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The Flavor of Favor

It’s common in Christian circles to hear that we are God’s favorites or that we are walking under the favor of God.  In my experience, often times that is equated with some special treatment or blessing that God pours out on our lives.  For me, that message always carried with it some sort of preferential tone that led me to believe when things weren’t always pretty I had somehow slipped from that place of favor.

The truth is that message needs a little perspective.

The Greek word for favor is charis (khar’ese).  According to Strong’s Concordance it refers to graciousness of manner or act, specifically the divine influence on the heart and its reflection in life.

The message and the work in Mary, told in  Luke 1:28,30 was one of divine favor.  Her heart was influenced by the message she heard and the supernatural messenger who delivered it.  It was no ordinary word and it carried with it the choice of an obedient heart.

Mary’s choice to submit herself to the plan of God and walk in obedience, carried with it a blessing of favor.  It wasn’t a choice without cost.  There was much to consider and some pain involved, not just at Jesus birth, but along the journey of raising him, and through His death on the cross.

The same is true for us.  Our destinies begin with the influence of God and Holy Spirit on our hearts.  The message is often beyond our own capabilities or thoughts.  It often seems impossible. Along with the unspeakable joy, there is pain.

Yet as we choose to accept the mission and walk in obedience, God’s favor shines through each step.  It is a blessing not based on our own ability.  It doesn’t carry a “You are my favorite child of the family,” message. Instead it is one where our hearts are changed over and we enter a season of growth, and result producing influence in our world.  We move from underachievers to overcomers!

God’s favor has nothing to do with our status in life.  It has to do with the divine influence we allow Him to have in our life.  Rich or poor, a citizen of America or some third world country, educated or not, the message is the same. It is a call to all of mankind.

Your story is important to the world.  You have a destiny.  God has a plan. You are my creation and I want to create things through you. 

The questions are the same too.  Will you hear the message?  Will you move beyond the things you don’t understand?  Will you accept and allow His plan for you?

When you answer yes and follow-up with your actions, the flavor of God’s favor is beyond what you could imagine!

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Life is  a journey.  There are so many ups and downs and along the way. If we are open, we will hear and see messages that lead us to our destiny in God.

I believe there are messages and messengers all around us.  God communicates with us in so many ways.  Through His word, people, circumstances, dreams, visions, the world around us….the list is really endless.

There are those extraordinary moments that the message comes in some awe-inspiring form.   Think of Moses and the burning bush, Gideon, Esther, just to name a few.

In Mary’s case, God sent the message by special delivery.  Gabriel, the highest angel, whose name means “Strength of God” brought the news.

There’s more to come as we break that message down into bite size pieces but for now, the point is:  When we are being called to birth something God delivers the message of impossible things through a place of strength. 

He will inspire, confirm, and move you to laughter or tears over the things that you are called to birth or influence. He will bring strength for the journey.

His message is unique to you and for you.  Others can do what you are called to do but I truly believe no one can do it like you can.

Mary was chosen uniquely to birth the Messiah.  It wasn’t an easy calling, but it came with a place of blessing and favor.  Yours won’t be easy either but the satisfaction and adventure of  living it out is worth it.

Take some time this season to reflect on your life so far.  What has God spoken to you through the peaks and valleys of your journey?  What are your places of strength? In what ways have you felt God speaking to you in the past?

Don’t be afraid to just sit in stillness.  Set aside time to sit with a paper and pen nearby. Close your eyes,  open yourself, breathe deeply, and invite His presence.  As thoughts come to mind, write them down.  Maybe you’ll see a picture or remember a scripture, something you read, or just an impression.

What do you hear?

Whether you are reaching for your calling, or dealing with obstacles or tragedy, God is the master of turning the impossible to possible.  Nothing is impossible with Him.

With the message comes a choice to have faith and believe, or succumb to the idea that you are insignificant, weak, and unable to make a difference.

Which do you choose?

 

 

I’m sure, like any young woman, Mary was hopeful and excited about the possibilities of her life with her soon to be husband, Joseph.  Can’t help but wonder what it must have been like when God’s chosen purpose for her became clear.

Face to face with His angel, hearing the words of being chosen to conceive the long-awaited Messiah, must have been both thrilling and scary!  So much responsibility, so many miracles needed, so much reputation to be lost, so many things to consider.  Overwhelmed would be the word of the day, I think!

