Our great need right now is to have our hearts warmed by God’s love. This is what makes us happy and fruitful!
Most everyday pastors seek my care and counsel. Is there a difference if I listen well or listen well with the love of God in my heart? Does it make a difference if my heart is warm to God’s presence while I listen to someone?
Does it make a difference for you if you’re happy in God’s love while you preach your sermon? Lead your small group? Care for your children? Do your job?
It makes ALL the difference in the world!
If we’re enthralled with the Lord Jesus while we’re with people they’ll absorb it. They’ll begin to love God more. Even if we didn’t talk about God.
If God’s love is flowing into our souls while we work then it flows out in our smile, our ears, our hands, our brains, our voice to bless other people. Without the love of God saturating our hearts we become tired and bored, we get compassion fatigue, we burn out.
Without the love of God rejuvenating us sin looks interesting. We feel deprived and entitled. We’re easily enticed by Satan into greed, lust, anger, pride.
How can we be filled to overflowing with God’s love?
John Wesley was raised in a devout Christian home and served the Lord dutifully and religiously as a pastor, but at age 35 he realized that the love of God was not in his heart.
He wrote in his journal on January 8, 1738, that he didn’t have any “inward feeling” of God’s presence. He lacked this “infallible proof” of the witness of the Holy Spirit that he was saved and had a personal relationship with God through the mercy of Christ.
He realized this when he sailed on a ship from England to America on a mission to the Indians and there arose a terrible storm. He hid in his room, crying out to God. He was terrified to die and go to hell!
But he heard the Moravian Christians on the ship singing hymns and praising God as the thunder roared and the rain poured and the ship rolled. They were joyful and at peace. They trusted God. The love of God was in their hearts, but not his!
They survived the storm and then Wesley began meeting with some of these Moravians for spiritual direction and prayer. One day back in London he reluctantly went to a church meeting where he heard someone reading Martin Luther’s preface in a commentary on Romans. Probably it was theological, heavy, and dry! Yet he was drawn to Luther’s words describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ.
Suddenly, “I felt my heart strangely warmed,” he writes. “I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation; and an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and save me from the law of sin and death.
“I began to pray with all my might for those who had… despitefully used me and persecuted me.”
Did you notice the effect that grace had on Wesley? It bore immediate fruit as he relinquished old resentments and prayed blessings on those who had cursed him. After this, he was too fiery for the churches in England and they kicked him out! So he preached in fields. He rode 250,000 miles on his horse to share the Gospel of Christ all throughout Great Britain! He preached 40,000 sermons — two per day!
John Wesley’s best sermons were on the love of God. They warmed cold hearts.
He says when we look trustingly to Christ the love of God is poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit. Then we can pour out our hearts with love for God, friends, strangers, even enemies.
God is breathing his Spirit, life, love, mercy, and holiness into our souls and we’re breathing back to him thanksgivings, praises, affectionate adoration, and intercessions for people around us. By this, the life of God is sustained in our souls.
God acts. I react. It’s a kind of “spiritual respiration.”
When we love this way we’re continually rejoicing in God. Our delight is in the Lord. He is the one who makes us happy. Our souls hang upon the Lord Jesus and adore him as the greatest of all! Our great satisfaction is to do his will.
May the Lord warm our hearts with his love over and over again!
(John Wesley’s journal excerpts are from John and Charles Wesley: Selected Writings and Hymns, published by Paulist Press in 1981, pp. 99 and 107. The themes from his sermons are paraphrased from How to Pray: The Best of John Wesley on Prayer, published by Barbour Publishing in 2007, pp. 38, 56-57, 89.)
Listen to Bill & Kristi’s “Soul Talk”
on staying fresh and fruitful with God’s love!
(With more inspiration from John Wesley):
These Soul Shepherding Devotionals
will also encourage you!
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Brian Steele ~ Small Groups Pastor
Christ the King Church ~ Bellingham, WA