Sunday, November 20, 2016

To Philadelphia: ‘I Possess the Key’

Note from Jesus

Dear Faithful One,

My letter to My followers in the ancient city of “brotherly love” — the meaning of the word Philadelphia — is for you as well as for them! You see, this group of disciples faced opposition from several different groups who hated them. The ever-present emperor cult was one source of haters in Philadelphia. Ironically, the people of Philadelphia had a love/hate relationship with the emperors. Rome kept trying to impose its will and change the name of the city to match the latest family of the emperors. Those in politics in the city curried favor with Rome and the emperors. Many commoners didn’t.

However, My disciples in Philadelphia faced opposition similar to the earlier disciples that you read about in the book of Acts. Those earlier disciples encountered bitter hatred from some in the Jewish community. Misunderstanding fueled this hatred. Christians had left Jerusalem before the Roman army destroyed it. I had warned My disciples to leave when they saw Jerusalem surrounded by armies (Luke 21:20-24). They did. Unfortunately, many of their Jewish friends considered this treason and betrayal. Hatred settled into their attitude toward Christians. Not all descended from Israel are true Israelites (Romans 2:28-29; Romans 9:6-8). However, some Israelite people did not share this hatred of Christians. When hatred fuels any people, even those who claim My name, they are self-deluded and make themselves a “congregation of Satan” rather than My people!

I reminded My disciples that as Son of God, I was to them speaking as God in human flesh (John 1:14-18; John 5:18). As God, I am “the holy One” (Revelation 3:7; 2 Kings 19:22; Job 6:10; Isaiah 1:4) and “the true One” (Revelation 3:7; Jeremiah 10:10). These two titles describing Me vibrate with a depth of meaning rooted in the Torah, Prophets, and Writings — the three divisions that Jews applied to what you call the Old Testament. These titles for Me reminded these believers that as Son, I spoke to them as the LORD. As their LORD, I know all about what is going on in their lives. I know their struggles. I know their deeds. I know who opposes them.

However, I not only know about them, but I also have the power to guarantee them victory. I can make this guarantee because I have the power over death; death can no longer threaten Me and it cannot defeat My church (Matthew 16:18). As I reminded them at the beginning of Revelation, I declare to you:

“This is not the time for fear; I am the First and the Last, and I am the living One. I entered the realm of the dead; but see, I am alive now and for all the ages — even ages to come. Amen. I possess the keys to open the prison of death and hades.”

(Revelation 1:17-18)

You live in uncertain times, times when many of My own are being persecuted, executed, and sold as slaves by those claiming to act for God. But as I told My disciples in Philadelphia, remain faithful. I own and control “the key of David”; therefore, death and hades cannot contain you. Instead of holding you, death brings you fully into My presence with the Father. While the world will face a “time of trial,” you do not belong to the world. “Your new life is now hidden” and joined with Me in God. When I appear, you will accompany Me and share in My glory (Colossians 3:3).

My key opens up your future to life beyond death. My key also opens the door of possibility for you in the nearer future. Be faithful. Continue to do your good deeds. Persevere in sharing My grace. Doing so will keep anyone or anything from taking the “victor’s wreath” from you. My promise of your victory is sure and certain. I used an image to remind My followers in Philadelphia of this certainty. You see, they were accustomed to frequent earthquakes that necessitated their frequent rebuilding. Many residents had moved out of the city to avoid the falling masonry during these earthquakes. My faithful ones, however, will be firmly planted as a stable and immovable “pillar in the temple of My God” and will never have to leave the presence of the glory, joy, and security of the Father!

Verses to Live

Read carefully My promises to this group of believers who felt weak as they faced hardship. Notice that I do not criticize them. I offer them My promises of power over death, opportunity over futility, and influence in the face of opposition. My promises are sure, and their victory awaits them. These promises and assurances are equally sure for you, My faithful one, and I AM so certain of it that I AM sharing My name and the name of your victorious destination with you!

The One [Jesus]:
Write down My words, and send them to the messenger of the church in Philadelphia.

“These are the words of the holy One, the true One, and the One Who possesses the key of David, which opens the possibilities so that no one can shut them. The One Who closes all options so that no one can open:

“I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door, which no one can shut. I have done this because you have limited strength, yet you have obeyed My word and have not denied My name. Watch, and I will make those of the congregation of Satan — those who call themselves “Jews” but are not because they lie — come before you penitent, falling at your feet. Then they will know how much I have loved you. Because you have obeyed My instructions to endure and be patient, I will protect you from the time of trial which will come upon the whole earth and put everyone in it to the test. I will soon return. Hold tight to what you have so that no one can take away your victor’s wreath.

“As for the one who conquers through faithfulness even unto death, I will plant that person as a pillar in the temple of My God, and that person will never have to leave the presence of God. Moreover, I will inscribe this person with the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, New Jerusalem — which descends out of heaven from My God — and My own new name.

“Let the person who is able to hear, listen to and follow what the Spirit proclaims to all the churches.”

(Revelation 3:7-13)

Response in Prayer

Father, for my brothers and sisters who face persecution and hardship today, I pray they realize the strength You have for them and the victory that awaits them. Please give me the courage to live out of this glorious hope with faithfulness until the day I see you face-to-face and find my place in Your glorious presence. In Jesus’ name, I await this day. Amen.

‘A Year with Jesus’ is written by Phil Ware.

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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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