Blessing and favor….What does it look like?

What does blessing and favor on your life look like? How do you know that you are blessed, or that God has placed His favor on you? How can people look at you, and know that you are blessed?

I can tell you that the vast majority of people will relate it to money, and assets. Both personally, and externally when looking at someone else. You see someone with a lot of money, and you think they are blessed. You get a new car, you thank God, and post it on Facebook saying you are blessed. We see people living in big homes, and we think the favor of God is on them.

Sometimes it really is the favor of God. Sometimes they are taking advantage of people, and doing things they shouldn’t be doing in order to have those things.

The big question for this post is….Are the people who don’t have the things we normally equate to blessing, and favor blessed? For the people who are doing what God has asked them to do, the answer is 100% yes. Don’t just equate material things to blessing, and favor. God is so much bigger than that.

Sometimes the people who are being pressed down the most are the most blessed. I’m talking about the people who when you look at their life externally it looks like all hell is breaking loose, and their life is falling apart. God’s favor is on them in a tremendous way. You have to be pressed down, and shaken before you can run over with blessing. You have to be broken all the way down before you can be built back up into something new, and better.

When I went through basic training years ago I learned this lesson without knowing it. In the first half of basic training the drill sergeants beat you, break you down, and make you feel utterly defeated; however, it is only for the purpose of rebuilding you into a better soldier than you ever could have been before.

How can you know if God’s favor is on you? Ask yourself….Is He pressing me? Is He shaking me? Is He building me?

In the sermon on the mount Jesus tells us who the blessed people are. He talks about internal growth, not external things. Is He making you humble? Is He making you hunger, and thirst for righteousness? Have you been in a place of mourning? Not I, but Jesus says you are blessed. Those that have been in places where they needed mercy, are merciful to others. Those that have been in places of mourning, comfort others.

If you will follow Jesus no matter what might happen, or what it looks like, you will be blessed.

He is for you, and I am for you! He is only pressing you so that He can establish you!

 

Prayer orientation

I would venture to say that most of us pray in such a way that we talk to God about where we are now, the struggles we are in now, the pain we feel now, the gaps we see now etc.

I would also say that I believe God knows all including the purpose for the present. The purpose of the current struggles that are preparing you for the future He has in mind for you.

So if God is always molding, shaping, growing, and preparing you for your future, let me ask this question….What if we shifted our prayer life to be future oriented? What if instead of asking why this is currently happening, we ask what it is preparing us for? Ask what we need to do now to be prepared for where we will be in the future.

My family, and I have been through so much that I have grown to where I am done worrying about the now because my faith is 100% that He is sufficient for me in all ways, and that He works every single thing in some kind of way to our benefit.

Have faith. You may not know why, but God does. You may not know how, but He does. You want to know how you find out that God is a very present help in trouble? You get in trouble that you can’t see any kind of way out of, and then God shows Himself to be the way maker. You get sick, and He shows Himself to be the healer. Finances? There’s nothing to worry about, God can make money fall out of a fish’s mouth if He wants to. You may have to face a failure in an area you don’t WANT to, but God knows you NEED to in order for you to see what He sees. Instead of worrying, look forward to the future and seek to understand ‘what’ because God knows, and He just might reveal it to you. Not why am I going through this, but what is this preparing me for?

God’s heart is for you, and my heart is for you. Walk by faith not by sight. He’s got you.

Do you feel like you are suffering-a few scriptures to encourage you

Suffering is certainly not a current buzz word such as prosperity, authority, or abundance etc. However, it is something we will contend with while we live in the flesh on this earth. Be encouraged for God is working things to your good.

1 Peter 4- Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.

1 Peter 4- 12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; 13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.

1 Peter 5- 10 After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.

Again be encouraged in your suffering for God himself is perfecting, confirming, strengthening, and establishing you even as I type this!!

 

Find the opportunities!

