Sunday, January 20, 2019

Our Word for 2019

"Thou hast granted me life and favor, and Thy visitation hath preserved my spirit."
Job 10:12

During the first month of every year, Kevin, Zach, and I earnestly seek God's will concerning the one word that corresponds with the way He is currently leading us.
(If you would like to read about our words for previous years, please click the following links.)
2015 ~ PREPARE
2016 ~ TRUST
2017 ~ PEACE
2018 ~ CLARITY
It always amazes me how all three of us come to God as individuals, and collectively He points all three of us in the same direction.  This year was no different.  As we all sought God's will, we all three came to the same conclusion.  

God has been teaching us so many things, and one of the lessons is that our obedience absolutely unlocks His blessings in our lives.  I wrote more extensively about this in this blog post, and as I re-read it today, over four months later, I see this truth with even more clarity.

In Christian circles, I often hear things said about how we Christians live so far beneath our privileges.  I know I'm stepping into "touchy" subject matter here, but I believe one of the main reasons we live so far below the abundant life God intends and has for us is that we withhold certain parts of ourselves from Him.  We prefer sin over holiness.  We want to cling to safety nets, unChristlike behavior, and certain things and relationships that are not pleasing to Him and because of that, we block the channel of God's blessings.  We refuse to relinquish ourselves and fully surrender to His authority, and therefore, we live on the outside parameters of His approval.  As conflicting and contrary as it sounds,
a surrendered life is an abundant life.

If you've read here for very long, you are aware of the way God began to shake our comfort zone nest back in early 2015.  Looking back, it really started before that—somewhere around 2013 on a riding lawnmower is when the gentle rustling began, (you can read about it HERE), and over time, it became more of an underlying pressured restlessness, growing until He had our full-blown attention in January of 2015.  Since that time, He has led us to downsize about 95% of our possessions, sell our home of nearly 15 years, make an out-of-state move, and brought about many other changes.

I'll be honest.  It hasn't been easy on our flesh to follow such a radical path, nor is it my intention to suggest that He will require the same of anyone else.  God leads each of His children in the path best suited to fit them, individually, and to mold them into the vessels He needs them to be.  Nor am I, in any way, intending to imply that our salvation is by works or that we can EVER hope to earn God's GRACE.  Nothing we ever do will ever come close to earning His forgiveness.  Jesus' atonement is the only one powerful enough to ever pay the price for our redemption with His own blood shed on the cross of Calvary, and through His all-sufficient, sacrificial death, He purchased our salvation and eternal life.  What I am referring to in this post is the abundant life of FAVOR He wants us all, as His redeemed children, to enjoy and live out during our time on earth.  Disobedience to Him, in any part of our lives, absolutely blocks us from living in the fullness of His Divine favor.

For too long, I lived life as a Christian, mostly surrendered to God, yet rebelling against Him in certain areas of my spiritual walk.  Due to my own determined pride and spirit of independence, I inadvertently shut God out, only surrendering selective parts and reserving others to myself.  Can anyone relate?

 As my family and I have come to deepening degrees of consecration to His call upon our lives and willingly laid down what He asked in obedience to Him, we have found corresponding levels of blessings, provision, and favor we had never before tapped into.  We would never have found these unexplored places in Christ and His unending supply, had we rebelled against His perfect will.
We have learned that the abundance of His provision is directly contingent upon the extent of our availability to Him.
The more we open ourselves up to completely trusting Him, the more fully we allow His favor to flow.  The cry of John the Baptist has become the longing of our hearts,
"He must increase, but I must decrease.”  John 3:30  (ESV)

God wants to bless His people in greater ways and pour out His favor in a far more abundant capacity, but how often we hinder Him by bucking against doing the things He is asking us to do!   The pure, unadulterated Gospel of Jesus Christ is not a prosperity Gospel where we all get to live any way we choose and still lay claim to what is reserved for those who are entirely sold out to following Him.  All through God's Word, there is a demand for holiness and unreserved obedience in order to walk in the favor He longs to bestow.

