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Sermon: Looking For Rewards
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Sermon: Looking For Rewards

Posted on Thu, May 4, 2006

Most companies are now offering rewards to their customers. Jesus Christ offers us eternal rewards...

 LOOKING FOR REWARDS? Sermon No. 7 Revelation Series
 The church at Philadelphia
Revelation 3:7-13
 
Introduction
The city of Philadelphia was located 28 miles southeast of Sardis, the city we studied last week. Philadelphia was situated at a “corner” where three regions came together; three countries came together at this strategic location; Lycia, Lydia, and Phyrgia. (Fygia) . Philadelphia was founded by Attalus II whose brother was the king of Pergamum, The city was named Philadelphia because of the great love and loyalty the two brothers had for each other. The city was founded in an effort to spread Greek culture to the surrounding area. 
 
The city of Philadelphia was established so that it would be a gateway for the spread of Hellenism. (Greek language and customs) It was the gateway to the central part of Asia Minor which led form the harbor of Smyrna to the northeastern part of Asia Minor. The city was situated in a strategic place on the main route of the Imperial Post It was called the gateway to the east. It was the connecting point to the rest of the region. 
 
You might think of Philadelphia the same way that people from the surrounding area think of Minot. Once you get to Minot, you can get on Hwy. 83 and go south or north, you canget on Hwy. 52 and go southeast, or west, you can get on Hwy 2 and go northeast.
 
When Jesus spoke to the people at Philadelphia of a wide-open door, they would have immediately thought of the history of their city and the opportunity to influence thousands of people that were passing through the city. But the door Jesus was opening was for influence of a different kind. It was a strategic location for the spreading of the Gospel. 
 
The city of Philadelphia still exists today, though only the remnants of the actual church remain. It is an area that lies close to a fault line so it has a lot of earthquakes; After one great earthquake, many people left and never returned. 
 
The Philadelphia church –represents the period of church history from the 19th century to the Rapture, often referred to as the revived church. This was/is the time in church history of the great missionary outreach of the church. Great revivals and awakenings. The Philadelphian Church will still be here when Christ comes back for His own. Though some Philadelphia churches will become Laodicea churches. (nest week’s study)
 
To this gateway city, Jesus writes a letter to a church that is known for what it accomplishes.The church of Philadelphia was certainly located in a place of tremendous opportunity. It has been given an open door by Jesus and they have been faithfully walking through it. They have kept the Word of God and have been faithfully holding the name of Christ high and proclaiming it to everyone. On top of that, they are a church that has little strength, --isn’t it interesting that Jesus commends them for their “little strength?? They were a small church that had little strength on their own; this forced them to rely on the strength they could get from Christ alone. 
 
2 Cor. 12:9 Paul said that his power was make perfect in weakness. If the Lord is the one opening the door, then He will provide the strength to walk through it. 
Our Lord alone opens the door, and if you have a little strength and its His, --your OK. It’s when you have big strength and its yours that your in trouble. When you are depending on your building, your budget, your staff, your creative ideas, and your outreach you may be unsuccessful; but if your dependence is in Christ and the open door He provides, you have the recipe for victory. The church at Philadelphia was not much if you looked at them from the outside, but they were mighty in the hands of God
 
We need to realize what God can do with our little strengthIt is when we feel totally inadequate to carry out the ministry God has given us,---that we are in the right place. Big opportunity and little strength is God’s recipe for victory and a great future. 
People who are faithful to do the very best that they can and have no other master than Jesus are the ones Jesus can really work through. . 
 
This church was not without trouble, our text says that people who claimed to be Jews, this refers to Jews who claimed to believe in Jesus but really didn’t. These synagogues of Satan were attempting to cause trouble for this church. They must have been a very strong influence, because Jesus recognizes that they have what seems to be the upper hand on the church. Jesus says that even though the Christians in the church have little strength, they will one day see the false Jews bow at their feet
 
Jesus is telling you and I in this verse, that we don’t have to worry or feel bad about those who put us down because we are believers. Because the day will come when they will bow down at our feet and wish they would have believed our message. 
 
How can you and I be sure that Jesus Christ will enable us to be victorious??—How do we know that He will reward us??
 
Because He is Holy, --He is God, he embodies the characteristics of God.
Think about Christ’s character,-- His word, His action and His purposes were set apart before time begin. The Holy one calls us, then opens the door for us.. 
1 Peter 1:15 Just as He who called you is holy, so you should be holy in every manner of life. If Christ can be holy, he has every right to ask us to be holy. He establishes the fact of his holiness at the beginning of this letter. 
 
