If you’ve been feeling like you’re in a fog, more times than you would like…. You’ve got a lot of company…. That’s where the children of Israel found themselves as they journeyed to their promised land destination also…. God sees us all as we grope through the “foggy fog”, and invites us to come into His FOG and thats what I want to talk about today. If you’re a bit confused, let me bring you out of the “Fogg fog”….. God’s ’FOG stands for “The Favor of God” in 2019.
I thought an appropriate scripture for launching into the new year was……Joshua 3:3 And they commanded the people, saying, When you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, and the priests the Levites bearing it, then you shall remove from your place, and go after it. v4 ……. that you may know the way by which you must go: for you have not passed this way before. v5 And Joshua said unto the people, Sanctify yourselves: for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you.
What a way to live, from the time you get up in the morning until you lie down at night…. That the Lord will do wonders among you! To walk into the grocery store or the department store, expecting the Lord to do wonders among you…. To go to work each day, expecting the Lord to do wonders among you…. To expect this in your home, with your family….
I want you to also Check this out with me….Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. v19 Go therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. v20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen”.
Because Jesus’ said, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth”, it assures me that there is no time, no situation orcircumstance and no place that is exempt or excluded. Notice that immediately after stating this truth, He says to us “GO”…. And it assures us that as we go, into our daily activities and responsibilities, we can fully expect this all encompassing power to be in it, with us, because He says “I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS”…. And once again we have the assurance that this all inclusive guarantee covers all places, at all times in all circumstances…. But Wow…. Then comes a third affirmation of this guarantee “EVEN UNTO THE END OF THE WORLD”…. There is no expiration date…and it is a guarantee which surpasses time and space….
The Favor of God is not about a feeling, it is about a reality which He invites us to participate in, His invitation is a return to God consciousness and God centeredness.
Our Lord has promised that You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. That sounds a lot like the favor of God to me….
The Main Thing is to Keep The Main Thing, The Main Thing!......I would submit to you that a big problem we have is that distractions can begin to define our lives and identify who we are. As the great hall of famer, Joe DiMaggio said, “You don’t have to swing at every pitch”. Perhaps the main thing is no longer the main thing, because the main thing has been sacrificed by what distracts us?
When Winnie’s sister, Barbara was visiting us recently. She came downstairs exclaiming ‘I hate that all seeing eyeball,magnification mirror, you have stuck in the middle of the bathroom mirror. It shows me every hair and every pore on my face. But I’m too short to look above it, so I’m forced to look at it”!!! She looked at what she didn’t want to look at…..
How often are we the willing victims to distractions, so, we can avoid dealing with those things we know we need to confront. How much further along would we all be, if it weren’t for the willful distractions? How much could we have accomplished, if we had remained true to ourselves? How many good intentions lie in the graveyard of distractions, still quivering and taking numbers while waiting in line for the chance at resurrection?
Distractions wait like hungry beasts, to devour our time, our energy, our dreams, and our very lives….Our lives get filled with so many urgent things, that we have no time for the main things, the eternal things. We have occupied ourselves with a million little things that devour the things that are of the greatest value.
These distraction beasts cause us to do what is impulsive and neglect what is essential and we live in survival mode. Days turn into months and months into years, and our lives have become gobbled up by the beast…. When we have been called to leave the low road and walk the high road of our calling and purpose…..
It was on New Years Eve, and at the local sports bar, the cops are waiting just outside the parking lot, ready to catch any unsuspecting drunk drivers. A woman comes stumbling out of the door and finally gets in her car, clearly drunk. The police request that she do a breathalyzer test, and she complies. The first test comes back negative, so they try it again. The second test also comes out negative, the officers, are thinking the breathometer is broken, The woman responds, “Officers, you won’t need to do any further testing, I can explain sir… tonight, I am the Designated Distraction”. You see I’m here so my husband can make a get-a-way! He’s really drunk!
Designated distractions can take you from good intentions to a train wreck! And there are always plenty of folks to help you avoid the main thing!
You intended to start each day with prayer and devotions, you intended to help someone in need, you intended to pay your tithe, you intended to follow through with your plan, but you encountered some Designated distractions. Sometimes we need to say what the little boy said to the Devil, “Get behind me Devil and don’t push”…..that’s what designated distractions will do, they keep nudging you and pushing you in the wrong direction if you let them….
The fire of the Holy Spirit in our lives creates passion — a passion for God, for righteousness, for non compromise living, and for transformed lives. It makes all other passions seem unworthy and undesirable. When that happens we find that we are not just making it through life, but we are living with higher purpose.
Take a glowing coal from the fire and soon it will dim and grow cold, but place it back in again and quickly it will burn with intensity….
Likewise we need to STAY IN THE FIRE AND STOKE THE PASSION WHICH FLOWS THROUGH GOD’S SPIRIT!
It is the decision to move from pragmatism to passionate living. Where you are no longer being pushed around and driven by the world’s system and culture.
Passion is the craving of a heart that wants to experience the fullness of life in the Spirit, no matter what the cost.
