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Church in Thyatira

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Church in Thyatira


Ryan Ferguson


April 7, 2019


Revelation, Revelation 2:18-28


Good morning, everybody. Thank you so much for singing.

Man, I love to be at a place where we can sing songs from the 2000s, from old literature like “And Can It Be,” and we can burst into applause at the end of “And Can It Be.” I love that. That has nothing to do with what I’m going to say. I just wanted to say that. So if you’re visiting here in our service, my name is Ryan. I’m one of the pastors here. And I get to be with you this morning and next week and open up God’s Word.

I want to begin a little bit differently this week than typically when I preach, with a couple of, I guess, admissions is the best word. This letter has been really hard for me, this section, The Church of Thyatira, that I’m going to be preaching on today. So about midweek this past week, on Wednesday, I was practicing. So I kind of get it written and then I practice in my office and a couple of things happened.  Number one, I bored myself to death. So that’s a great setup for a sermon, right? I bored myself. I’m glad you’re here. It was a little rough.

And then in the middle of that I realized that I was missing the main point because I had figured out this kind of cool introduction, at least in my opinion, and a helpful illustration. And they kind of took over, and I started to kind of preach out of them instead of what the actual letter says. So on Wednesday I had to scrap and start over.

So that’s a little disconcerting when you’ve already been working for quite a while and then you’ve got to kind of start over, so I’m going to need your patience a little bit today. I want to work through the text kind of like I do in my office. I’m going to divide it into sections, and we’re just going to walk through it together. So I’m not going to read the whole thing out loud here at the beginning. We’re going to work through section by section, and then at the end we’ll hopefully wrap it up and give ourselves somewhere to go with it.

So we’re going to be reading from Revelation 2:18-29. If you grab one of those black Bibles in the pocket around you, that’s page 1029. Because we’re going to be jumping in and out of the text, it will be on the screen, but I think it’s great to have a Bible or a screen in your hands as well.

So here we go.

These are the words of Jesus through an angel to John to a church and to us.

“And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write:  ‘The words of the Son of God who has eyes like a flame of fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze.’”

So our first section is going to be a prologue. In each of these letters there’s a little introduction or a prologue. And from the beginning of this prologue, Jesus reveals that He knows the city of Thyatira, not just the church. So I want to bring more of an expert in to help us see that than me.

This isn’t an original with me, this is something I learned. A pastor and Bible scholar named N.T. Wright describes this: “The city of Thyatira was not as well-known as the other six to which these letters were addressed.” So Thyatira is the least-known of these seven cities, and interestingly they get the longest letter. The least church gets the most words from Jesus. So, Wright continues:

“But one of the things it was famous for was its trade guilds, and not least its smelting work in copper and bronze. That may well explain the choice of the particular description of Jesus in verse 18: ‘His feet are like exquisite brass.’ More important, perhaps, the local deity in the area, who was the patron deity of the bronze trade… appeared on local coins together with… the Roman emperor. Granted these associations, there is a particular power in the letter’s beginning, as it announces ‘the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like flaming fire and whose feet are like exquisite brass.’”

Jesus knew this city and is throwing purposeful words at them even in his description of Himself. Thyatira, you guys know bronze, well guess what, that’s what I stand on, the most exquisite bronze. That’s who I am. Jesus knows this city and Jesus continues in His letter and says this to the church in that city: “I know your works your love and faith and service and patient endurance and that your latter works exceed the first.” Jesus begins most of his letters to these churches with praise. When it comes to churchy words being used to describe a church, you can’t get much better than what’s said about Thyatira. A guy named Paul wrote a letter to a different church called Corinth, and we call the letter 1 Corinthians, and in that letter he says the three top virtues are faith, hope, and love. And the city of Thyatira, the church there, they have all three. These guys are killing it. We hear echoes of the Church of Ephesus in here too, that they are doing really well. But unlike Ephesus, Thyatira has not forgotten some of their early works. Actually, their later works exceed where they were at the beginning. So this church is healthy. It’s growing. It is powerful.

It is loving, faithful, and enduring. And wouldn’t it be great if the letters stopped there.

But Jesus highlights a problem and He says this: “But I have this against you, that you tolerate.”

“But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols.”

Jesus begins here with a tolerance issue. You, church, you tolerate the teaching of this woman he describes as Jezebel. That word tolerate could mean leave or forgive.

So the church is somehow leaving this teacher who’s teaching wrong things alone. They’re forgiving what she’s doing in the middle of their church. They’re allowing terrible teaching in the middle of their gathering. They are both looking away and overlooking what is going on.

