Posts tagged “encouragement

Day 4: Favor

Posted on 28/07/2016

I experienced favor yesterday, starting with a phone call followed by another. Currently jobless and seeking, I was pleasantly surprised when recruiters called about my resume, discussing jobs I’d applied to weeks—even months ago. Then it continued with a parking spot in a lot supposedly filled to capacity with cars were parked on the side of the street. I’d circled the corner and there it was, an open spot sandwiched between two trucks, waiting for me. With a grin, I parked my car in this perfect spot my Beloved Father had reserved for me.

I remember a conversation I had with my younger sister months ago when she had an interview at her current job. She’d prayed about this job for months (it was her heart’s desire) and though she didn’t feel qualified for the position, her interview experience from the appointment to the final handshake was one of the best she’d ever had. She said, “Dee, it was like God went ahead of me and informed everyone that I was His own and they should treat me as such.”

That’s what favor is; God appointing things ahead for our good. That parking spot and those recruiter calls yesterday, plus the simple things like safety and good health—it’s favor.

Psalm 84:11-12, NIV

“For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless. O Lord Almighty, blessed is the man who trusts in you.”

My heart falters a bit. This verse says that God bestows favor and honor on those whose walk is blameless. Blameless means to be faithful, honorable, and full of integrity and righteousness. God’s Beloved should be righteous and blameless. In fact, the love letter is packed with blessings and favor for the righteous Beloved of God.

Psalm 34:15, NIV

“The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their cry…”

Psalm 5:12, NIV

“For surely, O Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.”

My heart sinks. I am far from righteous; a wretched soul incapable of perfection. Does that mean—I stop, realizing something. A lie. Not the words from the love letter, but the lie brewing in my heart—a lie placed there from my enemy Satan. I know he wants nothing more than for me to disbelieve God’s love, to steal the good news of my identity as God’s Beloved (John 10:10). So I block out the blatant lie and flip through the concordance until I reach the New Testament. My heart beats faster as I locate the page I know I’ll find the truth.

Romans 3:21-22, NIV

“But now a righteousness from God apart from the law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference.”

Romans 3:23-26, NIV

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—he did it to demonstrate his justice at a present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.”

I sit back and read it again. Righteousness through Jesus Christ, the Son who God presented as a sacrifice for us. Why? My heart beats faster as the truth deafens the lie completely.

John 3:16-18, NIV

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

What favor indeed! Aside from the parking spot and the chance of a job opportunity, I had already received the greatest favor of all time. Eternal life. Freedom from condemnation.

Romans 8:1-2, NIV

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.”

My heart leaps in my chest as I settle with the truth of God’s love. I am God’s Beloved, not because I deserve it, but because He loved me.

Jeremiah 31:3, NIV

“The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving kindness.”

My blush returns in full force. I am made righteous by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the everlasting love of God, my Beloved. And because I am righteous through Jesus Christ, God bestows favor and honor on me. Eternal life, freedom, and the occasional parking spot are mine due to His favor and love.

Prayer: My Father, I love you and thank you for your everlasting love. Thank you for loving me so much to send your Son, Jesus Christ, to sacrifice his life for mine. I am eternally grateful for your affection and love over me. Help me to reject the lies of the enemy. Help me to accept the truth of my salvation through Jesus Christ and remember my identity as your Beloved. I accept my righteousness through your Son, and thank you for the favor you show me on a daily basis. In the precious name of Jesus, Amen.

<<Day 3 || Day 5>>

Keeping It Vertical

Posted on 03/12/2015

Cross-posted from Dee’s Cache.

I woke up this morning with several thoughts on the purpose of my life, all because of a video I watched on the life of this talented 9-year-old girl showing off her skills in basketball and math. I got to thinking about what I was like as a nine-year-old and was filled with grief. As I iron my shirt and pants, my mind began to question as it does sometimes when I can’t think of parts of my childhood without grimacing. I begin to wonder why I experienced hurt before the age of ten, fear and resentment in my preteens, and the loss of one of my first friends and my immediate younger brother on my sixteenth year. Then I thought about people who experienced what I did and had a rougher time overcoming it. I thought about people who experienced far worse and were not able to survive it. I thought about what would’ve happened if I hadn’t. And I realized the difference was God.

