"Faithfulness" is a concept at the center of our Christian faith. God is faithful to us. He never gave up on people when they sinned, instead he gave his Son Jesus to die for us, to forgive our sins and save us. God is faithful in keeping all the promises given to us in the Bible. God wants us to be faithful in the commitments we make to him. To help us, the Holy Spirit produces the fruit of faithfulness in our lives so that we can follow through with the promises we make to God and others. Faithfulness is key to every important relationship. We are to be faithful to our spouse, faithful to our children, and faithful in our relationships with our friends.
This Sunday we'll examine the concept of faithfulness in worship as we look at Jesus' message to the church in Ephesus in Revelation 2. The church in Ephesus was one of the oldest churches, established by the Apostle Paul. It had a great history in evangelizing the city of Ephesus as well as all the surrounding area. The church in Ephesus was the mother church for the other six churches Jesus addresses in Revelation 2-3. Jesus complements them for their hard work and perseverance. They don't tolerate false teachers and false doctrine. They have not grown weary in their work for the Lord.
However, Jesus says, "Yet I have this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first." (Revelation 2:4-5) Jesus had so much good to say about the church, but when addressing their motivation, they were doing it for the wrong reasons. It was just hard work and drudgery rather than serving Jesus because they loved him. Each of us needs to look at what we do for the Lord and ask, "Am I doing it out of duty and because I feel like I have too, or am I doing it because I love Jesus?" Jesus is thankful for our faithfulness in serving and obeying him, but he wants us to do it for the right reasons.
Since Jesus' message is addressed to the church, we need to reflect on the same issues as they relate to the church. The First Baptist Church has been serving Riverside for a long time, established in 1874, we've been serving Jesus for 143 years. Every good thing said about the church in Ephesus can be said about FBR. We've worked hard and persevered. We don't tolerate false teachers and false doctrine. We've endured hardship for Jesus' name. We've played an important role in many ministries in our community. But have we maintained our first love? Jesus wants us to do the right things for the right reasons.
The 20/20 Vision for First Baptist Riverside is for us to be a growing, healthy, missional and enduring church. FBR has had a rich history in Riverside and we want to serve Jesus and share our faith with others for many years to come. But it's important that we maintain our first love for Jesus. We tell others about Jesus because we're head-over-heels in love with him and we can't keep quiet. We serve Jesus because it is our greatest desire to please him.
I hope you'll join us for worship this Sunday as we learn about maintaining our first love for Jesus as we seek to endure and do the work of Jesus here in Riverside. We have a traditional worship service at 9:00 a.m. and contemporary worship service at 10:45 a.m.