God’s Favor

What if I were to tell you that God is for you? 

What if I were to tell you that God wants to bless you? 

What if I were to tell you that God’s favor is constantly pursuing you? 

Well, here’s me telling you that it’s all true! 

“Since God did not spare even His own Son but gave Him up for us all, won’t He also give us everything else?” (Romans 8:32). 

Why would God do this? Because if you feel distant from Him, how can you glorify Him? If you feel disconnected from His love, how will you draw others to Him? If you feel like your relationship with Him is hanging by a thread, how can you happily abide in His presence? 

Knowing God’s favor is the key to living the abundant life Jesus purchased for you on the Cross! 

Join me this Sunday as we begin a new series exploring the wonderful depths of God’s favor. You can join me in person at Calvary Assembly of God, or tune in on Facebook Live at 10:30am Sunday morning.

11 Quotes From “The Heart Of A Leader”

As the title hints, Ken Blanchard makes the case that the heart of great leadership is a leader’s great heart. You can check out my full book review of The Heart Of A Leader by clicking here.

“Remember, the best leaders are those who understand that their power flows through them, not from them.”

“Many well-intentioned leaders wait to praise their people until they do things exactly right, complete the project, or accomplish the goal. The problem here is that they could wait forever. You see, ‘exactly right’ behavior is made up of a whole series of approximately right behaviors. It makes more sense to praise progress.”

“An effective leader will make it a priority to help his or her people produce good results in two ways: making sure people know what their goals are and doing everything possible to support, encourage, and coach them to accomplish those goals.”

“If you don’t take time out to think, strategize, and prioritize, you will work a whole lot harder, without enjoying the benefits of a job smartly done.”

“Nice guys may appear to finish last, but usually they are running in a different race.” —Ken Blanchard and Norman Vincent Peale

“Being too hard on yourself is counterproductive. Don’t expect instant perfection. Though self-criticism is healthy, it should not be destructive. It’s unfair to be hard on yourself the first time you attempt something new. It is also unfair to expect others to meet such an unrealistic expectation. Keep in mind that it’s unnecessary to do everything exactly right the first time.”

“Here’s a great rule for doing business today: Think more about your people, and they will think more of themselves.”

“When you ask people about the best leader they ever had, one quality is always mentioned: they are good listeners. These leaders have learned to ‘sort by others.’ When someone says, ‘It’s a beautiful day,’ they respond by keeping the focus on the speaker. For example, they’ll respond, ‘It sounds like you’re pretty happy today.’ Poor listeners ‘sort by self.’ If you express a concern you have, they will express a concern they have.”

“Leading people is the opposite of trying to control them; it’s about gaining their trust through your integrity, developing their potential through your partnership, and motivating them through your affirmation.”

“Consistency does not mean behaving the same way all the time. It actually means behaving the same way under similar circumstances. … When you respond to your people in the same way under similar circumstances, you give them a valuable gift: the gift of predictability.”

“Remember that the primary biblical image of servant leadership is that of the shepherd. The flock is not there for the sake of the shepherd; the shepherd is there for the sake of the flock.”

The Christmas Candle (book review)

Max Lucado is a storyteller par excellent! His craft is on full display in the engaging short story The Christmas Candle.

Lucado takes us back to Victorian-era England, to the small village of Cotswolds. Nothing much seems to happen in this little village, except for a visit from an angel every 25 years to one specific family. The Haddington family have been candle-makers for as far back as anyone can remember. Every quarter-century, just before Christmas, an angel appears in the Haddington’s shop and points out one special candle. When this unique candle is given away by the Haddingtons to an individual, they can pray for a miracle and expect that God will answer that prayer.

Lucado’s story centers on a time when the angel should be appearing soon. But Mr. and Mrs. Haddington are older now, and worried that they don’t have an heir to which the candle-making trade can be passed on, the townspeople are in more desperate need than ever before, and the village’s new pastor is highly skeptical about the so-called “miracle qualities” of an ordinary looking candle. And all the while, the time of the angel’s appearing is getting closer and closer.

The message Lucado is able to drive home through this story is truly a God-given gift that will encourage your faith. Whether you read this book at Christmas time or not, you will be uplifted in your faith in God’s power to do the miraculous!

The Advent “Nicknames” Of Jesus

Most of us who have nicknames didn’t receive them at birth, but they were given to us later on. It might have been because of a memorable incident, or even a character trait that we are known for.

But think about Jesus. Even before His first Advent, He was given numerous “nicknames” or titles that foretold what He was going to do. In the Christmas carol “O Come O Come Emmanuel” four of Christ’s nicknames/titles are key for us today.

It’s so important for us to look back at these First Advent titles because they give us perspective for today and hope for Christ’s Second Advent.

Paul makes it clear that we are living in a time of both already and not yet. We have redemption (Ephesians 1:7), and we are waiting for the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30). Jesus has already paid for our freedom (First Advent), but we are still awaiting the rewards that will come with His Second Advent.

O come, O come…

  1. …Emmanuel

Literally, this means “God is with His people.” The prophesy was originally given to the prophet Isaiah (see 7:14 and 8:6-10), but it was repeated when Jesus was born (Matthew 1:23). Only One Who was fully God and fully Man could pay the price for our ransom from sin.

  1. …Rod of Jesse 

David, the son of Jesse, prayed, “Who am I, Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that You have brought me this far?” (2 Samuel 7:18). Yet God was going to continue to keep David’s family line alive (although at times it looked like the dead stump of a long-forgotten tree) to give a throne to Jesus as the King of kings that would once and for all crush satan’s tyranny.