He that is True
Greek word –has to do with the genuine,--the original. He is the original, not a copy. He is the authentic God not a manufactured one. There were hundreds of false gods and goddesses in those days (1 Cor. 8:5-6) but only Jesus Christ could rightfully claim to be the true God. When the martyrs in heaven addressed Jesus, they called Him “holy and true. Because of his Holiness, He had to judge sin, and because He is true, He has to vindicate His people who have been wickedly slain for believing in Him. That’s what the tribulation is all about—the punishment of those who refused to live for Jesus while on the earth.
 
Not only is Jesus holy and true, but He has the authority to open and close doors. 
In order to really understand the background of this imagery you need to look at Isaiah 22:15-25. Assyria had invaded Judah (just as Isaiah had warned), but the Jewish leaders were trusting Egypt, instead of God to deliver the nation.
 
 One of the “bad” leaders named Shebna, used his office, NOT for the good of the people, but for his own private gain. God saw to it that Shebna was removed from office and the a faithful man named Eliakim, was put in his place and given the keys of authority.; Eliakim was a picture of Jesus, even though he was surrounded by wickedness, he was a dependable administrator of the affairs of God’s people Israel. Jesus has more than just the key of authority to the temple; He holds the keys to heaven and hell in His hand. 
 
Rev. 1:18 He that hath the key of David and He that opens and no one can shut
 
Jesus says that he has been given the keys to heaven. Jesus Christ is the one who opens and closes the door into heaven. He is the one that gives us open doors to share His love each and every day. 
 
What does the Bible mean when it talks about an open door?—
1 Cor. 16: 8-9  Paul refers to an “effective door” that was opened to him for ministry.
Great door, though there were many enemies.
 
2 Cor. 2: 12 Paul refers to an open door in Tro-as meaning an opportunity for ministry God set before him. Tremendous opportunity for me to do what God has called me to do..
 
Colossians 4:3 Paul requests prayer for a “door for the word” to open, referring again to a testimony to preach the Gospel.
Always in Scripture an “open door” is an opportunity for ministry God sets before us. 
 
What does an open door from Jesus look like??
1)The most obvious open door is the door opened to unbelievers to enter into the family of God through Christ, who is the door. 
2)When our Lord lines things up, giving you and I the opportunity to begin to talk about our faith. An open door is an opportunity to show another person the Love of Christ. Open doors may lead to bringing them through the door of eternal life. Jesus Christ is the One who opens the door, however, you see, he is counting on you and me to bring people to the door and to walk through it with them. Jesus is the doorkeeper, and He beckons us to bring people to the door He is holding open.
 
Examples of open doors  
Mon.—Walking to work and someone asked me about coming to our church.
Tue.---Had the opportunity to visit with someone from our church about sermons. (opened dialogue)
Wed—I made a phone call and ended up spending over an hour visiting with someone about their faith. 
Thurs. My barber (an unbeliever) started talking about the Bible and how everything happens for a reason.
Fri. I had a phone call that enabled me to show the love of Jesus to a family. 
 
What open doors have you been given?? Have you been looking?? I’m not talking about going from house to house to see if people locked their house or not. Though Jesus did go from person to person to see if they were open to the Gospel or not
 
How do doors get opened??—
1. Through my FERVANT prayers. (intercessory )One of the pastors in town told me their congregation began praying together and they did that for 2 years, and now they are beginning to have doors opened to them. 
 Pray for God to open doors—(Thurs. April 26,06 daily bread) Luke 11:9 –10 Knock and the door will opened to you. To him who knocks, the door will be opened. Opportunities to share the Gospel. In Colossians, the apostle Paul recognized that Christ was the door opener. 
 
2. Through my READINESS to identify them
The church at Philadelphia was walking through the open door of opportunity and Christ continued to hold it open for their ministry in the city. Even amidst the obstacles they had to face they continued in their readiness.
When you start believing that one person can make a difference, you are ready to receive an open door. When you are totally depending on Christ you are ready to receive an open door.  We need to see Jesus holding the door open for us, beckoning us to walk through it. We can’t walk through open doors until we can see them. We need Christ to open our eyes to see. (You may need to pray to see the open doors that have already been placed in front of you.)
 
3. Through my WILLINGNESS to walk through them. 
It’s not enough to say “you know, I recognized an open door the other day”. If we are thinking “open doors” we need to be prepared and willing to act when our Lord opens a door for us. People who lament the lack of open doors may do well to raise the question as to their capacity to use open doors. Christ promises open doors for those who will use them.
 
