry, sterile, emotionless doctrines and historical essays, it is the Lord's
to us. Read it and you will see! Meditate on it and reflect on it and memorize it and you will get to know your beloved bridegroom in a more intimate way than you ever thought possible. This is why He wrote it! It is a photo album of His life and His family in which He has placed snapshots of things that are important to Him and that He wants you to know about Him. Jesus wants to be your
don't be like the church at Ephesus to whom He said:
"Yet I hold this against you:
You have forsaken your first love.
Remember the height from which you have fallen!
and do the things you did at first."
The Greek word translated as "first" in "first love" really carries the meaning of "foremost" or "priority." Jesus wants to be our
love. In fact, notice that Jesus told the church at Ephesus to
for not keeping Him as their priority love! Are our relationships with Jesus our top priority in life, or do we need to repent as well? We should consciously maintain that first love, that priority love, each and every day; it is up to us to maintain our passion and our zeal and our spiritual fervor:
"Never be lacking in zeal, but
keep your spiritual fervor,
serving the Lord." (Romans 12:11)
Another way to look at "first love" (Revelation 2:4, above) is to imagine what it is usually like when people first fall in love with each other. When two people are head over heels in love, they tend to spend a lot of time thinking about each other and wanting to be together. They want to do anything in the world to please each other. If you are in love with Jesus then you will set your heart and your mind on Him (as Colossians 3:1-2 tells us to do) and you will want to do whatever it takes to please Him:
"We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So
we make it our goal to please him,
whether we are at home in the body or away from it." (2 Corinthians 5:8-9)
Fall in love with Jesus and His written Word, and live a life worthy of Him, pleasing Him in every way!
"Live as children of light ... and
find out what pleases the Lord."
"And we pray this in order that you may
live a life worthy of the Lord
may please him in every way:
bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God" (Colossians 1:10)
"Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to
live in order to please God,
as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus
to do this more and more."
(1 Thessalonians 4:1)
"No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs--he wants to
his commanding officer." (2 Timothy 2:4)
without faith it is impossible to please God"
"Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask,
because we obey his commands and do what pleases him."
(1 John 3:21-22)
It is heartbreaking to realize that Jesus knew in advance how little time and attention we would give Him and how cold our hearts would become towards Him. Speaking of the last days (which we appear to be in now) Jesus said, "Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold" (Matthew 24:12). Most people who call themselves Christians probably do not consider themselves to be "cold" towards Jesus, but neither are they on fire for Him. They are somewhere in between, they are lukewarm. Jesus said that this makes Him sick to His stomach:
"I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So,
because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit
you out of my mouth."
Hopefully you are not cold towards Jesus, but search your heart to see if you have a fire of passion burning there for Him. Don't be lukewarm towards Jesus! The fact that Jesus will spit lukewarm "Christians" out of His mouth may indicate that these people called themselves Christians, attended church, and so on, but they were not really saved and consequently they were never on fire for Him. Therefore, if you're not sure whether or not you are saved, make sure! See my article called
How to Be Certain That You Will Go to Heaven,
for example. Don't be lukewarm towards Jesus, make sure that you are saved and then get on fire for Him! He wants an intimate relationship with you!
Jesus said that our love for Him is to be demonstrated by obedience. If we are not trying to be obedient to Him in every aspect of our lives and we do not put Him first in all that we do, then can we honestly say that we love Him?
"Whoever has my commands
and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.
He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him. ...
If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching.
My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.
He who does not love me will not obey my teaching"
How has your obedience been lately? To love Jesus is to obey Him. If your love for your bridegroom is not as deep as you would like it to be (or that He wants it to be), the answer lies in prayer and praise. Notice the prayer that Jesus prayed to the Father:
"I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known
in order that the love you have for me may be in them
and that I myself may be in them" (John 17:26)
Jesus prayed that the
love which the Father has for His Son may be in
as well! That's how much He wants you to love Him! Try following Jesus' example by praying often for your Father to fill your heart with that perfect love. Express that growing love in your heart as often as possible by offering up praises and adoration to Jesus, telling Him of the depths of your love for Him. It is not good to always complain to God and ask Him for things, we should also spend time resting in His presence and drinking in His love and listening to Him and just being with Him, because God
"And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love.
Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him." (1 John 4:16)
Try praying some of the Psalms back to Jesus, such as the following examples:
"Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations." (Psalm 100)
Try praying some of the prayers and praises in the Bible by personalizing them. For example, Psalm 150 starts with:
"My heart is steadfast, O God; I will sing and make music with all my soul. Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn. I will praise you, O LORD, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. For great is your love, higher than the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens, and let your glory be over all the earth." (Psalm 108)
"Praise the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens. Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness. Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with tambourine and dancing, praise him with the strings and flute, praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD." (Psalm 150)
"Praise the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens. Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness."
Now try personalizing it like this:
"I praise You, LORD. I praise You in Your sanctuary; I praise You in Your mighty heavens. I praise You for Your acts of power; I praise You for Your surpassing greatness."
Just go on and on, showering Him with sincere praise and adoration. He is worthy and He desires your love and devotion!
When we study the Psalms to see how God likes to be praised, we find that we should
in the Lord, we should
to Him, we should praise Him
by clapping our hands and shouting for joy,
strike the tambourine
burst into jubilant song with music,
and we should praise Him with
the clash of cymbals!
The Psalms do not describe quiet, dignified, ritualized worship, they describe jubilant, loud, emotional, unrestrained, joyful worship from a heart filled with love and praise and rejoicing! The following psalms were written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, which means that this is how God
to be praised! Are we willing to be obedient?
"Clap your hands,
all you nations;
shout to God with cries of joy.
is the LORD Most High, the great King over all the earth! He subdued nations under us, peoples under our feet. He chose our inheritance for us, the pride of Jacob, whom he loved. Selah. God has ascended amid
shouts of joy,
the LORD amid
the sounding of trumpets.
Sing praises to God,
sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises.
For God is the King of all the earth; sing to him a psalm of praise." (Psalm 47:1-7)
The striking thing about these psalms is the amount of
displayed by the psalmists (and by other authors of Scripture). Do you ever shout to God with cries of joy? Do you praise Him with the clapping of hands or praise His Name with dancing and jubilant music? If we believe the Psalms then we can see that it pleases and honors the Lord when we praise Him in these ways! Try it!
"Shout with joy to God,
all the earth!
Sing the glory of his name; make his praise glorious!
Say to God,
"How awesome are your deeds!
So great is your power that your enemies cringe before you. All the earth bows down to you; they sing praise to you, they sing praise to your name." Selah" (Psalm 66:1-4)
"Sing for joy
to God our strength;
to the God of Jacob! Begin the music,
strike the tambourine,
play the melodious harp and lyre." (Psalm 81:1-2)
"Come, let us
sing for joy
to the LORD; let us
to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him
extol him with music and song.
For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods." (Psalm 95:1-3)
"Shout for joy
to the LORD, all the earth,
burst into jubilant song with music;
make music to the LORD with the harp, with the harp and the sound of singing,
with trumpets and the blast of the ram's horn--
shout for joy
before the LORD, the King." (Psalm 98:4-6)
Sing to the LORD a new song,
his praise in the assembly of the saints. Let Israel
in their Maker; let the people of Zion
in their King.
Let them praise his name with dancing
and make music to him with tambourine and harp." (Psalm 149:1-3)
"Praise the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens. Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,
praise him with tambourine and dancing,
praise him with the strings and flute,
praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with
Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD." (Psalm 150:1-6)
For many people, such a display of emotion might be difficult at first. One great way to get into the spirit of praising the Lord is to listen to praise and worship music as often as possible. Praise and worship songs focus on praising and loving Jesus, and they are usually very simple, catchy songs which you will find yourself singing throughout the day so that you will be praising and loving Jesus all day long. Here are some of my favorites in different styles of music, just to give you some suggestions:
Saturating your spirit with praise and worship music day after day and singing these songs to the Lord is a great way to
offer to God a sacrifice of praise--
the fruit of lips that confess his name"
Rebecca St. James
"Songs of Renewal," Vineyard Music - Live rock concert sound.
"Light the Fire Again," Vineyard Music - Rock sound.
"Jesus Lead On," Vineyard Music - Rock sound.
"For Your Mercy," Vineyard Music - Rock and soft rock sound.
"Holy Is The Lord," Vineyard Music - Softer rock sound, background electric guitar in some songs.
