Sunday, July 16, 2017

Finding Favor with God

A few decades ago there was a comedy act made up of two brothers, one of whom always accused the other of being their mother’s favorite. Were you ever accused of being your mother’s, father’s or even a teacher’s favorite?  Exactly what does it mean to cull the favor of someone? Or more importantly, what does it mean to seek the favor of God? Is that a selfish thing to want and should we ask to get it?

The word favor means to be shown goodwill or kindness beyond that which is normally expected or even deserved. This is the favor that the Lord has given to everyone of His children. None of us deserve any attention from God, but He favors us with His love, forgiveness, blessing upon blessing and, in that sense, we are each His favorite. However, one writer stated that the best definition of favor is “demonstrated delight.” In the natural when we favor someone we want to be with them, we want to please them and demonstrate our favor to them. The same can be said for God. Isaiah 66:2 states, “These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word.”  (That word tremble here means to be reverently responsive to His Word.) So, while God loves all of His creation, He shows special favor to those who acknowledge the Lordship of Jesus Christ, and the more we please God the more we will be favored by Him.

The first biblical character I think of when I think of God’s favor is Mary the mother of Jesus, although she certainly isn’t the first to be shown God’s favor in Scripture. But, as you recall the angel Gabriel said to Mary, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you,” (Luke 1:28). The Message translation puts it this way, “Good morning! You’re beautiful with God’s beauty, beautiful inside and out! God be with you.” That’s it in a nutshell: as we display God’s beauty, we earn His favor. There were undoubtedly many young Jewish women who carried out the commandments and were faithful to their God. Yet, God saw something within the heart and character of Mary that reflected His own nature so she was highly favored by Him.

Moses, in Exodus 33:13b, prayed this prayer to God: “...let me know Your ways that I may know you, so that I may find favor in Your sight.”  Before I go further, let me just caution you that God’s favor isn’t always evidenced by material or worldly goods. It will most likely be shown by spiritual blessings, although He certainly does take care of our earthly needs. Scripture tells us a sparrow doesn’t fall to the ground but what he sees it and we are worth much more than a puny bird.

There is a story of a widow in the Old Testament (2 Kings 4:1-7) that is such a good reminder to us of the favor of God to those who are living their lives to please God. One of Elisha’s prophets had died with some unpaid debts. As payment, the creditors were coming to take his widow’s two sons to become their slaves. You can well imagine the anguish of this woman. Not only were her precious boys being taken from her, but with them all her dignity and means of future support. She would be left a penniless, childless widow, which was a disgrace in those days. So, she went to Elisha, her husband’s overseer, and told him of her plight.  He solicited her help, as well as those of her sons, in remedying the situation. She was to gather as many jugs as she could from her neighbors and then pour the very small amount of oil that she possessed into these jars. The oil just kept flowing until all the jars had been filled. (That, in itself, was a miracle.) Elisha then instructed her to sell the oil, pay the debts, and live on the leftover cash. Ladies, this woman displayed humility and reverence for the Word of God spoken through his prophet, Elisha, by doing exactly as Elisha had instructed. Not only did she circumvent the loss of her boys, she was able to live debt free with cash to purchase the necessities of life. God’s favor, without a doubt, was on this godly, obedient, and humble woman. 

As I look at the characters in Scripture whom we would characterize as having received God’s favor, I realize that His favor didn’t mean a perfect life. Joseph, Moses, Daniel, Esther, and Mary (to name a few) were favored by God, but they had struggles and difficulties, even sorrow, like all of us.

                                  What’s the difference? 

Those who are favored of God have the assurance that God is with them and that nothing happens to them but that God has a good purpose for it (Romans 8:28). Rev. Jerry Vargo cautioned us to “Thank God for the brokenness and life lessons – they prepare you to handle the favor of God.” You come to recognize your vulnerabilities and receive his favor with a humble and grateful heart, rejecting all thoughts of pride.

Ladies, we should seek God’s favor, but we must understand that we don’t seek it as a means in itself for our own selfish goals. In Proverbs 3:1-4 God says this, “…do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments; for length of days and years of life, and peace they will add to you. Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Band them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and man.” 

 If we want His favor and the blessings that come with it, we must read and obey His word – all of it.  

Then, we shouldn’t be surprised that we get recognition when we least expect it: bargains on major items that we thought we could never afford, preferential treatment we weren’t striving for (Look at the story of Esther.), good reports from the doctor, relationships repaired, and many other blessings that come from the hands of our loving heavenly Father as His favor to us. 

 Joseph Prince reminds us that “God’s favor is multiplied in your life when you simply believe that the favor of God that is on Christ is also on you because of what Jesus’ work at the cross has accomplished.”

Psalm 5:12 says, “For surely, O Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.” Finding favor with God means that we spend time in His Word, talking to him in prayer, and living to please Him. And you can be assured, precious widows, that His delight in you will be demonstrated in ways that will amaze you.  
Message by Shari Hervold

Prepared to be blessed....It's time to listen to special music by Chris Tomlin.