Written by Peggy Lundy - Heartland Church - Fort Wayne, IN
Photo credit: Caitlin Spaulding
Have you ever wondered if it’s possible to live as a favored child of God? Well, it is, and answering a few more questions will help us unpack this blessing.
What is the favor of God?
Favor comes when someone takes notice of you and turns his gaze on you. God’s favor is primarily expressed as His unfailing, unconditional love for you. It’s His attitude of grace toward you, and it’s your position as the one who receives His love and blessing.
The phrase,“find favor in your eyes,” is used more than forty times in the Old Testament. The words ‘favor’ and ‘grace’ are usually interchangeable in the Scriptures. ‘Favor’ is used more commonly in the Old Testament while ‘grace’ is used in the New Testament.
Where do we find His favor?
To find someone’s favor we must first seek their face or their full attention. David said, “‘Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice, and be gracious (favorable) to me and answer me.’ When You said to me, ‘Seek My face,’ my heart answered, ‘Your face, O LORD, I will seek’” (Psalm 27:7-8 from NASB). David knew his salvation was found only in the grace/favor of God. He knew that being face to face with God gave him God’s full attention and therefore God’s full deliverance from his enemies.
Aaron blessed the children of Israel, including New Covenant children as well, with, “The LORD bless you, and keep you; the LORD make His face shine on you, and be gracious (favorable) to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace” (Num. 6:24-27, NASB). The light of the Father’s face shines the light of His favor on us. Jesus is that Light. If we have seen Him, we have seen the Father. He is the best demonstration of the Father’s favor.
How can we experience God’s favor every day?
As we seek the Father’s face each day, He is looking for our full attention. We drop all pretense, excuse, demand, fear, and shame when we look into His eyes. In fact, the only thing that can obscure His face is our sin. Even then, His grace provides forgiveness. Like David, we know our salvation is found only in His grace, in His favor.
That grace/favor is the constant in our lives. We don’t earn it or deserve it; He gives it to us freely, lavishly. We can now live in the confidence that our Father’s favor is something we have. Like His mercy, His favor is renewed every morning. We live out of His favor, not for it. We have the settled assurance that His favor lasts our entire lifetime.
Pray with me: Father, thank You for lavishing Your favor on us each day. Please give us eyes to see the truth You are showing us and hearts willing to believe and obey. Amen.
Written by Fr. Dale Minor - Reclaim Ministry - Rutland, OH
Even a cursory study of home architecture will reveal an age when porches on a house were common. A proper home had to have a front porch. It served several purposes. First of all, it protected the entrance from the elements. It also provided an opportunity for one to shake off the dust of the road, even kick off a boot before entering the home. Before air conditioning was common, it also served as a place to do certain tasks where the air might be a little cooler and the chance of a breeze was good. And there was no place in the home more conducive to just sitting and relaxing; a place to read, to pray, or just reflect upon the circumstances of one’s life and talk to the Lord. Most of all, front porches are a place of welcome, they just say, “Come on in.”
In small towns and villages, in urban neighborhoods, at a time when people walked or rode a horse to get most anywhere, people could greet their neighbors as they passed by. Sometimes these folks had pressing matters such that they could only wave or tip their hats as they moved on. Others might pause a moment, exchange greetings and inquire of each other’s wellbeing. And some, would come on up, accept the invitation to stop, rest awhile, and spend some quality time with neighbors, both those who were long time friends and those they were just getting to know.
But the industrial age came upon the world. Motorized vehicles enable us to buzz along the streets and roads without even noticing the homes or who lived there. The houses had central heat and air conditioning; television took over our need for human contact. We even got to where the characters in a TV drama were more familiar to us than our next-door neighbor. And front porches were replaced by carports and back-yard retreats. Personal privacy became more important to us than sharing our lives with good friends and neighbors. And it was all to our loss.
There are literally dozens of scriptures calling us to love and share our resources with neighbors and strangers alike; far too many to list, so, here are just a few.
“Therefore, comfort each other and edify one another, just as you are doing.” (1 Thess. 5:11)
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Gal. 6:2)
“Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification.” (Rom. 15:2)
“Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, long-suffering; bearing with one another and forgiving one another,.. “
Even as our fast-paced life may hinder opportunities for “front-porch encounters,” it may even provide more opportunities to interact with acquaintances and strangers alike, for a stranger can be a friend you have yet to meet. We are probably all familiar with the passage from Mt. 25:34 and forward in which Jesus said. “I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.” And when his companions asked when they had done these things, Jesus replied, “In as much as you did this to the least of these, you did it to Me.”
This speaks about the condition of our hearts more than the architecture of our homes, as opportunity abounds for us to be witnesses to the saving grace of our Lord Jesus, and we begin by opening our hearts and minds to friends and strangers alike.
“Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing, some have unwittingly entertained angels.” (Hebrews 13:2)
Written by Cathy Schrock - Heartland Church - Fort Wayne, IN
Photo Credit: Adrienne Mueller
You remember it, don’t you? The fabled Midwest American summer road trip. The destination: family reunion, annually gathering relatives. The patriarch and matriarch of the clan holding court, chuckling along as stories of youth are told and retold. Children having gunny sack races and hula hoop contests and parents tossing horseshoes in the afternoon sun. And then, supper: a veritable feast, consisting of favorite recipes from each family, all prepared with care and pride. Then comes the campfire, replete with songs, s’mores, and stories of the Good Ole’ Days.
The journey there, however, was sometimes frustrating. Siblings squabbling in the backseat when all the games had played out and boredom set in. Mom consulting the roadmap to make sure Dad was on the right track, and Dad insisting he knew exactly where he was and where he was going. And then it comes; that dreaded phrase that would add to the tension in the air. “Are we there yet?” Parents, already stressed out and on edge, giving in to exasperation at the sound of that question. Children, feeding off the tension in the air and recoiling at Dad’s resounding, “We get there when we get there!”
The Psalmist writes: “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! For there the Lord bestows His blessing, even life evermore” (Psalm 133:1,3). This has always been God’s plan, His destination for the Church. Jesus prayed for all who will ever believe in Him, “May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that You sent me and have loved them even as You have loved me” (John 17:21,23). Paul wrote, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3-6).
So why aren’t we there yet?
His Body is to be one, unified and spotless — but there are so many ways in which we remain divided, segregated, judging and being judged. There is so much pain, betrayal, and brokenness. The Body of Christ is, in many instances, powerless, irrelevant, and compromised. There is much work to be done! It is the work of the Holy Spirit in each person’s heart that will begin the process of reconciliation and healing. He can heal our wounds and bring us into unbroken fellowship with each other, building us into the unified, spotless, and authoritative Bride for whom Christ longs to return.
Ask yourself: Am I there yet? What in my life is keeping me from being one with my brothers and sisters, both here and around the world? Ask God: What is Your plan for me? How do You want me to respond?
PRAYER: Lord, search my heart. Show me the areas in which I need to repent and move forward with a “Yes” in my heart toward all You are asking of me.
Written by Fr. Dale Minor - Reclaim Ministry - Rutland, OH
Has August seemed to go on forever for you? Maybe it’s because we have just had two 31-day months back-to-back. Or that this month has had five Sundays, five Mondays, and five Tuesdays. This will not have happened in any other month this year. The next time we will experience such an event is May of 2022. But, does it really matter?
Calendars are just a means of keeping track of days and seasons. They help us maintain some order to our life-patterns and to prepare for the natural change in seasons. But such calendars are relatively new in the course of human history. The earliest calendar discovered is a bronze age “Sumerian” calendar dating from about 2000 BC. The first 12month calendar based on cosmic observations was developed in 330BC. The modern calendar can be traced to the Roman Empire with the Julian Calendar of 45 BC which was later refined into the current universally accepted calendar, the Gregorian Calendar developed in 1582AD. Some may argue that certain archeological sites such as Stonehenge in England are a type of calendar but there is
no real consensus to the purpose of this structure.
What is undeniable is the fact that God himself established a pattern for time and seasons. “Then God said, ‘Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years.” (Gen. 1-14) This raises a question about their purpose; “signs and seasons for whom?” I have maintained that all of creation was to provide a home for God’s ultimate purpose, -- man; the creature He made in His image to be an intimate companion for himself. If this be true, the order which we have discovered exists in the heavens provides the basis for our sense of time, and controls the seasons required to maintain the variety of life on earth.
God is timeless. He doesn’t need time for himself. But He established time for man. Consider these verses of scripture: “And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on the face of the earth, and has determined their pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord... (Acts 17:26-27a) Or, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way.” (Ps. 37:23) Also, Ps.74:16-17; “The day is Yours, the night also is Yours; You have prepared the light and the sun. You have set all the borders of the earth; You have made summer and winter.”
These and more provide ample evidence that God created time for man, and specifically that man should use this time to establish himself in relationship with
the Lord. The Lord’s stated purpose is for us to imitate Him; to be His companion, not just occasionally, but perpetually. He established time, not so we could allocate it according to our wills, but that we dedicate all our time to his honor and glory. He gave us time, not so that we give him an hour or two once per week, but that we dwell with Him and He with us, -- meaning we remain in constant communion with Him.
There is a little praise song called Holy Ground by Christopher Beatty. It simply says “This is holy ground; we’re standing on holy ground. For the Lord is present and where He is, is holy.” The verse is repeated and singers are invited to add other verses one of which is most always, “This is holy time, He’s given us holy time.
God works in this time and so this time is holy.
Time is precious, it is a gift of God. Receive it and use it to love God and love others; that is; keep it holy!