No one Asked Me But...

Racism, Christianity, & Eternal Life

Saved, Christian, and Racist

Do you think a racist person can receive the eternal life guaranteed to Christians?

The short answer is…Well let’s see what the Bible says!

No one asked me this, but in my opinion there is no such thing as a racist Christian.  There is a lot to be unpacked in this question because many racist people say that they are Christians and some even use the Bible to justify their racism.  Here is my interpretation:

I want to take a look at John 3:36 in two different translations because before I looked at this verse in multiple translations I was convinced that someone could be saved, racist, and a recipient of eternal life; but I did not believe that someone could be a Christian and racist, and therefore racists could receive eternal life.  I was separating people who are saved from Christians, falsely believing that someone could be saved only and being saved did not mean one had to closely follow the teachings of Jesus.  I thought Christians were saved while striving to be more like Jesus.  But is that what the Bible actually says?  John 3:36 (NKJV) states “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”  Then I read the NLT which says, “And anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life.  Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment.”  At first glance I thought that the NLT contradicted the NKJV but they do not.  The NKJV states that one must “believe the Son” to see eternal life and the NLT states that one must “obey the Son” in order to have eternal life.  They are one and the same.  The criteria for eternal life isn’t just belief, it is the kind of belief that leads to obedience.  So in order to be a Christian we must believe and trust that Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6 NLT), and we must follow Him in all things.  

Is it enough that we don’t steal, kill, or lie?  Do we all have to denounce racism and not participate in or condone anything that is racist? Hmm well… if we believe in Jesus, then we must adopt His mentality surrounding human relationships.  Galatians 3:28-29 (ESV) says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise”.  So, if you claim to be a Christian but are racist, then you hate your siblings of all races who are also Abraham’s offspring.  And “everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him” (1 John 3:15 ESV).  

As Christians we need to strive for love.  According to Jesus, love is the second most important commandment.  Mark 12:31 (ESV) states, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself”.  Our neighbors include people of every race, nation, ethnicity, and religion.  “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Romans 13:10 ESV).  Racism and love cannot exist together and racism has no place in the body of believers.

Let me sum up my thoughts:  

Racist=Hate=Murderer=No Eternal Life

Christian=Love=Fulfillment of the Law=Eternal Life

Saved=Christian=Eternal Life

But we must remember that God is a forgiving Father, abounding in grace and mercy,  and He has provided us a way to receive eternal life while we are still sinners.  Even racists can make it to the Kingdom of Heaven.  A racist person makes it into heaven just like anyone else: first they must understand that racism is a sin, then they must have true repentance and confess their sin, finally one must ask God for forgiveness of the sin.  At this point, they will have access to eternal life with the rest of their brothers and sisters in Christ.  I know that I look forward to the days where I worship God in His presence, and I would love for everyone to be there too.

What are your thoughts?

I want to be clear that what I have written is simply what I have deduced from the Word of God in my studies.  I know that His ways are higher than my ways, and He is the only One who makes the final decisions on who receives eternal life.  But like God, I want everyone to be saved and enjoy everlasting life, so if my words can help someone recognize the error in their ways, I’m happy to help.

This blog post is specifically about racism.  I fully understand that there are several Biblical reasons that someone may not inherit the Kingdom of God, but I have chosen to specifically focus on racism because of the current social and political climate.  


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Team Jesus: Your Sins Can Never Void God’s Gift of Salvation

This article originally appeared in Team Jesus Magazine. Check them out for more amazing content.

The Gift of Salvation Never Expires

gift

Have you ever felt unworthy of God’s love? Do you believe that your past actions or current behaviors are so sinful that God will not forgive you, or He’ll withdraw His offer of salvation to you?  

I write these words because I have had conversations with people – some friends, some strangers – about this very topic over the years and it’s apparent to me that they were misled. It’s not their fault, though. When you look at a lot of Christians and their “better than thou” attitudes, one would think that having a relationship with God requires perfection.  

That is so far from the truth!  All you need to begin having a relationship with God is the desire and honesty – God will meet you right there.

