Points to Ponder: Are You Blessed and Highly Favored?
Points to Ponder
Are You Blessed and Highly Favored?
"Well, how are you?" This standard greeting is usually spoken casually and without forethought. Then the response comes back almost instinctively, "Fine." Some say, "I can't complain." That's a line that always leaves me to wondering: why would you say that? Of course, you (ITALICS)can(END ITALICS) complain. Some have it down as a second language. But people asking the standard "how are you?" question really don't want to know. If you did complain, the inquiring mind who really didn't want to know would probably start backing toward an exit from the conversation, the room, or both.
One morning as I was signing in at a clergy breakfast meeting, I encountered a few members of a church from the Washington, D.C. area. They were deacons and deaconesses at a predominantly black congregation. I introduced myself and then asked one deaconess, "How are you?" She replied with a big smile and firm handshake, "Blessed and highly favored!" As others from her church gradually showed up and I greeted them the same way, each one had the same reply: "Blessed and highly favored!" I thought, "Wow. I like that!" I decided that I would adopt that phrase myself. Most of the time, that's how I feel.
During my devotions, the psalmist brought to mind that expression:
(ITALICS)"The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy." (Psalm 147:11 NKJV).
So often it seems that many people, even those devoted to serving the Lord, don't feel blessed or favored. To ask them, "How are you?" the honest expression of their feelings toward the Lord might be: "Messed up and very guilty!" We listen to sermons, read devotionals, and do Bible studies. Everything seems to highlight our shortcomings and failures and presses us to do better. Of course, even the best of us do need to face our sinful nature with its thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors. Some of us figure that if we will just do more right things, good deeds, acts of piety, then we will win God's favor. Is that what scripture says? There is a standard toward which scripture calls us to so live (Leviticus 19:2; Matthew 5:48); to be holy, to be perfect as God is holy and perfect. But it is God who works in us by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit who makes that process possible (John 14:21-23; Philippians 2:12b-13). We each are a work in progress, never fully completed in this life. So it's not so much what we do, as what God is doing in our lives as we submit to His Lordship. David says:
(ITALICS)"For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart - these O God You will not despise." (Psalm 51:16-17).
God's favor is upon those who rightly respond to Him (fear Him) in awe and wonder. (ITALICS)"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge." (Proverbs 1:7a). To know the Lord, to live in His favor, and to know that His countenance is shining upon you (Numbers 6:26) is to be blessed and highly favored. It is all about your relationship with Him. Do you have that? Are you diligently working on it - not by just the good you can do, but by being accessible to God?
(ITALICS)"My voice You shall hear in the morning O Lord; in the morning I will direct it to You, and I will look up." (Psalm 5:3)
With all our worries and cares, and the things we think we need or need to do, Jesus yet admonishes us:
(ITALICS)"Seek first the Kingdom of God (the rule of God in your life) and His righteousness (His standard of rightness) and all these things shall be added to you." (Matthew 6:33).
Perhaps you are more blessed and highly favored than you realize. Remember that teenage girl in Galilee? The angel, Gabriel, greeted her: "Rejoice highly favored one, the Lord is with you..." Her initial reaction was that (ITALICS)"she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was." (Luke 1:26-29). The young prophet, Daniel, likewise did not realize that he too was highly favored, (ITALICS)"for you are greatly beloved..." the angel Gabriel told him. (Daniel 9:23).
In Christ, that which has separated you from God was nailed to His cross (Colossians 2:13-14). Do you believe it? Did you receive it? When God looks at you, He sees you through His Son:
(ITALICS)"For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" (II Corinthians 5:21).
A life centered on God is one on whom His light shines and His Spirit inspires:
(ITALICS)"You will show me the path of life. In Your presence is fullness of joy. At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore." (Psalm 16:11)
So, how are you?
Points to Ponder is a series of occasional articles written by Rev. Dennis Whitmore, Pastor of Hilltop Christian Fellowship, of Clear Spring, MD. These articles are also found at www.HilltopChristianFellowship.com