Declaration of Dependence Part 3

John15:5

Luke 4:16-21

16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,

    because he has anointed me

    to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners

    and recovery of sight for the blind,

to set the oppressed free,

19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”[a]

20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.

Now we are in our third installment of our series Declaration of Dependence.  So far we have learn from Jesus in John 15:5, I am the vine, you are the branches.  If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit.  Apart from me you can do nothing.  In other words we depend on God.  So we have declared our declaration of Dependence because everyday is our Dependence day, because every single day we depend on God.  We began by learning that we depend on God for his forgiveness.  And his forgiveness gives us freedom, a fresh start, and a fruitful ministry. Then last week we learned that we depend on his faithfulness.  His faithfulness keeps us factual, firm, and in fellowship with him.  And today we are going to learn that we depend on God for his favor.  I once preached a sermon on favor and one day I will share that with you.  In that sermon I share that God’s favor does not expire, there is no expiration date.  In that sermon I reinforce the fact that the favor of God last forever.  And since the favor of God last forever we can depend on it.  So what exactly is favor.  Favor is defined as an attitude of approval or liking.  Is there anyone in the room excited about that fact that not only does God love you, but he likes you and approves of you.  As a child of God you have his seal of approval.  Favor is an act of kindness beyond what is due or usual. This is where grace and mercy come into to play.  Could you imagine if God gave us what we actually deserve?  Instead he gives of life, and life more abundantly.  Favor means to go beyond what is done or usual.  Probably because our God is an unusual God and he loves us in an unusual way.  Favor means to feel or show approval or preference for.  God approves of us and he prefers to be with us.  Why do you think He tried over and over and over again to bring us back into relationship with Him?  Because He prefers to be with us.  This is the kind of favor that God showed Able when he preferred Able’s offering over Cain’s offering.  And it wasn’t the offering he preferred it was the attitude of Cain that He preferred.  So you can say all the right things and do all the right things but if your attitude is not right you might as well not even say it or do it!  And favor means to give someone something they want.  Now how many times has God given you what you need….   Now think of all the times that God has given you what you want.  That is what you call favor.  That is the favor that we depend on and that is the year of favor discussed in the text that I read this morning.  Let’s look at it a bit closer so that I can show you what I’m talking about.

16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,

    because he has anointed me

    to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners

    and recovery of sight for the blind,

to set the oppressed free,

19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”[a]

20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.

So Jesus was in the Synagogue teaching, and make no mistake about it, everyone was not feeling what He had to say.  He was not the Messiah that they were expecting.  So Jesus is reading from the book the scroll of the prophet Isaiah He reads, 

The Spirit of the Lord is on me,

    because he has anointed me

    to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners

    and recovery of sight for the blind,

to set the oppressed free,

19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”[a]

This is just another reason why I love Jesus so much.  He was  and is indeed the man!

Because after reading the scroll, he rolled up the scroll, as everyone was starring at him, and said today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.  He was telling the people that all of this is fulfilled today, because I am here!

In the words of Aloe Black he just told everyone in the room I’m the man, I’m the man, I’m the man. Yes I am, yes I am, yes I am.

The great I am that I am has arrived.

So if Jesus came to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and since Jesus is still alive and present.  That means that we are still in the year of the Lord’s favor.  Because God’s time is not our time.  So who knows how long a year is to God?  No body does because we operate in chronos time, which is where the term chronological comes from.  We deal in seconds, minutes, and hours.  24 hours, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year.  But God works in Kairos time, which is the right, critical, and opportune moment.  Which can be any time God wants it to be.  That is why the seasoned saints used to say, He may not come when you want Him, But He’s always right on time.  How many of you know that we serve an on time God?  I was reading a blog by William Pike the other day and this is what he said about the year of the Lord’s favor. “The year of the Lord’s favor” simply denotes a new era of blessing.  It is not confined to a specific time in history or even a specific period of time.  It is available to all people, at all times.  Jesus speaks it into being, literally, by proclaiming it, both in Isaiah’s prophecy and through his promise at Nazareth that the scripture is fulfilled.  The year of the Lord’s favor is there for the taking.  The question is whether we will accept it.  And I am so glad that we are in the year of the Lord’s favor.  Because we depend on that favor.  And we see the favor of God in three areas of our lives.

The first area we see God’s favor is in our finances.  Yes the money.  Everyone always gets quiet when you talk about money.  But money is necessary in the world that we live in.  

Now there is nothing wrong with money.  

Nothing wrong with having money.  

As a matter of fact, I like money.  

And I don’t think I’m the only one in the room that likes money.  And there is nothing wrong with that.  The Bible says that the love of money is the root to all evil, not the like of money is the root to all evil.  Now I don’t love money.  Money is not my God.  I just understand the purpose, place, and plan that money plays in our lives and I don’t know about you but I want God’s favor over my finances.

I don’t want to be in debt. 

I don’t like owing people money.

I don’t want to be behind on my bills.

I want to have something in my savings account. 

I want to have some money in my pocket .

