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Found Favor - Week 1

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What exactly is God's favor? What does it look like? How can you experience it in your life? God's favor looks different to different people. There are many ways God's favor shows up in our lives; in our relationships and in our health, in our finances and in our work, through our security, our influence and our life circumstances. And when we have found favor with God, we begin to fully understand what it means to walk in the power of His presence. Hey, welcome today to all of our LifeChurches, our Network Churches, those of you from countries all over the world at Church Online. I cannot describe to you how excited I am today to welcome to our church one of my very best friends in the whole wide world; one of the greatest men of God that I know; beyond a shadow of a doubt one of the finest leaders, most passionate evangelist, most crazy-minded, faith-filled leaders. I don't know anyone in the emerging generation that God is using more than one of my best friends. Today, I want to introduce to you the pastor who founded Elevation Church just six years ago, and in six short years this ministry has grown to over 11,000 people. I really don't need to introduce him to you because he's kind of like a part of our church. You guys love his book, Sun Stand Still. His new book coming out later this year is called, Greater. And believe it or not it's greater than Sun Stand Still! He's like a part of our family, extended family member. Would you please show some LifeChurch love to Pastor Steven Furtick! Hello LifeChurch! What an honor to be here, what a privilege to preach at my second favorite church in the United States of America! Amen! I don't know what this is; I'm not directing anything today that I know of! Let's put that to the side, amen! I can, I can try! I want to share with you some things today that I know will be life changing; but first, let me just thank Pastor Craig and Amy, and all of the team here at LifeChurch. I wanted to let you know something wherever you're watching this; whether you're part of a Network Church, Church Online, or one of the many locations of Your church is my church. Pastor Craig said that I'm kind of like extended family and that's true whether you want it to be or not! Pastor Craig, it's probably almost obnoxious how much I always talk about you guys as a church everywhere I go. I think probably some people get irritated with how much I talk about LifeChurch and Pastor Craig and LifeChurch and Pastor Craig! Your pastor is my pastor, I call him that. I prayed when I got started in the ministry, you know, my Dad wasn't a minister. My Dad lived a pretty rough life, and although he tried to be there for me, I prayed when I got in the ministry, "Lord, I need you to send some people that can help me, it's a big responsibility and I don't want to mess it up! Will you send people into my life who can be there to share wisdom and guidance?" And he sent Pastor Craig Groeschel into my life a few years ago, and I had no idea at the time what that covering would mean to me and to our church. Every Saturday night that I can after I preach my message, I get on my iPhone and I find ChurchOnline, I have it saved as an icon on my phone! I click on it and I see what Pastor Craig just preached. A lot of times, I actually get him to send me his notes in advance! Amen! So I can steal the stuff before he actually preaches it because I'm in a time zone where I start earlier, so I can actually preach his stuff before he does! Every week on Saturday, Sunday or Monday, you guys feed my soul and then I shamelessly rip off the content! Someone asked me the other day, I guess because...I'm going to get to the message, let me visit! I mean, this is like my home away from home, so I feel like I need to just catch up with you on a few things. I was asked by someone the other day at a conference, they said, "You're always talking about LifeChurch and Craig Groeschel!" I said, "Yeah!" You know, because I'm proud of the fact that he's my pastor! And "Yeah, I love LifeChurch, yeah, what about it?" Because I guess I'm kind of like that kid that's always like, "My Dad can beat up your dad!" You know like, "My Pastor's better than your pastor! His church is bigger than your church! What, he's got the biggest church in the country! What? That's my friend!" And so, they were like, "Alright so, what about Pastor Craig, what would you say about Pastor Craig and LifeChurch that is the secret sauce?" Because people want to know everywhere and leaders come from all over the world to learn from you guys and what you're doing, and then you give away a lot of resources. And so, people who maybe have been impacted from the outside want to know from the inside, "What is it? What's the secret sauce to LifeChurch, to the ministry success that they have." And you always want to give the Spiritual answer and say, "It's the Lord!" But they were asking