Monday, November 19, 2007

Increasing in Favor

Happy Thanksgiving! This is a picture of our family from last Thanksgiving. We were missing Chad and Carissa, but everyone else made it last year. Chad is coming this year. I feel so blessed and in God's favor when our family comes home. This is an awesome chapter to study for Thanksgiving! Joel points out in this chapter that as God's children we can live with boldness and confidence. I declared God's favor today. I had a technology project due after school today so I just used my faith to call up just the right circumstances to be able to complete my project. It was amazing how everything fell into place! First of all, the technology teacher happened to be at the very school in which I was teaching today. Her office is at the administration building, but she happened to be at Central Jr. High today. I don't think that was a coincidence! Second of all, I had 2nd period plan, but there was a notation that I might have to take another teacher's class. I prayed that wouldn't happen so that I would have time to finish my project. Well, I didn't have to take another teacher's class. Praise God! Lastly, I had wonderful classes today so while they were doing their work, I did mine. Awesome! I am indeed grateful. I really feel that gratitude plays a huge part in increasing our favor with God. Joel says, "If you love God, He's working in your life to your advantage, and it will all work out for your good." Let's start out the week by being thankful. 'Tis the season. I think we will see the favor of God in our lives is proportionate with the amount of gratitude we have.

12 comments:

Patty said...

Actually, I posted this comment instead of Frank. I accidentally posted under his name. Sorry!

R4C said...

Something struck me as I read this post... not sure if it is on topic for the chapter or not because my book is at home (I'm not.). What jumped out at me was "love God". If we "love God".... then ... . I always believed that "love is a verb not a feeling." Although being "loved on" feels good... loving someone is not feeling good but actually loving (the verb) them. We often get that so mixed up. You can't fall out of love-- you just stop loving (the verb) them. So what really struck me then was "How to we love (the verb) God?" Loving God is not "feeling good" but actually loving (the verb) God. How do we do that? What does it look like? And yes, it can produce love in return that feels good but believe me it doesn't always. Loving someone doesn't always feel good-- trust me I have teenagers.

Patty said...

Kim, I think you are right that love doesn't always feel good. There are times when love hurts. I remember how much pain I felt when Tori got hurt. I remember the pain of a broken heart after a romance ended. Even though we hurt God sometimes, I know He still loves us. As for whether "love" is a verb or a noun, it depends on how it is used in a sentence. In "I love God," love is a verb. In "for the love of God," love is a noun or "feeling" as you put it. I guess what Joel is saying is that even if we don't always receive what we want, we still know God is working for our good. He quotes Romans 8:28, which is one of my favorite verses--"For we know that all things work together for good to them that love the Lord." Praise God! There is a positive lesson in everything. Sometimes we need to learn forgiveness, acceptance, compassion, patience, or some other virtue. Like the Stones' song, "You don't always get what you want, but if you try sometime, you just might find, you get what you need." As for teenagers, I remember all too well those rebellious years. When I think of how hard they were, I know that it must be even harder for God to put up with all our rebellion sometimes. Just like we keep loving our rebellious teens, God keeps loving us. In fact, His capacity for love is even more.

Jeanie said...

I also love the verse of Romans 8:28 "All things work together for good to them that love the Lord." God has our best interests at heart. Everyone has something to give, a smile, a handshake or encouraging word. As we serve others we'll see the gift inside begin to grow and move forward into the destiny God has in store for us!
If we persevere declaring the favor of God and staying in an attitude of faith, God will open doors. I think of our son Jason and wife Sybil. They are remodeling the old Ryker farm house. We, his parents, his grandmother Joan and uncle Doug discouraged this because of all the work it would entail and money to fix it up but they are pursuing it, doing work themselves and hope in 2 years to be able to live in it and then finish it. They are both dedicated to their daily early morning devotions as a couple and their church each week. I like their attitude.
Today in the mail I had a pleasant surprise from another church member, a month's membership to Curves to see if I like it. I was so surprised and overwhelmed I just cried. When you least expect it, joy comes into your heart. What a blessing and the day before Thanksgiving too. I feel so loved.

Patty said...