Before Mary would actually become pregnant by the Spirit, she had to think about it all.  Her response was the key to it all.  Would she say no, denying man the miracle of a savior?  Would she risk her own reputation, her preconceived life plan, her possible loss of Joseph?

We are faced with those same questions every day in our lives.  Will we open ourselves up to what God has for us?  Will we stop caring so much about what others think and just do the right thing or be who we are?  Will we submit our will and plans for our future to God, trusting Him with it?  Will we move beyond our own understanding of what is possible for ourselves,  our kids, our spouses, ourselves, our community, our world?  Will we accept that if God says it is so, He will do the impossible?  Will we understand that His ways might look different but they are full of possibilities that change us and the world around us?

Mary had to accept that Father knows best.  She had to consider carefully what it means to open herself up to the Spirit of the Living God.  Her life was never the same and her decision impacted the world eternally.

What is facing you today?  Challenges of health, finances, family, relationships, career?  God is the God of impossibilities.  (Matthew 19:26)

What might be possible if you open your heart to the Spirit of God and let Him breath His life into the situations?

Consider you might become pregnant with the Spirit and deliver the plans of God to the world.  That no doubt would change a lot of things, wouldn’t it?

 

It’s been quite a year.  About half way through our family entered into a season of unexpected blessing mixed with heart-wrenching tragedy.  The life-changing effects of both were unexpected.

As you may have noticed, my posts have tapered off.  I had to focus on what was at hand and until I could get it to some balance, needed to give up some things.

Today I knew I could start up again.  I can’t promise I will write every day but as God lays it on my heart I will.

Throughout the Christmas season and until the New Year, I’m going to share part of my book, Moms On Mission, Discovering Destiny.  Each post will cover the possible impossibilities of our lives, learning from the story of Jesus’ mother, Mary.

I hope you’ll join me as I share how we can apply Mary’s becoming Pregnant By The Spirit in our own lives.

For now, I’ll close with this thought.  “There are two ways to live your life.  One is as though nothing is a miracle.  The other is as though everything is a miracle.”  Albert Einstein

Brilliant man, don’t you think?

This has been a week where I’ve been so conscious of pain.  Not so much my own, but that of those I love or the world in general.

So many stories.  Some involve injustice or hurt at the hand of others.  Some tell a tale of consequences for personal choices.  Most of them are really about both.

Regardless of the source of our pain or loss, it is clear that how we handle it will determine the power of it in our life.

I speak from experience.  I know the difference between the two.

I spent years playing the role of a victim.  I justified my own choices and the my reaction to the hurts inflicted by others by staying in that familiar space.  Poor me.  People are awful.  Why me?

When I learned to look at pain differently, my life had a seismic shift!  I am grateful for the lessons I learned.  Hopefully sharing it with you will help.

First of all, it’s God’s love that allows us to experience consequences for our own choices.  He always has our best interest at heart and His purpose is not to punish but to set us on the path that opens the door for the abundant life He promised.

II Corinthians 7:10 says, “For godly grief and the pain God is permitted to direct produce a repentance (change of mind) that leads and contributes to salvation and deliverance from evil and never brings regret…..”

When we let God direct the pain of the consequences of our choices, He will step in and change us from the inside out.  Sometimes we have to sit for awhile with the pain, contemplating our part in it before we can give it to God.

When we accept our responsibility for our choices, we can expect God’s forgiveness and His action on our behalf.  The consequences may not go away but we can look at the future with hope, knowing somehow, some time God will turn even this for good. We can walk toward that future without the shame and guilt, free to move closer to our destiny.

The same is true with the pain that is caused at the hands of others.  Betrayal of someone we love or trust is never easy.  Injustice  is a horrible thing.  Regardless of the circumstances or the story, our choice is the same.  Will we allow God to direct us and our pain for good or choose bitterness, victimhood, and unforgiveness?  Will we turn trouble into triumph, or let the pain rule our life?

This type of pain can wound and scar us so deeply.  There is no doubt that it can change the course of our outward life such as position, jobs, finances, etc.  It can also affect our emotional or physical well being.  Even the purposes and gifting that God has placed on our life can be delayed.

What we do with that pain will determine how much power we give it.  We can be forever stuck or forever free.

It’s not necessarily easy.  It takes thought, prayer, and processing.  But, the quicker we choose to ask God for help, asking Him to heal our souls and direct our footsteps, the sooner He can turn it to good. And the sooner we will experience a peace that passes understanding.

