Need favor? Got that.

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

The sting of rejection can impact our souls, but it no longer has a hold on us, because One higher than everyone and everything has given us favor.

Scripture of the Day:

Acts 10:34

“Then Peter started speaking: ‘I now truly understand that God does not show favoritism in dealing with people, 35 but in every nation the person who fears him and does what is right is welcomed before him.'”

I stood amongst the group of kids with a dread in my heart. As the team captains each took turns calling names, I knew I would be last. The lump in my throat would not go away, so I faked a smile and looked away in the distance, pretending I did not care. But I did.

That same feeling overcomes me in situations that arise where I am keenly aware that either someone wants my position or perhaps I am not wanted.

The sting of that rejection can still impact my soul, but it no longer has a hold on me, because One higher than everyone and everything has given me favor. Undeserved favor.I love the fact that our God does not show favoritism. He made and loves all people and His creation is beautiful. He does not look at our athletic build, our skin color, our external appearance at all. He is watching over our souls to see if any will look and see His worth, accept His salvation and live for Him.

Do you ever wish you could just make it to the top? Ever wonder why it is so hard to make progress? Or maybe you just want a level of acceptance that makes you feel like you belong. Favor from man is one of those things often coveted. We strive and we long for acceptance, but sometimes even more than that – to be the best.

Getting to the top of the mountain we are climbing seems impossible, but it would not be a worthy achievement if it were not for the rugged climb to get there. This competitive desire to be significant can become idolatry easily enough, but it can also become a catalyst to help us to live faithfully for God.

God chose us to be on His team, but the choice is up to us. We have the favor of God – if we fear Him and do what is right. This is not merit-based, but it is heart-based. We cannot fake living right – God sees it all. His favor does not mean we will not have any troubles. Living godly lives does not mean we will always get our way, either, but the favor of God upon us matters more than our wants.

Oh God! Who are we, that we should have Your favor? Help us to live in a way that honors and reveres You above all else. 

30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness Day 16 – Protection

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Threats loom around every corner, but so does the grace and protection of our living God.

Scriptures of the Day:

2 Thessalonians 3:2-3

“And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people, for not everyone has faith. 3 But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.”

Deuteronomy 31:6

“Be strong and courageous! Do not fear or tremble before them, for the LORD your God is the one who is going with you. He will not fail you or abandon you!”

We live in uncertain times, but perhaps every day in this world has been uncertain in the minds of men. Threats loom around every corner, but so does the grace and protection of our living God.

Nothing is hidden from God’s view, but man does not know what the future holds. This truth keeps us humbly in dependence upon our God for His protection and guidance. Trapped in this capsule of time and surrounded by unredeemed flesh can be a scary thing if it were not for God’s promises and purposes, which are never thwarted.

I delight in how good our God is. Perfect in all His ways, nothing escaping His notice, we who are in Christ truly have nothing to fear. This does not mean that sorrows and hardships might not visit us, but it does mean that the LORD Who is over all things knew it ahead of time and supplies the grace, strength and mercy needed in each waking moment.

God protects us physically, emotionally and spiritually. He surrounds us with His presence and gives us His favor. If. If we are in Him. If we are obedient and trusting in Him. His lavish protection guarding our minds, souls, our entire being – is one of the greatest benefits of being a child of God.

When I look back over the blessings and chaos in my past, I see the fingerprints of my God. Even in the most painful moments where I wondered where God’s protection was, I now see how very much He was present and guarding my heart and life. The times when I despaired because of the attack of men I now see as wasted time that I could have surrendered to God and trusted in His protection.

It has been said that we have no idea how very much God protects us on a daily basis. Near disasters avoided because of God’s protection or God orchestrating circumstances for His glory and our good – perhaps His overarching protection is undetected, but nonetheless every moment is held in God’s hands.

Lord, thank You for your constant protection and sovereignty in all of life. Our hope for safety is in vain if it is not surrendered to Your perfect will. Help us to fully trust You, for You are able and Almighty God.

30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness Day 15 – Provision

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Sometimes it is not until we are lacking that we can see God’s provision.

Scriptures of the Day:

Ecclesiastes 7:14

“In times of prosperity be joyful, but in times of adversity consider this: God has made one as well as the other, so that no one can discover what the future holds.”