Hope for Salvation

crucify him

The first thing you need to know is that God “wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4 NLT).  And, by “everyone”, God means everyone.  

God is talking about people from all walks of life, every ethnicity, every socioeconomic class, every education level – all people who sin (which is everyone who still has breath in their lungs).  

One of my favorite verses in all the Bible is when Jesus was questioned by the Pharisees (these were people who taught on religion) as to why He would eat with sinners. Jesus replied, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.  I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners” (Mark 2:17 NLT).  If God only wanted a relationship with righteous people, He would have never sent Jesus to die on the cross to allow sinners to have a relationship with God and to be able to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.

If you are reading this message, then there is still hope for you.  The only reason you aren’t in this relationship with God yet is because you are running from the call of Jesus or you haven’t recognized the call as what it really is. Jesus is waiting for you to come to Him.  Jesus says in Revelation 3:20-21, “Look! I stand at the door and knock.  If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.  Those who are victorious will sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat with my father on His throne.”  I know that if you are reading this it is because you have heard the knock, but maybe you aren’t sure if it is the voice of Jesus behind that door. Maybe you aren’t sure what your next steps should be. 

The best thing that you’ll ever do in life is to open that door.

SO, WHAT’S THE PLAY CALL?

  • The first thing that you’re going to want to do is answer the call of Jesus by opening that door immediately. Don’t hesitate to let Jesus into your life.  It’s time to stop questioning and start doing.
  • Confess all of the sins that you can think of to God and ask for forgiveness. “If we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness” (1 John 1:9 NLT).  God knows what you’ve done without you telling Him – your confession is simply an act of obedience and proof that you are ready to enter a relationship with God based on honesty and openness.
  • If you’ve never been saved, you must “believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31 NLT).  “And when you believed in Christ, He identified you as His own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom He promised long ago.  The Spirit is God’s guarantee that He will give us the inheritance He promised and that He has purchased us to be His own people.  He did this so we would praise and glorify Him” (Ephesians 1:13-14 NLT).
  • If you have already been saved, but have separated yourself from God for any reason, God is waiting for you, too!  Isaiah 55:7 (ESV) says, “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that He may have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.”  You are known by God and your actions did not catch Him by surprise. He just wants that relationship with you to be back and stronger than ever. Repent and pick up where you left off.
  • Be patient with yourself.  Leaving a sinful life behind can take some time. I highly recommend finding a church that not only preaches but teaches the Word of God in truth.  The more you know, the more you will progress into righteous living. 

Click here for the original article.

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Big Rocks, Little Rocks

get your priorities straight

Normally, when I read the Bible I am on the lookout for what would make a good blog post or article, but I realized that it left something lacking in my relationship with God.  I also didn’t like that I had begun to feel that I was some all-knowing, wise person whose purpose was to tell other people what they needed to do to grow closer to God.  So, lately I have been praying that God will reveal to me what I need to understand from my Bible studies.  It has been really freeing for me to focus on me when reading and studying instead of trying to think about what I’m going to write about next.  The only problem is, I have had a hard time coming up with topics when it is time for a new article.  It has been hard for me to find time to both read and study for my personal growth and to read and study for my articles.

I was reading today and I know that God revealed to me that I need balance.  Not just balance for Elevate Through Faith, although God knows that I’m struggling, I need balance for my entire life.  And as I started to really think about balance I knew that I wasn’t the only one who had trouble prioritizing.  Especially with the New Year just rolling in, I’m sure we could all use a bit more balance.  Let me give you all a quick peek at a normal day in the life of Shaw.  Usually, my day starts between 4:45 AM – 5:15 AM.  I leave my house around 7 AM and drop off my three kids in three different locations before heading to work myself.  We normally get home around 6 PM, where I cook dinner, help with homework, have a little time to catch up with the kids between showers.  Then we say prayers and I put the kids in bed by 9 PM.  After the kids are in bed I clean up the kitchen.  By this time, I’m exhausted myself but I have not completed any of my other tasks.  And honestly, I normally choose sleep over anything else, but that just leads me to feeling overwhelmed and unproductive. I know that if I want to accomplish any of the goals I’ve set for myself, I will have to stay up later than I would like.  I’ve never been someone who goes to bed late, so this is always a challenge to me, but I have to find balance.  Proverbs 10:4 (NIV) says, “Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth”.  I do not want God to look at me when I get to heaven and tell me that I was lazy to receive all of the blessings He had in store for me, so I have made the decision to be diligent.

