The Purpose of Blessings; September 1, 2022

Psalm 67:1-2 May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face shine upon us,
that your ways may be known on earth,
your salvation among all nations.

The more I read the Bible the more I am impressed that even in ancient times people wanted the whole world to know about God. They had a strong awareness of being the chosen people of God, but the ones who had their heads and hearts on straight wanted everyone to know about Him and His salvation. Sadly, instead of standing firm in that, they tended to copy the very nations they were called to transform by example. I’m reminded of something that has been said about the immediate political situation in the US: “The only way the Republicans can lose in November is to act like Democrats.” Ironically, it looks like several are starting to do that. As Paul famously said, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2) The devil is such an effective liar, he often convinces us to abandon the very things that are to save us. Until very recently, America sent out far and away the greatest number of Christian missionaries across the world, but American society in general has too often demonstrated a repudiation of the Gospel. That said, genuine evangelism is always on an individual level. A major reason Billy Graham was so effective was that his life was totally congruent with his message; his integrity spoke as loudly as his words. Like the writer of this Psalm, we are to seek God’s blessings not just for our own sake but so that others may know what kind of God we serve, and be drawn to Him as well.

As a Caucasian with an American passport ministering in Japan, this certainly applies to me. Ever since the end of WWII, and actually before that, the Japanese have had an admiration and envy of America and Americans, but there has been an unfortunate tendency to copy the bad parts more readily than the good. I am not to minister as an American, but rather as an ambassador of the Kingdom of God. (2 Corinthians 5:20) Every part of my life is to be a testimony of the character of God, demonstrating His power, grace, and love, laying a foundation for the Gospel I proclaim. As Francis of Assisi said, “Preach constantly. When necessary, use words.” It’s nice when people like me, but I’d far rather they fall in love with Jesus. I am greatly blessed, but those blessings aren’t to stop with me, but rather flow through me to others, drawing them to repentance and faith.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the opportunities You’ve given me to minister in the past few days. I pray that everyone with whom I interact would indeed know Your salvation because of what You do for and through me, 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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