Summary: Praying for the Persecuted Church on the International Day of Prayer For The Persecuted Church
Revelations 3:7-13 November 16, 2003
The Message To the Church in Philadelphia
International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church
God’s Economy is not like ours – in his economy big is not always good, and small is beautiful. Last week we looked at the church in Sardis who had a great reputation for life – a really alive church! – But Jesus said in actual fact they were dead. This week we are looking at the church in Philadelphia, a small struggling community, but Jesus lifts them up.
God does this over and over – he chooses the smallest, most struggling person and raises them up and makes them great
The Nation of Israel – “The LORD did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples.” Deuteronomy 7:7
Hannah – 1 Samuel 1&2
David – 1 Samuel 16
Mary – Luke 1:46-55
46And Mary said:
"My soul glorifies the Lord
47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49for the Mighty One has done great things for me--
holy is his name.
50His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
51He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
53He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
54He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
55to Abraham and his descendants forever,
even as he said to our fathers."
"God opposes the proud
but gives grace to the humble." – James 4:6
Philadelphia the City
7"To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:
“Gateway to the East”
- meant as a “missionary city” to bring the Greek culture to the region
- Many temples and festivals – “little Athens”
In this Pagan city that is lit by the darkness of pagan festivals, there is this little struggling light of a believing community that Jesus comes too to encourage
The Image of Jesus
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.
Key = complete control over the royal household
Contrast with the local synagogue excommunicating Christian Jews
The Good News
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.
It appears that the church was suffering persecution, not from the governing authorities, but from Jewish people who did not believe in Christ.
Even today, much of the persecution that happens is not from government forces, but from other faiths who feel threatened by the presence of Christianity. The Governments are not persecuting, but often they are complicent as they turn a blind eye to the violence.
In Sri Lanka, Christianity seems to be having great inroads through independent charismatic and Pentecostal churches, and they are suffering a great deal of violence.
A November 9 news release from the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka clearly demonstrates the continuing challenges that Sri Lankan churches face from Buddhist militants. We urge your prayers for these and other churches throughout Sri Lanka.
On October 26, the Philadelphia Church Rajagiriya branch, celebrated their seventh anniversary. They rented a community hall to accommodate the guests for this special occasion and other 150 people attended. At 6:30 p.m., a large crowd arrived, including a few Buddhist monks, disrupting the service. The mob accused the pastor of showing
disrespect for Buddha by putting a statue of Buddha on the floor, when, in actuality, the mob placed the statue on the floor and demanded that the pastor worship it. When he refused, he was beaten. Chairs were broken, banners destroyed, and musical instruments damaged. The pastor and another member were held hostage by the mob until the police arrived and took them to the station for their safety. Speaking to the police, some of the monks demanded that the church stop all Christian activity in the area.