Favor Follows Faithfulness

Favor Follows Faithfulness

Did you know that favor follows after faithfulness? It’s an odd concept but it carries with it a crucial truth which has the potential to radically change our lives. But first let me ask you this, have you ever noticed that many people want a great and powerful testimony but they are unwilling to go through a time of testing to receive one. We want the glory without a battle, and we want to enjoy the riches of work we’ve never done. This conflicting idea can apply to our natural lives but also (and more importantly) to our spiritual lives as well.

We need to understand that God is always watching and nothing is hidden from his sight (Mark 4:22) be it our actions, attitudes, beliefs or anything else for that matter. God is observing us and is looking not to strike us down in fury but He is looking to take us to the next level of our calling and relationship with Him. As I’ve talked about previously for the believer God’s judgment has less to do with vengeance and smiting and more to do with refinement, correction and launching us into our destinies.

Have you ever noticed that many people want a great and powerful testimony but they are unwilling to go through a time of testing to receive one.

Throughout the scriptures we see pictures of how the faithful few took God’s words seriously and lived accordingly. Those such as Abraham and Moses who took their revelation of their part in God’s plan and lived faithfully while expecting God to do great and impossible things. They lived out their beliefs and in turn god brought about the manifestation of the things which were promised to them.

Where we also see this truth play out is in the life of David who despite being the next anointed king of Israel still endured difficult times. He went through trials and encounters that many people would of either ran from or would of fallen of the rails and did things their own way. I spoke last week about how after David killed Goliath he didn’t rush over and deal with Saul at the same time. No David was faithful, and he recognized God’s plan amidst the chaos that the nation was in at that moment. A decision that many not just in the world but also in the church wouldn’t of made, because they serve the God’s of advancement and self more than their Creator.

David in the months after Goliath’s defeat demonstrated a lifestyle of faithfulness, a lifestyle directed towards, God, Saul, his friends and the people he would one day lead. But before David could lead the people he had to go through his own season of Apprenticeship. Which is the second step in the process of the 4 A’s which takes us from Anointing to Apprenticeship to Activation to Announcement which is our full entry into our callings and destiny.

Now begins David’s Season of Apprenticeship

Following the defeat of Goliath David was appointed as one of Saul’s military commanders and depending on the translation this either speaks of a battalion of 1,000 soldiers or he was the commander over all of the soldiers from a particular clan from one of the twelve tribes. Either way it was a significant promotion from royal minstrel and shepherd and it allowed David to become a recognizable face in the nation (or a the very least in the capital of Gibeah).

However this promotion alone isn’t enough, being promoted is only part of the process in order for favor and the next step in our lives to materialize we need to learn how to be faithful with the opportunities that are presented to us.


1 Samuel 18:5 “So David went out wherever Saul sent him, and behaved wisely. And Saul set him over the men of war, and he was accepted in the sight of all the people and also in the sight of Saul’s servants.” (NKJV, see also 1 Samuel 18:30)


David learned in this season how to lead people in battle and how to inspire people to the point of them respecting him rather than fearing him. David would of learned the ins and outs of the kingdom as he witnessed Saul at work daily dealing with the matters of kingship and justice in the nation. David couldn’t jump directly from being a shepherd to a king because the infrastructure of his heart and mind couldn’t of handled it without this season of preparation and hands on training.

David couldn’t jump directly from being a shepherd to a king because the infrastructure of his heart and mind couldn’t of handled it without this season of preparation and hands on training.

It is during these years that David built up loyalty with many of the people who would accompany and support him during his darkest days. It is during this season of training and apprenticeship that many of the key relationships that would define David’s life going forward were established. It wasn’t just about the singular issues of learning information, or demonstrating good servant-hood abilities but it was a combination of all of these matters.

We Need Others For Help

Once we begin to combine anointing with opportunity inevitably God will begin to bring people into our lives to help us through the stages of Apprenticeship and Activation. God brings people into your life to help see your anointing transform into something tangible, this applies not just to ministry but to what ever arena of live God has called you to. We see this with David as two of Saul’s children become close and very supportive of David rather early in this process.

God brings people into your life to help see your anointing transform into something tangible.

