Category Archives: God’s favor

Are You One of the Special Ones?

Recently, I heard a well-known prophet prophesying over a younger prophet. He told the audience, “She is one of the chosen ones.” From there, he went on to talk about just how specially chosen she was. My reaction was, “This is not right. Every believer in Jesus is one of God’s chosen ones.”

Yes, it was good that he spoke encouraging things to her about the ministry she would have. There was nothing wrong with that. But his choice of words illustrated an erroneous mindset we have in the body of Christ: thinking there are different levels of value among Christians, where some are more important to God than others. These are the “special” ones, and then there are the average, not-so-special ones.

We talk and act as if some people earn, or are born with, more favor with God. We unconsciously entertain the notion that God will answer these special people’s prayers, but He might not be so eager to answer ours.

This idea is pervasive in our church culture, and it leads us to develop mindsets such as

  • “Ida Intercessor prays three hours a day, so God will hear her. I’ll ask her to pray for my needs … because God is not as likely to answer little old me” (who doesn’t pray three hours a day).
  • “If I speak the words exactly right, X number of times, maybe then God will hear and answer me.” (That’s called an incantation, by the way.)
  • “Brother So-and-So said God showed him a precise method of prayer that is THE way to get answers. He said God won’t answer us if we don’t do it this way. Maybe I need to get his book and learn to do it right.”

All the while, we forget that Jesus encouraged us to come to the Father like little children, our hearts full of trust in His love for us. And there is the key – realizing we are beloved sons and daughters, not worker bees in God’s hive, who get ignored or pushed out if we don’t produce as much, or in the same way, as somebody else.

Once again, we’re trying to gain God’s attention based on works, rather than relationship. We tell the rest of the world that salvation is about relationship, not good deeds – but then we turn around and think once we are in the Kingdom, that from thereon in, we have to earn our way.

Maybe we need to keep saying this until it sinks in:

I cannot earn the Father’s favor. I already have it, because I am His child.

Can we mature into praying more effectively? Of course. We can learn from seasoned intercessors. It’s good to become more disciplined in our prayer life, to train ourselves to use the Bible promises in our quest for answers, to grow in following the Holy Spirit’s leading on how to pray. That’s definitely part of the picture. But we should never allow ourselves to think that the right method or being a special somebody is the key to receiving help from our Father.

If Jesus is your Savior, you are a child of God. There are no children in His family whom He loves better and favors more than others. You have uniquely valuable gifts and purposes to fulfill, lovingly planned out by your heavenly Father since before the world began. And He will answer your prayers just as eagerly as He answers “important” people’s prayers. Because you are important, too.

intercessor handbook

 

The Intercessor Manual,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

KJV Bible encouragement

 

Encouragement from God’s Word,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

Friendship with God

abrahamI have been praying a lot lately about being the friend of God. I long for the day of Jesus’ return. I want to see Him “receive the reward of His suffering,” as the Moravians put it — multitudes of believers being caught up to Him, and then the day when He rules with complete honor upon the earth as the Supreme King of Kings. But in the meantime, I hunger to know Him, as much as I can, as close as I can, for Who He is.

The Bible says that Abraham was “the Friend of God” (James 2:23). I prayed, “Lord, I want to be Your friend, like Abraham was.” But then I backpedaled. Who was I, to ask to be like the great patriarch Abraham, the special friend of the Most High? So, I said, “God, I know I can’t be as close to You as Abraham. I’m not that special, but I still want to be one of Your lesser friends.”

He stopped me there, and showed me how wrong that thinking was. You see, we humans are limited in our love, our time, and our preferences for people. We feel a greater affinity for some than we do for others, and those are the ones we give our time and deepest affection to. However, God is unlimited in His love, time, and preferences for His children.

It is true that Abraham played an extremely pivotal part in history. Most of us would probably feel insignificant by comparison. But God does not base His friendships on people’s accomplishments. He does not invite those who bear seemingly more important roles to have a closer place in His heart. He does not parcel out His affections in pieces or percentages. Each of us can be His dear friend — and there are no lesser levels in His eyes. All it takes is desiring Him, pursuing Him, loving Him with all our heart.

This is hard for me to grasp. We’ve been told repeatedly in the Church, sometimes overtly and sometimes in subtle ways, that God has “haves” and “have-nots” in His family. But that is naturalistic thinking, a holdover from how our fallen world operates. The truth is, if we have not, it is because we ask not (James 4:2). The Lord longs to give every one of us so much more of Himself than we could possibly imagine. We can each be “the Friend of God,” on just as deep a level as Abraham enjoyed.

What does that look like? I suppose it is unique for each one. It definitely involves obedience. Abraham was obedient, in that he did not even withhold his only son from the Lord (Genesis 22:1-18). Jesus said, “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you” (John 15:14). Friends don’t do things which they know are hurtful or hateful to the one they love. Friendship also involves intimate time with Him, where He has our full attention. It means we trust Him, thinking the very best of Him — believing Him to be and do what He says of Himself.

