Revelation: Church of Philadelphia, Hold Tight | June 2, 2023
My current favorite TV show involves a sports team where the coach gives them inspirational half-time pep talks that make me cry because for real, I think they are actually for me. Usually, the team is losing at the half, and all seems lost … unless they can believe in the miracle. And the coach’s pep talk motivates them to believe.
Words like, “Hang on. You got this! Don’t give up. Stay focused. You can do it!” are words we have heard and words we have given to help a loved one through a rough situation. A broken relationship, work conflict, family drama, financial disaster, health issues, or a malfunctioning sprinkler system. (That last one was for me and my life group that saved me).
When we feel hopeless and defeated, when we are just plain exhausted from the trauma and the drama, we need words of life to boost us up and back into the game.
But it’s more than a game… it’s spiritual warfare. In Philadelphia, the church needed encouragement to persevere through the trials that were wearing them out. Jesus gives a pep talk:
Revelation 3:8b-11 ESV
I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. 9 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. 10 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. 11 I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown.
In other words, You don’t have much strength, I know that; you used what you had to keep my Word. You didn’t deny me when times were rough … Because you kept my Word in passionate patience, I’ll keep you safe in the time of testing. I will protect you … hang on! It’s almost over. Salvation is coming!
Ever felt like that? Barely any strength left? The Apostle Paul felt like that when he begged God over and over to remove the thorn in his flesh. But God didn’t remove it:
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 ESV
9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
God’s kingdom is so upside down. When we are at our lowest point and emptied of our own strength, Christ comes in and fills us with His when we surrender. He may not remove your trial. But He will strengthen you in it if you let Him.
James 1:2-6 ESV
Testing of Your Faith
2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.
Lord, how we wish you would remove the trials! We pray for good health reports and better relationships and a parking spot near the front. Help us instead to ask, What are you trying to teach me in this? Lord give me strength to endure, and may You receive the glory. Amen.