"If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land:  but if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it."  Isaiah 1:19,20

We can't live haphazard, slipshod, half-hearted Christian lives, insistent upon straddling the fence and allowing carnality and self to fun its free course while loosely endeavoring to hold to God's hand and professing to be a Jesus follower all at the same time expecting God to overlook the sin we are allowing to control certain parts of us.  God is a holy God.  He asks for holiness from us, in return.

"Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips."  Colossians 3:5-8  (NIV)

"Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy."  I Peter 1:13-16  (NIV)

We can't live holy lives in our own strength.  It is only through our abiding in Him, the Vine, that we are able to allow His lifeblood and indwelling presence of His Holy Spirit to flow through us, enabling us to walk in full obedience to His Word and will.

Jesus said, "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in MeI am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abides in Me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing."  John 15:4-5  

How badly do we want God's favor on our lives?  Are we willing to follow Him wholeheartedly, without reserve?  Will we follow Him part of the way, but draw back when His will conflicts with our own?  Will we stop sinning in most areas, but insist upon clinging to certain habits that are in opposition to His Word?  Oh, how He longs to endow us with Divine favor, if only we will surrender to His Lordship over every single part of us, putting Him first and making Him King of all we are!

 "But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."
Luke 12:31-32

To abide and remain under the umbrella of God's F.A.V.O.R. means

As long as God's children walk in full, unreserved obedience to Him, they are promised His favor.

"Whoso despises the Word shall be destroyed: but he that fears the commandment shall be rewarded." Proverbs 13:13

"Fools make a mock at sin: but among the righteous there is favor."  Proverbs 14:9

"Now therefore hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach you, for to do them, that ye may live, and go in and possess the land which the LORD God of your fathers giveth you. Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you." Deuteronomy 4:1-2

"A good man obtaineth favor of the LORD: but a man of wicked devices will He condemn."  Proverbs 12:2

Jesus replied, "But even more blessed are all who hear the word of God and put it into practice."  Luke 11:28  (NLT)

"He that diligently seeketh good procureth favor: but he that seeketh mischief, it shall come unto him."  Proverbs 11:27

God's Word provides very specific instructions on how to obtain and retain His Divine favor, and it all hinges on our full obedience and has everything to do with one, small, two-letter word.
"And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all His commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth:  and all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God.
Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field.
Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground, and the fruit of thy cattle, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep.
Blessed shall be thy basket and thy store.
Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out.
The LORD shall cause thine enemies that rise up against thee to be smitten before thy face: they shall come out against thee one way, and flee before thee seven ways. The LORD shall command the blessing upon thee in thy storehouses, and in all that thou settest thine hand unto; and He shall bless thee in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee. The LORD shall establish thee an holy people unto Himself, as He hath sworn unto thee, if thou shalt keep the commandments of the LORD thy God, and walk in his ways. And all people of the earth shall see that thou art called by the name of the LORD; and they shall be afraid of thee. And the LORD shall make thee plenteous in goods, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy ground, in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers to give thee. The LORD shall open unto thee his good treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto thy land in his season, and to bless all the work of thine hand: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow. And the LORD shall make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath; if that thou hearken unto the commandments of the LORD thy God, which I command thee this day, to observe and to do them: And thou shalt not go aside from any of the words which I command thee this day, to the right hand, or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them."  Deuteronomy 28:1-14

Having God's favor does not mean life is free from trials, but walking in full obedience to Him enables us to lay claim to everyone of His promises mentioned above.  To think we will walk through life without difficulty is contrary to Jesus' words in John 16:33,
"These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."

We have many examples to read about in God's Word of those who sold completely out to God, in spite of what the world around them was doing, and because of their total, unreserved obedience, they obtained God's favor and were protected and blessed abundantly right in the midst of life's most perplexing and challenging circumstances.