So What Can We Do?

There are some things that I have to change about myself in order to become diligent.  I want to share them with you all in case it will be helpful to you as well.

  • In order to find balance, you must first prioritize what is most important to you.  It’s the concept of “Big Rocks, Little Rocks”.  This is a powerful concept that was illustrated in the book First Things First written by Stephen R. Covey, A. Roger Merrill, and Rebecca R. Merrill, in which a speaker was teaching on prioritizing and productivity.  The speaker took out a jar and some fist-sized rocks.  He placed those rocks into the jar until it was filled to the brim.  The speaker then asked the group if the jar was full, and everyone agreed that the jar was full.  But instead of stopping there, the speaker poured gravel into the jar.  Then he poured in sand, and then water.  The point of the lesson is that if the gravel (little rocks), sand, and water were put into the jar first, then the big rocks would have never fit.  Think about your life, are you filling it up with the smaller priorities first only to realize that you don’t have the time to complete your larger priorities?  If your big rocks are spending time with your family and working on your business project, but you find yourself spending more time at the grocery store, then you may want to try ordering groceries online and picking them up or even having them delivered.
  • Being proactive is the second thing you have to do to find balance.  Yes, you now know what to prioritize, but most of the time you cannot complete all of your big rocks in the same day.  So maybe you take your kids out for ice cream and a movie and at night you work a little on your business project. Because you made quality time with the kids your biggest rock on this day, the next day your biggest rock should be your business plan.  Being proactive means recognizing that your big rocks can change day to day based on your needs and not feeling guilty that you cannot do everything every day.
  • Give yourself deadlines.  If you are anything like me, procrastinating just comes naturally.  And honestly, it seems like you work best under pressure.  But when setting your own goals, there is no deadline so it’s easy to keep putting your personal projects on the back burner in favor of other activities or even just relaxing.  But, this year we want results and if we have to become disciplined, that is just what we will force ourselves to do!  So when your write down your goals, write the deadline beside it.  Put the deadline on your calendar with periodic reminders that will keep you motivated and on track.  Start to think of yourself as your own boss and don’t give yourself any choice but to complete the task.
  • Last, but certainly not least, make sure your make time to be in relationship with God.  It can be so easy to become so focused on what we are trying to accomplish that we don’t make time for the One who created us.  We will need Him throughout everything we do.  Remember John 15:5 (NLT) “Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing”.  
Uncategorized

Domestic Violence Awareness: A Time to Leave

Hey guys!  I just wanted to stop by my blog and let you all know that I wrote an article for Team Jesus Magazine about domestic violence and it was published just in time for Domestic Violence Awareness Month!  Most of you know that I work as an advocate for survivors of domestic violence, so it was only right that I write an article about it.  Please check it out at https://teamjesusmag.com/domestic-violence-awareness-a-time-to-leave/.

Let me know what you think.

Much love,

Shaw

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Don’t Lie On Me

 

IMG_6475-1

So something you all may not know about me is that I fiercely believe in living in truth and respect for others.  I can honestly say that this is something that I model daily.  Being that I value truth and respect so deeply, these are the only two things that I get really upset about.  When I say upset, I mean UPSET.  If I feel like someone is being disrespectful towards me or if I know that someone has lied on me, I have been known to go into a place of unholy anger.  A place that requires me to seek God in order to escape.  Because I know myself, I try to live my life in a way that gives no one a chance to be disrespectful because I’m always going to be respectful to everyone.  I also try my best to be very transparent and I live by the rule that you shouldn’t do anything that would be embarrassing if someone else knew.  I feel like this saves me from feeling the urge to lie and doesn’t give anyone the opportunity to lie on me.  To be clear, to lie on me is considered disrespectful.

