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Found Favor - Week 2

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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 everybody, last week you guys were going crazy about hearing one of the most powerful messages of all time about 'Found Favor'. I've got great news for you, you get to hear another week of one of my best friends in the world; you get to hear from Pastor Steven Furtick, the founding and lead pastor of Elevation Church, one of the fastest growing churches in America. I want you to show him honor today, would you welcome back for week number two of 'Found Favor', Pastor Steven Furtick. Hey, let's put our hands together and give God some praise for how good He's been to us in all of our lives. At every location, if God has been good to you, why don't you clap your hands a little louder? Come on, if God has blessed you, if He's made a way for you, if He's been by your side; you know you ought to give Him praise! We've been talking about finding favor and sometimes the best way to increase God's favor in your life, is to increase your awareness of the favor you already have. I've found that gratitude is the access code to favor. The Bible says: Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Before I ask God for anything, I should thank Him for everything. You should never start your prayer with a please, until you've started saying thank you. And so, I just wanted to give thanks today for the awesome opportunity to be with the LifeChurch.tv family. You guys are phenomenal, I shared a little bit last week how much Pastor Craig means to me on a personal level, but I think every single one of you on some level who are a part of this church would like just about seven or eight seconds to thank God for your pastor and the leaders of your church and this incredible movement. Would you clap your hands and thank God for Pastor Craig and Amy Groeschel and the team here at LifeChurch? I said last week that God doesn't give us His favor, everybody say, "Favor". That's what we're talking about, we're talking about finding God's favor and God doesn't give us His favor for our convenience, but for His purpose. It's a critical distinction. One thing that I've noticed about Pastor Craig that I hope to emulate, he's a couple of years ahead of me in the ministry, and many years ahead of me in wisdom. And I notice how every time God blesses him and every time God blesses this church, you have this uncanny ability not to use God's blessing to make your life easier, but to give God that blessing back so that He can impact even more people through it. It's probably one of the greatest things I've learned from your pastor. I'll see God bless the church and I'll think, "Well, now he's going to take it easy a little bit!" You know, the church has 45,000 people coming; 45,000 people, that doesn't even include all of the other people that are coming from Network Churches and Church Online! That makes it like the biggest church in American history, so like now he can chill a little bit, right? I talked to him: "Yeah, I've got three more campuses I think we're going to be able to open this year! You know, I've got to reach more people for Jesus Christ!" And what I want to encourage you to know is that as a church, when God gives you favor, He expects you to have even more faith. And God has given this church tremendous favor, but you need to know that the Bible says: To him who much has given, much more will be required. My prayer is that this teaching that I lay down today, I have three points, will help you to learn how to walk in the favor of God. It's one thing to find God's favor, it's another thing to walk and live and flow in it. I want to know, are there any favor-finders in the house this week? Anybody been looking for God's favor? It's crazy how favor is everywhere. You know how when you are looking for something you're more prone to see it and you think there's more of it, but it's actually just that you're looking for it now? That's how it is with favor, God's favor is always present in our lives but it's when we open our eyes to look for it that we begin to see it and then God can increase on it in our lives. It's kind of like, when you're in the market for a new car and you've got a certain kind of car you want in your mind and now all of a sudden, all you see if you want a Honda Accord is Honda Accords everywhere! Or if you want a Jeep, all you see is Jeeps everywhere, because you're in the market, now your eyes are opened to see that car everywhere. I want to encourage you to get in the market for favor, the favor of God during this series. And today, I'm going to help us to train our eyes to see God's favor, to discover the pockets of favor that already exist and to thank God for them. And then, to realize the greatest way to thank God for His favor, because we could never pay Him back, you understand that right? You don't respond to God's favor by owing Him a favor, it doesn't work that way. One famous preacher said, "Favor ain't fair!" There's nothing fair about God's