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IT'S GOOD TO BE ALIVE ...AND HAVE THE FAVOR OF GOD
We are beginning a new series today titled "IT’S GOOD TO BE ALIVE." How many of us enjoy living? Sure you do! You hear a lot of preachers talk about and a lot of singers sing about how great it will be to die and go to heaven. Well, you won’t hear much of that around here because Jesus didn’t come to give us abundant death. He came to give us abundant life. You heard the story about the preacher who asked for a showing of hands from his congregation of all those who wanted to go to heaven. Everyone raised a hand except for one man. The preacher knew the man and knew he had a relationship with Jesus and thought the man must not have heard the question. So, again he said, "If you want to go to heaven raise your hand." Again, everyone raised their hand and gave a hardy "Amen!" except that one man. The preacher then asked him, "You don’t want to go to heaven when you die?" The man said, "Oh! When I die… Sure. I thought you were getting a load up now." That’s how I am and that’s how you are because "IT’S GOOD TO BE ALIVE!"
"IT’S GOOD TO BE ALIVE," but you never exactly know what hand you are going to be dealt from life. But, no matter what you are dealt, if you handle it correctly, it will make life good. (FORREST GUMP CLIP) "Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get." The story line in the movie Forrest Gump is that no matter what Forrest faced – from mental and physical handicaps to hurricanes – he turned every situation into something where it was "GOOD TO BE ALIVE."
Let me explain our platform to you. We have two big boxes of chocolates. In one box we have chocolates, but also FAVOR (Royal Straight Flush), FAMILY, and FRIENDS. In the other box we have chocolates, but also CONFLICT, LOVE, and FAITH. They will be the titles of our lesson. Those things are intended to make life good and without them, well, life just isn’t good.
Today I want to talk to you about IT’S GOOD TO BE ALIVE AND HAVE GOD’S FAVOR!" The Bible says a lot about the favor of God. It’s important to have God’s favor, but, what is the favor of God? Let’s take a look at the favor of God today because IT’S GOOD TO BE ALIVE AND HAVE GOD’S FAVOR.
Luke 2:52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and IN FAVOR WITH GOD AND MEN.
Let’s say that I needed something done for me that was going to take a lot of time to do, or require expertise that I don’t have. For whatever reason, I couldn’t do this thing that I needed done. What would be included in the process of my asking someone, "Will you do me a great FAVOR?" First of all, would I ask that to a complete stranger? No. Would I even ask that to someone that I don’t know very well? No. Of whom would I ask that?
First, it would be someone with whom I have more than a casual relationship. It would be someone that I know well and with whom I feel comfortable asking to take their time, effort, and expertise and spend them on me. My point is that a lot of people don’t experience the favor of God because they only have a casual relationship with God. (PAUSE)
The FAVOR OF GOD is when God does us FAVOR(S) and God wants to do favors for his children.
Proverbs 8:35 For whoever FINDS ME FINDS LIFE and RECEIVES FAVOR from the LORD.
Proverbs 8:36 But whoever fails to find me harms himself; all who hate me love death."
Noah found favor with God and avoided the flood. Abraham found favor with God and became very wealthy and experienced his hearts desire. Ruth found favor with God and married into wealth. David found favor with God and became king. Esther found favor with God and became queen. Jesus found favor with God and became King of kings and Lord of Lords. What do you want from life? You need God’s favor. God’s favor makes life good. If I want to live a life that expects God’s FAVOR then I must find him.
Also, I would most likely ask someone to do a great favor for me if I have done favors for him or her. We do favors for the Lord all the time. We tell people about his kingdom, minister to his people, and labor in his vineyard (church). A lot of people never experience the favor(s) of God because they never do favors for the Lord. A relationship includes the exchanging of favors.
Let me give you an example. I am not at all computer illiterate, but from time to time I do run into something that I cannot figure out. Now Kevin Robinson makes his living by working on computers. So, if I run into something that I can’t figure out, I don’t even think twice about calling Kevin or asking him to do me a favor. I did that Christmas day. Now why do I have that kind of liberty with Kevin? It’s because I have a long-term relationship with him where favors have been exchanged.
