The Church in Philadelphia (Part 4)

We left Pretoria this morning at 6.10am, filled up with petrol and headed out for the N1 to link up with the N3 towards Manaba Beach on the Kwaulu-Natal South Coast for a week. Beloved friends gave their time-share to us. I have not driven to KZN for many years and due to thick traffic I missed a the left fork in the road and needed to let the Garmin recalculate and re-route me and after about six minutes in the thickest traffic we were back on the right road heading for our destination. This is one of the greatest encouragements for the Christian Traveler. You might be side tracked; you might miss a needed direction; you might go the wrong way (all these are sin), yet our Master, God the Holy Spirit recalculates and reroutes our spiritual Garmin and soon we are back on the right track having repented and returned to our Lord.

4) The Bible is not only true, it is practical, realistic and comforting!

Rev 3:10 Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth.

(1) It is practical in the sense that God knows the faithfulness of these Philadelphian Believers. They took God’s Word seriously. They clawed themselves to the promises and warnings. They knew that faith was not “seeing” but “believing”. God speaks (Commands) and they obey (endure), patiently. Amongst all the other voices, distractions, attacks and onslaughts that confront you, seeking to seduce you and entice you into opposing offerings of what to believe, that should you, will draw you away from Jesus. Are you enduring … holding onto God’s commands in Scripture, remaining faithful, having eyes for Jesus alone? God knows the sincerity of your heart.

(2) It is realistic in the sense that it warns of what you as a human cannot perceive. The “hour of trial” is not a period of time. It is a designation of the trial itself. This is what I mean by the Bible being realistic. It tells there will be a trial. It does not say how long it will last. It says it will be.

(3) It is comforting in the sense that when the trial comes, the believer will be protected. This is one of the beautiful aspects of God’s Word … He promises and His promises are true. He cannot not keep a promise. The trial will come and it will come upon the whole world to test its inhabitants. When it comes, God will protect His beloved … those who have remained true to Him, He will sustain them throughout this period of trial. Christianity at that time was under extreme threat from anti-Christian persecution and anti-Christian fury. Since then history informs us of the many onslaughts against the Church. On Sunday we commemorate the Protestant Reformation. Because of their faith in God and His Word the reformers were persecuted by the Church of Rome because of their Evangelicalism. Many were martyred, either on the scaffold or at the stake. What about the imprisonment and horrific treatment of Christians in the Far East? The stories abound from mission organizations of how believers are and have been brutalized for their faith and in it all, God “keeps” His people. This is His promise. It is reality and it is comforting to His people. Irrespective of the “trial”, God fulfills His promise … He looks after, protects and sustains His people by giving them His Spirit in great measure to endure, to remain faithful and to keeping clawing onto their God through holding to His promises. There are a few factors to consider when thinking of God “keeping” His people …

(a) He has left us His Word to be known, loved and trusted. Through it He informs us how to do life the way He requires.

(b) He had given us the avenue of prayer to engage Him daily. As we pray and as we pray according to His Word, He sustains, provides and blesses.

(c) He had given us each other. We are to lovingly care, support and encourage each other during the good and hard times.

(d) He has given us preachers. Now I know that all preachers are not faithful to expository preaching … but there are some and they must be sought and listened too.

(e) Very importantly He has given us His Holy Spirit, who lives within and guides us in paths of righteousness that glorifies our Lord.

(4) Before we become too comfortable in our thinking that our heavenly parent does all the work like earthly parent care for and support the baby without the baby doing anything. We do have a role to play.

Rev 3:11 I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.

When Jesus says He is coming soon, we need to grasp this in the time frame of heaven. God does not view time the way we do.

2Pe 3:8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.

“I am coming soon” needs to be seen in the light of urgency.

(a) He will not permit His people to suffer more than their threshold,

1 Cor 10:13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

(b) As God sustains us through the trail, He might deliver us by changing our circumstances or He might deliver us through taking us to Glory. What we need to do is to “hold on to what we have”. We have God’s Word to trust, we have God’s Spirit to indwell and we have the beloved in Christ to support us. In other words, we have the gospel, we have gospel living and we have gospel confidence to hold onto. Plainly said, this speaks of our faithfulness which secures our reward … a crown. Jesus was speaking about His Second Coming to these First Century believers and to us … for when He comes He will judge and then gives us the crown the gift of eternal glory. He will usher us His people into heaven. That is our crown, our reward, our joy, our eternity.

Dear Lord Jesus, It is our bliss when we consider what You do for us Your people. Graciously help us to be faithful and cause us to walk faithfully and obediently towards Glory. Amen.

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