Friday, September 27, 2013

Requesting and Releasing Favor

As a Christian, I am continually at the mercy seat of God for requests of blessings, favor, forgiveness and whatever brings me into His presence.  It’s something every believer does or should do if God is a vital part of their lives. 

I can't speak for others, but I want to live blessed; even more I want to be a blessing to others.  Staying blessed allows God to keep using me as a vessel for His purposes, and that requires me to continually respond to His calling regardless of my feelings in the situation.  That also means my faith is in a testing mode daily.

*What's that sound?  Read my special memo at the bottom.

 
The Envelope Please!

 Let your requests be known” is something I spend much time on with God on a regular basis.  After all isn’t that what prayer is all about?  I’ve learned that I’m not the only one who petitions for something they desire.

We received an unusual appeal on Tuesday. “The Favor of Your Reply is Requested!” was printed on the front of a large white envelope.  It was from an investment company asking us if we would favor them over other firms, with our income.

My husband and I both looked at each other and smiled as he said, “You can use that on your blog.” I tore off the front with the message, and tucked it under a stack of papers ... you know, just in case he happened to be correct.
Right away it got me to thinking.  Overnight I tried to process what that statement actually meant in the company’s eyes and if God was trying to get something through to me.  Well, of course He was, who was I kidding?

Release of Favor Calling

Earlier in the day I received an urgent phone call asking me to pray for a person concerning a situation. I called my husband and asked him to pray with the vet at the animal clinic where he happened to be working that day. 
We discussed the state of affairs briefly and went into more detail later that evening.  What appeared to be an attack from satan I actually thought was a testing from God. 

That person’s problem took me back to the message on the envelope and if they were somehow tied together.  Both had requested something from me, but what they wanted was entirely different.
 

Bestowing Favor on Believers

It doesn’t come as a surprise when another Christian asks me to pray for them and it shouldn’t to you either.  This is something we are to do for one another daily as members of the family of God. 
What I felt honored over was that the individual called me (us).  This person knows plenty of believers, but felt that if they called us, we could agree with them in prayer for the desired answer.  Wow, isn’t that something?  Doesn’t that make you feel special knowing someone trusts you to have the faith you need for Heaven to move? 

“For where two or three are gathered together in My name (as my followers), I am there in the midst (middle/among) of them.” (Matthew 18:20 NKJV emphasis mine)

When someone asks us to pray for them, they are requesting favor from your faith reserve.  They believe in your faith, because you have demonstrated you are trustworthy of God’s favor on your life in answered prayers.  Somewhere along your faith journey they have seen God work on your behalf, and want to tap into that grace. That says a lot about your Christian walk.

If no one is calling you to ask for your “two or three” faith, there is a reason. Our favor walk is directly related to our faith walk, and people can see if it is working in our lives.

Bestowing Favor Unintentionally

As a teacher, minister, counselor and writer I read a lot for my work.  Researching material takes quite a bit of my time, and in my exploration I have come across some great and not so great writing.

One of the places where I write has thousands of contributors.  As part of that community of online writers we encourage one another by reading articles written by other people.

I have been writing for this establishment for almost two years and by the time this is published I would have read 7,000 out of the three plus million articles they have online.  I enjoy the research aspect of writing and always have.  It’s actually the best part of it for me, because I often get to meet writers from around the world, and learn tons of interesting facts.  If you want to be a good writer, you have to do your homework.

The thing about looking at other people’s work doesn’t mean they will look at yours.  Let me explain why that little bit of information is so important to an online writer.

Most people who are online writers are doing it to make money and do it part or full time.  If a person is writing online as a career, they don’t often look at articles unless it pertains to the topic they are working on at the time.  This particular place where I contribute some of my articles keeps tab on how many articles you have visited.  So when I see that a top writer has only visited 25 articles in the past five years and mine was one of them, I am thrilled!  Not all writers feel that way, and get angry when that individual’s article gets top billing.  They feel that socializing should play a part in the rank of the article.  They’re not too off with that thinking, because the Internet search engines think the same way. 

The more visits a site has, the higher it goes in ranking for the search engines such as Google, Bing or others.  Having more visits is important to an online writer, because it generates traffic from other search engines all over the world.  Visits (likes) mean your message was noticed and hopefully will be promoted to the public successfully.  This is something every Christian writer strives for in winning a life to the Lord – “getting the word out to the World.”

