Spirit of Grace Ministries
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Spirit of Grace Ministries
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Receiving from God

Hands stretched to God

by Dennis Pollock

The knowledge of how to receive from God is the greatest knowledge anyone can possess. Regardless of how barren and dry their circumstances may appear, the man or woman who knows how to receive from their Heavenly Father need never fear. James tells us that "every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights…" All that is of true value in our lives is a gift from our Father. We owe Him our gratitude. John the Baptist declared, "A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven." Our families, our homes, our health, our jobs, the milk in our refrigerators and the cars in our garages are gifts from our generous Creator, "who gives us richly all things to enjoy."

There is an art to receiving from God. In ancient days men sometimes would make an appointment with the king to beg a favor of him. But they could not just come in without an appointment, and often a gift, and start telling the king what they wanted. There were protocols to be observed. So it is with God. The average notion of prayer is that we simply beg God over and over again, "Please give me a car (or husband or whatever the case may be)." We figure if we ask long enough He might be persuaded, and so we hurl our prayers toward heaven figuring they can do no harm and just might do some good. After a while, if the answer isn't forthcoming, we take that for a no and leave God alone until some other desire pops into our hearts. Then we repeat the process. Sometimes we get what we request; more often we do not. Such is the typical approach to asking and receiving from God. In His compassion our Heavenly Father may grant us our petitions, but there are some key protocols that are being ignored, which may eventually cost us much, if we continue to seek God's blessings through such a haphazard approach.

As Many as Received Him…

The greatest of God's gifts is obtained through receiving. The gift of eternal life is received by faith in Jesus Christ. John writes, "As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name." In order to be born again our hearts must be made receptive to Jesus, and His gift of salvation. When the new birth occurs the heart opens itself to the gospel and embraces Christ by faith. In the book of Acts we read of Lydia: "The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul." Sometimes I think we put too much emphasis on the "sinner's prayer." We feel if we can just get the unbeliever to say the right words, salvation will automatically be granted. But salvation is more than repeating some words. Any parrot can be taught to do that. It is spiritual receptivity; the heart responding warmly to the gospel and Person of Christ. Sometimes it may occur as one says a sinner's prayer; other times it may happen with a simple cry of, "Oh, Jesus, change me!" Sometimes it may happen during the act of baptism. The key is a combination of believing and receiving and it is sometimes difficult to determine where the first leaves off and the other begins. Genuine believing always leads to receiving, and there is no receiving where there is no believing.

Once we have entered into God's family, we continue to receive. We become receivers; we live our lives continually receiving grace gifts from our Father. It is the mark of the true Christian to be a man or woman who asks and receives from God. Hunters hunt, accountants figure, teachers teach, editors edit, and Christians ask and receive from their Heavenly Father. In Hebrews we are encouraged: "Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." There is a throne of grace available to us, which can be of enormous help in our difficulties and "times of need." Those who are ignorant of the ways of receiving will miss out on a great deal, of both personal blessings and grace for fruitful lives. We must learn the ways of receiving!

This is not to suggest that God wants us all rich or will give us every whim and every material possession for which our hearts may lust. The Christian's goal is not to amass great wealth and die with the most toys, but to abide in Christ, love God, love people, and bear much fruit to the glory of the Father. But in the process of doing these things, we need to recognize that our needs will be amply provided. Those who seek first God's kingdom and righteousness have "all these things," that is all our material needs added unto them. Some preachers have pushed the idea of wealth and the supply of our needs to such an extent that they have turned people off, and many in the body of Christ have gone the other direction and don’t want to hear about the goodness of God and His willingness to hear the requests of His children. God is neither a Santa Claus nor a miser; He will not spoil His children, but neither does He delight in seeing them poor, miserable, and destitute. He is, after all, our Father which art in heaven.

Extreme Sovereignty

One of the key concepts we must wrestle with as we seek to understand the art of receiving is the sovereignty of God. Pushing sovereignty too far is the normal response of those who are uncomfortable with a strong emphasis upon faith. Their idea of prayer is that God is going to do what He is going to do. By all mean pray for whatever you desire, but don't insist upon it, and don't expect it too much. God may choose to answer your prayer or He may not. He will do as He pleases and it is not for us to get too aggressive in this business of praying and petitioning Him. This sounds pretty good, but if this is truly the posture we are to take, why should we pray at all? God is going to do as He pleases anyway. We don't want to get too pushy in our prayers after all!

