It seems to me that the older I get, the faster time passes. When I was in the fifth grade, it felt as though I was in that grade for at least a decade. But now years pass like they were months. It reminds me of Job’s words: “My life passes more swiftly than a runner” (Job 9:25 NLT).
Of course, in our culture today we have an obsession with youth. It’s hard for some people to acknowledge the fact that they’re getting older. They do everything they can to try to appear youthful, but usually they just look like older people trying to look younger.
Rather than trying to turn back the clock, which we can’t do, let’s think about how we’re living our lives while we’re on the clock. What are we doing with our lives? The only thing sadder than a life cut short is a life that’s completely wasted in the pursuit of nothingness. It has been said that men talk of killing time, while time quietly kills them.
We have never been closer to the time of the return of Jesus Christ to this Earth than we are right now. In the New Testament book of Revelation, we find Jesus’ words to the church of the last days, known as the church of Philadelphia. And He has some very specific things to say about how they are to live in the end times.
I think we could just as easily take out the word Philadelphia and insert our own names in this passage, because these are not only the words of Jesus to the last days church, but they’re the words of Jesus to last days believers.
So what do we learn about the last days and how Jesus wants us to live?
1. Remember Who’s in Control
First, God is in control. Verse 7 of Revelation 3 says, “This is the message from the one who is holy and true, the one who has the key of David. What he opens, no one can close; and what he closes, no one can open” (NLT).
God is in control of all events in the history of this planet, past, present, and future. God will open some doors and will close others. The doors He closes are closed for good, and the doors He opens will be opened for good. No power on Earth can change this.
So we don’t have to be afraid to commit an unknown future to a known God. He is in control of our lives.
2. Recognize when God Opens a Door
Second, Jesus has given the church an unprecedented open door. If the key is a symbol of His authority, then the door is a symbol of opportunity. This is a phrase that we often see in the Bible, especially in the New Testament.
Paul spoke of it in 2 Corinthians 12, where he said, “I came to Troas to preach Christ’s gospel, and a door was opened to me by the Lord” (NKJV). In Acts 14, Paul and Barnabas spoke of a door of faith that had been opened to the Gentiles (verse 27 NKJV).
We should pray for such doors of opportunities to open in our own lives. This applies to every Christian, not just those in full-time ministry. We should all be looking for open doors to share our faith. We need to bring our A game and take this all very seriously.
I like how Pastor Levi Lusko put it: “The stakes are high. We must approach each time like it is the first time and as though it will be our last time.”
We should not rest on past accomplishments or victories. We need to be looking for opportunities today and in the days to come.
The actual first-century church of Philadelphia lived under Roman rule. The Romans had established Pax Romana, which effectively was a forced peace. Rome had bludgeoned the world into submission, and there was an absence of war.
Rome adopted many of the Greeks’ ideas, philosophies, and religious beliefs, and people were experimenting with those things. There was a sense of searching among the people.
The Romans also established Greek as the official language of the empire and built an excellent road system. With this common language and access to most of the world, the church went out to spread the gospel message. It was perfect in its timing.
Now, let’s think about our day. In many ways modern technology has created a global village. Television, the internet and mass communication have made the world a much smaller place. Now we get information right where we are. An estimated 6.4 billion people in the world now own a smartphone. We can communicate like we never could before. And in a way, we have a common cultural language.
I believe that God will open doors of opportunity for us to share the gospel, but He isn’t going to carry us through them. We have to walk through them on our own.
3. Rely on God’s Strength
That brings me to my third point, which is this: God gives us enough strength to do what He has called us to do. The Great Physician gave His divine assessment of the church of Philadelphia: “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name” (verse 8 NKJV).
This wasn’t a negative comment about their weakness but a commendation of their strength. They were coming back to life, like a sick person recovering from an illness. It would almost imply that a revival was taking place.
Jesus commended the church of Philadelphia for taking little steps. It was a beginning. Everything starts with a few little steps, and we need to take those little steps in our lives as well.
This year, this month, this week, or even this day may be our last opportunity to go through an open door. Maybe you know someone whose heart is open to God right now. But just because it’s open now doesn’t mean that it will be open forever. Will you walk through that door? Will you look for opportunities to share the gospel?
The only hope for our nation is a revival. Politicians aren’t going to fix things. We need God. Revival is a sovereign work of the Holy Spirit. So let’s pray that God sends a revival, an awakening, to America.
Used by permission from Greg Laurie.