seven letters  philadelphia part III

Some people may hesitate to read the book of Revelation because of it's reputation as a book with a lot of scary prophecies about the future. But those who are willing to take the time to read Revelation for themselves will find that it contains lots of things that are very relevant for today. For example, check out the next part of this letter that Jesus sent to the first century church in the city of Philadelphia... 

"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" (Revelation 3:10 NIV).

How can one sentence from a 2000 year old letter possibly have any application for people living in the 21st century? Well, did you notice how Jesus established a connection that links a positive result with the act of following His instructions? In case you missed it, here it is again: "Since you have kept my command... I will also keep you from the hour of trial..." You see, people can often avoid a lot of trouble simply by following the directions that Jesus gives to us in the Scriptures. The lesson for us is that following Jesus' commands now can help people stay out of a lot of trials and difficulties later, just as we see demonstrated here with the church at Philadelphia.

"I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown" (Revelation 3:11 NIV). 

Now someone may read this verse and say, "Hey wait a minute- this was written 2000 years ago and Jesus still hasn’t come back. How can He say, 'I am coming soon'?" This is a great question that becomes easier to answer when we take a closer look at the language that was originally used to write this portion of the Bible. You see, the word for "soon" or "quickly" used in the verse above does mean "without delay." However, this word also means "by surprise" or "suddenly" too. So when Jesus says, "I am coming soon" we might understand His meaning to be, "I will return without any warning." This is important to remember because it's very easy to get caught up in all the problems and concerns of daily life and lose sight of the fact that this life is not all that there is to our existence. Whether Jesus suddenly returns to start a new chapter in human history or simply returns for one of His followers, our responsibility is "hold on to what you have" or remain faithful to Him. 

Of course, its also true that Jesus is sure to show up unexpectedly for those people who presume that God doesn't really exist simply because such people aren't looking for Him. That's dangerous. It's also very dangerous to say, "Death is a long way off, I'm only ___ number of years old- I've got plenty of time." Hey, you may have the expectation of a good, long life but there is certainly no guarantee that you'll get to have one. The reality is that time is short and the opportunities that are available to you now won't last forever. Make sure that you're living a God-honoring life now so you'll be ready if Jesus shows up when you don't expect Him. 

"As for the one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God; he will be secure and will go out no more; and I will write my God's Name on him, and he will be a citizen in the city of my God-the New Jerusalem, coming down from heaven from my God; and he will have my new Name inscribed upon him" (Revelation 3:12).

At the beginning of this section we mentioned that Philadelphia had suffered from some very serious earthquakes. Because of this, the idea of a "pillar that could not be moved" like the one that Jesus mentions above must have been very, very appealing to the original readers of this message. But beyond this, Jesus here promises a future place in heaven for everyone who is serious about following Him, a place with no worries, no fears and no anxieties. Jesus once explained this future destination to His disciples in this way...

"Let not your heart be troubled. You are trusting God, now trust in me. There are many homes up there where my Father lives, and I am going to prepare them for your coming. When everything is ready, then I will come and get you, so that you can always be with me where I am. If this weren't so, I would tell you plainly" (John 14:1-3).

While things can often be scary and uncertain in the world today, Jesus is preparing a place especially for you- a place that will be perfect and secure for all eternity. He even says that every Christian will have God's name written on him or her. Whatever form this may take, this inscription represents the permanent, personal relationship that you will enjoy with the God who made you. That's a lot to look forward to, no matter how difficult things may be right now.

So Jesus ends this letter to the church at Philadelphia just as He has ended the previous five: 

"Let all who can hear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches" (Revelation 3:13).

Every Christian would certainly like for Jesus to say the same things to them as He did to the church at Philadelphia. But... if you want to hear Jesus say these same things to you, you need to do the same things they did!

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The Doctor is not a real doctor but he plays one on the Internet. E-Mail prescriptions are also available on an individual basis.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptural references taken from The Living Bible, 1971, Tyndale House Publishers


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