Sermon January 1, 2017: The year of the open door for God
- Presenter: Gregory Bishop
- Date: January 1, 2017
- Location: Congregación León de Judá, Boston MA
And the letter that I just happened to be on for today is one that I could not have picked better for New Year’s day, I believe that in the providence of God this is a message that Jesus is speaking to us, Lion of Judah, today, so open your heart, Jesus has something to say to us today.
Amen, Revelations chapter 3 verse 7 and I hope we can both read it here, it says: “To the angel of the Church in Philadelphia” right? how about that? Jesus wrote to Philadelphia, what about us here in Boston? There was a Philadelphia in Asia Minor two thousand years ago, okay?
So chapter 3 verse 7: “To the angel of the Church in Philadelphia, these are the words of Him who is Holy and true, who holds the key of David, what He opens no one can shut, and what He shuts no one can open.”
3:9: “I know that you have little strength, that you have kept my word and have not denied my Name, I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you.”
3:10: “Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.”
3:11: “I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.”
3:12: “The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name.”
3:13: “Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
God: we are listening to you, we pray that today we together will hear the sheperd’s voice in Jesus’ Name, amen, amen!
The devil has a plan to neutralize the Church of Christ, not just one plan but several plans and he has tried a lot of things throughout history: he’s trying intimidation, he’s trying false teaching, he’s trying false prophecy, he has tried a whole plethora of strategies to neutralize the power of the Church of Christ.
A couple of weeks ago we talked about complacency, the strategy that the devil was using against the Church in Philadelphia was discouragement, and the philadelphians had apparently been excluded from the synagogue in that city. Now for many of us we may think: what’s the big deal? they are christians, why do they need to go to the synagogue anyway? It was a big deal back then.
They considered themselves jewish christians and just by the way, I believe that just when Jesus returns Israel will consider itself jewish christians, that all Israel will be saved, that Jerusalem will be a center of revival on the Earth, we believe that. But back then the synagogue had decided to persecute christians and by excluding them from the membership in the synagogue they have no political or economical rights in the jewish community, and because they wouldn’t worship the roman emperor they had no civil or economic rights in the roman society either, so where does that leave the philadelphian christians?
Without rights, without a legal place in society, the door for them was shut, they couldn’t buy or sell, they were always threatened by authorities, they were tired. They felt they had little strength, they felt like they couldn’t give another step, they were in the struggle.
I don’t know if anyone here has ever felt in 2016, maybe the year before like you were “in la lucha”, you feel like you can’t go another step, you feel that everywhere you go you are finding closed doors, God has good news for you today. The enemy might have the key to the synagogue but Jesus has the key of David.
The good news on New Year’s day 2017 is that God can unlock any door in the universe, to the angel of the Church in Philadelphia He writes: “These are the words of the one who is holy, the one who is true, who holds the key of David, who opens and no one can shut, who shuts and no one can open.” Your God has the final word, He has the final authority in the universe, isn’t it good to have a God like that?
Now, the key of David was a very specific term for people who came from the hebrew background. We know that David was a great king over Israel, the palace administrator throughout the history of the kings of Israel was given what was called the key to the house of David, and that is actually a picture of an ancient hebrew key of an ancient hebrew palace door, and they would find the palace administrator and they would hang that key around his neck, and God said to one particular palace administrator named Eliakim in Isaiah 22:22, he said: “I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.”
Any box in any room, in any building, in any part of the temple’s complex, in all of Jerusalem, there’s nothing that this man can’t unlock, isn’t that awesome? you wanna be well with Eliakim.
Well the good news is we serve a God and when it says that the government will be on His shoulders it means that God has put the keys around his neck, the key to the house of David, because there is an evil one that is in the business of shutting doors and locking them in God’s people’s faces starting way back in the Garden of Eden. He knows that if he tempted them then the door to the garden would be locked forever, that there would be a flaming sword inbetween God’s people and the tree of life.
And throughout history Satan has been trying to shut doors inbetween God’s people and God, the pharisees, Jesus got angry with them because He said: “You shut the door of the Kingdom in heaven in people’s faces” and in our lives too, he tried to shut doors between God’s purpose for our lives, but the good news for the Church in Philadelphia, the good news for you is when Jesus says: “Behold, I have set before you an open door and no one can shut it”, an open door in heaven.
