Friday, December 9, 2016

The Blessing of Favor

Christmas Favor Series: Part 2  

In late October I received a message from my niece with the wonderful news that she was “with child” (I thought it would be a good phrase to use considering it’s the Christmas season) and is due in the spring. 

Although receiving her salutations gave me that happy feeling, I wasn’t really surprised by the information.  For some time I had felt in my spirit that she was about to have another child.  Like Elizabeth’s babe in the Bible (John the Baptist), I practically did my own leap for joy.  

The news of a newborn for Tina was something we had prayed for and now God has favored her with another heir.  “A girl would be nice Father … a little extra favor here Lord.”  Hey, we can hope right?  Besides she already has two perfect boys!  (Bias noted.) 

Now here’s a little secret that I’m not proud to admit, but with keeping my promise of “openness” I’ll fess up and spill the black beans once in my heart.  Hearing such news didn’t always give me that “happy for you” feeling.  In fact, favor and blessings on others wasn’t on my “Christian Lifestyle – that’s great” list for a long time. 

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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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It Should Have Been Me 

We had been married for several years when the gossip and tales of our not having kids swirled around the church community.  Actually it spread far beyond that starting with my high school chums. 

Time after time I was invited to baby showers.  With the pressure of having a child, I thought I would scream if one more person asked me when our blessed event was due! 

News of a baby on board was rampant with my siblings, cousins, co-workers, friends and the fertile world was booming.  I couldn’t catch a break with both my mom and sister backpacking toddlers the same age! 

The women in my circle were either pregnant or just gave birth.  No matter where you looked tummies told the true tale of “the weight” mothers were trying to lose years after the delivery. 

It got to the point that I no longer attended church on Mother’s Day.  I just couldn’t bear being the only lady left sitting in the pews after the pastor asked all the mothers to stand for a round of applause and congrats!  Even the only teenage girl in the auditorium was toting a newborn … Oh, “it should have been me” I thought. 

When services would finish my husband and I would duck out of the building hoping to escape a certain elder of the church.  He never failed to remind us that we were childless by saying, “When are you going to have children?”  Loved the man, couldn’t stand the continual pressure he put on us.   

Not Everyone Hears That  

“Mom …” voices from the children in the next room called out as my school classmates and I visited over brunch.  For several years some of the gals had gotten together every so often to catch-up and hang out, but it didn’t seem the same anymore.  By now all the girls in our group were moms … that is except me.   

Our conversations started out fine; you know … talking about our spouses and things we wished we were doing.  However, not long into the chit-chat someone had to mention their kids.  In round robin style, one-by-one they’d go into detail about what they were doing, how their labor pains lasted for years (okay, that’s an exaggeration, but they did go on and on), this one is doing that, he’s the worst … and you can gather the rest. 

It’s not that I wasn’t interested in their lives and the children were great, but that I was left out of the loop because they didn’t talk about anything else.  They didn’t mean to do it, but somehow it always happened no matter where I went.   I wanted a wee one to run up to me in tears crying “Mommy”, and was determined to have a child no matter what it took! 

Be It Unto Me Too God 

For the next five years I went through seven operations and so many procedures for fertility it was exhausting.   If someone said, “Try this” I was game.  Eating certain foods, not eating, doing various exercises from standing on my head to laying backward with my feet in the air, taking my temperature daily, excessive vitamins and you name it we did it. 

Year after year we prayed, but the “little blessings” others had never made it to our home in the form of a baby.  God found a way to redeem the promise anyway; it was something that my mother would say many years later that turned my unanswered prayer into praise. 

Five Little Verses 

Reading what is referred to as the Christmas birth, the Lord pointed out several things that usually go unnoticed as we glance over the “story” of the Christ child.  If we take a closer look at five little verses, there is so much going on between two godly women that just happened to be relatives. 

As we study through the pages of scripture Mary and Elizabeth are both given a miracle baby.  However they are miracles for differing reasons.  During the time of the angelic visitation, Mary learned that not only she was to bear a son, but that her older aunt also was going to have a child … her first and only child that would spread the gospel message of the Messiah. 

Mary was three months into her pregnancy when she arrived for a visit with Aunt Liz, who was ending her second trimester.  Here’s where the favor of God on their lives begins to “kick” in (I couldn’t resist …).   

Just an added note here, although some feel Elizabeth was Mary’s cousin others believe she was the sister of Mary’s mother.  Actually, it depends on the use of the word in scripture passage. The Greek word translated relative in Luke 1:36 also means kinsman or cousin, so technically … we don’t really know, so for my story I’ll use the term “aunt”.   

