September 3, 2016

Jeremiah 16:20 “Do men make their own gods?
Yes, but they are not gods!”

When reading the Bible, it is important to keep track of who is saying what to whom. However, that’s not always easy, because ancient Hebrew and Greek didn’t use modern punctuation, like quotation marks. This verse is something that God was telling Jeremiah the people of Israel would say in later years, after He brought them back from captivity. At the point Jeremiah was hearing this, the people around him for the most part hadn’t caught on to the reality of this statement. Anthropologists today can tell you how every culture has made its own gods, and actually modern culture is no different. It is no accident that popular entertainers are called idols! It takes a level of spiritual sensitivity/maturity to recognize the futility of man-made religion, because the devil is very active in deceiving as many people as he can. He doesn’t care what religion you are, so long as you don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as Lord! It was very eye-opening, for those who were paying attention, when in recent years large numbers of Dalits, the “untouchables” of the Indian caste system, started ditching Hinduism because they realized that it had been the major framework of oppression and discrimination against them. The fundamentalist Hindus said, “You can become Buddhist or Muslim if you like, but if you become Christian, we will kill you.” In other words, the devil likes every religion except genuine Christianity. Incidentally, there is still severe persecution of Christians in many parts of India, just as there is in China, though Christians in the West are generally ignorant of it.

Living in the non-Christian nation of Japan, gods that are not God are inescapable, but at least people call them gods. In America, such gods are equally rampant, but people don’t recognize them for what they are. The devil is just as happy with a church that doesn’t teach the Bible and never talks about sin and repentance as he is with a pagan temple. Sometimes I think he’s even happier with it, because it makes people discount Christianity, since it is powerless. As a pastor I must be on my guard that we don’t become like that. Recently I have been very gratified to hear that several people have said to Cathy, “Your God is powerful,” in relation to how she has dealt with all her health challenges. The thing is, even the members of this church grasp that to varying degrees. I need to help them understand that the more they choose to trust Him, the more His power will be manifested in their lives. Hardly anyone besides Cathy and me is more than one generation away from active paganism. They need their world view adjusted! I can’t do that on my own, but God can use me in doing that, so I’ve got to keep myself available, saying and doing what He directs, rather than simply what seems good to me.

Father, we’re back to our Scripture for the year. (Proverbs 3:5-6) I am all too prone to lean on my own understanding! Help me listen faithfully and obey accurately, so that Your reality may be manifested through me and many brought from darkness to light, for their salvation and 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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