favor. There was nothing fair about the cross, He took your place. And so, our response to God's favor is to say, "God, show me how I can take the favor you've given me, the blessing you've given me, the influence you've given me, the money you've given me, the skills you've given me; and now, be a channel of Your favor for others, because God doesn't give you His favor for you, He gives you His favor for your purpose so it can flow through you, not just to you. I'm already preaching good, you ought to clap your hands! We said last week that the favor of God is the guarantee of His presence and the provision of His power to accomplish His special purpose in and through our lives. The guarantee of His presence, knowing that God is with me and the provision of His power, knowing He's for me. It's great to know God is with you, but when you realize He's for you, that takes it to a whole different level, and it's in order to accomplish His special purpose in and through my life. We also said last week that there are some favor fallacies out there. I had our team put together a little video that I want to show you. It's just real short and it's designed to be funny, so you can laugh out of politeness and basic human kindness! They wanted to show just how sometimes we pray for God's favor and He answers in an unexpected way, if you're looking for it. Check out this video: "God, you know I've been looking for favor a lot this week, so I would love to find favor now. I'm asking for a great parking spot, a favored parking spot, maybe even right up front next to the entrance. Lord, I'm a favor finder." You know if we're going to find God's favor, first we've got to know what we're looking for. I want to encourage you to note today that God's favor can be found even in your most difficult circumstance; even in the worst doctor's report you could ever receive, even when the marriage is not only falling apart, but has fallen apart and it feels like your life is over. Even when you're so lonely that you don't even feel like God is with you, let alone that He likes you and is for you. If you'll learn how to perceive God's favor, I believe you can receive God's favor no matter what you're going through in your life. The first of three points I want you to write down, please take these down, you're going to need them. Some of you are like, "Well I don't need this, I'm doing pretty good, I'm blessed, I've got God's favor, I don't need to know what this kid thinks about God's favor!" You're going to need it in about three days, four days. You're going to hit something where you need this message, so write it down. The first factor to increase God's favor, flow in God's favor, not to earn it, because we learned last week it can't be earned. Not achieved, only received! But how do you respond to it, flow in it and go with it? Number one, I want you to write down the word: 1. Expect. How do I walk in the favor of God? That's great, God's favor, I'm excited! How do I walk in it, how do I live in it, how do I tune my life to it? The first thing you've got to do is expect. And right underneath the word 'expect' I want you to write this phrase, 'frame your world with favor'. Frame you're world with favor. Last week, I mentioned two Bible characters, Moses and Mary, who found favor with God. One of them went on to lead a couple million people through a very dry land, forty years of wilderness wandering, and one of them went on to have a baby in inhumane conditions and face ridicule. But they both fulfilled God's purpose, and that was bigger than their convenience. That's what favor is all about. I'm not getting any amens! I bet you if I told you, "I'm Oprah, I've got a car for everybody at church today!" you'll all start shouting! But see, God doesn't just offer to give you stuff, He offers to be something to you, to do something in you, to work something through you, and that's called favor. And it's better than anything that you could get from anybody in this world, because it can't be taken away. It's the special something of God. You might even call it the 'it factor'. We could write a book called, 'It' about the favor of God, I bet it would be a best-seller! Frame your world with favor. And I could have talked about a lot of different Bible characters. Abraham found favor in God's sight, even though it meant launching out into the unknown and all God told him was, 'Go to the land I'll show you.' 'Where we going? 