Most of the time we only could pick up one radio station growing up in my hometown of Cumberland, Kentucky in the 1970’s. Sometimes we could pick up FM radio out of Knoxville and that was just super fascinating to us. Our AM station was the kind that was only on from dawn to dusk. Here's how I remember it. They would start the morning playing top 40 music. At 8 AM they there was preaching and gospel music. At 9 am they played easy listening music or something like that. From 12-3 they played country music and from 3 to sign-off they played top 40 music again. I only listened to the top 40 stuff. I loved groups like the Eagles, Boston, Queen, and even the Commodores. Every now and then I dabbled with listening to harder stuff. We’d barely heard of Contemporary Christian music but did began to get our hands on some of that. But there was one kind of music I hated. I had no appetite whatsoever for classical music. Our radio station that tried to cover all the bases didn’t even play classical music, as far as I knew.
When I enrolled to study Music Education in college, to my dismay, they wanted us to learn classical music. They insisted we listen to it and they insured that we would by giving us listening tests. Here’s how they would work: We would be assigned five symphonies to listen to in a given week. Then at the listening test, the professor would “drop the needle” anywhere in any of the recordings, and we were supposed to be able to name the composer, the symphony, and what movement of the symphony the selection was played from. We whined and complained like babies. But over time something interesting happened. I gradually began to understand the music and I developed an appetite for it. In time, I grew to love it. I still enjoy many, many kinds of music, but if just listening to music I’m as likely to turn on something classical as anything else.
Jesus was fond of saying, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” The phrase communicated that something really important was being said, but that some would not have the appetite for it, or would chose not to listen, to their own harm. Nothing is more critical than hearing and heeding what God says. But when Jesus himself adds such a challenge, that should set off alarm bells that warn of impending danger if this message is not needed. In Revelation 2-3, Jesus, through the apostle John, gave seven short messages to seven different churches, but by extension it's a word to all God’s people in all times. At the close each message Jesus says, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” At Bethany Place in the next few weeks, we will dig deeply into these messages and by God’s grace do all that we can to precisely heed Jesus’ challenge. I’m calling the message series, "Ear Training."
You can see the text and outline of the first message below.
Ear Training, Part 1, A study of Revelation 2-3
1. Depend on the presence of Jesus
Revelation 2:1 (ESV) “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands.
2. Seek his honest assessment
Revelation 2:2–4 (ESV)
2 “ ‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. 3 I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. 4 But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.
3. Pursue a love for God that provokes speaking the gospel
Revelation 2:5–7 (ESV)
5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. 6 Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’