What does this have to do with favor?  If you receive something from the world that causes you to increase in any form, that is God sending favor to you from man.  An experienced writer that notices my work and promotes it causes increase to my credibility as a writer, thus increasing my income. Most of the time the world doesn’t realize that they are being used by God to increase you in finances, position or favor.

There are countless times when the unsaved have given to ministries or a religious cause because they want to do something good or need a tax break.  Either way, it is another lesson of proof that God does fulfill His promises.  In reality, it’s favor given unintentionally, so God can receive the glory, not man.

Bestowing Favor Like Christ

Scriptures tell us that we are to show exceptional kindness, grace and favor to our brothers and sisters in Christ.  That is usually easy, even though not everyone does it.

“As we have therefor opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:10 (KJV)

The hard part about operating in obedience to God is demonstrating the grace of God toward those who we feel don’t deserve it.  I have to be honest, I don’t always want to be nice to nasty people, and surely don’t want to hand out my grace card of favor to them.  However, that’s exactly what we are supposed to do… show love to the unlovely.

“Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine (your) hand to do it.” Proverbs 3:27  (KJV)

“Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power (ability) to help them.” (from the NLT)

The person that called for prayer was facing several serious things, in which they were being treated unfairly and unkindly.  It was as if a swat team from the devil was zooming in to destroy their faith, finances and family.  Doing something good for this individual would be easy, because they certainly were due my kindnesses.
“But I (Jesus) say unto you, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” Matthew 5:44  (KJV)

Love, bless, do good, pray for my enemies? Ooh, I don’t want to do that.  Love the enemies that are trying to destroy my world?  You’ve got to be kidding.  My phone friend told me that along with the persecution came cursing, ridicule and threats as well.
Sure we know that’s what the Bible says, but doing it is another thing right? That would mean I would have to give grace like Christ did regardless of what was coming against me.  I’m not sure I can or want to do that.

That brings me back to the envelope. So what do we do when the world seeks a favor from us?  When it is within our power to do good we are to do it right?  Isn’t that what God is telling us?  Yes, however, we are not released to give favor to those that are not of the faith when it goes against His Word, because that would be an unequal yoking with Him.  
God sometimes asks us to do things that seem unreasonable and makes no sense to us, but it will not contradict the Bible.  For this very reason we need to stay in the Word of God so that we recognize if it is a favor request from God, satan or man.

I came across an old television program this week that happened to deal with a similar situation of the person who called me.  There was an accident where the person hit them from behind.  Neither of the vehicles was damaged, and an agreement of $5 was given to the first driver because of the inconvenience caused by the second driver. (That tells you how old this program was!) As soon as the person realized that the other driver was famous, they decided to sue for $250,000. 

The mother chose to show mercy and goodness to the individual that was suing them.  She showered the disgruntled driver with kindness, grace and favor even though she was the one being sued.  In the end, the charges were dropped.  What happened?  Mercy happened.  Even in situations where favor, God’s mercy is not warranted, God still gives grace when it comes to repentance.  If we are to be Christ’s hands and feet in this world in order to win souls, it means we are to reply to the request of “favor” in order to bring others into the Kingdom of God.

Vessels of Favor

There are many ways God shows His favor; we perceive them as blessings or forms of His protection from the evil one. 
Vessels of God are to become vessels of His favor for Him to pour out on others as He blesses us.  We learned this in our lesson about God’s favor shield.

“But let all those that put their trust in Thee (God) rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them: let them also that love Your name be joyful in You.

“For You, LORD, will bless the righteous; with favor You will compass (surround) him as with a shield.” (Psalm 5:11-12  KJV)

“But let all who take refuge in You be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread Your protection over them, that those who love Your name may rejoice in You. 12 Surely, Lord, You bless the righteous; You surround them with Your favor as with a shield.” (Psalm 5:11-12 NIV)
Vessels of God Brief Testimony

Are you a vessel of favor God can use to dispense on undeserving souls?  I think that we often forget that we were once unbelievers that God showed grace to when we received His favor to forgive us from sin. 
Maybe God wants to use you to do something that will change the life of an unbeliever and you really don’t want to do it.  You might want to reconsider the cost of not obeying the voice of God. 

We receive blessings, grace (unmerited favor) from God because He loves us.  Favor is never given because we “deserve it”, but is given as a tool or vessel for a greater cause. 

Paul admonishes us that we have knowledge of the good news of Christ in our bodies or “vessels”.  This information is a hidden treasure to the world, and God’s mercy allows us to be a part of His overall plan.