The Angry Place

This is a story that only my husband and a few close friends know that I am going to share.  And I’m going to share just to show how faithful God is in fulfilling His promises.  A couple of years ago a woman that I considered to be my friend lied on me.  And not only was it a horrible lie, it could have cost me something very important to me.  Sadly, I would not have even known that she lied, but the person who controlled “the very important thing” called and asked me about it.  I was so furious that I couldn’t even sleep the night I found out about the lie.  The woman who lied is not someone that I could avoid, at this point I saw her on an almost daily basis.  So I tried to figure out why she lied and I couldn’t come up with any other answer than that she lied to get herself out of trouble.  This fact made my anger worse, because why would she try to get me into trouble with a lie when the consequences would have been the same for her as it was for me?  Then I started to rehearse how I would confront her about the lie, because the level of anger I was at was not the level that would allow me to let the lie slide.  I had to pray that my words would come out right and that I would say what needed to be said without being disrespectful and without sinning.  

The Confrontation

When the time came, I told the truth in a way that left no room for the lie to prevail.  The woman who lied on me ended up admitting that what she accused me of did not happen.  And I remembered God’s promise in Isaiah 54:17 “‘No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and this is their vindication from me,’ declares the Lord.”  God did not allow this weapon (the lie) to win the battle against me and I was able to refute the tongue of the woman who lied on me.  This is a promise that I have seen fulfilled firsthand.  What I realized during that confrontation made me pray for the woman who lied on me.  I saw a fear in her that I have never known.  And although I was still angry that she lied on me, I prayed for her because I knew that she did so out of desperation.  I also had to be obedient to God’s Word in Luke 6:27-28 (NIV) “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”  In this moment, I decided to just love her.

Don’t Lie On Me

I was able to move on.  I still had to see the woman regularly so I decided that ,although I did not trust her anymore, I would put this past me and at least have a friendly relationship with her.  Things were going well for over a year and then she struck again.  She told another lie that was in her own self-interest.  I could not believe it!  Another lie that definitely would have cost me the same thing that I love had it been believed.  And again, it was behind my back so I was caught off guard.  Except this time I was armed with the promises of God.  Enough time had passed and my faith had been strengthened so much that I learned from the previous lie and was able not to be so upset, as a matter of fact, I didn’t react in the same way at all.  When I was asked about the lie, I told the truth and decided to let my word be my word.  I believed the Word of God was true in Exodus 14:14 (MSG) that says, “God will fight the battle for you. And you? You keep your mouths shut!”  The only time that I spoke about the lie was when I was initially asked what really happened.  I didn’t confront the woman about the lie.  I didn’t worry about it after I told the truth.  I just stood on God’s promise and let Him fight my battle for me.  And you know what?  It worked!  The entire dilemma handled itself without me from that point on and it was proven that I did not lie.  The beautiful thing is that no one even believed the lie to begin with.  The woman that lied on me suffered the consequences and I am still cordial with her when I see her.  Luckily, God has pretty much removed her from my life, I only see her occasionally now and it’s never long enough for her to fabricate any stories concerning me.  I know this happened because I kept God’s command to pray for those who mistreat me.  1 John 3:21-23 says, “Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from Him anything we ask, because we keep His commands and do what pleases Him. And this is His command: to believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as He commanded us.”

I know that this may seem like a petty example of how God keeps all of His promises.  But it shows that if you believe, you can apply God’s promises to any area of your life.  When you start looking for ways that God has shown Himself faithful it helps to increase your faith in Him.  Start looking for God to show up in every situation, I guarantee that you will find Him carrying out His promises.

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Still, You Must Live!

