To help prepare us for a series of meetings with Joe Humrichous on October 2 and 3, I am sharing articles written by Joe and originally posted at paradigm1.org
Revelation 5:12-13—Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!
The life and authority of Christ continues by regular acts of worship. Our stewardship is to maintain a first love relationship with Jesus through Scripture-based adoration. Worship is a lifestyle where we do all things for an audience of ONE. This simple yet powerful approach was perfectly modeled by Jesus Himself.
This reality is only meant to discuss the subject of worship as it relates to the church’s first love relationship with Jesus. All churches begin to lose the power of grace through faith when they leave their first love. A reviving brings new life, new life leads to new ministries, new ministries lead to new busy schedules, new initiatives, new ideas, new standards, and with good intent, we “leave town without Jesus.” He gets lost because of “the company” (Luke 2:44). The reality of church life is that we will always find ourselves fighting for first love. Our ministries will not drift into first love. Even a “purpose-driven” church must be very careful to assure that love for Jesus drives their intentions. Sometimes our ambition can become our worst enemy, especially if the Lord graces us with bountiful resources.
The Ephesian church had enjoyed great grace from God. The apostle Paul, along with Timothy and the apostle John, had started the church at Ephesus. Paul was greatly loved by the church there. When he was about to leave after reporting to them for the last time, they hugged him and kissed him and cried because he said he would never see them again (Acts 20:36-38).
The Lord Jesus, the Head of the church, our Lead Pastor, gives His assessment of this great church.
Revelation 2:2-3—I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary.
These were a suffering people who were patient, hated evil, tried false apostles, persevered, worked hard without quitting for Jesus’s name. From the outside, they looked almost perfect. But Jesus knew their hearts were growing cold toward Him and described them as having left their first love. Something we need to remember here is that when our love for Jesus cools, so does our love for each other. If we are honest, we must admit that Jesus is easier to love than people. Often, we fail to recognize that our interrupted love for Jesus compromised our church’s ministry and outreach.
Jesus, with His omnisciently accurate assessment, faithfully reveals to the Ephesian church their problems, then tells them what to do about it.
Revelation 2:4-5—Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.
He gives them a divinely solemn ultimatum. They could remember, repent, and return their hearts to Him, or He would remove their candlestick! That’s scary! While we might excuse a cold heart for Jesus as an “acceptable sin,” He sees it as a reason to close a church down!
Here are some general observations:
1. A church can appear to be doing everything right and still be in trouble.
2. Leaving our first love is a sin and grieves Jesus.
3. Leaving our first love can lead to the removal of our witness as a church.
4. We can listen and change and be blessed (Revelation 2:7).
5. The Lord Himself knows all the intimate details.