Encouragement; July 18, 2017


1 Kings 19:18 “Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him.”

This is an enormously encouraging passage for many pastors, especially those who are distressed by the general state of society. Elijah had every reason to fear for his life as he ran from Jezebel, so there is a definite irony in his asking to die in verse 4. Jezebel would have been happy to grant that request! However, every Church leader has reason to be depressed at times. God’s answer to Elijah was to give him specific tasks to do and tell him who would be his successor in ministry. Knowing that ministry isn’t going to stop with you can be very comforting! Then he says this, letting Elijah know that not everyone in Israel had abandoned Yahweh. That too is enormously comforting. The people who spit in God’s face are very visible, because many of them try to be, but we must not overlook those who genuinely seek God. There are countless reasons why we might overlook them, but God doesn’t miss even one. The discouraged pastor needs to ask first for ears to hear God and then for eyes to see those whom God has reserved for Himself. God is never defeated, whatever things look like, and neither are those who are in Him. (Romans 8:37)

This is certainly applicable to me, as I’m sure it is to every minister in Japan. The “rate of return” for ministry in Japan is the lowest in the world, from statistics I have seen. I can certainly believe it! However, things aren’t necessarily as they seem to human eyes. Just the other day I was talking with someone who had been attending a good-sized church in the Tokyo area, and they said that they thought the majority of the people in their age group at church had told no one at their job that they were Christians. They feared the social repercussions of being “different” from their peers, forgetting Jesus’ very strong words on the subject: “If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” (Luke 9:26) That’s pretty severe! I perhaps need to contact the pastor of that church (who is a friend) and let him know what I heard. I also need to encourage the believers here to “let their lights shine,” (Matthew 5:15-16) not fearing people’s opinions but taking their personal worth from God, so that they may lead others into the light of life.

Father, You know what’s going on in and around me better than I do. Thank You for reminding me of that fact just now. Help me rest, relax, and rejoice in You, just as You have told me, so that my light may be bright and draw many to You, for their salvation and 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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