Finding God’s Favor

“It was because of His grace that God the Father sent His only Son to die in our place. To say it another way, Christ’s death was the result of God’s grace; grace is not the result of Christ’s death.” —Jerry Bridges

God had been showing us His love throughout the Old Testament period, but the Advent of Jesus made it abundantly and unmistakably clear that God is for us! 

Check out how Luke focuses on God’s favor in a way that no other Gospel writer does:

  • John (the one who would announce the arrival of Jesus) means Jehovah is a gracious Giver.
  • Elizabeth (John’s mother) said that God had not only shown His favor to her by making her pregnant, but she also said God had removed her disgrace. 
  • Mary (the mother of Jesus) was greeted by the angel with the phrases “You are highly favored” and “You have found favor with God.” 
  • On the night of Christ’s birth, the angels sang, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests.” 
  • Jesus, in His first public sermon, quoted Isaiah’s words, saying He had come to proclaim God’s favor. 

But please notice this truth—We don’t try to find or earn God’s favor. It’s already there; we just need to realize it’s there! 

You see, we don’t grow in God’s favor, nor do we get more favor, but we progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with God’s favor that is already there. Check out what Moses said:

If I have found favor in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with You, perceiving and recognizing and understanding more strongly and clearly and that I may find favor in Your sight (Exodus 33:13)

The angel said to Mary, “You are HIGHLY FAVORED” (Luke 1:28). God uses the same word when He says to us: God made us ACCEPTED in the Beloved (Ephesians 1:6). 

How can this be?? Because on the Cross, Jesus switched places with us. He took all our sin and DISgrace, and gave us all of His righteousness. Now when God the Father looks at us, all He sees is the righteousness of His Son. Now all praise to God for His wonderful kindness to us and His favor that He has poured out upon us because we belong to His dearly loved Son (TLB).

God’s grace is undiminished. It is as full today as it ever has been. God could never love you more than He already does. God could never love you less because of anything you do. Keep your eyes on Him and you will find just how much favor He has for you! 

Join me this Sunday either in person or on Facebook Live as we continue to learn more about God’s favor. 

Saturday In The Proverbs—Get It? Got It! Good! (Proverbs 4)

[Each chapter in the Book of Proverbs contains thoughts that fit into a theme; they are not just random thoughts gathered together. In this “Saturday In The Proverbs” series, I will share a theme that I see in each chapter. But the cool thing about God’s Word is that you may see an entirely different theme. That’s great! If you do, I would love for you to share it in the comments below.]

Get wisdom! Get understanding! … Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding (Proverbs 4:5, 7).

There are many things we can pursue in life—perpetual youth, a perfect mate, financial security, social status, political power. But Solomon says none of those things are worth our pursuit.

Wisdom and understanding from God’s Word are worth the getting! They bring meaning to life along with:

  • Promotion
  • Honor
  • Grace
  • Freedom from entanglements
  • Avoidance of evil
  • A clear path forward
  • Purity
  • Diligence

If you are going to get anything, get what God’s got.

Get it?
Got it!
Good!

“Common Things”

You never, Heraclitus claimed,
step in the same stream twice.
Appearances may seem the same
(familiarity’s to blame,
or each things never-changing name),
but heed that Greek’s advice.
There’s more to life than meets the eye
or dances on the ear.
The moments of our lives flow by,
fraught with potential we might try;
yet, deaf to their sweet siren cry,
we neither see nor hear.
But hidden in each common thing
and every routine sound,
in leafless trees, on flashing wing,
the song that common sparrows sing,
and each arriving email’s “Ding!”
are wonders to be found.
Step through, then, into unseen worlds
where mysteries abound.
Eternal truths will be unfurled,
and nagging doubts behind you hurled
when your poor soul is slowly swirled,
turned upright and around
in common things profound. —T.M. Moore, from his book Bricks And Rungs

Thursdays With Oswald—Isaiah 30

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Isaiah 30 

[These are the notes on Oswald Chambers’ lecture on Isaiah 30.] 

     The test of true religion is the knowledge of the character of God. As long as you think of God in the quietness of a religious meeting you will never know God—what kind of God have you got when you are in touch with the wrong, bad, evil things? God’s Book reveals that it is right in the midst of the very opposite of God that His blessings occur. The very things which seem to be making for destruction become the revealers of God. It is an easy business to preach peace when you are in health and have everything you want, but the Bible preaches peace when things are in a howling tumult of passion and sin and iniquity; it is in the midst of anguish and terror that we realize Who God is and the marvel of what He can do. …  

     God makes His people sing where in the eyes of the world it seems ironical to sing—in a besieged city where things are going to ruin, in the suburbs of hell, in the valley of the shadow of death. When you see lives in the midst of turmoil and anguish full of amazing brightness and uncrushable elasticity of faith in God, if you do not know God you will say, “However can they go through it? how is it that they remain undiscouraged and undismayed?” The explanation is the presence of God made real in His promises.” 

