The First Love

God bless you as you prepare to worship tomorrow. May you enter His gates with thanksgiving and praise.

My preaching text for Sunday, July 19 is Mark 11:15-19; Jesus cleansing the temple. The sermon focus deals with Church returning/keeping focus on it’s “first love” (Revelation 2, the letter to the Church in Ephesus).

May you, too, remember and keep your eyes focused on your first love, Jesus Christ.

Opening Prayer
Father God, our faith in Jesus Christ leads us to worship You, for it is our joy to lift our praises to You. You sent Your son to save a rebellious bride, the Church, and to sanctify her; washing her clean through the blood of the Lamb.
Oh God, we praise Thee and worship Thee.
Oh God, we thank Thee and adore Thee.
Oh God, we come before Thee, humbled and thankful.
Receive our worship and send Your Spirit. Fill our hearts with praise and may we spill that praise throughout our lives. It’s in Jesus most holy and awesome name we pray, Amen.

Prayer before Preaching [the words of Charles Spurgeon in bold]
Holy Father, do not let any of us lose our first love. Let not our church grow cold and dead. We are not, we fear, what once we were. Lord revive us! All our help must come from Thee. Give back to the church its love, its confidence, its holy daring, its consecration, its holiness. Give back all it ever had and give it much more. Take every member and wash their feet, Sweet Lord, most tenderly, and set us with clean feet on a clean road, with a clean heart to guide us, and do Thou bless us unto your glory. And so, Lord God, I ask that Your Holy Spirit may guide my Words that we may hear Good News and receive encouragement and faith to be Your hands and feet. It’s in Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Prayer following the Sermon
Holy God, may we not be founding lacking. May we not be found clinging to other loves in this world, but may we be found clinging to our first love, Jesus Christ. Strengthen our faith through Your Holy Spirit; revealing to us, over and over, the truth of the Gospel and the hope of the resurrection. It’s in Jesus’ name that I pray, Amen.

Offering Prayer
Receive these gifts here this morning, oh God, as an expression of our thanks and worship. Though our offerings don’t even come close to what You have done for us, may this offering be multiplied according to Your wisdom and will for the advancement of Your most glorious Kingdom. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Our First Love

I commend these words of Scripture to you and the following prayer:

“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands. “‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.
[Revelation 2:1-5]

Lord visit our church. We have heard Thy message to the churches at Ephesus (see text above); it is a message to us also. Oh! do not let any of us lose our first love. Let not our church grow cold and dead. We are not, we fear, what once we were. Lord revive us! All our help must come from Thee. Give back to the church its love, its confidence, its holy daring, its consecration, its liberality, its holiness. Give back all it ever had and give it much more. Take every member and wash his feet, Sweet Lord, most tenderly, and set us with clean feet in a clean road, with a clean heart to guide them, and do Thou bless us unto your glory. [Charles Spurgeon]

I read this prayer and then went to re-familiarize myself with the letter to the Church in Ephesus in Revelation 2 and I was struck by the words: you have abandoned the love you had at first. And I can’t help but wonder if this is still the message to the Church today.

Have we abandoned our “first love”?
Have we grown weary of bearing up the name of the Lord?
Have we lost patience in the midst of persecution?
Do we toil for the Gospel?
Do we test the spirits and those who say they preach in the name of Jesus?

Have we abandoned the love we had at first in order to cling to this world?

I read these words of Scripture over and over again and then went back to the prayer of Charles Spurgeon and found myself praying for the Church; pleading to God on behalf of the Church; appealing to God to send His Spirit. I found myself praying for
revival,
renewal,
Gospel boldness,
a renewed sense of passion for Jesus,
courage and strength to resist the tides of change,
faith to be transformed and not to conform.

I found myself wondering why God has put up with the Church so long; why not just dump us. Then I was quickly reminded that Jesus, the bridegroom, will never ever leave his bride, the Church. Jesus died and rose that we may be made holy and sanctified and Jesus is not going to quit until the job is finished. In the mean time there is much to be done.

For you?

Pray for the Church (which includes you). Pray that we return to our first love (Jesus) and proclaim this Good New to a shifting culture. Pray for the Spirit to revive His people and pray for the Spirit to raise up passionate, God-fearing, Jesus-loving disciples. Pray for this nation. Pray for leaders. Pray for peace.

There is indeed much to do. There are many who need THE Good News of Jesus Christ. And there is no time to waste, so let’s get started and…

Let’s pray…

The Pastor -|—