Learn to Receive from God
Hello again, I’m Randy Gaudet, founder and director of All Thailand Experiences. Those who have read my profile know how I first came to Thailand and my association with missions and churches since 1989.
We use funds from our tours to help the needy, change lives and spread the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We teach about the Holy Trinity, Love and Grace because of Jesus Christ and to tell Christians they are free from the Law, sin and death.
At most churches in Thailand the old covenant law is being taught and that Grace is not available to you if you break the law. We are training pastors about the New Repentance as written in the Bible with help from Pastors Nathan and Saia Gonmei at Abundant Grace Church in Chiang Mai.
On all our All Thailand Experiences Christian teaching blogs I will point to scriptures and explain the meaning on the topic. As our mission is to reach Thai people we will then watch or listen to Pastors Nathan and Solila give a sermon on the topic in English and Thai Languages.
- Receiving from God delights God’s heart.
Luke 10:38, NIV: “As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.” 39 “She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.” 40 “But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!'” 41 “Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things,” 42 “but few things are needed–or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.'”
When Jesus comes to Bethany, Martha demonstrates hospitality by welcoming Jesus into the home she shares with her sister Mary. She then busies herself with the tasks of serving their guest (diakonian). Although we are not told precisely what those tasks are, a good guess is that she began preparing a meal.
Meanwhile her sister Mary sits at Jesus’ feet, listening to his words. Rather than assuming the role expected of women in her culture, she takes her place at the feet of Jesus. She assumes the posture of a student learning at the feet of a rabbi, a role traditionally reserved for men.
Many who read or hear this story may cheer for Mary in her inversion of traditional roles. Many may also empathize with Martha’s resentment of her sister for leaving her to do all the work. Jesus’ response to Martha seems less than empathetic, chiding her for her distraction and worry, and praising Mary.
The problem with Martha is not that she is busy serving and providing hospitality. Certainly Jesus commends this kind of service to the neighbor many times, notably in the parable of the Good Samaritan that immediately precedes the story of Mary and Martha. The problem with Martha is not her serving, but rather that she is worried and distracted. The word translated “distracted” in verse 40, periespato, has the connotation of being pulled or dragged in different directions.
Martha’s distraction and worry leave no room for the most important aspect of hospitality — gracious attention to the guest. In fact, she breaks all the rules of hospitality by trying to embarrass her sister in front of her guest, and by asking her guest to intervene in a family dispute. She even goes so far as to accuse Jesus of not caring about her (Lord, do you not care…?).
Martha’s worry and distraction prevent her from being truly present with Jesus, and cause her to drive a wedge between her sister and herself, and between Jesus and herself. She has missed out on the “one thing needed” for true hospitality. There is no greater hospitality than listening to your guest. How much more so when the guest is Jesus! So Jesus says that Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.
Jesus’ words to Martha may be seen as an invitation rather than a rebuke. The one thing needed is for Martha to receive the gracious presence of Jesus, to listen to his words, to know that she is valued not for what she does or how well she does it, but for who she is as a child of God.
Luke’s story is left suspended. We do not know what happened next — whether Mary and Martha were reconciled, whether they were all able to enjoy the meal that Martha had prepared, whether Martha was finally able to sit and give her full attention to Jesus.
We do know that Jesus invites all of us who are worried and distracted by many things to sit and rest in his presence, to hear his words of grace and truth, to know that we are loved and valued as children of God, to be renewed in faith and strengthened for service. There is need of only one thing: attention to our guest. As it turns out, our guest is also our host, with abundant gifts to give.
Faith pleases God and the main function of faith is receiving from God.
Ephesians 2:8, NIV: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–“
Paul returns again to his theme of grace in this classic verse. Salvation’s source is grace; the means of salvation is faith. We believe by faith to be saved (Romans 10:9), but would never choose to believe apart from the grace of God operating in our lives. That salvation would never be available, other than as a result of the grace of God. Both parts are important in the discussion of salvation.
Immediately following this declaration, Paul repeats and clarifies it. Paul does not want anyone to think salvation is based on something they had done, or could ever do. No action is good enough to provide our own salvation. No good deeds can undo the sins we have committed. Salvation is a gift. Further, it is a gift only God can provide. No matter how much we desire to give salvation to another person, we cannot. Only God can offer the gift of eternal life. Instead, we are called to proclaim the gospel, live it, share it, pray for the salvation of others, and help people grow in the grace of God. The Lord must be the one to provide salvation and does so as He chooses
Ephesians 2:9, NIV: “not by works, so that no one can boast.