more specifically, "What is it?" And all of these things came to my mind: I first thought about Pastor Craig's integrity, which is deeper than I could even share with you in this format, it's unparalleled. I thought about his praying wife, Amy. I was like, maybe she's like the secret weapon and God just does it in spite of Pastor Craig because of Amy's prayers because she's so spiritual and deep and she has such a great relationship with the Lord. I thought about the innovation of the team here and the creativity, there's no more innovative church to reach people for Christ. I thought about the generosity of the church. All of these things flooded to my mind, the strategic wisdom that God has given the leadership team in this church, there's really nothing like it, you'd have to see it from the inside to know it; it's just amazing. But after all of those images just flashed in my mind, I just looked back at them, I didn't say any of that, I was just thinking of all of that, which one would I share, which one's the secret sauce? And I just said one word and it relates directly to what I want to talk to you about over the next two weeks. I just said, "Favor!" And then I just looked at them. They were waiting for me to say something else you know; it's the logo, it's the web quality, it's you know.., but I just said, "Favor!" And what I want to talk to you over the next two weeks on the subject of favor, what I want to talk to you about has the potential to change your life in the way that you can't even explain to someone how your life changed, but nobody can deny that it changed. If you will take these teachings to heart that I want to share with you, some things that God has been showing me in His Word over the last several months, and this last season of my life. This would be, if you were to ask me, "What's the one thing that you want more than anything else for your family, for your children?" I have three children and my little girl is turning one right now as of this recording, she's about to have her first birthday. And if there's one thing I prayed for her, even before what she understands what it means for me to pray for her in this way, I pray for the favor of God to be all up on her life. Now, I'm going to need somebody to say, "Amen!" I can't stand up here and preach to silence, you're going to have to say, "Amen" at the campuses and say, "Amen"! There's nothing like the favor of God, nothing like it. The favor of God is something special, it's something that is somewhat indescribable; but I want to do my best over the next two weeks to take you into the Word of God and give you sort of an overview of the favor of God. Let me ask at the offset of this at all of our churches, how many of you want the favor of God to operate in your life? You better raise your hand! I mean, this isn't a time to sit in church and be cute! Because when you get the favor of God, there's this permeating sense of God's purpose and presence and protection and pleasure in your life that is unlike anything you can buy. I would tell you at the offset of this message, and I hope you'll make plans to be here next week as I get into some more of the practical stuff; but this week, let me just set the table. I would tell you that I'd rather have favor than fortune, I'd rather have favor than fame, I'd rather have God's favor than even the closest friend that I could have. I want God's favor, it matters more than life itself, it's one of the most important concepts in the whole Bible and it's mentioned a staggering number of times. What it's meant to my life personally and our church, it's something that's hard to put into words. And there's no definition of favor that I can give you from one verse in the Bible, but let me share a passage with you today from Exodus. I want to share from Exodus, Chapter 33, verse 12. And I also want to share, if you want to go ahead and find this; you know, open another window under YouVersion or put your finger in your Bible. From Luke, Chapter One, I want share two Scriptures about favor. Turn to somebody next to you and touch them real quick and say, "I'm a favor finder! I'm a favor finder!" You know like, we used to go out on the beach with metal detectors, and when it would get close to something it would start beeping, "Beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep!" I want to let you know today that you didn't just come to church, I want to let you know today that whether you're looking for it or not, the favor of God, if you'll open your heart to God's Word over these next two weeks, is about to track you down! Even though you don't even know where to look for it to find it, it can find you! And what I love about favor, I've got to get to my Scripture real quick, I'm running out of time; but what I love about favor is it can track you down anywhere. It's not limited to a certain type of person, a certain nationality, a certain ethnicity. The favor of God isn't just for people who are in a physical church building; the