Friday, December 16, 2016

Waiting on (Miracle) Favor

Christmas Favor Series: Part 3  

Benny used to be a big time drug dealer in Chicago; that is until he accepted Christ as His Savior.  Getting out of the “business” he took on a regular job vowing to go straight for the Lord.  

About six months later he lost his job and happened to run into Sly, a former street dealing drug lord, who tried getting Benny back into his former illegal profession.   

“I know you must be broke not having worked in a few months.  Why don’t you do a few deals, I’m sure Jesus wouldn’t mind.”  Sly said trying to reel in his former top selling drug pusher.  In the past he was always very persuasive, and never had a problem getting his way on the streets of the windy city. 

“No man, my God is too good for that,” Benny replied turning around to walk away leaving that part of his life behind him. 

Sly didn’t “buy” into all that religious stuff and figured he still had pull with convincing a druggie to do his dirty deed.  Smugly Sly poked fun at Benny’s new lifestyle and sarcastically said, “Well, if your God is so good, why don’t you have a job?”   

Welcome new friends this week from:
See if your city/state/country made the list. 

New on DFB – Bolivia; New Delhi, Delhi, India; Montreal, QC, Dryden & London, ON, Canada; Accra, Greater Accra Region, Ghana; Liloy, Zamboanga Peninsula, Philippines; Fiorano Canavese, Piedmont, Italy; Bulandshahr, Uttar Pradesh, India; Saudi Arabia; Croatia; Puerto Rico; Ukraine. 

USA Brookfield, Bethel, Danbury & New Milford, CT; Deltona, Pasco & Spring Hill, FL; Marietta & Statham, GA, Rockport, MA; Dundalk, MD; Fayetteville, NC; Hillside & Newark, NJ; Pittsford, Harrison, Penfield & Nyack, NY; Coal Township, Danielsville & Hazleton, PA; Dale City, Manassas & Woodbridge, VA; Eudora, KS; Bolingbrook, Carol Stream, Downers Grove, Glendale Heights, Marine, Wheaton, Bloomingdale & Bartlett, IL. 

I am so thankful for your visit and hope that you come back each week to participate in the weekly challenges.  God has been faithful and we expect His Christmas favor to abound in the lives of those who chose to believe in His Son, Jesus all year round. 

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Hey God … Did You Hear That? 
When Benny got home he went into his bedroom and immediately dropped to his knees.  Tossing his coat onto a chair, he started his talk with the Lord on how he felt about what just went down with his former boss from the streets.  He had no problem getting to the point of his dilemma and spoke straight from his newborn Christian heart. 

“God did you hear what he said about You? My not having a job is making You look bad.”  Having poured out his complaint before the Lord, Benny went to bed that night feeling confident that he would hear from God.   

When God Honors Commitment  

For the past three months Benny had filled out dozens of job applications and even one for the city that was hiring for 50 positions.  With over 7,000 people applying he didn’t expect he’d be hearing from them. 

The following day Benny received a phone call from the city’s human resources department telling him to show up for work on Monday morning – he’d been hired.  God gave him favor in the position, despite his prior history which prevented him from gaining employment in the past. 

Slamming down the phone, Benny dashed out the door over to the dealer’s current location.  Knocking with a vigorous rat-a-tat-tat to get the attention of those inside, in his smoothest style Sly calmly opened the door.  Without any greeting or a hello, Benny got down to the reason for his abrupt visit. 

“Yo man, remember when you said, “Well, if your God is so good, why don’t you have a job?  Well, guess what. I have job and start on Monday.”   

For the next few minutes he tried sharing the gospel of how good God was to those who love and serve Him, stating that Jesus showed him favor over all those other people. This time it was Benny who was trying to sway Sly into turning his life over to Christ.  Not being able to do so, Benny turned around and left. 

Waiting to Share a Blessing 

It had been about ten years since Benny had that conversation with Sly when he met up with a young man at an evangelical conference in a different state.  Extending his hand out toward Benny in a warm, hearty greeting, “Spike” began to speak. 

“I’ve been wanting to meet you.”

“Really. Why?” 

“You remember that time when you went up to that drug dealer’s door and told him how God wanted him to have a job too?” 

“Yeah, but I didn’t see anyone else there?” 