Paul ended the previous verse with the teaching that salvation is a gift of God. Here, he continues with yet another reminder that works do not and cannot save us. Good deeds are important in the lives of believers, but they do not provide salvation. It has been said we work as a result of our salvation, not to provide our salvation. Paul’s Jewish upbringing had emphasized devout adherence to the law as the means to please God. He was faithful to his religion, yet did not know God. His salvation came when God revealed Himself to Paul by grace and Paul believed and was saved (Acts 9).
One reason for Paul’s frequent reminder about the futility of works is noted here, as well. If salvation could be earned, those who earned it would brag about their success in obtaining it. Paul certainly had experience with those who felt that their deeds had earned them a special favor with God (Philippians 3:2–11). The truth is, only He can provide salvation, He alone is worthy of all glory and honor. We exist as His servants, completely dependent upon Him for life and salvation.
Romans 3:22, NIV: “This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile,”
Paul has thoroughly and completely eliminated the possibility that anyone can be made right with God by following the law. Simply put, absolutely nobody seeks God sufficiently to earn the label “righteous” (Romans 3:10). That means all people, Jew and Gentile, deserve the wrath of God for sin. Having said that, and making it clear that no person has any hope of heaven by their own efforts, Paul has suddenly thrown open the door to another way to be made righteous. To be made righteous before God is the only way to be saved from God’s wrath.
Paul sums up very clearly that the righteousness of God is available to humans through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. How is this possible? Paul will go on to show that only Jesus ever kept the law perfectly. He then died for the sins of all of us lawbreakers. When we place our faith in Jesus, God gives us credit for His righteousness and receives Jesus’ payment of His own death for our sin.
The verse ends with the beginning of a new thought: “There is no distinction.” Paul means that there is no difference between any groups of human beings. He will say in the next verse that all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory. This includes every kind of people group: Jews, Gentiles, men, women, the oppressed, the oppressors, those who do good works and those who do not. Everyone sins, and none of us earn God’s glory.
2. Receiving from God should be our first priority in life.
The truth is we receive from God first then all the good fruit flows from us.
2 Peter 1:3, NIV: “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”
Notice God gives us everything for life and godliness. The first thing Christians must relies is that God gave us all things. We didn’t have to earn it just believe, have faith and receive it. So the foundation of the Christian life is to receive from God first. Then we can enjoy the abundant life God wants us to live.
Some Christians struggle with sin, spiritual weakness, and apathy. Are such people missing something? Have they been left unequipped by God? What have we not been given in order to lead the life God calls us to? Peter’s answer is simple: We’re not missing anything. We are fully equipped. But we have a choice about whether or not we’ll really use those spiritual tools. This requires effort on our part.
How are we equipped? It didn’t happen naturally. We weren’t born with it. We didn’t earn it through hard work or good behavior. For those in Christ, God’s divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness. Like salvation, all of this was ours when we came to know God (through faith in Christ). As Peter will make clear, knowing God, the source of all life, is the only path to being fully equipped to live as God calls us to do.
And how does He call us? By His own glory and goodness, meaning “moral excellence.” Jesus sets the standard for what is good and glorious, calls for us to follow, and fully equips us to make the journey.
- Prevents Christian Burnout.
To enjoy a somewhat normal life in this world we must develop give and take relationships however in the spiritual world God is almighty, self sufficient and generous. We must learn to accept and receive all God’s blessing first then give thanks with praise to Him. Receiving from God will not be random but at the perfect time and place being fruitful in the right things.
Christian burnout happens when believers try again and again to please God so they can receive blessings from Him. They are believing if they only pray more or if I fast longer or give more money I will receive greater reward from God. We must understand that God wants us to receive from Him first then praise and glorify Him by sharing the good fruit He has blessed us with.
Isaiah 40:29, NIV: “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.”
