My friend was anticipating it – and seriously excited about it. She loved the guy with all her heart. The day finally came that he popped the question. On bended knee, he presented a small box containing an expensive gift. She opened it and found a brand-new sparkly cell phone. He then asked her to marry him. She said yes.
The box contained an engagement ring of another kind. But at least it came with unlimited data. Hey, I bet it even helped with their communication skills.
Hmm? At the wedding – after they did the vows – I wonder if they exchanged Otter Boxes!
Either way, I am happy to report that they have lived happily ever after.
On the topic of marriage. A couple is not truly married until vows are exchanged. A cell phone is not necessary or even a wedding ring – but vows are. The vows spiritually and legally bind a man and a woman together.
These days a couple may look like they are married and act like they are married and even think like they are married – but are not.
And it may not make a difference to them until there is a death. In my work as a hospice chaplain, I have seen it demonstrated several times. A couple chooses to live together, sometimes for decades. Then he dies, but the house was in his name, it goes to his kids, and she ends up homeless. – losing husband and home at the same time.
That is probably not your worry, but yours may be similar.
Some of us were raised in church. We did Sunday School, VBS, sat in the pew every Sunday, laughed at the preacher’s corny jokes. We memorized the verses and could beat most anyone when it came to the Bible drills.
We had church in us, around us, beneath and over us – so we have assumed all along that we are true believers.
But it’s possible that we are not – if we haven’t given ourselves to Jesus at some point. Like the marriage vows, there needs to be a point of commitment to Christ.
The apostle John put it this way, “But to all who have received him—those who believe in his name—he has given the right to become God’s children.” John 1:12 NET Bible ®
The word “receive” is a verb – an action word. It is something that a person does. When they do it, God reciprocates by making them His children.
But what does it mean to “receive?” It is a hardworking verb in the New Testament. It was used to describe the taking and grasping of something with your hand. With salvation we take and grasp the message with our hearts.
Elsewhere it was used to describe John who invited Mary into his home. (John 19:27). With salvation we invite Christ into our lives.
It also carries the idea of recognizing and responding to the authority of another. This is precisely what we do when we receive Christ.
My first job was doing fast food. I did not like the manager much. Consequently, I quit that same job five times, and was fired another four. I was young and stupid for sure. I failed to properly respond to his authority.
Jesus told us that He had the authority to forgive our sins. (Matthew 9:6) This is because He died for those sins and was raised again. To receive Him, is to submit ourselves to Him and His authority.
Have you done that? Have you ever stopped and made a conscious decision to receive Christ and the gift of forgiveness He died to provide for you?
If you haven’t, please do it now! The blessings and benefits of truly knowing and belonging to Christ are superb.
A PRAYER: Jesus thank you for allowing me the opportunity to receive you.
This has been Jim Johnson and pickleheavenpress.com
May the grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.