In the next chapter, Apocalypse chapter 4 the Apostle John has a vision of an open door in heaven and this is what he says: “And behold a door was opened in heaven, and the first voice which I heard, as it were, of a trumpet speaking with me, said: Come up hither, and I will shew thee the things which must be done hereafter.  And immediately I was in the spirit: and behold there was a throne set in heaven, and upon the throne one sitting.  And he that sat, was to the sight like the jasper and the sardine stone; and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.  And round about the throne were four and twenty seats; and upon the seats, four and twenty ancients sitting, clothed in white garments, and on their heads were crowns of gold.  And from the throne proceeded lightnings, and voices, and thunders; and there were seven lamps burning before the throne, which are the seven spirits of God.”
Happy New Year because heaven is now officially open for business, that door is open right now. Wherever you are, it doesn’t matter what you are going through, Jesus has opened that door for you at a great cost, it was not cheap.
All you have to do right now whatever is going on is pray, and you are there, there is access into the Throne of the living God in the heavenly dimension. Now we can’t see it but it’s real, we believe that there’s an invisible heavenly dimension in which is sitting at the right hand of the Father, there are angels, there are demons, it’s all around us but we can’t see it, and now a door is open between that Throne in the invisible dimension and God’s people in the physical dimension.
Our praises flow up and His blessings flow down from that door, amen, I stole that from one of you so thank you for telling me that, Calvin thank you, that door is a door of blessing.
You know this whole chapter refers back to a prophecy in the Book of Isaiah chapter 60, if you are taking notes write down Isaiah 60 because we don’t have time to explore it deeply but it is glorious.
In the beginning it says: “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.” Awesome.
God’s people after many years of suffering were being regathered to Jerusalem the city of God and they weren’t going to have to close the door anymore because they didn’t have to be afraid from the attack of the evil one anymore. They could keep the doors open because visitors were coming from afar with gifts for them, the door of the blessing totally open, and the first gift the people from Israel were to expect were their children coming home.
It says: “Lift up your eyes and look around you, your sons coming from afar and your daughters are carried on the hip.” What greater blessing than seeing the prodigal son come back home. Is there anyone here praying for a loved one that is far away from home in the spirit? Don’t close the door because the prodigal son is coming home, keep the door open, it’s a door of blessing.
“Then you will look and be radiant, your heart will throb and swell with joy; the wealth on the seas will be brought to you, to you the riches of the nations will come.” Now I can’t promise you the moon in 2017 but the truth is that in Jesus all the promises are yes and amen, and the door is open, it’s a door of power for ministry.
The Apostle Paul said over and over: pray so the door of ministry might be open so the Word of God can be preached. See, he knew that he can’t really change people’s hearts just by trying to convince them, he knew that apart from God he could do nothing, but he also knew the one that could open a door of power in heaven, the power can flow from the Throne and change people’s hearts.
Even though Apostle Paul was in jail he said: God’s Word is not changed, the one with the key of David says: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me, therefore go and make disciples of all the nations” Lion of Judah, you have a mission to do, you can’t do it yourself: we need power from that Throne to flow through the open door to move people’s hearts for the Kingdom of God, we need to pray but we don’t need to open the door because it’s already open; we just need to pray for the power to flow from that door.
You see, sometimes we may feel small and weak like the people in Philadelphia but God wants you to know: you are stronger than you think you are. He says: “For you have little strength but you have kept my word and have not denied my name”.
See, faithfulness to God matters more than success, the results are up to God, all we need to do is be faithful, it’s all God is looking for. You see, real heroes very rarely feel and act like heroes, true heroism doesn’t usually feel or look heroic. You see, I have the privilege as a Pastor to meet many people that are in times of intense struggle and challenge in their lives, people who are in the middle of struggles and sometimes they feel so weak and so frustrated with everything they are experiencing, and it happens often to me that God shows me: This one is a hero in My eyes, they have no idea how proud I am of what they are doing for Me. They feel weak but they are heroes in the Kingdom of God because there’s a door open between heaven and them and our God cares for the little ones.
You see: we often think we need to put up a big front, that we need to look powerful, all God needs is faith the size of a muster seed. I think God values the little things much more than we know, little acts of faithfulness, small acts of kindness. Jesus said: “See that you do not despise one of these little ones for I tell you that their angels always see the Face of my Father in heaven.”
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? but not one of them falls to the ground apart from the Will of my Father in heaven”, God can use small things. Think about Christmas, a small baby, a poor couple with doors shut in their face in a small, insignifficant town called Bethlehem.
