Tag Archives: favor

Genesis 31, Esther 7, Mark 2, Romans 2

favor

  1. Something done or granted out of goodwill, rather than from justice or for remuneration; a kind act
  2. The state of being approved or held in regard:
  3. Excessive kindness or unfair partiality; preferential treatment

 

When I read these stories of Jacob’s release from Laban, Queen Esther’s victory over the Jew’s death sentence and the Jesus’ healing of a paralytic and the calling of Levi, only one word comes to mind; favor.

Favor, grace, mercy, love, I knew of these terms much less before I had children. Not to say you could never understand these if you do not have children of your own but there’s something that changed in my life the minute my first child was born. As they grow, I understand these terms to a much greater degree, seeing the Lord through the eyes of a parent. I have always had a difficult time understanding how a perfect God who created everything could find joy in me. How could he know my sin and my failings and still love me. Then came my three….

Just yesterday was a very trying day in our household. Tantrum after tantrum (I thought we were out of the terrible two’s!). Disobedience, disrespect and outright defiance was tossed around our home like it was acceptable. It was the end of a long week with Dad gone for work and a day off school. Tired children and a tired mom did not make for a good combination. With each and every episode, my own anger would increase. What started with a time out, ended up with alone time in their bedrooms and removal of privileges.

As I sat down to read, pray and write, I was convicted of my own sin in the handling of the situation. My natural tendency is to fly off the handle when I am disrespected and move to judgement and punishment. In parenting, it is still important to quickly address and correct bad behavior, teaching and guiding your children in the truth of the Word, but the balance between truth and grace can be difficult to find in the moment. As their mom, my goal in correction should always be heart change.

My conviction came from Romans, a timely assignment!

“Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you the Judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, O man- you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself-that you will escape the judgment of God?

My sinful reaction in anger does not get to the heart of my children and it’s not how God reacts to my sin. Like Romans 2:4 says, “It’s the riches of God’s kindness and patience that leads us to repentance”.

By evening, after all the conversations, scriptures and apologies, my heart found favor in my children. Even after a long day, my heart STILL wanted to give my children good things and bestow on them grace and mercy. That is simply a reminder, a tiny glimpse of the incredible love the Lord has for his children and his desire for heart change over better behavior. His favor is not because of our good works and behavior but in spite of them, praise the Lord!

 Dear Heavenly Father, there are not enough words to thank you for your undeserved love and favor for me and my children. You are a good, good Father. Thank you for gently and lovingly pointing out my sin and leading me to repentance and back to you. Amen.

kateredding

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Filed under Esther, Genesis, Mark, Romans, Uncategorized

Gen. 8; Matt. 8; Ezra 8; Acts 8

Reading the Sermon on the Mount feels like a homecoming. I can get worked up about the events of the day, good and bad,  but falling back onto these words of Jesus puts reality back in view. God’s way radically differs from my ideas of how things should work.

As soon as Jesus finishes his sermon, he comes down off the mountain and demonstrates what it means to live this new world order, this life of grace. Untouchables are embraced; faith and trust are rewarded above effort and getting things right. He breaches social, cultural and geographic boundaries to deliver and heal. He isn’t worried about what others will think or how they will respond. He stays true to the Father’s will.

The early church fathers imitate him despite heated persecution. People who never knew what it meant to be a chosen people, find themselves the target of God’s grace. Samaritans, once despised by the Jews, now embrace the good news of the Gospel so that the name of Jesus continues to heal and deliver, and “there was great joy in that city.”Acts 8:8 God uses Phillip to lead an influential Ethiopian eunuch to salvation. Immediately afterwards, Phillip finds himself miraculously transported to another region to share the Gospel. The favor of God which had found home in the lives of a few during of Noah and Ezra’s times, is now poured out unrestrained and with force. It is like a river roaring over and above its banks and covering a land knowing no borders.

