Archive for February 15th, 2016

Distinctive favor

from JO’s sermon last night:

there’s something God has put on you that causes you to be different; it’s a favor that makes a distinction between you and those that don’t God honor. the scripture talks about:

 1 Peter 2:9 (KJV)

9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people 

a better word; a different people. you’re not ordinary, not like everyone else; you’ve been marked with a distinction. it says in Numbers:

Numbers 6:25-26 (NIV)

25 the Lord make his face shine on you

    and be gracious to you;

26 the Lord turn his face toward you

    and give you peace.”’

this distinctive favor causes you to prosper when others are struggling. you’ll recover from a difficulty when others get stuck. you have protection when others face calamity. there’s a marked difference; you have an advantage. you’re not doing life just by yourself, just your strength, talent, connections; there is a force breathing behind you, guiding you, protecting you, favoring you. the most high God has set you apart. He could’ve chosen anyone, but He hand-picked you, called you out, said, “that’s one of Mine.” right now, His face is shining down on you. don’t go through life thinking that you’re average, you could never accomplish your dreams. put your shoulders back, hold your head up high; you’re a part of the called-out group. God has set you up for a distinctively favored life. that means, for blessings that you didn’t work for, promotion that you didn’t deserve. the scripture says:

Deuteronomy 6:10-11 (NIV)

10 … large, flourishing cities you did not build, 11 houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant

Joshua 24:13 (NIV)

13 I gave you a land on which you did not toil and cities you did not build; and you live in them and eat from vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant

it’s not because of who you are, it’s because of Whose you are. you’ve been marked with favor. when you realize this, you’ll pray bold prayers, dream big dreams, expect things to happen for you that may not happen for others. when others are afraid, upset, and worried, you’ll be at peace, knowing that you’ve been set apart, that there’s a hedge around you that the enemy cannot cross; distinctive favor. 

when the Israelites were in slavery, God told Moses to go tell Pharaoh to let the people go; Pharaoh wouldn’t listen, he kept refusing. God sent plague after plague on Pharaoh and his people. their water supply was turned into blood. millions of flies, swarms of locusts, ate up their crops, destroyed their land, made their lives miserable. what’s interesting is, the Israelites, 2 million people, lived right next-door, but these plagues never affected them. at one point, there were hordes of frogs; everywhere Pharaoh’s people looked, frogs in their homes, in the food, in their beds.  they were so frustrated, but on the Israeli side, there were no frogs, life went on as usual. Pharaoh still wouldn’t change his mind. God was about to send swarms of flies into their houses, but:

Exodus 8:22-23 (NIV)

22 “‘But on that day I will deal differently with the land of Goshen, where my people live; no swarms of flies will be there, so that you will know that I, the Lord, am in this land. 23 I will make a distinction between my people and your people.This sign will occur tomorrow.’”

24 And the Lord did this. Dense swarms of flies poured into Pharaoh’s palace and into the houses of his officials; throughout Egypt the land was ruined by the flies.

millions and millions of flies came into Pharaoh’s palace, in all the houses, flies so dense you couldn’t see, couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep, their land was ruined by flies. but right next door, the Israelites had no flies. it didn’t make sense in the natural; it was the hand of God putting a distinction on his people.  God has put that same distinction on you. when He breathed life into you, He marked you for favor, blessing, marked you to stand out. what will defeat others won’t be able to defeat you. this is why you don’t have to live worried about your safety, future, children. there are so many negative things in the world, so much crime and violence. it may be happening all around you, but you have an advantage; God has put a distinction on you. the Psalmist said:

Psalm 91:7 (NIV)

7 A thousand may fall at your side,

    ten thousand at your right hand,

    but it will not come near you.

God has a hedge of protection around you and your family. for the enemy to get to you, he has to ask God for permission. I’m not saying negative things will never happen, that’s not reality, I’m saying you are protected by the One who controls it all. if God does allow it to happen, He’s promised that somehow, He will turn it and use it for your good. Pharaoh still wouldn’t let the people go. Moses told him:

Exodus 9:3-5 (NIV)

3 the hand of the Lord will bring a terrible plague on your livestock in the field—on your horses, donkeys and camels and on your cattle, sheep and goats. 4 But the Lord will make a distinction between the livestock of Israel and that of Egypt, so that no animal belonging to the Israelites will die.’”

