Joseph the favored, part three

I left off on Tuesday with a few big questions. How can we get the favor of God? What does it mean to have the the favor of God? Well, I did some research on God’s favor and found some great verses. My favorite of them is this.

Isaiah 66:2 All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the Lord.  But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.

Then there’s this one from 2 Chronicles.

2 Chronicles 16:9 For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.

I could go on and on here.

Psalm 37:23 The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way;

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

It’s not ungodly to seek the favor of God because seeking His favor means I’m trying to live according to His will. The Bible seems clear that it’s a great pursuit to go after the favor of the Lord. It means seeking Him with everything we have. It means giving your heart, your soul, your mind, your strength, your everything into the pursuit of God. It means living in a way that you know will be pleasing to Him, to be holy and righteous and loving and kind and patient.

When we started this look at Joseph the favored, I mentioned that he seemed like a bit of a brat. I stand by that assessment, but as the guy’s life gets turned upside down and he’s betrayed by his brothers and sold into slavery, I want you to notice all the things that he doesn’t do. Nowhere does the Bible record him complaining. Never does it show Joseph doing anything less than excelling wherever he ends up. I’m a slave now? Well dang, I guess I’ll be the greatest slave in all of Egypt! Prison? Welp, time to be the greatest prisoner that was ever held behind these bars! As I really dig into his time as a slave/prisoner, there’s almost a joy you can sense from Joseph. Does he want his fortunes to get better? Sure he does, he tells the royal prisoner to take his case to Pharaoh for him. But Joseph never rebels. He never runs away, he never tries to kill his captors, he never curses God for his crummy lot in life.

When I was studying the book of Jonah, I mentioned attitude and how it was a recurring theme in my Bible studies recently. Man, Joseph just embodies that, doesn’t he? And I think that it’s just a great insight into what it takes to be someone who has God’s favor. Attitude counts for everything. Two people can get lost on a road trip. One sees it as a horrible waste of time that ruined the timetable for their day. The other views it as a fun little adventure that exposed to them to a part of the town they never would’ve seen otherwise. Two people can get let go from their job. One can curse the company and fall into a depression over the prospect of being jobless. The other can view it as a chance for a fresh start that allows them to go after new and better opportunities.

In these examples, which person do you think is closer to having the favor of God? The person who views every unforeseen circumstance as a reason for misery and complaining? Or the person who takes it all in stride and is able to find joy even when things aren’t turning out as expected?

I want to be a person who exists under the favor of God. Like Joseph, I want God to be with me in every situation, I want Him to be with me and cause me to prosper. But if I want that, then I have to be committed to it, because Joseph had a father’s favor when he was comfortable at home, but it was his earthly dad that favored him there. It wasn’t until things got tough and unfortunate that Joseph experienced the fullness of favor from the Heavenly Father. It wasn’t until he was sold into slavery by his own brothers. It wasn’t until he was unfairly tossed in prison. If we’re going to walk as God’s favored people, we have to prepare ourselves for the possibility that it’s not always going to happen at home. It could happen in a tough situation at work, in a messy relationship, in a broken family, at a church that’s falling apart, in a life that’s going off the rails through no fault of your own. We have to want His favor bad enough to live in a way that’s becoming of a favored child of God, and we also have to prepare ourselves for the fact that God’s favor could carry us into tough situations. You don’t train your best soldiers to leave them at home. You train them and send them into the harshest battles. Look at those who had the favor of God in the Bible. Did they sit around at home in their comfy chair, surrounded by their best friends while they spent their days engaging in their favorite relaxing hobbies? Or did they get sent to and fro in the world, spreading God’s word while getting persecuted, some of them getting martyred for the cause? God favored David, and sent him into battle against a giant. God favored Joseph, who went through 13 years of slavery and imprisonment. God favored Paul, who was stoned, imprisoned, and ultimately murdered. God favored Noah, and Moses, and Daniel, and so many more who faced incredible trials and persecutions and troubles.

