Accepting What Has Been Given from Heaven. 

Week Four – God’s Invitation to Greater Freedom

No one can receive anything
except what has been given from heaven.

 ~John the Baptist, John 3:27

Virginia Beech in the Evening

John speaks this statement in response to a word from his disciples that Jesus is baptizing more people and all are going to him. John knew his place and accepted this as what had been given to him from heaven. John did not strive to become more than the gift that was given to him. 

Consider this in contrast to what the Pharisees say in John 11:

What are we accomplishing?
Here is this man performing many signs.
If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him,
and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation. 

John the Baptist says, “He must increase and I must decrease.”

The Pharisees in essence say, “He must die so we will not lose our place and increase in status.”

I think this statement from John – No one can receive anything except what has been given from heaven – is an invitation. God is giving from heaven to me according to the image of God in which I was created. This is what I can receive. It is the receipt of this in which I will fulfill my purpose. Hidden in this are the desires of my heart, and in accepting what has been given they are revealed. Here is the joy and peace of abiding in the center of God’s will and purpose for me. 

The position of the Pharisees is a warning to me. It is easy to reject what has been given from heaven because it does not have the status that my false ego-self demands. It does not satisfy the image I want to portray to the world. So, I turn away from what has been given. John’s statement then becomes a warning. I cannot receive what has not been given from heaven. Now I am chasing after something that is not attainable. This is a sad way to live. Pursuing what has not been given, and clamoring to hold onto what I cannot keep, rejecting what has been given from heaven. 

I am reminded of the statement made by Jim Elliot, 

He is no fool who gives up
what he cannot keep
to gain what he cannot lose.

What is given from God is a gift that cannot be taken away. It cannot be lost. But I must receive it. And so, I take the posture to accept and receive what has been given to me from heaven. This I welcome with open arms. I enter this day, welcoming what heaven is sending to me, receiving this with joy and gladness and gratitude. 

Psalm 133 is a beautiful picture of the acceptance of the gift that has been given from heaven:

O Lord, my heart is not lifted up, 
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me. 
But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
my soul is like the weaned child that is with me. 

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