5 The Lord set a time and said, “Tomorrow the Lord will do this in the land.”

notice, a distinction even on your property: your house, car, belongings. the next day, just like God said:

Exodus 9:6 (NIV)

6 And the next day the Lord did it: All the livestock of the Egyptians died, but not one animal belonging to the Israelites died. 

it wasn’t where the Israelites were that kept them from the plagues, it was what was on them;  a distinction, the favor, the blessing that comes from being a child of the most high God.  you and I have that same blessing. we may have things around us that could harm us, keep us from our dreams, bring us down; stay in faith.  there is a distinction on your life, property, children, career, health, put there by the Creator of the universe. don’t talk yourself out of it; “business is kind of slow, a couple of my coworkers got laid off; I don’t see how I could get out of debt.” your job is not your source; God is your source. the economy doesn’t determine whether or not you’re blessed; God does. He has already marked you for favor. He’s already put this distinction on your life. dare to pray bold prayers, believe for unusual favor, take the limits off of God; you’ve been set apart. Psalm 37 says:

Psalm 37:18-19 (NLT)

18 Day by day the Lord takes care of the innocent,

    and they will receive an inheritance that lasts forever.

19 They will not be disgraced in hard times;

    even in famine they will have more than enough.

as long as you stay close to God, keep Him first place, you are connected to a supply line that will never run dry. even in a slow economy, God will cause clients to find you. even when the medical report says “no way,” you are connected to a supply line filled with health, wholeness, restoration. when you don’t see how you could accomplish your dreams, don’t get discouraged; you have a supply line connected with good breaks, the right people, ideas, creativity. what would happen if you would get up every morning, and say, “Father, thank You that Your face is shining down on me, that You put a distinction on my life.” all the circumstances may say otherwise; “you’ll never get well, never meet the right person, your house is never going to sell.” don’t believe those lies. you have to have a boldness to believe that there’s something different about you, that you have a right to be blessed, see favor; not arrogantly, but in humility, knowing that because of who you are, a child of the most High, He has set you apart, He’s put favor on you that causes you to stand out. like the Israelites, God has put a distinction on your life, property, career; you have an advantage. if you’ll get this down in your spirit, you’ll start praying these bold prayers, believing for things that seem impossible. God likes to do unusual things in your life so that He will get the credit.

in the scripture, Joseph went through a lot of bad breaks: he was betrayed by his brothers, sold into slavery, put in prison for something that he didn’t do. for 13 years, you could say he was in a famine. he could’ve been bitter, negative, “God, why did you let this happen to me?” but Joseph understood this principle; despite the opposition, he kept being his best. no matter how much people tried to push him down, he kept rising to the top. he worked for a man by the name of Potiphar. Joseph was so excellent in what he did, he had such a good attitude, Potiphar put him in charge of his household. the scripture says:

Genesis 39:3 (NLT)

3 Potiphar noticed this and realized that the Lord was with Joseph, giving him success in everything he did.

Potiphar saw the distinction. God wants to bless you in such a way where people notice. He wants to show out in your life where people say, “you mean you sold your house in six weeks when it should’ve taken a year and a half? you mean your mother had terminal cancer in 1981 and she’s still alive today?” that’s what distinctive favor does; causes you to stand out. you may have seen some of this in the past, but you need to get ready; you haven’t seen anything yet. God is about to do some things in your life that are going to make you notice. people are going to see; it wasn’t just your talent, ability, connections, it was the hand of God opening doors that no man can open, taking you where you could not go on your own. the scripture says:

Genesis 39:5 (NLT)

5 … the Lord began to bless Potiphar’s household for Joseph’s sake.