  1. …Dayspring 

When I think of Dayspring, I think of light exploding immediately into the darkness (Isaiah 9:2 and Luke 1:77-78). Jesus Himself told us of His victory over the darkness: I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you] (John 16:33, AMP).

  1. …Key of David

Only Jesus holds the key to open wide our heavenly home (Isaiah 22:22; Revelation 1:8)!

What do you need? 

  • Ransom? Emmanuel paid it! 
  • Power to defeat satan? The Rod of Jesse gives it! 
  • Encouragement to press on? The Dayspring lavishes it! 
  • Assurance of your eternal home in Heaven? The Key of David opens it! 

All our longings—all our O come! O come!—are satisfied in Jesus. His First Advent is the already, and His Second Advent gives us hope for the not yet.

Check out some of the other Carols of Christmas we are looking at this year.

Just A Whisper

God stretches the northern sky over empty space and hangs the earth on nothing. He wraps the rain in His thick clouds, and the clouds don’t burst with the weight. He covers the face of the moon, shrouding it with His clouds. He created the horizon when He separated the waters; He set the boundary between day and night. The foundations of heaven tremble; they shudder at His rebuke. By His power the sea grew calm. By His skill He crushed the great sea monster. His Spirit made the heavens beautiful, and His power pierced the gliding serpent. These are just the beginning of all that He does, merely a whisper of His power. Who, then, can comprehend the thunder of His power? (Job 26:7-14)

Take a look at the majesty of creation. Look at the vastness of space. Marvel at the pounding surf of the oceans. Tremble at the earthquake, the hurricane, the volcano.

Then look through a microscope and see the perfection at the smallest scale. Smell the fragrances, thrill at the beauty. Job reminds us, “These are just the beginning of all that God does, merely a whisper of His power.”

Are things troubling you? They don’t even begin to touch the power of God! No matter what you are facing, God’s power is infinitely stronger. Hide yourself in Him. Cling to His love. Rest in His strength.

Fear not, for far greater is your Father in Heaven than anything troubling you!

How Long??

Four times in the opening two verses of one of his psalms, David cries out, “How long, O Lord?”

“How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever?”

It does sometimes feel like the unpleasant season is lasting “forever!” David lays it out: “Every day it seems like Your face is hidden, I’m trying to come up with my own escape plans, my heart is breaking, and the bad guys are taking advantage of me! O Lord, how long will You let this last?”

David turns to prayer again and again. He asks God to hear him, enlighten his eyes, and silence his enemies.

Then I love this transition in David’s outlook—
“But I have trusted in Your mercy; [so]
my heart will rejoice in Your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord, because
He will deal bountifully with me.”

I have … I will … You have … You will!

O my soul, keep looking up. Keep crying out.

The God who has STILL will! 

9 Quotes From “Know Who You Are”

Tim Tebow is not only an upbeat athlete, he is an enthusiastic encourager to others too. His latest book is called Know Who You Are—Live Like It Matters. Although mainly written to help homeschool families with some journaling ideas, this book is jam-packed with uplifting thoughts. You can check out my full book review by clicking here.

“The world does not define you: Not the clothes you wear. Not the kind of music you listen to. Not the mistakes you’ve made. Not the trophies you’ve won. You are not defined by what others think of you, good or bad, or how many people follow or like you on Instagram or Snapchat or Facebook. You are not defined by the talents you have or don’t have. There is only one thing, one Person, who defines your identity. His name is Jesus Christ.”

“If you do the right thing just to do the right thing, you’re going to wear yourself out at some point. We should always do the right thing because we want to honor Jesus, because we want to be like Him in everything we think, say, and do. … This is why we seek to have integrity. This is why we build good character. This is why we do the right thing. Because Jesus did it first and our mission is to be like Him.”

“What happens when we hide God’s Words in our hearts? We grow our faith. When we grow our faith, we root our identity deeper and deeper in Whose we are. We become empowered with what we need so we can face the highs and lows of life.”

“When our identity is grounded in God, we live differently. Our priorities change. Our relationships reflect this truth—or at least they should. We aren’t desperate for attention because God fulfills all our needs. Instead of using people to make us look good, we learn how to be faithful friends. We treat others with love, respect, and kindness. We watch what we say. We apologize when we make mistakes.”

“If you hear a rumor about someone else, stop it from going any further. Don’t repeat it. You can also turn the conversation into something positive. Say something nice about that person. Show some grace. That’s a sure way to honor God and fan the flames of love.”

“If we mean it when we say ‘I’m sorry,’ do you know what that does for us? It keeps our hearts tender. Not weak, just open to God shaping us into the young men and women He has created us to be.”

“We live in such a me-focused world. We take pictures of ourselves all the time. We tell the world on Facebook and Instagram what we’re doing, what we like, where we are going. We want all eyes on us. But that’s not what we’re called to do as Christians. We’re called to be others-minded. We are called to love others. We’re called to serve others. We are called to be like Jesus to a world who doesn’t know Him.”

“The stand you take may not be the biggest deal to the entire world, but it can be a big deal for one person. For instance, you don’t have to feed all of Africa, but feeding one person can have more of an impact than you may realize.”

“We are never going to be perfect in this life. But we can stretch and we can change. If you want to live bigger, you need to grow. No matter how many times you get knocked down or mess up, you need to hold on to God’s promises. You need to believe that He has a better plan. You need to cling to His truth. And day by day, moment by moment, you will become more and more like Jesus.”

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