Picture the scene when Mary shows up on Auntie’s doorstep.  She welcomes her niece gladly, but when Mary bids her own greeting the baby inside Elizabeth jumps when it hears her voice.  Now we know that Mary knew about her aunt’s situation because Gabriel the angel informed her that Elizabeth was six months pregnant. 

Up to this point, there is no indication that the aunt was aware of the favor bestowed on her young relative, but that changed in an instant.  Starting with verse forty-one let’s look at Luke chapter one. 

41 And it occurred that when Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,
the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with
and controlled by the Holy Spirit. 

The first child of Elizabeth moved when it came into the presence of Mary’s first born, for it was God’s Only Begotten Son dwelling inside her. 

The actions of the babies were manifested because of the work of the Holy Spirit in both women.  Her niece didn’t have to say anything, because the Spirit of God was still controlling the situation just like the angel Gabriel said would happen.  It was like the ladies were only there to observe what God was doing through them with the babies. 

The aunt recognized Mary as the favored of God chosen to bear the Christmas babe.  Instead of being jealous that her child wasn’t the Messiah, Elizabeth rejoiced that God had favored her with the privilege of knowing this secret.  Mary would become the talk of the town and in time, envied by women from all nations.

42 And she cried out with a loud cry, and then exclaimed, Blessed (favored of God) above all other women are you! And blessed (favored of God) is the Fruit of your womb! 

43 And how [have I deserved that this honor should] be granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 

44 For behold, the instant the sound of your salutation reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 

45 And blessed (happy, to be envied) is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of the things that were spoken to her from the Lord.

The Blessing of Mary 

When we look at the two times Elizabeth spoke of Mary being blessed, the term isn’t the same in the conversation.  In verse 42, Elizabeth shouts and beams with excitement of how Mary indeed is blessed as being “favored by God.”   

“… with a loud cry, and then exclaimed, Blessed (favored of God) above all other women are you! And blessed (favored of God) is the Fruit of your womb! 

However in verse 45 when she says, “and blessed is she who believed in the fulfillment of the promise,” Elizabeth was conveying how happy Mary must be in what God has worked through her.  Others will envy her because the Christ (Anointed) Messiah (Christmas favor of God) gift that she received. 

“And blessed (happy, to be envied) is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of the things that were spoken to her from the Lord.” 

Not only is Elizabeth happy, but she seems to be super pumped about her niece receiving such favor from the Lord so much so that her baby jumped yet another time. 

The Bible refers to this kind of happy as an attitude believers are to carry.  The Lord referenced it as a “humble happy” which causes the favor of God to fall on those who consider themselves to be “poor” in spirit or insignificant.  In other words, they think highly of God and others over themselves. 

The attitude of Mary was that she asked God why He chose her, a child of insignificance in her eyes.  Elizabeth shared the same characteristic because she was also referred to as righteous in God’s eyes. 

“And they (Zachariah and Elizabeth) both were righteous in
 the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments
          and requirements of the Lord.” (Luke 1:6 AMP) 

Be in the Attitude for Favor 

Jesus spoke of the righteous qualities of a believer in His sermon on the mount by the Sea of Galilee, known as “The Beatitudes” from Matthew chapter 5 verses 1-12.  The term blessed in this teaching is the same as what Elizabeth stated in Luke 1:45 as “happy” with favor; they are almost identical. 

Then He (Jesus) opened His mouth and taught them, saying: Blessed (happy, to be envied, and spiritually prosperous — with life, joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions) are the poor in spirit (the humble, who rate themselves insignificant), for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven! (Matthew 5:2-3 AMP) 

Some think of these “requirements of favor” as a long list of moral do’s and don’ts, but in reality it’s documentation of where spiritual favor can be found among those who follow after God.  When Elizabeth learned about her niece’s condition she didn’t see Mary as a threat, nor was she upset that she wasn’t chosen to carry the Christ child.  Her attitude and how she perceived things is what God saw as righteous. 

As disciples and followers of the Christ-mas child, Jesus the Anointed One, God’s favor is also available to us through salvation because of His matchless grace.  Not only does God give favor on us through material things, but His desire is for us to be spiritually prosperous through humbling of ourselves before His Throne.  When we act in this manner of righteousness, God’s favor is manifested into our lives spiritually, physically, emotionally, environmentally and materialistically. 

Through the revelation of His grace, like what Elizabeth experienced through the gift of the Holy Spirit, we are blessed (happy with God’s favor).  Those who follow this attitude of righteousness: 

ü Live in the state in which a child of God enjoys His favor and salvation blessings. 