What were the obstacles they were facing?
1. Lack of strength Rev. 3:8
This was not a large or strong church, however it was a faithful one. They were true to God’s Word and unafraid to bear His name. Rev. 3:10 suggests to us that they had endured some special testing and had proved faithful. It is not size or strength of a church that determines its ministry, but faith in the call and command of our Lord.. “God’s commands ARE God’s enablements.” If Jesus Christ gave them an open door, then He would see to it that they were able to walk though it! 
 
 
2. Opposition of the Jews in the city Rev.3:9
This was really the opposition of Satan, (the apostle Paul said in Eph. 6:12) we do not battle against flesh and blood, but against powers and principalities. These people may have been Jews in the flesh, but they were not “true Israelites” according to the New Testament. They did not believe in Christ as their Lord and Savior, so their failure to believe in Christ made them all the more open to the deception of Satan. We know from our study of the Bible that satan often uses religious people as part of his arsenal in an attempt to hold back the kingdom of God. 
 
The apostle Paul, perhaps the most prolific missionary that ever lived, said in 1 Cor. 16:9 that there are obstacles, but faith sees the opportunities! And since the Lord holds that key, He is in control of the outcome! So what do we have to fear?—Nobody can close the doors as long as Jesus keeps them open. Fear, unbelief, and delay have caused people to miss many REWARDS God is waiting to give them. 
 
.Open doors need to be seen and walked through. 
The Church at Philadelphia saw the door of opportunity and Christ promised to honor them as they patiently endured trailsWouldn’t it be great to be known as the Church of open door? Do you believe in the open door God is giving this church? Do we recognize the door this church is given? 
 
God wants to give us big opportunities so we will be challenged to depend on Him, recognizing our little strength, and realize that Christ is the one who must empower us to walk through the open door. Strength comes through prayer----Prayer is the basis of our strength. 
 
What keeps doors open?
Christ is the one who opens so no one can shut. He is the one who shuts so that no one can open. So how can doors be kept open? Is there something that can be done so Christ keeps His foot in the door?
 
1. God’s GRACE and mercy for people.
God opens doors because He gave his only Son to die for us. There is nothing God wants more than to open the door of salvation to you! His grace and mercy opens the door so that you may know him in a personal intimate way. Jesus has the key to open the door, however, He has chosen you and me to bring others to the door He is holding open. 
 
God also knows that we need open doors to experience Him in a real way here on earth. He doesn’t want us to be dormant, instead He wants men, women, and children to learn just how much He desires to work though us; He does that by giving us open doors of ministry to others. 
 
 
 
2. My ESTABLISHED trust.
The church at Philadelphia had earned our Lord’s trust. Jesus said He knew their deeds, and he would keep the door open to them because of it. Not only that, Jesus said that He would keep it open because they were patient in their faithful witness. They were laboring long in that open door. They proved that they could be trusted with more and more open doors and larger opportunities. 
 
When we think of an open door what do you think of?? The door on the parsonage has a double cylinder on it. (top and bottom) That door is in such a hurry to get shut; you barely have time to get yourself through it. So you may think that when the Jesus opens the door you have to hurry up while it is open. We find in our text today that Jesus will hold the door open as long as we continue to minister through the door He has given us.
 
3. My VISON to experience God at work 
Last Sunday I placed before you a vision of having ____ Jr. Sunday school children by Christmas. What were your thoughts when you heard that??---Maybe you thought –Oh that would be great---BUT! Do you know our butts aren’t any good at opening doors??. If we want Jesus to keep the door of opportunity open to us, we need to go forward in faith, expecting God to open doors, using our butts only to cushion us because we may fall a time or two before we experience bringing another person through the door with us. Friday I anticipated an open door, I planned on inviting someone to church, but our conversation suddenly ended before I had the opportunity to invite. Recognizing that Christ opens doors and closes them, released me from dismay, realizing that Christ opens and closes doors.
 
The latest thing in advertising and promotion is rewards; You are supposed to use a certain credit card because they will give you points or money back. Even Christian radio offers rewards for listening to their programs. The rewards offered to us by various companies and their promotions may seem good to us, but oh how limited and temporary they are! The rewards program Christ offers in Revelation go way beyond anything anyone else can offer us, in fact, they are out of this world!. 
 
