Saturday, March 23, 2013

Pastoral Pings: Faith in God who Opens and Shuts

          A year ago, God shut the door to a ministry that I had enjoyed for over twelve years. With tomorrow as the one year anniversary of that finale, it is no accident that our journey through the book of Revelation “just happens” to bring me to consider Jesus' words to the church in Philadelphia (in what is nowTurkey, not Pennsylvania).[1] To that church Jesus declared, “The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens”.[2]

          Jesus then elaborates on what this church was going through by describing their primary opposition as coming from a “synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie”.[3] People can appear to be good, religious folk who are really serving Satan, and are lying about Jesus’ church. What matters is that Jesus describes his church in this way: “I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name”.[4] On one side we have false religious people who are lying, and seem to be stronger than the church. On the other side, we have a weak church that has kept Jesus’ word and not denied his name.

          Putting these two things together, opponents to those Jesus considers faithful may appear to shut doors, but Jesus is ruling sovereign over those doors. If he shuts a door to one town, or one group of people, or one church because they are not receiving his work, he can open a door to another town, or group of people, or church, where people will receive the same thing that was rejected elsewhere.

          The apostle Paul faced this many times. One of the most obvious was when he went to the city of Thessalonica and was soundly rejected,[5] but arrived at Berea with the same invitation to the good news in Jesus Christ and was wonderfully received.[6] Jesus himself could not do many “mighty works” in his home town because of the people’s unbelief, or lack of faith,[7] but he marveled at the faith of a Gentile woman who would not stop pressing him until she received her daughter’s healing.[8]

          The point is simple. All seven of the letters to the churches end with the phrase, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”[9] Ultimately, it does not matter what people say about us, or our churches; it only matters how we measure up to Jesus as he speaks to us through his word and by his Spirit.

          If we seek Jesus daily, he will teach us what we need to learn, reprove us for what we are doing wrong, correct us into how to do things right, and train us in the righteousness that is by faith.[10] If we repent when he convicts,[11] and strengthen our devotion when he commends,[12] it won’t matter whether people support us in our sin, or disown us in our righteousness, we will be doing Jesus’ will,[13] and keeping in step with his Spirit.[14]

          Every day I give praise to Jesus because of something specific he teaches me from his word. Sometimes I give praise to Jesus because that something specific he teaches me from his word so obviously touches on something specific that has happened to me. This deliberate application of the word of God to a unique circumstance I am facing is like a wonderfully soothing balm that heals the wounds that seem to come too often, and last too long. The more I know the sovereign Savior who is the only one who truly opens and closes doors, and leads me through both my wounding and my healing, the more I can rest in his words of victory that wait for me each morning.

          From my heart,


© 2013 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~

Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Revelation 3:7-13
[2] Revelation 3:7
[3] Revelation 3:9
[4] Revelation 3:8
[5] Acts 17:1-9
[6] Acts 17:10-15
[7] Matthew 13:53-58
[8] Matthew 15:21-28
[9] Revelation 3:13
[10] II Timothy 3:16-17
[11] Revelation 2:5, 16,21,22; 3:3,19
[12] Revelation 2:2-3, 6; 2:9; 2:13; 2:19; 3:4; 3:8
[13] Romans 12:1-2
[14] Galatians 5:25

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