Friday, November 18, 2016

To Thyatira: Some Are Faithful; Some Are Not

Note from Jesus

Dear Follower,

As the “Son of God,” I want you to think about My watershed statement to the believers in Thyatira:

“I am the One Who relentlessly explores the mind and heart, and I will deal with each of you as you deserve according to your acts.”

Does this promise strike fear into your heart or give you a reason to rejoice? Is it comforting or threatening to realize that I know and care about what you feel, think, and do?

Unlike the influential cities of Ephesus, Sardis, and Pergamum, the city of Thyatira was a second-tier city. For centuries, it served as a frontier military outpost for more important regional and world powers. Because of the mineral content in the nearby Lycus River, Thyatira became well known for its unique “Turkish red” (sometimes called purple, as in Acts 16:14) dye used in expensive garments.

The people in Thyatira knew about hard work and hard living. Subtlety was not the temperament of their society. The locals worshiped the false sun god of war, Tyrimnos. Many trade guilds also had their particular patron gods and goddesses. Their regular meetings included “worship” festivals and parties. These events involved drunkenness as well as sexual experiences and performances. Refusing to take part in these meetings was considered anti-social and anti-deity, tantamount to professional suicide.

The idolatry and immorality that were woven into the social life, trade guilds, religion, and government of Thyatira placed My followers in a moral bind. How could they take part in these drunken parties and idol-focused meetings filled with sexual immorality and still consider themselves My disciples? But if they didn’t participate, how would they practice their craft, make money to feed their families, and maintain friendships with those they could influence to become My disciples?

Believers in Thyatira took different approaches to the problem. Some steadfastly stayed clear of the idol feasts and immorality. Others, however, allowed a self-appointed prophetess to seduce them. Like the ancient Queen Jezebel, this false teacher led My people astray. She encouraged them to mix their faith in Me with worship and activities that involved idolatry and sexual immorality. Her teaching about “deep things” was a perversion of the truth and was sent from Satan to corrupt and dilute the faith of My people.

My disciples’ love for each other in Thyatira pleased Me. Unfortunately, some mistakenly thought that love included a tolerance of evil behavior, so part of My message to them was this:

“However, I have this against you: you have tolerated that woman Jezebel, who is a self-anointed prophetess and who misleads My followers to commit immoral sexual acts and to eat food prepared for idol worship.”

I commanded this Jezebel and all who followed her to repent. I demanded they change. If they didn’t turn away from idolatry and immorality, I would come with swift judgment and severe discipline:

“Watch; I will throw her back into her sickbed with those who committed adultery with her, and I will make them a bed of great affliction if they do not abandon her indiscretions and turn to follow Me.”

My being “the One Who relentlessly explores the mind and heart” and Who would “deal with each of you as you deserve according to your acts” was a harsh call to repentance!

On the other hand, many of My disciples in Thyatira refused any spiritual compromise. Their lives were full of good “deeds, love, faithfulness, service, and endurance.” They were even showing constant improvement in these areas of their lives. I encouraged them to remain steadfast: “Just keep on task, and keep the faith until I return.” I also promised to reward their faithfulness and good deeds: “I will bestow the morning star to the victor.” These disciples were comforted to know that I knew their difficult situation and appreciated their faithful perseverance, character, and grace.

What about you? Are you comforted or fearful, encouraged or threatened, to know that I search your heart and mind, know your deeds, and “will deal with each of you as you deserve according to your acts”? If you compromise your life with immorality, then change! Repent and turn back to Me! I long to strengthen and empower you to live a life full of My righteous character and gracious compassion. My desire is to bring you to My home to enjoy the presence of the Father and to share in the glory of His children who will reign with Me forever and ever.

Verses to Live

My words to the believers in Thyatira are straightforward. For those compromising with idolatry and sexual immorality, My words were shocking and harsh. The disciples had to know that sin and compromise with evil were wrong.

For those who were faithful, My words brought them comfort and reassured My presence among them, My love for them, My appreciation of them, and My glorious future that awaited them. As you read My letter to these believers, let the Holy Spirit apply these words to you and what you need as My disciple.

The One [Jesus]:
Write down My words, and send them to the messenger of the church in Thyatira.

“These are the words of the Son of God, the One Whose eyes blaze like flames of fire and Whose feet gleam like brightly polished bronze:

“I know your deeds, love, faithfulness, service, and endurance. Your labors greatly increase in quality as you travel along this journey.

“However, I have this against you: you have tolerated that woman Jezebel, who is a self-anointed prophetess and who misleads My followers to commit immoral sexual acts and to eat food prepared for idol worship. I have provided her enough time to turn away from her indecency, but she refuses to turn from these immoral acts. Watch; I will throw her back into her sickbed with those who committed adultery with her, and I will make them a bed of great affliction if they do not abandon her indiscretions and turn to follow Me. I will punish her by striking her children dead. Through this all the churches will know I am the One Who relentlessly explores the mind and heart, and I will deal with each of you as you deserve according to your acts.

“I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, those who have not held to the teachings of Jezebel and who remain ignorant of the real meaning of what is called the deep things of Satan, I will not burden you with anything more. Just keep on task, and keep the faith until I return.

“And as for those who conquer through faithfulness even unto death and continue to labor with Me until the close of the final curtain,

“I will give them authority over the nations.

And they will rule the nations with an iron scepter,

as fragile clay jars are shattered to pieces.

“As I received this authority from My Father, I will bestow the morning star to the victor.

“Let the person who is able to hear, listen to and follow what the Spirit proclaims to all the churches.”

(Revelation 2:18-29)

Response in Prayer

O gracious Father, thank You for caring enough about Me to know My story inside and out. I am thankful that Jesus knows the motives of my heart and the struggles that I have to be your faithful witness in my world. Strengthen me as I seek to be faithful in my thoughts, emotions, words, and deeds. In the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

‘A Year with Jesus’ is written by Phil Ware.

© 1998-2016, Heartlight, Inc. ‘A Year with Jesus‘ is part of the Heartlight Network.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

from “A Year with Jesus”
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