"Goodness & Mercy," Choice Ministries - More of an "easy listening" sound.
"Isn't He" (Brian Doerksen), Vineyard Music ("Acoustic Worship" series) - Quiet acoustic guitar and piano in a small group setting.
"You Are The Mighty King" (Eddie Espinosa), Vineyard Music ("Acoustic Worship" series) - Quiet acoustic guitar and piano in a small group setting.
"Shalom Jerusalem," Integrity Music - Upbeat praise and worship with a Jewish flavor using everything from traditional Jewish instruments to brass instruments to the occasional electric guitar. Recorded live in Jerusalem.
"Wee Sing Bible Songs" - 63 short inspirational songs (and a few short poems) for kids. Very catchy and very precious.
[Note: If you are concerned that Christian rock music might be demonic in some way, I invite you to see my article called
Is Contemporary Christian Music Demonic?].
Notice that the Bible doesn't say, "The solemn reverence of the Lord is your strength," but instead it specifically says that "the
of the LORD is your strength" (Nehemiah 8:10). The New Testament tells us that by believing in Him and loving Him we are
"filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy"
(1 Peter 1:8). We are commanded to
"Be joyful always"
(1 Thessalonians 5:16) because "the fruit of the Spirit is love,
peace..." (Galatians 5:22). Jesus says that He wants us to have
"the full measure of my joy"
within us (John 17:13) so that "[our]
(John 15:11). In the Beatitudes, Jesus tells us that when we are insulted and rejected because of Him we should
in that day and
leap for joy"
Sadly, these outward displays of emotion are often difficult for modern Christians because it is hard for us to sacrifice our dignity to this extent, especially in church. But notice that the Bible consistently teaches us that the Lord desires our
rather than our dignity:
"Take my yoke upon you and
learn from me,
I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls." (Matthew 11:29)
Whom did Jesus specifically say were the
in the kingdom of heaven? Those who humble themselves like little children! "A fool on fire is better than a scholar on ice," as someone once said. If you truly want to humble yourself before God (which is something that we all need to do), then get alone with Him and ask Him to show you the
you, not the "you" that you imagine yourself to be. It will truly break your heart. When God the Father looks at you He sees Jesus' full righteousness which was imparted to you at the exact moment you trusted in Christ alone for salvation. However, God tells us to "Be holy, because I am holy" (1 Peter 1:16), but not a single one of us is truly holy in our actions. Ask Him to show you this, but be prepared to weep hot tears of grief because your heart will be broken over the realization of your constant self-centeredness. This brokenness is what God uses to demolish your pride and to produce Godly humility in you, which will allow you to praise Him and worship Him and serve Him from a purer, cleaner heart. To understand true humility, read John 13:1-17 and Philippians 2:3-16:
"For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and
whoever humbles himself will be exalted."
"For it seems to me that God has put us
on display at the end of the procession, like men condemned to die in the arena.
We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe,
to angels as well as to men.
We are fools for Christ"
(1 Corinthians 4:9-10)
God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise;
God chose the
things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the
things of this world and the
things--and the things that are not--to nullify the things that are,
so that no one may boast before him."
(1 Corinthians 1:27-29)
"At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked,
"Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?"
He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: "I tell you the truth,
unless you change and become like little children,
enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore,
whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.""
"Having loved his own who were in the world,
he now showed them the full extent of his love.
... he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and
wrapped a towel around his waist
[in the manner of a servant]. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. ... When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place.
"Do you understand
what I have done for you?" he asked them. "You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet.
I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.
I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things,
you will be blessed if you do them."
Finally, notice that heaven is a busy and noisy place! We might as well get used to singing praises and worship to the Lord now because we're going to be making a lot of joyful noise when we stand before His throne!
"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.
Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but
also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but
made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a
being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself and became obedient to death
-- even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name ...
Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure,
children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life" (Philippians 2:3-16)
"Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings.
Day and night they never stop saying: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come."
Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever,
the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives for ever and ever.
They lay their
before the throne and say:
"You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.""
Never stop worshiping and loving Jesus, He is worthy of all our praise and passion!
"Then I looked and
heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand.
They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders.
In a loud voice they sang: "Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!"
heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!"
The four living creatures said, "Amen," and
the elders fell down and worshiped."