“I was hiding behind the door. I’m his younger brother, and when you told Sly how to receive Christ I prayed that prayer.  I believed what you said about Jesus dying on the cross to forgive me for all my sins, and how He wanted to give me a good life. 

Ever since then I’ve served the Lord.  I went to Bible College and now God has called me to be a preacher.” 

What Benny then realized is that the waiting wasn’t really about getting a job, but God putting him in that place so the younger brother would hear the prayer of salvation.  God could have opened a job opportunity for Benny at any time.   However, waiting allowed him to gain favor for a better job that came available with benefits, and another soul was brought into the Kingdom of God.   

Benny was a vehicle God needed so a preacher could be birthed.  Not only did God want to show Benny favor, but in his waiting others were able to rejoice in what the Lord had done for them as well.   

Righteous Living God Notices 

This week I was thinking about the time I wanted kids (as I mentioned in last week’s post “The Blessing of Favor”), and the waiting on God aspect to see if my prayers would be answered.   When I heard Benny’s’ story I thought about how easy it would have been to get mad at God and give up my commitment to Him.   

Unlike Benny, I didn’t have the same kind of pressure that could have brought danger to my life like he did.  I can imagine how hard it was to stand firm in his relationship with God when nothing seemed to be working in his favor. 

Modern day stories tie in so beautifully with what was happening in the life of Elizabeth and Zacharias.  Continuing with recognizing Christ-mas Favor, the author of Luke tells us how this couple remained loyal to serving God in ministry, even when they didn’t receive the answer to the prayers of becoming parents. 

The good doctor explains what God saw in the lives of these righteous believers in verses five through nine of chapter one. 

“There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah. His wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 

And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.”  

Faithful in their morals and to the Master, Zacharias and Elizabeth stayed committed even though things didn’t work out as they hoped in years past. 

 “But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both well advanced in years.  So it was, that while he was serving as priest before God in the order of his division, according to the custom of the priesthood, his lot fell to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord.” (Luke 1:5-9 NKJV) 

They stayed pure in their profession of faith and duties to the Lord.  What if Zac’s response to God for not giving him an heir was that he refused to serve the Almighty?  The couple would have missed their Christmas miracle.  See why in verse eleven. 

“… Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him (Zacharias), standing on the right side of the altar of incense.” 

Where did the answer to prayer come for Zacharias?  He was at the altar of incense in the House of God.  He was about his Heavenly Father’s business. 

What was his ministry?  As a priest, Zacharias’ along with singing or praying, his responsibilities were to light the incense flame and change the oil.  If he decided not to serve God because his prayer to have a child wasn’t met, he would have never been in the right place at the fulfillment time of miracle favor. 

Elizabeth and Zacharias prayed together and often for a child, however it was while Zacharias was in the temple  that the answer came during his time of commitment to ministry and serving the Lord.  Through Zacharias’ obedience, he, his wife, their son, all the people in the outer court and the world would be blessed with the favor of salvation that was to come through Mary. Wow, that’s a lot to process when you think about it. 

It happened the same way for Benny, our new brother in Christ and it can for us as well if we stay committed to God while we wait for His favor to be manifested.  When we look at things through this point of view maybe not all our prayers are getting answered, because we’re sitting in past failures and pouting over unanswered prayers rather than standing on the promises of God. 

Reasons for Delayed Favor  

As Christians we are to always be looking to the Lord for answers, but all too often we only turn to God for a handout or quick fix to a mess we’ve gotten ourselves into when we failed to enter His throne room. 

One reason God may be holding back favor is to test our commitment.  While we wait for answers, do we hold back or totally withdraw our praise if we don’t get what we requested?  How many times have believers stopped going to church and cut back on praying because we’re not happy with how God’s handling our petitions? 

Another reason why God may say “wait” is so others will benefit from our prayers getting answered.  Sometimes they are connected to another individual in God’s plan, but we don’t see or know it (like in Benny’s case).  If our season for fulfillment came too early others would be left out for their time of favor, and no one would be rejoicing or have any joy to share about the goodness of God.   

Let me explain what I mean with our biblical couple.  The scripture tells us that not only Elizabeth and Zacharias would be happy about the birth of John, everyone would rejoice over it.  The plan of God for their son’s life would affect the world and he would be a blessing to mankind. 

