I have in my possession an important piece of history. It is a small piece of concrete that came from the Brandenburg Gate in East Berlin. This wall was torn down and the way between the two Germanys was open. One of my college professors gave it to me. Before the wall came down he used to go behind the iron curtain with gospel literature to minister in East Germany. It always was a very dangerous trip and we prayed much for our professor. Then there came the wonderful day when the wall came down and the door opened.
Jesus wrote to the church in Philadelphia in Rev. 3:7-13. He commended this faithful church and told them that He had set before them an open door and no man could shut it. In the scriptures open doors are often referred to as opportunities for ministry. Paul mentions to the Corinthians a great and effective door had opened to him (1 Cor. 16:9). The church in Philadelphia was given an open door to serve the Lord in their community. Jesus had opened up that door and no man could shut it. He encouraged them further by telling them why He had given them the open door. There were three things He commended them for. First they had a little strength. They didn’t need great ability or wonderful gifts but if they would use their little strength and combine it with His unlimited power great things could be accomplished. They were also commended for keeping His Word. They were faithful to hold firmly to the teachings of Christ. The third thing they were encouraged to hear from the Lord is that they had not denied Jesus’ name.
I wonder what doors of opportunity the Lord has set before us? Has our Lord opened a chance for you to speak to a neighbor about Christ? Is the door of an exciting new ministry beginning to open for you? May God give us the insight to see the open doors and the courage to go through them.
As far as the first responders could tell, the man was dead. He was cold and stiff, according to the medical examiner's report. But then on the way to the morgue, he started moving. Everyone believed him to be dead but the 46 year old man regained his color and started breathing. First responders were puzzled about the man who they thought was dead but turned out to be alive.
The Lord Jesus wrote to the church in Sardis about being dead or alive. But instead of being presumed dead but really alive, they received the opposite autopsy from the Lord Jesus. They had a reputation for being alive but Jesus pronounced them dead. Rev. 3:1 states: “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write, These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead”. Perhaps everyone knew of the church and its past reputation. Maybe at one time the church had been busily involved in heartfelt service for Christ. They may have received a name for their great Bible teaching. At one time it may have been filled with joyful worshipers. They may have been the place where the gospel was boldly proclaimed. However the church was living on its past glory. It was dead.
When I think of those words that Jesus spoke to Sardis it makes me ask a serious question. Is our church dead? My prayer is that we always be a church that is fully alive. In order to avoid the death certificate a church needs to show signs of life. Signs of life such as an evangelistic passion, energetic service, a heartbeat for missions, a warm love for the saints, and a vibrant worship of Christ keep us out of the morgue. Even if a church is dead Jesus comes along with His defibrillator and tells them to be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain... hold fast and repent. Let’s never become a morgue with a steeple.
Few names in the Bible bring more images of evil than the wicked queen named Jezebel. This pagan queen was married to King Ahab of Israel. She caused the nation of Israel to be steeped in idolatry. In the letter to the church at Thyatira in Revelation 2:18-29, Jesus addressed the church residing in this city. He commended them for several things. They were hard working in their labors for the Lord. Their faith and love were strong. They exercised patient endurance in difficulties. They even could trace a growth in their service to Christ (Rev. 2:19).
However the all-seeing eyes of Christ detected a major problem in the church at Thyatira. They tolerated the teachings of a prophetess called Jezebel. Perhaps this “Jezebel” represented an actual woman prophetess who was leading people astray in the church. Her teaching was influencing folks in the church to give in to idolatry and immorality. Even though the church was doing many things right this appeal to loose morals and the deep things of Satan (Rev. 2:24) was about to elicit divine judgment from the Lord Jesus. He called for her and her followers to repent.
Sometimes Jezebel shows up in 21st. century churches as well. When we allow for compromise in the area of sexual purity we fall under the sway of her teaching. When we exchange the apostle’s doctrine for so-called enlightened teachings that claim to go deeper we commit spiritual idolatry. When we abuse our freedom in Christ to live any way we want we are being seduced by her wiles. When this type of Jezebel influence creeps into a church it will be judged.
Christ appealed to those in the church in Thyatira who did not join with the Jezebel crowd to hold fast to what you have until I come (Rev. 2:25). They and all overcomers will be privileged to rule and reign with Christ. They would also be given “the morning star”. What a beautiful description of Jesus Christ. True believers are always looking for the Morning Star not some queen of darkness named Jezebel.
Evil seems to be taking root in society all around us. Crime and violence in our communities, political correctness in our schools, and religious intolerance in our government seem to be growing stronger. We are intent on running as fast as we can away from biblical principles and just plain decency. It makes one wonder if the devil has set up shop next door.
The church in Pergamos that Jesus addressed in Revelation 2 was said to be dwelling where Satan’s throne is (Rev. 2:13). Even though they lived in such a wicked place they were commended for not denying Christ’s name under the pressure wave of persecution. A man named Antipas was even martyred for his faith (Rev. 2:13). Jesus warned some in that church who were caving in to the pressure to compromise. He told them to repent or He would have to deal with those who were compromising.
It is hard to be holy, pure and faithful when we are surrounded by evil. But our precious Lord has called us to be different. Just like salt flavors the tasteless and light exposes the darkness, God’s people need to stand out. Jesus described the genuine believers in the church in Pergamos as overcomers. He promised them and all overcomers that when we get to heaven He would give us 3 things. He would give us the hidden manna, a white stone, and a new name. I understand the hidden manna as our complete satisfaction with Jesus Christ who is described as the Bread of Life (John 6:35). The white stone symbolizes our being not guilty by virtue of our faith in Christ. We also are given a new name that is engraved on that white stone. What a wonderful promise that we who were children of wrath are given a new name by our Heavenly Father.
No matter how powerful the forces of evil and no matter how close to Satan’s throne we may live the church will still triumph. Jesus said: “… on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18).
Poverty is a sad blight upon our world. Every day many go without the basic essentials for living. Not enough food, inadequate shelter, and lack of clean water to drink are daily struggles for millions of people. Maybe you don’t look at yourself as being poor but maybe you do have struggles making ends meet.
The church in Smyrna from Revelation 2 was also struck by poverty. They were suffering persecution from the political and religious authorities. Because of their faith they were banned from the trade guilds. This lack of work had added to their difficulties. Jesus wrote to this persecuted and poverty stricken church and told them He knew everything they were going through. He saw how much food was left in the cupboard, He was aware of their suffering, and he knew that they would be imprisoned for their faith. Jesus told this poor church that in reality they were rich (Rev. 2:9) and their faithfulness to death would earn them the crown of life (Rev. 2:10).
It is very possible to be absolutely poor and amazingly rich at the same time. You may not have enough money for the basic necessities of life. You may be living from paycheck to paycheck. You may even have to depend upon the generosity of others just to make it through. However you can still be rich. For those who know Christ we possess the most valuable treasures anyone could ever hope to own. We have forgiveness from all our sins, we have the peace of God, and we enjoy the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. We are rich in the joy and contentment our faith adds to our lives. We are rich because we possess eternal life and will never die. One day we will go to our Father’s House in heaven and enjoy His presence for all eternity. We can lay up treasures in heaven by serving our Lord here on the earth. No one can steal or nothing can devalue the pricelessness of those treasures. No matter how little we have financially we can be rich spiritually.
Pastor Stultz has been writing this weekly devotional for many years. In 2009, he published a compilation of devotionals in book form, also called Moments of Meditation