The Church at Philadelphia, They Got it Right!

Revelation 3:7-13

The church at Philadelphia, like the church at Smyrna was a church which received a passing grade from Jesus in His message to John.  The church passed simply because it kept God’s commands to endure hardships patiently (verse 10).  Here we may assume that keeping the faith, persevering, holding fast and staying in line for the love of God was not an easier task than it was in the other six churches.  However, this church continued to love the Lord and stay on task in spite of the problems inside and outside the church.

As I look at the church of Philadelphia, the lesson is simple.  This church did what God told them to do in spite of the surrounding influences.  They didn’t let false teachings creep in, they didn’t set their own rules, they didn’t let complacency be their guide, and they most certainly got back on track whenever they fell off. Did they fall off the track?  While the text doesn’t specifically say that they did, I believe that they did.  However, with practicing love and patient endurance, they understood that following God was the most important thing that they could do.

What can we gain from this lesson of the church of Philadelphia?  I encourage you to follow these conclusions:  First, follow God in all things.  No matter what the choices are, follow God’s choices and plan of action.  No matter what problems you are faced with, follow God’s guidelines.  No matter what others do, follow God’s orders.  So many times we get off track because we forget God’s directions and respond inaccurately to what someone else does or does not do.  Enduring hardship is especially difficult when it comes from another believer.  But, no matter what the hardship is we must follow God.  Others may not understand God’s instructions to you as you do.  This doesn’t mean we abandon the task, for it is only in wholly following God that we become what He wants us to be and achieve the perfections He has in store for you.  So always remember to follow God.

Secondly, in gaining lessons from the church of Philadelphia, we learn not to respond to the failure of other believers.  What God has in store for you and the hardships that you face have nothing to do with the faithfulness of other believers.  God’s instructions to you are your personal instructions from God.  He may not have given the one you feel should help you the same message, but, when it is a God-sent message, there is help for you.  Don’t get frustrated when the when the help doesn’t come in the expected manner.  So many times we makes our friends our earthly guides.  They can get in the way of what God is trying to accomplish through us.  We spend too much time complaining about what other in Christ don’t do.  We often make other believers the sacrificial lamb for our failures, not fully understanding that when God gives us a command, He is speaking to you and Satan will often confound the message to get you off-track.  Why shouldn’t we focus on others when they seem like stumbling blocks?  That’s simple,  they are not our stumbling block, but Satan is.  Ephesians 6:12 reminds us that we struggle not against flesh and blood, but against rulers, against authorities, against the powers of this dark world, against the spiritual forces  in the heavenly reals (NIV).  When we are opposed to doing what God has commanded remember the enemy is Satan and not the other Christian brother or sister.

Finally, that we must understand that the maturity levels in the faith are not the same.  Paul reminds us in Ephesians 4:12-13 that we must work with all our fellow believers to  give them a chance to develop in the faith.  We must try to bring the most out of the believers in our surroundings so they will grow into mature Christians.  This is why it is important to understand the Spiritual Gifts of the believers around us.  If we don’t understand what those around us are sent from God to accomplish, we will never understand how they fit into the task God has individually given us.  Given the scriptual fact that the maturity level of all Christians is not the same (Ephesians 4:14), and knowing that the Spirit has given all believers a “manifestation for the common good” (I Corinthians 12:7),  we must remember that all the answers and ways of carrying out the efforts of the common good are not always going to be expressed and carried out in the same manner. Many will be opposite to the was we all feel the should be.  But there is a standard, and that is to follow God’s commands.

What do we do to be sure we follow God’s commands?  Test everything through God.  Test everything through Scripture, prayer and patience. Always be insistent to do God’s will and follow his path.  Be firm to follow. Resolute to do what is required. Vacate vacillation and withdraw from wavering.  Always remember the Church of Philadelphia got it right.

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Living The Sane Life

The Apostle Paul wrote a letter to the church of Ephesus 2,000 years ago, that message speaks to us today. He was advising the Ephesians on how to live a sane, Spirit-filled life every day. Paul compared and contrasted a life lived which was led by the sin-nature, with a life led by the Holy Spirit. Afterwards the choice of which life-style to follow was left to the recipients of the letter. He did, however, strongly encourage the Ephesians and us to live a life led by the Holy Spirit.

Ephesians 5:1-21:
Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them.

For you were once in darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness, and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: “Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

Be very careful then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

We, like the Ephesians, choose the kind of life-style that meets our needs. Fortunately, when we learn to make better choices, we can make more positive changes in our lives. The questions I submit to us are: “Are we wanting something more from our lives?” “Have we outgrown the life-style we’re living?” “Have we become bored with happy-hour, and now desire a happy life that pleases God?” “Do we feel tired of playing the same game because we know the outcome?” “Are we ready to get out of the kindergarten of life and strap-on the “big-boy” issues under God’s direction?”

I recommend Jesus, He is the answer. Invite Him into your heart and allow Him to take control of everything. Some of us remember this Sunday School song: “Into My Heart.” Into my heart, into my heart, come into my heart Lord Jesus. Come in to-day, come in to stay. Come into my heart Lord Jesus.

We gain and regain our sanity when we become a child of God. Romans 10:9-10 teaches: That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.

Prayer: Father, let all come to repentance, let none be lost. In the name of Jesus. Amen.

(Reprint from Facebook, August 2010)

Glenda BrunsonWe are thankful for the life-lessons of the “God-breathed” Scriptures. As God blew his breath into the first Adam, the Bible is available to breathe life into us. The Bible is indeed a” lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” August 20, 2010 

A Prayer for Strength

Dear God, Sometimes it seems like as soon as you provide a major victory in my life, there is often an immediate flood of frustrating situations. It is as if something wants to stop me from giving you the praise you deserve. May I always be reminded that as I put more of my trust in you, challenges will arrive. May I also remember that the challenges are not the people or the personalities that they exhibit. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against rulers, against authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12). May I always look for your blessings to be bestowed through these trying situations.  “For just as the sufferings of Christ flows into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows” (2 Corinthians 1:5 ). May I gain more strength from you as I go through the troubles into another victory. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.