November 11, 2013

Joel 2:23-24 Be glad, O people of Zion,
rejoice in the LORD your God,
for he has given you
the autumn rains in righteousness.
He sends you abundant showers,
both autumn and spring rains, as before.
The threshing floors will be filled with grain;
the vats will overflow with new wine and oil.

This prophecy was obviously spoken in a time of physical drought, but in the centuries since it was recorded, people experiencing spiritual drought have taken it as their own. That’s not a bad thing! We can’t know all the reasons God allows hard times, both physical and spiritual, but we can know that God can turn those hard times around into times of great blessing, if we will trust Him and release them, and ourselves, to Him. In general, hard times are the result of sin, either ours or someone else’s, so the first response needs to be asking the Holy Spirit to point out areas where we need to repent. The Holy Spirit is a gentleman, and He will be specific, never issuing blanket condemnations. If we ever get, “You’re just no good,” we can be sure that it is Satan pretending to be the Holy Spirit. (2 Corinthians 11:14) If the Holy Spirit doesn’t show us a need for repentance, the next step is to ask Him what the Father wants us to learn from what we’re experiencing. Sometimes that lesson is as simple, and as basic, as trust. Then, and only then, we are to ask Him what part, if any, we are to have in remedying the situation. Most of the time we get that backwards and start out with trying to correct things. That seldom if ever works out! Often, we only succeed in making things worse. That’s not at all to say that we are to be passive, but rather that we are to let God be God, and offer ourselves as His instruments. God has great abundance in store for us, as this passage says, but we must never forget that He is the One who provides, and not us.

Ministering in Japan is certainly training in this principle! Recently in talking with someone in the US about ministry here I said it was like plowing rock. That’s a pretty accurate description! However, there has been some fruit over the years, and some of it of superb quality. The promise in this passage is particularly meaningful for me because 450 years ago, God indeed poured Himself out on this area, and there were over 80,000 Christians in Omura Fief. Some Protestants today dismiss that figure because they were Catholic, and many indeed did apostatize when persecution came. However, that opinion ignores the many who went into exile or to martyrdom rather than discard their faith. The Lord has given me a vision that Omura would once again be the foremost Christian city in the nation. I cannot make that happen by my own strength any more than I could turn myself into a petunia, but I can believe and trust that God will do it in His way and His time, and maybe even use me in the process.

Father, thank You for Your faithfulness. Thank You for the man who has returned to this church after many years away. I receive that as a sign from You that You are moving us into a time of restoration and harvest, and I praise You. Help us know how to participate in what You are doing and not get in the way, so that all of Your plans may be fulfilled on Your schedule 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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