“ … And thou shalt have joy and gladness;
and many shall rejoice at his birth.” (vs. 14) 

As the forerunner to Christ, we can understand why Elizabeth and Zacharias had to wait for their son to be born, because we have the full Bible that explains all the details.  How could they know that?  Their actions were solely based on faith and the belief that God’s way and plan was better than what they had in mind. 

 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.  For as the Heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9 NKJV) 

We need to put ourselves in their shoes to comprehend what a big deal it was for Elizabeth to have a male heir.  The greatest joy for a Jewish woman was to produce a male child for her husband.   

“Thus the Lord has dealt with me, in the days when He looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.” (Luke 1:25 NKJV) 

It was taught among their beliefs that there were seven things that sent a woman to hell, and not giving her husband a son was number one on the list.  Yet through all the scorning they still served God. 

The Fullness of Favor:
Others Will Benefit from Your Waiting 

When God has something planned for our lives it usually is connected to what He is also doing in someone else.  Benny didn’t know it, but when he got the job, God was already working on the heart of someone he didn’t know.  Their lives crossed and Benny had no idea of what God did through him.  God received the glory, while Benny and Spike received His favor. 

With the couple now beyond normal childbearing years, God was able to show Himself Mighty.  Elizabeth no longer was in reproach among her people and the son of Zacharias would live in the favor of God his entire life.
The timing was critical for when God wanted this child to be born, and it didn’t line up with what the couple prayed.  However, God didn’t disregard their hearts desire, but delayed it until the fullness of favor could be given.  

“For he (John) shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb (starting before he was even born). 

And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God, and he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” (Luke 1:15-17 NKJV) 

Why wait for God’s favor? 

There is a definite reason why we shouldn’t get discouraged when our prayers aren’t answered in our timing.  The benefit of waiting on God’s favor is that it’s always linked to His Divine plan, which means, more or better favor than man could possibly give. 

Elizabeth and Zacharias learned about the character, commission and plan of God for their son before he was born.  They were told he would be great, as in a world changer.  That’s something every parent wants to hear. (vs. 15) 

The angel described baby John’s destiny with him being the only person born to be commissioned as the forerunner of the Messiah.  He would have the privilege of giving the message of what and Who was to come – Jesus Christ. (vs. 16) 

Gabriel explained how God’s plan to answer their initial prayer of having a child would result in bringing many souls to the Lord. (vs. 17)  When we take all this into consideration, we should be super excited to see how great the favor will be that is given to us for serving God as we wait.  

How are these different? 

In any situation there are choices.  We’ve all had to make them; Benny made his and Zacharias the priest made his with one little downfall … unbelief. 

“… and Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years? 

 And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings.” 

Through the messenger angel Gabriel, God was letting Zacharias know that good things were about to happen in his life, but he didn’t get that part. He was stuck on rewind … “I don’t have kids … I’m old, too old.” 

Now here is something that used to puzzle me when it came to the priest talking back to the angel and when Mary asked him questions.  What was the difference between Zacharias asking how this could happen and when Mary asked how she would bear a child without having knowing a man?  This is it. 

… but what if we don’t believe? 

Mary wasn’t questioning what God could or would do.  She was inquiring as to how it would happen knowing it WOULD. 

Zac did wonder how it would happen, but not because he believed it would or could happen. He questioned the power of the Holy Spirit to do the impossible.  
Despite the teaching of his forefathers of the miracles God did through them (especially Abraham and Sarah), the man who offered prayers of peace up to God for the Israelites had unbelief in his heart. 

God’s plan was already set and He never changes.  “For I Am the Lord, I do not change …” (Malachi 3:6a NKJV) 

The Heavenly Father had intended on giving Zacharias a son all along, but circumstances had to change until they lined up with the timing of the favor of God to be fulfilled.  In the priest’s unbelief his ability to speak was revoked because he spoke against the Words of God. 

God sent the angel to say this …
“Your prayer is answered. Yes.”
Zacharias said this …
“No way, He can’t, I’m too old.” 

It makes you wonder why he even prayed if he didn’t think it could happen, right?  Oh wait … isn’t that something we have all done? 

