Sunday Messages & Special Services

Worship Service     August 2, 2020 for the video click on the following link https://www.facebook.com/RittmanUMC/videos/711119986130801

 Our Call to Worship is a song recorded by Larissa Richards. It is “Sing to the King” by Billy Foote & Charles Silvester Horne…. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t48czG9URaQ

Welcome! We are glad to have you worshiping with us; all who are here in the sanctuary, watching online, or reading the service at home! It’s great to see everyone here in the sanctuary, and also to see how many are joining us online. If you are watching or watch later, it helps us if you leave a comment to tell us that you are watching, as well as giving us a number or names of how many others are watching with you. We do apologize for the glitches that have been happening with the Livestreaming. We are still work on the problems, please bear with us.

 Our message today is about First Love.  

 ANNOUNCEMENTS – Trustees meeting was postponed until this Tuesday at 7:00. Another reminder will go out from the office. Today is Communion Sunday, so if you choose to celebrate Holy Communion with us, you will need to prepare bread and juice for the end of the service.

 Let’s open worship as we pray, calling on the Light of Christ. “Light of Christ, shine on our path. Chase away all darkness. Illumine us. Lead us to the heart of God.” Amen

         Our opening song is “We Gather Together”   UMH #131 (By Theodore Baker), a song that reminds us why we gather together.

Verse 1 – We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing; He chastens and hastens
His will to make known. The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing. Sing praises to His name; He forgets not His own.

Verse 2 – Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining, ordaining, maintaining
His kingdom divine; so from the beginning the fight we were winning; Thou, Lord, wast at our side, all glory be Thine!

Verse 3 – We all do extol Thee, Thou Leader triumphant, and pray that Thou still our Defender will be. Let Thy congregation escape tribulation; Thy name be ever praised! O Lord, make us free!

CCLI Song # 7072117 © Words: Public Domain

CHILDREN’S MESSAGE                 GOD’S LOVE!

 Good morning! It is so good to see you today! I love being with you … in fact, I just love you period!!!!

Speaking of love, I have been thinking a lot about God’s love these days. He loves us all so much! Do you know that some people think that maybe God doesn’t love them. That’s sad! They think that they are too bad and that God doesn’t want anything to do with them. But God does love all of us, no matter what, and He wants us to know it! The Bible says: “Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” (Ephesians 3:17b-19. NLT) God has plenty of love to go around.

Let see if I can show you a way to understand this a little better. I have a container with some water in it. This painted stone in my hand represents you and the water in the container represents God’s love. If I put the stone in the container of water it is totally surrounded by the water. God’s love is everywhere, so just like the stone is totally surrounded by the water, you are totally surrounded by God’s love. But look, there is still room for more stones isn’t there? So let’s say I take some more stones and put them in here. One may represent your family, one represents your friends, one represents your church family. We could go on and on, but you can see … all of them are surrounded by God’s love. And remember … God is much,  much bigger than this small container with water! God’s love is big enough for everyone!

I am going to give you a stone today. When you think about this stone I want you to think about how much God loves you, okay?

Let’s pray together! Dear God, Thank You for loving us completely! It’s hard to understand how You can love us the way You do, because we don’t always do the things we should. But You have promised us that You love us anyway. Help us to remember Your love and the care that You give us to make us strong in You. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

 We thank you for your tithes and offerings. Please continue to give as you are able. We thank everyone who has been faithfully giving, as God has provided for you. The doxology will be sung as we Praise the Lord for our blessings. Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise Him all creatures here below. Praise Him above ye heav’nly host. Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost! Amen

Let’s pray as we dedicate these gifts to the Lord…  Generous God, We thank You for taking care of needs through these days. And we thank You for leading us to give through that provision… Bless those who have followed Your leading.  And bless those who have been unable to give. Bless these gifts, which have been received and which will still arrive throughout the week. Bless the ministries that will be provided through these gifts and help us to reach out according to Your leading to bring You all the glory. In Jesus Christ’s name we pray, Amen.

 As we enter into a time of sharing our joys and concerns, let’s bring to mind those times that you have seen God this week. I’m thankful for Joyce coming last week so that I could get some time to rest. We are thankful for the safe travel for many this past week.

would anyone else like to share?… Thankful for a good time with family. Thankful for the much-needed rain; Thankful for God’s creation; Lori Ullman’s grandson, Max, turned 8 this week.

