Anti-favor – The best place to start a discussion on God’s favor is to understand the pain of living out of His favor. It’s worse than not having His positive intervention in our lives. It feels like the world is against us, and nothing works. Our health, finances, labor, and land are all in drought and everything stops producing.
Hag. 1:9-11 – “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the Lord Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house. 10 Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops. 11 I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the oil and whatever the ground produces, on men and cattle, and on the labor of your hands.” NIV
Here, God was building his house, and God’s people were building their houses. Their focus was on themselves and they reaped the same consequence discussed in 1 Cor. 11:27-32. Drinking the cup and partaking of the body is not primarily a communion sacrament, it’s a decision to put the Kingdom first and do what’s written in our book. Keep in mind this old testament physical house in the new covenant is people. We’re building a house; Jesus is the cornerstone and we are lively stones built into a spiritual house (1 Pet. 2:5). The Father’s heart has a priority on people.
#1 Favor from doing what the Father does – The easiest way to think about favor is, “Do what the Father does.” The genius of the heart plan is that we’re shopping for the desires God wrote in your heart that are already in His heart. Living out a purpose already in your heart is Kingdom – is fun. Trying to obey your way to favor is religion – a drag!
We could skip asking what’s in Father’s heart. God loves His children so much that He often gives us good gifts simply out of love, not out a larger agenda or a Kingdom purpose. But, that’s the long road to favor. Jesus made it simple; He just did what He saw the Father doing. He cooperated with God’s favor instead of asking for himself. God loves everyone, but extra favor is on those who share His purpose and co-labor with Him to make it happen.
John 5:19 – “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. NIV
Watch this! – Once the Son flowed with His Father’s purpose, an amazing thing happened. Father pulled the curtain back on everything He was doing. Even bigger, the Son was now giving life to whomever He wanted to because He understood the purpose in His Father’s heart. Even judgment was given to the son. Jesus was operating out of His own initiative because He and His Father were on the same page.
John 5:20-22 – For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these. 21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. 22 Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son. NIV
The real ramification of initiative and favor is that it’s available to us. Jesus was the firstborn of many brothers who are also sons and carry the Father’s purpose, power and authority as well. As sons, we’re in the business of bringing heaven to earth. That’s pretty amazing Favor.
John 20:21-23 – Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” NIV
#2 Put the Kingdom first – Favor comes with authority and boldness. That all happens when you know your working on the Father’s purpose not just building your own house and tooting your own horn. Favor isn’t just financial prosperity or promotion. Favor is co-laboring with Kingdom purpose that can lead to health and wealth, but it can also lead to a cross. Our definition of success and favor aren’t the same thing.
We each have a book (purpose, Ps. 139:15-16). Everything with people has purpose too. If you know the Kingdom purpose for your life, business, organization, city or nation, it will be easy to find God’s favor.
Putting the Kingdom first instead of “running after all these things” (Mt. 6:25-34) has the same “build the house first” theme as Haggai. The Father has a heart for people and so should we. Your business dream may take off like a rocket, but it is wise to put your dream on a foundation of knowing what’s in your book and loving people first. If we start something outside His purpose, we open the door to fear, anxiety, failure, health, and financial issues.
#3 Don’t confuse favor and failure – I assumed these were exact opposites. I had lived most of my life under a string of successes that started in grade school; I was the coach’s first selection for the all-star basketball team, we didn’t lose a home game in my last two years of high school, and we won the district championship. My horses were champions twice in 4-H. I got good grades, a degree in chemical engineering, married a beautiful woman, had four great kids, made a good salary, started two churches. My identity was that I was a winner because of God’s favor. I had allowed my identity to get intertwined with the western concept of success. I even felt a bit superior to those who didn’t have success and I wanted to teach them how to follow in my footsteps to favor.
Then in 2012, we nearly went bankrupt over an investment that turned out to be a Ponzi scheme. My identity immediately shifted from winner with favor to a shameful loser abandoned by God. I couldn’t understand why God withdrew His favor. I didn’t have a theology for resurrection, because I didn’t believe dreams could die or that God might discipline those He loves. God showed me His favor in the resurrections.
The outward trappings of commercial success are not a complete definition of favor. I do want to be a successful entrepreneur; I am a devout capitalist, but I want prosperity on a foundation of Kingdom purpose. I want to know the “Why” in my Father’s heart. I want His Kingdom to come first. I want a level of relationship that I can experience His presence and favor in the valleys. I want my Father to trust His son in battles that might be lost.
#4 Love people; Helping others find favor – Here’s are two people-boundaries that will help you find favor and foster it in others:
- Carrying one another’s burdens is the golden rule (Gal. 5:2). We should know what’s in the heart of those around us – even help them get it in writing in a heart plan! We should encourage those dreams, carry them in our hearts, and pray with them in the courts and council.
- Those same people should carry their load (Gal. 5:5). Every dream includes work and responsibility. If you try to carry the load for other people, you’re robbing them of their identity and purpose, and you’re creating a codependent victim.
PS – People need to be allowed to fail. It’s the only way we learn to resurrect. They can be stubborn, reject wisdom, do their own thing – love them anyway. They will be back. Failure and favor are part of being a follower of Jesus for all of us. They are not opposites.
#5 Two or three – The “wherever two or three are gathered” concept from Mt. 18:19 is a natural part of tribe we all benefit from. The tribe of people whose hearts we know deeply and love is about twelve. The number of people we pray within the courts and council for your and my personal stuff is usually two or three. I go alone all the time, but I still find a place in all our hearts to have a few others go with us. Jesus attends those times of prayer and they are rich! Although my self-sufficient tendencies might resist, I need prayer from others to navigate my book, and it feels good when it happens.
Matt. 18:18-20 – “I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. 19 “Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” NIV
#6 Growing in Favor – Like Jesus, we all grow in wisdom and stature and favor with God and men (Lu. 2:52). Favor, Charis in the Greek, means the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life; including gratitude. We grow in our ability as sons to co-labor with the Father’s purpose and wield His authority to loose heaven on earth. It’s fun! His power is at work in us – amazing!
Eph. 3:19-21 – and to know this love that surpasses knowledge — that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us NIV
#7 Work – The fruit of people who have favor (know their Father’s purpose) is that they are strong and confident. They “work” with the talents God has given them, and they “work on” the assignment in their book. They know failure is not a loss of favor. God’s purpose remains the same through trials, failures, persecution, and enemy resistance. He leads sons through difficult tasks and seasons; the fruit is of following Jesus isn’t limited to the commercial definition of success. We keep working because His favor is with us.
Hag. 2:4-5 – Be strong, all you people of the land,’ declares the Lord, ‘and work. For I am with you,’ declares the Lord Almighty. 5 ‘This is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear.’ NIV