Thursday, August 13, 2015, 5:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “To Be Like Him.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Revelation 3:7-13 (NASB). Open and Shut (vv. 7-8) “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says this: ‘I know your deeds. Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name. Jesus Christ is the speaker. He is holy (pure; righteous) and true (not a liar like men/women). He holds the key of David, i.e. he is the one who decides who will enter his kingdom and who will be rejected. Man has no power within himself to earn his way into heaven. His good deeds will never outweigh his bad deeds. Only through genuine faith in Jesus Christ can we enter God’s eternal kingdom. And, no man on the earth, and no evil spirits in this world can shut the doors of heaven in anyone’s face, though many may try. Jesus Christ is the only one with the power and the authority to ultimately determine who goes to heaven and who does not, i.e. he is the one who opens and shuts heaven’s door. So, for whom is this door open, which no one can shut? It is for those who have little power in themselves, but who have kept (obeyed) God’s word, and have not denied his name. So, what is this saying? It is saying what Jesus and the apostles taught with regard to faith in Jesus Christ and our eternal salvation. Jesus said that if anyone would come after him, he must deny self, take up his cross daily (die daily to sin and self) and follow (obey) Jesus. He said if we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self), we will lose them for eternity, but if we lose our lives (die with Christ to sin), we will gain eternal life (Lu. 9:23-25). He said his sheep know his voice, they listen to him, and they follow him (Jn. 10:27-30). The apostles taught the same. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24). Jesus died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave himself up for us (2 Co. 5:15). He died that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us who walk not according to the flesh, but who conduct our lives according to the Spirit, for if we walk according to the flesh, we will die, but if by the Spirit we put to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live (Ro. 8:1-14). The way we come to know Christ is by putting off our old lives of living for sin and self, by being transformed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God, and by putting on the new self, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (See: Eph. 4:17-24). If we say we have fellowship with God, but we continue to conduct our lives according to our sinful flesh, we are liars (1 Jn. 1:6). Opposing Forces (v. 9) Behold, I will cause those of the synagogue of Satan, who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie—I will make them come and bow down at your feet, and make them know that I have loved you. So, what is this “Synagogue of Satan”? A synagogue is a Jewish congregation, a place of worship for Jews, or a building that is used for Jewish religious services (M-W Dictionary). The Jews, prior to Jesus’ death and resurrection and ascension into heaven, were God’s chosen people. So, the implication here is that these were people who claimed to have a relationship with God, but they were actually servants of Satan, and their places of worship and the congregations themselves were of Satan, and not of God. For the Jews who did not accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Messiah, they would be ones who would think they were worshipers of God, but they are truly Satan’s servants, because they deny Jesus as their Messiah. For those who claim to know God because they claim to believe in Jesus Christ, but who deny him by their words and their actions, the same applies. For instance, many people think they are Christians because they were brought up in the institutional church, or because they believe their nation is a “Christian” nation, or because their parents claimed to be Christians, or because they went through some religious training. Many people see Christianity as a religion and not as a relationship with God. Others believe they can voice a prayer or have some emotional experience or make some intellectual assent to who Jesus is, and to what he did for us in dying for our sins, but believe God requires nothing of them in the way of repentance, obedience or submission to God. They may claim to know God, but by their very lives they deny him, for they never truly came to the cross of Christ, died with Christ to sin, nor were they resurrected with Christ to newness of life to be lived (walked) in Christ’s righteousness and holiness. In other words, they are not “born again” of the Spirit of God, but are Christian in name only. There is no middle ground with God, not that we must live in sinless perfection, but that we are either for Jesus Christ or we are against him. In other words, if we claim to have fellowship with God, but we continue (are on a course) to walk (conduct our lives) in darkness (according to our sinful flesh), we are liars, for we don’t really know God. If we say we know God, but we don’t keep (obey) his Word, then we are liars. We don’t really know him. Again, I don’t believe this is speaking of sinless perfection, but it is speaking about how we walk, i.e. how we conduct our lives, either according to the Spirit or according to the flesh. There are many who claim to know Jesus Christ, but who were never crucified with Jesus to sin, because they have come to believe the lie which says God does not require death to sin, although scripture teaches he does. And, so, they end up opposing God and his word, and his teachings on the crucified life, and thus they end up opposing those who are following Jesus Christ with their lives, and thus they become servants of Satan in following after the flesh, and by opposing God’s Word and his messengers. Yet, if the Lord has opened a door of ministry for us in sharing the gospel of our salvation, no human being nor any evil force can prevail against it. If our testimony is hindered, it is because God has allowed it, and he has the power to work through that situation for his glory. God often advances his kingdom through the church being under great persecution. As well, if the Lord 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. The Hour of Testing (vv. 10-13) Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown. He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; 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 out of heaven from My God, and My new name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ 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. There is a sense of being able to endure the trial or the persecution because we are being kept by Jesus Christ. So, I believe this is speaking more of preservation under and deliverance from within the trial itself rather than a literal escape (exemption) from trial. 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 through them (See: Ro. 5:3-5; Phil. 3:7-11; 1 Pet. 1:6-7; 4:12-17; 1 Thess. 3:1-5; Jas. 1:2-4; Matt. 5:10-12; Lu. 21:12-19; 2 Co. 1:3-11). So, who is this promise for? It is for those who have kept the Word of Christ’s patient endurance, which appears to be the gospel of our salvation, which definitely teaches that we must endure, continue, abide, hold on to, and remain in Christ and in his Word if we want to have the promise and hope of eternal life with God in glory (See: John 8:31-32; Romans 11:17-24; I Co 15:2; Col 1:21-23; Hebrews 3:6, 14-15; 2 Pet. 1:5-11; I John 2:24-25). If we do not remain in Christ and in his Word, but we “jump ship” when the going gets tough (See: Matt. 13:20-21), then we don’t have that promise. So, we must hold fast to what we have, so we don’t lose our crown. We must endure with Christ to the very end, but not in our own power and strength. If we are willing, and we submit our lives to Christ Jesus, it is Christ who sustains us and who carries us through, and who completes us in Christ. We who overcome (present and continuous), i.e. we who endure to the end in the power and strength of the Spirit of God within us, and who do not jump ship and desert to the enemy, but who resist Satan, flee temptation, draw near to God, and who continue in Christ to the end, we will be set free from these flesh bodies which war against our souls and we will no longer suffer the temptations of the flesh which try to draw us away from God, but we will be steadfast, secure, and never moving or even being tempted to move away from the hope of our salvation. Oh, how I long for that day when we no longer have to fight off Satan’s evil attacks against us, but when we are truly at rest in our eternal home. To Be Like Him / An Original Work March 16, 2014 / Based off Scripture Crucified you are with Jesus. To be like Him, oh, you’ll be, Because He died at Calv’ry, So from sin you’d be free. Oh, what joy He brings into your life, Giving life with Him endlessly. Oh, what plans He has for your life. Share the gospel faithfully. Show the people He loves them. Now His witness you’ll be. Tell the world of sin about Jesus, How He died for them on a tree. Purifying hearts, He saves them, Who believe on Christ, God’s Son. Turning now from their idols, New lives they have begun. Jesus saves from sin; we’re forgiven. Over sin, the vict’ry He won! When He comes again to take us To be with Him evermore, There will be no more crying. Gladness will be in store. Heavens joys will now overtake us: We’ll be with our Lord evermore.