Encouragement for Philadelphia

May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.

2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

30 miles southeast of Sardis, located on a geological fault line, the city of Philadelphia was founded in 140 B.C. While the area sported rich soil and hot springs, it also suffered earthquakes and volcanic activity.  Yet through all the earthquakes and aftershocks, this city rebuilt. Let’s go ahead and look at what Jesus had to say to the Christians there…

To the angel of the assembly in Philadelphia write:

He who is holy, he who is true, he who has the key of David, he who opens and no one can shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says these things:

I know your works (behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one can shut), that you have a little power, and kept my word, and didn’t deny my name. Behold, I give some of the synagogue of Satan, of those who say they are Jews, and they are not, but lie. Behold, I will make them to come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you.  Because you kept my command to endure, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, which is to come on the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.  I am coming quickly! Hold firmly that which you have, so that no one takes your crown. He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God, and he will go out from there no more. I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from my God, and my own new name.  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the assemblies.

~ Revelation 3:7-13

There really isn’t anything new in this letter that we haven’t seen already. Christ focused on the truth of salvation, the work of faith, perseverance under persecution, and the love of God. Yet it was still important enough for Christ to write. It is a letter of encouragement.

When I started this series, I mistakenly wrote that Smyrna was the only letter that Christ didn’t rebuke. I’m not sure where I got that, and I apologize for misleading you, but at the same time, I encourage you to look past that mistake and glean what Christ wants you to know despite my shortcomings. We have a God that wants us to be encouraged. He doesn’t want us to focus on all the negative things that surround us, but instead, to grow to be more like Him.

In church yesterday, my pastor talked about keeping our eyes on Christ, so that we can put to death the sinful nature within us. And that’s what we’ve seen in each of the letters Christ has written to His churches. He wrote to them about who He is, encouraged them in their faith, and then encouraged them to grow. Whether that growth was by renouncing a false belief, turning back to Christ, or just holding fast, He wanted them to grow in their relationship with Him.

Jesus encouraged the church in Philadelphia to hold on to what they had. He didn’t want them to give Satan a foothold to take their crown.

How often do you need encouragement to just keep going?

I was there this past weekend. I had gotten some horrible news about a friend, I realized I made the mistake in this study that I mentioned earlier, it was Sunday night and I needed to have this ready by Monday. I was behind. I was discouraged. I was hurting. And I was ready to give up.

Yet, God encouraged me to press on, and He brought me to this letter of encouragement. He showed me that my mistakes don’t determine my salvation. Jesus already has the door open. And that even when I fail–even when I’m weak–He still loves me. And He loves you too. No matter where you are at, if you are a child of God, He loves you. Hold on to what you have–hold on to your faith. For Christ is coming soon.

 

Come to me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest.”

~ Matthew 11:28

Reflection Questions:

  • Summarize this letter in your own words. What would you say God wanted us to understand from reading it?
  • Do you allow yourself to be encouraged and renewed by Christ?
  • When was the last time you encouraged someone else?

 

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