Reception; February 13, 2019


John 6:63-64 “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe.”

It just struck me that if there were people who did not believe when they heard Jesus speak words infused with the Spirit of God, it is hardly surprising when people fail to believe when someone else is the speaker. The same Holy Spirit is operative and the words are true, so it rests on the hearer. That’s not to say that anyone today is as perfect a vessel as Jesus was, but the vessel is of minor importance. (2 Corinthians 4:7) We are to strive to hear accurately and speak accurately, always speaking in love, (Ephesians 4:15) but we can’t control how our words will be received. That’s why we are to speak “in season and out of season.” (2 Timothy 4:2) We don’t know when people’s hearts are prepared to receive the Gospel. It is true that sometimes it is better to be quiet, because speaking can be counter-productive. That’s part of being sensitive to the Holy Spirit. But we must remember, how can they believe if they have not heard? (Romans 10:14) So we’re back to the reality that we are simply tools in the process. We are responsible to be available, to “make the most of every opportunity,” (Colossians 4:5) but we cannot control the response.

This is me all around! I’ve been in Omura for over 37 years now, sharing Christ in many different ways, but the response has been spotty at best. I am to work with the people the Lord brings to me, reaching out so that I don’t miss any of them and loving them with God’s love, but not taking their response on myself as my responsibility. That can be a difficult line to walk! Just yesterday I was talking to someone who has declined the Gospel in the past, but right now they are in the hospital, under sedation and unable to speak. I prayed for them and there was some movement, but I don’t know if they were reacting for or against what I was praying. I’ve got to leave that in God’s hands. I do know that their spouse was moved by the love of God that I was expressing, so my words were not in vain. I earnestly, sometimes desperately, desire that those to whom I minister receive and believe God’s truth and be set free, (John 8:32) but I’ve got to leave that in God’s hands, just as Jesus did.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the many ways You use me, and for the results I do see. Thank You for the advice I was able to give the students last night who are studying for their national board exam. It wasn’t the Gospel as such, but it was truth and it was spoken in Your love. I pray that they would receive it, and the Gospel they have heard from me on other occasions, for their blessing and 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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