Philippians 4:19

“And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

Matthew 6:26

“Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?

Simply thanking God for provision would be hardly sufficient for all He provides for us. He gives us life and grace to live this life. He provides for our basic needs and even delights to lavishly express His love and care for us.

Psalm 34:10

“The young lions do lack and suffer hunger; but they who seek the LORD shall not be in want of any good thing.”

I vividly recall seasons in my life when my husband had lost his job due to the economy and the Federal Government cutting back on defense spending budgets. Trying to find a job when whole offices were let go was challenging, to say the least, but this time became precious to me as I noticed the many ways God provided for us.

Sometimes it is not until we are lacking that we can see God’s provision.

I remember telling my children that we would have to do without things we were accustomed to. Things that we thought were necessary were now understood as amazing blessings. During this season of “lack”, our garden flourished (boomed!) and we were able to give to others.

Unspoken requests and desires in my heart were met by my God Who sees all and Who sometimes goes to great lengths to demonstrate His care. I missed coconut oil, feta cheese, fruit, veggies, cheese and popcorn. I thanked the LORD for the times when we could afford those things and repented for when I had not been more grateful. Barely were these thoughts formed, when, within days, two people randomly said they felt led to give me coconut oil, feta cheese and popcorn. Wow. I had not told anyone. Friends brought fruits and veggies that were not growing in our garden and I realized how blessed we were to have a God Who lived in these precious friends who considered it a joy to help us in our time of need.

In times of need, our flesh can be prone to doubt God’s goodness. But it is in the times of scarcity that we can draw nearer to our God and accept blessings and burdens from His hand. For the burdens of this life cause us to depend on our Maker and remind us that we were not made to live solitary lives apart from God. We were made to know and worship Him.

God truly gives us every single thing we have. Friends, family, home, food, health, work, talents, favor, joy, hope, strength . . . EVERYTHING! His gifts are never taken back, but given at just the right time. Most of all, I am grateful that God provided Himself as a sacrifice for us because of His great love for us. Saved. Forever.

We cannot boast in any belonging, any gift of God in our lives. We can only humbly bow to our Jehovah Jireh, our magnificent Provider, who faithfully gives His children what they need.

Oh, God! I worship You, our Provider! Thank You for all You graciously give to us! Help us to cultivate gratitude in our lives as we recognize Your abundant provision moment by moment!

Worshipful Wednesday:Favored Favor

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

The favor of God is our greatest reward.

Scripture:

Psalm 4:2-3

“You men, how long will you try to turn my honor into shame? How long will you love what is worthless and search for what is deceptive? (Selah) 3 Realize that the LORD shows the godly special favor; the LORD responds when I cry out to him.”

Psalm 5:12

“Certainly you reward the godly, LORD. Like a shield you protect them in your good favor.”

The thrill of receiving a gift is a surge of elation, a cherished favor; but sadly, it does not last.  Nope, the hard-earned new car or house, the pretty new outfit or exciting new relationship eventually become old.  The pursuit of the next new thing is futile, as the endless cycle of newness wearing off leaves us disillusioned, wanting for more.

The irony is that the things we often desire are not worth our time at all.  No one would choose a lump of coal for their stocking over a priceless, cherished gift, yet we daily are duped into pursuing things of lesser value compared to the riches God has in store for His children.

We might not at first recognize that we are esteeming worthless things, but that is often because we are deceived.  Blinded by the desires of our flesh, we long for things that temporarily satisfy us while God has riches beyond our greatest imagination.

Often we fall short of receiving God’s best because we are impatient or do not trust in what we cannot readily see.  Like the rich man who yearned for the comfort that Lazarus had after the sorrows on this earth, we have a choice right now to put our trust in the future hope that God has for us and not look only for rewards that this world offers.

To love what is worthless when the King of kings offers Himself, instead, is perhaps the saddest deception of all.  He longs to have us look up and worship the only One of worth, Himself, and to bless us, but we choose things that do not last and ultimately our own destruction apart from the grace of God.

What is this favor He longs to give?  We have an audience with the Almighty Creator.  Not just an audience, but One Who hears us and acts on our behalf.  He is our Shield, our Protector, the Lover of our souls.  His favor is eternal salvation for those who recognize and receive the gift.  The highest favor, indeed.