That is so awesome, Jean, that a friend gave you a membership to Curves. God just gives us such unexpected blessings! "Blessed are those that can give without remembering and receive without forgetting." I don't know who said that, but I love it. I agree that everyone has something to give, even if it is just a smile. Joseph Addison said, "What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity. These are but trifles, to be sure; but, scattered along life's pathway, the good they do is inconceivable."

I like the idea of Jason and Sybil fixing up the old ranch house too. It reminds me of Tori and Caleb building their house in the woods. God bless these young people with their energy and ambition. What good examples they are of enlarging their visions!

Patty said...

I hope everyone had a marvelous Thanksgiving. We did. Frank's brother and his family were here and his kids. We had the traditional dinner with all the trimmings. Today we watched NE lose to CO in football. We were a little disappointed. Not much, though, b/c my heart is so full of gratitude that I have no room for negative feelings. (My tummy is so full of turkey, potatoes, stuffing, and pie that it has no room either). Jeanie, I liked your example of perseverance in that Jason and Sybil are fixing up the old ranch house regardless of any discouragement from others that they might encounter. In the chapter on "Increasing in Favor", Joel encourages us to do just that when he says, "Regardless of how many people tell you that what you're attempting can't be done, if you'll persevere, declaring the favor of God and staying in an attitude of faith, God will open doors for you and change circumstances on your behalf." Praise God! He's working in our lives for our good.

Patty said...

I wanted to post something else on this chapter. Remember the part at the beginning of chapter five when Joel writes about a couple who wanted to enter their child in a private school. The child was four days too young for the cutoff date, but the couple persevered in their attempt by going to the administrators and finally getting him enrolled. They kept declaring God's favor and didn't give up until they accomplished their goal. Well, this summer I read that chapter for the first time, and I decided to declare God's favor in an incident with my granddaughter Jessica. Jessica doesn't have a home computer, but she is twelve years old, and I thought it would be fun for her to have an email acct. so we could keep in touch that way. Anyway, this summer when she was in Lawrence, I took her to the library to set up an email acct. When she went back to Kimball, NE, she went to the library with her mom so she could email me. While she was doing email, her mom (Teresa) had to use the restroom. The librarian came up behind Jessica and asked, "What are you doing?" Jess replied, "Email." The librarian said that no one under the age of 18 could do email. Teresa came out of the bathroom to find a very upset Jessica. Teresa then went to the librarian and asked if she could do email for Jessie. The librarian said, "No." The librarian went on to explain that it was against the rules. No exceptions." That night Teresa and Jess were downhearted and talked to me on the phone about the incident. The library was still open so I called them. The librarian told me the same thing she had told Teresa and Jess. I then asked for the names of the library board members. She sent me an email with the email address of all the board members. I sent an email to all the board members, as well as the librarian, explaining that Teresa and Jess could not afford a home PC so the library PC was their only means to communicate. I explained that I wanted very much for Jess to keep up with technology, and that her mother wanted her to write emails to practice spelling, writing, and typing. Less than a day later, the librarian called to say that the board had contacted her and given Jessica permission to use email. Talk about God's favor. It was a wonderful example to Jessica of God's favor. We had talked about it while she was visiting because I was reading the book. I told her that we needed to start declaring God's favor and see what happens. She was thrilled. Joel reminds us that regardless of how many people say it can't be done; with perseverance and an attitude of faith, doors will be opened and circumstances changed to favorable ones. Praise God!

Patty said...

Here are some questions and assignments from the study guide for chapter five.
1) Read Psalms 8:5
2) Why do you think some Christians are reluctant to expect preferential treatment from God? From Others?
3) What steps can you take to declare and experience God's favor in your life?
4) Describe an incident in your life that may have been the unseen favor of God at work. Then think about a situation where a delay actually worked for your good or preserved your safety. Take a moment to offer thanks. Meditate on Romans 8:28.

Patty said...

1) Read Psalms 8:5
"For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honor."

I like that b/c I know that God has given me a place of honor and favor in His sight. Joel says, "as God's children we can live with confidence and boldness." That helps me put into practice the chapters we are currently reading on self-esteem. I am so grateful that God has crowned me with glory and honor. He loves me so much that it isn't so hard to love myself when I remember who my Father is!