I would like to be able to buy something nice without having to take from the bill money to do it.

I want to put something away for retirement.

I want to set up college funds for my boys.

I want to leave something behind for my family and my church. 

And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

I want God’s favor over my finances and we can have it by doing the following three things.

We must be fiscally sound.  What are you talking about Pastor Brian?  You have to be responsible with the resources that you have.  You have to be a good stewart of the money that God has blessed you with.  And when you do that I truly believe that he will bless you with more.  Now don’t get it twisted.  This is not a name it and claim it, blab it and grab it message.  This is if you do what you’re supposed to do with what God gives you, He will give you more.  Remember the parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-30. The man was going away and he gave five talents to one of his servants, two talents to another one of his servants, and one talent to a third servant….  To the servant that did nothing he took his talent and gave it to the one who had ten and cast him out into the darkness where there was weeping and gnashing of teeth.  God expects us to do something positive with the resources that He has blessed us with.  I truly believe that God wants us to be fiscally sound with His resources.

Not only must we be fiscally sound, we must faithfully sow, I do not know if your previous pastors spent a great deal of time talking to you about giving, but I’m assuming they did because you are such a giving church.  A lot of pastors don’t talk about giving because they do not want the church thinking that they’re in it for the money.  But then there are the pastor/preachers that are definitely in it for the money and all they do is talk about giving money.  Which always baffled me.  There are so many ways to make money in the world.  Why would you use God’s people and the church to get rich?  I just don’t get it.  That is why it is extremely important to teach why we give and to lead by example.  I will never tell you to do something that I am not doing myself.  For example,  I cannot tell you to tithe if I’m not tithing.  I cannot tell you to give if I’m not giving.  I cannot tell you to pledge if I’m not pledging.  I cannot tell you to buy coats, socks, and school supplies if I’m not buying coats, socks, and school supplies.  With that being said, ministry requires financial resources and I think it is very important that we all do our part.   We give God’s tithe, 10% of your gross income, and you give your offering.   Your offering is anything you give above and beyond your tithe.  And you will see favor in your finances when you faithfully sow.  Jesus says in Luke 6:38,  “Give, and it will be given to you.  A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will be poured in your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

So we must be fiscally sound, faithfully sow, and must freely share.  We have to freely share with others what God has given to us.  And it is not just giving to the church through our tithes and offering as I mentioned in the previous point, we also need to share with those less fortunate than us.  We can’t just see someone in need and just pray for them when we have the resources to help them.   We have to put up or shut up!  And we don’t just give of our treasure (our money), we also give of our time and our talent.  We see God’s favor on our finances when we freely share.

So first we see God’s favor in our finances, then we see God’s favor in our fitness.  That’s right our health.  They are our bodies, but they are God’s temples.  What did Paul say in Romans12:1 therefore I urge you brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, this is your true and proper worship.  In other words, take care of your body.  You have to go to the doctor.  You have to have annual check ups.  Just like you do regular maintenance on your car you need to do regular maintenance on your body. You need to get an oil change and you need to rotate your tires.  You need to make sure that everything in your body is functioning properly, and if it’s not you must take the necessary measures to fix it. We want God’s favor on our fitness and we do this is three ways.

Find a well balanced diet that works for you.  I am not talking about a gimmick diet, like Atkins, weight watchers, juicing, slim fast, or intermittent fasting.  You have to find a balanced diet that works for you.  You need to do it, and commit to it.  You cannot just eat whatever you want, whenever you want, however you want.  I know you don’t want to hear it and I’m sorry, but I just want you to be healthy and take better care of your body. You have to find a well balanced diet that works for you.

So you find a well balanced diet that works for you and then you force yourself to exercise. 

I know you don’t want to do it, but you have to do it.  

I know you don’t feel like doing it, but you need to do it.  

I know it’s not fun to do it, but you still need to do it.  

And I’m not saying that you need to run a marathon next month. But you could go for a walk.  

You could go for a swim when the pools open up.  

You could take the stairs instead of the elevator.  

You could do some stretches at your desk.  

You could go for a bike ride.  (Wednesday bike rides)

You could do a number of things, but you need to do something. To have God’s favor on your fitness you have to force yourself to exercise.

So you find a diet that works for you, force yourself to exercise, and then you have to fight stress.  Stress is real and it can have a negative affect on your physical health. You need to be aware of your stress level, and find healthy ways to release and relieve it.  Like through a healthy diet and exercise.  I read a book called Real Happiness: The power of meditation by Sharon Salzburg.  Now I always thought that meditation was a form of Buddhism or Hinduism but it’s just being more aware of what’s going on in you and around you and it is also a great way to relieve stress.  Find a hobby that assists you in relieving stress.  For me it’s exercise. For you it may be gardening or building models, or fishing, or sewing.  For God’s favor on your fitness you have to fight stress.

So first we see God’s favor in our finances, then we see God’s favor in our fitness, and lastly we see God’s favor in our family.  I don’t know about anyone else in the room, but the area I want to see God’s favor the most is in my family!  I want my wife and my children, my mothers and my father, my sisters and my brothers, my nieces and my nephews, my cousins, and my God children doing well.

