KLOVE Radio Features – September 2021
INCREASING IN FAVOR –
Does it ever seem that God favors one person more than another? After further examination of the biblical principle of “favor,” I’ve found that it does, and for good reason. While God’s love is distributed equally: He loves each of us with an everlasting love, (Jeremiah 31:3) His favor is connected to our growing in yielding to God’s Spirit. In Luke 2:52, the Bible says, “…Jesus increased in favor,” and so can we. Favor here is the Greek word, “charity,” and refers to “the spiritual condition of (some) one (who is) governed by the power of divine grace.” Wow! Allowing my Spirit to be governed by God’s divine grace and not human effort will increase His favor in my life. “Jesus, I recognize that all of my efforts will be ineffective without Your divine favor. Help me to allow Your grace to govern my life.”
Did you ever wonder if you’re resisting the will of God for your life? I’ve found, at times, resignation and acceptance is the only appropriate response to the challenges I am facing. I know I’m supposed to resist the devil, but at times I’ve wondered if I am actually resisting God. When is resignation an appropriate response? I believe it’s when you know it is the will of God. In Mark 16, Jesus surprised Pilate by not answering his questions. Why would Jesus not come to his own defense? Because He knew it was the Father’s will for Him to die for the sins of the world. Therefore, He rested in the will of God and didn’t resist it. Had He not rested, He would have been as confused as many of us often are when we refuse to accept and defer to what we know is God’s will for our lives, even if it’s not what we so desperately want.
Do you ever think “I’ve got this,” when you’re putting great effort into accomplishing something important? Only to realize a short while later that, “I don’t got this!” I’ve seen it happen over and over again, not just in my own life, but in sporting events, where at the last second someone scores a basket, makes a hit, or stretches across a finish line ahead of someone who thought they’d already won. That’s why Jesus said, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37, NLT) This “all in” response is the way Jesus is asking us to live. Ecclesiastes 9:10 says it like this, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might…” Finishing well is actually more important than starting well.
DOING ONLY WHAT I WANT
The other day, as I was leaving the gym, I noticed a man walking in vaping, and thought “Isn’t that just like the rest of us? We’re trying to do something good to make up for something bad that we are simultaneously doing.” I remember as a young Christian being challenged by a more mature leader with this sentence, “Francis, the things you want to do, you do very well, but the things you don’t want to do, you hardly do at all.“ Ouch! I knew he was right, and his insight provoked me to want to change. It became a guiding principle in my life: My doing what is easy or desirable will make me a weak person. My doing what is hard because it is the right thing to do, will help me become the person God intended me to be.
WHAT OPPORTUNITIES AM I MISSING?
In Mark 14, a woman came and poured out very expensive perfume on the head of Jesus. The disciples were angry when they saw it, and chided Him, missing the significance and value of her loving gesture. She was actually obeying the Holy Spirit and anointing Jesus for His burial. He would be crucified within a week. What is Jesus asking you and I to do that other people would consider ridiculous? What opportunities am I missing to fulfill the will of God and not my own will? “Jesus, open my heart to live for You alone. To hear Your still small voice, and not be persuaded by the misguided voices of others.” 1 Corinthians 3:19 says, “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God. As the Scriptures say, ‘He traps the wise in the snare of their own cleverness.’”
MOMENT OF PLEASURE . . . LIFETIME OF REGRET
While God’s forgiveness completely covers and washes away my past sins and every dimension of guilt and shame for my foolishness, past regretful memories and an active conscience keep me vigilant in not making choices that would destroy my present life. Moments of pleasure have, at times, left me with a lifetime of regret. The Psalmist understood this all too well when he wrote, “Keep your servant from deliberate sins! Don’t let them control me. Then I will be free of guilt and innocent of great sin.” (Psalm 19:13, NLT) As Heaven and Hell both motivate and inspire me, so do right and wrong. Therefore, my daily prayer is, “God, keep me from making foolish decisions that may feel good for a moment, but bring consequences I will greatly regret.”
GRATEFULNESS VS. REGRET
I am a grateful man who has been forgiven much. The more I realize the extent of my rescue, the more grateful to God I am. Had I died while making hundreds of past deceptive decisions, I’m convinced my soul would have been eternally lost. “It is through the Lord’s love that we have not come to destruction, because his mercies have no limit.” (Lamentations 3:22, BBE) The limitless love of God has rescued my soul. His merciful kindness has come to my rescue. I will never stop being amazed at the price Jesus paid dying an excruciating death in my place, and the vastness of His love and forgiveness toward me. I could be wallowing in a lifetime of sadness and regret. Instead, I am basking in eternal joy and forgiveness. Thank you, Jesus!
SOMEONE WORTH TRUSTING
Are you looking for someone worth trusting? That’s awesome! He’s looking for you too. My life has become so much easier since I began trusting in God more than I trust myself. The Bible sums it up when it says, “Those who trust in themselves are fools, but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe.” (Proverbs 28:26, NIV) God’s saying, “If you’ll trust Me, Francis, you won’t have to worry about trusting in yourself.” What a relief! All of us have been hurt by untrustworthy people. Sadly, we have even, at times, been them. I was so tired of making poor choices, I finally let God make the most important decisions in my life. That choice, to trust in His leading, has liberated my life more than any decision I’ve ever made.
OUR SEEDS ARE COMPETING
All of us are seed sowers, and the seeds we sow become the fruit of our life. Every seed we plant competes with other seeds that want to grow. So, we must be careful about the quality of seeds we are sowing. Jesus affirmed this reality when he said, “A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So, every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.” (Matthew 7:17-20, NLT) What seeds are winning in your life? The good seeds and bad seeds are each vying for your attention. You get to choose who wins.
WHAT IS MY RESPONSIBILITY?
Do you ever find yourself obsessing over the fact that you wish the world was different? I have a bad habit of taking emotional responsibility for things that are actually not my responsibility at all. I desperately need to stop doing this. I may, at times, be responsible to care for someone else, but I’m never responsible for the decisions they make. I’m only responsible for mine. I can pray fervently for them, but I can’t live their life for them. I can weep with those who weep, but I can’t leap for those who refuse to leap. Free will is priceless, but it comes with a price. I alone will stand before God for my own life. The trajectory of planet Earth is in the hands of its Creator, not mine. I must learn to rest in that reality.
PURSUING THE IMPOSSIBLE
If there’s anything more enjoyable than seeing God do the impossible, I don’t know what it is. Likewise, waiting for Him to do it can be one of the most nerve-racking things as well. I haven’t pursued anything that was possible in many years. What I mean by that is, God only asks me to do things that seem impossible. So, how do we navigate pursuing the God of the impossible? I’ve come to believe it is essential that I learn to confidently rest in God’s ability to do the impossible, while simultaneously resisting the temptation to assume I know what His ultimate will is. At times, I feel like I’m walking across a deep ravine on a terrifying tightrope. At other more faith filled moments, I feel as if I’m soaring above unbelieving Earth fully confident in the God of miracles.
THE ARENA OF EXPECTATION
One of the silliest ways I get tripped up emotionally has to do with my expectations of what I anticipate happening in my life. Consequently, my perspective of my future is often won or lost in the arena of expectation. Why? Because I can’t simultaneously place my complete hope in God as He asks me to, and yet have a secret stash of hope in me. The hope that is real is the one that depends completely on the only Person capable of fulfilling my greatest hopes. Therefore, I focus my attention on following God’s Spirit in my everyday life and let my primary expectation be that Jesus will guide my life into a future filled with hope. “My soul, wait in silence for God only, For my hope is from Him.” (Psalm 62: 5, NASB)