Stephen’s admonishment to the Jewish leaders (from yesterday’s reading) challenges me, “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me, says the Lord, or what is the place of my rest? Did not my hand make all these things?” Acts 7:49-59 How am I building my house, my life? There is this very large part of me that doesn’t want the status quo that the Pharisees held onto so dearly; that kind of self righteousness is stifling and squeezes all the fun out of life, but there is also the part of me that doesn’t want to take risks and wants to remain comfortable and secure in what I know. But I hear the call of Jesus and he invites me into something far greater, far more beautiful than the meager vision I have for my life.  So I pray:

Dear Lord, relieve me of my imagined, personal world order and that illusion of control. Let me trust you and your ways. Thank you for the life you have given me, these eyes that you have opened to see your beauty and this heart that yearns to know you. Thank you for your unwarranted favor. Take my life and make it want you it want to be. In the name of your son, Jesus, Amen.

Kathy

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Filed under 1 Timothy, 66 Books, Acts, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Matthew, Uncategorized

1 Kings 8; Psalm 30; 1 Timothy 3

I will exalt you, Lord, for you rescued me. You refused to let my enemies triumph over me. O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you restored my health. You brought me up from the grave, O Lord. You kept me from falling into the pit of death. Sing to the Lord, all you godly ones! Praise his holy name. For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping through the night, but joy comes in the morning. When I was prosperous, I said, “Nothing can stop me now!” Your favor, O Lord, made me as secure as a mountain. Then you turned away from me, and I was shattered.” Psalm 30:1-7 NLT

Psalm 30 means a lot to me. It helps me to remember how far God has brought me. And the many pits I’ve fallen into that he has helped me out of. But, just like David, I can be so forgetful. I fall into the trap of thinking I can handle things on my own. But, that robs me of the peace that only God’s presence can bring. Because, like my pastor said in a sermon…“His presence is better than my freedom.” This convicts me and my wandering heart. Sometimes I have to cry out to him like David did.

I cried out to you, O Lord. I begged the Lord for mercy, saying. “What will you gain if I die, if I sink into the grave? Can my dust praise you? Can it tell of your faithfulness? Hear me. Lord, and have mercy on me. Help me, O Lord. You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!” Psalm 30:8-12 NLT

Dear Father, thank you for the the times that you have rescued me. I pray that I would remember your faithfulness, so that I don’t turn back to my old ways. Thank you for meeting me where I am and never leaving me. Amen.

Then Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in front of the entire community of Israel. He lifted his hands toward heaven, and he prayed, “O Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like you in all of heaven above or on the earth below. You keep your covenant and show unfailing love to all who walk before you in wholehearted devotion. You have kept your promise to your servant David, my father. You made that promise with your own mouth, and with your own hands you have fulfilled it today.” 1 Kings 8:22-24 NLT

Amy (amyctanner)

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Hosea 14, 2 Chronicles 26-27; Psalm 61; Matthew 20

“For the Kingdom of Heaven is like the landowner who went out early one morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay the normal daily wage and sent them out to work.

“At nine o’clock in the morning he was passing through the marketplace and saw some people standing around doing nothing. So he hired them, telling them he would pay them whatever was right at the end of the day. So they went to work in the vineyard. At noon and again at three o’clock he did the same thing.

“At five o’clock that afternoon he was in town again and saw some more people standing around. He asked them, ‘Why haven’t you been working today?’

“They replied, ‘Because no one hired us.’

“The landowner told them, ‘Then go out and join the others in my vineyard.’

“That evening he told the foreman to call the workers in and pay them, beginning with the last workers first. When those hired at five o’clock were paid, each received a full day’s wage. When those hired first came to get their pay, they assumed they would receive more. But they, too, were paid a day’s wage. When they received their pay, they protested to the owner, ‘Those people worked only one hour, and yet you’ve paid them just as much as you paid us who worked all day in the scorching heat.’

“He answered one of them, ‘Friend, I haven’t been unfair! Didn’t you agree to work all day for the usual wage? Take your money and go. I wanted to pay this last worker the same as you. Is it against the law for me to do what I want with my money? Should you be jealous because I am kind to others?’

“So those who are last now will be first then, and those who are first will be last.” Matthew 20:1-16

I am so intrigued by parables – the unique way of teaching through storytelling and the multifaceted truths that can be found depending on one’s perspective. Whenever I read a parable I want to better understand the layers of meaning. I can stay on the surface, looking at the outside layer that tends to pop out; I can go deeper, looking into the context within society during the time of Christ. And, I can go deeper still, to the heart of the parable, delving into the spiritual layer, asking God for insight into His heart.

