Our Need to Receive

My friend Linda shared a prayer she prayed some time ago: God, I want a closer relationship with you. Help! Amen.

She told me that God’s answer was almost immediate. Stop achieving, start receiving.

As I’ve pondered this response, it occurred to me that our life with God begins with receiving. “But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God” (John 1:12, RSV).

In fact, this was the first scripture that became personal for me. As long as I could remember I had believed in God, but one Sunday evening at church I received Jesus as my personal Savior. I prayed and invited Him to take over the controls of my life. That’s when I received His life into mine.

Receiving is a BIG deal! Jesus prayed about His followers, “For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me” (John 17:8, ESV). As His followers received the words Jesus shared, their belief followed.

In the same prayer, Jesus spoke about God’s love for His followers: “So that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me” (John 17:23, ESV). Amazing that the Father loves us, His followers, in the same way He loves Jesus!

Receive, accept, trust—spiritual synonyms. I pray over these truths regularly. I want to receive and trust God’s love for me—the very same love He has for Jesus. 

We must receive that love before we can pass it on. Jesus said, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love” (John 15:9, ESV). Since Jesus could love only with the love He received from the Father, how much more must I receive the Father’s love if I want to love others well?

How do I receive?

  • Review, review, review. My forget-er is in good condition, my remember-er not so much! Almost daily I remind myself of God’s love for me. The beginning of 1 John 3:1 is one of my favorite reminders: “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are” (ESV).
  • Ask questions about Scripture. I connect with God more deeply when I ask such questions as, What is God really saying in this verse? Just this morning, in fact, I was pondering some passages on God healing the brokenhearted and carrying our sorrows. I thought about my grief over Mom’s death. Those verses led to a lot of questions, such as, How is Jesus carrying my sorrows? How do His stripes on the cross relate to my grief (not my sin, my grief)? I have no answers yet, but God’s promise of carrying my sorrows is burned into my heart.
  • Pray. I often ask God to help me trust His words. Or, back to questions, What would it look like to trust, accept, receive His Word today?

Every Sunday our pastor concludes the service with a benediction. One pastor always asks us to hold out our hands as if we’re catching a baby he is tossing to us. This posture symbolizes receiving the benediction. It has caught on. No matter which pastor is offering the benediction, my hands are out to receive. I want to experience all God has for me, and that begins, and continues, with receiving.

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