Friday, October 18, 2013

Practicing What I Preach

At the end of last week’s post I gave a challenge to show someone loving favor.  I couldn’t do that unless I put the “loving favor” challenge to a test myself.  Did you accept the challenge?  How did you do? (You can leave your comments at the end of the post.)

It didn’t take long before I was tested to see if I really would do something that would bring the effects of favor into my life, based on my acting on the Word of God.  (I talked about the cause-effect factor in last week’s post.)

In short, I had to be willing to be a distributor of loving favor in order for it to make its way back to me based on my obedience to God.  I wasn't doing something just to receive favor, but to show God He could use me as His servant for whatever He needed.

For about five months my husband and I have been trying to go on a picnic.  Without fail something has come up or down every weekend, and this past Saturday proved the same.  We came close to having our romantic picnic last weekend and I even got the lunches packed.  When we saw the lightning, it sort of pulled the plug on the event.

It was raining when we got up Saturday morning, so I didn’t have picnic on my mind. As the morning went on, the skies cleared up and it was beautiful outside. We decided to give it a go.

On our way out the door we noticed our new neighbors were actually home.  They moved in about a month ago, but we haven’t been able to catch up with them.  I had prepared a welcome basket for them and wanted to drop it off before we left the area.

Meeting our new friends was great.  They are a lovely Christian family (which I prayed God would send our way) with two kids.  They have a little boy that loves tractors and wants a butterfly-like toy that lights up.  I never could figure out what he meant. Then there was a precious little girl who was about to celebrate her first birthday on the 13th of October. 

Our husbands got on together while I talked with the wife and her sister.  They were in the process of getting things together for the birthday party later that day.  We exchanged information and the gospel was shared before we left them to finish their duties for that evening’s event.  God allowed us to be able to sow loving favor into the lives of strangers, and we came away feeling very blessed.
 
Walking with Loving Favor

It took some doing, but we finally arrived at a nature park that was off the beaten trail (no pun intended).  I can see why not many people know about the place or want to share it. 

Tucked away in a remote area off a side road (that gives new meaning to “the long and winding road” by the Beatles), is this quaint little walking/nature park.  There isn’t much to it, but it offers a place of tranquility and has loads of hidden trails.

On our arrival we saw a few families with the children running about having a blast on the huge boulders.  One family was enjoying a cook-out, but mostly we saw a lot of people popping in and out of wooded areas.  I suppose they were off on their own adventures into the hidden treasures of the nature park itself.  At least that’s what it looked like from the way they were dressed with cameras and equipment they packed.  Obviously they knew what they were doing, while we had really only come to picnic. 

I think this is wetland?

After our meal in the pavilion, hand-in-hand we decided to follow one of the marked out trails.  Even though I am a teacher, Science isn’t my best subject. 

We saw some of this and a bit of that, if you get my drift.  I did recognize a few things though … well, my husband did most of the “recognizing” while I took pictures.  Hey, someone had to do it, besides I needed the photos for an article I was writing.  Our conversations were sweet but quiet as we leisurely walked along the trail and gazed into the muddy creek.  It was like we were the only ones there, even though we weren’t.

Before we realized it, the afternoon was spent and dark clouds had begun to roll in speeding up our departure.  Instead of going back the same way we came, we went in the opposite direction to check out another part of the town.  Along the way we soon came to dirt roads and some rather funny signs.  Still having to do some shopping we turned back and were on our way toward home. God had given us great weather when it wasn’t supposed to be clear, and I was walking in the loving favor of my husband as well. 

Has anyone seen this toy?

While gathering pet supplies and a few food items at the store, I felt led to get a gift for the little girl I had just met.  Most of you know that we don’t have children, so shopping for a one year old was a “loving challenge” all by itself. 

When I thought about it, I felt I needed to get something for the little boy as well and began looking for that special toy he wanted.  You know, the one I couldn't figure out what he was saying.

As we walked up and down the toy aisle I started asking every person that had a child tagging along the same questions.  It's rather easy getting kids to talk about toys.

First, I snagged some kids for an inquisition, “Do you know the name of a toy that starts with an “M”, looks like a butterfly and lights up?”  I had some takers after the second set of mini shoppers.  This batch of willing helpers even led me through the rows of toys, looking for this specific item my new little male friend had requested.  By this time even mothers, fathers and grandparents were on the hunt with me.  Well, we never found such a toy, but decided to welcome him to the neighborhood with a big fluffy toy pup.  It would be fine right, after all he's only two?
 

“I don’t know nothin' ‘bout birthin’ no babies.”

