Have you ever thought much about "the favor of God?" I hadn't, until I heard a message, given by our high school pastor, entitled "From Faithfulness to Favor." I have to say, even though I've been following God since I was four years old, and read lots of scripture and heard lots of messages, I've never laid hold of the idea of God's favor.
I think we Christians know and believe in the unconditional love of God toward everyone. God loves everyone! The Bible says so: For God so loved the world......BUT - what about the people in the Bible who had God's FAVOR? Why did they have God's favor? If He loves us all, what did they do to get it? Why were they, in reality, a "favorite" of God? Hebrews 11 comes to my mind, as having a whole LIST of them. Even Jesus: "And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men." (Luke 2:52)
Well, our high school pastor showed us three characteristics (or things that they did) of those who had God's favor (granted, a good message has three points, making it more likely people will remember the message, so I'm sure there's more to ponder). He pointed out that those people who went from faithfulness to God's favor did three things. They were people of SACRIFICE, people of SERVICE and people with high STANDARDS. Remember, it's not that you would do these things to earn God's love - we already have that. But, these were some of the things that were part of the lives of famous people in the Bible who earned God's FAVOR.
SACRIFICES: When it came to David, in 2 Samuel 24:24-25, David wanted to offer the LORD a burnt offering, but he wanted to make sure it was a true sacrifice on his part. So, he bought an entire threshing floor and offered many offerings there. This action caused God to favor David, and hold back a plague on the land.
SERVING: In Psalm 100:1-2 it says "Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth. Serve the LORD with gladness; come before Him with joyful singing." We must be willing to serve the Lord to earn His favor, but to do so with the right attitude - a pure heart.
STANDARDS: Have integrity. "The LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands He has recompensed me."
As I thought after this message, I also thought of Enoch, who was such a favorite, that God just snatched him up to Heaven without experiencing death. Or, David, who God even called "a man after my own heart." Or, Noah who God saved from the flood.
Honestly, and this might sound weird, but I want MORE than God's love. Everybody has that. I want God's FAVOR. I want to be and do the things that will please God SO much, He will find favor with me! I know He loves me and no one can ever take that away, but to REALLY touch His heart by what I do - oh! That's the ultimate joy and treasure to me.
In the past, when I have stepped out in faith to do things God has asked me to do, they have not been easy projects - WAY beyond my abilities. I once coordinated a huge, womens' luncheon - I had never done it before, but I knew I God was wanting me to. Anyway, it was AWESOME. The Lord was amazing how he just weaved everything together like a beautiful tapestry. It was like I was coordinating it, but not really, and it was sort of an out-of-body experience at the end, watching it come together as He weaved it. I obeyed, remained faithful, relied on Him ultimately, and He did the weaving of the event. That night, I went to bed smiling at Him, and I remember FEELING Him smiling back at me. It was like the two of us shared a moment....
It's that SMILE. I want that SMILE on me every DAY! I don't want God's favor, as some people might think, such as "getting" something. I just want His SMILE. His FAVOR. Knowing that I did something that made Him pleased.
I'm wondering on the fly right now as I type this, if we Christians become complacent because we know God loves us, and well, we're OK. We're "saved." But, when I think about wanting God's favor, it changes my whole perspective. I think of it, and I WANT it. It makes me sorrowful for how I fall short, and don't sacrifice my sleep/time and spend time with Him. And, how self-protective I have been when it comes to church (because of my burnout), and not being willing to do my part in service (or in other areas of life). And how my standards are not high enough, and I think things in my heart toward others that I shouldn't.... Now, these aren't condemning thoughts, because I know that "there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus," but these are true sorrowful thoughts, on how I have let Him down - not had His smile on my life. I think it's true conviction - not the kind that makes you feel guilty and defeated, but the kind that brings you to repentance and motivates you to turn around and do things differently......
All in all, the idea of God's favor has changed me. All I know is I WANT it.
If you're interested in hearing the awesome message that got me thinking all these things, go to www.p4square.com, click on "POPULAR," then click on "podcasts." Scroll down to the title "From Faithfulness to Favor," and click on that. If you have iTunes, you can listen to an audio podcast, or you can watch a video download of the message. I guarantee, you will be blessed by it. Let me know if you are! :)