Remember Joseph?
He was sold into slavery by his own brothers, yet God's blessing remained upon him, causing him to find favor in the eyes of Potiphar, the man who bought him as a slave, and "he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand. And Joseph was a goodly person, and well favored."  (Genesis 39:1-6)
Later, when he remained steadfast in living a holy life, only to be falsely accused and thrown into prison, even there, God's blessing remained upon him.  "But the LORD was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph's hand all the prisoners that were in the prison; and whatsoever they did there, he was the doer of it. The keeper of the prison looked not to any thing that was under his hand; because the LORD was with him, and that which he did, the LORD made it to prosper."  (Genesis 39:21-23)

Remember Noah?
In the midst of untold evil and complete rebellion against God, Noah stood firm in full obedience to God's Word, and "Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD."  Genesis 6:8
As a result of his obedience, he obtained God's Divine favor and Noah and his family were the only eight people spared when God destroyed the whole world by means of a flood.

Remember Daniel?
After being kidnapped and taken to a foreign land against his will, Daniel walked in full obedience to God and obtained God's favor.  In spite of the threat of severe repercussions and certain penalty of death, he walked holy before God, only to be thrown into a den of hungry lions.  God closed the lions' mouths, rendering them incapable of harming His servant, faithfully spared His life, and blessed him with a position of favor with the king.  (Daniel 6:1-28)

Remember Daniel's friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego?
They refused to worship anyone other than the one true God, and as a result, they ended up being thrown into a burning, fiery furnace heated seven times hotter than usual.  Nevertheless, the Divine favor of the God they served remained upon them, and He walked through the fire with them!  When they came out, the only thing different about them was that the fire had burned off the ropes that held them bound!  The smell of smoke was not even upon their garments!  (Daniel 3:1-28)

Remember Paul and Silas?
They stood firm for God, in spite of severe persecution and were thrown into the inner prison.  At midnight, they prayed and sang praises to God, and God sent an earthquake that shook the prison's foundation so hard, their bands were loosed!  (Acts 16:16-35)

I could go on and on telling of Esther and the special favor God granted her as she followed Him, stepped out in faith, and interceded for the lives of her/God's chosen people.  And, of righteous Lot and how God refused to give His angels power to destroy two cities until Lot and his family were given the opportunity to get out of harm's way.  And, of Abraham, Moses, Joshua, and so many others, many of whom are talked about in "the faith chapter" of Hebrews 11.

No, God's favor does not mean we will not be tried and tested in this life.  What it does mean is that, as we walk in full surrender and obedience to Him, we can lay claim to every, single promise contained in His Word, knowing with full assurance He cannot lie, He cannot change, and He cannot fail.

"He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty."
Psalm 91:1

Life lived in the secret place under a special canopy of favor of Almighty God.   
What better way to live life?
Whatever God is asking us to do, nothing is harder than living in disobedience, fighting against Him, and battling for control over what He paid such a price to redeem!

If you read the entire 16 verses of Psalm 91, you will find many ensuing promises that are made to those who choose to perpetually walk in obedience and dwell in that secret place.  It is all contingent upon verse one, what we choose to do, and how we live our lives.
My prayer for 2019 is one the Psalmist David prayed all those years ago.
"I intreated Thy favor with my whole heart: be merciful unto me according to Thy word."
Psalm 119:58

I hope it will become your prayer and commitment this year, too!


  1. Your family's word for the year is perfect, Cheryl, and the anagram gives it added focus and purpose. May we all seek to obey the Lord with every fiber of our being, that we might find favor in His sight.

    1. Oh, what a beautiful prayer, sweet friend! YES, that is the cry of my heart, not only in this new year, but for all the years of my life going forward, Lord willing. Thank the Lord so much for you and your kind words and encouragement on this journey. May He bless you abundantly!

  2. Hi Cheryl,My what powerful blogs you have..There is nothing better in life than to have the favor of God on our lives..Oh I want that also!! I also know to have it a lot has to do with what I do with Life and God..God help Me to be humble and willing to say amen to His will in my life cause that will make Me the winner..There is a something that stays close on my heart and mind when I am dealing with others.. The Question is: Not do you know Jesus but does Jesus know You...In His word they say We did all these things in your name and He said depart from Me I never knew you..To have His favor He must know Us as His child..I do NEED your prayers for my own life!! There is things I do not know how to handle..Folks say just don't worry about it but it is a thing I have to take care of and I do not know how so beg God to show me the way to go..May God bless each day of 2019 for all 3 of you..May He hug you all close each day!! Love Bunches,Elaine

    1. You are so right, my friend. There is nothing better or more precious in this life than to live continually dwelling under the favor of our dear Lord. I think often of those words—the saddest words anyone could ever hear, "Depart from Me, I never knew you." Can you imagine? Oh, dear Lord, help us to live lives that Your Divine favor can rest upon, so we will one day all hear "Well done, thou good and faithful servant." I am praying for you and trusting Jesus to help you with your heavy burdens. You are precious to Him and to me. Sending much love to you, along with many hugs! Keep encouraged and press the battle on. Heaven will surely be worth it all!

