Focal passage: Revelation 3:7-13
I once heard a story about a missionary in Africa who led a lady who was blind and illiterate to Christ. Despite her inability to see and read, she wanted to share about Jesus with others, so she asked the missionary to underline John 3:16 in her Bible.
Each day she would go to the local school and upon dismissal would stop and ask one of the students if they could read the verse that had been marked. After they read the verse she would ask, “Do you know what this means?” and then would tell them about Christ. It is told that many trusted Christ and more than 20 boys from that school became pastors.
Located at the eastern end of a valley, the City of Philadelphia was the location of the sixth church of Revelation. Situated in a strategic military and trade location the city was significant, but the church that Jesus speaks to seems small, weak and insignificant. But what this church lacked in perceived size, power and notoriety it made up for in its faithfulness.
Jesus declared that He knew the deeds of the church at Philadelphia and unlike many of the other churches in Revelation, it received no criticism from Christ. Despite their lack of strength, they looked to Christ who had all authority and power. Jesus further remarked that they faithfully kept His commands regardless of the pagan environment that surrounded them. No matter what trials they faced, they refused to dishonor or deny the name of the One who saved them.
Like Jesus did with the church at Smyrna (2:9), He rebuked those who were counterfeits with a religious façade claiming to be servants of God, while truly they were children of the devil (John 8:42-47). The Lord was pleased at the believers at Philadelphia who were faithful to endure patiently, keeping the commands of Christ Jesus.
As the faithful new believer in Africa did, we must faithfully endure despite any obstacle that we may face in serving Christ.