He gives power (ability) to the faint and weary. Many of us have a hard time admitting we are faint or weary. We believe we are compromising our faith if we admit to being weary. However, if we do not accept the fact that we cannot wait effectively in our own strength we can never receive his strength. I am not talking about a “negative confession.” I am talking about letting go of one thing so we can take hold of another.
I am reminded of people I have seen who try to carry too many things at once. They think they can handle the load so they do not ask for help. If help is offered they say, “That’s OK I’ve got it.” The next thing that usually happens is that whatever they were carrying clatters to the floor. If we refuse to admit we need help, we cannot take hold of what is offered. This is not faith it is foolishness.
Paul was a man who faced major pressures and difficulties in life. There is no doubt that these pressures involved times of waiting. When he went to the Lord about the burdens he had to carry, God answered him this way.
2 Corinthians 12:9 (NKJV) 9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Isaiah 40:30 “Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;”
This isn’t about showing God how strong we are and asking him to give us a bit more. No, here we admit that we don’t have the strength we need. We acknowledge that we need the strength only he can give. And we wait for him, which is more than just passing time. In Hebrew, this word carries with it a sense of hopeful expectation. In the midst of hardship, we look to him as the one who works all things together for our good.
As Christians, we look to Jesus, who came to us and said: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). He carried the burden of our sin and judgment upon himself on the cross. He rose again and sent his Spirit to empower us and strengthen us in all our weakness. And we now look to him and wait for him to work—ultimately looking to the day when Jesus returns to set all things right and make all things new.
Isaiah 40:31 “but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
This promises a supernaturally renewed strength—a strength that would compare to mounting up as an eagle or running without fatigue. But what does this mean and how do we receive it? The context of this verse helps us.
The Israelites who first received this promise were worn out from their hardship. They had lived in exile in Babylon for several decades. Their perspective was darkened by despairing thoughts. They thought God either couldn’t help or didn’t care. Isaiah uses a pair of words—faint and weary—three times in the span of a few verses here. They were exhausted and burdened from the circumstances of life. They weren’t just weak in body, but weak in spirit. How could they endure the hard circumstances of life any longer?
4. Receiving from God keeps us humble.
As God teaches us in scripture to be a cheerful giver He also teaches us that He is the giver of everything through Grace in Christ Jesus and the Holy spirit. All we believers need to do is have faith, believe and receive. This is the foundation of the Christian life. Grace is God giving us what we don’t deserve. God expects us to receive everything from Him.
1 Peter 5:6, NIV: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.”
All of us long to be glorified. We long to know that we are significant, and to have others know it, as well. That desire is not necessarily wrong. All natural human desires have some legitimate, God-honoring purpose, and a means to express it properly. In this case, we are made in God’s image, and He has built into us the desire to be exalted. The key to a biblical, Christian view of glory is paying close attention to what God says about seeking it. The Bible teaches us to quit struggling so hard to make it happen, and trust God to exalt us at the right time and place as He sees fit. He’s a good Father who loves us; let Him be in charge of bringing us glory.
As used in Scripture, “humility” does not mean weakness or self-hatred. It means a proper appreciation of how we are, in relationship to God. It means strength under control. As C.S. Lewis said, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.”
Peter reminds us that we are not humbling ourselves under the hand of our human authorities, including the elders in the church. No, we are willingly humbling ourselves under the hand of God. When the proper time comes, He will exalt us either here, or in the life to come, or both, to some extent. Our willingness to serve, to make ourselves nothing, isn’t a declaration that we are, in fact, insignificant. Our humility in service is a declaration that our mighty God can be trusted to give us all the glory and recognition that we long for when time is right.
Proverbs 3:34, NIV: “He mocks proud mockers but shows favor to the humble and oppressed.”
The application of wisdom in Proverbs 3 shows the benefits of trusting in the Lord with one’s whole heart. Solomon credits obedience to and trust in God for longevity, success, guidance, health, reward that exceeds monetary wealth, enjoyment, peace, security, confidence, excellent human relationships, the Lord’s blessing and favor, and honor. As with all ”proverbs,” biblical or otherwise, their purpose is to impart general wisdom, not absolute prophecy. Like the original audience, modern readers are not expected to see these guidelines as absolute guarantees for any one person.