The first is Jonathan, Saul’s oldest son and the assumed next king of Israel, what is astonishing is that right at the beginning of this new season of David’s the two of them enter into a covenant with each other (1 Samuel 18:3-4). A covenant in the eyes of David and Jonathan is an unbreakable agreement sealed in blood which offers blessings and curses upon those who enter into it. The only way out is death and to break a covenant legally allowed the one who broke it to be killed by the other party with no consequences.

This wasn’t just a handshake agreement but a life long blood oath to protect eachother and it effectively made them brothers in a legal sense (Proverbs 18:24). God knew that David couldn’t succeed in what was coming down the road for him alone so He brought people into his life who could love, support and protect him along the way.

David also received support and protection from this first wife Michal who was Saul’s second oldest daughter. She protected David from her father (more on this next week) despite the risk and ensured that David could one day become king.

We need to get beyond the image that every believer is a mountain unto themselves with no real connection to those around them. It is this idea that “I can do all things myself” which is crippling not just your destiny but the callings of entire congregations. God wired us for community and being faithful will only get us so far in life. Notice that David was a leader in the army, he wasn’t a one-man army but lead others whom he depended on to win the battles. David had his soldiers and later his might men to help him through this whole process.

Faithfulness brought to David favor in the eyes of people and that same favor inspired others to come alongside David to help him. Later in David’s story we see helpers and supporters with him in the wilderness, in the capturing of Jerusalem and in many other places. The places where we don’t see people helping and supporting David can be seen in some of his greatest mistakes, such as with Bathsheba when he stayed home from the battle or when he called on a census against God’s will.

When we have supporters and fellow-workers we can achieve so much more than we ever could alone. As I said our faithfulness will only take us so far in our journey and eventually we will need to partner with others to see God’s purpose for our lives manifest in this world, and not just manifest but thrive, grow and reproduce.

It’s No Different in the New Testament

This idea of needing help and support is not just found in the life of David but we see the same process in the life of Paul. After Paul encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus he went about and began testifying about what he had encountered and how he had gone from persecutor of Jesus to a follower of him. Not long after the church’s leadership in Jerusalem sent Paul away where he spent over a decade in his own personal “wilderness.”

Eventually when the gospel had begun to take route in Antioch in Syria and opportunity for Paul to minister arose. But Paul was not alone he was sent along with Barnabas who was respected by the church and who could act as a teacher/supervisor for the former persecuting Pharisee. Despite Paul’s encounter he still needed support, oversight and help along the way to becoming the great Apostle to the Gentiles. What began with a teacher and student relationship with Barnabas and Paul eventually blossomed into Paul being able to “graduate” so to speak and go off without his friend.

Yet Paul didn’t go alone after he and Barnabas split up over John Mark but everywhere Paul went he had others with him as well. He had the likes of Luke, Timothy, Pricilla, Aquila and others who helped him in his ministry. He had help from Tyrannus, various officials, common people and the like who all supported Paul in his mission. Paul even had scribes and couriers to help spread his message around the Roman Empire. Paul couldn’t of done everything alone, he couldn’t be an apostle, tent maker, scribe, courier, ship captain, carpenter and so on all at once.

Is it any different with us, do we not need the support of others to ensure that we can become who God created us to be? Our personal faithfulness will only take us so far because God designed it that way to ensure that his body would operate as body where one part is dependent (but not subservient to) all of the other parts.

Where Does Faithfulness Come To Life?

Faithfulness comes alive when we live out the life we know God expects of us to live. This is a life which lines up with our covenant responsibilities, it reflects the nature of Christ and it acts as a testimony to the promises from God we are holding onto. Those promises include the over aching promises from the Bible but also the personal promises and revelations which God has communicated to us individually.

Faithfulness comes alive when we live out the life we know God expects of us to live.

A life of faithfulness doesn’t come all at once as it is better compared to a town which is covered in snow. Each flake is an act of service, obedience, humility, and faith which was carried out while only God was paying attention to you. Eventually these flakes add up and for those who were sleeping or oblivious of your life will eventually look out the window and suddenly see the streets and yards covered in snow and assume that it all happened at once, or perhaps it was some sort of miracle.

The reality is that these snowflakes built up upon one another over time and for the most part they were ignored until the moment the snowdrifts were several feet high and the streets needed to be plowed. Then did the other people take notice of what was happening, or perhaps that is when they woke up and looked outside for the first time.