As I was praying over the reading selection today, asking God to highlight what He wanted to teach me, I kept hearing the word “Grace”. When I look at myself honestly, I know I am not deserving of everything that God gives me apart from Him. In my humanness, I don’t even come close to meeting the requirements for perfection, and if I was earning a wage, my pay would be docked for all of my failings.

But fortunately, God’s grace changes everything; a gift, undeserved, makes all believers equal in God’s eyes. It doesn’t matter what the past looked like – someone on death row for murder, truly repentant before God is as righteous as someone who has gone to church her whole life, believing in Christ as a child. It doesn’t matter what the present looks like – being a missionary in a foreign country sharing Jesus with people who have never heard His name is as valuable as someone who serves the people in his church and community. It doesn’t matter if I am first in line or last in line or somewhere in the middle of the line, I will still receive the same “wage”.

Living in the Kingdom of Heaven is an equalizer not because of who I am, or what I do, or how hard or long I work; the Kingdom of Heaven is an equalizer because of the “wage”:

The“wage” IS Christ. There is no partial payment, there isn’t overtime, there is only a “full day’s wage” – His life laid down, His blood spilled, dead and buried, then risen in Glory to bring freedom and restoration – a gift of grace for everyone who accepts it, love, mercy, favor, honor, the same gift for all.

Yesappa, Thank You for Your gift of grace, the greatest, most undeserved wage I could receive. Thank You for loving me, for offering me mercy, for bestowing me with favor, and for honoring me as Your daughter. Thank You for giving me worth and making me a valuable part of Your Kingdom. Help me walk in this knowledge daily. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Blessings – Julie, Sholavandan, India (written in the U.S.A.)

 

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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Filed under 2 Chronicles, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Hosea, Matthew, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms

Ezra 6, 7, 8; John 21

And whatever else is required for the house of your God, which it falls to you to provide, you may provide it out of the king’s treasury. And I, Artaxerxes the king, make a decree to all the treasurers in the province Beyond the River: Whatever Ezra the priest, the scribe of the Law of the God of heaven, requires of you, let it be done with all diligence, up to 100 talents of silver, 100 cors of wheat, 100 baths of wine, 100 baths of oil, and salt without prescribing how much. Whatever is decreed by the God of heaven, let it be done in full for the house of the God of heaven, lest his wrath be against the realm of the king and his sons. Ezra 7:20-23

So many people ask me how I do what I do. How do I live in a different country without the comforts of home? How do I travel long distances with my kids and no one to help me? …

My answer is typically something to the effect of: “You do what you have to do.”

The reality is that God gives me His strength and gives me His favor. I can’t do anything in my own power; I can accomplish everything in Jesus Christ.

The Israelites were in a similar position – exiled for years, not much more than slaves, the temple destroyed, their customs laid aside. There was little natural hope for their future. And, yet because of God’s approval, because the God above All gods turn the king’s hearts toward the people, their prospects rose out of the dust and they were filled with joy.

And they kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with joy, for the Lord had made them joyful and had turned the heart of the king of Assyria to them, so that he aided them in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel. Ezra 6:22

…Ezra went up from Babylonia. He was a scribe skilled in the Law of Moses that the Lord, the God of Israel, had given, and the king granted him all that he asked, for the hand of the Lord his God was on him. Ezra 7:6

The favor that this generation of Israelites experienced was supernatural. The Assyrian king completely funded the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem from his treasury; it was an act of kindness beyond what was usual in this time or in any time for that matter. The king’s deed was one of the many demonstrations in the Old Testament of how God loved His people and a yet another foreshadowing of the unmerited gift of grace believers would be able to receive as a result of Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross, the ultimate treasury emptied for His beloved.

…I [take] courage, for the hand of the Lord my God [is] on me… Ezra 7:28

Because of His sacrifice, I can accomplish everything in Jesus Christ…and, I can be encouraged that His hand is upon me and His favor goes before me in my journey. I’ve been chosen and I can be certain that He will always be with me.

Yesappa, Thank You for strengthening me, keeping Your hand on me, and giving me Your favor. Thank You for encouraging me and never leaving nor forsaking me, no matter how difficult the trials in my life are. Thank You for giving me hope and for raising me up out of the ashes. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Blessings – Julie (writing from the U.S.A.)

 

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Filed under 66 Books, ESV Through the Bible in a Year, Ezra, John, New Testament, Old Testament