Did you get a receipt?

Written by Charles Ekong

19/02/2024

I’m of the opinion that one of the most tragic things in Christendom is a person who assumes they’re following God, sometimes sincerely so, yet is walking in error. It’s not always evident initially, but over time, there should be a marked difference in the lives of individuals who do what God says because He watches over His word to perform it [Jeremiah 1:12]. Unfortunately, many of us struggle to assess our lives and circumstances in light of Scripture. We make excuses when we encounter discrepancies between God’s word and our outcomes, especially when surrounded by others with similar experiences. God cannot lie [Numbers 23:19]. So, if we’ve done what He said but don’t have the outcomes He promised, something must be wrong. Incredibly, many shrug this phenomenon off instead of seeking answers.

Followers of Jesus aren’t exempt from the challenges and vicissitudes of life [John 16:33]. However, they should never overwhelm and leave us defeated [1 John 5:4-5]. Sadly, that isn’t the testimony of many believers, and I’m convinced the primary reason for this is our ignorance. Time and again, Scripture warns us about the consequences of ignorance. We may even mentally assent to verses like Psalm 82:5-7, Hosea 4:6 and Ephesians 4:18, but often don’t heed Solomon’s advice to pursue knowledge earnestly [Proverbs 18:15]. God, in Christ, imparts His life to us the moment we believe in Jesus, and we become new creatures [Romans 10:9, 2 Corinthians 5:17]. But that’s only the beginning of a believer’s faith journey [Acts 20:32]. We must press on and grow in knowledge to apprehend all God has for us [Colossians 3:10, 2 Peter 1:3-4]. When we do, there’s evidence because God confirms His word with signs [Mark 16:20].

In many cases, a sign from God is akin to a receipt. As is the case in commerce, a receipt is evidence that a legal exchange has occurred between two parties. Without it, a claim of a valid transaction is open to challenge. Unsurprisingly, there’s a similar principle in Scripture. For instance, God seals those in Christ with the Holy Spirit as proof they’re legally entitled to a divine inheritance [Ephesians 1:3-14]. So, we can expect a receipt from God as proof that we’ve legally fulfilled what He’s asked of us. As such, the thrust of my message this week is that there should be evidence akin to a receipt if we accurately engage and apply spiritual principles and patterns. If there isn’t, we should ask questions. I’ve realised that one reason we don’t get our divine receipts is inaccuracy in following God’s instructions, which is the same as incomplete obedience.

The legal system of the universe depends on God being just and righteous [Psalm 89:14]. That implies God must keep His word, even to the devil. As such, His instructions and the rewards and consequences for obedience and disobedience are unequivocal. For instance, God gave Moses meticulous instructions about building the Tabernacle, and when Moses had done everything as God commanded, God’s manifest glory fell [Exodus 40:33-34]. Similarly, two of Aaron’s sons were incinerated by fire from God’s presence because they violated clear instructions and offered unauthorised incense in the Tabernacle [Leviticus 10:1-3]. Scripture tells us that God hasn’t changed [Hebrews 13:8]. So, these and other examples in the Bible mean we cannot do as we please and expect God to be okay with it. Mercifully, the blood of Jesus speaks for us today, so we aren’t instantly consumed by God’s wrath when we violate His instructions [Hebrews 12:24]. But I suggest that when challenges manifestly at odds with God’s will persist in our lives; in other words, receipts are absent, some introspection is needed.

Admitting we’ve missed something requires humility and sincerity. But God never scorns a humble and contrite heart [Psalm 51:17]. I’m increasingly understanding the importance of God’s love and goodness because, as the Good Shepherd, He leaves the ninety-nine and comes searching for the one lost sheep [Luke 15:4-7]. So, when we turn to Him, repentant, sincerely desiring to know where we went wrong, He’ll always meet us at our point of need [Hebrews 4:14-16]. Nevertheless, God won’t change His principles and patterns to accommodate us. Instead, He brings us to places and people where we can learn the truth according to Scripture instead of the opinions and traditions of men. However, once we know the right thing to do, we must act on it with faith, understanding and wisdom. Look out for revelation from Scripture and the inner witness of the spirit that you’re on the right path  [Psalm 119:105,130, Romans 8:16]. They often precede the physical receipt [Hebrews 11:1,3]. 

Sadly, I’ve seen people without receipts disparage the advice of those who have them, and I’ve also seen people with persistent challenges accept their predicament as though help isn’t available. I’m increasingly aware as I study the Bible that the believer’s life shouldn’t be as arduous as it is for some of us. We often struggle unnecessarily and suffer because we lack the meekness and curiosity to learn God’s ways. We’re happy to settle for less until a catastrophic event jolts us out of our stasis and faulty paradigms. But God wants so much more for us. It’s why He sent Jesus and gave us His word [John 10:10].

If any aspect of God’s word isn’t working in your life, be humble enough to acknowledge it’s not the word because other people are testifying about God’s faithfulness to the same word with undeniable evidence. In His mercy, God ensures that such people are within reach if you look closely. When He grants you access to them, learn from them diligently with childlike humility [Matthew 11:28-30, Hebrews 6:12].

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