When we pass the tests of faithfulness in the small things which are hidden from the crowds and influential people then and only then will God reveal those insignificant victories to the world.


Luke 16:10-12 10 He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. 11 Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? 12 And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own?

Revelation 3:10-11 10 Because you (Philadelphia) have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. 11Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.


Our personal trials will always determine the quality and severity of our public trials and when we cultivate faithfulness, and dependency on God when we are alone then we will be prepared for the greater public battles which will rise up against us, just as Goliath rose up against Israel and David was already prepared to face that challenge.

The Double-Edged Sword of Favor

A lifestyle of faithfulness eventually leads to a life full of favor, that is favor from God and favor in the eyes of the right people around us. It has to go in that order because if we are striving to attain favor in the eyes of people we will inevitably compromise or even sacrifice our relationship with God to attain that prize. That was the sin Saul committed when he compromised his position so that the people around him would be satisfied by being able to take the plunder from the Amalekites rather than obeying the prophet Samuel.

Having favor with God is about more than just making Him happy it has to do with our faith and how we reciprocates our faith with his own faithfulness in our lives. As we see in these verses from Psalms and Proverbs the favor God shows us in response to our faith, love, obedience and relationship can have a tangible effect on our lives.


Psalms 5:12 For You, O Lord, will bless the righteous; With favor You will surround him as with a shield. (NKJV)

Proverbs 3:3-6 “Let not mercy and truth forsake you; Bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart, And so find favor and high esteem in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” (NKJV)


Despite all of the great things God’s favor brings into our lives next week we will look at the dark side of having receiving favor from God and having people rise up to support us. This isn’t a topic to be feared but it is one which will prepare us to enter the third stage of the progression from Anointing to Apprenticeship to Activation and finally to Announcement.

For now though take time to pray and seek God so that you can recognize those small hidden battles and opportunities for faithfulness. That eventually those victories and testimonies will bring open up new opportunities in your life and to connect you with people that you can partner with so that the callings and destines of all of you can come to pass in this world.

To go deeper in your journey with Christ check out my new book Understanding Who You Are: A Survey of 21st Century Christian beliefs which is now on sale. Available in paperback (Canada or USA) and eBook! Get your copy today and discover not just your purpose but how you can build the Kingdom of God here on the Earth

 
Creative Commons LicenseFavor Follows Faithfulness Cameron Conway is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
 

2019 The Year of New Beginnings

2019 The Year of New Beginnings

Podcast Of This Message

Listen to the expanded Podcast of this article here

A new year is upon us, 2019 is officially here so happy birthday Earth?!? Now rather than me giving you a Christian horoscope about the coming year I want to talk about how we can embrace change and new beginnings in our lives so we can better serve and follow after God. I know that many people look to posts like this to find out what God is going to do in the world during 2019, be it in politics, the church, world events, or over generalized personal promises. By this I mean words such as “look under your chairs, everybody gets a victory, you get a victory, you get a victory everyone gets a victory” with no details, confirmations or steps to carry out to see it come to pass.

I don’t mean to downplay God’s ability to provide theme words for 2019 and any other year or His ability to provide glimpses into what is about to happen. Instead I want to paint a picture of what I feel God is leading me to teach and talk about over the next twelve months, and spoiler alert it has to do with how to handle and navigate change in our lives. Far too often we hear a word from God and click like and don’t do anything to see those words come to pass in our lives or in the world around us. We need to go beyond chasing after an unending stream of unused/unapplied words from God in our lives and rather we need to learn how to engage with what God has already spoken to us.

A single word from God can change a person’s life but to see that word become a reality we must learn how to navigate the waters of change.

A single word from God can change a person’s life but to see that word become a reality we must learn how to navigate the waters of change. Never has God called or commissioned a person to do something great and then leave them in the place He originally found them in. That is the lesson for this coming year and it will be the driving force behind what I will be talking about in these articles throughout the year, and starting in June on my podcast and in my videos.