'I'll show you when we get there. All you need to know is that I will be your shield and your exceeding great reward because you found favor.' We talked about Moses, but we could have talked about Nehemiah. We could have talked about any number of characters who found favor. Gideon wanted to know he found favor. The women get favor too in the Bible, Esther found favor and she saved a nation because of it. And then we have Ruth, who found favor with Boaz and went from picking up scraps in the field to drinking from the water jug of the servants, to sitting with the man himself. Favor will just do stuff in your life where you're like, "Really God, really? Are you really going to bless me this much?" And you're like, "I don't believe all of that!" Well you don't have to! I'll just take your favor too! I'll take yours and mine! I'll reach over and eat the favor off of your plate too okay? Because I have decided to frame my world with favor. I've decided that even when bad things happen, I'm going to choose to believe that God works all things to the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. So, let me give you five Scriptures. I'm going to just read them real briefly, they're just quick Scriptures. You can study them later, talk about them at home, talk about them in your LifeGroup, talk about them in different conversations with people who don't go to church, tell them what God is teaching you. But all through the Bible, and this is just a few of them. I'm calling it, 'The Favor Five'. Here are some Scriptures where God promises favor to His people. In Leviticus 26:9, God says: I will look on you with favor and make you fruitful and increase your numbers and I will keep my covenant with you. Psalm 5:12 says: Surely Lord, you've blessed the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield. I love to know that God's favor is not only behind me, what He did in the past, it's in front of me, anything I'm going through in the future, and it's beside me and walking with me every step of the way. I thank God for His favor. Any favor finders with me? All in favor say, "I". You like that? You get it? A play on words, all in favor! I hope some of the campuses got it! Psalm 84:11: For the Lord God is a sun and shield, the Lord bestows favor and honor... I love those two words together, favor and honor. ...and no good things does He withhold from those whose walk is blameless. You say, "Well my walk isn't blameless, it doesn't apply to me." You want to know what I said to my kids trying to get ready for church this morning? I'm not blameless, but see Jesus was and He lived the life you couldn't live, died the death you should have died and now He offers His free favor to anyone who will believe Him enough just to say, "Lord, I receive Your favor!". Proverbs 3:4 says, 'Then you will win favor': If you obey the commands of the Lord you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. And then there's this verse I love in Acts. You're all are like, "That's the Old Testament!" Well, here's the New Testament! Acts 2:47; there's always a skeptic out there like, "Well I don't know, that's the Old Testament!" Well, here it is in the New Testament: They were praising God... The early church: ...they enjoyed the favor of all of the people and the Lord added to their number daily, those who were being saved. And oh by the way, the Bible says about Jesus that He grew in wisdom and stature, in favor with God and with men. And I want to be like Jesus and I want to grow in God's favor and I want to flow in God's favor, and I want to know that He's guiding me and directing me. And so, the first thing I have to do is expect it, expect it. And I can tell talking to people sometimes that they don't expect God's favor. And it's not that God's a genie in a bottle, He's God in heaven, He's not a genie in a bottle, I hope you know that. It's not like you can manipulate a miracle out of God. But I'm just telling you that when you're in the market for it and you're looking for it, when you expect it, there's a different vocabulary that you use and people that don't have God's favor in their heart, there's a different vocabulary you use when you wake up in the morning. You don't talk about, "I wonder what's going to go wrong today!" You start talking about, "I wonder how God's going to be good to me today! I wonder how God's going to take that challenge that I'm facing and use it to show how great He is today, because I've got that favor of God! I'm walking in the favor of God today!" I hear people say stuff like this, you know, something bad will happen to him, they'll get fired or they'll go back to buy the thing at the store and the last one is gone and they'll say, "It's the story of my life!" Some of you all say that, you need to quit saying that! Something bad happens, "It's the story of my life!" If that's the story of your life, that bad things always happen to you and you're always disappointed and you're always frustrated and you're always intimidated and you never expect God to be good to you; if that's the story of your life, you need to get a new director for your story! You've got the wrong writer if that's the story of your life! My Bible says that God, in the beginning create man and He said, "It is good". And then I flip to the back of the book and I find out that we win. So, everything that happens in the middle is just really just God setting a stage so He can show Himself strong. And even when I face a battle, it's just so the world can see that God is strong and fighting for me. How will they know how strong He is fighting for me if I never have to face an opponent? The next time you see Goliath in your life David, and you walk up to the battle lines, don't see him through