And just what do we see this life of favor looking like? The parking space we want … the house we want … the job or promotion we want … the care we want … positive and favorable responses from people?
God challenged me this past Christmas season concerning His favor on our lives. I was studying to teach our Christmas series and was looking into Mary, the mother of Jesus. I’m sure you remember the verse about her and favor found in Luke 1:28, “The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Highly favored! That sounds amazing! … Favored to be the mother of the Messiah, our Savior, God’s Son.
Being favored by God IS amazing and such a humbling privilege! And as I looked into these thoughts of favor, God did what only He can do! He took a scripture that I have read hundreds of times … that I KNOW … and suddenly He made it a rhema word … an alive and living Word. And He started showing me favor in a whole new light! One definition of favor simply is that God is willing to use you. The thing we don’t see is that favor has a cost … a great cost. Let’s look at the beginning of Mary’s story of favor in Luke 1:
In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!” Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”. Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.” The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.” Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her.”
Just imagine being Mary. You love God with all your heart and have lived a life that has honored Him. You are a virgin. You saved yourself for the one whom God had designed just for you. And now you are engaged (espoused) to that man and planning the wedding of your dreams.
THEN an angel appears and everything changes. You find yourself pregnant and you are still a virgin. Who will believe that? In fact, are you even sure that YOU believe it? And such apparent promiscuity and infidelity in that day, time, and place could get you stoned to death!
And what will Joseph believe? That you are carrying the Messiah? Will ANYONE believe that!?!? Again, are you sure you even believe that?
So, Mary wakes up one day and finds that she is a highly-favored woman of God. Sounds great, huh? Favored by God! And she was! Favored to carry, birth, and mother God’s one and only Son. That favor cost Mary greatly.
Favor from God brought Mary scandal. Favor possibly estranged her from family and moved her faraway from those whom she loved. The favor of God put her in a stable in a foreign place to deliver her first baby. Favor by God had her as a new mom having to run away to a foreign land and hide her baby to protect him from being murdered by King Herod. And the favor of God eventually put her at the foot of the cross watching as her son was crucified: a cruel and painful death.
And to think, we talk about favor believing we will live blessed in a very worldly sense and comfortable and without lack. But I truly believe that the real favor of God is found in being used by God for His purposes and plans; and that favor costs us something.
The favor of God does not mean a life of unbroken happiness or that all of our dreams will come true. In fact, there is a tremendous price to be paid by those who are highly favored by God. Remember, favor simply means that God desires to use you. So, the question for us becomes, are we willing to be favored by God? Used by Him even if it means scandal instead of worldly esteem, barns instead of palaces, ridicule instead of acceptance, slander instead of compliment, pain and persecution instead of comfort, and death (especially death to ourselves) instead of exaltation? … all in order for Him to use us to influence the world.
Mary was willing to be favored … to be used by God. She was willing to be overshadowed by the Most High so she could birth His purpose and His plan. She was willing to do something she didn’t understand. She was willing to set aside her plans. She was willing to sacrifice her reputation. She was willing to jump into the impossible.
Are you willing to position yourself for His favor? Are you willing to do something out of obedience even when you don’t understand? Are you willing to set aside your plans…sacrifice your reputation to live in the favor of God, to be used by Him? Are you ready to jump into the impossible?
Where do we find ourselves today? I believe God is looking for some people He can overshadow with His favor in order to reach the lost and the hurt with His relentless love. Are you one of those people?
Submitting to His Favor!