God Brings Change But Doesn’t Change Himself

The process of life is one of constant change, we get bigger, stronger, older, weaker, smaller and so on. Life is about growth and change and as long as we are alive we are faced with some form of change or another. Be it changes in our appearance, in our family, at work, in politics, or in the world around us in general. At times change is good and other times it can be painful, but that is life, change can bring out the best of us or it can chase us away into a deep dark corner to hide in until the change stops. No matter what happens or what changes what is inevitable is that we will face change again.

Now not all change is bad there are times where God is the one initiating change in our lives or in the greater world. For now though I want to focus on God’s desire to change us for the better, because He is aware of all things and He knows what we have to do in order to fulfill His purpose for our lives. Although we experience change and growth God does not. He is not alive in the senses that He doesn’t have a beating heart and is carried through time. God is eternal and with that eternity brings a stillness to His identity, purpose, nature and vision. God sees all and knows all therefore He who cannot change is able to see into us so that we can change to be more like Him.


Isaiah 46:10 “Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure,’” (NKJV)

Daniel 2:21-22 “And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise And knowledge to those who have understanding. 22He reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, And light dwells with Him.” (NKJV)

Malachi 3:6 “For I am the LORD, I do not change; Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob.” (NKJV)


God has a plan and a purpose for each of us but to achieve those plans we have to learn how to follow God and how to submit to the changes He is trying to bring to our lives. It wasn’t enough for young David to be anointed King by Samuel, yes David had the promise but he still had to live out a life which would turn that promise into a reality. At times there were good seasons and others were marked by rough seasons in the literal wilderness. The promise was not enough for David, the offer of Kingship came at a price: his everyday life.

We expect God to do all of the work and forget that a life with a calling is a life of partnership with God.

I feel this is the missing ingredient in the lives of many Christians. We feel that we have a call or purpose from God but we do nothing to see it become a reality. We covet the title of king but we don’t want to fight Goliath, or serve Saul, or lead a band of misfits in the wilderness, or learn to live on the run, or even how to show honor to our enemy as David did with Saul. We expect God to do all of the work and forget that a life with a calling is a life of partnership with God.

We Are Prone To Change In The Wrong Ways

Unfortunately despite how much God tries to change us for the better we as Christians still seem to be prone to chasing after the wrong kinds of change (both personally and corporately). We are comfortable with superficial changes and think that if we experience enough of them it will count towards a change of heart. If I change these eight secondary things I can trade them in for a major heart change in God’s eyes. I know this is silly but it frighteningly happens more than I’d like to admit in the hearts of Christians and in the operation of the local church. We treat God’s commands to follow His words like its some fad diet that we follow along with until we get dissatisfied or too hungry for the old things then we abandon it and move on to the next thing. We have Christians who collect attempts to obey God like other people collect exercise tapes and gadgets, thinking that volume equals success.

We have Christians who collect attempts to obey God like other people collect exercise tapes and gadgets, thinking that volume equals success.

We go on these diets of obedience, character development, love, patience but never follow through to the end and assume that as long as we “tried our best” for a couple of weeks that will be enough to satisfy God and open the flood gates of heaven so all of the promises and blessings will rain down upon us. It is an ‘easy Christianity’ that we crave where no change is involved, no challenges are involved and no growth is necessary. We want the benefits of Christianity and relationship with God without any of the responsibilities.

Or even worse instead of making the changes God is speaking to our heart we simply replace God with one in our own image, while others find a pastor who will enable our resistance to God’s voice. Then there are those who hear from God about changing a portion of their own heart of soul and go on a crusade to force everyone else to do what God told them individually to do, while never actually doing it themselves. When we resist change and progress in our walk with God we are demonstrating to Him that we really want to serve a different God all together. One that is passive, one that is quiet, and one that acts more like a guidance councillor than the Wise King of the Universe.


Jeremiah 2:11 Has a nation changed its gods, Which are not gods? But My people have changed their Glory For what does not profit. (NKJV)


We have this desire inside of us to go back to living the ways of the world once again and we get triggered and offended when God tells us otherwise. What would have happened if David murdered Saul in 1 Samuel 24 while in the cave with him? What would have happened to his calling and promise to be King of Israel? Far too often we want to take our divine inheritance through natural means, and God’s process of change and refinement in our lives is a mission to keep us from doing that. God wants us to work with and through Him to accomplish the purposes of our lives, lest we drink from the Pride flavoured Kool-Aid and take all of the credit and accomplishments for ourselves.