Have you ever felt like the only breaks you were catching were bad breaks? I’ve been there, but we have to keep in mind that God turns bad breaks into big opportunities. The bad breaks, and past experiences are just a way for God to build our resumes and prepare us for future opportunities. Sometimes our greatest opportunities are at the end of the hardest, and scariest situations. Don’t quit prematurely, and miss your God opportunity.

Trust God no matter what the situation is, and look forward in order to locate the opportunities, and be a good steward. Being a good steward of these opportunities will bring success. God is always setting us up for success in accordance with His will for our lives. God wants you to arrive at His destination for you more than you want to get there.  If you are a parent you know how much more you want your kids to succeed than they do themselves especially at a young age.

Don’t let fear keep you from seeing the opportunities, and experiencing what God has for you. The way that you experience big breakthroughs is by continuing to push through your hardest moments, and facing your biggest fears. Something that we need to keep in mind through these things is that almost every fear is learned. A child is afraid of very little until you tell them to be afraid. Parents insert fear into their children without even realizing it. We need to unlearn these fears, and the farther you carry a fear the harder it is for you to unlearn. The way you unlearn these fears is to trust your limitless Father. Allow His word to carry a sound in your life that is louder than any fear. Believe scriptures such as if He is for you who can stand against you, or He will work everything out to my good as I am called according to His purpose. You can not reason with irrational fears, you will either allow experiences to produce confidence or doubt, fear or faith. We have to remember that His perfect love is in us, and perfect love drives out all fear-1 John 4:18.  Part of faith is the process of trusting God, and allowing His perfect love to drive the fear out of our lives.

I have a great example I can share with you about irrational fears concerning my daughter. Long story short, she saw something on t.v. that made her afraid of the bath tub. This 4-year-old little girl went from loving bath time, to being like trying to bathe a cat. THERE WAS NO REASONING WITH HER! Seriously, this was a tough situation. It was the scariest situation of her young life, and one of the hardest for her parents. We all had to figure out how to make it through this ordeal. But patiently enduring(for several weeks!), helping her face her fear, letting her see that her friends were not afraid of bath time, and allowing her trust and faith to build in her mom and dad brought her back to loving bath time. Believing your Father, and trusting in His word will give you the strength to make it through the scariest, hardest situations.

Back to the bath example, one thing that would have never allowed my daughter to get past this fear is letting her run from bath time. If you are afraid of failure, success will not fix it. You will wear yourself out trying to maintain success simply to keep running from failure. The fix for the fear of failure is experiencing failure. It’s like a peanut allergy. I know a young man who was allergic to peanuts, and the way he overcame this allergy was to make trips to a specialist and get exposed to differing amounts of peanuts. That’s how you build immunity to your fears, you face the thing you are afraid of and you find that with God all things are possible. We take fears, and we create huge things out of them in our minds which allows the fear to become way worse the thing you are actually afraid of. Each one of your fears is an opportunity for you to be an overcomer. My daughter is an overcomer. Don’t miss your chance!

Don’t be afraid to take some risks, it could turn into a really cool story you can tell your grandchildren. To go along with this, one of the great things about your experienced pain is that it can be another person’s gain. The more things you have overcome, the more capacity you have to help other people. A person once told me that no one cares about you telling them what not to do in a situation, they only want to hear what they should do. For a time, I believed that person, but I have changed my mind. I know how much value there is not trying to do it the way I tried because I felt all the pain, and struggle to overcome it. So that pain and struggle is now an opportunity for me to help others avoid the same troubles.

Our relationship with God is not formed to make our lives easier. It complicates our lives in all the right ways to transform us into the perfect work He envisioned for us from the start. A marriage complicates your life, but it allows you to see things that are wrong with you that you didn’t even know were wrong which allows you to become more complete. You may think you have life figured out, but having kids will prove you wrong. They will complicate things, but they will cause you to grow. Wealth will complicate your taxes, and success will complicate your schedule. All great things come with complications. In the parable of the talents the reward for good stewardship was not early retirement, it was more responsibility.

God has great things in store for all of you. Find the opportunities!

