“Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.” (Revelation 3:10)
Our congregational reading today takes us to the third chapter of Revelation. There are three churches mentioned in this chapter. The first church is the church at Sardis which had a very peculiar reputation. They were known as the church that lived and yet was actually dead. The third church mentioned is the church at Laodicea. They were a wishy-washy stand for nothing and fall for anything church that disgusted our Lord. Sandwiched between these two is the church at Philadelphia, a church that received high praise for their faithful works, their steadfastness to obey God’s word, and their refusal to deny Christ in times of persecution.
The Philadelphian church is a good model for our church. I like the promise Jesus gave them in verse 10, “Because thou has kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation…” This is great encouragement because we know that when we are faithful to trust the Lord completely, He will keep Satan from discouraging us in the work. The words of Christ to this church fit well with the message I will bring this week and next concerning the faith Jesus built in the disciples by walking on water and calming a raging storm.
Jesus purposely put the disciples in a boat on the Sea of Galilee during a storm to teach them a lesson about faith and bring them to the place of recognition that He is truly God. In the end of the story, the disciples for the first time worshipped Him as God saying, “Of a truth thou art the Son of God” (Matt.14:33). This is a very good way for us to look at the many trials we face both as a church and in our individual lives. Each difficulty gives us greater opportunity to see how the Lord can take care of us and give us peace in the midst of our storms.
The church at Philadelphia was promised they would not be overtaken by increasing tribulation. They stood the test at first and because they did they grew stronger in their faith. In their time, martyrdom was always a looming possibility, but the thought of losing all including their lives did not stop the faithful witness of this church. God’s promise was to bring them into the New Jerusalem, the city that God is preparing for the bride of Christ which is the church.
We would do well to remember this. We are to live for the eternal; no matter how difficult things become here, we will not fail to reach the heavenly city. God will never leave us or forsake us. The storm does not rattle Jesus and neither should it discourage us. Hold out! Keep the faith! As the song writer said, “I know the Master of the wind. I know the maker of the rain. He can calm the storm, make the sun shine again. I know the Master of the wind.”
Pastor V. Mark Smith