Isaiah 48:3-5 3 “I have declared the former things from the beginning; They went forth from My mouth, and I caused them to hear it. Suddenly I did them, and they came to pass. 4 Because I knew that you were obstinate, And your neck was an iron sinew, And your brow bronze, 5 Even from the beginning I have declared it to you; Before it came to pass I proclaimed it to you, Lest you should say, ‘My idol has done them, And my carved image and my molded image Have commanded them.’ (NKJV)

We as believers and children of God cannot go around making changes simply for the sake of making changes. It’s like when a church is struggling financially and/or spiritually, and they think the answer to their problems is unveiling up a new logo. Change for the sake of attention is not real growth, you can make all kinds of changes but that doesn’t make them the right changes. You can move your house off of a foundation of rock and put it onto one of sand and while yes you changed you just made everything worse. We cannot reject the changes God is trying to make in our lives and try to replace them with other changes that we think are more suitable.

Not New But Activated

New Beginnings isn’t just about something new coming along to change a person’s life but it can also be things long promised coming into reality, the newness is in the person’s place in the fulfillment of long forgotten promises. It was new to David to be king despite being anointed for many years, in a single day he went from exile to the crowned King of Judah (and later Israel). That was a profound change in his life, but all he did for those decades prior prepared him for the day the crown would be placed upon him.

New Beginnings then can be look at as the start of a new chapter rather than you opening up an entirely different book. Right now I have a couple of books that I’ve been reading for over a year, not because of laziness but because it seems that when ever I open one of those books I find myself confronting exactly what I need to see at that moment. Yes I power through other books as well but I keep finding myself facing these moments in an existing book which help to direct my life.

That is what I’m talking about here about New Beginnings, all of us feel as if we are multiple books which are opened at the same time. We have a book of family, work, relationships, destiny, goals, successes and at times God will take us to one of those books and flip the pages to the next chapter so that we can begin the next season of that book. At times that chapter will overtake every other book on the table while other times it feels as if it is running in the background muffled by everyday life. What is important is learning how to follow God when He takes us to those new chapters, but we need to understand that God only advances us after we have proven our faithfulness, demonstrated our humility in obeying Him and in our openness to hearing what He is speaking to us.

What’s Coming In 2019

This year I will be teaching on three interconnected themes. The first is on New Beginnings and we will be taking inspiration from two places; the life of David, specifically when he exited the wilderness season by finally becoming King, as I eluded to above. While in the New Testament we will find out how Saul became Paul the Apostle, how he went from Pharisee to the wilderness and then became the great builder of the church.

Secondly, I’ll be teaching on the matter of Hope and how it is tied to our understanding of God’s nature because our hope is grounded in God’s identity. Thirdly, I’ll showing how we are to live as ones who have come out of the cycle of judgment. Think about places such as the book of Judges where Israel would go from faithfulness to apathy to idolatry to suffering (invasion, famine, etc.) to mourning to repentance to blessing/deliverance and back to faithfulness. I believe God wants us to learn how to come into of the process of repentance, blessing and faithfulness and learn how to remain in that place without slipping back into the cycle for as long as possible.

So I invite you to join me on this journey through 2019 as we follow as closely as possible behind God in a place where we can see Him work and learn how we can participate along with Him.


Ecclesiastes 7:8 The end of a thing is better than its beginning; The patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. (NKJV)


To go deeper in your journey with Christ check out my new book Understanding Who You Are: A Survey of 21st Century Christian beliefs which is now on sale. Available in paperback (Canada or USA) and eBook! Get your copy today and discover not just your purpose but how you can build the Kingdom of God here on the Earth

 
Creative Commons License2019 The Year of New Beginnings Cameron Conway is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
 

Life Beyond Church 01: The Roots of our Identity In Christ

Life Beyond Church 01: The Roots of our Identity In Christ

Welcome to Episode 01 of Life Beyond Church. Today I talk about The Roots of our Identity In Christ and how understanding Him unlocks our ability to understand ourselves.

Hot off of the Press: Understanding Who You Are

 

I head out to Chilliwack, British Columbia to pick up my new book Understanding Who You Are from the printers, join me and learn more.