Live your life Kingdom first!

Levi

As a man thinks!

Proverbs 23:7-As a man thinks within himself, so he is.

That’s a very loaded statement, and one that we should take seriously. We should also recognize the level of personal responsibility within it. Before I get into this I would first like to mention a few scriptures that tell us what God thinks of us.

In Jesus we are his masterpiece created for good works-Ephesians 2:10. We can do what He says we can do, which are even greater things-John 14:12. We can have what He says we can have, which is a more abundant life-John 10:10.

Our spirit has no issue with these three things, but many times our minds do. There are some things that happen immediately upon salvation; however, there are some things we have to work out along our journey. Paul says be transformed by the renewing of your mind daily. Transformed means to become something different, and so we can see that if we are able to change our mindsets we can become something completely different.I am something different today than I was ten years ago, and I plan to be even better in ten more years.

Instead of focusing on scriptures like the three I referenced above, many times we focus on perceived limitations. For example, we may think things like I am who my family is, I really am what my negatives thoughts tell me I am, I am who the people around me say I am, and so on. I can only do what my education level says I can do, I can only be what my boss says I can be, and I can only do what the area I live in offers. I can only have small, insignificant amounts of success, and I can only have what my earthly resources allow me to have. None of these things line up with God’s best for you.

So we have seen a few of God’s thoughts for us, and a few negative thoughts that we may have for ourselves. So back to Proverbs 23:7. A man’s thoughts are who he is, or becomes. You are what you think. Through our thoughts we can be limited, or we can be liberated. We can create a prison for ourselves, or we can create freedom for opportunities. Most people let their circumstances in life control them. (I know because I’ve been there plenty of times, and have had to overcome those things) However, in living the kingdom first life you have been empowered to control your circumstances. It’s a small shift in words, but a huge shift in thoughts. Instead of our circumstances controlling us, we control how we see the circumstances. A shift in thoughts, and attitudes will lead to a shift in your life. If you take control of your mind, and radically improve your thoughts you will be astonished at the changes in the material conditions of your life.

I would like to take us to a principle in Genesis. Everything that was created produced fruit, and seed after its own kind. This is a powerful principle, and one that is very important to this topic. See every thought seed sown in the soil of the mind takes root, and reproduces it’s own kind. These thoughts will eventually blossom, and show themselves in our actions as well as have external effects on our lives. Good/Godly thoughts will bear good fruit in our lives. Bad thoughts will bear bad fruit in our lives. The circumstances are not the problem, our thoughts and attitudes toward them are the problem.

Thoughts are so powerful that if you are simply around someone who is consistently negative, you begin to take up negative thoughts which start to have a negative impact on your life. I think most people could think about their work culture, and find this principle to be true. There is a law of attraction at work here, and keep in mind you don’t attract what you want to be, you attract the state of your current thoughts.

Any train of thought that you persist in good, or bad will not fail to reproduce its own kind based on the principles of creation. These persistent thoughts will affect your character, which will affect your circumstances based on the law of attraction.

Your thoughts are the guards of your destiny. Persisting in bad thoughts will imprison you, but persisting in Godly thoughts will liberate you. People always want their circumstances in life to change, but they are unwilling to change themselves. They are unwilling to change and improve their own thoughts, and so they remain in their own prison. (think of the story of the man at the pool of Bethesda, and if you don’t know it ask me about it in the comments sections, or email) We have to stop blaming other people, places, and things for the circumstances in our lives. I have lived long enough to know that I can not control all of the circumstances that happen to me in this life; however, I do believe in spiritual principles, I do believe the Lord has given me power over my own mind, and I do believe that with a healthy mind you can find opportunities in everything. Just reading apostle Paul’s life story can show you that you can be happy and content in any scenario.

Good thoughts showing themselves in good actions will not reproduce bad results. Happiness reproduces happiness. Courage reproduces courage. Peace reproduces peace, love reproduces love, and so on. Bad thoughts work the exact same way.

