The 3 “R”s Of Receiving From God

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God has prepared an unique process to mold you in His love. Here’s 3 “R”s to receive more from Him, as you walk upon this path.

Last week, I shared a little from my journey into facing my issues and learning to receive love from God. (Click here to read it.) My behaviors were extreme, but I’m not alone. Many of us live as prisoners to our emotional wounds. We’ve become “functional” in our prison. Much like a “functional alcoholic”, we sort of get by, but we’re not free. And the reason we stay bound? Well, facing the pain is just that… PAINFUL! It requires courage to face the proverbial man-in-the-mirror. But as Christians, God has called to spiritual growth and freedom.

Here’s the reality: God will test our hearts. It’s what He does. If you walk with God long enough, He’s gonna to get there. Proverbs 17:3 says it like this, “Fire tests the purity of silver and gold, but the Lord tests the heart.”

So we might as well go ahead and be like David, and say, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts” (Psalm 139:23). As we make this our prayer, I believe God sets us on a path into wholeness and love.

Last week, I mentioned at one point God led me to see a clinical psychologist and how she confirmed somethings for me. I don’t think everybody has to go to therapy, but I do believe if you set your heart after God, pray like David prayed, and obey His leading, He’ll direct your steps—ordering appointed seasons and “divine set-ups” to craft you and mold you in His love. Before you were born, He designed a “you-specific” process to build you on His love, victory, and freedom.

Along my thirteen-year journey with God, here are three things He has shown me about learning to receive from Him:

  1. Realize Everybody is messed up

When we start to face the proverbial man-in-the-mirror, it’s tempting to be overwhelmed. Shame whispers in our ear, “Oh man, there’s something so wrong with you!”. But shame is twisting the truth. Yes, there’s something wrong with you, but there’s something wrong with everybody: it’s called sin! You see, the enemy wants us to think there’s something ESPECIALLY wrong with us. In other words, he wants us to believe we’re beyond God’s love. But true faith says, “I’m no better than anybody… but I’m also not worse than anybody either. I am what I am. My value and worth come from God.”

2. Remove the Mask

We wear masks because we don’t practice Number 1. For some strange reason, we secretly think other people don’t struggle like us, or have problems. It’s the “grass-is-greener” syndrome. In our modern times, one main reason we fall into this “stinking thinking” is that compare our messy lives with other people’s Instagram and Facebook posts. So we put up a front. We pretend and hide. But God has called us to let down the mask. Especially with Him! We need to get real and allow Him to look upon the real us. That’s the only way we can receive His love.

3. Receive Revelation from the Word

We need to go to His Word. This is where decision and willpower come into play. No one can study the Bible for me, I must dig into the Word for myself. I must find out what He says about me. I must confess what He says about me. I must begin to speak the right words—His Word—over my life. And as I pray, and seek, and confess, and meditate on what He has said, I start to receive revelation from the Word. The Bible goes from information to revelation, and gets down into my heart.

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The NEED to be loved

We love, because He first loved us.

-1 John 4:19 

I’m convinced that on the inside of every one of us is a need to be loved.

I believe it’s a basic human need. As real as our need for food or water or anything else. We humans crave acceptance,  affirmation, and a sense of security for our souls. God created us this way. He designed us with a drive to be valued, cared for, and esteemed. We want something or someone to tell us we’re good enough. That we are validated. It’s like we’re desperate to hear, “This person is valuable; this person is worthy of love”.

It’s why we all want to achieve some level of significance and purpose for our lives: we want to ascribe value to ourselves by belonging to someone or something great.

If you look at the world today, I think it’s a lot like the old country song says:

We’re “looking for love in all the wrong places”.

We run after affirmation in the form of money, success, alcohol, food, romantic relationships, Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat. As crazy as it sounds, we can even run to religion, without running to God. I would define being “religious” as “about God without God”. Driven by shame, religion performs for God. But it never receives from God.

We’re running to dry, empty wells—things that cannot ultimately satisfy.

I have seen this in my own life. I was enslaved to people’s opinions—and terrified by their disapproval. If enough people could like me—if enough people could validate me, then I would be something. I would have significance.

My identity was so tightly locked into what other people thought of me because my self-image was shattered. Like, I am talking it was extreme. I was violently tossed to and fro by the waves of human opinion. One harsh word. One weird look. Even the thought of someone possibly not liking me could totally ruin my day. I even cared about the opinions of people I didn’t even like! (Have you ever been there? How silly is this, huh?)

I was terrified of what people thought about me. I may have seemed like a confident club DJ on the outside, but on the inside I was desperate for love and affirmation. Like many people, I carried around a broken record player in my head,

“There’s something wrong with you. There’s something wrong with you. There’s something wrong with you…”

The inner critic, my constant companion. This self-loathing and embarrassment would fade if I experienced some success, or my “approval tank” was full. It was like a high! But a public failure, a single slight, or a disapproving look would cause the voice to flare up again:

“Ah, you see, AJ! You were right! There’s something wrong with you. There’s something wrong with you. There’s something wrong with you…”

I was running to empty wells. People and their opinions make for a poor god.

But let me ask you: what are you running to?

Romans 5:8 says this,

God demonstrates and clearly proves His own love for us in this, that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”.

Jesus is God’s overwhelming affirmation towards us! The Cross is God’s invitation to you. Receive His love for you today.

