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