Sunday, March 29, 2009

“Expecting Favor!”

How would you like to find favor awaiting you everyday and in every circumstance you find yourself? You walk into work and your boss comes hurrying over to you with a smile on his face and announces, “I have decided that I am giving you a 25% pay raise and an extra week vacation.” Then when you go out for lunch you find the restaurant packed to the hilt but the moment you arrive the waitress motions for you to come forward past all the other waiting guests as she ushers you to the best table in the establishment. Your food comes in record-breaking time and then as you prepare to pay you are told that an anonymous guest has already paid for your meal. After your lunch you make a quick stop at Wal Mart to pick up a couple things. As you pull into the parking lot a space opens up right at the front door. Once you have picked up your items you see that the check out lines are long and slow, but as soon as you step in line, the store manager quickly summons an employee to open a new register just for you. Everywhere you go you are met with preferential treatment and all your needs are over abundantly cared for. Living a life filled with favor would be an extraordinary thing, yet God’s Word tells of a supernatural favor that is possible for those who trust not in the arm of flesh but solely in Gods grace.

“And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound in every good work.” 2 Cor. 9:8

The above verse is one of those scriptures that we often read but don’t really grasp the magnitude of what God is actually communicating to us. The word grace means unmerited favor, and Webster says abound is “to overflow” or “be in great plenty.” So for God to make all grace abound toward you is to have your life overflow with unearned favor. Look at the adjectives used in this verse.All grace abound toward you; that you, always having all sufficiency in all things.” Not only can God make all favor overflow to you, but so much so that in all things and at all times we will have all we need. This verse is not just talking about physical things, but “all sufficiency in all things” would certainly include the physical. All means all; body, soul and spirit - physical, emotional, and spiritual. The Amplified Bible says it this way “And God is able to make all grace (every favor and earthly blessing) come to you in abundance, so that you may always and under all circumstances and what ever you need be self-sufficient (possessing enough to require no aid or support and furnished in abundance for every good work and charitable donation.)”

Why would God direct such supernatural favor toward us? The Word makes it clear that it is so that we will have all we need to fulfill the purpose that God has given us to do. “that ye…may abound in every good work.” Favor always comes with an assignment. God’s favor is poured out upon us not for our own selfish consumption, but so that we will be fully equipped to accomplish Gods purposes upon the earth, and that we might display His glory and goodness.

Now I realize that this verse does not “promise” that all grace will always abound in our lives. It says that God is “able to make all grace abound toward you.” Just as grace for salvation of the lost soul is available to all, yet only a few accept this gift; in like manner, I believe that there is much more grace and favor available to us than most of us ever experience. While we certainly can’t earn our salvation, which comes by grace, our part in salvation is to believe what God’s Word says and receive by faith what Christ has made available to us. Likewise to receive the grace talked about in this verse, we must first believe that God desires to pour favor out upon us, and than have a willing and humble heart ready to receive it. I suspect that there are two main reasons we don’t experience much of this available favor.

1. We don’t “really” believe what the Word is promising, nor have confidence in the Fathers love concerning us.

2. God knows our hearts and sees that we would spend this favor upon our own lusts, thus drawing our hearts away from Him, rather than in accomplishing “every good work” and bringing praise and glory to His Name.

So how do we prepare ourselves to receive God’s favor? A good place to start would be by diligently seeking the Lord with all that we are and surrendering ourselves to His will. Our will must become the Fathers will. Secondly, we must begin to speak faith filled words. I am not talking about a name it and claim it gig. I am talking about speaking what the Word says; believing and claiming for ourselves what the scriptures say is God’s will, and what the scripture says is available to us and through us as kings and priests of the Most High God. As Dr. Kenneth Hagen once said, “Faith begins where the will of God is known.” For years I often believed and spoke a bad report over myself. I figured that if I was in a hurry to get somewhere, I would have a flat tire; or when I receive a little extra money, something would break down that would consume more than the little extra that I had gained. And guess what? My faith worked perfectly, for what I believed and spoke usually did come to pass. I am learning to no longer do that, but instead to always speak and expect favor. God’s Word is filled with promises of who we are in Christ, and what the cross has accomplished for us. Let’s choose to allow them to renew our minds, fill our hearts, and flow continually from our lips. .

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” Eph. 3:20

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also: and greater works than these he will do: because I go to the Father.” John 14:12 NAS

“You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country. The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock…Your baskets and your kneading troughs will be blessed. You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out. The lord will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you. They will come at you from one direction but will flee from you in seven. The Lord will open the heavens, the storehouses of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many but borrow from none. The Lord will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the Lord your God that I gave you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never the bottom.” Deut. 28:3-7, 12-13 NIV

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

“Divine Assignments!”

There is something about human nature that makes us all think that everyone we know should like us; we want everyone to see our worth and find value in our words, thoughts, and talents. We soon come to see however that no matter how much we may want this or attempt to get everyone to value us, this is just not how life plays out in our everyday world. Some people for whatever reason just don’t like us, or find us to be a problem; others just don’t care about us much one way or another. However to a select few, we are a gift, a prize, someone who adds value and worth to their life.