“And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believe not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season (of Christmas Favor).” (vs. 20) 

When the season of favor was fulfilled (Elizabeth gave birth), all those who witnessed the miracle believed including humbled Zacharias.  Not believing in the power of God to change circumstances will cause us to experience things we never supposed could happen, but it won’t change God’s plan.   

Perhaps we could give papa some credit that he didn’t take the situation in his own hands like Abraham and Sarah did; but God saw things differently because His ways are higher than ours.  (Isaiah 55:8-9 NKJV) 

Although there was doubt in his heart, God showed mercy (unmerited favor) to Zacharias and dealt with him accordingly so that he could no longer speak contrary to what God had already decreed.   

God shut Zacharias’ mouth not only because he had a name issue over what to call his son, but so that he couldn’t speak any more doubt or unbelief that went against what He had spoken through His angel.  In being rebuked, doubt disappeared throughout the months of silence and the priest’s relationship with God grew stronger as he continued to serve in ministry.  God confirmed his faith and his duties in the temple were not withdrawn.

This Week’s Challenge:
Waiting for Gladness and Joy Favor 

There are times when all believers dishonor God by falling into some part of unbelief, and our mouths spout off things we wished we head never said.  When we question the promises of God it limits what He can do for us, and causes confusion among those who don’t believe in Jesus Christ.  This is truly a gladness and joy stealer, because like Benny learned … 

“You never know who you are ministering to while
waiting for what God wants to establish through you.” 

We have to start looking at things through the eyes of God and into the bigger picture that includes more than me, myself and I.  When Zacharias said (like Jesus would say before He went to the cross in Matthew 26:39), “Not as my will, but as Your will,” miracles began to happen. 

In our Christmas Favor series so far we’ve focused on how we respond when other people are given favor from God, and for us to expect extraordinary favor like Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth and this week’s interest Zacharias received.  

The news the angel gave Zacharias was that he shall have (will have, expect it to happen) joy and gladness.  Others will also be glad for this favor miracle that God sent through him.  He came to give glad tidings, not to be questioned as to how God would perform this unmerited favor. 

Our challenge this week is to expect that the favor God wants to give us will be full of joy and gladness, so much so that it will affect those He places along our journey with Jesus.  In other words, with joy in your heart expect your Christ Favor to line up with the season that is best for your miracle. 

It’s time to clear our throats and prepare to praise God for what He wants to do through each one of His children.  We are His and with compassion He looks upon us with favor ... not ordinary favor, but joy and gladness favor that will bring others to Him. 

Some people think that Christmas is a season of miracles.  I’m here to correct that statement by sharing with you that God determines when our miracles will occur, not a season or time of year we ordain as “fulfillment season.”  

Don’t get caught in unbelief thinking God can’t do the extraordinary in your life.  Believe God’s Words and promises are true; they are unfailing.   

As you serve the Lord, stop questioning the when or how God wants to show His mercy on you, and prepare for the glad tidings with great joy.  

Your Words by Third Day 

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Until next time, joyfully wait on God’s favor! 

“Patience My child, favor season is near.”
Jesus Christ 

*Unless noted, the names in articles are changed to protect the individual(s) privacy. 

Note: Emphasis is given in some scriptures to show clarity or understanding and is not to take away from the inspirited Word of God. 

When used, the words satan or devil are not capitalized deliberately, because we give him no place in our lives. 

Disclaimer: Article information is not meant to be used as treatment for mental or physical issues, but geared toward spiritual awareness. 

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A Treasury of Christmas Miracles by Karen Kingbury on Daily Favor Blog

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by Karen Kingsbury

Also available in hardback.

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Scripture reference was taken from the New King James Bible Version provided by Gateway Bible.
Image credit: Google Images or Dreamstime Creative Common License if not specified.
Image:  God Arranging Favor  Man Kneeling in Prayer   Favor Job  Christian Conference  Righteous  Delayed  Baby John 1:15  Malachi 3:6
Disclaimer Notes: Results may vary due to lack of belief.
Waiting on Miracle Favor, Christmas Favor, Elizabeth and Zacharias, Birth of Jesus Christ, Christmas, Favor of God, Christian Living, Waiting on God, Inspiration, Hope, Karen Kingsbury, Miracles, Relationship with God, Loving God, Righteousness.