ü Receive the comfort of God through all circumstances. 

ü Are infilled with the Fruit of the Spirit (manifestation is based on our behavior). 

ü Experience joy and satisfaction regardless of outward conditions. 

ü Maintain uprightness and right standing with God. 

ü Receive mercy (favor from God) because they show mercy to others. 

ü Their heart remains pure and unscathed by the world’s wickedness. 

ü Live in a state of Shalom, because they maintain and pursue peace. 

ü Remain faithful to God and do the right thing even when persecuted for their beliefs.

My Not So Little Blessings 

It was many years after I begged God to give me a child when my “Elizabeth revelation” came to me through the person I would call “Mom.”  I don’t remember the exact moment, but it was after I received an award from the state of New Jersey for my contribution to education and the work in my field. 

Throughout my teaching career God had placed me in various situations where I could write curriculums for the state in both religious and secular settings.  The Lord allowed me to chair departments and head committees that benefited children from over 36 districts statewide, which worked hand-in-hand with child study teams, parole offices or courtrooms.   

All of these things were wonderful and meant so much to me, but the true blessings came though teaching and ministering to thousands of kids (especially those who were motherless).  Mom touched my heart when she pointed out that the blessing of motherhood had come to me, through the promise in Isaiah 54:1. 

“Sing, O barren one, you who did not bear; break forth
into singing and cry aloud, you who did not travail with child!
For the (spiritual) children of the desolate one will be more
than the children of the married wife, says the Lord."
(Isaiah 54:1 AMPC) 

Through biblical teaching we recognize that this passage is talking to believer’s (Zion) concerning the joy of salvation favor blessings.  It is also a promise of emotional healing from the Holy Spirit, extended to the aching hearts of childless women. 

No longer was I jealous or envious, but thanked God I didn’t have to travail in the pain of childbirth.  Both my husband and I have even praised God for NOT giving us kids, so that we could work with multitudes.  

When I was young I didn’t always recognize blessings on other people as something I should be happy for when it came to things I desired for myself.  Those days, thankfully are totally gone and I am over the top, through the roof, ecstatic when I hear how God has blessed someone with His favor.   

My blessings of favor have come and continue; not as I thought they should have, but as God ordained for His purpose.  I’ve learned to maintain an attitude of blessing others as much as is within my power, and God has honored His Word by placing Holy Spirit favor on me for His plan. 

This Week’s Challenge:
Rejoice in Someone’s Blessing 

Blessings of favor come to each of us differently.  Maybe part of yours has come through having children like Elizabeth’s and Mary’s, or maybe it’s something else.  One thing that I’m certain of is that if you are a believer in the Christmas Child (Christ Child), favor and blessings have already been prepared for you. 

In this week’s challenge we will take a look at what God sees as righteous behavior He deems as “favor worthy.” 

For the beginning of the challenge, read Matthew chapter 5 focusing on the first twelve verses.  How do we fit into each of these areas with the attitude we are currently maintaining regarding Christian living? 

As you absorb what the scriptures are revealing, is there anyone in your life that you are envious of or have jealous feelings for because they have what you want? 

Around Christmas time things often get out of hand when it comes to the gift getting goodies as the main event.  The unsaved have taken our celebration as their own ungodly holiday and we’ve let them.   

Isn’t it time that the lost see us as favored by God regardless of our circumstances?  Can we let them see us leaping for joy at the fact that Jesus isn’t just the reason for Christmas, He is Christmas.  Without Him what are they celebrating anyway? 

We are the favored of God and when blessings come to others our response should be dancing in the streets, head over heels down right bless our socks off happy for them.  God has something absolutely wonderful planned for each of His children; reserved favor just for us and our situation.   

From now on when good news and favor is given to someone else, may we be able to say with sincere joy like Elizabeth had towards Mary:  

“You truly have the blessing of God’s favor, and
must be so happy He fulfilled this in your life.”

As for my niece, still hoping God favor’s her with a girl … just saying J 

If this article has encouraged or helped you, please consider sharing it by using the social media icons provided at the end of this post. 

Until next time, rejoice when God shows favor on others!
“Experience My favor regardless of how things look.”
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. 

What’s New This Week: Click on the photo or link.

The Blessing of Favor by Kate McVeigh on Daily Favor Blog

Experiencing God’s Supernatural Influence
By Kate McVeigh 

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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Scripture reference was taken from the New King James Bible Version provided by Gateway Bible.
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