Tag Archives: God’s Favor

The blessings in “all things”

FullSizeRender(2)How thoroughly do you read your Bible? Do you skip over words that seem insignificant, but in fact, they hold some significant power in the verse? We’ve all done it before. We look for the most majestic words in a sentence, all the while overlooking the strength that God has hidden in the small and seemingly unimportant. By simply taking the Bible word for word, you can receive the fullness of what God has to say to you.

Look at Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me”. Now, we all know that there’s power whenever Christ is mentioned in the text. However, once we get beyond Jesus, we often seek the power in the words “I can”. Yes, it’s in our human nature to focus on what we can do. However, when we do that, we often miss “all things”. Sometimes we misunderstand and misapply it, while other times we overlook its significance. We often see “all things” as an opportunity. We see it as God blessing us with gain. Also, “I can do all things” becomes a battle cry against those that oppose us or in instances where we’re trying to achieve things. But we often miss the entire blessing in the words “all things”.

These two words cover a multitude of things. We must remember that doing all things through Christ covers things beyond what we desire for our material growth. Those words also cover our healing. They cover grief when you feel like you can’t make it through. They cover broken homes and financial hardships. They cover wayward children. And yes, they cover church dysfunction and spiritual growth. Yes, when that scripture tells us that we can do all things through Christ, it really means all things!

One of my pet peeves is Scripture being taken out of context. All of us have been guilty of pulling Scripture out just to make a point, while not really considering the context in which it was spoken. Philippians 4:13 falls into this category. We see that we can do all things, but we don’t go back a few verses to find out exactly why the Apostle Paul was making this statement.

An examination of the Book of Philippians provides some insight. Paul, writing this letter to the church at Philippi from jail, is still rejoicing in The Lord. In the midst of his circumstances, he remains confidant in Christ! Sometimes we struggle to look past our circumstances to the God that controls it all, but as Christians we must always look to Christ rather than focusing on the bars that imprison us. If we aren’t trusting God in all things, we begin to focus on our limitations, and not His power.

By Philippians 4:11-12, Paul tells us in those verses that he has learned that Christ sustains him, no matter what his situation may be. Whether he’s rich or poor, hungry or full, or whether he’s high or low, he knows that Christ is his strength. This gives us the proper perspective. Does this verse apply to our various quests in life to be prosperous or to overcome our adversaries in life? Yes, it does. But we must also remember that this verse is a survivor’s verse. It’s a verse that reminds us that no matter what we may face in life, we can conquer it through Christ (also see Romans 8:35-39)!

Scripture also tells us in Philippians 2:5: “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus”. So we can’t trust God in “all things” with the mind of the unsaved. When we fail to look to Jesus in all things, when we lack the faith that God can bring us through all of the situations that we face in life, we are thinking with an unsaved mind. Not to suggest that you are unsaved if you lack confidence, but you’re engaging in unsaved thinking.

Its human nature to have fear and anxiety in certain situations, but we as saved Christians ought to have a new nature. We ought to be different. We ought to have a change in our mindset. A change that will allow us to see things in the spirit, not the flesh. Keep 2 Corinthians 5:17 in your hearts: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new”. Not some things. Not a few things. Not the things that we thought we couldn’t outrun. No, if you’re in Christ, ALL THINGS become new!

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God favored you

IMG_1486You were built for this. Before the foundation of the world, God had the design on your life. He favored you. Not because you were better than anyone else, not because you were more talented than anyone else, and not because of anything that anyone did for God on your behalf. God simply chose you to do His will and His work, so that others might come to know Him, glorify Him, and be saved by Him through Jesus Christ. It’s as simple as that.

These words of encouragement aren’t just for you, the reader. They’re words that I use to encourage myself as well. When you’re doing a work for The Lord, it’s easy to forget who called you to the work if you’re not focused. You begin looking at man and the difficulty he can often pose while you’re simply trying to walk as God has commanded. You become discouraged because they can’t see what God has put into your heart, your mind, and your being. The one thing you want everyone to accept, many (some of them close family and friends) reject.

It’s odd, but the more difficult we think something may be for us to do in the way of serving God, the more difficult we think it is for others to do. We often transfer our limitations to one another. And when we’re not doing that, we assume that if God chose someone, we’d automatically see it due to all of our time in the church, or our many years of being saved. After all of the miracles we’ve read about in our Bibles and some that we still witness today, we’re still capable of forgetting that God can still do things above our understanding. And that includes choosing people that we never suspected to do great work.

