September 19, 2016

Jonah 3:10 When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened.

This verse is forgotten in a lot of discussion of prophecy. Moses’ statement notwithstanding, (Deuteronomy 18:22) a prophecy not being fulfilled doesn’t necessarily mean that it wasn’t genuine. God often gives prophecies that are conditional, that is, “This will happen unless this happens.” Just as we tend to ignore the conditions in promises of blessing, we tend to ignore the conditions in warnings. Both are very foolish. If the people of Nineveh, who could rightly be called the precursors of ISIS for their brutality, could mend their ways and so avert the prophesied judgment of God, then surely we can too! Right now America is in a very dangerous place, having spit in God’s face in numbers of ways. “If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14) The operative word there is “IF.” Many people seem to take that as a call to prayer, but they leave out the phrase, “turn from their wicked ways.” They want God’s blessings for just going through the motions, without making any real lifestyle changes. Repentance isn’t just saying you’re sorry, it’s changing to do something else. The sad reality is that the lifestyles of the majority of American Christians are virtually indistinguishable from those of non-believers. It really calls into question the faith, or at least the love for God, of those Christians.

The difficulty for me here is the temptation to pride, and that is one of the deadliest of sins. Just because I see this issue and try to live a Biblical lifestyle doesn’t mean that I always succeed, or that even if I do, that I am of any greater value than someone who doesn’t even try. I am privileged to speak the Word of the Lord, but if I am not obeying it myself, I have no personal benefit. As I preached not long ago, I am to love God enough to obey Him explicitly, and I am to love my neighbor enough to apply myself fully to drawing them into a right relationship with their Creator. Everything else is secondary. I am not to ignore the conditions expressed in any promise of God, either positive or negative, but approach God and His Word in all humility, to believe enough to act.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for all that You did in the two services yesterday. I do pray that the ordination of Takahiro Kobayashi will be a positive step toward the fulfillment of the vision that You have given for this city, of it again being the foremost Christian city in the nation. May we all renew our commitment to You, as he has affirmed his commitment, so that together we may be and do 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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