August 29, 2012

Revelation 2:17 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

This is the common thread in what Jesus said to each of the seven churches, which is all the more reason to pay close attention to it. Pergamum had a real problem with demonically inspired teaching circulating in the church, so in a sense this was particularly acute for them. It is important to note that Jesus uses the plural – churches – here. He isn’t talking about someone getting some “inspiration” on their own, that disagrees with what God is saying to others. We have the enormous advantage of having the whole Bible readily available to anyone, so it’s very easy to see if what we are feeling agrees with what the Holy Spirit has said to others. We need to take full advantage of that! That’s why familiarity with Scripture is so important, especially for anyone in leadership. There was a period of hundreds of years in Church history when it was rare for even bishops to have read through the entire Bible, much less read it multiple times. That’s how many extra-biblical and unbiblical traditions got in; people weren’t sufficiently familiar with the standard of truth. It is ironic that so few Christians even today are really familiar with the Bible, when it is so readily available in most countries. I think a major part of the problem is that people don’t really grasp the fact that it is what God wants to say to them, if they will just listen. Add to that the fear that God might say something to them that they don’t want to hear, and you have a full aversion to regular Bible reading. What a waste!

Growing up in the family I had, I read through the Bible for the first time when I was 10 (largely to kill time during my father’s sermons in Japanese). I had received that Bible in relation to my baptism at age 7, and the Revised Standard Version still seems very familiar to me in consequence. However, knowing the words didn’t mean I was necessarily absorbing the truth they contained. We have a remarkable ability to compartmentalize our lives, failing to make the connections between one part and another, and I certainly exercised that ability! I was 24 years old, married and with a young daughter, when the Lord tapped me on the shoulder and showed me a spiritual mirror, so to speak, so that I could see the condition of my heart. It was devastating! I wish I could say I immediately got into a solid habit of regular Bible reading and prayer, but that wasn’t the case. It wasn’t until a few years later that I discovered the joy of hearing from the Lord regularly through His Word. A few years ago Wayne Cordiero came from Hawaii to speak at a conference here, and I learned the SOAP (Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer) system of journaling. I had been journaling in my devotions before, but this was very helpful, and I’ve been using it ever since. I have also had the joy of teaching it to others, for their blessing. However, if they don’t have the fundamental desire to hear what the Spirit is saying, they don’t continue. My prayers and my teaching need to be focused on getting them hungry for more of God, and then teaching them how to eat.

Father, thank You for Your faithfulness to speak to me by Your Spirit, through Your Word and otherwise. Help me indeed lead others to grasp that You want to do the same for them, and give them a hunger to receive, so that together we may become all that You desire and intend, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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