I am so thankful that the Lord is giving me greater revelation of what it means to be His friend. I hope sharing these thoughts will inspire you to pursue friendship with Him, too.

Don’t Waste Your Time in the Prison

JosephIf you’ve ever read the story of Joseph, found in Genesis 37 and 39-45, you know how wonderful it is — almost like a fairytale dream come true. An innocent young man is betrayed by his evil brothers, who sell him into slavery.  He eventually ends up about as low as he could go, in a dungeon. And then, overnight, he is catapulted to be prime minister of a world super-power nation.

We so love those rags-to-riches stories, don’t we? How many preachers and teachers have expounded on Joseph’s happy ending, telling us all, “Hang on! Your destiny appointment is on the horizon. You are coming out of that prison, just like Joseph!” I’ve written a few devotionals on that theme myself. We need Joseph’s story to give us hope, to inspire us to press on.

But here’s what we don’t often talk about: how you live in the prison has a lot to do with whether you ever get out. If we don’t tell the whole story, we are not really helping each other.

In Luke 16:10, 12, Jesus commented, “He who is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much, and he who is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. … If you have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who will give you that which is your own?” Jesus was talking about money, but it’s an across-the-board principle: be faithful in the little things, because if you are not, God and man will see no point in entrusting you with bigger things. We learn to handle much responsibility by practicing with the little stuff.

This is where it is entirely possible to miss out on the promises God has given us. There are a whole lot of people who never come into what they were born for — not because God wasn’t faithful, but because they weren’t. So many people with big dreams (which were genuinely implanted in them by God) are looking for the “someday” when, overnight, they will be shot from God’s cannon into a magnificent destiny.  They’ve even had those dreams confirmed multiple times through prophetic words from other people.

But they are forgetting a key point in the story: Joseph served with excellence in the middle of his prison. Yes, Genesis 39:21-23 tells us that God was with Joseph and gave him favor there, but if Joseph hadn’t used that favor to do his job well, how long do you think the keeper of the prison would have left him in charge?

There are people who have huge destiny promises from God, but they can’t be counted on for the simplest things, like being on time — or showing up at all, for that matter. You can’t depend on them to unlock the church door if the regular opener is out of town! For those with basic faithfulness issues, the happy, getting-out-of-prison ending to the tale may never come. Or if it does, those who gave them the promotion may sincerely regret the decision.

So, what did Joseph do, while he was in prison? First of all, he followed directions. That’s a good starting place. But I think he probably went beyond that. He no doubt kept his eyes open for what needed to happen so things could run smoothly. He served the prison keeper with excellence.  It was the same thing he had done previously as Potiphar’s servant. Both Potiphar and the chief jailer came to the place where they knew Joseph wouldn’t drop the ball. He could be counted on. He had their best interests in mind.

Why? I don’t believe personal ambition was the whole story. Joseph was a God-pleaser more than a man-pleaser. That thread runs throughout his biography. And if we want to excel so that we can come out of our prison into our destiny, caring about what God wants more than what we want is a necessary component for our future success. Cherishing God’s heart first and foremost takes us a long way toward walking out the day-to-day faithfulness which is required in order to move onward in His plans for us.

Serving the keeper of the prison with excellence wasn’t all that Joseph did while in that place. I’ve got a few more ideas to share with you next time, which I hope will excite you as much as they did me.

Part 2

What God Doesn’t Know

One of the basic tenets of the Christian faith is that God is omniscient: He knows all of the past, all of the present, and even all of the future.  (Yes, open theology enthusiasts, He DOES know ALL of the future! — but that is another subject.)

But here are a few things God does not know:

  1. He doesn’t know how to go back on His word.
  2. He doesn’t know how to let you down.
  3. He doesn’t know how to be unfaithful to you.
  4. He doesn’t know how to abandon you.
  5. He doesn’t know how to lie.
  6. He doesn’t know how to not love you.
  7. He doesn’t know how to be untrustworthy.
  8. He doesn’t know how to betray you.
  9. He doesn’t know how to worry or fear.
  10. He doesn’t know how to lose the war.

— because these things are completely outside of His core being, His nature.

May you fully trust Him today, in the middle of whatever circumstances you are enduring, because He is fully trustworthy.

Let’s Talk Christian Leadership

I’ve been thinking a lot about Christian leadership lately — what it is and what it is not.  It’s a good idea for anyone who has a leadership role to think it through from time to time, just to make sure we’re still living it out the way Jesus intends us to — because it is easy to slip from the model He set for us.

