Sunday, November 11, 2007

There’s Just Something About That Name

“I’m delighted that you are here to worship with us this 24th week after Pentecost,” Pastor Brad Shannon said in his opening remarks. “When God opens a door, nothing can shut that door.”

Other special features of today’s service included Scripture readings from Haggai 1:15b-2:9 and II Thessalonians 2: 1-5 & 13-17 and a prayer of dedication for the Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes. This day also we honored Lillian Peterson on her 88th birthday which we celebrated after the service.

The sermon today used as its springboard the letter to the church of Philadelphia found in Revelation 3:7-13.

There is something about names. Some names are funny. Some people, like Sean Coombs (aka Puff Daddy, P Diddy etc.) change their names from time to time. Some, like Sting, Bono and Oprah, are known for just “a name.” And a lot of cities are known by their names, like Tinseltown, The Big Apple, and Motor City.

The city of Philadelphia in Biblical times, the city to which this letter was written, had undergone very challenging times. It was a city with an ever changing identity, with both cultural and literal earthquakes, and for the Christians there it was a city with unrelenting persecution. To the Christians in this city Jesus said, “I will write on them a new name.” And the Lord promised that their future would be to live in a city that will not be shaken.

The passage begins, “These are the words of him who is holy and true who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.” This reference to keys hearkens back to Isaiah 22:22 which states, “I will place the key of the house of David around his neck. What he opens no one will shut. What he shuts no one will open.”

Jesus says, “I hold the keys to the Kingdom of God. No one can shut what I open or open what I shut.”

Jesus is saying “Trust me. When I open a door, walk through it. I will be there on the other side.”

Finding God’s will is not a puzzle that you have to figure out. Rather, it is a matter of following the Lord’s voice. Jesus has the whole picture in view and we can trust Him.

Pastor Brad shared the illustration of a family that decided to not give each other Christmas presents one year, but to help a needy family. Their decision resulted in countless others being blessed and their efforts being rewarded far in excess of anything they had imagined.

Walk through a door and watch God show up. There are open doors all around us.

To the church in Philadelphia Jesus said, “I know your deeds.” Of the seven letters to the seven churches, this was the only letter with no rebuke.

“8 I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. 9 I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. 10 Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test those who live on the earth.´ vss 8-10

Jesus says “I am going to use you in a powerful way.” Like Philadelphia, we are a small church. God has called us to love and serve Him here. We have a small church, but a big God. It is the Enemy who whisper in ears, “You are small. What can you do?”

There was a small church in Mississippe after Hurricane Katrina that was used of God to feed more than 6,000 people a day, gaining national recognition for their efficiency and faithfulness. You do not have to be big to be effective.

It’s true that when you have open doors you can also have annoying flies. But God will take care of these, too. No matter what we go through, Jesus promises to be with us. Stay filled with hope and joy. And stand firm...

11 I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. 12 Those who are victorious I will make pillars in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name.

A new name! Can you imagine what they felt?

13 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

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