I can surely relate to how Butterfly McQueen felt in Gone with the Wind when it comes to babies.  Now back to the real reason I was in the toy department.  What in the world do one year old girls like?  Everything I found didn’t seem right for a child of her age, and she was a petite lass at that. 

Finally I put back all the things I thought would work and headed over to the baby department. With several things in mind I needed some guidance. Boldly confronting over a dozen people with baby in tow, I held up my choices. Every parent (both mom and dad) picked the same item, even though I kept pointing out that it says “Birth” on it.  Accepting all their reasons as to which one was the better of the two, I bought the gift.

My intentions were right, I was following the prescription of loving favor, but it took me the entire week to finally get the gift into the child’s hands.  I had it Saturday, but they weren’t around.  This made it difficult for me to follow through with my own instructions.

More than Flowers ...
I wasn’t the only one in the family that accepted the loving favor challenge. 

My husband read my post and also went in to action in his own way.  That’s a miracle most women would say. I have to give him credit though.

Since we’ve been married I have been blessed with having breakfast in bed every Sunday.  I can share with you that this kind of favor is something I have enjoyed to the utmost. 

Having it nicely presented is something he prides himself in each week, and he usually does something special.  He presented me with a few miniature roses from our garden, which was nice in itself only this time it came with a statement: “These are for you and only you.  No one else is getting these yellow roses.”  I think I got the point … he was reminding me of my words that I had written in the previous post.

Although I appreciated the breakfast and flowers, what I loved most was the fact that he was trying to operate in the loving part that activates favor into his own life.  It may not seem like much to you, but evidently it meant something to God.

Becoming A Vessel God Can Use
 
All week long my husband found himself in positions of showing loving favor to those around him.  Another vet was filling in for the doctor at the animal clinic while the owner was on a missions trip to Mongolia.  He learned that this man was highly allergic to poison ivy and gets it pretty bad.  While in conversation my husband told him about some products we have used for years that helped if someone is exposed to any of the woodsy poisons.  The visiting vet never heard of them. The next day my husband started to write down the names of the products, but never finished the list.  Instead he bought him the items and gave them to him.  In all, it cost under $10.

Now watch how fast God works with an obedient heart.  On his way out of the store my husband saw a man; he was waving his arm in the air summoning him to come near.  It was the man that mowed the lawn at the clinic, and he requested that my husband do some carpentry work for him.  He didn’t even give the visiting vet the products yet, but the sowing process had already begun. What he would sow to the visiting vet in loving kindness was far less than what he would make on the project.  It is proof that the harvest will overtake the sower just like the Bible says would happen in Amos 9:13.  So that we can really get a grasp on what God wants to do for His children take a look at this passage in the Message Bible.

“Yes, indeed, it won’t be long now.” GOD’s Decree.  “Things are going to happen so fast your head will swim, one thing fast on the heels of the other.  You won’t be able to keep up.  Everything will be happening at once – and everywhere you look, (will be) blessings (and favor).”

These are only a few things that happened and they may seem minor, but in God’s eyes they aren’t.  There will be times when the challenges are just that, “challenges”, but there are also times when the Lord is looking for us to do something simple.  If we aren’t willing to do even the smallest of things, like giving a child a toy, how can God trust us with the outpouring of his overflowing, abundant favor?

God’s Favor Shield took Charge


Loving favor given to others also comes back to us in ways we couldn’t have imagined.  Sometimes it is the “reap what you sow” method, but often times it’s not.  People share with us the many ways God had surrounded them with His shield of favor.  One man was on a major highway when his car spun out of control with a tractor trailer about to plow over him.  He knew he was going to be hit, but God’s favor shield showed up on that fast lane highway.

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

Suddenly, the vehicles moved away from one another and the man’s life was saved.  He knew it was the direct hand of God showing favor on his life, and claimed it as that.  It was more than a blessing he said, and it was a result of his acting in loving favor that week.

Howdy, nice to meet you.

There is a sweet 78 year old woman named Beulah that we met in September at one of our events.  She has been on our mind and in our prayers ever since. 

On Sunday the Lord led us to visit a church to welcome a new pastor into the area.  He had been in the position for a while, but we haven’t been able to officially welcome the family.

It was during the “meet and greet” that we spotted this woman at the front of the church.  We had entered “Beulah land!”  As we were making our way around the sanctuary shaking hands with people we didn’t know, our eyes fell on one another at the same time.  Her face lit up as if she had encountered her best friends.  I greeted and wrapped my arms around her. 