So maybe in a silly way, imagine going to an Apple Store, the one over at Haywood mall, walking in. You want to make a new purchase. You’re talking to a salesperson and they look at you and say, “You know what?  You actually don’t need to buy anything here. You need to go to a different store and buy a PC. That’s what you really need.” The manager of the Apple Store walks by, overhears this, and agrees with it. Now, anyone who knows Apple culture knows that would never happen. Why? Because Apple has discipled their community into believing their product is superior. You would never let that happen. They would never tolerate that type of behavior in their store, because that’s not what they do.

To a much greater and serious degree, that’s the Church of Thyatira. The community is tolerating discipleship they should reject. Jesus describes the leader of this teaching as “that woman Jezebel.” She’s a self-titled prophetess, she calls herself a prophetess. This is probably a person in this church, but they may or may not be actually named Jezebel. I think what Jesus is doing is He’s doing a reach-back into Jewish history and bringing out a name that stands for something.

Nowadays, this is even a little bit dated, but I think most people are familiar, if someone calls you a “Benedict Arnold,” they’re describing you as a what? A traitor. On a lighter note, if someone calls you an “Eeyore,” you’re a mopey, negative person. I think that’s what Jesus is doing in this letter. He’s reaching back into Jewish history and pulling out this name that stands for something to make a point to the Church of Thyatira.

So we learn about Jezebel in the Old Testament, in a book called 1 Kings, which is a history of God’s people. And at one point we learn about this guy named Ahab. And Ahab became king, and he was not a good man at all. He was the worst of the worst. And if you read 1 Kings, that’s bad, really bad. But we discover it seems, that the reason he might be so bad is because he married Jezebel and her influence on him. In 1 Kings 21:25 it says this,

“There was none who sold himself to do evil in the sight of the Lord like Ahab, whom Jezebel his wife incited.”

Jezebel incited evil in Ahab. She enticed Ahab to move away from the covenant relationship and laws of Yahweh, who is the God of Israel. So just as the Jezebel in the book of Kings enticed Ahab away from God, so Jezebel in Revelation is enticing people from the Church of Thyatira away from God.

That’s the image Jesus is bringing up. And it’s kind of a dark and evil image from the history of the Jewish people. So what is Jezebel enticing these people to do? What is the sinful behavior being taught and tolerated? There are two things: sexual immorality and eating food offered to idols. So a little bit of history and cultural context is going to help us understand why this is being taught.

I’m going to let a guy who’s way smarter than me explain that to you. His name is Gordon Fee, and he says this:

“Significant for understanding the present letter is the fact that all such trades [those guilds we mentioned earlier, bronze, or whatever you did] had guilds, which were very close-knit clubs – a kind of local union – that served as the primary social structure for the artisans and their families. Each of these guilds had their patron deities, and the primary social events among the guilds were the festive meals, where food was served in a context where it had been sacrificed to the patron deity. Very often these meals became an occasion for sexual immorality to flourish.”

So Jezebel, in the church of Revelation, is placing no limits on worship in either who you worshiped or how you worshiped. When it comes to who we worship, the Bible is quite clear. There is only one God.

He introduced Himself with the name Yahweh to the people of Israel and He is the same God that rules and reigns now. There is only one way for us to be reconciled to that God named Yahweh, and that is through the person and work of Jesus of Nazareth. The Holy Spirit illuminates this reality, and we trust in that reality. And we are what church people call “saved” or “made right.”

That’s the story of the Bible. So when it comes to how we worship, God is also clear, and sexual immorality is not part of how Yahweh’s people worship. The Bible is not clouded concerning this issue. From the Ten Commandments, all the way through passages like 1 Thessalonians 4:1-4 that says this:

“Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor.”

This activity Jezebel is promoting is not part of the life of someone who follows the way of Jesus. It doesn’t matter who authorizes it or who promotes it.

Now here’s the danger for us as North Hills Church in this century compared to them.

We can kind of look at each other and feel good about each other and say, “Well there’s no literal Jezebel or group of people at North Hills that are getting up in front of people and saying listen, sexual immorality really isn’t a big deal. You can worship however you want, go out of here. It’s not a big deal.” We don’t have that literal preaching being done. But I’m telling you what, we need to be ready, because there is a whole movement of that in the church. There is an assistant pastor in Chicago who wrote a book, I won’t give you the name of that author or the whole title, just part of it – “Chastity Is Not The Only Option.”

