The Consistent Church
* Of all the churches which Jesus wrote to in the Revelation, the sixth church is the most consistent in the fulfillment of ministry & mission. This is the church that I would have wanted to be a member of. It is this church that our Lord gives no word of condemnation. He gives words of affirmation and even consideration, but no condemnation. Think it; the Holy One, the True One, The Just One, the one who has the eyes of fire which nothing can escape His notice; this one looks at the church and says, “I cannot find anything to condemn.”
* What would it be like to be a member of a church like that? The church at Philadelphia blows a hole in the popular concept that every church has their issues, so lack of faithfulness is okay. Personally I believe that too often the church hides behind the ‘nobody’s perfect’ slogan to justify falling short of God’s best and being less than faithful. To be clear;
* As believers we are called to be two things; faithful and fruitful. Being faithful means being consistent. We are not faithful ‘if’ we only pick and choose what part of the church we attend. While we may not like this truth; a believer (church member) cannot count himself or herself faithful if they attend only once per week. The world will consider you faithful, but the Bible says, ‘forsake not the assembly of yourselves together - - as is the manner of some.’ In Acts 2, they were ‘all’ together when the Holy Spirit fell. We need to come to a new realization that we are not consistent (faithful) if our attendance in services is like popcorn.
* Today, I pick on Adam Stevens (and in a good way). In small group Adam said that at work his desire was to ‘be the guy.’ You know the one. The one which can be counted on no matter what. Did you know that this is the person whom God is looking for and this is the church that our Lord demands? The one who can be counted on, the one who is consistent, and the one who is faithful. Faithfulness is the first step in God’s call to you.
* The lie of the enemy is that ‘God just called us to be faithful.’ While He did & does call us to be faithful, to say this is only a half-truth. He calls us to be fruitful. Fruitfulness is the result of Faithfulness. The picture Jesus draws in John 15 is that we must we faithfully connected to vine. And if we are faithfully connected to the vine, the result will be fruit. And Jesus expects you and me and this body to be fruitful. He reserved His harshest words for the unproductive and the unfruitful. He uses words like “prunes” and “removes” for the unproductive branches. The consistent church stays the course even when it is not popular, convenient, or it hurts.
* Take a look at the church in Philadelphia (the city of brotherly love). This was a Christ-honoring and people loving church what was evangelistic and mission minded. They impacted their city with the gospel of Jesus.
1. The Opportunity – They had a great opportunity for mission & ministry because had Jesus opened the door of opportunity. Scripture tells us one thing about the door that Jesus opens, and it is this; ‘what Jesus opens, no one can close.’ I believe that God had given us a great opportunity. Over the past 40 years this fellowship had come through some huge struggles for the purpose of not wasting our hurts, but rather, using the trials & tests as the raw material to make a difference in this community for our grandchildren. Once more I say, our goal is not to be & build a church for our grandparents but rather for our grandkids. Our opportunity is to show Jesus to this community so that we can go to this community for Jesus. We need to be in a constant state of prayer so that the Holy Spirit of God can soften, clean, and prepare our hearts. We need to be ready
a. Opportunities abound, even in our church family.
* Presently, Linda is coordinating Wednesday night suppers & will require help.
* We need a leader for the children’s team and a director for children’s choirs.
* The Courageous project offers everyone a place of ministry.
* We have contacted the chamber of commerce to see how we can be involved.
b. The opportunities of the consistent church are not opportunities to make us known but rather it is to make HIM known.
c. Too often, we choose to be involved only in those things which affect ME. That is, if have a child then I’ll work with that area. Would you like to know what real ministry is? It is when you answer God’s leading to an area in which you have no vested interest except to please God. Giving time to children, preschool, or students while you do not have a child in that area, this is ministry. Ministry is giving, expecting nothing in return.
d. This church has the opportunity. Our Lord has given us the opportunity to impact people for the Kingdom. Wednesday evenings have become an opportunity for outreach. The question is, “What will we do with the opportunity?” If we are to be a consistent church, we will be found faithful and thus, become fruitful. Hear this; we will never be fruitful until we are faithful. God does not bless an unfaithful people.
2. The Observation – What is it that makes this church different? (Verse 8)
a. Feeble – Our scripture says, “You have limited (little) strength.” Too many churches think themselves so strong that they don’t need God. I heard a pastor says, “A church that doesn’t need God, doesn’t have God.” A church who figures it out can be a church that leaves God out.