“and never brings regret: ”  The rest of that verse says, “but worldly grief (the hopeless sorrow that is characteristic of a pagan world) is deadly. (breeding and ending in death!)” (Amplified)

When we go through pain,  we have to options.  We can choose between a bitter, death producing life of victimhood or life, hope, freedom, repentance and a number of God’s wonderful gifts.

There is truly a gift in pain and grief.  It’s up to us to open it.

What can you do to open the gift today?

Going Before

I love how quickly God can speak to us through His word.   Doesn’t always happen but today I just bowed my head, said a prayer asking for what God wanted me to know, opened my eyes and looked at the page my Bible was open to and voila!

Deuteronomy 31:3 “The Lord your God will Himself go over before you, and He will destroy these nations from before you and you shall dispossess them.”

Mmmmm! Strange verse but my heart jumped at the first 9 words. There are always things in our lives that seem as big to us as defeating a nation.  I’m facing a few obstacles right now and I love this promise.

The context of this verse is the story of Moses leading Israel to the Promised Land.  He tells them he is old and can’t go out and in anymore and that he will not be going into the land with them.

Sometimes I feel like that .  Leading a family isn’t easy.  Mommas never lose their sense of protection and responsibility even when the kids are grown.  Leading a business isn’t easy either.  There are a host of relationships to maintain and challenges along the way.  Caring about others isn’t easy either.  Sometimes we want to fix things and we can’t. Keeping our dream alive is definitely not easy because there are so many competing voices in our heads.

These are some of the areas I’m facing obstacles in.  What are yours?

The good news is just when we think we can’t go any farther, alone without someone to lead the way,  in comes God.

He has laid out the plan already and provided for us to reach our destiny.  He will bring someone to help us or step in supernaturally.  The Spirit will remove the things standing in our way as we keep being obedient and following Him.

God goes before us.  He is the one who has all power and authority and we go in and dispossess the obstacles (nations) and possess the promises.  He asks us to be strong and courageous and firm.  (Vs. 6)

Too many are stopped cold by fear.  They are afraid of the obstacle, afraid of others, afraid of themselves.  When we live in that place of fear we can begin to feel terrorized by what comes at us and frozen in place, unable to move forward.

That same verse says, “fear not nor be in terror before them for it is the Lord Your God who goes with you; He will not fail you or forsake you.”

God has and still goes before to clear the path.  Then He goes with us along the way.

What or who is there to fear?

What can you do today to let go of the fear and put your faith and trust in the God who goes before?

 

People disappoint me.  How about you?

Relationships can be difficult when you live in the land of expectations.  So often we want things of people that they never promised to give.  Ever been upset because someone didn’t give you what you thought they should or act the way you wanted them to act?

That’s me.  And I’ve been faced with that ugly thing over and over again. It’s a lesson I have to keep learning, especially when it resurfaces old scars.

Here’s what I’ve learned.  I have a high expectation of myself in most areas of life and my values are really strong.  Sometimes I can use those as clubs over other people’s head when they don’t share the same values or are not living up to what they say they want. I expect them to want what I want and do what I do or at least what I’ve convinced myself I do.

Get it?  It’s easy  to hide behind rags of self-righteousness–convincing ourselves that we have given all and that our heart is pure.  There are times when we have a pure heart or done all but there are times when there’s something  in us to work on.

Scripture speaks a lot about unity and peace in relationships.  I’m beginning a deeper study on them.

For today, I can’t help but wonder what would happen if we all started to move from what we expect of others to looking for the gold in them.  Can’t help but think we would create an atmosphere of peace and unity.

Here’s a few steps that could help but before anything else know this.  God loves you and has all of your best interest at heart.  No matter what happens, that never changes.  Stay in relationship with Him above all else.

1.  Start with YOU.  Be honest and real about your hurts but never use your hurt to blame someone else.  Ask “How am I part of this problem?”

2.  Understand that others don’t know what you expect unless you’ve had that conversation.  Communication must be clear and specific.

3. Make it a habit to look for the good in others instead of focusing on the flaw you see.

4.  Make it a practice to whenever possible live at peace with everyone.  Find common ground and things to build unity on.

Psalm 133:1 says “How good and pleasant it is for brethern to dwell together in unity.  It is like precious oil upon the head. “

Expectations are usually born from our own wounds.  People not being who they could be is usually a result of being wounded.  Oil is a healing force and if we choose to stop expecting and start finding the common purpose, I believe we can change the world.

What expectations do you need to let go of?

What can you do today to bring healing to a conflict?