Lord, help us to invest our lives in what matters – pursuing You.  May we not waste the precious gift of life on worthless endeavors, but pursue knowing You above all things.

Thoughtful Thursday: Enigmatic Justice

Job 40:8

“Would you indeed annul my justice?  Would you declare me guilty so that you might be right?”

Proverbs 19:3

“A person’s folly subverts his way, and his heart rages against the LORD.”

Job 1:22

“Through all this Job did not sin or blame God for doing anything wrong.”

“It’s not fair!” is the cry of many today who believe they deserve more than their current lot or did not deserve a particular circumstance.  Innate within each of us is a sense of justice and equality, right and wrong.  When we try to explain what is seemingly unjust to our hurting souls, seared consciences can form in the chasm of bitterness.

We expect that we would receive the upper hand in life, especially if we have chosen to walk uprightly.  That seems just in our eyes.  Likewise, we all tend to side with God when someone has purposefully sinned and reaped the results of those choices.  There is also a sense of injustice that rises up in all of us when we believe we have witnessed something biased or unfair.

This longing is eternal – it is aching for true justice and righteousness.  God placed that longing within each of us and the imperfection around us is a catalyst to long for him.  If this world were perfect, it would be Heaven.  The promises of God are our hope when justice is not our reality.

But what happens when A plus B does not equal C?  Is it truly unjust when we sow righteousness and reap harm?  What is justice?  Our definition of justice is pure when we remove concern for self.  A righteous God would be just to destroy us all, for we transgressed against His law and were enemies of His.  That is justice.  But once we have received blessings in this life, we begin to feel entitled and forget what we really deserve.

Job was an amazing man of God.  Sure, he had flaws like we all do, but he did not blame God for the traumatic events that unfolded in one day.  Stripped of his children and suffering physically, he did not understand, but in the end He knew that God was Holy and when He caught a glimpse of how awesome God was, he was overcome.

I confess that when I have endured severe suffering I have wondered if God has forgotten me.  Until I looked into His perfect word and saw the character of God, then I understood.  God loves us so deeply and difficulties in this world do not take away from that unconditional love one bit.  While we do not value or esteem pain, we do not see our need of it, either.  God uses the injustices of this world for good, to reveal and remove sin.

The most insidious injustice today – people slaughtered for believing in God – is the hardest for me to understand.  I want God to come and rescue each one, to defend and show Himself strong.  I want the enemy vanquished.  That seems just. But God is long suffering that none would perish eternally.  Though it seems God is silent, in the end, all evil will be judged.

The free will which God has given man does not mean God is an absentee deity.  He longs to be gracious to us and be our Healer.  We want to be with God, removed from all suffering, but He wants to use us to bring His grace and salvation to those around us.

When this world’s injustice threatens to steal our joy, we can turn to God’s promises and run to Him.  We, the vile, can enter into the presence of our Holy God – not justice at all.  When things do not make sense to us, God is able to give us a glimpse of His glory and suddenly what concerned us is lost in the greatness of our God.  Suddenly wanting to be favored before, we are changed to servants to be used how He sees fit.

Lord, thank You so much for covering our sins and not giving us what we really deserve.  Help us to grant mercy to others, as well, and seek Your glory in the midst of injustice and in times of undeserved favor.

The Surprising Favor of God

Photo Credits fasting4breakthrough.blogspot.com

Photo Credits
fasting4breakthrough.blogspot.com

Genesis 39:21

“But the LORD was with Joseph and showed him kindness. He granted him favor in the sight of the prison warden.”

Genesis 40:8

“They told him, “We both had dreams, but there is no one to interpret them.” Joseph responded, “Don’t interpretations belong to God? Tell them to me.””

Genesis 40:23

“But the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph–he forgot him.”

Genesis 41:16

“Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “It is not within my power, but God will speak concerning the welfare of Pharaoh.”” 

Psalm 5:12

“For you bless the righteous, O Lord; you cover him with favor as with a shield.”

God’s favor is often undetectable, given the surroundings.  Being thrown into prison probably did not seem like the favor of God.  Perhaps that is because we tend to think of favor as having no barbs attached to it.

