Saturday, November 29, 2014, 6:46 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Revelation 3:7-13 (ESV). “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens. “‘I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie—behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet, and they will learn that I have loved you. Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and 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 from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ The Key of David A key is an instrument of some kind which can be used to open and to close things which can be locked or unlocked. A person who has the key is the one who has the power and the authority to open and to shut whatever it is that needs opened or shut. So in this case, in particular, the key represents power and authority. Jesus Christ, our Messiah, came from the line of David, as well as David was king of Israel and a type of Christ. Jesus Christ, heir to the throne of David, is thus the King of true Israel, the church. So, he is the one who holds this key, and he is the only one who has the power and authority to open what no human can shut, and to shut what no human can open. What this means ultimately is that Jesus Christ, God the Son, creator of the universe, and Savior of mankind, is absolutely sovereign over all things. If he decides to open something and he wants it to remain open, no human can shut it. And, if he decides to close something, and he wants it to remain closed, no human can open it. When this truth finally sunk into my slow-to-understand mind, I can’t describe to you the peace that it brought into my life. Sometimes I still have to remind myself of this fact when I start to become anxious about particular circumstances going on in my life. I used to think humans had certain powers over me, and that nothing could be done about it. One time, as I have shared before, when God was asking me to keep pressing on in the face of persecution and to even confront my persecutors, and to try to reason with them, I told God, “But God, you don’t understand!” In my mind I believed in the sovereignty of God, but in my emotions, I did not. My response to my circumstances revealed what I truly believed down deep in my heart, which was that God could do nothing about some of the situations of my life, even though I trusted in his comfort through them. Yet, when I came to the realization that he is absolutely in control over all things, and that nothing can happen to me but what he allows it, and he allows it for a purpose, it gave me great peace. An Open Door A door is an entrance or access into something or a means of access. It can also be an opportunity for something to open up or to become available, such as a new job, or a promotion, or a position in an organization, or a new ministry, or a chance to witness to someone about Jesus Christ, etc. If God has opened up such a door in your life, and he intends for that door to remain open, then he is the only one who has the power to shut it. So, we never have reason to fear humans or what they might do to us, because if God is for us, who can be against us? Nothing can separate us from his love. Amen! So many times in my past life I ran away (escaped in some fashion) from my circumstances because I got afraid and so I gave up, because I did not understand the sovereignty of God over my life. I always believed God was there holding me in his arms, comforting and encouraging me when I was downcast, but my emotions told me that God was somehow limited by my circumstances. Oh, how wrong! Yet, we must keep in mind here that God also has the power and the ability to close doors he has opened, because oftentimes the doors were only opened for a certain period of time and for a very specific purpose. Yet, if he has opened an opportunity for you, even if you have to wait a little while for it to be fully realized, don’t get discouraged when opposition comes against you, or if doubts begin to enter your mind, and/or if all the “what ifs” in the world begin to flood your thinking. Believe him. Trust him. And, step out in faith and do whatever it is he has called you to do, believing that he will make the way for you, and that he will supply you with all you need to go in that direction. Trust him, too, with all the hurdles along the way. He will never leave you or forsake you. He is completely faithful in all that he does, and he will accomplish his will and his purposes in our lives and through our lives for his glory. Those who now make pretenses of faith in Jesus Christ, but who are really following after Satan and the flesh, and who serve to oppose the Lord’s servants and the message of the full gospel of Jesus Christ, although appearing right now as though they have the upper hand, will one day bow the knee to Jesus Christ, will be humbled before God, and will learn from God that the Lord’s servants were truly the loved of God. So, we just need to put our persecutors into the hands of God, and just trust God to work in their lives for his purposes. Hour of Trial There is a promise here for those who keep God’s word, who patiently endure, and who do not deny his name, that they will be kept “from” the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. Many Christians here in America have interpreted this scripture in conjunction with their belief in a pre-tribulation rapture, and have thus applied this to all who claim to know Christ - whether they keep his word or not, or whether they deny his name by their lifestyles or not. Also, by interpreting this passage in this way, they translate this Greek word into English as merely “from,” indicating they will escape (be exempted) from tribulation. Yet, is that truly the promise here? And, can it be applied across the board today to all who claim to know Christ, although by their lifestyles many of them deny him? Well, first of all, it appears that the Greek word translated here as “from” literally has more to do with the Lord Jesus keeping (preserving; holding on to) us from within (under) the trial and extending to its outcome (Source: biblehub.com). This reminds me of 1 Corinthians 10:13 where it says that God will not let us be tempted beyond what we can bear, but when we are tempted he will also provide a way out so we can endure it. This Greek word often translated as “a way out” in 1 Co. 10:13 seems to have a similar meaning as the word “from” in this Revelation 3 passage. They both have to do with “out from and to” and with “outcome.” Yet, there is also a sense of being able to endure the trial or the persecution, as well, because we are being kept by Jesus Christ. So, I believe this is speaking more of perseveration under and deliverance from within the trial itself rather than a literal escape (exemption) from trial. The same applies to temptation. We are not promised exemption from trial, tribulation, persecution or temptation throughout the NT. In fact, we are told we are destined for them, but that Jesus will give us all we need to endure and to be victorious to the end. Hold On So, I believe the real promise here actually fits with the rest of what we have talked about here concerning the sovereignty of God. There are many who oppose us and who stand in opposition to the full gospel message, even among those who claim to know Christ but who are truly disciples of Satan. We don’t have to fear them, because God is absolutely sovereign over all things in our lives, and nothing can happen to us unless God allows it, and he allows it for a purpose. No human can thwart the plans of Almighty God. Amen! As well, all throughout the NT we are promised that we will have to endure persecution, hatred, mocking, trials, temptations, beatings, imprisonments and even death for the sake of the gospel and for the sake of the name of Jesus, but that we are to endure patiently, and we are to keep trusting our Lord to see us through these difficult times. Many Christians all throughout history have had to and are presently suffering such trials and persecutions, so why should we in America think that we should be exempt? When we run away from pain and suffering, and we do not do the will of God for our lives, then we lose certain rewards from God in heaven. Honestly, though, my mind can’t comprehend such rewards other than I believe we will lose out on the blessings of obedience in this life, and that we will miss out on the opportunities provided to us by God to affect other lives for Jesus Christ and for eternity. So, we should not let humans or trials unsettle us, but we should trust in Jesus Christ, believe that he will hold on to us, that he will show us the way, that he will give us all we need to accomplish his purposes and his will, and that one day we will get to be with him forever, face to face. Amen! What a Friend We Have in Jesus Joseph M. Scriven / Charles C. Converse What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer! O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer. Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere? We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer. Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share? Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer. Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care? Precious Savior, still our refuge; take it to the Lord in prayer. Do thy friends despise, forsake thee? Take it to the Lord in prayer! In his arms he'll take and shield thee; thou wilt find a solace there.