Rewards of the open door: Christ will…
 
1.  FILL me with love for others. 
Are you feeling loved today??---Jesus loves YOU, there is no doubt about it. Christ’s love for those who are faithful to him is emphasized over and over in the Bible. Here in Rev. 3 Jesus wants everyone to know just how much He really does love you. How much does Jesus love you?? He love you enough that He wants to give you and open door. Have you ever stopped to count the ways? Have you discovered a way in which Christ loves you, something you can share with someone else? Jesus loves you, and He wants others to be able to see it and know about it. 
 
Rev. 3:9 Jesus dissolves the tension between ourselves and others. Non-believers are not the enemy. We need to get past that kind of thinking, When you begin to pray for and walk through the open door Jesus gives you, something changes within you, and you will begin to see others differently.
 
 We experience the love of Christ anew when we begin to pray for others, encounter open doors, and then began walking through them.
When your concern for others takes you beyond yourself. 
 
 
2. KEEP me form the hour of trial
In case praying for an open door scares you, Jesus promises the church at Philadelphia that He will preserve them. You no longer need to fear the storm that may come as a result of your prayers. You pray not out of fear, but out of strength and authority. 
Verbally declaring Christ’s right to open the door you need to go through. 
 
Revelation 3:10 Jesus says that since you have been patiently waiting for me, I will save you from the hour of temptation that will try them that dwell upon the earth. It is a promise that has more to do with our immediate situation. Jesus will keep those who walk through open doors from the tribulation—it’s called the rapture of the church. We will study this at a future date, but certainly if Jesus will keep you and I from the horrors of the tribulation, He will also preserve through any trials associated with bringing people though the open door He provides. 
 
3. Honor me FOREVER. Honor and Respect of others Vs. 8- 9
Vs 8---Trouble making Jews no longer tolerating them, Christ will humiliate the enemies of the church. People will look to the church for direction and guidance. Vs.9 tells us that unbelievers will bow at our feet, Wouldn’t it be so much better to have brought them through the door of salvation and be standing with us rather than bowing to us??
 
 I will make them fall down at your feet; .Have you ever had someone come to you seeking advice because they know you can be trusted?? Perhaps you have had someone come to you because they have observed you and know that you have something they don’t. Sometimes non-Christians want to rub shoulders with Christians hoping some of God’s blessings will be transferred to them. 
 
Vs. 12 I will make him a Pillar in the temple
All that remained in Philadelphia after a major earthquake were the pillars of a huge temple. Pillars in God’s new temple will last forever. Christ is building His new kingdom on us and our response to the open door.
 
You may feel like the things you are doing for the kingdom of God are minor. You may have the false idea that you are not important to this church or to the kingdom of Christ. If that’s what your thinking about yourself, I’m here to tell you your wrong as you can be. Christ values each of his own, like a shepherd cares for his sheep. Jesus cares for you and he promises that if you are faithful to the end, you won’t be just a picture on the wall, or some insignificant part of the church in heaven, you will be a pillar. Your faithfulness to the open doors down here, prepares you for “pillarhood” up there. 
 
4. Give me a VIBRANT testimony. 
 
The greatest reward you and I could ever receive is to be rewarded with an opportunity to share our faith with someone, and then have the joy of being there when they ask Christ into their heart. 
A New Name Vs. 12
Have you ever wondered what your name will be in heaven? Jesus says He is going to give you and I a new name. Jesus is going to give us a new name because our old one won’t be good enough for his precious saints when they get to heaven. 
 
Conclusion
 
Lot of churches are given open doors like the Philadelphia church-- Sardis had an open door and because they wouldn’t walk through it the church died.
 
Its not enough to believe the Word of God, it’s not enough to believe the truth, it not enough to have doctrine so that you know what you believe and why. If the opportunity is there and your not ready to accept that opportunity you will eventfully die. 
The open door is the key to developing the church that Jesus rewards. When God gives us the opportunity, we must as a church take that opportunity, relying on Christ’ strength to empower us and enable us to be victorious. 
 
Get out of the Boat- Jesus told Peter to join Him on the water. Getting out of the boat is difficult enough, what Jesus is asking us to do is to stay out on the water and follow Him. People are doing more than just dieing, they are dieing only to wake up to a burning body cast into darkness filled with deeper pain and loneliness than anyone can imagine. It’s up to us to us, to 1) pray for them, (open door) 2) expect and watch for an open door—(how often? Everyday!) 3) Walk through the door—You have to cross the Jordan to get to the promised land—Jesus says it like this--be found faithful to the end and I will give you not just any name, but a new name—the name of Christ himself. and the crown of life. 
 
 
   Discussion: Sermon: Looking For Rewards

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