favor of God can get all up into Starbucks while you're watching this on your iPad. The favor of God is the most powerful force in the universe. So in the Old Testament, Exodus 33, verse 12, the Bible gives this account of how Moses found favor with God. The Word of God says: Moses said to the LORD, "See you say to me, 'Bring up this people, but you've not let me know whom you will send with me. Yet you have said, 'I know you by name and you have also found favor in my sight.'" Moses was in a situation where he needed to lead the children of Israel, over two million stiff-neck, rebellious people. He didn't know exactly how God would provide and I know some of you are in a situation like that in your life today as I speak. And you are being called by God to do something that you don't know how to do. You're being called by God to raise kids that you want to kill sometimes and you need the special, supernatural something of God or you're not going to make it! Is anybody facing a situation today where you say, "I need God to do something for me that I can't do for myself?" If that's where you are, you need favor. Moses needed God's favor, he needed God to go with him and fight for him and so he said, 'Lord, I need to know!' He says in verse 13: "If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor..." There it is again... ...with you." I love the way that the Bible says it, he says: "If I have found favor in Your sight, show me now your ways that I may know you in order to find favor in your sight." That's so powerful! He says: "Consider too that this nation is your people." That's funny! A lot of pastors call their church, they say, "My people, our people." Moses was so frustrated with these people he gave them back to God! Every pastor, if you do it long enough, you get to that point. And you know, that's a good place to be. When you give the thing that God gave to you back to Him and say, "God, I need you!" now you're a candidate for His favor. Because you can't, you might want to write this down if you haven't written any notes yet: You cannot achieve favor, you must receive favor. Favor is God doing for you in Jesus what you can never do for yourself. And so, Moses needs God to fill in the gap. And he said in verse 14, God speaks back: "My presence will go with you and I will give you rest." And he said to Him: 'If your Presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here. For how shall it be known that I have found favor in Your sight, I and Your people? Is it not in Your going with us so that we are distinct, I and Your people from every other people on the face of the earth?' And the LORD said to Moses, 'This very thing you have spoken I will do, for you have found favor.' Say it again, found favor. Say it with some umption like you want it, found favor! Yeah, God will give it to you if you're hungry for it. And He said: 'You have found favor in my sight and I know you by name.' And then, let me read one verse from Luke, Chapter One, verse 28. We talked about Moses in the Old Testament, now let me show you Mary in the New Testament. The Bible says, this is a familiar verse. The angel went to her and said: "Greetings you who are highly favored, the LORD is with you." "Greetings you who are highly favored, the LORD is with you." I wrote down a definition of favor that I think will serve as a great working definition for this two-week teaching. I wrote down that the favor of God, here's the definition, I can't show you the Bible verse for it; but just, as you look at it, it's mentioned in the Bible almost as much as grace and mercy and blessing. This isn't some side bar on the Christian life; this favor of God thing is so real and so important. Man, I know that somebody's perspective not only on their life, but on who God is, the very nature of God is about to change when you find favor, and here's what I wrote down about favor to guide us: The favor of God is the guarantee of His presence and the provision of His power to accomplish His special purpose in and through my life. I'll read it again: The guarantee of His presence, what is the favor of God? It's the guarantee of His presence and the provision of His power to accomplish His special purpose in and through my life. Isn't that pretty? Put that on your refrigerator! Put that in front of your face! And when you pray for favor you need to know what you're praying for; because honestly, there are many favor fallacies out there. In fact, when I said that I was going to talk about the favor of God, some of you who have a little bit of a churchy background, or maybe you've seen some funky, kooky weird stuff in church, you start thinking automatically, "Oh, he's one of those preachers!" And what you mean by that is, "He's one of those preachers who promises me that if I have a special relationship and connection with God and if I do certain things for God, then my life will always be easy and it will never be difficult." But you've lived long enough to know that sometimes you don't get the