because of the distinction on Joseph’s life, people around him began to get blessed. your company should be glad to have you at work; when you get there, the blessing gets there. when you show up, favor shows up. some of your friends, relatives, coworkers, they don’t even know it, they’re being blessed because of you. what’s interesting is, Joseph was a slave; he didn’t have a prestigious position, he was taking care of the house. on the other hand, Potiphar was one of the highest ranking military officials of that day. you would think that Joseph would be blessed because of Potiphar’s sake;  it’s just the opposite. the distinction God put on you is more powerful than positions, titles, education; when God’s face is shining down on you, you’ll not only rise higher, but it’s so powerful, that even people around you will begin to get blessed.

one time, Abraham moved to a new country with his family, all his flocks and herds.  he found this beautiful piece of land, but in a few months, he realized the land couldn’t sustain all the flocks and herds:

Genesis 13:9-12 (NIV)

9 Is not the whole land before you? Let’s part company. If you go to the left, I’ll go to the right; if you go to the right, I’ll go to the left.”

10 Lot looked around and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan toward Zoar was well watered, like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt. (This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) 11 So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out toward the east. The two men parted company: 12 Abram lived in the land of Canaan, while Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom.

in the natural, Abraham should’ve struggled, seen his crops dry up, his business go down, but it was just the opposite; it wasn’t any time before his flocks and herds multiplied so much that that land was turned into a beautiful oasis. he was one of the wealthiest men of that time.

like Abraham, because of the distinction God put on you, you’re going to flourish. your location doesn’t determine the blessing; what God put on you determines the blessing. when He called you out, He marked you for favor. wherever you go, the blessing goes. you may not have the perfect job, people aren’t treating you right, you’re not getting the credit you deserve; that’s ok, you’re not working unto people, you’re working unto God. people don’t determine your destiny, God does. keep being your best, honoring God, and like Joseph, God will cause you to be noticed, stand out. at the right time, God will either turn that around by promoting you, or He’ll move you somewhere else. the key is; don’t wait until you’re out of the desert, then you’re going to have a good attitude, start being your best. there’s something on you right now that will cause you to prosper in the middle of the desert.

Lot wasn’t making good decisions; he wasn’t honoring God. he was blessed as long as Abraham was there, but when Abraham left, the blessing left. Abraham had to go and rescue him:

Genesis 14:11-16 (NIV)

11 The four kings seized all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their food; then they went away. 12 They also carried off Abram’s nephew Lot and his possessions, since he was living in Sodom… 15 During the night Abram divided his men to attack them and he routed them, pursuing them as far as Hobah, north of Damascus. 16 He recovered all the goods and brought back his relative Lot and his possessions, together with the women and the other people.

there are people that God put in your life right now that are being blessed because of you. they may never realize it, they may never tell you thank you; don’t worry, God is keeping the records. those are seeds that you’re sowing. He’ll make sure you are blessed in a greater way.

back then, they would even pray to the God of Abraham; when they saw how blessed Abraham was, how he flourished even in the desert, they thought, “if we can get to his God, maybe we’ll be blessed.” God wants to put such a distinction on you, He wants you to stand out in such a way, that people want what you have.  they say, “I’m going to pray to the God of those people. look at her, she’s so blessed, faithful, generous, talented. if I can get to her God, I believe I can be blessed.”

God strategically orchestrates our steps; He doesn’t always take us in sequence, from A to B to C. sometimes, He’ll take you 2 steps ahead, 1 step back, and then 5 steps forward.  you have to trust Him in those times where it feels like you’re going the wrong direction.

part of this distinction is, God wants to accelerate your dreams coming to pass. He’s going to speed things up, make it happen faster than you thought. God knows how to get you noticed;  His face is shining down on you right now. He’s put a distinction on your life, property, career, children; it’s going to cause you stand out. it’s going to open doors that you could never open, bring opportunity, the right people, good breaks. you’re not doing life alone; you have the most powerful force in the universe breathing in your direction right now. you’ve been called out, set apart, chosen to live a distinctively favored life. now do your part; pray bold prayers, take the limits off of God, believe for your dreams.  if you’ll do this, God is going to show out in your life in amazing ways. like Abraham, you will prosper in a desert. like Joseph, He’s going to cause you to be noticed, and it’s going to happen faster than you think.

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