Let’s turn to concerns. We have several on our prayer list currently: Those who are traveling this week .Continued for Betty & Lee; Sylvia, Sandy’s mom (She is progressing well and is at Wadsworth AlterCare for a little while); Joanna, having an upcoming surgery on her retina; those in the care centers and assisted living; those recovering at home; Dave Hoskinson called and asked for prayer as he goes tomorrow, when he will be doing a  for follow-up about a possible new job. Are there others who you would like to mention for prayer?… the Gary Easterday family, as they mourn his death; Vivian Resecker, health; Pam Hartman’s brother’s mother-in-law, Nina, health; Pam, kidneys.

And as we pray, bring these to mind, as well as others that fit as each general appreciation and general request is mentioned.

Let’s pray…Almighty God, We Praise and Thank You, for all of the ways that You have blessed our lives this week; answers to prayers…, time for rest…, awareness of Your presence…, Your Creation…, unexpected blessings…, Your grace…, friends & family & times together…, caregivers…, and provision for our needs…. Lord, we bring to You those who are on our hearts. We ask for Your touch on their lives; to heal…, to keep safe…, to give comfort…, to give guidance…, to ease loneliness…, to bring reconciliation and peace…. We thank You for hearing us even when we may not be able to put our requests and thoughts into words. Please continue to hear our prayers, Lord. In the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ we pray, as we continue to pray as He taught us,

  Our Father, who art in heaven. Hallowed be thy name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for Thine is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever, Amen.        

Our song of preparation is one that may seem a little out of place , but the words fit perfectly with the message today. It is “Love Came Down at Christmas,” UMH #242 (by Christina Georgina Rossetti).

Verse 1 – Love came down at Christmas, Love all lovely, Love divine; Love was born at Christmas; stars and angels gave the sign.

Verse 2 – Worship we the Godhead, Love incarnate, Love divine; worship we our Jesus, but wherewith for sacred sign?

Verse 3 – Love shall be our token; love be yours and love be mine; love to God and neighbor, love for plea and gift and sign.

CCLI Song # 2774192    Public Domain

 The Scripture lesson is from Jeremiah 2:1-13 & Revelation 2:1-7, being read from the Common English Bible translation.

Jeremiah 2:1-13 “Write this to the angel of the church in Ephesus: The Lord’s word came to me: Go and proclaim to the people of Jerusalem, The Lord proclaims: I remember your first love, your devotion as a young bride, how you followed me in the wilderness, in an unplanted land. Israel was devoted to the Lord, the early produce of the harvest. Whoever ate from it became guilty; disaster overtook them, declares the Lord. Listen to the Lord’s word, people of Judah, all you families of the Israelite household. This is what the Lord says: What wrong did your ancestors find in me that made them wander so far? They pursued what was worthless and became worthless. They didn’t ask, “Where’s the Lord who brought us up from the land of Egypt, who led us through the wilderness, in a land of deserts and ravines, in a land of drought and darkness, in a land of no return, where no one survives?” I brought you into a land of plenty, to enjoy its gifts and goodness, but you ruined my land; you disgraced my heritage. The priests didn’t ask, “Where’s the Lord?” Those responsible for the Instruction didn’t know me; the leaders rebelled against me; the prophets spoke in the name of Baal, going after what has no value. That is why I will take you to court and charge even your descendants, declares the Lord. 10 Look to the west as far as the shores of Cyprus and to the east as far as the land of Kedar. Ask anyone there: Has anything this odd ever taken place? 11 Has a nation switched gods, though they aren’t really gods at all? Yet my people have exchanged their glory for what has no value. 12 Be stunned at such a thing, you heavens; shudder and quake, declares the Lord. 13 My people have committed two crimes: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water. And they have dug wells, broken wells that can’t hold water.