There is another pastor, who was interviewed by The Huffington Post, who was asked about premarital intimacy and how he deals with that in his church, and he concludes his statement about deconstructing purity culture, which, there’s part of that that I understand, where it’s negative, but he deconstructs it and ends up saying, “While I personally do not get my needs met through hookup culture, I’m not going to judge someone who does.” That’s your message on Sunday morning. So can we just kind of humbly not fool ourselves into thinking we’re fine, but that this letter reads into us as a warning to be ready? That eating food offered to idols is hard for us to kind of understand, we can kind of blow that off as primitive, or even weird, and not deal with it, but it’s really not about the food.

It’s about the worship. So that guy Paul that I referenced a little bit ago, who wrote in 1 Corinthians, he talks about food offered to idols in chapter 8 and concludes that there is nothing inherently wrong with food that’s offered to idols. But if you know someone whose conscience is going to be bothered by that, then he tells his people in Corinth, don’t eat that in front of them.

Don’t crush your brother’s conscience for no reason.

So, it’s not inherently evil. So in Thyatira, the issue is more than just getting a great deal on a steak down at the market that was offered to a local deity. It’s more than are you just going to hurt another brother whose conscience might be offended? The issue is more about your participating with that food in literal pagan worship.

Eating food here is a window into their worship. The Psalmist says this about food. He says, God gives us food in due season; He opens His hand, He satisfies the desire of every living thing.

By worshiping another deity, and consuming the food in the name of that deity, these people in the Church of Thyatira were really rejecting God and denying God in their worship. It was an idolatry issue, not a diet issue. And, connected to both of those things, the sexual immorality and food offered to idols, remember those were happening at basically parties centered around business. So what Jesus is really going after is behaviors that He would reject, that a teacher is saying is fine for the sake of cultural advancement. That you can have all the benefits of culture – sexual immorality, going to this party, eating this food in that deity’s name – and you get to have all the benefits of being in Christ and in the Church. And Jesus is stepping in and saying, “I have that against you.” You cannot participate in activities that I reject in the world for your advancement and claim My name.

So how does Jesus respond to the church and to this group and to Jezebel? He does so with patience and protection. Jesus says this:

“I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am He who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works.”

Jesus waits for Jezebel’s repentance. He’s patient. After He highlights how bad the teaching is, He makes that stunning statement, “I gave her time.” In some way, Jesus let Jezebel know she needed to change. He provided time. He didn’t react like an angry dad with a kid that spills his milk on the table. Jesus waited. He desired her to repent. But she refused. A few verses later, Jesus continues to offer repentance to her followers, that something’s going to happen unless you repent of her works. And because Jezebel and her followers refuse to repent, Jesus has to protect His church.

He responds with patience and protection. And here we find some of the most disturbing language that Jesus uses, either in the Gospels or in these seven letters. So we’ve got to take time here to see, feel, and understand what Jesus is saying.

Jesus describes the judgment that will occur without repentance. If there isn’t repentance, this is what’s going to happen. For Jezebel, she will be thrown onto a sickbed. Without repentance, Jezebel will move from a bed of immorality to a bed of sickness. Jezebel’s followers, Jesus describes her followers as those who are committing adultery with her. By following false teaching, by worshiping through sexual immorality and eating food offered to idols, these people in the church are in essence cheating on God. They’re adulterers. They’re faithless.

Their choice to cheat will result in suffering. Jesus will throw them into great tribulation, great suffering. Jezebel’s offspring, without doubt, is the most brutal image to take in. Jesus says, “I will strike her children dead.” Now, Jesus is not talking about literal little kids here. He’s talking about the offspring of this type of teaching. He is going to step in and protect His church from messages that go against what He would have His church do. If this idea continues, Jesus will kill the spread of the infectious teaching of Jezebel.

Now the result of Jesus’ patience and protection is this, all the churches will know that Jesus searches the mind and heart. How Jesus protects Thyatira will reveal to all other churches, every church that hears, will know that Jesus is the one who searches mind and heart. So don’t be mistaken. Don’t be led astray by someone who teaches differently. Jesus knows everything about every church and every person in that church. He searches mind and heart. Right after describing that judgment, and the revealing of His ability to search mind and heart, Jesus says this, “I will give to each of you according to your works.” The reward of Jesus corresponds to your works.

If you choose to follow false teaching, you will receive a corresponding reward. And that reward is judgment. If you repent, we’ll discover here in a little bit the reward that happens with that. Next, we learn about another group that’s in Thyatira, and I call this “the group of perseverance.” They’re persevering in the midst of evil tolerance. This group holds fast to Jesus alone. The text says this,

“But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden. Only hold fast what you have until I come.”