 

Still, You Must Live

I don’t consider myself a Bible scholar, I’m just a woman trying her best to follow Jesus and make God proud. With that being said, I cannot say with certainty that we are living in the end times, but what I can say is that we are living in uncertain times. By uncertain I mean that you never know what new tragedy you will read about on any given day. Just this morning, right before I began writing this post, I read about a woman being beat by the police for having an open container on the beach, I read about a toddler hanging from a balcony without the knowledge of the parent, and I read about an 11 year old who committed suicide by jumping from the roof of a 16 story building. Not to mention the almost daily stories of missing children, mass shootings, war, and rumors of war.
This world has no shortage of real life horror stories. I wish that I could protect my children and just keep them in my house, homeschool them, and feed my family from our farm. The problem with this is that I don’t have a farm and even if I did, I wouldn’t know the first thing about farming. My husband and I both have to work for a living so keeping the children home and homeschooling is off the table. It’s hard not to have a sense of trepidation every time I drop my kids off at school in the morning, but because God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV) I cannot allow the state of the world to paralyze me and my family. This is where I replace fear with the promises of God.
This week’s promise come from John 10:28 NKJV:
John 10:28
This is the promise of Eternal Security that the sheep of Jesus can hold on to in the moments where we are just afraid to make a late night store run in a safe neighborhood because human trafficking is everywhere. Jesus has promised us that no matter what happens to us on earth or in heaven, we will live eternally just because we choose to follow Him. Even when it doesn’t feel like it, we have to have the faith to know that we are in His hand and the enemy doesn’t have enough power to snatch us out.
I also think about this promise when I think back on my younger days and how I could have easily headed down the wrong path in life. It makes me pretty emotional thinking of all the things I have done wrong in life, so many mistakes that I willingly made without caring about the consequences. Because I have free will, Jesus let me make those mistakes but He never took His hand off of me. He held onto me because before He formed me in my mother’s womb, He knew me and set me apart for His holy purpose (Jeremiah 1:5 GW).
John 10:28 is not just speaking of life as we know it, this verse is telling us that no matter where we are, heaven or earth, we will always be with our Creator. So even if tragedy strikes “we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands” (2 Corinthians 5:1 NIV). So go out and live! Do what God will have you to do without fear of could happen. I’m going to leave you with this Word from God, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced; those who oppose you will be as nothing and perish.  Though you search for your enemies, you will not find them. Those who wage war against you will be as nothing at all.  For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”(Isaiah 41:10-13 NIV).

 

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Answered Prayers

answered prayers

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of Him.” 1 John 5: 14-15 NIV 

One of my first posts on Elevate Through Faith was called “God Promised” and in that post I discussed what I consider the ultimate promise: John 14:2-3, “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going to there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am”. I consider this the ultimate promise because my end goal is to be with Jesus on the throne (Revelation 3:21).
Throughout the Bible, there are several thousands of promises that God has given us. Because I know that God cannot tell a lie, I know that I can rest in these promises without hesitation or doubt. When I originally wrote the post “God Promised” I planned to do a series about God’s promises but did not know where to start because there are way too many to choose from. I recently received a mailing from In Touch Ministries and inside the package was an envelope with nine flash cards of scriptures with some of God’s promises printed onto them. I decided that this was perfect for me because it took away some of the agonizing that I would undoubtedly do if I had to choose the promises myself. So this is the first blog in my God Promised Series, so stay tuned for more!
The Promises of GodThis is the envelope that the flashcards are in.
1 John 5: 14-15 declares that if we ask God for anything that is in alignment with His will, that God hears us and that He will give us what we ask.
Let’s take a look at 2 Kings 20 which tells the story of how God granted a prayer from a righteous man, Hezekiah. Hezekiah was the king of Judah and in this text, he was deathly ill. The prophet Isaiah went to visit the king to give him a message from God. The message from Isaiah was “This is what the Lord says: Set your affairs in order, for you are going to die. You will not recover from this illness” (2 Kings 20:1 NLT).  Hezekiah started to pray immediately because he was not ready to die. In his prayer to God, Hezekiah reminded God that he had lived a faithful life, devoted his life to serving the Lord, and lived righteously. Before the prophet Isaiah had left the grounds, God spoke to him, telling Isaiah to go back and deliver a new message from Him. Isaiah did as instructed and told Hezekiah, “This is what the Lord, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you. On the third day from now you will go up to the temple of the Lord. I will add fifteen years to your life. And I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria” (2 Kings 20: 5-6 NIV). God not only extended Hezekiah’s life, but He also gave Hezekiah a bonus blessing by delivering his city from Assyria. Remember God “is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” (Ephesians 3:20 NKJV).  What I love about this text is how confidently King Hezekiah approached God in prayer, not once did he ask God to add years to his life, he reminded God of why he deserved to live. God answered Hezekiah’s prayer because it is within God’s will to grant the requests of the righteous.
I love to write my prayers in a journal, I’ve been doing it for years. Recently I found one of my journals from 2013 in which I prayed for my husband to start attending church with me. I honestly forgot about this prayer until I found the journal a few weeks ago, and my husband and I have been attending church for years at this point. Finding a church home has meant so much to my family and we are both serving in our church. But the level of faith that my husband has reached since we became members is astonishing. But that’s not my point. My point is that I asked God in prayer for my husband to start attending church, and because my request was within His will, He gave me what I asked. And not only did He give me what I asked, He far surpassed what I asked. That is the Ephesians 3:20 blessing! God is so faithful that He goes above and beyond for His children. And God gets the glory for everything that has transpired since then. Our lives are so much better, our relationship with each other is so much better. And I credit it all to God!
As you see from my example, God did not grant my request immediately, because He knows what steps need to take place before He gives us what we ask for. There are definitely times where God will not give us what we ask for in prayer because what we have asked for is not within His will. But the truth is that most of the time we ask God for things that we aren’t even prepared to receive. Sometimes our character needs some work, sometimes other events need to precede our requests, sometimes we need to leave some of the people in our social circle, and other times we need to meet someone new who will be instrumental in our prayers being answered. Trust God’s timing and know that if your prayers are not answered immediately, they are at least in progress. How can I be so confident in this you ask? I am confident because God promised.
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You Have the Favor of God