Revelation 2:1-7 These are the words of the one who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven gold lampstands: I know your works, your labor, and your endurance. I also know that you don’t put up with those who are evil. You have tested those who say they are apostles but are not, and you have found them to be liars. You have shown endurance and put up with a lot for my name’s sake, and you haven’t gotten tired. But I have this against you: you have let go of the love you had at first. So remember the high point from which you have fallen. Change your hearts and lives and do the things you did at first. If you don’t, I’m coming to you. I will move your lampstand from its place if you don’t change your hearts and lives. But you have this in your favor: you hate what the Nicolaitans are doing, which I also hate. If you can hear, listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. I will allow those who emerge victorious to eat from the tree of life, which is in God’s paradise.

May the Lord bless this reading of His Word!

 Today we are dealing with First Love. As you heard in the scripture from Revelation, Christ calls on us to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches. This is just one message, one message that was given to the churches. This is one message given to the church at Ephesus, to the Ephesians. In Revelation He breaks it down as messages to each individual church. When we look at it currently, Christ is talking to all Christians through every one of those churches… touching on things within our own lives that we need to look at. In Jeremiah, God was speaking to the Israelites at Ephesus, as well. They had turned away from God at that time, their First Love. In Revelation, it is the words of Jesus, again talking to all Christians, not just the Christians in Ephesus.e was speaking to each one of us!

         So what is meant by the reference to our First Love? It is the excitement, the extreme joy, and the full commitment that we embraced when first becoming Christians. It’s how we felt about Christ when we first realized that we love Christ, when we first realized who He was for us. He is our Savior! Our first love is that overwhelming experience of being alive together with Christ, and our first love IS Christ. It’s also the Triune God: God, the Father; Christ, the Son; and the Holy Spirit. We need to love all three persons of God. Especially when the Holy Spirit tells us things about ourselves that we may not want to hear! The understanding that we were a new person. More important, in our walk with Christ, the understanding brought us joy! We wanted to rejoice in that understanding! We had a passion for Christ and it poured out of us in such a way that others wanted what we had! We were so in love with Jesus that it bubbled over from us! We were willing to do and go wherever He led us! He was our First Love!

This is the same love that God was speaking of in Jeremiah and that Jesus was referring to in Revelation with the Church of Ephesus. Ephesus was an important city and the people of God knew the truth. They had studied over and over the scriptures, and they had those ones teaching them all the meanings that were there. They were taught well. They understood scripture and the teachings. They knew who they were in Christ and how to walk with Christ. Their First Love was Christ! They were very busy working for the Lord. They stood strong against persecution. Outwardly, at least!  They looked great with what they were doing! Jesus commended them for their good work. But He knew the truth. And Jesus said “But I have this against you: you have let go of the love you had at first.” Jesus isn’t happy when we leave our First Love… Well what does that mean?… What it means is that the rejoicing, that exuberance in worship, that time spent with God, isn’t there anymore! We need to look deep within to see how all this coming message fits with ourselves.  

 Nothing goes unnoticed by God. He knows all that we do. And a powerful lesson to be learned here is that good works are not enough to please the Lord. What Jesus wants is a heart that is changed, totally changed! And once it’s changed, it doesn’t change back!  

What does it mean to have left your first love? It is when we start moving away from Christ. It’s when other people and things become more important than Him. It can be a very subtle, transitioning first from the things that we knew with Christ, but then Jesus is no longer our focus. And We replace Him with one or more other loves that we put ahead of Him.

 It’s when we lose that loving feeling toward Christ. It’s when we no longer have that deep commitment to do anything that Christ leads us to do.

 God has felt abandoned when each one of us has forgotten Him. Can you imagine how God feel when each one of His children pulls away? I definitely wouldn’t want to be there. We need to be close to God! We don’t want to give God heart ache! We could say that we break God’s heart every time we fail to consider God as our first love. In the OT God said that “They pursued what was worthless and became worthless.” Think about the things that you focus on in life. .. How do those measure up with your First Love?… This is happening in many lives of Christians before it is even realized, when we begin to follow ways of life that are not of God, losing connection with our First Love.

 The New Living Translation says Jesus’ complaint this way, “But I have this

complaint against you. You don’t love Me or each other as you did at first.” It’s like at least a piece is missing out our love for Him and for others.

