AN OPEN DOOR

Scripture Reading: Revelation 3:7-13

“I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know you have but little power and yet you have kept My word and have not denied My name.” (Revelation 3:8)

What an encouraging message this must have been to the people who belonged to the church at Philadelphia — “Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut.” The open door is the wonderful opportunity to spread the gospel. Paul spoke of open door opportunities that had been given to him — “Now when I came to Troas for the gospel of Christ and when a door was opened for me in the Lord…” (II Corinthians 2:12). “Praying at the same time for us as well, that God may open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned” (Colossians 4:3). “And when they had arrived and gathered the church together, they began to report all things that God had done with them and how He had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles” (Acts 14:22).

In the eyes of the world the church at Philadelphia had little power, but God put before it an open door which no one could shut. The believers in Philadelphia had kept God’s word and they did not deny the name of Christ in spite of persecution. Christ honored them by giving them an open door for the spread of the gospel.

I believe God continues to set open doors to those who are faithful to Him. We are living in one of the most difficult periods of history that I have ever known. The polarization is great in our country politically and racially. Covid-19 has changed our world. People are afraid and uncertain. I believe God is opening a door for His people to share the hope, love, and grace of Jesus Christ. Let’s not miss this opportunity to tell others about our Savior. We have had so much bad news lately. People need good news and we have the good news of the gospel to share. The door has been opened for us. Let’s be faithful to our calling to be ambassadors for Christ.

Lord Jesus, thank You for the open door that You have set before us. Let us be bold in proclaiming the good news of the gospel to people who desperately need hope and encouragement.

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RELIGION: AN EMEMY OF THE GOSPEL

Scripture Reading: Revelation 3:1-6

“I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of God.” (Revelation 3:1,2)

Religion is one of the greatest enemies of the gospel. Religion is about man’s efforts to gain God’s favor. It is merit based, which is the exact opposite of the gospel, which is grace based. The gospel says we can never earn the favor and acceptance of God by our works. We are saved by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The church in Sardis had the reputation of being alive, but Jesus said that is was dead. Here was a group of professing Christians who were merely going through the motions of religion. I’m sure the people were regular in their church attendance; they probably gave to the poor; they were steeped in their religious traditions; and they were polite to their neighbors. Paul describes such people in II Timothy 3:5 as “holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power.”

While the people of Sardis were religious, they had not experienced genuine transformation. They were clothed with all the trappings of religiosity. They were “good, moral” people who were attempting to impress people with their religious works. The forms of religion were here, but there was no evidence of gospel transformation. Isaiah describes such people — “Because the people draw near with their words and honor me with lip service, but they remove their hearts from Me, and their reverence for Me consists of traditions learned from rote” (Isaiah 29:13). Thus, Jesus said that He found their deeds to be incomplete in the sight of God.

We must all be on guard for religion, which results in self-righteousness. Our default mode takes us back to religiosity. We easily go back into a works oriented mentality. This is why religion is one of the greatest enemies of the gospel. We forget that our salvation is a gift from God based on the works of His Son.

We must “wake up and strengthen what remains.” We must “remember what we received and heard. We must keep it, and repent” (v. 3). The gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes (Romans 1:16). It transforms us from the inside out. It is about a change of heart which leads to a change of our affections. We begin to love Jesus more than we love ourselves or anything else. We must depend entirely upon Jesus to save us and to transform us. Beware of religion for it will rob us of the joy and peace that are ours in Christ.

Lord Jesus, forgive me when I drift back into religious activity and become more concerned with what others think of me than of experiencing the transforming work of the gospel in my life. Enable me to remember what I have received and heard from You. Let me continually preach the gospel to myself so that I can live by the power of the gospel rather than by my own efforts.

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THE DANGER OF COMPROMISE

Scripture Reading: Revelation 2:18-29

“But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing My servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols.” (Revelation 2:20)

The church at Thyatira was being heavily influenced by a woman called Jezebel. Jezebel was probably not her real name, but she was like Jezebel in the Old Testament (I Kings 16:29-33). This woman called herself a prophetess and she claimed that her authority came from God. Through her teaching, she had led some of the believers in Thyatira astray. In particular she was teaching and seducing some of the members of the church to practice sexual immorality.

The real problem was that the church tolerated this woman and her teaching. The leaders of the church failed to stop her from leading people astray. Perhaps some of the leaders had been influenced by her as well. Some of the members of the church were making compromises by following her teaching.

I imagine that Jezebel was teaching something like this — “In order for you to really know God, you have to practice evil.” Isn’t that exactly what Satan said to Eve? The world with its allurements calls us to compromise our faith. We must be careful not to compromise what we know is true and right. It is so easy to make a series of small compromises that later lead to bigger compromises which can greatly hinder our faith and can have disastrous consequences.

