Every Thanksgiving & Christmas the emphasis is on GIVING. ThanksGIVING is the giving of thanks. Christmas has become about giving gifts and giving time and, of course, InYou is involved in several ministry opportunities that involve people GIVING in order to bless someone else. But today my thoughts have wandered to RECEIVING. Is there something about Christmas we need to RECEIVE this year? Think about it. Could Christianity, at the heart, be about RECEIVING?
The first verse that comes to mind is John 1:12–“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.” Receiving is the beginning of new life in Christ; and the continuation of it: “Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him” (Gal. 2:6). I just glanced through the New Testament and found a few “receiving” verses:
“Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full” (Jn. 16:24). “And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” (Mt.21:22). “For everyone who asks receives” (7:8). We are to receive mercy (5:7; Heb. 4:16), Jesus & the Father (10:40), sight (11:5), the word (13:40; Acts 8:14), a child (18:5), “talents” (25:16ff), the kingdom of God (Mk. 10:15), JESUS! “His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace” (1:16), “His testimony” (3:32), the Holy Spirit (7:29; 20:22), Jesus’ sayings (12:48; 14:17), power (Acts 1:8), “forgiveness of sins” (10:43), ministry (20:24; Col. 4:17), grace and special gifts (Rm. 1:5; 1 Pet. 4:10), “reconciliation” (5:11), “the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness” (5:17), “a spirit of adoption as sons” (8:15), edifying (1 Cor. 14:5), a blessing (2 Cor. 1:15; Heb.6:7), “adoption” (Gal. 4:5), “promise of the eternal inheritance” (Col. 3:24; Heb. 9:15), “the love of the truth so as to be saved” (2 Ths. 2:10), “the crown of life” (James 1:12), anointing (1 Jn. 2:27).
All that we have and need is received: “John answered and said, ‘A man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven'” (Jn. 3:27); especially spiritually: “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God” (1 Cor. 2:12). We cannot deny this: “For who regards you as superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?” (4:7).
Paul’s (and our) spiritual revelation was received: “For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ” (Gal. 1:12). You know, faith is receiving! Faith does not produce the work of God, but receives it. Faith is a receiver; He speaks and the power of His defining word woos our response. Faith is HEARING! Hearing is RECEIVING! (See Rom. 10:17.)
Of course, InYou’s verse this year has been Acts 20:35: “In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Sounds like the opposite of my point here, but giving is the overflow of receiving…”Freely you received, freely give” (Mt.10:8). SEE! Receiving comes first! “We love because He first loved us” (1 Jn. 4:19)
To the disciple who leaves everything to follow Christ, God says, “he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.” (Mk. 10:30; Mt. 19:29). SO…in the end, we lose NOTHING when we RECEIVE Christ. We only keep RECEIVING MORE!
A final note: Receiving will always be connected to our neediness. What do you desperately need? God may not have created or caused the need, but He has allowed it into your life. Now Hebrews speaks of those of whom “the world is not worthy”: “And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised” (Heb. 11:39). The greatest faith belongs to those who “do not see and yet believe” (Jn. 20:29). Their focus has shifted from the gift to the Giver. Will you, NOW, receive Him, allowing Him fill the all the empty places in your soul that you feel? Is He enough to comfort and fill the empty places? Come in faith and receive the life you need and want—HIS LIFE! RECEIVING is the beginning and continuation of life…until you are received into His eternal dwelling.