Precious Testimonies Ministry Encourager
DO YOU WANT GOD’S SPIRITUAL FAVOR? IT’S AVAILABLE!
By: Norm Rasmussen
Maybe you haven’t read the Bible much, or even if you have, a refresher course might just be the difference between having more of the “favor” of God on your life...or less of it.
I’m persuaded God’s love for born again Christians cannot be fully fathomed by many on this side of eternity. We’ll have to be patient until we are united with Jesus Christ to gain a fuller understanding and appreciation of His love. Yet every revelation of God’s love will revert back to this starting point: The Cross ... God giving His life for the ransom of many.
However, we do not have to be translated to heaven to experience the increasing favor of God. It is available to each of us to different degrees who are in Christ Jesus, and I see absolutely nothing in the Bible that would indicate that God doesn’t want us seeking after it with everything in our being now.
Therefore, the wise person does everything they know to fully qualify to have the favor of God on their life. They realize their relationship with God goes better having it, and more importantly, they realize that God has promised in His Word that it will reap eternal rewards for constantly pressing in to be more qualified to receive the favor of God.
Before saying anything else, I need to be right up front with you. Having the increased favor of God has very little to do with money. In fact, money usually clouds the issue more than it helps us understand what God desires for us to know about “favor” from Him.
Let me say it another way. Understanding how to obtain “true riches” from God has absolutely little to do at all with money, but has everything to do with pursuing the Kingdom of God. So, if you want to know how to put more money in your bank account … you won’t learn a thing reading this writing. If you want to learn some tips on how to receive spiritual favor...spiritual blessings from God...then perhaps God has something for you. Now then, let us continue…
Is Jesus talking about money in Matthew 6:19-21:
“Do not lay up treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, for where your heart is, there will your treasure be also.”
Money certainly can be included in this promise, but walking in ever increasing dimensions of righteousness (holiness) and obedience (obeying every command in the New Testament, and helping fulfill The Great Commission) is at the TOP of the list! The more one obeys all of God’s Word, the more true and priceless treasures one is laying up for themselves for eternity. The more one disobeys God’s Word, the fewer spiritual treasures one is laying up for themselves in heaven. It’s as simple as that.
A person living under a bridge and eating at a soup kitchen and sharing the Good News of the Gospel to others sleeping under that bridge can be laying up more treasures in heaven for himself than a multi-millionaire who is so consumed with making more money (and just keeping all the money he/she already has!). The point being again – please don’t let money cloud your vision regarding laying up treasures for yourself in heaven that Jesus was speaking of.
The homeless person walking in obedience to the New Testament commands is “richer” than the multi-millionaire who is not walking in obedience to New Testament commands. Subsequently, the man or woman without this world’s material goods can be rewarded far more generously in eternity than the man with vast financial wealth, and believe it or not, have more rewarding “blessings” even while living here on earth. Peace and contentment inside one’s soul, for instance, is a “treasure” many financially prosperous men and women on this planet would secretly love to have. It’s not that they can’t receive it from God if their priorities are right, as long as they understand that “true prosperity” from God’s perspective is not measured in how much money one has.
Please don’t think I’m trying to communicate that having a job that pays you a generous salary or owning a business that is financially blessed of God is somehow wrong in God’s eyes. God does raise up people to be greatly blessed financially. How much time and energy devoted to getting it and trying to have more of it, and what they DO with that financial blessing once they have it IS something I believe God is in fact addressing in this writing.
GOD DOESN’T WANT EITHER THE LUST FOR MONEY, POWER AND SENSUAL PLEASURE CONTROLLING US. HE DESIRES THAT WE BE CONTROLLED ONLY BY THE HOLY SPIRIT SO THAT WE MAY OBEY HIS WILL MORE FULLY
Stated another way: Money, power, and/or the pursuit of sensual pleasure was never intended to drive us or control us. All three can become an addiction without our even realizing it. By the help of the Holy Spirit, we’re to be controlled by HIM – nothing else – nothing less.
When we become newborn babes in Christ, it is typical for us to find in the Bible where we have the assurance of salvation. Once we receive that, many then begin to diligently search the Bible to find out what they should or shouldn’t be doing: what is sin and what isn’t sin, in other words. In conjunction with that, they then want to find in the Bible where we have assurance of God’s forgiveness whenever we sin.
Once they get hold of 1 John 1:9, where God promises that if we confess our sin(s) to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us of them, and to be cleansed of all unrighteousness … they become free from walking in perpetual condemnation and guilt
THEN, many of them stop there. Many seldom go much further, essentially, in their relationship with God.
There can be many reasons why they stop there, but I suspect the primary reason many stop there is because Satan has been successful in blinding them to the truth that there is a vast difference between having one’s sins forgiven contrasted against desiring to have the spiritual favor of God on one’s life, and make that one’s primary goal each day.