* Paul wrote to the church at Rome that “the spirit helps us in our weakness” and to the Corinthians he wrote, “In your weakness His power is made perfect.” It is only when we surrender our strength that we can become powerful in Him. He responds to our weakness & not in our strength. We can look at Gideon, David, Peter, and more only to discover that God needs us to fully surrender, and then He can & will bless.
b. Firm – Jesus says, “Though you have a little strength you have kept my word.” What a commendation on a church under fire! Before we can keep God’s word, we must know God’s word. Before we can say we KNOW God’s word we must study God’s word. And before we can study God’s word we must read God’s word. What does God word tell us to do? Jesus said, the most important thing is to “Love the Lord God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength; and (o by the way) love your neighbor just like you love yourself. If we love Him with all that we are then we focus our lives on pleasing Him. If we love our neighbors like we love ourselves, then we will not allow them to live life and enter eternity apart from God. It’s that simple. Keeping His word means loving Him.
c. Faithful – We’ve already covered faithful as being present, accounted for and in service, but Jesus’ words here are ‘You have not denied my name.’ We are unfaithful when we remain silent about Him, His gospel, and His principles for living. We are unfaithful when we based our lives on our own feelings, thoughts, and desires. He tells us that these people have not been unfaithful, but have not denied my name.
3. The Opposition – Did you realize that in whatever you do, somebody’s not going to like it? In fact, someone is going to oppose you. When we make the decision to step out for our Lord & His truth, there will always be someone cued up to step out for the enemy against us. Why should this surprise you, they hated Jesus. And the reason they hated & killed Jesus was that He didn’t play the Pharisee’s games. Their games were about power, control, and self centeredness. In verse 9 we read another word about those ‘pretenders’ found inside the church. Sadly, the closer we get to the second coming, the worse the opposition gets, & the more it comes from inside the church. Thinking about this reminds that the churches who receive the most criticism today are not the ones which are dying; it is the ones who are thriving. Sadly, much of the bad press come from sister church who are trying to justify why they are dying & at the same time, discredit those who are impacting the lives of people. They were always trying to discredit Jesus because He didn’t bow to them. It’s the same today. Third John speaks of Diotrephes & Jude warns us about it.
4. The Overcomers – Believers are called to be Overcomers! Because of Christ living in us, we overcome all that Satan and this world throws at us. This means we don’t jump ship at the first wave of enemy attack, but we stay with our commander. The consistent church does battle with the forces of darkness (the opposition, those of the synagogue of Satan, those who claim to be followers of Christ and are not) and look how Jesus rewards faithfulness. (Read Verses 9-11) For the Overcomers many gifts or rewards are in store!
5. The Overseer – The Overseer writes to the ‘under shepherd’ with a message for HIS people. Jesus is still looking at us with those fiery eyes.
a. He paints us a picture to encourage us to remain faithful. To this church in Philadelphia He writes, “I am holy, true, and I have the keys.” May I summarize? He says, “If you need it, I’ve got it.” Many church bodies say, “We can’t do that, it costs too much, we don’t have enough people, or our resources are limited.” Listen, we serve a Lord who fed 5000 with a couple of fish and a few loaves of bread. He is the one who started out with NOTHING and simply said, “Let there be” and there was. If we need it to accomplish His will, HE HAS IT. This is called walking by faith. God’s people never are short of any supply, resources, or even finances; they are only short of faith and faithfulness. The Holy one, the True one, and the eternal one is THE ONE.
b. He also is the one who has the keys. Keys are the symbols of authority and access. To hold the key means you have the authority to open and the ability to access. Jesus holds the keys. He holds the keys to the earthly kingdom, heavenly kingdom, and the eternal kingdom. Our overseer is the one with total access. The greatest access Jesus gives us is that we can approach the throne of grace without fear. You need forgiveness, grace, mercy, help, or hope? He has the Key. Once again, you need it, He’s got it.
c. The consistent church is consistent in their prayers and in their service because of WHO they are praying to and WHO IT IS that they serve. They stand in the face of opposition to say, “WE SERVE A MIGHTY GOD” and believe they do! This church stays consistent because they know whatever they may face; their overseer is on the throne.
d. A young wife and mother was at the funeral home of her husband when she had a moment of falling apart. The loss, the bills, and the future seemed to overwhelm her. Her 7-year old daughter said, “Mom, what’s wrong?” Trying to explain the seemingly insurmountable problems, mom was at a loss for words when the girl said, “Did God die?”