God doesn’t look for strong people He looks for faithful people, we will be faithful in 2017. When God called Gedeon he said: but how can I save Israel? my clan is the weakest and I’m the least of my family, and the Lord looked at him and said: Go in the strength you have, am I not sending you?
In fact God saw to it that Gedeon was weak enough to be used by a powerful God, he had to get rid of his worries, and he had to lose his strongest soldiers for the glory to be for God alone and not his. See: God wants to show that it’s His Power, He said that to Apostle Paul, he gave him authority on the flesh and he taught him that My Grace is efficient for You because My Power is made perfect in your weaknesses.
You don’t have to be a superman in 2017 to be used by God, all God calls you to be is to be faithful because the door will be open to you and Power is flowing from that side to you. And when you are tired, when you feel that you can’t give another step it’s good to know that God is fighting for you, to find out that God is on your side.
He says: “Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are jews but are not, but lie, indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you.”
See: I don’t know what are the enemies that you are facing in your life right now in 2017, only you know the struggles in your heart, I don’t know who your tigers are but I know the one who is on your side and I know He is fighting for you, just like David we might say: I just come with this little slingshot and you come against me with sword, and spear, and javelin, but I come against you in the Name of the Lord almighty, the God of the host of Israel. A powerful people is a people of a powerful God and He will get you through.
There’s a promise in verse 10 of this text, it says: “Because you have kept my command to persevere I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world to test those who dwell on the earth.” Now there’s different ways of interpreting this promise: this could be talking about the hour of tribulation that is going to come over the whole world before Jesus returns and you could be saying that Jesus is gonna take us out and beam us up to heaven before that happens, it’s called a pre-tribulation rapture, and if that what this is saying sign me out, I wanna be on that helicopter, get me and my family on there, we are going.
Now it could also mean, the language here doesn’t use the word tribulation, it uses the word temptation, so it could also be referring to the great final temptation on the Earth before Jesus returns when there would be an apostasy of many people denying the true faith, and that’s where Jesus prays: I don’t pray that You should take My disciples out of the world but that You should keep them from the evil one in the world.
So maybe it’s just saying or not saying, maybe it’s saying that it doesn’t matter how strong the temptation is, you don’t have to depend on your strength to be faithful but a God’s Power to keep you faithful to Him. Either way, whether God is going to air lift us out of a time of trial or preserve us within I know that we have nothing to be afraid of in 2017, our God will keep us faithful to Him.
So Jesus said: “Behold I am coming quickly, hold fast to what you have, that no one may take your crown”. Hold on because Jesus is coming soon, if He was coming soon two thousand years ago He’s really coming soon now.
Have you ever run a race where you feel like you just wanna quit before the race is over? you are so exhausted that you feel like you can’t make it to the end. God is telling the philadelphians: don’t quit now, you are almost there and there’s a crown with your name written on it; it’s a crown of joy, it’s a crown of righteousness, it’s a crown of life, it’s a crown of glory.
Now, I believe this with my whole heart, that in heaven God’s people will be crowned. Now, I don’t know exactly what that crown is but I do know what we are going to do with it because the happiest moment is not when we get that crown, the happiest moment is when we go through the open door and cast that crown to the one who is sitting on the Throne, and that’s when we’ll sing with the elders: You are worthy oh Lord to receive glory, and honor, and power, amen.
“The one who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go out no more.” When you are tired, when you are discouraged, you should know that God is commited to you to help you get to the goal.
“My soul yearns, and even faints for the courts of the Lord” it says in Psalm 84. “Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere, I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.”
God promises: I’ll get you home, and you might feel weak, but I will make you a pillar in the house of my God, you are stronger than you think you are. There’s nothing stronger than a cedar beam in the house of Salomon.
I felt as I was praying for some of you today: God show them the strength You have put in them, that they are strong to carry on the weight over their shoulders, that they are beams in the house of God, they will not be moved, they are strong in the house of the Lord, beautiful as well right?
In Psalm 144 it says that: “Our daughters will be like pillars carved to adorn a palace”. You know, the Bible says that when we get to heaven the new Jerusalem will have twelve gates and each of the gates will have a pillar or a column at the gates made each one with one pearl; now that’s a pearl you can’t wear around your neck, it’s freakishly big, it’s spectacularly beautiful and on each one of those pillar gates made with pearl a name is going to be written, a name of one of the tribes of Israel, and God promises that when we get to heaven He will mark each one of us with His Name, not just once, not just twice, but three times, He’s gonna get His Name all over you.