  3. Amen Cheryl! Thank you For sharing these Words of Truth and exhortation.

    1. Thank you so much for your sweet visit and kind words, Brenda! May God bless you richly.

  4. So true Cheryl.
    It is of the Lord's mercies we are not consumed great is Thy FAITHFULNESS.
    He is faithful.
    If we deny Him yet He abideth faithful He cannot deny Himself.

    May we strive to be those overcomers by His grace.
    Grace sufficient.
    Hugs Shaz in Oz.x

    1. Yes, amen and amen, Shaz! Thank you for your encouraging, edifying words. May the Lord bless you always!

  5. What a powerful post; thank you for sharing dear friend.

    1. Thank you so much, dear friend. Your visits and precious encouragement are dear to my heart. God bless you!

  6. Cheryl, what a wonderfully powerful post again my friend. It’s interesting that God lead you, Kevin and Zach to the word favor. It is what our sermons have been on for the last six weeks. Being in God’s favor. Trusting in His goodness and leaning into His righteousness. Thank you for giving me a lot to think about once again my friend. May God‘s peace, love, and favor rest upon all of you. Blessings always

    1. Wow, that is just amazing. I would love to have heard those sermons, as they surely sound like they go right along with all God is teaching us. Sending many blessings back to you and much gratitude for your kind words and encouragement. :)

  7. Cheryl, what great truths you have shared. Obedience is a key to a right relationship to our Father. You have shared so many scriptures and encouraging words in this post. I always receive so much from your writings dear friend. FAVOR is an awesome word for the year! Blessings and hugs my friend!

    1. I love how you worded that, "obedience is a key to a right relationship to our Father." How very well-worded and so true. I am so very grateful to you for your encouragement and kind words. Many blessings and hugs being sent right back to you, my friend!

  8. WOW! What power is this post this morning my friend. WHOA! I see and hear and feel joy and I akso see, hear and feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Praise God He convicts! Praise HIM that I know when I am under conviction too! Now the obedience part comes in. Lord help us all Father! FAVOR! Love, love, love that word. Mine was delight this year. I hooe that your New Year is going wonderful for you dear Cheryl. You are so precious. Hugs and blessings, Cindy

    1. Oh, sweet friend! Your words brought me to tears. I am SO thankful for you and your dear heart, friendship, and encouragement to me. God bless you again and again!

  9. What a wonderful post on how you, Kevin and Zach came to your word of FAVOR for this year. Thank you for pouring out your love, words, and wisdom with us. The Psalm that you shared at the end is perfect for finding FAVOR in Our Lord. god bless you!

  10. Hi Cheryl, I so appreciated the insights you shared here. It is so true that the surrendered life is an abundant life. I've been so focused on my anxiety and wasting the abundant life that Christ died for me to have, but never thought about it in terms of my obedience. As I read your words and the accompanying Scriptures you shared, I was convicted that indeed, there is a heart problem with not realizing the abundant life.

    The Lord has been speaking to my heart about the areas that I am not letting go of. I think by keeping them I'll be safe and secure, but in essence, I am saying, I don't trust you Lord with those parts of my life.

    Thank you so much for your humble honesty and your great desire to see us all living the abundant life for Christ Jesus.

    I loved seeing the history of Words that your family chose over the years, and I love the acrostic you developed for the Word Favor.

    May the Lord's favor rest upon you and your family richly.

    Blessings sweet friend,

  11. Thank you Cheryl. I can certainly relate to being rebellious in various areas of my life and refusing to surrender those areas to Him. Thank you again!