parking space even though you do tithe and serve in the children's ministry! You have to park at the back anyway! Sometimes you've seen even worse things than that happen, where the person that you love didn't get healed and they were a real good person, and you prayed hard and so did a lot of other people. So, you're like already kind of skeptical of this young cat who is coming up here talking about favor and God wants to give you favor and touch your neighbor and tell them favor! And there's a skepticism that sets in as we live our lives. I came to declare today that the favor of God is not the same as favors from God. Let me break it down. A lot of people say, "I want the favor of God!" Like, even if you're not a real church person that sounds like something you would want. Like, raise your hand if you want the favor of God! "Yeah sure man, I mean, if it's free I'll take it! I mean, what's involved in this? I have to come back every week to get this? But I'll take it!" It's kind of like that, I wanted to say to you today that perhaps what you've been wanting from God isn't His favor for His purpose, but Him to do you favors for your convenience. See, when Moses asked God for favor, it wasn't just so that he could have more camels. Hear me; it wasn't just so that he could have more jewelry or a greater, easier life in terms of whatever modern amenities were available to Moses in the wilderness. He wanted God's favor so he could know God! And that's why I said that God's favor is the guarantee of His presence. The favor of God is not a formula, the favor of God is not a set of steps that you can take to get what you want; the favor of God is a living, breathing dynamic and a relationship with Jesus Christ that changes the way that you see God and your understanding of the way He sees you. Maybe that's the most important thing about God's favor. Maybe the thing that blessed me so much about God's favor is for the longest time, I understood that God loved me because He has to right? Like, he said that if I would believe in Jesus that He would send the Holy Spirit and that He would forgive my sins. It's like a contractual thing, if I put my faith in Jesus God will love me. And I think from most of the beginning of my Christian life, because I didn't understand what it means to have God favor me. I knew God loved me, because He had to; but what God's favor teaches me is that He likes me! Not just loves me because he has to, He likes me because He wants to! Come on somebody, that's good news! God doesn't just love you because He got suckered into it, He likes you because He made you and He has a plan for you and a purpose for you. And if you are in Christ, God is pleased with you because of the finished work of Jesus on your behalf. We say this saying sometimes; I don't know if you've ever said it, it's an old Christian cliche. We say about people that get on our nerves, "Well, the Bible says I have to love everybody, but it doesn't say I have to like everybody!" For the longest, that's how I thought God felt about me, "Well, I've got to love Furtick, but he gets on my last nerve! Do you know how long I've been trying to deal with him about his temper and he still gets mad when he shouldn't get mad? Do you know how many ways I've blessed him and he still complains, even in the middle of my blessings I'm giving him? Furtick is so jacked up, that he'll complain about a blessing that he prayed for me to give him! He'll pray that I give him a big church to reach a lot of people; when I make the church big, he'll complain because he's tired because he's got so much responsibility! He'll pray that I'll give him a child and then when the child cries and acts up and acts crazy, he'll start freaking out!" And I have so many weaknesses, there's so much wrong with me, because I don't even like me sometimes, so I operate out of this frame of reference that God must not like me very much either. But when you understand God's favor, when you understand that the way God feels about you goes beyond your feeling at any given moment and that God did not choose you based on your performance, but based on your purpose; then you can understand that when God looks at you, if you belong to Jesus, if you are forgiven by the Blood of Christ, if you've come into a relationship with God, that His favor in your life doesn't just mean that your life will get easier, it means that the very look that you see on God's face when you pray to Him will change and you'll realize that God has called you His favorite, His favor. I was thinking about how LifeChurch needs to become a church full of favor-ites; you know, in the Bible you've got the Hittites, the Perazzites, and the Jebusites! I want to see a church of favor-ites, people who are humble enough to say, "It's all about God's favor you see". Favor is a byproduct of the grace of God; favor is a byproduct of the mercy of God. And when you understand God's favor, you understand that it's not arrogant to say, "I have the favor of God," it's