We live in a day when we are called to tolerance. We are being told that we must be tolerant to the beliefs and practices of others, even though they clearly are in opposition to God’s truth. There are things that we cannot tolerate. We must be willing to take a stand for what is right and true. Jesus spoke these words to the faithful members of the church at Thyatira — “Only hold fast what you have until I come” (v. 25). By the grace and power of God, we can hold fast to our beliefs and not compromise.

Lord Jesus, give me the strength to hold fast to Your truth. Everyday I face the danger of making compromises to my faith. Keep me strong and enable me to walk in line with the gospel. I want to be faithful and I want to bring glory to You.

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SATAN’S THRONE

Scripture Reading: Revelation 2:12-17

“I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. Yet you hold fast My name, and you did not deny My faith.” (Revelation 2:13)

We will be meeting Satan head on in the book of Revelation. Most of you know these things about Satan but they are worth mentioning again. Satan is a fallen angel who leads a host of fallen angels, whom we call demons. Satan is more powerful than human beings, but he is not omnipotent like God is. Satan is not omnipresent. However, he can move very quickly like other angelic beings can. This explains Christ’s words to the church at Pergamum — “I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is.”

Pergamum was a city under the great influence of Satan. It was as if his throne was there. Pergamum was a city hostile to Christians and a dangerous place for them to live. Unfortunately we are seeing Satan having a greater influence on our culture today. He is active in our government, law courts, educational system, media, and society in general. It seems that the moral fiber of our country is being undermined by his attacks. We are seeing a greater hostility toward believers today.

Satan hinders faith — “And even if our gospel is being veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving” (II Corinthians 4:3,4). Satan attacks and accuses those of us who are believers — “”Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11).

We must realize that we also live in a dangerous police. We are in a spiritual battle against evil forces — “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). We must be on guard and we must be prepared for a fierce battle with Satan and his forces.

In spite of the intense spiritual attacks of Satan, the people in the church at Pergamum held fast the name of Jesus. They did not deny the faith. Our King defended them and He will defend us. He will equip us to handle the attacks of Satan (Ephesians 6:10-20). He will strengthen us and ultimately we will win the war because our King is more powerful than our enemy Satan.

Lord Jesus, prepare me for the spiritual battles I will face today. Give me strength to resist the devil. Enable me to withstand his fiery attacks on me. You are my King who will defend me. I hold fast to my faith in You and believe that You have already defeated Satan and that you will give me victory over him as well.

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SEASONS OF TESTING

Scripture Reading: Revelation 2:8-11

“Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death and I will give you the crown of life.” (Revelation 2:10)

The people in the church at Smyrna were undergoing a time of intense persecution. Jesus was preparing them for more suffering — “Do not fear what you are about to suffer.” Jesus taught that we will all face times of tribulation while we are in this world — “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation; but take courage, I have overcome the world.

We must be prepared for seasons of trouble. We live in this fallen world where suffering and pain are common to all. We must also realize that Satan brings difficulties and tribulation on us as well. We will all face times of suffering, pain, tribulation, and hardships. But we do not have to fear when we go through these times. Our Savior is with us and He will strengthen us so that we can remain faithful to Him. And remember the central message of the book of Revelation — Jesus wins and so will we!

Jesus made it clear to the church at Smyrna that they were facing a season of testing — “that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation.” God allows His people to be tested — “Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4).

When we remain faithful during time of testing, God receives the glory. It is the Lord who enable us to remain faithful, even unto death — “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” Times of testing enable us to grow spiritually — “In this you greatly rejoice, even now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being more precious than gold, which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (I Peter 1:6,7).

Jesus will sustain us during seasons of suffering and He will ultimately deliver us from all suffering — “And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To Him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen” (I Peter 5:10,11).

Lord Jesus, enable me to be prepared for seasons of suffering. I know that I will face times of difficulty and hardship. Grant me grace to remain faithful to You during these times. I know that You are with me in them and that You will strengthen me to face whatever comes my way.

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ABANDONING OUR FIRST LOVE

Scripture Reading: Revelation 2:1-7

“But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.” (Revelation 2:4)

The church at Ephesus had been founded by Paul (Acts 18:19-21). Ephesus was the largest and most important city in the Roman province of Asia. Christ commended the members of the church for their diligent work, perseverance, and commitment to sound doctrine. But there was one great weakness that characterized the people in the church at Ephesus — “You have abandoned the love you had at first.”

