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TO THE ANGEL OF THE CHURCH IN PHILADELPHIA

From The Heart

Publish date: 08/09/2004

"To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:

These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. 8 I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. 9 I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars-I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. 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. 11 I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. 12 Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name. 13 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.   Revelation 3:7-13 NIV

Philadelphia is the second city in Lydia – about twenty-eight miles southeast of Sardis - adjacent to a wine-growing region. Though not a large city, it was of commercial importance and was built on fine Roman roads. It is built on four hills (or one hill with four summits), picturesque, with a healthy climate and well supplied with trees. It suffered from frequent earthquakes and was rebuilt by Tiberius after the great earthquake of 17 A.D. For a time it was called "Neo-Caesarea" on its coins. Its coins bore the head of Bacchus (Dionysos), the chief deity, and the figure of a Bacchante. The population included Jews, Jewish Christians, and converts from paganism.

Of all the seven churches it had the longest duration of prosperity as a Christian city. Ramsay called Philadelphia “the Missionary City” because it promoted the spread of the Graeco-Roman civilization and then of Christianity, later offering stubborn resistance to the Turks from 1379-1390 A.D. It still exists as a Turkish town under the name of Allah Shehr – “City of God” or “High Town.” Apparently there are some 1,000 Christians there today.

In the mid-19th century, the missionaries Fisk and Parsons were informed by the Greek bishop that the town contained 3,000 houses, of which he assigned 250 to the Greeks, and the rest to the Turks. Apparently, there were five churches in the town, excluding twenty others which were too old or too small to be used. There are six mosques in the town, and one of these mosques is believed by the native Christians to have been the church in which the early Christians assembled, who are addressed in Revelation 3. There are not many ruins; but in one part there are four pillars, which are supposed to have been columns of a church. One solitary pillar has often been noticed, reminding us of the words of Jesus in Revelation 3:12, “Him that overcometh I will make a pillar in the temple of my God.”

Only Jesus has the authority to open and closed doors in your life.  Neither you nor anyone else has the authority to force a door open or closed in your life.  If Jesus opens a door for you, you can boldly go through it, because there is no man and no demon that can prevent you. So do not stand back when Jesus has opened a door in front of you and do not rattle the door handles of the doors he has shut. Accept the will of God in your life and embrace his call. The church of Philadelphia had “little strength,” which could mean that they were small in number, short of resources, or had little prestige, and yet they kept God's Word and refused to deny the name of Jesus Christ even though they were severely persecuted.  They are those, whether Christian or Jew, who persecute true Christians, thinking that they are working for God, when in reality they are motivated by the devil.  A person who truly loves God will love their neighbor.

When you keep your eyes on Jesus and do only what he is told you to do then even your enemies will come to a place where they have to acknowledge that God is on your side.  They will come to a place, either by choice or by force, where they must submit to Jesus Christ as King of kings and to you as his messenger.  Man cannot fight against God.  When we submit to God to endure patiently whatever comes our way then we will not be shaken or thrown off our course when hardship or persecution comes our way -- and it probably will at some point or another.  Don't allow anyone else to take your crown.  Don't allow them to cause you to give up or to back down.  Put your eyes on Jesus, obey his Word, and do only what he tells you to do and he will cause you to triumph, always, and in all things.

He who overcomes will be made a pillar in the house of God.  A pillar must be strong and immovable.  A pillar holds up the whole house.  Even if the house is blown away, the pillar still stands.  We might be small in our own eyes, we might not have much to offer the Lord, but if we will commit to Him, he will strengthen us, protect us, and keep us until we see him face-to-face and until we receive our crown of victory -- the overcomer’s crown!

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