So there’s a group here in Thyatira that isn’t buying into what Jezebel is selling. They’re rejecting it. They’re not absorbing the teaching, they’re not taking in what she has to say. They do not tolerate, like the other part of the church who tolerates. In verse 25, Jesus says to those who are persevering, the intolerant if you will, “only hold fast until I come.” Hold fast what you have, strongly grab on to what you have in your faith, until I come. I come. Jesus is returning for His Church. Jesus says hold fast until I come back.

The book of Revelation opens and closes with this hope and this reality. It begins with the idea that Jesus is the God who is to come, and Jesus at the end of Revelation says, “Surely I am coming soon.” And John replies at the end of Revelation, “Even so, come Lord Jesus.”

Jesus is returning. And then Jesus starts talking about reward for those who follow Him faithfully.

He says this:

“The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from My Father. And I will give him the morning star.”

This idea of conquering comes up in each letter, and here it’s really clear what it means to conquer. That we keep His works until the end. John, the guy that wrote Revelation on behalf of Jesus in his gospel, quotes Jesus as saying this, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” And Jesus is saying the same thing again to the Church of Thyatira here. “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” You know at North Hills, many of us have grown up in church. We’ve got a lot of knowledge about church, but you know what? Jesus kind of simplifies what it means to follow Him. “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” Do what I say. Reject what I reject.

Conquering is in essence working out the works of Jesus. We keep doing whatever it is Jesus told us to do and whatever it is that He has done. If we do that, the reward is as lavish, as huge, as beautiful, as that judgment is scary. Jesus says He’ll give us authority. Now, it’s kind of a weird reward maybe. But if we mine out what’s going on right there, it’s actually kind of crazy. Because what Jesus does with that whole rod crushing earth and pots stuff that He mentions there, what He’s doing is referencing Psalm 2.

And most scholars believe that Psalm 2 is all about Jesus, because Jesus looks at God and says, for My inheritance God, give Me the nations of the world. Give Me people. Save people. And then Jesus, in Revelation to the Church of Thyatira is saying, that authority, that inheritance, the ability to rule the nations, if you follow Me, I’m going to give that to you. In essence, Jesus is saying what’s true about Me in Psalm 2 is true for you as well. We get to share in Jesus’ authority that Jesus said He received from God. Jesus is pulling back the curtain on our future interaction with Him. We have a future. We’ll talk about that more here in a few minutes. Jesus then gives us this final little image at the end.

Jesus promises His faithful followers, “I will give you as reward the morning star.” Now we’re going to discover later in Revelation that the Morning Star is actually Jesus. Jesus says “I am the Morning Star.”

So here’s where I’ve been struggling. Like right here,

I worked really, really hard to try to come up with some type of illustration that will make this make sense, that Jesus gives us the Morning Star, which is Him. So Jesus gives us Jesus as a reward.

And why I want to try to illustrate that is because that is so churchy. And I’m not down on churchy. Churchy’s fine, but when churchy is so churchy that we can’t understand it, that’s when I get worried. Because there’s something about this promise of “I will give you the Morning Star” that is fuel for us, that will keep us going, that gives us something to look forward to. So in my head I’ve been wrestling with okay, Jesus gives me Himself. What does that mean?

So in this world, in your brain right now, imagine someone whose person and power, in a good way, you want to be part of. There is someone that you would like to be like in their person, the way they live.

For me, it’s people that have a great financial brain and they’re an artist at the same time. That’s just magic. You know, they have both of their brains. You know? And that person is successful in what they do, and therefore they have power to influence, and provide, and give, and enjoy life. And it starts breaking down because then you’re starting to talk about people who are not inherently even good people. You can even use terrible examples of people who are actually some great person with a lot of power. And you’re like, yes! If Bill Gates walked up to me and said “I give you all that I am,” that would be awesome in the sense of you inherit all of this power and resource.

But he’s a broken man. And Jesus is saying, that’s what I’ll do.

Conquer. Hold on.

That’s what I’ll do! I’ll give you Me, My person, which is perfect. I never failed once. I’ve been tempted in every way, just like you. But guess what. I never even sinned. I give you Me.

I give you all of My resources. You know that authority that Yahweh gave Me to rule the entire world? I’m going to give that to you. All the inheritance that I have from My Father? I’m going to give to you. Actually let’s just be joint heirs.