Love is a major priority for Christians. The two greatest commandments involve love for God and love for one’s neighbor (Mark 12:28-31). In Paul’s great chapter on love, He concludes his discussion on love ends with these words — “But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (I Corinthians 13:13).

While these early Christians were active in ministry and sound in theology, their love for Christ had waned. They lost that initial heartfelt love and devotion to their Savior. It is so easy for us to allow this to happen as well. We get careless and busy, and forget the One who loved us and saved us from our sins. We begin to allow other things to occupy the seat of the affections of our hearts. We fail to spend time with Jesus and neglect our Bible reading, meditation and prayer. Before we know it we lose the wonder of our love for Jesus. We abandon our first love for Him.

I’ll never forget when I first became a Christian and realized how much Jesus loves me. I was taken by Him and my love for Him was filled with wonder and gratitude. Do you remember your first love for Jesus? But as time goes by, we can easily lose that first love. We let other things slip into first place in our lives. We have other first loves that cause us to abandon the first love we had for Jesus.

Jesus told the people of Ephesus how to regain their first love — “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent; and do the works you did at first” (v. 5). We must go back to the beginning of our walk with Christ and bring to mind the first love we had for Him. We must be honest and admit that we have abandoned that first love and repent. We must confess this to God and redirect the affections of our hearts back to Jesus. Finally, we must go back to the basics of the faith — spending time with Jesus in Bible reading, meditation, and prayer. We must reflect on His love for us and find our greatest delight in Him. As we do these things, we will fall in love with Jesus again. We will be overcome with His love, and when this happens, we will be filled with wonder and love for Him again.

Lord Jesus, I confess that I have abandoned my first love for You. I have allowed other things to take priority over You. The affections of my heart have been on other things and I have failed to love You as I should. I remember my first love for You and repent that I have left that love for the idols I harbor in my heart. Enable me to redirect the affections of my heart toward You. Enable me to restore my first love for You.

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THE POWER OF THE VISION

Scripture Reading: Revelation 1:17-20

“Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place. As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lamp stands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lamp stands are the seven churches.” (Revelation 1:19,20)

After John saw the vision of the glorious and majestic Son of Man, Jesus gave him the assignment to write what was revealed to him. The book of Revelation is the result of that assignment.

The seven churches mentioned in this passage and in the next two chapters were specific churches that existed at the time of the writing of Revelation. They were located in the Roman province of Asia Minor, which is the area of modern Turkey. These churches were experiencing fierce times of persecution under the Roman Emperor Domitian. They were also facing troubles within as we will see.

Numbers in Revelation have a symbolic meaning. In this case the number seven symbolizes wholeness, completeness. What we see in the seven churches in Revelation are things that are common within the church throughout the ages. In the vision, Christ appears in the midst of the seven golden lamp stands. Christ is present with His church. He will correct and protect His children and gives them the ultimate victory.

John, who was a crushed exile, becomes a victorious writer of Scripture after he had seen the vision of the Son of Man. Eugene Peterson wrote of John — “Saint John exiled is now Saint John empowered” (Eugene Peterson, Reversed Thunder). John was greatly impacted by the vision of Christ and we should be also. John was propelled into mission and so must we when we consider the vision of Christ’s transcendent glory and of His tender touch.

Lord Jesus, when I reflect upon Your transcendent glory and Your tender touch, I want to serve You faithfully. I want to be an instrument in telling others about Your glory and love. Fill me fresh with Your Spirit and use me in Your service.

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TOUCHED BY GOD

Scripture Reading: Revelation 1:17-20

“When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as though dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying, ‘Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.” (Revelation 1:17,18)

John had just experienced an encounter with the living God. He had been given the vision of the Son of Man, who is transcendent, glorious, majestic, powerful and eternal. How would you react if you had this encounter with the glorified Christ?

Our passage tells us how John reacted — “When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as though dead.” Throughout the Scripture those who were given a glimpse of the glory and holiness of God realized immediately their sinfulness and unworthiness — Isaiah (Isaiah 6:5), Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1:29), Paul (Acts (;3,4) and Peter ( Luke 5:8). John came to know that the Christ before whom he fell was none other than the sovereign Lord of heaven and earth. John was filled with fear.

But an amazing thing happened — “But He laid His right hand on me.” The glorified Christ laid His right hand on John! The initial realization of a hand touching John must have been terrifying to him. But John soon realized that the touch of Jesus was meant to reassure and to strengthen him. With His right hand on John, Jesus said to him — “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.”

What we see in this vision is both the transcendence and the immanence of Jesus Christ. He is the Son of Man who is high and lifted up and yet He comes to John and touches him with His right hand to strengthen and reassure him. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. Let us experience both His transcendent glory and His tender touch. He is the Lord of all but He is also our Friend who comes to us in our troubles.

