Open Doors and Open Hope

976656_70015868On Sunday we talked about the letter to Philadelphia. We also talked a little bit about Rocky and underdogs. We talked about how to preserve in the midst of difficulty, when the odds are stacked against you, and when hope seems low. Jesus realizes that the church in Philadelphia has little strength, that they are persecuted, and things are looking stacked against them. In essence they are underdogs. But Jesus believes that they can still succeed, overcome, and preserve. The reason that they are able to do this is the same reason that underdogs all over the world create upsets and win. It isn’t because of strength, skill, or even heart. Underdogs win because they begin to believe that they can win. That they can preserve. That they can make it.

The same thing is happening in the passage in Revelation. The church in Philadelphia can preserve because no matter how bad things get they can believe they can make it through. No matter how weak their strength gets they can still have hope. The reason for their hope is because of Jesus Christ. Jesus promises to hold open the door for them. Jesus promises that no one will be able to shut it. Jesus promises to be with them, to make them unshakable, claimed by God, and living in God’s city. So the Philadelphians can believe that these wonderful things will happen not because of their strength, but the strength of their Lord. They can trust and believe they will win even as the odds are stacked against them, because of Jesus Christ. Jesus is holding open the door to life and love, and no one will close it.

So on Sunday we landed on a simple point trust that in your difficulty Jesus is holding open the door. Let that truth give you hope, and strength. That even as things seem to stack against you, Jesus is holding the door open and no will ever be able to close it. Trust that he will lead you through it, and into a better future. Because the reality is our future depends much more on Jesus Christ than all the situations that surround us…

Sermon Notes:

Big Idea: Jesus will hold open the door…

Take Aways…

  • We root for the underdog because we can relate to striving in difficult situations
  • Jesus examines our actions to see what we believe
  • What do your actions say about you
  • Don’t we want to have a life that is firm, secure, everlasting and in the presence of God?
  • Underdogs win and preserve because of belief
  • You might have little strength but you can still have hope. Why? Because Jesus is holding the door open for you
  • Your future isn’t dependent on just you, but on Jesus Christ who holds the door open

Adult / Group Discussion Questions: What surprised you? What made you think? What made you laugh? What did you take away? What would Jesus see if he examined your actions? Where in life do you feel like the underdog? Where are you currently struggling? How might Jesus “hold the door open for you” in that situation? How would it feel for Jesus to claim you as your own? How might that help you keep going, and persevering?

Discussion Questions for Young Families: Talk about with your kids that sometimes life gets difficult. Ask them when they’ve had difficulty in their life? Get them to share about any school troubles, or friendship issues. Remind them that Jesus promises even in the midst of real difficulty that he will be there for us, holding an open door to deeper life.

Challenge for this Week: Walk through the open door, and pray to Jesus as you do.

Rocky, Revelation, and Underdogs

On Sunday we are going to be learning from the movie Rocky. Yes it’s true, and there is a lot to learn from the movie besides the 215px-Rocky_posterfact that Sylvester Stallone was quite athletic in the day. Rocky is actually quite revealing about the book of Revelation. While it is odd to think about, it’s true. And on Sunday we are looking at the letter to Philadelphia (which of course brings us back to Rocky).

The question we will really be exploring though is a good one: “how do underdogs win?” This is important because many of us in life feel like underdogs. We feel like an underdog in our business that the odds are stacked against us. Some of us feel like an underdog in our families, that the stress and pressure of the world is tough to overcome. Some of us defiantly feel like an underdog in our finances, that no matter how hard we try we can’t quite make it out.

So that is why it’s a good question to look at on Sunday. It’s an even better question to look at because Jesus talks about it. He says to the church in Philadelphia, “I know you are weak and have little strength left.” And many of us feel that way, but he gives that church a wonderful promise that he wants to give to us as well. He says that we will become pillars in God’s temple, that he will write the Father’s name on us, and we will be citizens in the new city. These are beautiful promises that I think we’d love to experience. The question is how? How do we, as underdogs who have little strength, win? How do we overcome the odds to have healthy families, businesses, relationships, and finances? How do we overcome?

Thankfully the answer Jesus gives is the same answer that is found in Rocky. But to figure out that answer you’ll either have to take a guess, show up on Sunday, or wait till next week. Until then why not watch Rocky, watch your favorite failing sports team, or read a book about an underdog and cheer for them. Just remember Jesus cheers for the underdog too – even you and me!

Remain Faithful and Win Life

On Sunday we explored the letter written to Smyrna in Revelation 2. There was a lot of difficult news for the church in Smyrna to hear. It heard that there would continue to be testing, persecution, and difficulty. But there was one beautiful verse in the end of the letter that gives hope, not only to them but to us as well…

Jesus says, “Remain faithful, even when facing death, and I will give you the crown of life”

Jesus simply says remain faithful and you will win life. He says hold on and you will win life. This is beautiful because sometimes in difficulty it seems impossible to win. Sometimes in chaos and hurt it seems like life is over. But here Jesus offers us a promise that even in the darkest times, when you are facing death, don’1346127_31038032t give up and you will win life.

This is a great reminder for all of us. Because isn’t this what we need in the dark? A reminder that the dark doesn’t win. A reminder that the dark doesn’t last. A reminder that we don’t have to conquer the darkness…we just need to hold on and we will win life.

This is what we need to hold onto in the middle of tragedy and difficulty. Not that whatever situation we are currently facing isn’t tragic, difficult, or even wrong. But that in the end the dark won’t win, it won’t last, and it won’t linger. In the end life wins. Isn’t that the whole message of Christianity in a nutshell? Death loses, and life wins if we can simply hold on…

Sermon Notes:

Big Idea: Be faithful and win life.

Take Aways… 

  • “Our failure to hear His voice when we want to is due to the fact that we do not in general want to hear it, that we want it only when we think we need it.” Dallas Willard
  • We need to truly be open to hearing the Spirit Speak
  • Jesus didn’t die because he said, “God loves everyone”. Jesus died because he challenged the system.
  • Jesus says, “Remain faithful, even when facing death, and I will give you the crown of life”
  • If you hold on, you will win life.

Adult / Group Discussion Questions: What surprised you? What made you think? What did you take away? What has helped you to hold on in a difficult time? Who has helped you to hold on in a difficult time? How can you thank them? If you are having a difficult time how can you reach out to someone? If you aren’t struggling how can you support those around you who are?

Discussion Questions for Young Families: Spend sometime talking with your kids about some difficult times you’ve been through as a person. Help them to understand that they will come to difficult times but that Jesus helps us see it through. Give them a model and a story to remember when they go through difficulty.

Challenge for this Week:

Trust that Life Wins