07-23-17 Let Them Hear: Philadelphia

We had a wonderful week at our Vacation Bible School here at First Covenant Church!  We had the most volunteer workers that we’ve ever had for a VBS -- which turned out to be crucially important, since A) we also ended up with a record number of children in attendance, and B) several of our VBS workers developed major issues at the last minute.

Actually, that became kind of a theme in this year’s VBS.  One person lost a family member, another person had a triple-bypass, another got strep, etc., so we were scrambling at the wire to move leaders into different positions to cover different ministry areas (but even that turned out to be a series of blessings -- for instance, ask a VBS staff member how amazing Terri Doremus ended up leading the Snack Station).  Even the physical facility got into the act when two air conditioning units went belly-up on the same day that the water meter reader accidentally shut off our water and couldn’t get it back on (do you think that it might’ve been a hardship not to have water or air conditioning for VBS during the hottest week of the Summer?).  That was three or four days before AT&T accidentally shut off our phone and internet system because of a clerical error on their part.  But praise God that everything got fixed in a timely manner, and we had everything that we needed for the week -- and I really do mean “praise God,” because I genuinely believe that He stepped in to protect us and the ministry that He called us to in VBS.  At the end of the week, nine children gave their hearts to the Lord (and yes, we took the time to make sure that they really did know what that meant).

Praise God!

In our special VBS service on Sunday, we had the children lead the music for the morning, and four VBS families came back to church to join us.  Please pray that we can be a church home for these families and continue to minister to them -- children and parents -- in meaningful ways.

In the message this week, we continued our series of mini-letters from Jesus in the early chapters of Revelation, this time looking at the church in Philadelphia.  The little church in Philadelphia wasn’t a “strong” church by earthly standards -- I wouldn’t be at all surprised if modern-day church experts would feel the need to “revitalize” her so that she would grow and look more like the “impressive” church in nearby Sardis.  But where Sardis looked healthy but was actually dying from the roots outward, Philadelphia looked weak, but was actually strong in the Spirit of the Lord.  They had had the opportunity to deny Christ, but they had held their ground and stood firm in the Word.  They hadn’t lost their first love (like the church in Ephesus had), but had kept Him in the forefront.  They hadn’t let a focus on the world intrude upon and obfuscate their focus on the Lord.

Because of the little church’s strength, Jesus promised to make them a pillar of strength in His everlasting temple.  His promise of return was a beacon of hope for Philadelphia -- a promise to hold onto and take comfort and confidence in during the hardest and scariest moments in life. 

So on a given day, we’re tempted to hold onto our stressors, or hold onto God’s provision.  Which one are you going to choose to hold onto today?