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Are You Receptive to God's Blessings?

Who doesn’t want to be blessed?
We pray for God to bless our food. 
What does that mean as we eat our junk food and ask for it to nourish our bodies?
Or we ask for God to bless our families, yet we limit how many children we have, though God tells us, “children are a blessing.”
We ask for God’s will, because we know it is best and good, but then complain when things go wrong, as if somehow that couldn’t be God’s will and we know better.

Do we really want God’s blessings?

I’ve quoted from this devotional by Sarah Young, Jesus Caling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence before but here’s another excerpt from March 28th that caused me to think.

I am a God Who gives and gives and gives. When I died for you on the cross, I held back nothing. I poured out My Life like a drink offering. Because giving is inherent in My nature, I search for people who are able to receive in full measure. To increase your intimacy with Me, the two traits you need the most are receptivity and attentiveness. Receptivity is opening up your innermost being to be filled with My abundant riches. Attentiveness is directing your gaze to Me: searching for Me in all your moments. 

What struck me was the obvious—God gives and gives and gives.
He can’t help but give.
When I’ve learned that before, I make the application that I should be giving too.
But that isn’t what this is saying.

God is searching for people who will receive what He wants to give.
READ THAT AGAIN.

Early in our marriage, my husband brought me flowers for no special reason (other than his love, which was wonderful).
OF course I was thrilled with them, but I admonished him that he shouldn’t spend the money, they were expense (we were poor students). 

After other attempts at giving me gifts, he learned that I wasn’t thrilled with gifts.
When Christmas and birthdays, anniversaries and other days rolled around, he would prepare me that he had gotten me the same thing as last year, nothing. 
Some years, he would buy tires around Valentine’s Day and teasingly say, “Here’s your gift.” 
I would respond, “They’re wonderful—I want you safe.”
I learned to live with that, there was really nothing that I needed anyway. 
As my boys grew, they started getting me flowers. I loved them! I treasured them, not just because they were flowers, but I knew it cost them. 
The preciousness of the gift also reflected how much it cost the giver—though as a mom I hated my boys to spend money on me.
That was the very thing that I had reprimanded my husband about at the beginning. 

It wasn’t until recently that my husband mentioned that I didn’t like gifts. 
I told him, “It wasn’t that I didn’t like gifts…”
He looked at me, “So I should have given you gifts? Maybe it was the gifts I gave.”
I didn’t know what to say.

Who doesn’t like gifts?
But you know what I learned about myself that I didn’t like?
I wasn’t receptive.
It was hard for me to accept gifts.

My mom has always been hard to buy gifts. 
When my mom was able to garden, she had a wheelbarrow that had a flat tire and was unstable. 
My sister bought her a new wheelbarrow. It was an expensive, thoughtful gift. 
When I asked how mom liked it, my sister shrugged, “She doesn’t use it. It’s in the back corner of the garage. I might just return it.”
My mom continued to wobble around, pushing the flat wheelbarrow.
What was wrong with my mom?
She didn’t know how to accept a gift.
She wasn’t receptive.
She didn’t feel worthy.
But the gifts weren’t given because she was worthy.
They were given because the giver wanted to give.

C.S. Lewis in Screwtape Letters describes an older woman who complains that no one can make her that perfect cup of tea.
She declares that it is such a simple thing.
She bemoans all the attempts that her servants offer. 
She is never content.
Servants are dismissed over this tea that can’t be made.
That elusive cup of tea is never reached.
But she spends all her energy pursuing it. 
It consumes her.
It’s the one thing she wants to control, but can’t.
Rather than enjoying the cup she has in her hand, she complains about every cup she is given.
She can no longer see the giver, but only the gift and it does not satisfy.
She has become a crabby, old lady.
She is nonreceptive to what she is given.

Recently, my husband was talking with our neighbor.
She believed Jesus died for her sin but her sin was too much.
On the surface that seems like she was humble. 
One feels pity that she recognized the depths of her sin. 
But as she repeated it, emphasizing her great sin, her reasoning became more apparent—
Even though God gave His only Son for all sin, she determined that her sin was too much.
She gloried in the depths of her sin because she determined she couldn’t be saved. 
Her pride kept her from accepting God’s gift of salvation.

Ever have someone for dinner. 
You plan everything specially for them.
When they arrive,  they look over the food and say, though very nicely, “No, thank you.”
Or list what part of the meal they won’t eat. 
How do you feel?
Like they’ve slapped you in the face!
Your food wasn’t good enough for them.
Their pride keeps them from enjoying what you have provided

In contrast, my husband sits at my meals every time and enjoys them. 
I mean, really enjoys them.
You can tell by how he eats and how much he eats. 
He’s receptive to my gift.
He’s told me, gently, when certain things aren’t his favorite, but more often than not, tells me hours after the meal how much he enjoyed it.
It makes me want to fix great meals!
Because he is so receptive to them, he gives me confidence to experiment with different recipes.
It encourages me to give him more!
Same with God.
We must be receptive to what God wants to give us.
When we are, He gives more!

 

How much do we impede God from blessing us when we don’t accept what He gives with thankfulness and gratefulness?
He is a giving God.
He holds nothing back, unless…
We aren’t receptive.

Know what makes us non-receptive?
We know better.
We want it this way.
We don’t need it now.
We want to be in control.
Pride.
We are telling God what He should give us.
We want children, of course, but we will tell God when and how many.
We want to work for God, but we will tell God how.
We want to receive what God wants, but only if it is what we want.

My pride wants to tell God what I should have.
This wasn’t what I planned.
We expect God to bless our plans, our way, our …, instead of accepting His gifts.

That’s pride---that I know better than God.

Know what pride hinders me from doing?
Thanking Him.

Know what happens when we aren’t thankful?
We aren’t receptive to what God would love to give us.
It is like that downward circle of Romans 1.
We don’t recognize God’s gifts.
We don’t thank Him.
We want our own way.

God can’t stop giving. That’s just Who He is.
But by our unthankfulness, we don’t see His little gifts throughout the day.
We don’t notice what He’s offering.
As Sarah said in the devotional, we aren't attentive to His gifts.
His gifts are ignored, wasted on us.
God's gifts are lost in the day.

We struggle on our own, using that wobbly, flat wheelbarrow, because we won’t accept what God offers and don’t even notice He’s offering it.

How do we be receptive to gifts?
Repent of pride.
Put away our preconceived notions of what we need, and allow God to decide for us. 
Look for what God is giving us.
And thank God for what He gives.


How have you received blessings from God because you were willing to receive what He gave you?
 

After Steve passed away last year I knew I would never remarry, I had no desire to. God's plans were not my plans, but now I feel so totally blessed by God and by my new husband Bob. God showed us over and over that this was His will for our lives and we thank Him for our new marriage in which we can glorify Him.

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               Sonya Contreras

Author of Biblical fiction, married to my best friend, and challenged by eight sons’ growing pains as I write about what matters.

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