Passion is about being committed to a cause that is bigger than yourself and will shape you into a person who is larger than the life which distractions has produced.
Passion is like a fire burning hot at the core of your being. It means that your life is defined and directed by higher goals and purposes that have captured your heart and are directing what you do and where you’re going with your life. It means something is motivating you that has liberated your will and set it ablaze. The fire in your soul, will burn through the distractions it encounters. Perhaps if the greatest distraction is not the how, when, or where, but the why things happened as they did in our lives…. We start spinning our wheels on the why and get stuck in the mire of second guessing ourselves… Our faith gets locked on to the process, instead of the Lord of the process….Stay out of the “WHY TRAP”…..
Hebrews 12:1-2 says we must get our focus back on Jesus: “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight,(distraction) and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.”
Giving priority to this, will prevent a lot of missed opportunities…. And keep us on mission….. and out of the “why trap”….
A wife showed up at her husband’s office and told him that she got stranded with the car. “I think it has water in the carburetor." The husband was a little surprised and said, "Water in the carburetor? That's ridiculous, you don’t even know where the carburetor is." But the wife persisted, "I tell you I’m sure the car has water in the carburetor.” To this, the husband trying to humor her, said "Look, even though I know that you don’t have a clue, where the carburetor is. I'll check it out. Where's the car?" In a quite voice, barely above a whisper, the wife answered… "It’s at the bottom of the pool”.
We all need to reevaluate our priorities and our actions on a constant basis…. Or we’ll get distracted and end up with water in the carburetor!
An anonymous author wrote… We need more love, to supersede hatred. We need strength, to overrule our weaknesses. We need inspiration, to enlighten our core beliefs. We need learning, to erase our ignorance. We need wisdom, to live longer and happier. We need truth, to counteract deception, We need a good sense of values, to enjoy our riches, We need peace, to get along with one another. We need more smiles, to brighten the darkness. We need more hero's, because we already have enough zero's. We need to be honest with ourselves, to gain the trust of others. We need more understanding, to revisit our misunderstandings. We need more sympathy and less apathy. We need more forgiveness, and less vengeance. We need more humility to lift up others. We need more patience and not misdirected passion, We need more focus, to avoid distraction. We need optimism, not the narrowness of pessimism. We need justice, not politics as usual. We need the facts, not everyone’s fiction., We need purpose, not aimless dreaming. We need to be challenged, that we may attempt greatness. We need vision, to create the extraordinary. We need more helping hands, not stingy grabbers. We need more compassion, not social isolationism. We need more laughter, to lift us above our worries. We need more spirituality, not mere religion. We need freedom, not the enslavement of entitlement...and by putting Christ first, along with these other things, we can enjoy heaven on earth.”
I was thinking as I prepared this foggy message, of a guy who had a distraction sneak right up on him…and caused him toforget his priorities…He was driving through a school district, when he saw the flash of a traffic camera. He figured that his picture had been taken for exceeding the speed limit, even though he knew that he was not speeding.
So, Just to be sure, he went around the block and passed the same spot, driving even more slowly, but again the camera flashed, so he drove even slower as he passed the area again, but the traffic camera flashed again. He tried a fourth time with the same result. He did this a fifth time and was now laughing when the camera flashed as he rolled past, at a snail's pace. Aweek later, he got five tickets in the mail for driving without a seat belt.
Are you focused on the right things? You don’t want to be in the “close but no cigar” category… I mean, after all, this is your life and your destiny we’re talking about because it affects everyone in your sphere of influence…
In the “Oh no, you didn’t” category…..Samson was called to be the deliverer of God’s people, but he got distracted. Solomon was called the wisest man to ever live, but in his later years, he allowed himself to get distracted. Lot traveled with Abraham to the land of covenant and could have been listed among the heroes who paved the way for God’s people, but he let material possessions and living too close to the edge distract him. Adam and Eve could have enjoyed a perfect world, and could have passed that perfect world on down to all of us living today….but they got distracted and let the devil eat their lunch.(can you say “Oh no, you didn’t”)
We will either master our stuff or be mastered by it. We can enjoy the garden without biting the apple….We must find a balance in all the things which compete for our quality time and attention. We must organize our internal world so we can distinguish the significant from the insignificant, the important from the mundane. We must learn the importance of spending undistracted time alone. I’m not talking about being a hermit, but counting the cost daily of walking with Him away from the main stream, when no one is watching as well as in the midst of the mahem. Our true power in all the situations of life, is the power to choose….
At one point, Jesus asked the disciples, “could you not watch with me for just one hour?” (JUST ONE HOUR WAS TOO MUCH TO ASK)
Our greatest challenge in life is to become God-centered in our thoughts, God-fearing in our hearts and God-honoring in all that we do.
Peter didn’t start out that day to walk on the water, but because that’s where Jesus was walking, so he did too!! And miracles happened.
David didn’t start out from his home that day to slay Goliath, but because he had developed the ability to hear the heart of God in his daily time of worship, the favor of God was with him on the battlefield, and he was able to declare, “I come to you in the name of the Lord of Hosts”….