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.  We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair.” (2 Corinthians 4:6-8 NKJV)

In order for favor to be increased in our own lives, we have to be willing to give it to others freely.  God didn’t ask us to validate His reasons why we need to be kind to others that persecute us; He just said to do it. 

I feel richly blessed when God calls on me to give blessings (which are favors) to others.  It lets me know that He feels I am a vessel He can use, and that draws me closer to Him.  The more I am used to bless others, the more my favor levels need to rise.

If you are seeking God and longing to walk in His blessings, there will be times when someone out of the blue asks, “The Favor of Your Reply is Requested!”  How will you respond? 
You cannot give favor if you don’t have it to give.  This company was hoping I would bless and favor their company above any others with something I had that they needed (or wanted).  They did not realize that I was not required to bestow anything on them without the direction of the Holy Spirit.
On the other hand, my phone friend messaged that God heard our prayers and the situation was resolved.  As a fellow believer, I was required to use my faith and reply to their plea. Praise God for His mercy and favor toward our request.

It’s Time to Release God’s Favor

Christian Mom with six kids sunrisewithasixpack.com 

After reading this, I guarantee that your favor vessel will be tested.  As a matter of fact, if you have been seeking God for blessings (favor) I know you have been in trials.  The question is, what are you going to do when a request is made of you from God or man?  It may have to do with finances, but not necessarily. 
Perhaps God is asking you to give the favor of time to someone or something.  You may be asked to give up possessions, friends, family or a position.  Whatever it is, don’t delay giving God what He requests of you.  If God wants you to release something into His hands so He can reply to someone’s request for favor, do it.  You can be sure that what you give up will not compare to the blessing He has that will replace, restore and renew what you gave away.

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly above all we ask or think, according to the power (of the Holy Spirit) that works in us.” (Ephesians 3:20 NKJV)

Our God is able to do above that we can ask or think.  Release favor blessings and your request for them will come back to you. 

“Give, and it will be given to you” (how) good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom.  For with the same measure that you use (give blessings, favor and mercy), it will be measured back to you.” (Luke 6:38  KJV)

Let God use you as His favor dispenser. Get excited when someone calls on you above all others and reply “Yes” to their request according to God’s Word, knowing you have been called as a chosen vessel of favor for our Almighty God.
If You Can Use Anything, Lord Use Me - Ron Kenoly

 
Until next time, release blessings of favor at God’s request!


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Scripture reference was taken from the New King James Bible Version provide by
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Friday, September 20, 2013

Increasing in Favor

Throughout the week I have been noticing a few things about favor, not only in my personal life, but in the Bible as well. 

For one thing, favor doesn’t always look the same.  Did you realize that there are different levels of blessings and favor?  I could venture to say you didn’t want to read that, but it’s true.

Could I explain what I mean to help you understand this better?  We have steps to our front door. They are all the same size in distance, but they are not all the same level.  With each step I reach a new level, even though the distance is the same from one to the other.  Each step takes me to the level I need to elevate me to the top or where I need to go (be) for that time period.

How do I relay this in terms we can embrace? A person who recently got a job and another one who received a promotion were just elevated to new levels above what they had previously.  They are not the same, but both have experienced an increase in favor.  Each person received something that others did not, because someone bestowed favor to them above another person or persons.  I’ve been witnessing this in life and when it happened throughout the Bible.

Moving Up Higher

I remember a song that Joyce Meyer wrote many years ago when she was seeking God to move up higher in her calling.  As far as I know, it is the only one she ever wrote, but it certainly is one we can gain wisdom from if we want increased favor for serving the Lord in higher levels. 

Some of you are probably tired of that word, “favor” and think it’s only to get what you want in life, but I assure you, it isn’t.  We have to have favor to accomplish God’s work here on earth in order to walk out the commission of Christ Jesus.  If Jesus couldn’t live without favor why do we think we can?

There is a reason why God wants to increase your favor; He raises us up to do greater things for Him so that more people are brought into the Kingdom.   When we are at the level we need to be, we can accomplish the greater things Jesus was referring to in the Bible.  Moving up higher opens doors that were once closed.  Friends it's time we level up in faith and favor.

God wants to take us to the next level of increase, but so many times we get stuck in the same place, not seeking or expecting to do more or be increased.  We become “comfortable” or “complacent.”

When we become satisfied (no matter what the reason) with the level where we are and never step out in faith for the higher level in God, we don’t reach the goal of our high calling in Christ Jesus.  Sometimes we think, “This is the best it gets”, or “This is all there is so I might as well make the best of it.”  If we give in to that thinking, satan wins and no one else comes to know salvation.