Favor of God

Psalm 5:12 (NIV) Surely, LORD, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield

I have been thinking a lot about how the favor of God is evident in my life. I notice it so often in my marriage, in my relationship with my children, and at work. And I wanted to drop by on the blog today to let my readers know that they have the favor of God too! Dictionary.com defines favor in several ways, but there are two definitions that I want to highlight. 1. “Something done or granted out of goodwill, rather than from justice or for remuneration; a kind act.” 2. “Excessive kindness or unfair partiality; preferential treatment.” Biblestudytools.com defines favor as “gaining approval, acceptance, or special benefits or blessings.” This website also states that, “The favor that human beings receive from God depends on his good pleasure and is often extended in response to prayer or righteous living.” I could not agree more. God’s favor is a blessing because He is not required to give us favor. My hope is that when you are done reading this post that you will see that favor surrounds you too!
Since I was a young child, I have never had any interest in cooking. My mother, who is a great cook, would often invite my sister and I into the kitchen as she was preparing meals to teach us how to cook. I cannot recall one time that I took her up on her offer. The thought of cooking was so unpleasant that when I was around 12 or 13 years old, I remember praying that God would send me a husband who liked to cook. Many years later I met my husband, Kevin. “Coincidentally,” Kevin is the greatest chef I have ever met. I would rather eat my husband’s food over any chef in any great restaurant that I have tasted. My husband is so great at his craft that whenever we go to a restaurant and I find a dish that I really love, my husband recreates it at home and it is always much better. He loves cooking for me and our family. This is not a coincidence at all, this shows the favor of God has followed me since I was a child.Psalm 23:6 (NASB) says, “Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever”.  I consider myself a blessed woman.
Open your eyes! Things that happen that you deem “coincidental” or “good luck” are really God’s way of showing you His favor. The more you look for favor, the more you will notice it. As believers, we also have to start expecting God’s favor. I have been reading “Your Best Life Now” by Joel Osteen and he speaks on favor in a way that I have never heard. In one passage Osteen states, “My attitude is: I’m a child of the Most High God. My Father created the whole universe. He has crowned me with favor, therefore, I can expect preferential treatment” (p. 39).  Imagine being bold enough to make these same declarations in your life. God wants you to have this kind of faith in who He is and who you are. Our Father, the King of all kings, desires that His children remember that they are royalty and expect to be treated as such.
I have another example that concerns my husband. When Kevin was hired for his current job, he was told that he would have to work third shift. Although we needed him to take the job, we were both dreading the third shift hours. It would also mean that he would miss out on time with the children. And we were all so used to daddy being at home and available to the family. Kevin is such a great husband and father that the lack of his presence would have been difficult to deal with. Kevin had about a month of training before he was to start working third shift. During this time we prayed for a smooth transition. But once his training was over, his supervisors noticed that he was a hard worker with a great attitude and Kevin was never asked to go to third shift. This is preferential treatment! This is the favor of God! Psalm 84:11 (ESV) says, “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly”.
Do not leave yet, because you have homework! Every night for seven days I want you to take a journal and write down every good thing that happened that day, no matter how big or small. After you have them all written down, reflect on what sequence of events took place to bring about the good thing. Ask yourself these questions: Were these events planned by you? Could you have pulled it off alone? Was it a miracle? Did it seem coincidental? Then, thank God for each good thing on your list. Remember, Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow” (James 1:17, NLT).
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Remember, Someone is Always Watching