         A new believer is excited about Christ and everything associated with Him. Do you remember that feeling?… Do you remember the excitement of finally getting it, of who Christ is in your life? As years progress, too many Christians lose the excitement, the walk of faith starts to become dull. There’s not an excitement about being a Christian any more. … They aren’t enthused about worshipping God anymore… Doing service becomes drudgery… And there isn’t a desire to learn and grow spiritually anymore…

         The Ephesians give us an example of what could be happening in our lives. Here are some things to watch out for.

They had started out strong, but over time things had begun to change. While they had remained faithful to the word of God, and had endured hardship, something was lacking. They had lost their passion. The fervor for Christ, the passionate love that had motivated them and burned within their hearts had given way to a mechanical, ritualistic form of service that lacked enthusiasm and zeal.

What happens when we lose our first love? What happens when the passion we once had for Christ is replaced by legalism or by self-righteousness, or by a mechanical, traditional form of Christianity that may contain the externals but lacks the internal passion that once stirred our hearts and moved us to love Christ fully?

         What were some of the things that you really enjoyed when you first became a Christian, things that maybe you don’t enjoy anymore? … Maybe because you haven’t taken the time to have those things in your life… What are some of the things that you used to do that you don’t do anymore for Christ?… What are you doing daily to have a relationship with God?

  Our scripture lesson this morning gives a picture of a church; A picture of so many churches or individual Christians who are just going through the motions.

•       We become comfortable with Christ, many times seeing Him as an equal instead of being in awe of God’s holiness and not truly worshiping God for who He is in our lives.

•       We become insensitive to the Holy Spirit. We forget to listen, and we start sinning more and our sin displeases God.

•       We become content with what we are instead of being driven to become more like Christ.

•       We allow other things become the center of our lives, and put Christ in a lower place of importance.

•       We begin to love people and things more than we have love for Christ. 

God is here and is working in our midst. Have you noticed? … But we must be vigilant! We must listen! We must pay attention! We must be on guard against becoming like the church at Ephesus! One of things I’ve read about the church of Ephesus is that they no longer exist. It is a dangerous thing to go through the motions of Christianity without a passionate love for Christ.

 We need a revival in our lives! It’s time to return to our First Love! What Jesus wants is for us to love Him like He loves us. He demonstrated that love for us on the cross. Jesus suffered and died for us, bearing our sins on Calvary’s cross, not because He was forced to, but because of His love for us and His desire to bring us into relationship with the Father.

Jesus has never lost His passion for us. His love for us burns white hot. He wants us back! His desire to be in relationship with us is as strong today as it ever was!

Compare that with the kind of relationship you have with Jesus today. Are you finding little or no time for Him on a daily basis?… Instead of being concerned about the things that concern Him, are you being more concerned about yourself and your personal belongings and desires?… Are you unwilling to give all you are and all you have to Jesus, or are you unwilling to be inconvenienced for Jesus?… It’s time to give yourself back!… All of you!… Do you tithe, or are you concerned that you might be denied some of the material things that make your life more comfortable?… Are you more willing to give your time, energy and money to a sporting event or some sort of entertainment, than you are to the things of God?…  Have you been wondering why you haven’t sensed the presence of God in their life lately?… Are you only willing to give as much of yourself to Christ as you absolutely have to in order to convince yourself that you are a good Christian?… Christ never asked for a part of our lives, He asks for all of it. He never asked for a place in our heart, He asks for absolute rule and reign in our hearts. He never asked to be one of many passions; He asks to be the consuming passion of our lives.

 Jesus has said, “You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen. When you are with Christ, you’re on the mountaintop! When you fall away, you fall down the mountainside! … Repent and do the things with Christ you did at first!”

Go back to that moment when you first met Jesus. Remember the love you felt, that love stirring in your heart, the adoration that you had for the Savior? Do you remember how grateful you were for the forgiveness of sins?… Do you remember how at that moment nothing else mattered, only Jesus? … He wants us to come back to Him; to come back to our first love, to the place and time in our lives to where He was everything to us.

