Witnesses; May 6, 2023

Psalm 116:1-2 I love the Lord, for he heard my voice;
he heard my cry for mercy.
Because he turned his ear to me,
I will call on him as long as I live.

It is interesting to me that such a beautiful and often-quoted Psalm would be completely anonymous. Verse 10 and verse 15 are quoted in the New Testament and today, but we don’t know who wrote the words. What we do know, however, is that the writer had a personal experience of and relationship with his Creator. That’s what we all need, more than anything else, and that’s what makes this Psalm beautiful and memorable. When we speak of “faith” it often seems theoretical, impractical even, but you can’t say that about being a witness. Courts of law are very strict about the distinction between personal witness and hearsay. Far too many Christians have only a hearsay testimony. That’s why Jesus said that we would be witnesses after the Holy Spirit came on us. (Acts 1:8) It has rightly been said that you can change the mind of a person who has an opinion, but you can’t change the mind of someone who has an experience. That is sadly only partly true, because the devil does all he can to convince us that our experiences of God are only our imagination, that they didn’t really happen. After all, “voices in your head” is practically the definition of insanity! (Actually, demonic voices are a very real and dangerous issue, but that’s another discussion.) Like the writer of this Psalm, we need to recognize how God interacts with us, meeting our needs and expressing His love for us in many different ways, and respond accordingly. If we will do that, we will have many testimonies, and the Bible tells us such testimonies enable us to overcome the devil . (Revelation 12:11)

Just last week Hank Gruver was exhorting us to experience God and talk about it, because our testimony would draw others to desire to know God themselves. He was right! I have experienced God more times and in more ways than I could recount, and I love to talk about it, but Japanese tend to have such strong ethnic identity that they don’t think they can have what I have, simply because we look different. Thankfully that’s neither universal nor absolute, but it is certainly a hindrance to evangelism. That’s why I seek to encourage the Japanese believers to press in for more of God, not just to experience Him more themselves but so that they can share those experiences with those around them. There’s a huge cultural barrier there as well, because Japanese tend to be very private, and religion simply isn’t a topic of conversation, particularly in contrast to some other countries. However, nothing is impossible for God, and I’m to keep witnessing, keep praying, and trust God for the harvest.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the message You’ve given me for tomorrow, reminding people of what they heard last week and encouraging them to put it into practice. May we indeed be people who do Your Word and not just listen to it, so that we may be transformed as You know we need to be, for our 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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