His opinion of you will become louder than any other voice in your life! His great and surpassing love will become a tangible reality in your life! If you will seek Him, and open up your heart to Him, He will show you His powerful love. It’s a love that never fails. And it becomes an unstoppable force in your life and overflows as grace and strength for successful living.

I’ve seen this in my own life. I share about what I’ve seen and what I know. I am not where I need to be… but thank God I am not where I used to be! I can still slide into manpleasing, but I’ve come to know one thing:

the love displayed at the Cross is real. And it’s for YOU!

PRAYER:

Father, thank You that you love me. Thank you that you affirm me in Christ.

Father, I entrust my heart to You. I turn away from any fake gods in my life.

I want to know Your love for myself.

Lead me deeper into Your great and surpassing love.

Allow Your love to become a tangible reality in my life.

Let me receive mercy, so that I can show mercy.

Father, I believe God loves _______(your name).

 

A Tribute to the Father

A TRIBUTE TO THE FATHER

As Father’s Day approaches, we take time to remember the fathers in our life. We take a day to honor the role that fathers play in our society, and we celebrate the men who work so hard to provide and love us.

But for many, all this father talk can be hard to bear. It only brings up painful memories we’d rather keep buried. Some of us have lost fathers. Others have had ugly falling outs with their dads. Some fathers, we never knew. And some we wish we never had known. For a wide range of reasons, many of us will not be buying a father’s day card this year.

I’m in this boat: I lost my father at 19 years old. I thank God I was saved through watching my dad’s powerful conversion, but I never had a chance to build a real relationship with him before he died. He was a very closed-off man. I don’t hold this against him—my dad never had a father himself. Growing up near the famous 8-mile road in Detroit, Michigan, he learned to rely on himself. The man worked hard to give a better life to his sons; but he never learned how to show love.

Looking back, I can see a handful of times where my dad made attempts to build a relationship with me, but I too had become severely closed off. Eventually he gave up on me all together—he was very vocal about this, and made it a joke (everybody knew my dad for his biting sense of humor), saying I was too “artsy” for him.

Why are we so easily hurt by fathers?

Even people who grew up in a loving home can carry wounds from fathers who fell short to provide the care and affirmation we needed.

How can unintentional neglect or one harsh word cause such pain?

I think it’s because human beings have an intense need for love, affirmation, attention, and care. It’s a need—a bonafide, legitimate need—just as real as our need for food or water or air.

Both Psychology and Neuroscience have identified the importance of this basic need in human beings. Studying brain development from babyhood into adulthood, scientists have built an entire theory around it called the “Attachment Theory”. You should check out the research—it’s fascinating—but I’ll boil it down for you in one sentence: the human psyche is literally built on love and care.

I’m talking LITERALLY. Not in some far off spiritual sense. I am talking neurons and physiology and brain stems and stuff like that. Our brains physically grow strong and healthy through love and affirmation from others. Even a picture of a smiling face will light up a baby’s brain on a brain scan. And our brains stay willing to respond to love; adult brains well into their 30’s, 40’s and 50’s who suffered neglect and abuse as children—called “attachment trauma”—have been shown to resume healthy brain growth in response to love and affirmation.

We all need love!

And this leads me back to fathers. Can you see the importance of fathers in society? Can you see the potential for a father to meet this need? The sheer power a father has to bless or curse a child? The importance of a father cannot be over emphasized. There is nothing like the care and attention of a father.

If you’re a father, let me encourage you: there could be no higher purpose—no more noble of a call—then to showcase the love of a father to those around you. To shower your kids (and your wife) with love! There is no role like yours on planet earth! You cannot be replaced! Your words cannot be replaced! You’ve been given a supreme honor—a great privilege and responsibility—to stand and represent the Heavenly Father to your kids. Any words of encouragement you give will sink deep down into their hearts, and become cement for their souls, creating a strong foundation for them to stand on for the rest of their lives.

But how do we father someone when we never had a father ourselves? Or maybe you’re a single-mother—is all hope lost for you?

No! God takes your situation personal! He rises up and declares,

“And I will be a Father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” 2 Cor 6:18 ESV

So now we can say,

“For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the LORD will take me in.” Psalm 27:10 ESV

My life is a testament of this. My father died, and a few years later I was cursed and cut off by my mother. I felt like I had nothing. Just pain and brokenness and fear. I still remember lying in my studio apartment in Gainesville months before graduating college frozen in fear—terrified of the future, overwhelmed by the feeling of being alone and powerless.

But in my suffering, I was found by the One who suffered for us all!

Tweet: But in my suffering, I was found by the One who suffered for us all!

Like a nobleman beckoning an orphan off the street, He called my name. Smiling and wavering a nail-pierced hand, He said,

“Weary one, come! Do you not know My Father is a father to the fatherless? Take heart; He will surely receive you. Come to me, and I will give you rest.”

So on this Father’s Day, I want to speak on behalf of Heaven and say to you:

If you’ve never had a good father—if you’re an orphan-at-heart—you are blessed!

Why? Because God takes your situation personally. He will not stand for it. He has pronounced Himself a defender of orphans and widows. He will come, and make Himself real to you. He’ll pour out an extra measure of grace, blessing and revelation onto you for all your troubles. You will come to know for yourself how great His love is.

When God comforts you—when God steps in to love you— it becomes a witness for all to see! Yes, you will be blessed! Because if God fixes something, don’t you know it’s ends up better than if it had never been broken at all?

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”