the framework of the rest of the world, this is the one whose come to take us down, this is the one who is keeping us from the blessings. Stop seeing it that way! Start looking at it like this, this is an opportunity where if I'll trust God, He can use me to do something that the world will know that it was Him because it couldn't have been me and I can be a showcase for His favor! Favor should be the primary frame of reference for the child of God. Just like for my kids, they don't ask for my permission to eat anything in my house, it's just what they do, it's part of the package. The Scripture says that you should forget not all of the benefits of the Lord. I meet a lot of Christians who just don't really understand how incredible God's favor is. You know, when I first got a real job and they told me they were going to pay my insurance, I was so excited about it I went and told all of my friends. I was like, "Not only are they going to give me a salary, they are going to give me like a benefits package!" I thought that was like amazing! I never had that; I was paying my own insurance. A self-employed, a little travel around and preach for $75.00 at different little youth rallies in the church gym where it smelled like Doritos and feet; a mixture of those two things you know! I wasn't used to having somebody pay my insurance, so I was telling all of my friends and they were like not that impressed, because they all had jobs and they had jobs for a while. So they were like, "Yeah, it's a pretty standard part of the package." I've got an analogy out of that for how when we first come to Christ there's this innocent sense of expectation, "I'm really God's child, He really forgives me!" You open the Bible and it's fresh to you and it's like, "Wow! I can't believe God's speaking to me through His Word! That's the first time I've read the Bible and I'm just like...and I can't believe that really God put me into that position to tell someone about Christ, or to invite somebody to church!" When some of you first started serving at LifeChurch, it was like, "I can't believe I get to touch a life for the Lord, I can't believe!" When you first came to church it was like, "I can't believe I get to come to a church where they're reaching people! I mean, look at this, four-hundred people give their lives to Christ on a bad week at LifeChurch, I can't believe there's a church like this in my community!" But then over time, the blessings and benefits of God seem to seem like, they start to seem like just part of the package. And so, we start to take it for granted, but God sent me to remind somebody today, that if you will begin to expect again the favor of God, there are opportunities all around you. You don't need another opportunity; you need to open your eyes to the opportunity that God has already put in front of you. And then, out of that He'll give you a greater opportunity. If you're faithful in a little He'll make you faithful over much more. So, you flow in favor when you first of all expect and frame your world with favor. Number two, I want you to write down the word recognize. 2. Recognize. Somebody who listened to rap in the 90's, turn to your neighbor and say, "You better recognize!" You better recognize. And underneath that, just right this phrase down; he said I was a white preacher, but I don't feel like I'm all white when I preach, I really don't, I don't accept that designation, I'm going to prove that wrong! I want you to write down: Open your eyes to opportunity. Write that down; open your eyes to opportunity. The other day, I guess it's been several months now, I took my kids, my five-year old, I think Elijah was five and Grand was three, I took them to an NBA game, their first NBA game. For those of you watching in other countries around the world, it was actually a Charlotte Bobcat's game, which is technically maybe not an NBA game, but it was kind of an NBA game, a National Basketball Association. Okay, so the owner of the Bobcats is Michael Jordan, the greatest basketball player of all time. Somebody had gotten us these really sick tickets and gave them to us, because that's what you do when you're a good church member, you show favor toward your pastor! Can I get an amen Pastor Craig? Amen! That's what good church members do! So, they gave us this VIP thing, we went in this special entrance and we were standing there. Just before the game started, Michael Jordan walks by. I don't get star struck a lot and I'm not a huge basketball fan, but it's Michael Jordan! He's like inarguably, the greatest basketball player of all time. You can argue if you want but it is inarguable, really it is! He walks by and I just had one of these moments like, "Dang, that's Michael Jordan!" And so, my kids were there, and I got down on my knee, me and Holly were kind of like, "What a cool moment for our kids!" We were like, "Hey Elijah, Graham, you're never going to believe this, the greatest basketball player of all time, maybe the greatest athlete of the last hundred years, Michael Jordan just walked by you!" And Elijah looks back at me with