For You, O Lord, will bless the righteous;
With favor You will surround him as with a shield.
Some things can be earned, some things cannot. We earn wages from working a job. We gain skills from lots of practice. We gain muscle with strength training. We increase our endurance through determination. Our body becomes healthier when we eat healthier. Determination, dedication and hard work always pay off. And then there are things that cannot be earned; God’s love, God’s salvation, God’s grace, God’s mercy, God’s blessings and God’s favor.
In our scripture, today, David tells us something about God’s blessings and God’s favor. He says of favor, “…with favor, You [God] will surround him [you and I] as with a shield.”There are so many verses in the Bible that speaks of God providing his people with not only God’s favor but man’s favor as well. Just to name a few; Joseph received the favor of his prison guard and later Pharaoh; Daniel received favor from his captors in Babylon, the Israelite’s received favor in Egypt and then there’s David, Esther, and Ruth who also received the favor of God and the favor of man.
I never knew I could ask God for favor until I heard a great teacher say, “Ask for and expect God’s favor today and every day. God can open doors for you that no man can open.” I know it sounds dumb, but until that moment, the concept of God giving me favor in my everyday life never occurred to me. How had such a simple concept escaped me for so many years?
John 16:24 says, “…Ask and keep on asking and you will receive, so that your joy (gladness, delight) may be full and complete.” God gives us a simple, practical way to receive the supernatural. Isn’t that amazing? If I were God I’d probably have all kinds of tests and spiritual obstacle courses, but God says, “Our ways are not His ways” and He encourages us to “Lean not upon our own understanding.” Man makes it hard but God makes it simple. So simple that we often become the skeptic and totally miss out on what God wants us to have. Jesus’s disciples were also guilty of this mentality. Once when a group of children wanted to talk to Jesus, his disciples tried to shoo them away thinking, Jesus had no time for such nonsense. However, they were wrong, and this is what Jesus did:
Jesus saw what happened. He did not like his followers telling the children not to come. So he said to them, “Let the little children come to me. Don’t stop them, because God’s kingdom belongs to people who are like these little children. The truth is, you must accept God’s kingdom like a little child accepts things, or you will never enter it.” Jesus tells us to come to him as little children, to simply ask and receive.
When it comes to God’s gifts, it’s not about “getting” but rather “receiving.” When one tries to “get” one manipulates the circumstances in order to obtain. Sort of like “The early bird gets the worm” mentality; and of course there’s truth in that concept. We are told over and over again in God’s word that we’ll reap what we sow. God encourages us to put forth our best effort in everything we do. He admonishes us to “run our race” and to do our best. But never when it comes to the gifts he wants to give us.
God’s gifts–forgiveness, grace, mercy, favor, salvation– are free. We can’t earn them. No amount of “good works” will bring these gifts into our lives. They are free. God has them in his extended hand and is ever offering them to us. They are there for the taking. We simply have to ask to receive.
Joyce Meyer tells a funny story that happened in her life that illustrates this principal and I must share. She writes,
I used to have a religious attitude and believed that my good works made me deserving of God’s goodness. This actually kept me from receiving God’s blessings because I was trying to earn them. I was judgmental and critical of others, too, and would get frustrated when someone who didn’t seem deserving of it in my eyes was blessed.
I remember a long time ago I had a neighbor who was also a friend, but I didn’t think she was as spiritual as me. She didn’t go to church as much as I did; she didn’t pray as much as I did; she didn’t give as much as I did. Well, at the time, I was praying for God to give me a fur coat. I wanted one so badly. Then one day she came over with a huge box in her hands. She was so excited! She said, “You won’t believe what God gave me!” She opened that box and there was my fur coat! A woman we both knew had just delivered it to her, saying God told her to give her the coat.
Immediately, I was so angry and jealous. But I responded the way a good Christian would, saying, “Praise the Lord! I’m so happy for you!” At the same time I was thinking, God, You’ve got to get her out of my house. How could You possibly give her that coat? It’s not fair. What about me?!
My heart wasn’t right. My motives were selfish. God wanted to bless me with His gifts, but I couldn’t receive them if I kept trying to earn them or deserve them. I had to learn to just receive.
We all need to ask God for His love, forgiveness, mercy, grace… Just say, “God, please bless me. I receive Your blessings in my life, not because I’m good and have earned them, but because You are good!” Then your joy will be full.
We can never be “good enough” to deserve God’s blessings. His blessings are free. Salvation is free, we only have to ask. Grace is free, we only have to ask. Mercy is free, we only have to ask. God’s favor is free, we only have to ask.
The Christian life is so practical, so simple and we as Christians need to get back to that simple life. It’s as simple as a child asking and the Father giving.
Jesus says, “You have not because you ask not…”
What do you need today? Is it salvation, grace, mercy, forgiveness, favor? Whatever it is…ask. God will give.
My Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you that your gifts are free. I need daily doses of your grace, mercy, and forgiveness as I walk throughout my day. Lord, give me your favor in all that I do. Whether I be at work, at home, at play or wherever I’m out and about, please grace me with favor. Lord, help me to get back to simple Christianity which is receiving your love, giving your love and repeating. Please make me a blessing to someone today. In your son’s name, Jesus, I pray. Amen.