I will Illustrate further the physical manifestation of our hidden thoughts. The body is a slave to the mind. The body can only do what the mind tells it to, and so it always and only does so both in the deliberate and the subconscious. continuously thinking bad thoughts will cause the body to sink into disease and decay. Good thoughts will cause the body to become vibrant, and more beautiful even healing diseases. Your thoughts will express themselves through, and on your body. For example, anxiety produces external results such as sweating, shaking, tension, and temperature changes. If you remain tense long enough your body will fatigue even becoming chronically fatigued. This is just one of an endless number of examples. On the other hand, if you take a walk and focus on how great God is, and how He has delivered you from every challenge in your life you can have peace in Him, and not have fear of future challenges. I’ll take peace over fear.

So how do we change our mind in order to create and reproduce good thoughts, in order to change our attitudes, and produce good opportunities in our lives? Just like exercising to make our bodies healthier, we must exercise to make our minds healthier.

To make a quick and simple summary, this is what the bible tells us to do. We have to continuously rejoice in Him, renew our thoughts daily (don’t get stuck when you struggle, move on), speak truth, control negative emotions, pray and talk to God, speak encouragement, give generously, be kind and forgiving, be wise, and think about things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and worthy of praise. I will also add one that I think is huge, and that is to know what protects our minds which is the peace of God-Philippians 4:7.

So exercise your mind in right thinking.  At the end of every day, week, month, and year you either grow, regress, or stay the same. You are the culmination of your thoughts for that day, week, month, year, decade, and so on. A person that persists in good thoughts gains access through Jesus to the more abundant life.

Here are some additional scriptures to help you in this topic-Ephesians 4:17-24, and 5:15-20. Philippians 4:4-9, 2 Timothy 1:5-7, James 1:14-15, and 4:1-3. Of course there are so many more, but these are a good start.

I know the Lord has great things in store for you all, think on all those great promises.

Live your life Kingdom first!

Levi

What cycle are you in?

From my experience there are three primary seasons that we can be in as people, and we walk in these three seasons in cycles. This means that we are always either coming out of one season, standing in one season, or going into another season. These three seasons are the season of climbing the mountain, the season of walking the ridge, and the season of coming down the mountain.

Genesis 8:22-“While the earth remains, seed-time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”

Mountain climbing is hard. A big enough mountain will make you feel like you will never get to the top. It will make you feel like you are always planting and never harvesting. It seems like it will always be the dark, cold, grey skies of winter, and you will never see the warm days of summer. However, if you will just continue to climb when you reach the summit you will find that the cycle of mountain climbing has made you a stronger person. Spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically.

Walking the mountain ridge is beautiful. You get to harvest the awesome view that only the mountain top can produce. You come out of the shadow, and step into the warm beams of the sun. It feels so easy, and natural to praise God while you are walking the mountain ridge. However, if you stay on the ridge the view becomes boring, and you find that it is impossible to grow any further.

So you have to come down. You have to have the courage to climb down the jagged edge of the mountain, leave the beautiful ridge behind, and walk towards the next higher, more glorious ridge even though you know from experience that the climb is going to be hard.

You can’t climb forever with no rest, the ridge produces no growth, and you have to come down before you can get the to the top of the next mountain.

So what do you do in each one of these seasons? How do you overcome the challenges of life? I think it is safe to say that in detail there can be a lot of answers to these questions, but I will also say that I believe there is one answer to both questions. I have found in my life that the answer is to praise, pursue, and trust God.

It’s easy to praise God when you are on the ridge, but it takes true love for your Father to praise Him and not beg Him during your climb. It’s easy to pursue God when you are climbing, but it takes true love for your Father to pursue Him while you are going down. It’s easy to trust God on the ridge, but you have to know HE TRULY LOVES YOU to trust Him during the hard times when you are fighting the climb, and when you are going down.

This is another way to live the kingdom first life. You praise, pursue, and trust God regardless of how comfortable the season is that you are in.

Live your life Kingdom first!

Levi