When I hear of people who were once in the faith (commitment and relationship with God and Jesus Christ) lose that faith due to extenuating circumstances, I am equally compassionate and disappointed. Compassionate in the sense that I understand the struggle. Before, I held such a strong resentment in my heart that it was hard for people, even family, to understand me. I didn’t question God’s existence; I just questioned his consideration and love for me. How could He love me if things like this happened? It took the death of my brother Tonbara to shake me out of it. Imagine! To think that having one of my best friends and immediate brother die before me, could point me to the grace of God is something one could say sounds far-fetched, silly… but it happened to me. It made me acknowledge the sovereignty of God and how very real He was in every aspect of life.

So I put on my socks and shake my head in awe, thinking of the saints like Job and Paul. They had every reason to resent their circumstances. Job lost EVERYTHING, and what he had left encouraged him to “curse God and die.” He could’ve and no human on the face of this earth would blame him (except maybe his ridiculous excuses for friends). But even in his despair, even when he complained and wondered about his condition, he never once cursed God because he kept his thoughts vertical.

What do I mean by vertical? It’s essentially looking outside oneself and seeing God in the midst of it. For example, with his scathing boils and his nonsense companions provoking more hurt on him, Job praised God’s power and sovereignty while imploring God to reveal the reason for his hurt and suffering. He asked why but didn’t allow a spirit of doubt in the Creator. In the same way, Paul was in chains for Christ, and even though he suffered hardships, he counted it as great gain… even to the point of death. Even the man after God’s own heart, David, suffered countless hardships, some manufactured from his own foolishness, He didn’t blame God for what happened to him.

As I’m putting on my watch and bracelets, I think about my life and wonder how to keep my mind vertical rather than horizontal, horizontal in the sense that I allow self-pity and resentment to keep me from looking up. I think about the delays and “denials” currently and in the past and marvel at how easily it is to be discouraged or disillusioned about God’s purpose. How can I encourage someone when I’m not encouraged?

Then I think about Job and Paul once again. If they had gone through all of that and lost hope, people like me wouldn’t be encouraged by their testimony when we’re going through tough times. So by keeping their thoughts vertical and having a testimony of peace and joy in spite of their circumstances, I have hope in mine.

So then this prayer came to mind:

“Lord, I thank you for your Sovereignty and your unconditional love for me. I thank you that you thought of me when you sent your Son Jesus to die on the cross for me. I thank you that I am adopted into your family as a child of God, a daughter of the King. I know that the plans you have for me are good, to give me a future and a hope. When I think of the past, I often wonder if that was part of your plan. When I think of the present, I’m anxious about whether this is also part of your plan and if I’m walking in the purpose you have for me. But I know that every good and perfect gift comes from you. So I ask that you help me to allow your healing blood to soothe away the pain of the past. I thank you for restoring me to yourself, whole and redeemed by the blood of Jesus. I pray that I will be made whole in my heart and mind according to your will.

With my present circumstance, if it was because of my foolishness as David, I pray that you lead me out of it with a testimony to encourage someone in the future. However, if this present circumstance is according to your will, please give me the grace and joy that only comes from you to strengthen me on the journey. Help me to keep my mind focused on you in this season, knowing that surely your goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life… and that you will never leave nor forsake me through it all. In your Son’s name I pray. Amen.”

By the time I put on my jacket and grab my keys, I’m smiling. I want a life where my thoughts align me to the will of God; vertical thinking. So I surrender my past hurts and present worries to God, He knows them all, and He gives me peace because I know that He’s heard me and will accomplish the good work He’s begun in me.

So friends, be encouraged and keep your mind vertical. God exists and he’s working things out for your good because He loves you.

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