these big eyes and he goes, "Daddy, can we go get some popcorn?" He didn't care! He didn't care about Michael Jordan! He wants some popcorn! It goes to show, something so great can be right in front of your face, but you don't even care because you're focused on something that doesn't matter at all, because you're not mature enough to open your eyes to see the favor that's right in front of you. You know what I'm saying? I'm not saying you know, that you should have led Michael Jordan in a prayer and maybe he will start tithing to the church! I don't know, the fact is though; greatness is right in front of you every day. You look at somebody else's marriage and you're like, "Oh man, they've just got favor on their marriage!" No, they're just recognizing the opportunity for favor and when they open their eyes to it, then God is able to open their heart and pour more in and God can pour more into you when your eyes are open to His favor. I want to encourage you to open your eyes to the opportunities God has already placed around you. And here's another little thing to write down before I give you my closing point, it's so important: God will give you the favor you need for the season you're in to do what He's called you to do. You're like, "Man, I don't have God's favor in my life right now, I'm single." You might have the favor you need to have while you're single to build the character you need and have the time you need to devote to the things you need so you'll be prepared when God brings the next season of favor into your life, because God will give you the favor you need for the season you're in. When I first started traveling and preaching, I didn't have a lot of money. And so, if I was in the airport going to preach somewhere, the groups I would preach to were so small that if they went on the loud speaker, I don't know if you've ever done this before, but if they came on and if they were like, "We have overbooked this flight and we need some volunteers to give up their seat." I'd be like the first one to respond every time because they would give you a travel voucher for like two or three hundred dollars, sometimes a five-hundred dollar travel voucher to give up your seat. So, I would call up the person that was doing the event and be like, "Hey man, is it cool if we just start tonight at nine o'clock instead of seven, because I can get two or three hundred dollars! Now, that was God's favor, I bet I got about four or five travel vouchers that way! It was amazing, I was getting favor! Wouldn't it be stupid though, I mean, I'm preaching right now at LifeChurch.tv, I get the opportunity to minister through Church Online. I don't know if you know this, hundreds of thousands of people are a part of this ministry weekly. Wouldn't it be stupid if I called Pastor Craig and I'm like, "Hey, I'm in the airport man, they will give me this two hundred dollar travel voucher, I don't know if I can minister to 150,000 people, we might need to do something! Because listen, that was the favor I needed for that season, but God has different favor for you in every season. And what you have to do in your life is learn to see, "God, what is the favor you want to give me in this season?" See, now it's not a problem for me to get a plane ticket, we have more resources. But it's a little bit harder for me to find time, because we've got a lot to do. So sometimes I have to use the favor of resources to buy a more expensive plane ticket in order to have time. It's amazing to look back over my life and say, "You know, God was there for me every step along the way, giving me the favor that according to His wisdom, He knew I needed in that season." And when I look for God's favor in the season I'm in, I realize that He's been there every step along the way, if you'll open your eyes to the favor of God. Number three, and I'll close with this; it does no good to find the favor of God if you expect it and frame your world with it, recognize it, open your eyes to opportunities around you, it does no good to see it if you don't number three, write this word down: 3. Respond. And underneath that I want you to write this phrase: Give yourself to obedience. Give yourself to obedience. Now, I told you this message was called, 'Walking in the Fog'. If you look back on your outline, if you were obedient and wrote everything down I told you to, those little phrases I told you to put under those three words, if you look back at the first letter of each of those phrases, on number one I said: 1. Frame your world with favor. On number two I said: 2. Open your eyes to opportunity. On number three I said: 3. Give yourself to obedience. The first letter of those words, if you just track with me real quick is, F..O..G. I worked hard on that, I wish you would clap or something! Just be like, "Wow!" Act surprised, act like it was cool! It's like the best trick I've got! Man, I don't know, I ain't got no follow-up for that! You know, although you can't produce or achieve God's favor, you can position yourself to receive it. And favor isn't just a matter of luck, it isn't just