This church is a complete 180 from the last one Jesus spoke to. There is no “but…” mentioned here. Only praise and promise.
This message comes to me at a VERY opportune time. I just received a personal prayer request from someone regarding God opening a door for them. I believe HE is speaking today specifically to that person, as well as to the rest of us. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says” (verse 13a).
On a side note, I love that the name of this church means “brotherly love.” That is where ALL of our ministry for Him should start. Jesus’ commandments to “Love your neighbor as yourself” and to “Love your enemy and do good to those who spitefully use you” demonstrate His desire for us to love. And in neither of these commands did He say that this person had to be like minded or your “brother.” But learning to love your brother, who WILL get on your nerves at some point, brings you the opportunity to learn to love those outside your “family” too. We learn to love by being loved and that usually starts at home.
Ok. On to the meat of this message. Jesus’ description of Himself as the Author of each of the messages He gave to the churches always brought an element of what He planned to speak on. His message to the Philadelphia church is especially interesting to me. He said He is the One “who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens” (verse 7b).
HE HAS THE KEY! There is no locked door He cannot open and an open door He cannot shut. When HE opens a door before you and HOLDS it open, you can be certain He has something waiting for you on the other side of it. STEP THROUGH. On the others side of that, if HE closes a door you wanted to walk through, you can be CERTAIN that what is on the other side of it is NOT for you and is probably dangerous. DON’T TRY AND PICK THE LOCK!!! Leave it alone!
This has been a hard lesson for me over the years because I have a tendency to see a blockage as a challenge I’m supposed to overcome. Don’t get me wrong, there ARE obstacles that we are supposed to overcome but there are also doors we are supposed to stop trying to open. I’ve heard it said that when God closes a door He opens a window. I tried to make my own “windows” by breaking down the walls surrounding the door instead.
Honestly, I don’t think God uses windows. To get out a window is an emergency escape route. You climb in or out a window when you simply HAVE to get in or out. It’s not a normal or even a safe way to enter or exit. If God wants you in or out of somewhere He WILL open the door. Until then, be patient and wait. There is probably a lesson in the waiting just waiting for you to finish first.
I like how Jesus describes this church. “I know that you have little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name” (verse 8b). This church is not a “mega church.” It is probably even small in comparison to other house churches. They are not wealthy nor do they have a lot of influence. What they do have is Jesus and an abiding relationship with Him.
No matter what challenges have come their way, they have held fast. Persecution, tribulation, false teachers, even lies from Satan haven’t stopped them from clinging to Jesus. Because of their faithfulness Jesus is giving them a new opportunity. He is holding the door open for them to walk into a new mission.
But they have to choose to walk through that open door. Jesus will NOT push them through it. Once they do step through though AMAZING things are waiting on the other side. “Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say they are Jews and are not, but lie – behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet, and they will learn that I have loved you” (verse 9).
They will bow down before your feet and they will learn! Those of the synagogue of SATAN will learn the truth!!! HOW AMAZING IS THAT! I’m praying that means they will learn of who Jesus really is and of His love for them. I can see new brothers and sisters on the horizon! What an amazing work to step into! (I know, I’m using too many exclamation points but I’m excited for this church’s next mission!)
I notice that Jesus didn’t say this church was “perfect” and never had struggles. Instead He acknowledged that they had gone through some tough times. “You have kept my word about patient endurance” (verse 10b). They held fast to Him, even in the tough times.
I fully believe they had times that tested their faith. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that some of them questioned and didn’t follow a straight path from calling to realization of ministry. But they held onto Him even when they couldn’t see Him clearly or didn’t “feel” His presence in their lives. And BECAUSE (verse 10a) they held on He made another promise to them for later. “I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the world, to try those who dwell on the earth” (verse 10c).
He isn’t saying here that He is pulling them out of the world right now. He has that open door waiting for them to walk through first and to do all He has for them on the other side of it. But He will keep them safe from the major trials that are to come on the WHOLE earth.
Have you noticed that God uses trials to get people’s attention and get them to turn to Him? Well, this church doesn’t need that trial because they have already demonstrated their complete reliance on Him in what they have already walked through. They have proven themselves faithful through their previous trials. Now He is going to use them to get the attention of others before it is too late for them too. Maybe they can help some who came from “the synagogue of Satan” prove a change in their lives and commitment to Him without needing to stick around for the great trials to come.
A Mike Warnke story comes to mind here. He talks about how when we witness to people they say they “are not ready yet” to give their lives to Jesus. He wants to know what would happen if, when the rapture happens he could grab a couple of those who “weren’t ready yet” by the front of the shirt as he lifts off and ask them again if they are “ready now.” I bet they would change their minds then!
Back to our main point. When God opens a door, He WANTS you to walk through it. It doesn’t matter if you don’t think you are deserving or even ready. He wouldn’t open it unless HE knew that you were both. Your walk up to that door is part of the process HE used to make sure you were both. He knows your struggles. He sees what you have overcome. And He knows where your heart is now. TRUST HIM to open only the BEST doors for you. And KNOW that HE can and will shut ANY you are NOT supposed to walk through.
He has a SPECIAL job for those who are bold enough to walk through and still hold onto His hand as they journey through the other side. “To one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from My god out of Heaven, and MY Own new name” (verse 12). What an AMAZING honor awaits for the one who conquers with Him!
Father God, I thank You for the doors You have opened AND shut in my life. This is one of those open doors. Thank You for letting me be part of Your process, no matter how big or small. Please don’t EVER let me begin to think I’m doing this on my own! I need YOUR hand at ALL times as I walk this new path!
Thank You Holy Spirit for teaching me to STOP looking for windows to crawl through. That is MY lesson for today. Thank You for the “waiting rooms” too. Not that I enjoy waiting, because You KNOW I DON’T, but because You promise a lesson in the waiting; even if that lesson is only one on patience.
Thank You Jesus for holding ALL the keys needed for my life. I will trust You to turn each of them when the time comes. Give me the confidence to walk with You through ANY door You open.