Review and Prepare:
Here are some notes you might like to use for a spiritual review of 2022 and to help prepare spiritually for 2023. The videos I made based on these notes can be found by clinking on the links below.
Part 1 : Spiritual Review of 2022 | "How to hear what the Spirit is saying" - Part 1
Part 2 : Vision for the Spiritual Year Ahead | "How to hear what the Spirit is saying" - Part 2
First - read Revelation 2:18-29. It is not that we are comparing ourselves with Thyatira precisely, but we can use Jesus' approach to help us.
v18 - Note the letter begins with an inspiring picture of Jesus. His opinion about us is what matters, not the opinions of others, nor our own feelings.
Here are some questions to ask ourselves as we assess the year behind and the year ahead.
PART 1: 2022
1. What has gone well? v19
They prioritise love. They are growing. Their love is not intellectual, but practical - Galatians 5:6; Acts 10:38. It reminds me of this passage:
“We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labour prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 1:3 NIV11)
Don’t be shy - take time to rejoice over any spiritual victories and growth from 2022.
2. What needs improvement? What is being tolerated? What sins are apparent? v20-21
Two sin issues are being tolerated. 1. Immorality - for more on Jezebel see 1 Kings 16:31 & 2 Kings 9:22. 2. The worship of idols is replacing the worship of God.
Has your spiritual conscience been nagging at you to pay attention to any sins you have been tolerating?
3. What will be the consequences if you do not pay attention to the things God has brought to your attention? vv22-24
We cannot hide behind someone else (Jezebel in this context) and blame them (her). We must take responsibility for our own sins, toleration of sins and spiritual shortcomings.
‘hearts and minds’ - we know that God knows our hearts and minds, but it is healthy to own up when things ‘at home’ are not spiritually healthy before God feels the need to intervene!
‘I will not impose’ - The lack of imposition of burdens likely refers to the council of Jerusalem (Acts 15:28). There is not much for them to hold to, but even this seems to be hard! Living up to our calling is hard, but not complicated.
PART 2: 2023
1. What will help you persevere? v25-26
v25-26. ‘Hold on…Does my will to the end’: i.e. continue with love, faith, service and repent of immorality and eating food sacrificed to idols
Where will you get the strength from?
2. Where do you see God's power at work in 2023? v26-27
‘iron sceptre’ - the image may be a shepherd’s staff with an iron tip (see, Psalm 2:8–9). This is a judgment scene. The shepherd’s club is for fighting those who threaten the flock. God is working with his power for his people who he loves.
Where might God's power be at work - in you and through you - in the months ahead?
3. What will convince you to go forth into the year with spiritual confidence? v28
Jesus ‘replaces’ Venus as the morning star (Rev 22:16, 2 Pet 1:19). The morning star is Venus, a symbol of sovereignty and victory. The star arises just before the dawn. Victorious Roman Generals erected temples to Venus. Jesus is promising victory to those who hold on and remain obedient to what they already know. They will share his victory - his messianic rule.
Jesus is confident in the church. He is confident in you. As someone said, “God don't make junk".
What would living a victorious Christian life look like for you in 2023?