Not Reaching the Goal

What does it take to not reach your goal? Well, not very much actually. 
Let’s take a walk back through the wilderness with the Israelites. 
What was their goal or plan?  To leave Egypt. 
Who were they thinking of? Themselves. 
If you think of it, they were successful in one way, but their own selfishness led to their lifetime of misery and ultimate failure to reach the goal God had set for them.
Throughout the forty years they wandered God was continually increasing favor on them, yet they didn’t acknowledge His blessings.  In fact, they did the opposite and complained for more favor.

What exactly did God do for His children? To name only a few things:

When the Israelites were hungry, God fed them manna. If they wanted meat, He gave them quail.  Water … came from a rock in a desert, too hot …. He covered them with clouds. Too cold … I’ll give you fire by night.  Whatever you want … I’ll deliver so you can reach your destination to the Promised Land. 

We know what happened.  All those who refused to worship the Lord or see Him as their “blesser”, died in the wilderness.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to go my whole life just to receive nothing from God.

The thing is that favor came easy to them when they first believed.  It was only to be temporary until they had faith to believe God for more on their own.  We can understand this if we relate it to raising a child.  As a child grows, it gains more responsibility and rewards for each level they achieve.  You wouldn’t expect the same kind of behavior out of a child of ten as you do a 5 year old.  I praised my nephew when he learned to tie his shoes, but didn’t keep doing that when he was older.

Levels of favor come with levels of faith to help us get to the next step on our journey in life.   If we aren’t willing to increase, our faith and favor will die in “our” wilderness, never reaching the potential God intended for us.

I’d like you to start proclaiming this right now.  Say out loud,
“I’m going to the next level of faith and increase of favor.”

 
Finding Favor through Seeking

The Bible repeatedly verifies that if we seek God, we will find Him.  I’d like to share with you briefly examples of those who sought God and increased in favor as they obeyed.

Ruth from Destitute to Destiny

In the book of Ruth we read about 3 widow women who each took a different path on their life journey.  I’d like to concentrate on Naomi and Ruth.

Because of a famine many families left Bethlehem in search of food in other parts of the world.  When all the men had died in Naomi’s family (her husband and sons) the women were faced with destitution.  At that time Ruth didn’t really know the God of Naomi, but said that she would follow after the God of Israel if Naomi would not send her away.  Unlike her sister-in-law Orpah, Ruth chose to seek God, listen and obey as she learned.

Naomi made the decision to move back to her homeland, even though she had no money. She and Ruth were received home with open arms, but they still had no food.  Ruth did something her sister-in-law wasn’t willing to do.  What are we willing to do that others won’t that will cause God and man to give us favor?

“And Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi, Let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after him in whose sight I shall find favor.  Naomi said to her, Go my daughter.” (Ruth 2:2 Amp.)

Upon the permission of her mother-in-law Naomi, Ruth went into the fields and “gleaned” (gathered bundles of) the barley that fell to the ground when the workers were collecting it.  She went expecting to find favor.  That's what we are to do ... expect to find favor among those who don't even know us.
In Israel, it was a law that the widows could do this without penalty or being accused of stealing.  Although this was very hard work, Ruth did it willingly to bless and help her mother-in-law.  She sat, listened and obeyed the instruction of a wiser woman causing favor to increase in her life.

Naomi knew the owner of the field, she knew the law of the land and most of all, and she knew the God of that land.  She taught Ruth how to move to the next level so she could gain wisdom and favor from the owner of the field.  Ruth did exactly what Naomi instructed.

In the end we learn that Ruth married Boaz, the owner of the field.  She now owned the field where she once worked. Naomi became a grandmother and nursed (yes that’s right … an old woman nursed) her grandchild who became part of the line of Christ.  Obeying wise counsel gained them favor from God and man. Talk about increasing in favor, wow! (Read about Ruth’s favor here.)

When Faithfulness Meets Favor

I’d like to share with you a true story of a young man I know.  His name is James.  Young James worked for Parcel Express for several years.  He was faithful to his employer learning all he could, and as he did, James (only in his 20's) increased in favor from his boss.  After a few years the business James once worked for was now his, because of that favor.

Increase comes from favor through God and man.  It’s biblical law.  When God gives favor it’s not so that you can have more stuff and use it selfishly.  That’s a good way not to receive increase.  Favor, or increase, is given to use on others not you.  Not once, but every time we go into that establishment, James grants us kindness and favor.

