In John, we read that the “children of God” became so because they “did receive him,” they “believed in His name.” So often we talk about when we “received” Jesus or “believed in Jesus.” To outsiders it may sound confusing. What does it mean to “receive Jesus”? This is something one may consider.
I remember when I was in college, we had to memorize the Prologue. It was a task I accepted but considered a bit strange because memorization tests are not always very fruitful with time. How many things have you memorized for a test and yet you can still remember today? But I understand the importance of this passage in John, which wraps everything up as a beautiful gift to open for all who read.
The gift we receive is Jesus Christ. The introduction speaks of a forerunner coming to prepare the way for the One Who, since the very beginning, was to come and redeem the world from sin that God knew would separate God from man. Many are overwhelmed by the words that speak of deity, life, light, flesh, law, truth, and grace. First, open the gift of Jesus Christ. Receive Him. Believe in Him. These two things are linked together. You cannot believe without receiving. You cannot receive something unless it was freely given. Jesus Christ laid down His life for you; He has been reaching out to you so you can come to know Him. If you receive, you believe. This is a belief of trust. If you believe, if you receive—you have the right to become a child of God.
“But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.” – John 1:12
Tonight as I walked the dogs, I proceeded down a street I walk every day. As I continued forward, I heard the sound of a drill sergeant from what I imagined. I couldn’t make out the words because it was in the distance, but I envisioned the scenes I had seen again and again in movies. When I got closer, I noticed the all-familiar face of a soldier I spoke to in passing many times.
As this soldier sat on his porch swing, he looked forward, staring at the flags before him—the American flag and the Gadsden flag (“Don’t Tread On Me”). He shouted orders as he stared until he saw the dogs and I approaching. Then he apologized and confided that he got papers today—a red one and a white one. These papers are not what you are probably thinking; they were divorce papers. We spoke for a bit. He was somewhat incoherent. My dog was getting antsy due to an approaching dog so I told him to “hang in there” and continued walking. He returned to his shouting. I felt great sadness.
I ended up crossing the street and passing by again. We again spoke briefly. I told him to “take care.” I started praying for him as I journeyed onward. A short distance ahead were police—two police officers speaking with a neighbor. In little time they made their way up to this man. I continued to pray as sorrow began to weigh me down. Why did I not stay longer to speak with him? Why did I not pray with him? So tonight I pray, I pray for this man who knew I didn’t understand. He said it numerous times during his incoherent mumbling. But I know a God Who understands. He understands even the groans when we cannot speak. He understands all the hurt, all the pain, all the temptations, all the struggles. He understands it all. Sometimes I cannot understand but I’m thankful He always does. Sometimes I cannot find the right words, but He always has a Perfect Word. And I’m thankful that the weight I felt from the burden of sorrow I can give to Him and rest in His promises.
Please pray for this soldier. I don’t know his name. But God does.
“Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.” – Hebrews 4:14-16 [MSG]
The other day I had a flat tire. I was so very blessed to have a handful of people come to my rescue. It is always a blessing when there are too many hands to do a job. As we pulled the spare tire out of the car to use for a temporary solution, it became clear right away that the spare tire was flat. Good grief?!? Here’s a tire that has one job—to be ready for when a flat tire occurs – and it was flat.
Thankfully one disciple stepped up to get the spare filled with air so I could be on my way. But in the time waiting, I considered the flat tire and its failure. It had one job. Only one job. Failure. It reminded me of something we need always remember – nothing is 100% reliable except for God and His Truth. He never fails. His love never fails (Psalm 136). His Word never fails (Isaiah 55:11, Matthew 24:35, Luke 1:37).
People will fail you again and again. They might not always be on time or they might not show up at all. People may break promises or break your heart. People will lie. People will fall short. Spare tires will be flat. Cars won’t start. The money might not get deposited. The promised raise may not come. But with God, all things are sure and true. Today remember that through all the twists and turns in life, one thing remains – God. He doesn’t change (Malachi 3:6). He doesn’t leave (Deuteronomy 31:6). He keeps His promises (Deuteronomy 7:9). How awesome is our God!