arrogant not to. Because people who understand favor understand, "I shouldn't even be here today, if it wasn't for His grace. Had it not been for the Lord on my side, my enemies would have swallowed me alive. I'd be divorced three times if it had not been for the favor of God. If you really understand God's favor it's a humbling thing, and it draws you closer into relationship with the God who knows every inadequacy, but still chooses you anyway. I have a friend who is on staff at a church that's well-known all over the world as a church with tremendous leadership culture. The other day I asked him a few questions about how his senior pastor operates, because he's legendary as one of the greatest leaders in the world. I asked him, I said, "Is your pastor hard on you? Is your pastor ever demanding?" And he looked back at me and said, "Is he ever not hard on me? Is he ever not demanding?" I said, "But you love him?" He said, "I love him more than any other person in the world." I said, "Well then, how can you love him so much when he's so demanding?" He said, "Because of a conversation I had with him one time that changed the way I saw my relationship with him." I said, "Tell me about that conversation." He said, "Well, after a series of corrections that my pastor had given me, I came to him and said, 'Pastor, I'm just having a really hard time. I feel like I'm not measuring up, I feel like I can't get it right and I just feel awful and I feel like I'm letting you down, and I'm wondering if I'm the right person for the job.' And the pastor was a little bit taken off guard by it and he said, 'You wonder if you're the right person for the job? I love you, you're amazing! You're exactly who I want in the job!' He said, 'You've been sending me all of these emails lately that are just so kind of harsh and it just feels like you're not really happy with me.'" And the pastor said back to my friend, he said, "Oh, that's because you're reading what I'm saying wrong. You see, when you read my emails, you're not discerning the tone in the emails, you're just reading the emails and it's making you upset, it's making you frustrated, it's making you feel inadequate." And he said, "From now on, when you read my emails here's what I want you to do..." And my friend said that this changed his life: He said, "...when you read it, read it like I was smiling when I sent it, because that's how I feel about you all of the time." I wonder how much our view of God would change if we read His Word like He was smiling when He said it? Like if we really believe, "I have found favor with God!" Now, God doesn't always say things in His Word that are nice and easy to listen to; there's some rough stuff in here. But even underneath the stuff that God says that seems harsh, when you have found favor, I'm just trying to get you to see what favor is a little bit today; next week I'm going to get into, "How do I walk in the favor of God, okay, explain it, break it down a little more. I'm going to be talking about that next week; but this week, I just wanted to tell you that even when God is correcting you, if you have His favor you understand that He's smiling over you and He accepts you even as He corrects you because you have found favor in His sight! Isn't this good? Isn't this life-changing? Some of you don't look like you believe it! I wish you'd turn to somebody next to you and tell them, "If you're happy and you know it, tell your face!" You know what I'm saying? Because we have found favor with God! There's nothing like it in the world. You know what I've learned? That God can do more for me in one moment of His favor than I can do without Him through a lifetime of my labor! I found out that when I have God's favor, stuff happens to me that shouldn't happen to me. And even the stuff that happens to me that I wish didn't happen to me will turn out to produce a result through how God uses it that I wouldn't have even known to pray for if I'd got what I wanted. I couldn't have gotten something that was as meaningful as what He gave me because I have His favor, you see. And so, here's an example of that: When we were first starting to be a multi-site church, we came to LifeChurch and we asked if we could meet with them. We got to meet with several of the staff members that are leaders in the church. They took a whole day just to meet with us, I don't know why, just favor! And so, I wouldn't even have dared to ask for a meeting with Pastor Craig. Our church was just getting started, we were 14-months old and I didn't want to bother him, I just wanted to learn from whoever was available to meet with me. I didn't try to set up with a meeting with him, I didn't even try to get it on the radar that I was coming because I didn't even think he knew who I was; you know, the church is so big. And I'm walking out to go to lunch and he walks out in the hallway and he goes, "Hey Furtick, come on and get in the car, let's go to lunch!" I'm like, "How do you know I'm Furtick? How do you even