I have to confess that I’ve been guilty of that. In all honesty, as a believer in Jesus Christ, way too many times I’ve settled for just being content to be forgiven of my sin(s), and leave it at that. My rationale has been … “Hey – I’m not perfect. Besides, all I want to do is get to heaven. That will be reward enough!”
Then a time came when the Holy Spirit whispered to me: “Why don’t you lay up rewards in heaven for Jesus then, if you don’t care whether you have any waiting for yourself when you get there? Maybe Jesus would like to give your treasures to OTHERS -- ever considered that?”
Awwhhhh – selfishness. That is what He was nailing in me! Me, my and I. Little or no concern about anyone else. Gulp. Let the sinful nature of my flesh have a little rebellion now and then, just to keep it quieted down -- pacified for awhile.
Jesus spoke of three broad categories of Christians. Here God shows us essentially three different types of Christian disciples that make up the Body of Christ:
The sower sows the word. And these are the ones by the wayside where the word is sown. And when they hear, Satan comes immediately and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts. “These likewise are the ones sown on stony ground who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness; and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time. Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the Word’s sake, immediately they stumble.
Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the Word, and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the Word, and it becomes unfruitful. But these are the ones sown on good ground, those who hear the Word, accept it, and bear fruit: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.” (Mark 4:14-20)
Hundredfold Christians are those who clearly understand that to be placed in that “hundredfold” category, one has to strive diligently to identify sin in their life when they are guilty of it, and then after asking and receiving forgiveness for it, the next thing to do is work diligently with the Holy Spirit to STOP giving into that sin the next time temptation knocks. If this person blows it, it doesn’t deter them from remaining persistent with the Holy Spirit to get victory in that area of their lives.
Hundredfold Christians are those who clearly understand what Matthew 6:33 is communicating:
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”
They understand that “seeking the Kingdom of God” is comprised of four general categories:
1) Intimacy with Jesus.
2) Soul winning – being used of God to help win lost souls to Jesus Christ.
3) Discipling saved souls – being used of God in helping people get free from strongholds of sin in their life and doing all to help them become wise, obedient students of God’s Word.
4) Walking in obedience and striving for holiness. You cannot seek God’s righteousness first and somehow try to pretend that it doesn’t speak of walking in obedience to commands in the New Testament.
(Note: When I say that God wants us walking in obedience to New Testament commands, that in no way implies dismissing Old Testament scriptures. I simply emphasize obeying the commands in the New Testament, because Satan has constantly tried to get Christians confused by what God desires of them and what He doesn’t. The Book of Galatians addresses this issue – matters of Law and Grace are absolutely crucial for us to understand, otherwise Satan is able to rob us of peace and joy available to us from God).
As the Holy Spirit tells us in James 2:26: For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
Just understanding what the Holy Spirit wants communicated in Matthew 6:33 isn’t going to bear fruit in our lives. DOING Matthew 6:33 is what will bear fruit.
We need to be very, very careful about assuming what the “favor” of God should be upon our lives, when seeking after it. To one, that might be receiving a much sought after healing. To another, it might be peace in a troubled marriage. To another, it may simply be experiencing contentment in being single. The list can be almost endless. Yet here is the one thing I’ve observed about those who seem to have and keep the spiritual favor of God on their lives. They are selfless. When they pray, their first priority is to inquire of the Lord as to what is most important to HIM at any given time. The greatest desire of their heart is to be a servant to God. That is the most important thing they believe they can do. The greatest of all is a servant of all. (See Mark 9:35).
Here is my prayer for all reading this: “Lord, I ask that you reveal to your people the wisdom of balancing out in their lives the difference between financial prosperity and spiritual prosperity. I ask that you deliver all those who are squandering their time, talents and financial means on things that have absolutely little or nothing to do with advancing the Kingdom of God in the lives of others. I ask that you bring every person reading this to a place of understanding of what they may need to give up in this life, or modify, to be given spiritual blessings no amount of money or earthly position can give. Grant to each of them Lord, and that includes myself…the wisdom Jesus had in knowing that to follow Your will, Father, is the most important thing anyone can do in this life. It is YOU, Father, who has the ability to shower on your people whatever you decide is best for each of us at any given time. If it is tribulation, equip us to prosper spiritually in the midst of it. If it is great financial wealth, equip us to prosper spiritually in the midst of it, and don’t let financial wealth, or further pursuit of it, cloud our vision of what your will is for each of us. Whatever will bring you the greatest joy, Father, let that consume each of us. Let your will for our lives be our burning passion, above all else, from this moment forward, as it was Jesus’ passion and the Apostle Paul’s passion. In the name of Jesus Christ we pray, Amen.”
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Dear Reader -are you at peace with God? If not, you can be. Do you know what awaits you when you die? You can have the assurance from God that heaven will be your home, if you would like to be certain. Either Jesus Christ died for your sins, or He didn't (He did!). Are you prepared to stand before God on the Judgment Day and tell Him that you didn't need the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross to have your sins forgiven and get in right-standing with God? We plead with you ... please don't make such a tragic mistake.
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