As we prepare to close out the Unlocking the Power of Your Thinking series next week, let's turn once again to the book of Revelation. I suppose it is appropriate to end this book with the last book, which surprisingly has much to say on our topic. Last week, we looked at Jesus' promise to the Ephesian church if they would only have ears to hear. This week, let's examine His promise to the church at Pergamum:
"Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it" (Revelation 2:17).
This promise always makes me think of what Jesus said to the disciples in John 4:32: “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” For Jesus, seeking and saving the lost was His "hidden manna," the purpose for which He had come. When He fulfilled it,it was more enjoyable and filling than actual food. The same is true for your purpose, but alas, I digress, for this week we want to look at what it means to have ears to hear.
THE WORD WORLD
I am teaching an online class on the four gospels for which students have to answer many essay questions. One of the questions goes something like this: "What are some examples of racism in the world?' I have had about 300 students come through the class and 297 of them have responded to the question by telling me about the situation in the United States. Only three have given me any international examples of racism. I am not mocking or criticizing the students. My point is that when they see the word world they think about the world that is within their reach made up of their culture and friends. Because they have conditioned their mind to think like that, when I write world, they think U.S. Don't be too hard on the students, for you have the same tendency.
Take the word generous. The Bible clearly instructs us to be generous. But what does generous mean to you? If you had two suits, would generous be to give one away? Would generous really be to give both of them away and go without? If you think it's the first, then giving the second one would not even cross your mind—not even if the Lord prompted you to do it. The same can be true for words like go, missions, forgive, pray, and give. We approach those action words with preconceived thoughts of what they mean and how they should be expressed in our world.
Jesus gave the disciples these instructions right after He explained the parable of the sower:
“No one lights a lamp and hides it in a clay jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light. For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open. Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they think they have will be taken from them" (Luke 8:16-18, emphasis added).
Jesus was indicating that His parables were not intended to hide or conceal but were teaching tools to reveal God's truth. Once they understood those principles, it was their job not to conceal but to reveal them to others as well. If the disciples and crowds weren't careful, they would hear, celebrate, and go home in the same or worse condition than when they arrived. The same is true for us today. We can hear a "good message or word," and applaud, cry, sing, shout in response, but go home no different. Why? Because we were not careful how we listened. After Jesus said those words, His family suddenly came to visit. Jesus continued His lesson by saying,
Now Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him, but they were not able to get near him because of the crowd. Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.” He replied, “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice" (Luke 8:19-21, emphasis added).
If you are serious about unlocking the power of your thinking, then you must learn to challenge everything you know and hear. The challenge is not so you can shoot holes in shallow concepts but to determine if there is anything preventing you from comprehending and then doing something with what you heard. That is what it means to have "ears that hear." If we return to the church at Pergamum, we see that Jesus promised one more thing for those who heard and acted on what they heard: "I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it."
If you learn to hear and do, God will give you a purpose no one else can see (that's the white stone). It will be a term that others don't get but moves you to tears. To get that purpose, however, you have to learn to pay attention like my students to the words like world to ensure you aren't depriving or shortchanging it of its full meaning. If you learn to do that, you will have truly unlocked the power of your thinking. Have a blessed week!