Grace is a gift not a reward. Righteousness is by faith not by works. Gifts come from givers. Gifts are determined by the giver. Receivers only receive. Receivers of gifts don’t earn them but just receive them.
Rom 4:3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” 4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due.5 And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness,
Rom 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.
Eph 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,
I’m sure if you are reading this post you already knew that. We don’t earn God’s favor, it’s just who He is. We get to receive His favor based on His nature. We just believe. How great is our God! I am so amazed at His goodness. The greater the revelation of His love and goodness the more I am drawn to Him. I just want more of Him. I want to encounter Him, feel His touch, rest in His arms, hear His voice, move in His direction, move with His desires, be one with Him in all He wants…the list goes on an on.
Still there is this thought about receiving that I think is important to understand. We don’t move God by our action. We don’t “do stuff” to impress Him to reward us. That is contrary to His Grace. That kind of thinking declares God’s love for us is conditional. Not possible. His death proves His unconditional love. I believe that when we believe we receive what we believe for.
Mark 11:24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
Heb 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
To receive however we sometimes need to position ourselves to receive. How about this lady?
Luke 8:43 And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and though she had spent all her living on physicians, she could not be healed by anyone. 44 She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, and immediately her discharge of blood ceased.
She had a bleeding disease. That would have made her “unclean.” She would have been an outcast. To touch someone she could have been stoned. Imagine the crowd all around Jesus. She really wanted to position herself to receive. She was willing to die for it. How about you?
How about these two guys?
Matt 20:29 And as they went out of Jericho, a great crowd followed him. 30 And behold, there were two blind men sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was passing by, they cried out, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” 31 The crowd rebuked them, telling them to be silent, but they cried out all the more, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” 32 And stopping, Jesus called them and said, “What do you want me to do for you?” 33 They said to him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.” 34 And Jesus in pity touched their eyes, and immediately they recovered their sight and followed him.
They also would have been labeled as sinners. They would have been labeled as generational sinners. Their entire family name would have been cursed. Still they cried out in desperation. How about you?
Here is another one you might like:
Gen 32:26 Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”27 And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” 28 Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.”
Jacob was desperate for His blessing. He had spent the night on the Jabbok river which means to empty. He got empty and went after his blessing. After his blessing he called the place Peniel which means wrestled with God. I think Jacob really wanted God to deliver. He actually walked with a limp for the rest of his life because of the encounter. He was so sure that God would bless him he was willing to suffer permanent injury for it. How about you?
I think back to when I was a kid just learning to play baseball. The coach would send us out to “shag flies.” I really didn’t like it much at first. I felt like everyone was watching and they would laugh if I messed up. I was also pretty scared of getting smacked in the face by one of those that I was sure to miss. The funny thing is I would go out with my friends and shag flies. No coach, no pressure and lots of fun. We would challenge the guy hitting us pop flies to try and get one by us. We would make these diving catches and jump up with a huge grin on our face after “catching the winning out of the world series.” You know how kids are.
I think receiving from God His favor and Grace is like catching pop flies with my buddies. You might have to move a bit, even run full-out sometimes but when you caught that one just on the tip of your glove while you slid across the grass, awesome!
Our walk with God can and should be like this. If we are on the ball field of religion we might be cutting the grass or striping the field. We might be grooming the infield. Maybe we are actually playing but we are bored and start chasing butterflies instead of waiting for the next big pop fly. Maybe we are scared. Maybe we are looking down at our feet and keep looking for stuff to trip over. We never get into a full run because of all the stuff on the ground. Maybe we are afraid to miss the ball so we just don’t try. Maybe we are too concerned about what everyone will think. Maybe we wish we had a better position. Maybe we have just plain forgotten how much fun it is to shag flies.
The enemy wants to trip us up. Religion wants us to live as lawyers instead of playing the game. Our pride keeps us from stepping out or just plain enjoying the moment. When we are resting in God’s goodness, living in His love, trusting in His faithfulness, we are shagging flies on a whole new level. We get to run full-out and leap with faith knowing we are not only going to catch it but it will be awesome! We can hear God, the angels and all the saints cheering as we jump with all our might. There is no fear. There is no worry. There are no limits. We just “get to” and not “have to.”
Sometimes we need to be ready to move. Sometimes we need to be ready to run. Sometimes we need to be ready to wrestle with God. He desperately wants to bless us. Sometimes He is checking our resolve. New wineskins need a good stretching to hold more. Let’s run with abandon and leap with faith into His arms. Let’s go shag some flies.