Imagine a man who has just lost his job. Believing strongly in the sovereignty of God, he prays thus:

Dear, Father, I thank you that I have lost my job, for this is surely your sovereign will. I pray that you will give me another job if you please. Of course You may be pleased not to give me a job, but to allow me to be without a job for many years, and if that's what You want, then please keep me from getting any job whatsoever. I pray that you would enable us to keep our house. You know we now have no money to pay our mortgage payments. Of course it may be Your will for us to lose the house, and that's fine too. I pray that you would take care of my family and provide us with plenty to eat, but perhaps it is Your will to let us starve and die as homeless beggars, and if that's what You want, I'm good with it. So do whatever You want, Lord, and I know that you will anyway, so I don't really know why I am praying this prayer…"

Not exactly the "prayer of faith" is it? In reality this prayer would be a great insult to the Heavenly Father, the One who feeds the birds of the air and clothes the flowers of the field. When a man came to Jesus with a demon-possessed son, he told the Master, "If You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us." Jesus threw the situation back into his lap, saying, "If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes." The issue was not whether Jesus could do anything for the boy. That was a given. He most surely could. The only question was whether the father could believe.

Asking and Receiving

PrayerAgain and again throughout the gospels we find Jesus encouraging people to have faith, and telling them things like, "Your faith has saved you," "Your faith has made you whole," and "Let it be unto you according to your faith." There is no other Biblical character who placed a greater premium on faith than our Lord. He lived faith, He taught faith, and He encouraged faith. It would be cruel and illogical for Jesus to exhort us to have faith if in fact all healings and indeed all blessings were totally at God's prerogative and had nothing to do our asking and receiving by faith. It is often spiritual laziness that refuses to persist in prayer with faith, and instead simply says “que sera, sera – whatever will be, will be." Rather than taking the time, effort, and energy to get serious in our prayers, we throw up a few random prayers just to see what comes of them. In most cases, not much!

 James tells us, "You do not have because you do not ask…" In Jeremiah God tells Israel, "Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things which you do not know." The implication: If you call to God you get answers and He shows you things. If you do not call, you get no answers and He does not show you things. Jesus says, "Everyone that asks receives," and in another place declares, "And all things, whatever you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive." The language used here would sound reckless if it had been spoken by anyone but the Lord Jesus. Some might almost wish Jesus would have put an asterisk beside these statements, and then at the bottom of the page wrote, "Now I really didn't mean this quite like it sounds…"

The simple truth is this: If words mean anything there must be a connection between asking and receiving. Askers receive and those who fail to ask do not receive. Imagine a man who has lived primitively on some forsaken island, and then is suddenly brought to America. He is put in a hotel room and discovers the light switch. Curious, he flips the switch and the room fills with light. Shocked he quickly flips the switch back and the room darkens. Intrigued, he cannot resist flipping the switch again and again. Lights on – lights off, lights on – lights off. After a couple of dozen times he begins to get the idea that there is a mysterious connection between the flipping of the switch and the room being flooded with light. And of course he would be right. So it is with the act of asking and receiving from our Father in heaven. When we ask in faith and in the name of Jesus, whose death on the cross for our sins and resurrection from the dead have given us perfect access to the throne of grace, the windows of heaven fly open, and grace pours out upon our lives.

So why is God so big on our asking and receiving? Why does He emphasize it so often in His word? Because it is good for us! In Psalms we read, "I love the Lord, because He has heard My voice and my supplications. Because He has inclined His ear to me, therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live." When we truly see the goodness of our Father, expressed to us through the grace of His Son Jesus, our hearts are drawn toward Him. Seeing God as the One who can and will intervene in your life for your good does wonders for your walk with Him. A major reason men don't love and serve God is that they've been sold a bill of goods. Satan has convinced them that God is a stingy, cranky dictator out to spoil everybody's fun and make their lives as dull and miserable as possible. When we see through this lie and begin to know by experience what it is for Him to hear our voice and incline His ear to us, we, too, will call upon the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ as long as we live.


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