The favor of God comes out of a relationship with God just as the favor of a person comes out of a relationship with that person. It’s part of the relationship "package". If you want the favor of God on your life – favors from God – then you need more than a casual relationship with God.
One of the more interesting truths about the favor of God is that it is impossible to separate God’s favor from man’s favor.
Proverbs 3:4 Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.
1 Samuel 2:26 And the boy Samuel continued to grow in stature and in favor with the LORD and with men.
Luke 2:52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
Even Jesus needed the favor of men. In other words, when God likes you, people will like you too. Have you ever heard someone say something like, "Well, I have God’s favor, so I don’t care if people like me"? It doesn’t work that way. When God’s favor is on a person, people like the person as well. Amazingly, people will do favors for that person without being asked. The reason is because God works his favors through people.
When we look at those who had God’s favor in the scriptures, we see that even the heathen blessed them. Abraham would do some of the strangest things, like twice allowing Sarah, his wife to be taken into a harem by a Pharaoh and a king. Amazingly, both times Abraham came out of those times rich and blessed because of the favor of God. David had the favor of God and even through all the mess-ups and dysfunctions that David did, he was constantly being blessed and loved by people.
I had a terrible experience in Florida a few years ago. We got into some rough water and my bilge pump stopped working which allowed my boat to fill with water before I realized it. The motor went down and sucked water into the piston chamber and blew the side out of my outboard motor. I had to have it towed in. For some reason (I know the reason), the man who owned the business to where my boat was pulled, gave favor to me. His name is Johnny. Mr. Johnny would not rest until he found me another motor at a great price, got it installed, and got me back in the water fishing again. He spent hours on the phone and recalling personal favors from people so that I could get back to my vacation.
Nancy Doss Hawkinson’s little girl was having a serious surgery in San Antonio, Texas. I had been very involved in her complex birth and they asked me if there was any way possible that I could be there for the surgery. I flew out using a "buddy pass" from my sister-in-law, but didn’t realize that my return trip was at a peak holiday travel time. When I went to board the plane, they had overbooked the flight and I got bumped along with about 50 others. Well, the next day was Sunday and I was supposed to be here to preach, but the airline was saying that it would be days before I would be able to fly out with the buddy pass. I asked the Lord to help me – do a favor for me. The next flight out, I sat there watching as the plane boarded. They were about to close the doors when they called my name to come to the counter. I went and they said, "Mr. Young, we have had a person to cancel. Would you want to fly in first class and leave right now?" In 10 minutes, I was in the first class cabin heading home.
The favor of God and man doesn’t just happen. It is FOUND. This is probably one of the largest truths about living in the favor of God. Again and again people found favor with God and with man.
The Bible tells of Abraham,
Genesis 18:3 And Abraham said, "If I have FOUND FAVOR in your eyes, my lord, do not pass your servant by.
The Bible tells of Moses
Numbers 11:11 And Moses said unto the LORD, …and where have I not FOUND FAVOR in thy sight
The Bible says of David,
Acts 7:46 Who FOUND FAVOR before God, and desired to find a tabernacle for the God of Jacob.
There are things we do that will find us favor. We can expect favors from God when we do favors for God. What are some of those things that will cause God to do favors for us? Let’s look at a few.
1. OFFERING: Genesis 4:4 But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with FAVOR on Abel and his offering,
Genesis 4:5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.
(First use) The KJV uses the word respect instead of favor. The point is that the Lord knows when we are giving him good offerings, or if we are just "tipping" him. Isn’t it amazing that we have no problem at all giving a waiter or waitress 10% or 15% gratuity, but can’t find the money to pay out tithes? Are you finding favor with your offerings? We have some great givers at Life Gate and every one of them walk in the favor of God.
2. SPENDING TIME: Genesis 18:3 He said, "If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, do not pass your servant by.