Because it doesn’t matter if they kicked you out of the synagogue, no one can kick you out of this house, you belong to this house, the door to this house is open to you. The Word says: “I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes out from heaven, from my God, my new name.”
Why does it keep repeating my God, my God? because God doesn’t want you to worship Him as a God, He wants you to worship Him as my God, my God, He’s mine. He is my sheperd, not any shepered, He is my sheperd.
You know, the word mine is usually a bad word right? it’s usually bad, it’s usually that you don’t want to share, you know when kids say it’s mine they tell them you need to share, well there’s enough of God go around. He’s your God and not just that, you are His.
He writes my, my, my all over you, three forms of identification, three forms of citizenship, it starts with salvation, it’s gonna write the name of God on your forehead. In the Old Testament the priest Aaron was dressed with majestic clothing and there was a beautiful gold plate that he wore with a gold chain around his turban, and engraved on that plate were some important words: “holiness to the Lord”. This man is mine, set aside and specially for me. When you accepted Jesus in your heart He wrote on your forehead: holy to the Lord, the name of my God; it’s already there.
You know: if we were to pass, what is it, infrared light? you know how they do? when they need to pass a light they would see written on your forehead: holy to the Lord, you are already marked, you are also a citizen of the city of God, the name of the city of God is written perhaps on your hand, the bride, the holy city, the new Jerusalem that is coming down from heaven, that city is your home, that is the city I’m made to live in, not only to pass through it.
This is not our home, we are on a trip, we are on a journey and that is my home, shinning like shekinah, like jewels with a variety of colors, a big golden street but where’s the temple in that city? there’s no need for one there, you would be the temple there because God’s Name is written on you.
There’s also no sun, the light is coming from that city itself because God is it’s light. “Arise and shine for your light has come, a new day when it’s gates will never be shut for there will be no more night there.
But you know what? God writes on His people not just once or twice, but three times and this is important because in the Book of Revelations we read that the Antichrist will mark his people with a mark on their forehead and on their hand, but God says: you are going to mark yours twice, I’m gonna mark mine three times, and the last marking hasn’t happened yet.
Is it each new Name of God a new revelation of who He is to His people? but there is a way that Jesus has not yet been revealed, there’s a way you don’t know Him yet, there is a Name that will only be revealed when it is written on a white stone, that gate of pearl, you see? each one of us is going to get a little white stone with a new name on it, but we are the white stone on which Jesus is going to write that name on, and that writing, that name of God that no one knows yet, that Name of Jesus has yet to be written.
Where do you think it’s going to be written? you know it’s already said that the name of God is already written on our forehead, now I’m just guessing here, okay? I’m just guessing but maybe the citizenship will be written in our hand, but it says in the Book of Salomon: “Place me like a seal over your heart.” You see: there is a way that we will only know Jesus at the wedding of the Lamb when Jesus marries His Church.
Now in 2016 there are people who we love very much, they are already there, there are many pillars in the house of God and that Name is already written in their hearts, but there is a place reserved for Jesus on your heart too, we are His. Lion of Judah we are His, we belong to the groom, we belong to Jesus. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
That open door in heaven I believe is a door of revelation, if we would open our mind I believe God would reveal to us the meaning of these images in a new way, He will reveal Himself as the God of the open door.
Now, today is New Year’s day and the good news are that we don’t need good luck in 2017, we don’t need good luck because we have a God that can open any door, my hope is not in a year but in a God who is the same yesterday, today and forever, Jesus, Jesus is the one who is holy and true, Jesus is the one who has the key of David, what He opens no one can shut, and what He shuts no one can open.
In this year 2017 we are going to declare it the year of the open door, and if you have little strength you have a God who fights for you, a God that will keep you, who will make you a pillar in the house of God and who will mark you three times because you are His so hold on, don’t let anyone take your crown because the best is yet to come, amen, amen, praise God, praise the Lord.
Now we are going to end this time by coming to the Lord’s table to begin the year around His table, and I want you to know that you have a place in this table, that God wants you to be with His family, but to be here you need to accept Christ as your Lord and savior, you have to say: Lord I want You to write Your Name on my forehead today, so before we come to the table I want to give a chance so you are sure that you are saved.