Even a self-labeled “religious” or “Christian” person can scorn God’s grace and mercy by proudly relying on his own righteousness. This is illustrated in Jesus’ story about two men who entered the temple to pray (Luke 18:9–14). One man, a proud Pharisee, recited his religious deeds and compared himself favorably to other men, including the tax collector. But the tax collector’s humility found favor in God’ sight. The tax collector stood far off, would not raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his beast and prayed humbly, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner” (Luke 18:13). Jesus said the publican went home justified rather than the proud Pharisee. He concluded the story by saying, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 18:14)
James 4:6, NIV: “But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: ‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.'”
So far in chapter 4, James has delivered a devastating diagnosis and a dire warning to his Christians readers. He has scolded them for living according to the wisdom of the world. They have been driven by envy, and the ambition to succeed at any cost. They have even been fighting with each other to get what they want.
To some extent, it feels normal to us to live that way. This is the world system we are born into, after all. But James warned believers that they are committing adultery against God by living this way! God takes this unfaithfulness personally. In fact, according to the most common translation of the previous verse, God was jealous for the Holy Spirit He had placed in them. To cheat on God by living according to the world’s system of self-reliance, refusing to let go of getting what we want, puts us in the category of God’s enemies.
Now James offers reassurance. Even if we have been living this way, we have not outrun the grace of God. This grace is given to all who trust in Christ. Our sin is serious, devastating, and wicked, but God gives more grace. He forgives our sinfulness in Christ and continues to give us the good we have not earned.
James quotes Proverbs 3:34. This relates a simple, but powerful idea: God opposes the proud. Our refusal to trust God to provide what we need, what He wants for us, and our insistence on getting what we want for ourselves is an act of pride. We are attempting to be the God of our own lives. God will lovingly, jealously oppose us when we do so—but He will not reject us in Christ.
Instead, He calls us to humble ourselves and receive more grace from Him. He calls us to repent of the sin of self-reliance and demanding what we want and yield to Him, receiving with gratitude all the good He chooses to gives us and all the seeming good He chooses to withhold.
God is calling us back to the peaceful, faithful path of trusting Him.
- Receiving from God honors the work of Jesus.
By receiving from God we please Him, experience the true Christian life and Glorify Him at the same time. Doing and living in your own strength might produce success for the short term however without God’s blessing and Grace you will surely fail. You see God has a plan for all of us and Jesus explains in the Martha and Mary storey (Luke 10:38-42) that timing is important. Without God’s timing we will live in a life of frustration, worry and fruitlessness as we try to do thing our own way instead of His.
1 Corinthians 1:30, NIV: “It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God–that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.”
Paul has written in the previous verses that, as we stand before God on judgment day, all the important and high-status people in this life who rejected faith in Christ as weak and foolish will become “nothings.” They will stop boasting about their wisdom and strength once and for all. They’ll be confronted with the reality that their rejection of Him was based in pride and arrogance, not facts or reason (James 2:19; Romans 1:18–23).
Those who God chooses to believe in Christ will also not boast. We will understand our faith, our place in Christ Jesus, to be a gift from God.
We will know that it is Christ who is the wisdom of God in human form. He is the one who made it possible for us to be declared righteous by God because we are in Christ and He is righteous. Christ is the reason we have been sanctified, meaning that God has set us apart as His own special possession (1 Corinthians 1:2). It is with Christ’s death for our sins that God has redeemed us, purchased us out of our slavery to sin, and welcomed us into His family as sons and daughters.
1 Corinthians 1:31, NIV: “Therefore, as it is written: ‘Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.'”
Paul quotes from Jeremiah 9:23–24 that all boasting should be in the Lord only and not in ourselves and our wisdom and our strength. In the previous verse, Paul showed that everything that makes Christians “something” before God comes to us only in and through and because of what Christ has done for us. Our human wisdom and strength gains for us nothing of any lasting value. Knowledge is good and commendable (2 Timothy 2:15), but it cannot save us (James 2:19).
In the Lord, though, we have everything that matters, and we have it forever. Paul encourages us to boast about our high standing in God’s eyes because of what Christ has done. He encourages us to boast about God’s wisdom and strength and our place with Him because of His grace.
He has shown that those who have rejected faith in Christ because it seems foolish and weak will find humility on the day they stand before God. Nobody will boast of their own position or accomplishments or wealth before Him (1 Corinthians 1:29).