Remember Someone is Always Watching

Hebrews 10:24 NIV: And let us consider how we may spur one another toward love and good deeds.
My original plan for this post was to discuss Hebrews 10:25 NIV, “Not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching”. But in speaking with my husband, Kevin, and my twenty year old daughter, Denah, we looked at Hebrews 10:24 and started discussing what it means to “spur one another toward love and good deeds”. Denah said that she sees good deeds being behaviors or actions displayed by believers that encourage those who don’t go to church or who don’t believe to want to know more about the faith. And she is absolutely right! When I meditated on this verse, I see that Paul is telling believers to truly give thought to how we are perceived by others because what they see in us can either spur them on “toward love and good deeds” or drive them away from Christianity and the church. 1 Timothy 4:16 NLT states, “Keep a close watch on how you live and on your teaching. Stay true to what is right for the sake of your own salvation and the salvation of those who hear you”. This verse reminds us to keep in mind that there are always people watching and judging, not only you, but Christianity as a whole. And as ambassadors for Christ, every thing we say and do should be righteous in order to win people back to God (2 Corinthians 5:20 NLT). No matter how much good you’ve been caught doing, the bad is what is most remembered.
The best thing a nonbeliever can witness is a believer acting out his or her faith, not just being a mouthpiece for the Gospel (which is a good thing!), but we have to always back up our words with our actions. To be completely honest, someone who does not believe is going to be spurred more towards love (which is God) by what you do and the integrity and joy in which you do it than by any speech you give. You are a new creation, remember to show it! Not only are nonbelievers watching, so are other Christians. There are still some skeptical Christians, who are less mature in the faith, and they are watching you even more closely because they need holy models to keep them encouraged and keep them digging deeper into their relationship with Christ.
I have mentioned in a previous post that I am an advocate for domestic violence survivors and work in a domestic violence shelter. The organization that I work for is a non-religious based nonprofit, so I cannot freely proclaim the Gospel to my clients. But as a Christian, it is my job to let my “light shine before others, that they may see [my] good deeds and glorify [my] Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16 NIV). So my good deeds are: always being kind, being nonjudgmental, being someone that they can trust, a shoulder to cry on, going above and beyond to be helpful, and always give them 100%. It is truly amazing, because without me ever saying a word about my beliefs, many of my clients come to me and assume that I am a Christian. And they slowly start asking me Biblical and Christ-related questions. I consider it an honor, and although I cannot cross professional boundaries by saying everything I want to say, I can tell them where they can find better explanations to the questions than I am able to provide. The point is that my clients are watching me, and by my actions I am able to spur them towards love and good deeds. I don’t want to misrepresent my clients, so I will tell you that there are some of my clients who are already Christians. But I get these kinds of interactions with clients who are Christians and clients who don’t know what they believe.
 
I love the illustration in Titus 2:3-5 NIV
“Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.”
Did you read what I just read? Only after the older women displayed godly behaviors are they THEN able to urge, or spur, the younger women to have the same godly behaviors. I’m going to leave you with this reminder…Remember, someone is always watching.