Friday, October 17, 2014

BOOK OF REVELATION: CHURCH AT THYATIRA

We have just competed a review of sorts for the first three Christian churches spoken to directly by Jesus himself. In each case he compliments and even praises the good, but exposes each of their soft underbellies of sin. These first 3 churches were port cities that Rome depended on for shipping and receiving everything from captured slaves to fabrics, dyes, leather and steel for weapons. Each of them brought prosperity in their own way. The world had global commerce even then..

Further inland in modern day Turkey were the last four churches, from north to south, as follows:
  1. Thyatira
  2. Sardis
  3. Philadelphia
  4. Laodecia
Thyatira was unique not only because of their thriving early church, but also because they processed the imports from the port cities discussed above. They took the dyes, especially purple, and produced colored fabrics to be made into clothing. They took the leather and made belts, sheaths, boots and anything else you can imagine. All of the remaining 4 churches were part of
Roman ingenuity and planning that brought raw materials from any where in the known world, and then processed it into finished goods ready to be sold. 

Their Christian church had many superlatives, and Jesus even called their work, "impressive."
  1. They had the LOVE.
  2. They had the FAITH.
  3. They had the SERVICE.
  4. They had the PERSISTENCE.
Lastly, they improved on these everyday. However, all of these attributes were void of the main ingredient. According to Jesus this chuch had an exemplary Christian exterior presented to the world, but there were no roots on the inside from a contrite heart, fear of God or repentance. Their underbelly was and is EXPOSED to Jesus every minute of every day, just like ours. The exterior meant little to our Lord, if the foundation of their Christianity was not genuine on the inside. Please listen to these words because they are an indictment to me, as much as you! At the end of each church Jesus writes: "Are Your Ears Awake!" 
Often in life, were can hear things, but never really pay attention, just ask my wife. During any football game on a Sunday afternoon, I generally watch at least the 1st half...Susan often talks to me from the kitchen. I can here it, but I am not paying attention to her, I am focused on the game. Consciously or subconsciously men and women, "turn a deaf ear" and are only truly AWAKE to the sounds of football. Jesus receives the same deaf ear and lack of attention from us. He talks, and it goes in one ear and out the other, while we pay attention to what really has our full attention, like Balaam, Jezebel and the Nicolaitans in their day. Our God given tympanic membrane (ear drum), when vibrated by any sound, including speech, sends the signal to the inner ear, where it is interpolated and sent to the brain. When we are not listening to Jesus, just like my wife, it goes in my ear, but never makes it to my brain, because my brain is otherwise occupied. Jesus is relegated to vying for time within our brain everyday, but fortunately God's grace is sufficient.

So the question for us is, why do we not hear when Jesus speaks? We have discussed the analogous distractions above and in prior posts, but how are they related directly to those Christians in 96 AD. Those examples on their own don't mean to the average Christian today, except once in a great while my parents or grandparents would call someone a "Jezebel." Interesting that the stigma of that name still has meaning today. So the question remains, why do we not hear? (As an aside, what also scares me is the fact that many of us in 2014 don't really SEE or FEEL much either.) The answer is focus...Your focus, just like mine remains on those things we deem vital to us right now, in this life and on this earth. They are FIRST. Until your focus changes and makes God first, you have little to no chance of hearing what is in God's Word, whether your read it, study it or even memorize it. You also have little chance to hear your own conscience or your heart with all the noise in our lives. It's there, but even, "the still, small voice," gets muffled.
Thyratira was a bustling city. Jobs were plentiful and life was good. The church for all intents was a model of Christianity, because even Jesus recognized it from Heaven. So what's wrong with this beautiful and loving church? Ever hear of an X-ray? It's a high powered jet stream of gamma radiation that can literally see through your skin, flesh and blood to see what's inside! If you have a broken bone, an X-ray will enable a doctor to see the damage, because it cannot be seen with the naked eye unless you are Superman. Come to think of it, Superman is a good analogy, because he had X-ray Vision. He could see through walls and pretty much anything else. Now take your vision and add X-ray capability to your eyes, you get a weak approximation of how our Lord looks at everyone of us, every day. The inner workings of your soul are visible to him, just like the X-ray. If you are laying down watching TV or sleeping, he would see your perfect, but lazy self on the couch from the inside first. Now this is deep, so "hear" me when I tell you that Jesus does not rely on what's happening on your outside, including all of the good you have done for the church, for the widowed and for orphans or strangers. He died for what is on the inside of the people of God, the inside! Our souls cannot be white on the outside and black on the inside. That is where it counts NOW, wherever you live, wherever you work, and wherever you sin. Jezebel sinned by adultery and teaching free love. She caused early Christians to fail Jesus by teaching them, as their "prophetess" that they can defile themselves in the world of unmarried sex, without consequence . We thought free love was invented in the 60's...Not so, it's been around for thousands of years. 

The Nicolaitans took it one evil step further, by adding non-Christian doctrine and new idols of worship into saved people's belief system. Underneath Thyatira's beautiful, safe and discreet religious umbrella, sin slowly crept in, one small toleration at a time. Once you try on sin and have no immediate repercussion, it begins to feel good; and then you rationalize it to make it legitimate in your own mind. Having been there myself, you may not give up your salvation, but you certainly become tainted in the eyes of God and worthless in the fight against evil in this world, including the winning of the hearts and souls of others. The GRACE of our God is the only thing keeping you or anyone from immediate consequences; however, without repentance, it will come soon and so will He.

My surgery is next week, so I will be down until around Thanksgiving. FOCUS on Jesus and STOP rationalizing evil. Make God more important in your life than the TV, the computer or the book. It is the only way to break the cycle of sin that Satan deftly slides into your world. 


The Digital Disciple







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Hearing from you is certainly not a requirement. Consideration of what is researched and written is all I ask of anyone who stumbles upon my writings. I believe that my God will take it from there. With His help I try to separate fact from fiction, sense from nonsense, and ultimately clarity from chaos.

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