 This is a chance for renewing our First Love. We need to get back to Christ and renew the excitement of being a Christian, renewing the desire to learn more about Him and His teachings, a chance for listening carefully and then following whatever the Holy Spirit is placing on your heart to do in passionate service to Christ. You may be sitting there thinking, but we’re sitting in a sanctuary and we aren’t supposed to sing! But that’s because we don’t want to make anyone sick, if that is a possibility. But there is nothing wrong with going out of here and singing for all your worth in your car, at your house; singing along with songs that are imbedded in your heart for years. There’s nothing wrong with singing in your mind as we sing here, and there is nothing wrong with singing along softly anyway. Singing bring passion! One of my passions is singing to the Lord! There are so many ways that we can praise God and so many ways that we can bring that passion back. What’s wrong with talking to God all the time? Some people may think you are talking to yourself, but what’s wrong with that? They may think you’re crazy, but God knows you’re not! We need to talk to Him, and we need to listen!

 Hopefully this message has spoken to your heart. It’s a chance to look inside yourself and ponder the question, Have you left your First Love?

 This message is a call to return to your First Love, Jesus Christ. Seek to renew that exuberance that you once knew when you first knew when you first fell in love with Him. 

 First Love, coming back to Jesus!

          Let’s pray… Loving and Faithful God, Thank You for the wake up call that this message brought today hopefully for all of us. We all have some work that we need to do. None of us are prefect, and You know that. Help us to continue to see ourselves honestly and to be able to correct the things that need corrected in our lives. Help us to keep working toward that perfection that brings us completely back to You, our First Love. In Jesus Christ’s name we pray, Amen.

         Take this time to reflect on what revelations God has given you today about where are with Your First Love as we prepare for Holy Communion…

HOLY COMMUNION

Christ invites to His Table, all who love him. Come to the Lord’s Table, and confess your sin. Come to the Lord’s Table, and be at peace.

As we think about the ways that we have left God as our First Love, let’s confess those things to the Lord silently as we return to Him…(Silence) Amen. When we confess our sinful ways, God abundantly pardons. In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven. In the name of Jesus Christ, we are all forgiven as we repent. Glory to God! Amen.

Lift up your hearts to the Lord, and give thanks: Holy Triune God; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Our First Love!

Holy, holy, holy, Lord, God of power and might
Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes In the name of the Lord.

Hosanna in the highest!

Lord, You are holy, Almighty One! Blessed are You, Jesus Christ! In the power of the Spirit, You created all things, blessed them, and called them good.

You called to Yourself a people to make Your mercy and truth known in all the world.

We betrayed Your calling and Your love;… and yet You are still faithful. We wandered from the way;… and You calling us to return. You are leading us home.We continued to turn from Your ways, and have failed to keep You as our First Love.

On the night in which He met with His disciples for the very last time before He was crucified. He took bread, and broke it, gave it to your disciples and said, “This is my body which is given for you. Take and eat. Do this in remembrance of me.” At the end of the meal He took the cup and He blessed it, saying, “This is my blood of the new covenant poured out for you and for many. Take and drink, and each time that you do, remember me.”

Lord, Pour out your Spirit on us all who are gathered here and in homes worshiping with us. Pour out your Spirit on these gifts here and in the homes of those worshiping. Make them be for us the body and blood of Christ. Make us, through them, Christ’s body alive in this world.

Father God, let your kingdom come! Glory to You!Come, Lord Jesus! Be our daily bread. Glory to You!And Holy Spirit, send us to serve the world and bring glory to You!Holy, Blessed Trinity! One God forever! Glory to You!

Giving the Bread and Cup     At this time as you commune with the Lord wherever you are, remember hearing 1 John 4:19, which says, “We love, because He first loved us.” Receive the bread, the body of our Lord given for you….Amen. And now taking the juice, receive the blood of Christ shed for you, remembering the sacrifice that was given, in communion with Him. Remember Christ, your First Love!

Our closing song is “The Gift of Love” UMH #408  (by Hal Hopson).

Verse 1 – Though I may speak with bravest fire, and have the gift to all inspire, and have not love, my words are vain, as sounding brass, and hopeless gain.

Verse 2 – Though I may give all I possess, and striving so my love profess, but not be given by love within, the profit soon turns strangely thin.

Verse 3 – Come, Spirit, come, our hearts control, our spirits long to be made whole. Let inward love guide every deed; by this we worship and are freed.

CCLI Song # 67327  © Words: 1972 Hope Publishing Company Music: 1972, 2015, 2018 Hope Publishing Company

 May we be able to return completely and willingly to our First Love! Go in Peace! Amen

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