The Year of the Lord’s Favor

But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God. Genesis 6:8-9

The hopes and expectations for 2014 for every Christ follower is probably best summed up in our desire to find favor in the eyes of the Lord. Finding favor carries with it the idea of being blessed with pardon, purpose, provision, protection etc.

Favor is one of those beautiful biblical words that communicate the extension of God’s grace and blessing to human kind. The Hebrew word “chen” interpreted most commonly as “favor” is also translated in some passages of scripture as “grace” or “blessing.” It is significant to note that favor is often phrased in the Bible as something that is “found.” For instance the first mention of the word “favor” is in Genesis 6:8-9: “But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.” I just happened to read this very verse today as I am launching into my annual daily reading plan to take me through the entire Bible in a year. (If you don’t already have one, try the YouVersion website or app for tons of Bible reading plan ideas.)

When something is found it carries with it the idea of being gifted or granted out of goodwill. That is an important distinction as opposed to something that we possess by virtue of having earned, purchased or gained it by the strength of our own will. Favor in many ways is like God’s mercy. It is unearned. Paul underscores this when he writes “So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.” (Romans 9:16 ESV)

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The Most Easily Overlooked Prayer

Recently I had an aha moment! It happened while I was going through my prayer list of people for whom I pray regularly. The list, which has grown to over a hundred people, includes family members, relatives, friends and those who serve in the ministry and as missionaries. Since they are people I consider as given to me by God, just as Jesus viewed those the Father had given Him, I have been using His John 17 prayer as a model for similar ways to pray for them. (See Pray Like Jesus for Family and Friends)

As I was praying I heard the Holy Spirit whisper to me “Do you know what people in your life are missing from this list?” Pause . . . . “Your enemies.” I thought to myself, “But why would I want to pray for them, they’ve hurt me?” But no sooner had that thought formed as a bubble poised above my head than a pin prick of truth from the Bible popped it. The words of Jesus came darting into the picture “But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you.” (Luke 5:27-28) Ouch!

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Say it with me, “I am blessed!”

There is a wonderful statement in the book of Proverbs about the blessing of God. It says “The blessing of the Lord makes a person rich, and He adds no sorrow with it.” (Proverbs 10:22 NLT) Prosperity and protection are very obvious aspects of God’s blessing, and we see that repeatedly illustrated in the Bible, particularly in the Old Testament accounts of the lives of the patriarchs and the kings, and the nation of Israel. Typically when God chose to bless a person or a tribe or a nation in response to their wholehearted seeking of Him and obedience of faith to do what He asked them to do, their lives were made rich in very tangible ways, and any residue of sorrow, threat or regret was swept away.

Another phrase that is frequently used in the Bible for God’s blessing is the “favor of the Lord.” When a person has God’s favor upon their lives it is like being given an inexpressibly beautiful and valuable jewel that one always wants in their possession and will never let out of their sight. It is like having Warren Buffet as your financial advisor, Lloyds of London as your insurance agent and the Secret Service as your security force.

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How I have learned to love tailgaters

I must confess I have hated tailgaters. I ‘m not talking about tailgaters as in party-before-the-football-game type people. I’m talking about people who make it a practice of driving in their vehicle too closely behind me. Yes I know that followers of Jesus are not supposed to hate anyone, not even our enemies. But I would like to invent an electronic digital sign to place on the rear of my car that could be activated at just such a time that says “BACK OFF!”

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