You, Me, God, joint heirs. That’s what He’s saying with that kind of weird phrase “I’ll give you the morning star.” I’ll give you Me! And I know my illustration breaks down, and it’s terrible.

I hate it, but I don’t know what else to do.

That’s probably why I had to start over on Wednesday.

I want to keep going, but I just don’t have any more words. Jesus gives us Jesus. Jesus ends the letter with this phrase that He uses before and it struck me that this phrase “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” It is not about anatomy, it’s about posture. It’s not whether or not you have an ear, it’s whether or not you’re going to posture your ear to hear what the Spirit says to all seven churches. So that’s a question for us.

Do you have an ear? And only you can answer that. When you approach Jesus in the book of Revelation, do you have an ear to say, “Okay tell me. Dial it in, focus.” So let me summarize the content, and then we’ll give ourselves somewhere to go.

We’ll summarize the whole letter in one sentence. Generally the Church of Thyatira is full of faithful, loving servants who are growing through endurance. But some teach and tolerate sinful behavior, although others reject this teaching. Generally, the Church of Thyatira is full of faithful, loving servants who are growing through endurance, but some teach and tolerate sinful behavior, although others reject this teaching. That is the Church of Thyatira. And as I read through the whole letter over and over, it seems Jesus is everywhere in the letter, and the main point kind of boils down to: Jesus’ authority inspires ongoing, intolerant loyalty. Jesus’ authority inspires ongoing, intolerant loyalty. And it’s always dangerous to use a word that could be misinterpreted.

So we’re going to talk about intolerant here in a second. But Jesus’ authority is what we have faced almost every week as we’ve read these letters, actually since we started Revelation. Are we willing to intake the view of Jesus from the book of Revelation and reject our own version of Jesus? Because Jesus is not a wimp in Revelation. Jesus is not a hippie. He’s not just a good teacher. He’s not just a good guy. He’s not just a moral person. He’s not a philosopher. He’s not merely a man.

Jesus is God, the Lamb, Ruler, and the Judge. That’s who Jesus is. We either receive and believe and trust that, or we don’t. Jesus is without doubt the lead actor in this dramatic letter written to the Church of Thyatira. He describes His own thoughts, responses, and actions, and we have got to be attentive to how Jesus acts in this letter. He is authoritative over the Church of Thyatira, over all seven churches, over every church that’s ever been. Jesus is authoritative over North Hills Church. The authority of Jesus is inspiring, and that is a broad word.

If we are rejecting the teaching of Jesus, it inspires us to be afraid. We fear. And if you don’t follow Jesus, I am not trying to be unkind to you. All I know is Jesus presents Himself as the only answer. Jesus presents Himself as authoritative. It’s His claim, not mine.

And He wants you to follow Him. He wants you to love Him.

He wants you to obtain all the reward that He’s talked about in here. And if you do,

His authority is going to be shared. It will inspire us to share His authority. We are inspired to persevere in an ongoing way. We will hold on to Him until He comes back to get us. We’ll hold onto His teachings until He returns.

So how do we respond to the authority of Jesus? Number 1, a commitment to be intolerant. Jesus’s authority inspires ongoing, intolerant loyalty. We will not tolerate anything Jesus rejects. That has got to be our mindset as a church. That is not a leadership issue. That’s a church issue. The people that hold the leaders of this church accountable are the people that come to this church. So when it comes to a commitment, we are going to follow Jesus. We will hold on to Jesus alone. If Jesus teaches this, and culture says this, or if Jesus teaches this and somebody within North Hills teaches this, we will reject it, no matter who it is. None of us are above needing this message.

Number 2, a commitment to look forward. His authority inspires a commitment to look forward in an ongoing way. So some of you know my story. I grew up in a pretty, once I was about 8 years old, a pretty conservative church world. And as I look back on that as an adult, there’s many things I’m thankful for. But one of the things that I kind of look back on with a little bit of, you know, is a view of heaven. The view in heaven that I inherited in the church that I grew up in was very ethereal and mystical, floating cotton balls everywhere, a lot of gold thread and white gowns, harps. It was really lame.

And I now think that as a dad. I’ve got an almost 17-year-old, a 14-year-old, and a 12-year-old. And if I’m trying to paint them a picture of something that is so beautiful to come, and that’s what I give them, my kids are going to look at culture and go, culture is way cooler than heaven. If that’s all it is, is this floating… And I say this reverently even. But even if it’s just a church service that goes on for a millennia. Really? That’s all we get? That’s the reward?