We can fail to recognize the favor of God when he gives it, or doubt that His grace will be supplied in the future we might be fearing – until we step outside the feelings and circumstances and look for the hand of God.  It is then that we recognize He is always at work and our faith becomes tangible; no longer dependent on blessings or good vibes as a sign of favor.

I imagine that when Joseph’s fellow inmates forgot him, Joseph could have wondered if God did, too.  But the temporary suffering produced a humility and reliance on God that ended up bringing about bountiful blessings.  God’s favor was with Joseph when he was blessed materially and positionally and when he was not.  The favor of God was not dependent upon man’s definition of favor then or now.

Joseph knew where his help came from.  He knew he did not have the wisdom to help others, but he cared enough to seek God’s face on their behalf – right in the middle of his own suffering.  Joseph’s faith was tested when his earlier prophecies seemed contrived, but confidence in God’s ability to supply the answers and fulfill His promises is never misplaced.

Sometimes no matter how much positive spin we can try to give things, we have to admit that at times life is painful. Joesph was ultimately elevated and honored, everything restored to him beyond what he had before, but he was such an example of steadfastly walking with God and being content in whatever his condition.  It is the favor of God to understand the harsh realities of life and still hold onto our faith.  It is the favor of God to know that all things He will work together for the good of those who love Him – even when we do not see it.

Lord, help us to not be shallow in our devotion to You.  Help us to not focus on the distractions of life and to turn our hearts completely to you, trusting you when the chips are down and when they are up.

The Fleece and God’s will

Photo Credits ivhanrusli.blogspot.com

Photo Credits
ivhanrusli.blogspot.com

Genesis 24:12, 21, 26-27

“He prayed, “O Lord, God of my master Abraham,guide me today.  Be faithful to my master Abraham.  21 Silently the man watched her with interest to determine if the Lord had made his journey successful or not26 The man bowed his head and worshiped the Lord, 27 saying “Praised be the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who has not abandoned his faithful love for my master! The Lord has led me to the house of my master’s relatives!  56 But he said to them, “Don’t detain me – the Lord has granted me success on my journey. Let me leave now so I may return to my master.””

Judges 6:36-40

36 “Then Gideon said to God, “If you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said, 37 behold, I am laying a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew on the fleece alone, and it is dry on all the ground, then I shall know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said.” 38 And it was so. When he rose early next morning and squeezed the fleece, he wrung enough dew from the fleece to fill a bowl with water. 39 Then Gideon said to God, “Let not your anger burn against me; let me speak just once more. Please let me test just once more with the fleece. Please let it be dry on the fleece only, and on all the ground let there be dew.” 40 And God did so that night; and it was dry on the fleece only, and on all the ground there was dew.”

Seeking God’s direction is often a complex matter, predominantly because we come with our will and desires already ruling our hearts.  Throughout Scripture, God’s people cry out to God for guidance or favor, but have often twisted or manipulated that guidance to suit their own way.

Perhaps we get tired of waiting or afraid of what His will is going to be.  Sometimes we think it would be easier to just cast lots like they did in days of old, yet would we be content with the outcome?

I remember a time when I was seeking God’s will regarding a personal conviction I felt He was giving me.  I rationalized it as being hyper-spiritual and did not want to accept the direction God was giving me, so I pulled a Gideon maneuver.  Twice I laid my fleece before God and both times He miraculously showed clearly what His will was.  Humbled, I obeyed.  Other times, God forgive me, I confess I have wanted to quiet that still small voice when it has been uncomfortable.

I love reading about Abraham’s servant who humbly acknowledged Who God was, and asked God to show him who should be Isaac’s wife.  In his desire for God to confirm His choice, he was not going with someone already in mind – he was surrendered, emptying himself of anything short of God’s perfect will.  Beautiful.

When God calls us to a relationship or a work for His Kingdom, it is a humbling thing to step out in that calling.  The desire to do his will and not miss his calling can be paralyzing.  Afraid of being a fool or making a mistake serves to distract us, whereas a fear of the LORD propels us to fervently seek Him while we seek to see His kingdom advanced.

If our motivation is for self, it will be revealed.  If it is for God and His purposes, God will ultimately provide and lead, though we will often have to endure trial and testing in the process to purify our hearts.