How is Your Focus, and have you chosen the right target?…. What happens if you’re dicing vegetables and get distracted….(finger salad)… What happens if you’re hammering nails and lose focus…(finger nails)… When you’re juggling knives or chain saws…..focus can be important….. sometimes life feels like that…..
When Jesus heard of the death of his cousin, John the Baptist, he goes alone to pray, but the crowd won’t let Him alone and after teaching all day, he performed the miracle of using five loaves and 2 fish to feed about 20,000 people…. He then sends his disciples across Galilee and finally has time to get alone and pray, but in the fourth watch of the night, they are about to sink and Jesus walks on water, and commands the storm to shut down, then casts the demons out of the man of Gadara ….
Even in a time when most would be grieving, the man Jesus was focused on where God’s opportunities and people’s needs could reveal the favor of God and His great love….
He doesn’t promise one thing and then give us another… “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. And as you Go where I tell you, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” And we say, “So be it, Lord, even as you have spoken”….. Let me be a God centered, God focused person….
I want you to understand that in this coming year, the grace of God will provide opportunities and open doors you will not deserve, and the favor of God will enable you to bring about the best possible outcome from those opportunities and open doors…. God won’t promise you bread and give you a stone, He won’t promise you fish and give you a serpent, He won’t teach you to swim and let you drown….
I read about a woman named Jazmine, who took an afternoon nap on New Year's Eve, so she could make it to mid-night. After she woke up, she confided to Max, her husband, 'that she hadjust dreamed that he gave her a diamond ring for a New Year's present. And she asked him….What do you think it all means?'
'Aha, you'll know,' He said with a big smile across his face.
As they were enjoying a moment out on the deck, Max handed Jazmine a small package. Excited and full of expectation, especially after her dream… she opened it quickly. And there in her hand was a little book entitled: 'The meaning of dreams'. (I think Max is going to have a really tough January, he was focused but he had the wrong target)
When it comes to the favor of God, “Give and you shall receive” is a good principle…..In the Old Testament, Mephibosheth was the rightful heir to the throne of king Saul, but when Jonathan, the son of Saul was killed, Mephibosheth was dropped as they fled to save his life and he became a cripple. David was able to be kind to him, because of the favor of God on David’s life which allowed him to show favor to his natural rival for the throne. Wow! David understood that God was doing things in his life that he didn’t deserve and God was allowing him to have the best possible outcome, so he was able to show that same favor to Mephibosheth….
When you walk in praise and gratitude to God in every circumstance, you can count on favor and you can freely give it to others…..David found Mephibosheth in Lodebar which means “place of no hope” and David said bring him to me because I need to show him favor, since God has shown so much favor to me, when I didn’t deserve it!
The bible puts it this way…..Luke 6:38 “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that you give it shall be measured to you again”. Notice that the level of favor is associated with what you’re willing to give…..
Favor makes the ordinary shine in an extraordinary way. Favor releases a spirit of influence…. Favor will protect you from the enemy. Favor gives you victory when the odds are against you. Favor causes the wealth of the wicked to be laid up for you. Favor causes others to give unto you. Favor causes you to have life and to have it more abundantly.
But I need to tell you, favor does not eliminate our choices…..We are being weighed in the balances, let us not be found wanting…. Favor doesn’t mean that you will always feel like you’re being favored in all circumstances all the time.
Many people look at Mark the 10th chapter and verses 29-30 which says “Verily I say unto you, there is no man that has left houses, or brethren, or sister, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s. But he shall receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands… (and we like to stop there and say … “I am declaring, decreeing and believing for a hundredfold return because of the favor of God”, but the very next two words of this scripture let’s us know that favor is a choice we must make when we don’t feel like we’re being favored, because it says)
“with persecutions” and in the world to come eternal life. (With persecutions let’s us know that favor has some hard choices involved).
So, are we willing to make the choices in our current situations in order to walk in the FOG (or the favor of God)?
When you walk in the favor of God the walls of Jericho haven’t come down yet, BUT make the choice to just keep on marching and sounding your trumpet of praise….
When you walk in the favor of God, the chariots of Egypt may be closing in, BUT choose to keep your hands lifted to heaven, the Red sea will open and let you across….
When you walk in the favor of God, You may be like Elijah who found himself in an isolated, lonely place BUT choose to make your last days, your best days ….
When you walk in the favor of God, those who judge you may seem to be winning, BUT choose in that moment what He tells you to say, and confound your accusers…..
Keep fighting, keep praising, keep worshiping, keep marching, don’t give up, the battle is the Lords….
Let’s stand together and give Him some exuberant, passionate, wild praise for the favor of God in 2019!!!! Come on into the FOG!
We can walk in authority, confidence and Divine assurance…..We can live life the way it’s meant to be….
We can live what we truly believe…. He promises….. “Every place on which your foot shall tread, I given it to you”. Be strong and courageous, do not tremble or be afraid, for the Lord your God is with you WHEREVER YOU GO!