Found Favor

I’ve been experimenting with my Sunday posts, trying to start a “thing.”  For the past little while that “thing” was choosing joy, document how I choose to see God in my life.  However, today it occurred to me that those posts were more about me than what God is doing through me.  So today I had a new idea, and I’m testing it to see if its my idea or God’s.

Each Sunday I’m going to share my heart on our church’s teaching and host a sort of online Lifegroup on this blog.   You might be thinking… yay, you’re posting sermon notes!?  No, I’m just blogging about how I experienced God through a specific teaching, which is available to you as well.  

Also, it really helps me digest the material and allow it to change my heart. Win, Win, Win.

Since I attend a lifechurch.tv network church, you’re able to watch whatever sermon I’m referring to from anywhere and join in the discussion. If you don’t feeling like listening to the message there will be enough unique content to chime in.  Also, for those of you who don’t love going to traditional church, this could be a great way for you to try church online and share your thoughts.  I will be especially faithful in returning comments and offering up prayers on these Sunday posts.

Click here to try church online now or click here to download the latest life church podcast.  (Only available midweek after the Sunday message)

FOUND FAVOR (Week 2)  Steven Furtick

When we first went into this series I was nervous that it might be a “name it and claim it” type thing  and those aren’t my favorite.  However, this series shook me and took my perspective on favor and gave it a complete 180.

Two statements that cleared it up for me: 

“The Favor of God is different than Favors From God”

And

” God didn’t choose you because of performance but because of your purpose”

Here is what Pastor Steven Furtick had to say about The Favor of God:  It’s The guarantee of his presence and the provision of his power to accomplish his special purpose in and through my life.

There are a lot of places in both the Old and New Testament where the word Favor is used.  I always thought that if you had the favor of God, it meant you lived comfortably, protected and happy about 97% of the time. Maybe the worst thing that happened to you was that it rained when you wanted to take the boat out.  Or maybe your Hillsong CD got scratched and wouldn’t play on your way to the Christian bookstore.  This was my picture of God’s favor, and I didn’t feel like I was in it.

I had allowed my understanding of God’s favor to be twisted by bad teaching and hard circumstances.  When you look at the bible, those who had the favor of God were people like David, who buried two of his kids.  Esther, who was persecuted and nearly killed for her boldness.  And the early church, many of whom died brutally for Christ.  They had the favor of God but they weren’t sitting out on a boat with their feet up.

The favor of God has nothing to do with being protected, it means that God will provide what you need to fulfill the purpose he is revealing for your life.  In fact God’s favor will almost certainly include troubles.

We’re here for a specific purpose and we can confidently expect that with purpose, comes God’s favor.  We should look for it expectantly in our lives.  His provision will not fail to sustain us although it may come in surprising ways.

The hand of God is not always obvious in the moment and we have to train ourselves to Recognize it.  I, for one, am much better at seeing his favor in hindsight.

Also, we need to remember that God’s favor isn’t really about out comfort so when his favor comes upon us we must be obedient to in how we respond to it.  As we learn to see his Favor all around us, we’ll mature and grow and God’s favor will grow and shift with us as well.  It will look different in different seasons.

I am still trying to rid myself of cynicism about my purpose.  I feel like God has called me to be a writer, but somewhere deep down I believe that I probably won’t be very successful in this purpose, that God is almost teasing me with it.  I believed that success in your passion was something reserved for really special people, and not me.

I’ve talked with some friends about this message and found that many of us, deep down struggle to believe that God will provide for our purposes.  Which is a harmful believe and a big reason why I resonated so deeply with this teaching.

Digital conversation starters

1) What did you think the favor of God was and how did this new perspective change your attitude toward the favor of God?

2) How do you see God’s favor in your life?  Where do you need to see it?  So often it’s already there if we look with clear eyes.

3) Share a time where you were able to clearly see and experience God’s favor around you.

Woven

I love the idea of life as a tapestry, every person and event a thread that makes up the big beautiful picture of my life.  Pretty poetic I know, but it jives with me.

The big events are more essential to the big picture, the births of my children, the deaths of my parents, the first time I left a comment on Kel’s blog.  These events will be apparent when future generations step back and consider my life.  The woven picture of my life would be a completely different image without those days, those moments.

my people, my community are a clear part of this picture too and lately I’ve been noticing that people who weather storms with me are woven deeper, tighter into the fabric of my life.  Those relationships are stronger, my passion for them fiercer, they are woven into my life in an irreplaceable way.  When I tell the stories of those red letter days I can’t help but bring up their name, calling into memory their support and the way that God spoke to me through them.

A few of those relationships have ended despite my best efforts and the pain is deeper somehow.  For example, my close friend, the one who drove me home after the news of my Dad’s death made a purposeful and abrupt exit from my life about 6 months later.  I still think him, how he stood by my side during hard times but then walked out without explanation.  He’s a thread in my tapestry whose absence I still notice, even 6 years later.

As I reflect on those who have come alongside me I realize that I am crazy blessed.  Those parts of my life-tapestry thicken, so many threads, so many people came closer, surrounded.  This makes me not only deeply thankful but deeply passionate about being an essential thread in the lives of others.  I want to be a 24/7 friend, the kind you call when your world seems to be crumbling.  I am willing to bring a pot of soup, provide childcare and come over in my pajamas.

As Jesus showed me love through the hands of the willing, so I pray that he cultivates that same willingness in my heart.  I want to be sent, an extension of his love.

May we all be essential threads this day, this month, this year.  May our prayer sound something like: “use me, weave me deeply into the hearts and lives of those who need it, forever and amen.”