“Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name,
He gave the right to become children of God.” John 1:12
I love reading this verse…over, and over, and over, meditating on the words and enormity of their meaning.
I am sometimes tempted to jump straight to the end of verses such as this one, to the punchline, so to speak. You see, to me, as a Christian, I know I have believed and received Christ, I have called upon His name…that part is done, so I can just skim over it and see what the result is. What do I get? However, God doesn’t want us to do that. He tells us that “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness” 2 Timothy 3:16. If ALL Scripture is useful for training in righteousness, then we can always learn from each and every word that is written.
To RECEIVE something, you need to take an action. I imagine Christmas Day. Someone is holding out an amazing gift and telling me it is mine. Firstly, I have to believe them…but we will get to that. To receive it, I need to actually move and take hold of it in my own hands. They can’t force it on me. If they just place it on me, the moment I move, it will fall off! In order for the gift to become mine, I have to put out my hands and take hold of it.
Sometimes we are asked to produce a list of what we would like for Christmas…the things that we want or need. In order to receive something, we have to admit that we need the gift. We have to admit need, and choose to accept the gift that the Lord gives us…in the case of this verse – becoming His child.
If you BELIEVE in something, it means that you think it to be true and worthy of credit. You place your confidence in it and acknowledge its value. If I go skydiving…which I intend to do one day…I better believe the instructor when they tell me the parachute will work! I will be putting my full confidence in those words and believing them to be true and that the instructor is worthy of acknowledgment! I probably won’t take someone else’s word for it either, I will read about them and discover who they are. I will then step out of that plane putting my faith in that instructor’s words. Likewise, God has given us His word so that we can read and discover who He is. We can then choose to step out in faith, placing our confidence in the Word of God. I choose to BELIEVE and trust that He is worthy of all praise. When I do this I am believing in all that His NAME represents. His NAME represents all that is from the Lord and so my belief is not just in the words Jesus spoke, but in ALL Scripture.
The RIGHT to become God’s child is reserved only for those who BELIEVE and RECEIVE. When we are given the right to something, we are given the power of CHOICE. It only becomes ours when we choose to accept that right. But…what a precious gift, a privilege, an honor. It amazes me to dwell on these words…“Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame” Rom. 10:11. God will NEVER bring shame upon me, only I can do that to myself! As His child I have the privilege of an intimate, perfect, father-daughter relationship with God. As part of this I can receive instruction from Him, learn from Him, watch His examples and imitate Him, be nurtured by Him.
As a parent molds a child’s future by teaching them from a young age how they should go (Prov. 22:6), so God will mold me if I submit to His instruction. “…so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him” Jer. 18:4. His desire for me as a daughter is to continually learn from Him and to let Him shape and mold my future. This teaching is a work that is never complete. We don’t read through the bible and then graduate with honors!! It is a life-long course and we will always have something to learn, but we can trust that God is definitely a parent who will NEVER stop training us…we have to believe “that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” Phil. 1:6.
My husband and I have just taken a huge leap of faith to pursue a call the Lord is placing on our lives. As part of this, we have moved back home with his mother, and will soon be traveling to spend some months of sabbatical living with my parents. We have been welcomed back into the homes of our parents, they have made it clear that we always have a place in their homes no matter what the circumstances…this is what we have with our Heavenly Father…a home, a place of refuge from the storm, a place to shelter and seek His face. Just as I can return to my earthly parental home at any time, we can all choose to receive the promise of a home in Heaven and the Lord will be there to welcome us in with open arms. He is preparing a place for those who choose to receive and believe in Him (John 14:3).
The picture at the top is one I took in South Africa. This little child was standing in the dirt, covered in filth, with her nakedness on display. She had a sadness on her face. Her sister picked her up and held her up high and I witnessed the love and compassion shared between them, shining forth from their faces. In the midst of their surroundings, they had hope and joy. This picture makes me think of my salvation experience and relationship with my Heavenly Father. I was standing surrounded by the mess of this world, covered in the filth of my sin and self-destruction, and stripped on my dignity…and yet in this moment, when I cried out to the Lord, he showed compassion on me and lifted my head to gaze upon His face. When I look to the Lord, I see His love and compassion shining down on me. This, however, is not only representative of my salvation, but also my relationship with the Lord. I need to come to Him daily and let His truth infiltrate my heart and mind. I need to receive His word in my life daily and believe His truth with everything that I am. I AM GOD’S CHILD…no one can take that away from me, but to continually live in relationship with Him as His child, is to day-by-day, hour-by-hour believe in who He is and all that His name represents.
“But you, Lord, are a shield around me,
my glory, the One who lifts my head high.
I call out to the Lord,
and he answers me from his holy mountain.” Psalm 3:3-4