Because if my family is doing good, I’m doing good. 

If my family is happy, I am happy

If my family is well, I am well

If my family is successful, I am successful 

I want to see the favor of God on my family.  And this happens in three ways.

Keep your family first.  You have to make sure that your family knows that next to your relationship with God that they are your number one priority.  God, family, and church.  And in the home it is spouse and then children.  Don’t you put your children ahead of your spouse.  I am trying my best to make sure that my family knows that they are the number one priority in my life.  With all that is going on in my life and in this world they need to know without a shadow of a doubt that there is nothing more important to me then they are.  This is important, you never want to take your family for granted.  You appreciate and love your family.  You receive God’s favor on your family by keeping your family first.

So you keep your family’s first and then you keep your family front and center.  In other words, keep your family around as much as possible.  Where you go they go.  If you stay they stay.  Your conversations should have stories of your family.  Your desk or cubicle should have pictures of your family.  Your phone should be full of pictures of your family.  Your Facebook and instagram should be plastered with pictures of your family. Not to put up a front, but so that people know that you are all about your family. People who know you should know that you are a family person.  They should know how much your family means to you!  For God’s favor on your family you need to keep your family front and center.

You keep your family first, you keep your family front and center, and you keep your from harm.  Protect your family.  Look out for you family.  You don’t throw your family under the bus.   You have to be like a guard dog when it comes to your family keeping them from all harm and danger.  

Whether it’s emotional harm. 

Physical harm.   

Psychological harm.  

Educational harm.  

You go to bat for your family. 

You go to war for your family.

You go to battle for your family.

You risk it all for your family. 

You sacrifice for your family. 

You do what it do for your family.

To receive the favor of God for our family we must keep our family from harm.

Let me close with a story!

His Favor Brings a Birthday Cake

What I want to share is something so simple, it changed my life and how I saw God’s love for me and His ability to show His favor in my life.

Back when this happened, I was a single parent working as secretary for a church and Christian school. It was my birthday and pastor’s wife brought in a giant store-bought sheet cake with thick shortening frosting for me. I HATE store bought cakes with thick shortening frosting and never eat them. It was thoughtful so I thanked her and shared with all the people who came into the office (i.e., gave it all away).

I was missing my family and, in truth, feeling a little sorry for myself. I remember telling God, “Lord you know I hate these store bought cakes with a passion. I sure would have loved my favorite cake. Sigh.” We all know how impossible that would be (!) since only my mother knew my favorite birthday cake and she lived 500 miles away. Around noon, there was a knock on the office door and one of the student’s mothers stuck her head around the door.

She asked me, “Do you like pineapple?” Strange question. I replied, “Yes, it’s actually one of the ingredients in my favorite cake.”

She sighed in relief and said, “Oh good! I was so worried.” She walked in the door carrying a covered cake dish saying, “You’re not going to believe this but God woke me up in the middle of the night and told me to make a Mississippi Pea Pickin’ cake for you. He said it had to be for today. It has pineapple in the icing and so many people hate pineapple.”

She whipped the lid off the cake and there sat my favorite cake, what my family calls a Mandarin Orange Cake. I was so astonished I just started crying. I told her it was my birthday and what I had just said to God that morning about wishing I had my favorite cake. She began crying because she hadn’t known it was my birthday and it was the very first time she’d ever heard God’s voice so specifically. She was unsure it was really Him since so few in her family even liked the cake. She took a step of faith but wasn’t going to bring the cake in if I didn’t like pineapple.

The favor of God has brought so many blessings into my life from promotions, houses, cars, clothing – but to me, one of the sweetest and the one that clearly showed me how much He cares for even the smallest details in my life, was this time, when He moved on a woman’s heart to bring a single parent her favorite birthday cake.

Truly nothing is impossible with God. I have never forgotten it and His favor truly showed me how much He loves me to the point of a tiny favor just for me – bringing me my favorite cake (which we all know is a HUGE thing).

So I have one question.  Who wants cake?

Now I’m not talking about a sweet comforting desert.  Your cake can be anything you desire from God that his favor can provide.

For example, new job, cake! 

Happy marriage, cake!

Addiction free, cake!

Promotion on the job, cake!

Children safe, cake!

Good report from the doctor, cake!

Feeling good in your body, cake!

Approved for the loan, cake!

New car, cake!

New house, cake!

Wife made your favorite meal, cake!

Husband took you to your favorite restaurant, cake!

Raise on the job, cake!

Lowered insurance premiums, cake!

Corona virus gone, cake!

All people to see that Black lives matter, cake!

Does anyone want cake?

Does anyone want the favor of God?

We are in the year of the Lord’s favor.

And he will give you favor over your finances.

Favor over your fitness.

Favor over your family.

We depend on God for his favor!

Praise God for his favor!

From the rising of the sun to the going down of the same.  

The name of Jesus is worthy to be praised!


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