Patty said...

2) Why do you think some Christians are reluctant to expect preferential treatment from God? From Others?
I think some Christians are reluctant to expect preferential treatment from God b/c they do not feel worthy. They don't expect preferential treatment from others b/c they do not want to appear arrogant. Frank recently congratulated our nephew Tank on making the roster of the New York Giants. Tank replied, "I don't ever want to take my position for granted." Tank knows he could lose his position at any moment, and he is humble about it. Joel says, "In no way should we ever be arrogant and think we are better than somebody else. But as God's children we can live with confidence and boldness, expecting good things....not b/c of WHO we are, but b/c of WHOSE we are. We can expect people to want to help us b/c of who our Father is."

Patty said...

3) What steps can you take to declare and experience God's favor in your life?

In a previous chapter, several of us were posting that we felt like we were drowning in clutter. Since that time, I have made use of our local goodwill store to get rid of some clutter. I still have a lot of stuff with which to deal, but I know that I have a choice about how to live my life. I am declaring and experiencing God's favor in my life.

On another note, we had to deal with some unwelcome news. Just this morning, our pastor announced that she was taking a different church and would be leaving Lawrence. I felt bad at first b/c we love this church and are very comfortable in it. I sense that her leadership has a lot to do with that. Now I have a choice about whether I will be pessimistic and believe that our church and spiritual life will now go downhill, or whether I believe that this will all work out in a wonderful way for all of us. Ziggy says, "You can complain b/c roses have thorns, or you can rejoice b/c thorns have roses." So whether we declare and experience God's favor in our lives is all up to us and our perspective. The step I can take to make sure that I experience God's favor is to have faith "that all things work together for good." Romans 8:28.

Patty said...

4) Describe an incident in your life that may have been the unseen favor of God at work. Then think about a situation where a delay actually worked for your good or preserved your safety. Take a moment to offer thanks. Meditate on Romans 8:28.

I definitely can think of an incident in my life where the unseen favor of God was at work. I'm very grateful for the incident. It worked out for my highest good, although it doesn't fit the criteria for an incident that preserved my safety. It was an incident that gave me the gift of peace of mind so I could truly follow my bliss.

In 2002 and 2003, the Lawrence Public School district of Lawrence, KS, laid off 131 educators. I was one of them. I had taught twenty years, but I was new to this district. As a non-tenured teacher in my first year here, I didn’t survive the budget cuts. I was devastated. I railed against the injustice of it all. Now five years later, I see that it was a blessing in disguise. It actually led to the desire of my heart. I now am a substitute teacher, or a guest teacher (my preference of title since I know that I am a real teacher, not a substitute). I have flexibility in my day. I didn’t understand it at the time, but now I have clarity. “In the same way, we can see and understand only a little about God now, as if we were peering at His reflection in a poor mirror, but someday, we are going to see Him in His completeness, face to face. Now all that I know is hazy and blurred, but then I will see everything clearly, just as clearly as God sees into my heart right now.” I Corinthians 13:12. Now I am able to go to work everyday, enjoy the kids, and come home with no papers to grade or parents to contact. What a blessing! I used to prepare for classes for hours. Now I can truly enjoy the whole experience and have plenty of time left over for my family and travel. The absolute wonder of the situation is this. For the twenty years I needed a contract position, I had one. When I was a single mother, struggling to raise my daughters without child support, I always had a contract job. Now that I am happily remarried and on my husband’s health plan, I no longer need a contract job and all the stress that goes with it. In the fall of 2004, Mom sold the family ranch in the Sandhills of Nebraska and divided the money up among her children. I used that funding to pay off our lovely home so now we have no house payments. Isn’t it surprising? My job layoff, something that appeared so devastating, was actually a most wonderful catalyst for a very positive change in my life. Had I known all that was forthcoming, my perception of my layoff would have changed from something very traumatic to something very joyous in an instant! Instead of crying about it, I would have been celebrating, but then I looked “through the glass darkly” instead of with the clarity I now have.