We often do not know where God is leading us – that is part of this faith walk.  But when we draw nearer to Him, we know His character and that we can trust Him.  Like Abraham’s servant, we will be tested and people will try to deter us.  But we can be confident that God will speak to us and lead His sheep – He is the perfect Shepherd.

Lord, lead me!  Your will be done in every part of my life!  I empty myself and ask that You be glorified in all that You place before me to do.  You are worthy!

Worshipful Wednesday: Freedom and The Favor of God

Photo Credits thespiritscience.net

Photo Credits
thespiritscience.net

Psalm 3:1-8

Lord, how numerous are my enemies!  Many attack me. 2 Many say about me, “God will not deliver him.” (Selah) 3 But you, Lord, are a shield that protects me; you are my glory and the one who restores me. 4 To the Lord I cried out, and he answered me from his holy hill(Selah5 I rested and sleptI awokefor the Lord protects me6 I am not afraid of the multitude of people who attack me from all directions. 7 Rise up, LordDeliver me, my GodYesyou will strike all my enemies on the jawyou will break the teeth of the wicked. 8 The Lord delivers; you show favor to your people(Selah)

Psalm 4:1-3, 6-8

1 When I call out, answer me, O God who vindicates me! Though I am hemmed in, you will lead me into a wide, open place.  Have mercy on me and respond to my prayer2 You menhow long will you try to turn my honor into shameHow long will you love what is worthless and search for what is deceptive? (Selah3 Realize that the Lord shows the godly special favor; the Lord responds when I cry out to him6 Many say, “Who can show us anything good?” Smile upon us, Lord! 7 You make me happier than those who have abundant grain and wine. 8 I will lie down and sleep peacefully, for you, Lord, make me safe and secure.

David was fleeing for his life from his own son when he wrote this Psalm.  In a moment he, though he was King, lost the freedom He had.  When we consider all he had to go through prior to becoming King, the thought of returning to a similar state of hiding out in caves I am sure evoked thoughts of horror.  Once he had tasted of persecution and had the resulting freedom, he probably never anticipated going through it all again.  But there it was.  And from his own flesh and blood.

There is a war on freedom today, felt as far away as Syria and as near as a neighboring county.  Sometimes from strangers, sometimes from family and sometimes from those in authority.  The familiar struggle for power from the enemy of our souls is wrought upon those he would seek to control.  In particular among all of the freedoms we earn (not given), freedom of religion is perhaps chief among the freedoms that are the most difficult to maintain.

We dare not grow apathetic about our brothers and sisters who fight for their lives because of what they believe.  Nor can we disregard when basic freedoms threaten to be removed in our own country, county, city or town because of someone’s misinterpretation (ill-conceived or in ignorance) of the law.

Such was the case last night when the freedom to home educate children under the religious exemption statute in Virginia was being threatened.  I do not ever recall feeling more proud of home schoolers and fellow citizens than last night, seeing sincere mothers, fathers, children, citizens – speaking up for freedom, even though it might not have been their own freedom they fought for.

There is something inherently wrong about individuals or organizations thinking they have the right to come into someone’s home and tell a parent or a child what they should believe or what educational choice they should make for their child.  But last night, freedom won. Common sense won.  All present had the opportunity of seeing democracy fleshed out and felt the very amazing, patriotic feeling of seeing freedom being reinstated.  Much like those who first came to this country for the very same reason – freedom to worship their God and live before him in accordance with their convictions without interference – witnesses of last night’s debate once again thanked God for the freedoms we enjoy in this country.

A funny thing happens when basic freedom of religion is threatened.  God’s people cry out.  God hears.  People who had formerly forgotten that the freedoms gained must be maintained, suddenly ignite with a sense of purpose.  The joy felt when justice is given and the favor of God is apparent is indescribable.  Sometimes we have to almost lose a freedom to appreciate it all the more and recognize the favor of God that is upon us when we walk in accordance to His Word. Although I am certain my friends would have preferred not to undergo the persecution and threats they suffered, the result ended up in God receiving glory and their freedoms cherished by many.

Lord, help us to not take for granted the freedom we have to worship You.  May we cry out to You and see once again Your favor on our land, one nation under God.