I’m not trying to scare anyone away here, I’m just trying to show that having the favor of God isn’t exactly a get out of jail free card. Biblically speaking, It’s more like a get into jail free but have great joy and purpose while you’re in there and then after a while get out via a miracle of God card. If you’re going to go hard after the favor of God, it’s time to start moving into some advanced levels of spiritual living. I think it requires releasing our hold on this world, and embracing that the thing that truly matters is God’s kingdom. I think it requires some serious soul searching and deep commitment. It requires a realization that the real rewards are never going to come while we live here in this world, but they’re going to be waiting for us in eternal life.

I want the favor of God. I’d love to say I’m there, that I’ve got it all figured out and that I’m done with every sin and that I don’t care for any earthly rewards and that I don’t even think about earthly pleasures and distractions. I can’t say all of that yet. What I can say is that I’m making progress. What I can say is that I’ve felt His favor on me from time to time, and that it’s a feeling I want to remain for all of my days. I can say that I’m more spiritually mature than I was when I started this blog in the summer. I can also say that I could try harder than I do. I could pray more, study the word more, be more holy and more righteous. At the end of the day, God knows my heart. I can’t hide it from Him, He knows the true level I’m at in my pursuit of Him and His favor. I could write ten thousand words that make mine sound like a noble pursuit, but none of that matters. What matters is what God sees when He looks inside of me.

I want to challenge you on this. Think about what God sees when he examines your heart. How would he gauge the level of your pursuit after His favor? What does He see in the hidden recesses of you, in the places you try to keep hidden even from yourself? We should want God’s favor, but I think we also need to get real about how far along we are in that pursuit. I think it’s time to take an honest inventory of ourselves, of the ways in which we need to mature and get clean. I want that favor, and man, now’s the time to get deadly serious about pursuing it.

CLOSING AND PRAYER

I love God, and I know He loves me.  Last night I dragged myself to church.  I was feeling crummy, a little sick and just a little down.  During a time of prayer, I was found by not one but two people who came to share beautiful words of encouragement and empowerment with me in prayer.  I cried afterwards, because I didn’t even realize how bad I was in need of encouragement and that touch of love and appreciation until I was in the middle of receiving it.  All I knew when I went to church was that I just wasn’t feeling real great.  God knew why, and He met me with two deep and beautiful encouragers who told me exactly what I didn’t even know I needed to hear.  God worked through them to bless me, strengthen me, and challenge me.  I couldn’t help but cry afterwards, because I struggle to comprehend the love that God has for me.  That He’d put me in the path of these two fellow church members who would find me and know just the perfect words to share.  It’s a mystifying love, but I’m so glad I have it.

When I close out each blog I always write that God loves you.  These aren’t just words I share, it’s maybe the deepest truth that exists and my heart longs for everyone to know that love.  I shared the personal experience I had at church because it showcases just how special God’s love is for us, but it’s not a love just for me, it’s for all of us.  If you feel like you’re not experiencing that love of God I promise you it’s there.  He’s reaching out to you this very moment, waiting for you to reach back.  Get into prayer, dive deep into the Bible, get committed to a Bible believing church, get your life set to God’s priorities and not your own.  I believe we’re living in a special time and Gods’ just pouring His love out on His people right now.

For prayers, I’m going simple today.  Father God, today I just want to take a moment to thank you for your love.  It is the greatest gift, the greatest thing in existence.  My human brain can’t even comprehend the width and depth of your love for me.  My heart bursts with it.  Thank you for loving me.  So much of my life was spent living outside of your purposes, not honoring you and your ways, but your love for me never wavered.  Thank you, God, for sending Jesus to show me that love in action.  Thank you that I’m able to sit here today and tell you that I love you, in return.  In Jesus precious name I pray, amen.

Alright, I love you guys.  I’m excited for Monday as we start the look at Joseph the forgiver.  I hope you all have a safe and enjoyable weekend!  God loves you!

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