know who I am?" And that single connection after we spent two hours at lunch together has become one of the single most important things in my life to help me stay on track in my walk with God. Now, I want to tell you something about how God works. I could have tried with all of my heart to set that up, and I could have tried with all of my heart to manipulate it and make it work, and I could have done everything in my human powers, and still not had a meeting with Pastor Craig. There are a lot of people that want to meet with him. But just by trying to be obedient to God where He had placed me and doing what He had called me, I found out that I don't have to force my way into favor, God's favor will follow me as I follow Jesus. I want to bring back something I said a minute ago about how God's favor isn't just for our convenience. When I read you that passage in Luke, Chapter One, where the angel came to Mary and said: 'Greetings you who are highly favored, you're blessed and highly favored.' Mary wasn't just favored, she was super-favored. She had an extra-favor factor, okay, blessed and highly favored. It's interesting to me you know, if we heard that as a young unmarried girl engaged to be married, we would think, "Alright, blessed and highly favored. Alright cool. So what's coming next? What's the angel about to say next?" You've been chosen to be on a wedding story; somebody is going to pay for your cake, you're going to get a free flower arrangement! No, here's what came next, you're going to give birth to a baby in a barn that will appear to be born out of wedlock. He will be the Savior of the world and you'll watch Him die on a criminal's cross. You still want God's favor? You had your hand up a minute ago; I just want to check back in! I just want to check back in and make sure that before we go into week two teaching next week, as we talk about how to flow in the favor of God, I've got a message next week I'm so excited about! I'm calling it 'Walkin' in the Fog', because sometimes you don't have time to say, 'Favor of God'; so you can just tell people, even if they don't know what it means you can just say, "How are you doing today?" "Oh man, foggy, I'm walking in the fog!" We're going to learn next week how to walk in the fog! That means, I don't even know where I'm going, I can't see clearly; but I'm walking in God's favor, He's my leader, He's my guide. You see, I believe that when you find God's favor, even if you're seeking an answer and you can't find the solution, or even if you're seeking something that you need in your life right now so much, but God won't seem to give it. When you find God's favor, it's all about His presence. The essence of God's favor isn't what happens to me; it's who I know is with me no matter what happens with me. I came to tell somebody today who is struggling, who is hurting, you've got a broken heart, you're not sure if this message is for you right now. You've got a doctor's report that doesn't seem to be very favorable, you've got a situation with your kids that doesn't seem to be very favorable, you've got a depression that's surfacing in your soul and you don't really feel God's favor. I wanted to let you know that if for no other reason than the single fact that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has promised to be with you and He said, 'I'm with you always and I'll never leave you and I'll never forsake you.' If you find nothing more than Jesus, you have found favor! You have found favor! At every location, I want you to turn to three people and tell them, "I found favor! I found favor! I found favor!" I found it when I found out that Jesus died for me, that I don't have to pay for my own sins, but that He hung on a cross and He stretched His arms and they beat Him and I don't have to be beaten. And they killed Him and I don't have to die, I can live again in Him! I have found favor! And because I've found favor, I don't have to know where I'm going because I know who I'm with and I know He's with me! In the valley I have favor, in uncertainty I have favor, when I hit a hard time, I've got favor. When I'm blessed I thank God and I humble myself because it wasn't me, it was God in me. When I'm not blessed right now in the way I want to be blessed, I look back on the favor that I have and I anticipate that there's greater favor coming and God has a purpose that He's working in this and I stand on the fact that if He is for me, He's more than the world that's against me! Clap your hands if you want to find favor! Halleluiah! Father, I pray for every son and daughter of the Living God, that we would find favor in your cross, favor in Your presence; in Jesus' name, amen.

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Duration: 32 minutes and 41 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
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Posted by: lifechurchopen on Mar 12, 2012

Found Favor - Week 1 - Steven Furtick -

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