Favor….Life at the Speed of Obedience

In February 2014 our World Missions Director (now General Overseer) released a book entitled “The Amos Paradigm: Life at the Speed of Favor”.  I recommend it.  Dealing with a word from the Old Testament prophet concerning the speed at which the blessings of the Father come to His servants (Amos 9:13), it is a fresh retelling of God’s promised faithfulness for this day.  Important stuff.  Like so many other powerful words, however, people often think they know the message by being acquainted with the title.  This sort of ‘Cliff Notes’ erudition is dangerous, but rampant in the Kingdom these days.  In the time of mail-order college degrees and sound bite communications, truth is more subject to prejudice than at any other time.  Add to that the predisposition of millennials and others to trust their own perceptions moreso than some other generations, and there is a perfect storm of opportunity for getting it wrong.  God’s favor is one of those vulnerable tenets of the faith.  The key doctrinal truth about this particular promise is that favor’s manifestation is transactional and relational, not unconditional.  Simply put, the favor of God depends on the faithfulness of the servant.  While the original languages often use the same word for ‘grace’ and ‘favor’, there is a nuance that is essential.  When we are told it is by grace that we are saved through faith (Ephesians 2:8), we are reminded that our acceptance is unmerited.  The ongoing blessings of God, however, are entirely conditional.  This is where biblical favor becomes the operative description.  He desires and takes pleasure in giving the kingdom to His children (Luke 12:32), but this is only manifested in a relationship of trusting obedience and active pursuit of His purposes.  It is this ‘grace’ in which we are repeatedly encouraged to grow (2 Peter 3:17, 18 et al).  The process that begins at salvation is one of continually learning, applying, stretching, and receiving.  Amos describes the plowman ‘overtaking’ the reaper, and the dude squishing the grapes being overrun by the guy sowing the seeds.  Notice something besides the promise of God’s acceleration?  Everybody is busy DOING something – they’re on assignment!  Contrary to some whose sense of entitlement clouds their religion, God is still no ‘respecter’ of persons (Acts 10:34).  The metaphor of sowing and reaping is the operative process wherein true biblical favor is received.  He not only requires that we believe in Him, but that we actively crave His presence (Hebrews 11:6).  It is in serving the Lord that we position ourselves for blessing.  If we choose to drop anchor on the threshold of our faith and depend on what we have already received at the exclusion of following after Him, we position ourselves on the precipice of disobedience and jeopardize the very grace that we once received (Colossians 2:6-15).  I’m not blessed because I’m inherently ‘special’ apart from Him, I’m continually blessed because I’m obedient!  All of us are invited to trust in Him, and in so doing to unleash the awesome supernatural potential of promise.  The natural tension between Mary and Martha’s focusses in no way dismisses the need to do the things in Martha’s kitchen (Luke 10:38-42), only that she prioritize time with the Master.  It is in that place of koinonia that we are able to embrace the blessor more than the blessing, and to keep such externals in their proper perspective. Obedience truly IS better than sacrifice, and is essential for continuation in the covenant and blessings of God (1 Peter 4:17).  Once that truth is internalized in the life of the believer, a biblically correct understanding of favor is possible.  There’s no need for a plowman or a reaper without a sower, and the grapes don’t get from the seed to the smoosher without a reaper.  The bottom line is, we have to give Him something to bless!  #nolazygrace  #abouthisbusiness

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