But what if it’s what Jesus said? What if? What if the future when Jesus returns to get us is Eden recreated? And once again God brings humanity into this idea of pulling together and creating and building and living culture without sin and junk.

What if that’s the future? What if in many ways what we’re doing now is just practice? Heaven might need architects.

We’re going to rule and reign nations. We’ll live, we’ll move, we’ll interact. Heaven will be so good, though, we don’t need marriage. It’ll be perfect.

Everything. We have to have this commitment to look forward to something, otherwise when it comes to living right now, if it’s ethereal, Jesus, and floating, and white robes, I’m just going to be blunt with you. That’s not enough for me. To make it through the evils of my own heart and the suffering that happens to my family and those that I love, it’s not good enough.

But I’m telling you what is. If Jesus Christ Himself says, “Ryan I’m going to give you the Morning Star. By the way, that’s Me. I also want to give you the authority of Yahweh to help me rule and reign forever. And we’re just going to figure that out together.”

I’m in. And I hope you guys are, too.

Third, we have to have a commitment to recognize we are in all of these letters, even the weird parts, food sacrificed to idols. North Hills Church, we are in all of these letters. And I think it’s a good time right now for us to think broadly about the letters as a church. What I mean by that is, where we’re right in the middle. Seven letters. I just finished letter four today. We’ve done three, done this one, and we have three more to go.

What is Jesus saying to us? Or what would Jesus write to North Hills Church?

If we framed it the way Jesus has written to all of these other people, a prologue. Jesus introduces Himself to North Hills. I hold the seven stars and the seven candlesticks in my hand. This is who I am. And then Jesus were to say to the Church of North Hills write, “I know…” Fill in the blank.

What would Jesus praise us for?

And there’s nothing prideful about saying “God’s doing this here. This is awesome!”

I’ve been here a long time. I could fill in some things on that. Probably one of the most well-known is, this is a place for hurting people. You don’t have to have all your junk together. We’re not going to leave you there. That’s not the call of Jesus. The call of Jesus is to make you more like Him. But whatever is going on, let’s not be fake. Let’s do this all together.

To the Church of North Hills write, “I know you love hurting people no matter what they’re dealing with. And you will take them to God’s Word, and you will walk it through with them.”

What if Jesus said that to us? That would be pretty cool. But the letter probably wouldn’t stop there, would it? We’re probably not different than Ephesus or Thyatira. Jesus would probably say, “But North Hills, I have this against you…” Fill it in.

Are we willing to listen? I hope so. I want to be. I think there are days I probably listen better than others. But what if God speaks to us in that way through all of us? What if the Spirit’s that big, that he lets us walk through these seven letters and gives us a message,

“Hey you guys are doing great at this, but you need to repent here as a people.” I’d love for some of you to have the courage to fill that out, to work that through.

I want to give you three encouragements as you do it. Number 1, how am I part of what Jesus would praise? Whatever you would fill in there, Jesus says to the Church of North Hills, I know you guys do this. How are you part of that?

Second, how are you part of what Jesus would correct? Because I actually think for most people the second part is going to be easier to fill out than the first, because we naturally kind of find what we don’t like.

I have no problem critiquing. I have to work to praise. And you can ask my family, it’s just true. But if I’m going to critique, do I have the courage to go, “Oh that’s actually about me. It’s not about the rest of the people at North Hills.” How am I part of correcting where we need correction? Because that’s the fun one. Because that’s called repentance, and we know where that leads. To the Morning Star. Jesus’ authority inspires ongoing intolerant loyalty. May He work in us.

Let’s pray. Jesus, thank you for these letters. Thank you for the book of Revelation that you gave in such a wild manner to your people to explore. Thank you for Thyatira. Thank you that we get to meet the faithful from Thyatira who held on. We’re going to share your authority with them. God, I pray for North Hills Church. Please don’t let us get to the end of Revelation and be the same. It may not look radical. That’s okay. I don’t care what you make it look like. I really do want you to work in my heart, though. Please don’t let me be the same after five chapters of Revelation when we finish up in June. What a waste that would be! And God I pray that for my brothers and sisters, not because I’m better, but I’m with them. I’ve got to change, they have to change. God let our body as a whole change. Reveal stuff to us. Do Your work in all of us for Your glory, for the sake of this city, for the sake of the people that need to hear about Jesus. And we will give You all the glory. And we can’t wait until You come back. We can’t wait to meet and receive the Morning Star face to face.

And we pray all together as a family, amen. Amen. Be blessed and go in peace this week.