It can be quite difficult to stay focused on your call when you come face to face with people that have set out to discourage you and roadblock your success. We’re still human and in the midst of persecution, we forget that the God that’s for us is greater than any force that comes against us. And when things don’t fall into place as we expect them to, we wonder if we are in fact on the right path.

Sadly, the place where the most discouragement comes is the place where we’re first called to do the work. For Christians, that means that we’ll face some of our most difficult challenges within the church walls. There are all kinds of jealousies, cliques and agendas that will make working for The Lord the most challenging thing you’ve ever done.

I addressed this very thing once on my weekly radio broadcast. I talked about the jealousy that often exists in the preaching ministry. Preaching is a difficult and often lonely task. It seemed to me that if there was ever a time to welcome another soldier to the army, it would be in the ranks of preaching. However, there are times when other preachers don’t want to see others called into the ministry because they believe it will take something away from them. I surmise that any preacher that has a jealousy of another preacher probably hasn’t been called, because true preachers of the Gospel know that we need all the help we can get. Those of us that have been called welcome the help.

Difficulty in God’s favor also comes in the form of people that have a hard time accepting the transformation that comes in your life. They assume that everyone that God has preordained for the call simply walks out of their mother’s womb into the call. They fail to realize that the vast majority of us have to go through some sort of major transformation before we can really realize the work we’ve been called to do. As I often state, in our flesh we’re only interested in completed projects. We have no time or patience for works in progress.

Where home (the church) should be a place of reinforcement and encouragement, it often becomes a place of rejection and discouragement. People are willing to believe that God can part the Red Sea so that the children of Israel can walk over on dry land. They believe that Jesus Christ can raise a man from his grave after he’s been dead for four days. And they believe that the Son of God can be raised from the dead after 3 days. But they struggle to accept that God can transform someone that they never suspected into one of His greatest servants.

They fail to see that by not accepting God’s hands on your life, they’re not downplaying your ability to do God’s work, but they’re in fact downplaying God’s ability to transform you into a capable vessel to do His work. They’re not really selling you short. They’re selling God short!

As we look at Romans 8:28-31, we see that it is in fact God’s plan that the chosen among us do His will and His work. When you read those verses, it tells you that in His infinite wisdom, God chose. He didn’t do so based on man’s standards or expectations, because the moment He acquiesces to our standards, He ceases to be God.

So a preacher may or may not look like you envisioned. An evangelist may or may not look like someone told you they would. A pastor may or may not look like tradition has told you they would. It’s all according to God’s plan. And when you consider that scripture tells us that God will chose the foolish things of the world to confound the wise (1 Corinthians 1:27), we must understand that we may never know why or how God chooses. All we need to know is that He is a sovereign God that doesn’t need anyone’s permission, nor does He have to explain His choices.

Even in Jesus’ ministry, His life was designed in such a way that He would be able to reach out to the poor and less fortunate. The rich Pharisees of His day had no compassion for those people, nor did they know how to reach them. However, they responded to One that came from the same impoverished areas that they did.

The same is true in ministry today. God is using new, radical, and non-traditional looking people to carry the Gospel forward. People that can reach the world today. Tradition doesn’t save people. The Word of God does. So when God calls something unexpected to the forefront, rather than question it, we should see it as God using something that He had already set aside for this point in time, and for His own purposes. It may not be your cup of tea, but there’s somebody out there that’s thirsty for what God has brought forward.

If you find yourself in a position where it seems as if man is trying to prevent you from reaching your God-ordained destiny, you must remember that God is more than the world against you. He favored you before anyone could ever disapprove of you. He gave you a foundation before anyone could ever attempt to tear you down. You are already marked for greatness and man can’t prevent what God has signed off on.

We understand that the world may not receive what God has placed on our lives. However, the church hurt is often difficult to get past, and at times, can be depressing. It’s sad to say, but the church itself does more to try and kill many ministries before they get started than the world does once they’re up and running. Mostly because of tradition, but also because of the fact that many don’t approve of what God has done, and it’s easier to challenge God indirectly (attacking you) than directly. But don’t you give up on God.

If Jesus had to leave home to have an effective ministry (Matthew 13:57-58), the same may be true for you. But as Jesus went through ridicule, rejection, abandonment, torment and torture, leading to the crucifixion, remember that the grave wasn’t the end of the story. Keep doing The Lord’s work. I promise there’s a Sunday morning in your future if you do. When you have the favor of The Lord, nothing can stop you.