From Notes On Isaiah 

When you go through a “howling tumult” there are some things to remember:

  1. God is with you
  2. God is in control 
  3. God will help you sing through the storm
  4. Others are watching you
  5. God can be glorified in your undismayed faith in His presence through the tumult 

11 Quotes From “The Last Arrow”

Erwin McManus will get you fired up to make the most of the life God has given you! Check out my full review of The Last Arrow by clicking here. 

“I do not believe anyone is born average, but I do believe that many of us choose to live a life of mediocrity. I think there are more of us than not who are in danger of disappearing into the abyss of the ordinary. The great tragedy in this, of course, is that there is nothing really ordinary about us. We might not be convinced of this, but our souls already know it’s true, which is why we find ourselves tormented when we choose lives beneath our capacities and callings.” 

“Here is the painful reality: we will find ourselves defined by the average if we do not choose to defy the odds. … We can refuse to be average. We must refuse to be average. We must war against the temptation to settle for less. Average is always a safe choice, and it is the most dangerous choice we can make. Average protects us from the risk of failure, and it also separates us from futures of greatness.” 

“Most of us underestimate how much God actually wants to do in our lives and through our lives.” 

“I wonder how many victories are lost before the battle has even begun. I wonder how much more good God desires to usher into the world that has been thwarted by our own lack of ambition.” 

“If one day we are to have a conversation with God about the measure of our lives, I would rather have Him ask me why I tried to do too much than to have Him ask me why I settled for so little.” 

“Many of us keep longing for a new future while holding on to the past. We desperately want God to create something new for us, but we refused to let Him tear away all the old from us.” 

“The tragedy of a life that is never fully lived is not solely the loss of that one life. The tragedy is the endless number of lives that would have been forever changed if we had chosen to live differently.” 

“We do not help the world by choosing to be less or to do less; we help the world by choosing to be more and give more.” 

“Be ready when you get there. Don’t make the mistake of living your life waiting for good things to happen—make good things happen. Be faithful in the small things that do not matter to you as much and treat them with the same level of respect and importance as the big things connected to your hopes and dreams.” 

“The great tragedy would be to live your life waiting for that moment to come instead of living your life preparing for when that moment comes.” 

“If you truly live before you die, your life will have a power that not even death can conquer.” 

15 Reasons Not To Fear

In the first 39 chapters of Isaiah, there is a lot of doom-and-gloom prophesy about coming judgment. But as the fortieth chapter opens, there is a decidedly more upbeat outlook as prophesies about the Messiah and the coming of God’s Kingdom unfold before us. 

Fittingly, there is a recurring phrase that wasn’t heard in the first 39 chapters of Isaiah—FEAR NOT. 

Why does Isaiah tell us so many times to banish fear? Here are 15 reasons that God gives: 

  1. God says, “I am with you.” 
  2. God says, “I will strengthen you.” 
  3. God says, “I will uphold you.” 
  4. God says, “Those who contended with you shall be as a nonexistent thing.” 
  5. God says, “I will hold your hand.” 
  6. God says, “I am in control.”
  7. God says, “I will make you into something irresistible.” 
  8. God says, “Everyone will see the amazing things I will do for you.” 
  9. God says, “Anything apart from Me is worthless.” 
  10. God says, “I have redeemed you.” 
  11. God says, “You are Mine.” 
  12. God says, “I know you by name.” 
  13. God says, “I will go through floods and flames with you and you will not be drowned or burned.” 
  14. God says, “Nothing ever takes Me by surprise.” 
  15. God says, “I alone am God and everyone else is a mere man.” 

Bottom line: God’s Word gives us ample reasons to root out fear from our heart. 

Read these promises for yourself in Isaiah 41:10, 13, 14; 43:1-2; 44:8; 51:12.

The Last Arrow (book review)

When I read an Erwin McManus book, I always feel like an arrow shot out of a bow: ready to launch into areas where I should be living. So it’s very appropriate that McManus’ newest book is entitled The Last Arrow! 

The premise of the book comes from a story in the Old Testament where King Jehoash has come to the prophet Elisha for help and counsel. Elisha tells Jehoash to strike the ground with his quiver of arrows, Jehoash does so, but only three times and then he stops. Elisha is furious with the king! In essence, Elisha is saying to Jehoash, “Why are you holding back? Why are you trying to store up resources for the next life? Now is the time: keep on striking until the very last arrow is spent!”

Erwin McManus writes, “My intention for this book is that you would never surrender, that you would never settle, that you would save nothing for the next life. May you die with your quivers empty. May you die with your hearts full. … This book is about not underestimating how much God intends for your life.” 

YES!!

In chapter after chapter, Pastor McManus encourages us to keep pressing forward, not letting our past holding us back, getting the right people around us, standing our ground, and living for a greater future. He shares examples from Scripture, his own life, and the lives of some extraordinary “last arrow” people he’s met along his journey. All in all, this book will fire you up! 

Near the last page of the book you will be cheering as McManus writes, “If you truly live before you die, your life will have a power that not even death can conquer”! 

I am a Waterbrook book reviewer.

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