Friday, May 22, 2009

Divine Conduction

"It’s more blessed to give than receive” (Acts 20:35). This is a saying we may look for above a kitchen table, nicely cross stitched in a matted frame; but few of us would think of it with the seriousness that Paul used it on the day he departed from Ephesus and said goodbye to friends he had spent three years of his life with. When Paul said this, he wasn’t talking about giving someone a plate of cookies or even a large sum of money; he was talking about his life as a conduit of divine power, goodness, and self-giving love.

From the perspective of Scripture, it's an even greater blessing to give because givers have received the power of God’s overflowing grace which they can now pass on to others. Paul often talked about what he had received from the Lord and passed on. In 1 Cor. 15: 3-4, he reminds the church that "I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day." In Gal. 1: 11-12, Paul, speaking of how he came to hear and believe the gospel, says emphatically that "I did not receive it from a human source, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ." Moreover, in the fullness of time "God sent his Son....so that we might receive adoption as children" (Gal. 4: 5).

In the same way, Jesus says in Luke 11: 9-10, “Ask the Father, and you shall receive.” Is God worried that his children might receive too many blessings from his hand? Not at all. Jesus says the Father longs to give good gifts, even the Holy Spirit, the high voltage power and presence of God, to those who ask him.
It's obvious that we can’t give until we’ve learned how to receive! Arthur Burk points out that a child is learning how to receive even before birth. A baby first receives nourishment from its mother through the umbilical cord…then through nursing, then from a cup, followed by soft baby food; then from a knife and fork, then learns how to feed himself. Next, a child learns how to receive from her siblings, then from other families, from other peers and then from the opposite sex. A child learns how to receive knowledge, first by squalling as a baby, then by asking for help, asking at the right time, then asking from the right people, and in the right way. The child learns how to receive knowledge in school; then in such a way that present needs can be met; and finally, how to receive for future needs (Arthur Burk, Perspectives Series, Plumbline Ministries).
God gives out of the fullness of love which exists within the fellowship of Father, Son, and Spirit. When we enter that supernatural society of loving persons -- we receive overflowing blessing. Here are some of the things that Scripture says we receive from God as his children: “we receive…” healing, the Holy Spirit, forgiveness, the grace and mercy of God, the gift of God’s Son, salvation, eternal life, and the crown of victory. The reason it is more blessed to give than receive… is first, because generous giving is a sign that we have truly received from God’s hand. You cannot give what you have not received. Jesus wants to increase the number of those who have received from him…because it is they who will give themselves away for him.

A few weeks ago, I was out talking to a power company official about the lines they are putting under ground on the north side of our church property. Thanks to the hard work of Jim Lamm and others in our community, these lines are being removed so that the 133 year old Morton Bay Fig Tree will be able to grow naturally and without the severe pruning that has been necessary in the past. The official took me out into the street, stopping traffic, so that he could explain why some of the lines would be removed...and why others would have to remain. Pointing to the lower power lines he said, "Sir, those 35,000 volt lines will be placed under ground as we promised so that the tree can grow more naturally." But then he directed my eyes to another set of power lines which were much higher. Pointing to them he said, "Those lines way up there...they carry 65,000 volts of electricity. Sir, we can't remove those lines because they bring power to hundreds of homes in the surrounding neighborhood." As he spoke, I had great respect for this man's work, and his need to balance the preservation of an historic tree with the power needs of the city. I also had much more respect for those power lines above my head, and their ability to conduct tens of thousands of volts of electricity!

“Two thousand years ago, God declared unambiguously in the life of Christ that human flesh is a good conductor of divine electricity; and as far as I know he hasn’t changed his mind” (Tim Hansel, Holy Sweat). Friends, there’s always need of more spiritual power in Los Angeles, and you and I are the prime conductors…the high voltage wires. Your spirit, body, and soul, is a conductor of divine love. Receive the power of his self-giving love, then invest in people, not just possessions, share the message of Jesus Christ with those who desperately need him, grow in contentment with what you have (rather than envying what you don't) , support those who are in material and spiritual need, and leave behind a legacy of faith to future generations -- and as you do you will know that it is a blessing to receive, and an even greater blessing to give it away.

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