I have come to see recently that not everyone sees our value because our purpose and our calling is not to them. Those to whom we are called will see our value, those to whom we are not called, will not. The honeybee buzzing around your yard is an annoyance to your dog, but to the flowers in your garden, he is a gift. Those to whom you are called will be blessed by you, they will enjoy visiting and being with you, they will receive something of value form you, they will be better for having spent time with you, or doing business with you. You will make a positive difference in the lives of those to whom you are assigned.

I use to feel guilty because as a youth leader there were some kids I just didn’t care for much, and other kids that I loved deeply and my heart just yearned to help and somehow make a positive difference in there lives. I was functioning under a belief that I should love and treat all people the same, but that is ridiculous. While Christ does teach me to love everyone, I am certainly not called to love or treat the woman down the street the same as I love and treat my wife. Nor is my wife called to cook breakfast for the neighbors’ husband. I now believe that those, to whom our hearts are drawn, are part of our divine assignment. The special love and bond we have for them was placed there by God himself. They are the ones to whom we are called, the ones that we are appointed to bless.

We all certainly need to work on areas of spiritual immaturity within us, for things like having a negative spirit or being full of pride will certainly effect how people relate to us and how much influence we will have in their lives. However for us to spend too much of our time trying to make someone like us, who doesn’t appreciate our value and gifts can be a major waste of our time and anointing. For even Jesus counseled his disciples before sending them out by saying, “whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.” (Matt.10:14) So when someone doesn’t like you or see your value, don’t worry about it, just shake it off, and refocus your concentration toward those to whom you were sent. When you are walking in your assignment, your giftings will find their greatest effectiveness, and your seed will produce the greatest harvest. “But other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop, a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” Matt.13:8

God made you for a specific purpose, and he chose you for that purpose before the foundation of the world. (Eph. 1:4 / Jer. 1:5) The things and people you love most, and to which your heart is drawn, are clues to who and what your calling and assignment is. Your passion, your anger, the enemies you are willing to fight, the people you are willing to fight for, are all clues to your assignment. When you find the environment you are meant to be in, your genius will emerge. In the chicken yard the eagle is just another bird, and in fact may lag behind the crowd, but put him in the sky above the mountains and his magnificence and grace will be displayed for all to see. You will find fulfillment and purpose when you are walking in your divine assignment. So don’t waste your gifts buzzing around the dogs ears when there is a meadow full of flowers just over the hill longing to be touched and blessed by you.

“For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome.” Jer. 29:11 AMP

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


The above cartoon would probably be more humorous to me if it weren’t so true. I spent many years of my life (after being born again) burdened down with the guilt and shame of sin that had already been pardoned by the blood of Jesus. I had been set free but lived as a captive in a constant state of unrest, trying to live up to the requirements of Gods law. A law that if we are going to live by them, contains not only the ten commandments but were added to by Jesus who said that hate is murder and lust is adultery. A law that judges not only our actions but also the “thoughts and intent of the heart.” (Heb 4:12) As difficult as living without lying, cursing or coveting is, how could anyone possibly live holy under a law that judges by our thought life as well. For the moment we repent from one foul thought, another unholy thought may surface. I was taught that when any such sin occurred in my life I had fallen from grace. Because of this improper understanding of grace, I must have been resaved several hundred times per year. Living with this kind theology makes one very sin conscious, which leaves you with three choices,

1. Repent constantly (which leaves little time to enjoy any of Gods goodness.)

2. Rationalize and categorize sin (try to convince oneself that what you do is not sin)

3. Live under constant guilt, condemnation, and fear of hell.

I lived doing a combination of all three of these things. You would think being very sin conscious would keep you living as good and holy as possible, but the reason that isn’t necessarily so, is that if one sin is going to send me to hell anyway, then committing five, ten, or one hundred doesn’t make much difference. Jesus didn’t die just to have us continue to live in fear with the weight of sin and hell precariously hanging over our heads like a 10-ton block dangling from an old frayed rope.

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Gal 5:1

I thank God daily that He revealed to me the truth of his grace, that salvation is a free gift that I don’t have to earn to receive, or earn to keep. That Jesus paid for my sin debt and died my death so I can be free from sin and live unto Him. “Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Rom. 6:11 “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we being dead to sin, should live unto righteousness, by whose stripes ye were healed.” 1 Peter 2:24

I ask the question earlier how can we possibly live up to God’s standard of perfection in both thought and deed? The answer is that we can’t; but how blessed we are that the law’s requirements were fulfilled in Jesus. The purpose of the law was never to make us righteous, but only to expose our sin and drive us to Christ. “I had not known sin but by the law.” Rom.7:7 “The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ.” Gal 3:24 “That every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God…by the law is the knowledge of sin.” Rom. 3:19-20 Just as a mirror can never clean the dirt from our face, only reveal it; the law can never make or keep us righteous and holy, only expose our sinful condition. God’s standards of perfection are beyond my reach, but praise His Holy Name, He is the “Perfect One” on whom my sin was laid. No longer do I have to stay in the prison of guilt and shame for by the blood of Jesus my debt has been paid and I have been pardoned and set free! Halleluiah!

“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath set me free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1-2