Jesus knew that the Kingdom leadership concept is foreign to our soulish nature, and that’s why He gave instruction about it:

“You know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.  But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you, let him be your minister, and whoever would be chief among you, let him be your servant.”
Matthew 20:25-27

So, leaders are to serve those whom they lead, exhibiting humility, not being heavy-handed, honoring the ones who follow them.  They are to encourage, care for, and inspire those for whom they have been given responsibility.

Genuine Christlike leadership does not involve bullying, tyrannizing, intimidating, manipulating, and expecting others to bow down to us.  You wouldn’t think I would have to say that, but unfortunately, leaders in the Church do those things sometimes.  Such behaviors are easy to fall into, but they wound people and cause them to bitterly leave  church fellowships behind.

Leaders in the Body of Christ must continually remember the concept of sonship for all believers.  What do I mean by that?  Simply this: every Christian is a son of God, with all having equal value in the Father’s eyes, all having equal covenant and inheritance privileges through Christ.  Revelation 5:10 says  that Jesus, the Lamb of God, “has made us [all] kings and priests unto our God, and we shall [all] reign on the earth.”  We are all royalty, and there is no caste system in God’s family — no Level Two sons with the right to lord it over the Level Ones.  We must never forget that.

Heavy-handed leadership is often rooted in insecurity about one’s ability to lead.  It may involve fear that the leadership position will be taken away, resulting in clutching and striving to retain control.

The antidote is to understand our position in Christ — that we are God’s beloved, and that He will always give us (and help us retain) what is best for us.  Developing trust in Him, and learning to depend on His abilities flowing through us, will help us overcome fears and insecurities about having our ministry position snatched away from us.  We will become the Kingdom leaders that Jesus meant for us to be.

Look Out and Get Ready!

I was praying this morning for a person who has a definite call of God on his life, but who is probably considered one of the “little people”  — one who would not be voted as “the most likely to succeed.”  As I prayed, I felt that God was giving me encouragement for many of you who are in the same boat:

If you are one of the faithful ones who know what it is to stay close to the heart of God, yet you feel insignificant, I have a word for you:

Look out and get ready, for God is about to use you.

History reveals that time and again, God has chosen the most unlikely people to accomplish His strategic purposes.  Seeing that His Word lays this out as His normal mode of operation, this should not overly surprise us, yet it always seems to. 

For you see your calling, brethren, that not many who are wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.
          — 1 Corinthians 1:26-29

The Lord is speaking to prepare and position yourself by continuing to align with Him — staying close to Him, ministering to Him by listening to His heart-cry.  Believe the things He has spoken over you, no matter how long you have been hearing without seeing the result, and no matter how “small in your own eyes” you may seem.  Staying small and keeping Him big is what will propel you into being used for the Lord’s mighty purposes.

Look out!  Get ready!  He is about to use you.

The Rules of Sonship

Crown, by Mordecai20 at PhotobucketAnd all creation’s straining on tiptoe just to see
The sons of God come into their own.
from a song by The Fisherfolk

Romans 8:19 puts it, “For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly awaits the unveiling of the sons of God.”

I got to thinking one day about what it means to be the sons of God.  (“Sons of God” includes women, by the way.)  And I came up with a list — sort of a “Wouldn’t it be nice if we all understood who we are in Christ and acted that way?” kind of compilation.  So here it is.  I hope you will enjoy it.

#1:  Sons know that since God their Father thinks they are wonderful, Sister Effie’s opinion about them doesn’t count.

#2:  Sons serve each other, but are nobody’s slaves. They don’t let any man “own” them.

 #3:  Sons don’t get offended by intimidation tactics. They smile and stand tall because they know who they are, even if the intimidator doesn’t. (I’ve had a hard time learning this one.)

#4:  Sons and Dr. Seuss know there are Yertle-the-Turtles in the Kingdom. They just refuse to be part of the stack.

#5:  Sons trust their Father to meet their material needs. He’s got the universe at His disposal, after all.

#6:  A son remembers there are other sons in the family and shares generously with them.

#7:  Sons are secure in their destiny-callings and don’t try to usurp someone else’s.

#8:  Sons also know there is plenty of destiny to go around, so jealousy of other sons isn’t necessary.

#9:  The King’s sons know the privileges of royalty and appropriate them.

#10:  There is no caste system or waiting line to an audience with the King. All sons have equal and instant access.

#11:  Royal sons have a gracious demeanor. They treat others with respect because honor is ingrained in their hearts.

#12:  Sons don’t make a big deal about other sons’ mistakes and faults.  That’s just the way family is, quirks and all.

#13:  Sons know no man can take away from them what their Father has given them.  Their destiny/mantle/calling is secure in Him.

#14:  Sons understand the authority backing them. Their Daddy bears the title, Supreme Potentate of the Universe.

#15:  Sons wear their royal robes inside out. (Their beauty starts on the inside and radiates to the outside.)

#16:  Sons know Father is a God of His Word and can be trusted.

Can you think of any more rules of sonship that I’ve missed?  Why not post them as a comment?