Spending time with the Lord brings his favor. The Lord was passing by Abraham’s tent one day and would have kept on going, but Abraham ran and caught up with the Lord and prepared a wonderful steak dinner for him and his angels. God will never intrude on you and make you spend time with him. He will just keep walking by. But if you will take time for him, he will reveal secrets to you and bless you with the desire of your heart – Isaac. It was at that time of spending time with God that God told Abraham that this time next year Sarah would have a son (Gen 18:10). If you want big favors, impossible favors, spend some quality time with the Lord God.
3. LEARN HIS WAYS: Exodus 33:13 If you are pleased with me, TEACH ME YOUR WAYS so I may know you and continue to FIND FAVOR with you…
We need to read his word and study his ways. We need to talk about the Lord with and around people who do know his ways. (LIFEGROUPS) Ask questions. The more we know about God, the more favors he will do for us. When we learn his ways, we will continue to find his favors like Moses found them.
4. BLESSING PEOPLE: Ruth 2:10 At this, she bowed down with her face to the ground. She exclaimed, "Why have I found such FAVOR in your eyes that you notice me - a foreigner?"
Ruth 2:11 Boaz replied, "I've been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband - how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before.
Ruth had laid down her life to take care of her mother-in-law Naomi. Blessing people brings the favor of God. Ruth was blessed beyond her wildest expectations by the favor of God and man. She married, became wealthy, and had children because she had the favor of God.
5. APPEARANCE: Esther 2:9 The girl pleased him and won his favor. Immediately he provided her with her beauty treatments and special food. He assigned to her seven maids selected from the king's palace and moved her and her maids into the best place in the harem.
I know this one is a little strange, but the Lord wants us to look nice. Esther had the favor of God on her life because she cared about how she looked, how she presented herself, how she talked, etc. Christ followers should care about those things too. We should present ourselves as Ambassadors of Christ.
I asked Gailynn if I could use her as an example. Gailynn has been working on her appearance. She has been an example of diligence to all of us. She was overweight but has now lost 72 pounds. She has been faithfully going to the gym and is also going back to school. So, I called her and asked her if she had noticed any FAVOR that she had received since her appearance had changed. She immediately said, "Yes!" People treat her differently. She is more confident about herself and the owner of the gym has now asked Gailynn to teach a class for those 30+ pounds overweight. That’s not even to mention what Kevin, her husband has to say about it. There are special favors that God will work for us if we care about our appearance.
Esther 2:17 Now the king was attracted to Esther more than to any of the other women, and she won his favor and approval more than any of the others. So he set a royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.
Okay, I hope we get the point. We find the favor of God by our OFFERINGS, SPENDING TIME with the Lord, LEARNING HIS WAYS, BLESSING PEOPLE, and by PROPERLY PRESENTING OURSELVES as ambassadors of Christ. There are more ways to find his favor, but we get the idea. It all comes back to having a close relationship with the Lord and FINDING him.
We are told the story about Mary, the mother of Jesus.
Luke 1:28 The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are HIGHLY FAVORED! The Lord is with you."
Luke 1:29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.
Luke 1:30 But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have FOUND FAVOR with God.
That’s what I want. I want to be HIGHLY FAVORED by God. How about you? Life had been good for Mary. She was about to be married and I am certain that she was excited like any woman would be. But amazingly, Mary didn’t realize that she had a unique connection with God. She didn’t know that she was highly favored. She had FOUND FAVOR with God which means she had a good relationship with him, but Mary was HIGHLY FAVORED. Mary would be the mother of Jesus Christ. She would bring forth the Christ and that made her HIGHLY FAVORED.
Isn’t that what we are to do? All of us are to carry and bring Christ into the earth, our region, and into the lives of others. When we do, we step into a place of being HIGHLY FAVORED.
IT’S GOOD TO BE ALIVE AND HAVE THE FAVOR OF GOD! How many want to walk in the FAVORS of God? Let’s be HIGHLY FAVORED and carry the Christ into this region! Give the Lord a shout and handclap. Amen!
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