Becoming Your Reason for Living

In order for us to understand that favor is something God wants to give, all we need do is look at the life of Jesus.  I think when many of us read the account of His birth in Luke chapter 2, we miss the details and focus on the miracles instead.

I’d like to use the Amplified Bible version for this portion to show you the “details” we sometimes overlook when reading God’s Word.

“And the Child (Jesus) became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace (favor and spiritual blessing) of God was upon Him.” (Luke 2:40 Amp.)

What I’d like to point out is the word, “became”.  To “become” implies that it wasn’t that level in the beginning.  This same phrase was used when Samuel began to seek God. (See Judges 13: 24 & in 1 Samuel 2:26.)

So the obvious question would be, “How do we become wise, blessed and favored?”  We look at what these people did and follow the pattern set before us by God.

What did Jesus do that caused Him to become what He was in order to accomplish the Work of God?

“Now His (Jesus’) earthly parents went to Jerusalem every year to the Passover Feast.  And when He was twelve years old, they went up, as was their custom.” (Luke 2:41-42 Amp.)

What you need to realize is that is wasn’t the custom for a twelve year old, but for ages thirteen plus.  Jesus did something unusual for a boy of his age. (Just like Samuel and Ruth did.)

When the feast was over and everyone was returning to their native land, Mary and Joseph realized Jesus wasn’t with them.  It made me wonder what kind of parents are they not to know that their kid was missing for three days?  That’s another story.

The “neglectful” parents (it would appear in our eyes) backtracked to Bethlehem to retrieve their wandering child.  When they finally located Him, what did they discover Jesus doing?

“After three days they found Him (Jesus) in the court of the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking questions.  Those who were with Him were amazed of how intelligent Jesus was in understanding the Word of God.” (from Luke 2:46 - 47)

I’d like to point out that when Mary laid eyes on her son she didn’t praise Him for being in church, but instead reamed Him out for causing them to worry. (vs 48) 

Jesus didn’t respond to His parents like “their” child.  He made it clear what He was doing, and whom He was doing it for when He proclaimed to them:

“How is it that you had to look for Me?  Did you not see and know that it is necessary (obey as a duty) for Me to be in My Father’s house and (occupied continually) about My Father’s business? But they didn’t comprehend what Jesus was saying to them.” (vs. 49-50)

In other words Jesus was saying, “How come you didn’t realize I needed to be here and do this?  You know I’m the Son of God and My main mission is to obey and do the will of God My Father.”

At that time Mary and Joseph were operating out of the flesh and as parents, not vessels God the Father used.  How often does that happen to us?  We forget the plan and purpose in which God has given us grace, mercy and favor.

After that day the Bible tells us that Jesus made it a habit of being obedient to His earthly parents (understanding they didn't realize the fullness of His mission), as He continued the Will of His Heavenly Father.  His obedience caused more blessings to come into His household so that He increased even more in wisdom and favor from God and man.

“And Jesus increased in wisdom (in broad and full understanding) and in stature and years, and in favor with God and man.” (vs. 52)

Why do I need an increase in favor?

There is a reason we need to be increased in favor (Jesus), and that is to fulfill the call on our life according to God’s purpose and plan.
Now do you see why favor is so vital in a believer’s life? 

God wants to raise you up to new levels and heights. He has so much He wants to accomplish through you, but He needs you to follow His plan so He can help you reach that goal. 

Remember my front porch steps?  They take me higher with every step.   Which step are you on in life?  What levels have you achieved?  Are you at the top or have you rested on the steps in-between?
Don’t stay where you are. You are stronger than you realize. You are not at the top of your mountain.  There is more!  Become restless in your walk and step out in faith.  Become what God wanted you to be.

Begin by seeking God, not His favor (that will come when you seek Him).  Read the Word of God in a different light, notice when God did and didn’t give favor.  What did the people do?  Why did they receive what they did? 
Those that received wisdom, understanding and favor had this in common: They sought God, listened to instruction and then obeyed (acted on) what they had been taught.  If you do the same, you will find that you too will be increasing in favor as you live a life pleasing to God.

Seek, Listen, Obey

You Raise Me Up (with lyrics) - Selah
 
Until next time, may you increase in favor!

Content and Image Copyright from Favored1. Do not copy.
Image credit if not listed by Google Images Creative Common License
Scripture reference was taken from the New King James Bible Version provide by
Gateway Bible
Image credits:  Front steps  Level up sign  Missed Goal  Put God First sign  Ruth  Jesus in Temple Jesus Reason sign