April 26, 2016

Nehemiah 1:8 “Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses.”

Like many other people recorded in the Bible, Nehemiah is praying God’s words back to Him. It’s not that God forgets what He has said, or that He could, but rather that we can pray with total assurance when we are standing on His Word, rather than on our own imaginations. However, this must be done in all humility, with no trace of our trying to hold God accountable. (It’s amazing how often that seems to happen, but God pointed the fallacy in such an attitude out to Jeremiah, comparing us to clay and God to a potter. [Jeremiah 18:1-10) Nehemiah had confessed the sins of Israel, including his own direct ancestors and he himself, just before this, so there was no pride in this at all. Just recently I read an article about the Biblical illiteracy of American Christians. Though 80% of American households have at least one Bible, they don’t read it and don’t really know what’s in it. The average American Christian couldn’t pray God’s words back to Him if they had to! That is tragic indeed. In contrast, believers in China in many areas still have a real shortage of Bibles, so they copy them out by hand and memorize large chunks so that they can’t lose them. The situation in Japan isn’t much different from America among Christians, though the percentage of households with Bibles in the general population is much lower. Bibles are taken out on Sundays, if then, and there is very little familiarity with what is really in them. If God’s people would take in His Word and pray it back to Him, the world would be a very different, and much better, place.

This issue is very personal to me. I grew up in a home where the Bible was loved, read, and absorbed, but at church, any time it was read in Sunday School or a worship service the page number was given. That helped complete novices find the passage, yes, but it didn’t help anyone really become familiar with the Bible. I have known people who had been Christians for over 30 years and still couldn’t find a verse just from being given the reference! It is no wonder they had little assurance and power in their lives. As a pastor I have steadfastly refused to give page numbers, and have taken some flack for it. I don’t even require uniformity in the translation used, which is shocking to some. We have a young man in the church who delights to serve each Sunday by putting bookmarks in our “lender” Bibles at all of the passages I plan to use in the message. Sometimes that means a lot of bookmarks! At least he is learning how to find Scripture references! I keep encouraging the believers to have regular devotions, to take in the Word and let it operate fully in their hearts and lives, but the response is spotty. You would think that people would see the lives of those who do feast on the Word and desire to do likewise, but our lying enemy still manages to deceive so many. I must never give up, but continue speaking the truth in love, so that people may be set free.

Father, thank You for the message this past Sunday and for the good response to it. I pray that people would indeed experience You through Your Word and respond accordingly, so that the works of the enemy may be destroyed and Your kingdom come in their hearts and lives, for 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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