Gifts; January 7, 2019

Revelation 2:17 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.

This letter to the church in Pergamum is one of the more obscure passages in the whole Bible. For one thing, no one is sure today just what the Nicolaitans taught. (verse15) Then we have this verse. The instructions to listen to the Holy Spirit are repeated to each church and are certainly valid today, but the business of the hidden manna and the white stone draws a total blank for virtually everyone today. What I got just now in reading it is that sometimes we don’t know at the time why God gives us some things, or what they are for. What we need to remember is that His gifts are always good, (James 1:17) and as the song says, “we will understand it better bye and bye.” In this case, “hidden manna” could well refer to supernatural nourishment, either physical or spiritual, that other people aren’t aware of. We all experience times of running out of steam, so to speak, and this could be the answer to that. Receiving a new name, I feel, indicates a sense of self that cannot be destroyed by others. In both Old and New Testament days, a person’s name was felt to be indicative of their essence, who they really were, and giving and sharing names was not a casual thing. A name given by God that is known only to the recipient would be something no one could ever take from you. Where the white stone comes in might seem to be a total mystery, but accepting mysteries is a major part of trusting God, and that is valuable indeed. Actually though, in those days juries voted for acquittal by casting a white stone in an urn. Being declared “Not Guilty” by the Son of God is marvelous indeed! (I owe that understanding to my wife’s research.)

I, too, encounter things all the time that I don’t really know what they are or what’s going on. Frankly, I’m not naturally comfortable with that. I like to know everything! However, as God finally got through my head and into my heart several years ago, He’s smart and I’m not. Over the years God has given me many things that at the time seemed rather senseless, but that later turned out to be valuable. In college I studied how to write poetry, among other things. Just the tool to help you be the next Bill Gates, right? However, since I’ve been ministering in Omura I have had call to translate a lot of songs, both from English to Japanese and from Japanese to English. The training I received under Dr. Richard C. Pettigrew has been valuable indeed! There are numbers of other examples, enough to keep me from turning my nose up at anything God wants to give me. Often I’m just a transit point, to pass whatever it is to someone else. At the same time, I’ve had to learn discernment, because the devil tries to give me junk that isn’t for my benefit. (Actually, nothing he does is for my benefit.) When I recognize something isn’t from God, I need to be firm and immediate in refusing it. Sometimes the devil is very clever in dressing things up to make them seem attractive. That’s the very definition of temptation. That I am tempted isn’t sin, but yielding to it is sin, as the hymn says. It isn’t email, but God needs to be the only one on my list of Accepted Senders!

Father, thank You for this reminder. It makes me wonder why it came now, but I need to be spiritually sensitive at all times, receiving what You give me and nothing else. May I continue to grow as Your child, being fully responsive and obedient to You alone, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

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