a matter of chance or looking on the sunny side; you know like, "I've got God's favor and I'm never expecting anything to change, but I'm going to be a little more grateful." That's not the message I came to preach to you, that's not the favor of God. I'm talking about, will you leave this series and commit to be a favor-finder, not just for three days while you've got inspiration, but ask God right now in your heart to say, "God, make me a favor-finder who doesn't just feel the favor of God every once in a while, but walks in it constantly, following hard after you. And if I will follow hard after you, the Bible says, 'Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life.'" And so, when I'm following Jesus, favor follows me. In baseball, they teach you when you're a pitcher; don't try to place your pitch. Meaning, you don't sit there and try to get it to the right spot. You actually just get so comfortable in your form and you throw the ball so many times, that when you rock back and throw it, the ball goes where it's supposed to go because you did what you were supposed to do. God's favor is like that, you don't leave trying to manipulate circumstances, you leave believing God for miracles and positioning yourself to receive those miracles through being where He's called you to be, becoming who He's called you to become, and doing what He's called you to do. Clap your hands if that's good teaching! So, the commitment to favor isn't just, "God, send me Your favor", it's "God, I'm making a commitment to be in the place where your favor is falling. I commit myself to obeying you, to positioning myself; Your favor has provided me with opportunities and now I will position myself to cease them through obedience." I'm looking back over my life real quick as I stand up here and thinking how I obeyed in something that didn't seem to be a big deal, and it led into something that changed my life. I'm thinking how I went to a Christian college just because I felt like I'd only been saved for a little time and maybe I would get in trouble where I went to school where there were a lot of parties and I was just trying to obey the Lord. When I got there, I met this man who sent me out preaching on the road on the weekend. I don't know why he did it, he would call his friends and say, "You need to have this young guy, he's raw and he's rough, but he's got a gift and you should have him." And I started preaching for that and that's where I started to build some of my ministry stuff. They called me to be the music leader for this little group of 50 people at the college. And so, I just did that man; I just did it with all of my heart. There weren't a lot of people coming but man, we went for it! We pretended like it was a stadium full of people! I acted like Bono for the Lord on that stage, just giving it all I had every week! And you know that thing grew to over 600 people by the time I left the college that had only had 1,200 people in it! And then, it was out of that that I met a man who invited me to move to a little town called Shelby, North Carolina. Have you heard of Shelby? No, you haven't heard of Shelby, you don't study about Shelby. I hadn't prayed for Shelby, I didn't want to go to Shelby, I wasn't thinking of Shelby! But I felt like I needed to go to Shelby to travel and preach for this guy and I just took the speaking engagements that he didn't have and I did what he didn't want to do, just because in that season that was obedience. It was out of that that I met the families that would go to start a church with me. And then, it was out of that decision to sell our houses and quit our jobs that we ended up in Charlotte, North Carolina. And it was that first day where we stood up and had church with 121 people and now we've seen thousands come to the Lord. And here I am today preaching at the largest church in America, telling you about God's favor! And I just look and I say, "God, how did I get here?" And it was just through obedient steps. There is somebody here today that God is calling to take a simple step of obedience. It doesn't seem like much right now, it's not some huge favor story that you could tell in front of 100,000 people, it's just not that exciting. But maybe there's something that God wants to do. Maybe there's a blessing, an impact, a change locked in your obedience that is bigger than anything your eyes could see. I made a decision to walk in the favor of God, I'm not going to walk around any more days just circling around wandering. I've made a decision, "God, wherever Your favor is, that's where I want to be no matter what it costs me." Father, I pray for each and every man, woman, boy and girl everywhere in the world to obey you simply now to find Your favor. In Jesus' name.

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Duration: 31 minutes and 36 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
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Posted by: lifechurchopen on Mar 20, 2012

Found Favor - Week 2 - Steven Furtick - LifeChurch.tv

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