Praises to God came pouring from her mouth as Beulah proclaimed she had been praying for us!  We received loving words of encouragement, acknowledgement and warmth that everyone longs to hear, “You blessed my heart!” She was glowing and smiling from ear to ear. Our showing up in her church that day was a blessing to her.  How often do we hear that?

…and their names are …

We returned to our seats and the service continued.  A few minutes later I glanced over to where she was seated, and Beulah was gone!  At the time the congregation was standing while singing; I didn’t even realize that she had slipped into the pew next to me until I went to sit down. With a big grin on her face she said, “I don’t want the pastor to miss meeting you.” 

A few minutes later she leaned over to me and whispered, “Exactly how do you want to be introduced to the pastor?”  We weren’t expecting to be introduced, but planned on talking with the pastor after the service. I handed her information with our names on it and went back to listening to the service.

With a leap, Beulah popped to her feet and was waving her right hand high in the air like a banner shouting, “Pastor, Pastor!  She wanted everyone to know that the people she had been praying for had showed up that day and it filled her heart with joy.  Her actions definitely surprised us, but with introductions being made, we sheepishly stood for the acknowledgement as the pastor called out our names stating that we were in the House that day.  It wasn’t how we planned on meeting the pastor, but God wanted to magnify his servants and show off faithful hearts.  We were so honored and shown such loving favor from a lady that had briefly met us.

“A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches. Loving Favor rather than silver and gold.” (Proverbs 22:1 NKJV)

Beulah had shown us favor because of seeds of love we planted back in September.  The cause and effect equation always works, for good as well as evil.

Actions of Choice
I’d like to ask you something. 

Has your faith grown this week? Have you seen a difference?   If not maybe you are not looking at the right things, just as I didn’t in the past. To me, favor only looked like blessings, not as actions of choice made by others toward me.  I didn’t know the difference between blessings, favor or promises from God.

Now that I do, I actively look for and expect to see the Lord showing up in my life here on earth as Psalm 27:13 proclaims. 

“Yet I am confident I will see the LORD’s goodness, while I am here in the land of the living.” (NLT)

My friend, if you aren’t looking for things to be different and aren’t doing anything different, nothing will be different in your life.  One of my life sayings is, “Change isn’t change until you’ve changed.”  Have you changed the way you are looking at your life and what God is doing in it for you?  Did you wake up this morning?  Of course you did if you are reading this.  My point … what were the first words out of your mouth, when you realized God caused breath to come into your lungs today?  The effect should have been, “Hey – I’m still here! Bless the Lord, all my soul and all that is within me bless Your Holy Name!”

When I asked my husband to describe the week this is what he said. “We have had a peaceful week in the midst of a troubled world full of turmoil.” He is right. We had a peaceful tranquil walk in a nature park. I’ve made new friends, and God sent a young Christian couple into our neighborhood. God caused our name to be exalted, blessed the work of our hands and demonstrated that He does care about His children.

It Comes Down to This …
If followers of Christ don’t get together and start acting on what we believe, we will not experience the fullness of God’s blessings, mercy, favor and grace that are needed for the end time harvest.  It’s time for us to really get serious concerning changing the way we think about God. 

As you go about your work this week, I’m exhorting you to go into your prayer closet and ask God to reveal to you where you have held back on your believing Him at His Word.  Take down all the barriers, boundaries and walls you have put up because of fear. Recommit your life to Him and serve Christ like you believe Him.

“I will answer them before they even call Me.  While they are still talking about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers!” (Isaiah 65:24 NLT)

Once you have repented, ask the Lord to remind you of things you have done and haven’t done that stopped the favor of God and man from coming into your life.  Prayerfully ask Him, “Lord, help my unbelief.  Teach me things I didn’t know about You and Your promises.  Lead, guide and direct me into all truth so that I might be blessed to be a blessing.”

We serve a great and mighty God who has good plans for His children. Since scripture declares the Lord’s loving favor is better than silver or gold, isn’t it something we should desire?  It’s time we experience what God has already positioned us for … His favor.
With All I Am (By Hillsong)  
 
"With all that I am Lord, I will worship You and give you my love. Jesus I believe in You.  I will trust You to lead me in the path you want me to go.  I'm ready now for Your favor."

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Until next time, expect Favor in the land of the living!

Maybe you don’t know the Living God that I know, but would like to have this kind of favor in your life also.  Click on the above tab “Tell Me” for more information on becoming a child of the Savior.

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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 credit: Amos 9:13  Favor Shield  Congregation  Psalm 22:1  Prayer Closet