Summary: How can a church be really successful?
I am always thankful for Bill, but a couple of days ago, I was particularly thankful! Some of you might have noticed this recycling bin next to me. If you didn't notice it, you need to work on your powers of
observation. (And no, this isn't my subtle way of tipping you off to the fact that I am preaching a recycled sermon this week, as Scott incorrectly suggested on Facebook.) The reason I have the recycling bin up here is to help explain why I was particularly thankful for Bill on Friday.
We recently received two of these bad boys here at the church and thus far we have only had enough recycling to use one. But, this past week, both were filled and put to the curb for pick up. The reason for the increase in recyclable material is because last week, I felt compelled to do some cleaning in my office, after a stack of papers became seismically unstable and then proceeded to dump my laptop on to the floor. (If you have never been to my office, I suggest you visit today because I cannot guarantee it will remain in its present state of tidiness.)
Now let's get back to the most recent reason why Bill is my hero. When I put the recycling bins out for pickup, I took them up from the basement separately because they are stored in separate areas, but when I brought both recycling bins back into the church, I put one in front of me and one behind me in the elevator. As I lowered myself down to the basement, I realized that I had a slight problem. The size of each bin was greater than the extent of my reach. There I stood trapped in the middle of the elevator unable to open either
I may very well have been in the elevator until Mike came to fold the bulletins Saturday morning, if it wasn't for the fact that Bill was at the church doing some gardening work and he was able to hear my deep manly scream for help.
I was trapped behind a door I could not open, but thankfully Bill was able to open the door I couldn't.
This morning we continue our series in Revelation by looking at Jesus' message to the church in Philadelphia.
Please turn with me to Revelation 3:7-12, p. 1035
As you turn there, let me give you a bit of background. Philadelphia was the youngest of the seven cities of Asia Minor, founded sometime after 189 B.C. The city was founded with the intention of it being a centre to spread the Greek language and culture throughout Lydia and Phrygia. So it was founded as a missionary city of sorts. And, Philadelphia succeeded in its mission so well that by A.D. 19 the Lydian language had been completely replaced by Greek.
Philadelphia benefited from its location at the junction of several important trade routes earning it the title "gateway to the East." It was also known for its wine production, as it was located on the edge of a volcanic region that provided fertile soil well-suited for vineyards, but being near such a seismically active region had its drawbacks.
This area, in the first century, was notorious for its earthquakes and Philadelphia had suffered one of the worst quakes in A.D. 17. Like Sardis, located only 50 kilometres to the east, much of the city had been destroyed and had to be rebuilt with a grant from the Emperor, but the fear of further earthquakes and the frequency of many minor tremors, lead most people to permanently live in the countryside surrounding the city.
Beginning with verse 7 we read: "To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: 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. 8I 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. 9I 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. 10Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth. 11I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. 12Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on