Lord Jesus, I bow before Your glory and majesty. You indeed are the Son of Man who will come again in glory. I thank You for the times that You have reached down and touched me when I was afraid and troubled in order to reassure me and to strengthen me. I know that You love me and that You are with me always.

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THE VISION OF THE SON OF MAN

Scripture Reading: Revelation 1:6-16

“Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lamp stands, and in the midst of the lamp stands one like a Son of Man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of His head were white like wool, as white as snow. His eyes were a flame of fire.” (Revelation 1:12-14)

This is the first of several visions of Jesus found in the book of Revelation. This vision emphasizes the transcendent glory of our Savior. This is a vision of the glorified Christ clothed with power and majesty. The “Son of Man” was Jesus’ favorite title for Himself.

The key to understanding what the title “Son of Man” means is found in the pages of the Old Testament, particularly in Daniel chapters 7 and 10. It would be helpful it you took a few minutes to read these two chapters. Here are a couple of verses from the seventh chapter of Daniel — “I saw in the night visions, and behold with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him” (Daniel 7:13,14). The Son of Man is God the Son, the ruler of the entire universe. One day all peoples of the earth will bow before him and serve Him.

The clothing in this vision defines the role of a priest. (Exodus 29 describes the garments of the Aaronic priesthood.) The Son of Man is both a king and a priest. A priest is a bridge between man and God. As our priest, Jesus intercedes for us and presents us to God as holy, blameless and undefiled (Colossians 1:22).

In the description of the Son of Man, John uses a number of word pictures that have their origin in the Old Testament. “The hairs of his head were white, as white as snow” (v. 14a). White is a symbol of purity. The Son of Man is pure and spotless. “His eyes were a flame of fire” (v. 14b). The Son of Man is purifying. Fire penetrates and transforms. “His feet were like burnished bronze refined in a furnace” (v. 15a). The bronze represents strength and stability. “His voice was like the roar of many waters” (v. 15b). Christ’s voice is commensurate with His appearance — awesome and commanding. “From his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword” (v. 16b). The writer to the Hebrews describes the Word of God in terms of a sharp two-edged sword. “His face was like the sun shining in full strength” (v. 16c). Christ is the light that shines through the darkness.

As we reflect upon this glorious vision of the Son of Man, we should be filled will awe at the majesty, glory, power, and sovereignty of Jesus Christ. He is our King and Priest. His glory is beyond our comprehension. Let us bow in reverence before Him this day.

Lord Jesus, Son of Man, I bow before You and praise You for your majesty, glory, power and sovereignty. You are my King who rules and defends me and You are my Priest who intercedes on my behalf. You are pure and spotless, powerful and transforming, strong and stable, awesome and commanding, the source of truth, and the light that shines in the darkness. I praise and honor You!

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THE KING’S RETURN

Scripture Reading: Revelation 1:7-16

“Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of Him. Amen.” (Revelation 1:7)

The book of Revelation looks forward to the second coming of Jesus Christ. The great hope of the Christian faith is focused upon the return of Jesus at the end of time as we know it. The primary purpose for Jesus’ second coming is to judge and to usher in the new heavens and new earth where He will dwell with His people forever.

As in the case throughout Revelation, Old Testament passages are referenced, which give us insight into the message which is being communicated. In this passage two prophetical Old Testament passages come to mind. One is from Daniel where the prophet saw one like a Son of Man coming “with the clouds of heaven” (Daniel 7:13). The other is from Zechariah where the prophet depicts Jerusalem looking on “Him who they had pierced” and who “mourn for Him” (Zechariah 12:10).

The mourning in Revelation is not a mourning of repentance, but one of remorse. When Jesus returns again, it will be too late to repent, for He comes as Judge. All that is left then is the grief of rejection. Those who have rejected Christ will themselves be rejected.

We are given several important facts about Christ’s second coming in this passage. First and foremost, Jesus Christ is coming to this earth again! Second, He comes in glory to judge. Clouds in the Old Testament are associated with God’s glory and also His judgment. Third, every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him. Fourth, those who rejected Him will mourn over the impending judgment they will face.

I long for the day when Jesus return. It will be a day of victory for us. He will put an end to all that is evil and He will establish new heavens and new earth where only righteousness exists. He will make things right and good once for all.

Lord Jesus, I look forward to Your return to earth. All that is broken and damaged will be restored. I will be able to see Your glory and beauty. I long for the new heavens and new earth where all things will be right and good. Come quickly, Lord Jesus.

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