Friday, June 26, 2020

Devotionals for the Heart: Reasons why YOU are God's Favorite!

You’re His Favorite

A devotional by Amy Odland

“Then an argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. But Jesus, knowing the thoughts of their hearts, had a little child stand beside Him. And He said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in My name welcomes Me, and whoever welcomes Me welcomes the One who sent Me. For whoever is the least among all of you, he is the greatest.” –Luke 9:46-48 (NIV)

As most parents experienced in March, April, and May of this year, we also had an increase of evening meals around the table with all of our kids.

Before Coronavirus hit, we usually tried to eat dinner together as much as our schedules allowed. During those weeks of quarantine meals, we were all together all the time so didn’t have much to “tell about our day” during the meal as each day seemed to be the same as the one before. So instead we enjoyed some extended devotional time, we developed some inside jokes, and we also maybe had an argument or two when we got tired of all being together so much. Our four kids, ranging in ages 20 down to 9, would frequently tease each other during these meals about which of them was our favorite. Every time they did, I would think of this passage in Luke.

Have you ever felt like God plays favorites? When we measure “favorite” by the world’s standards, we think of someone else receiving something we don’t ... like material blessings or healing or answers to prayers ... and it begins to seem like God plays favorites. Our humanness equates “ease of” as a measurement of quantity of love – whether it’s ease of life or ease of gain or ease of struggle, the easier things are, the more we think someone is loved. We begin to believe God loves them better than, or more than, He does us.

God never said things would be easy for us just because we follow Him. God doesn’t play favorites by making things easier for us while we’re alive. In fact, Jesus said in John 16:33 (NIV), “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” He has equal love for all of us, meaning those who call upon Him and continue to follow and trust Him are all favored. He loves the thief who hung on the cross next to Jesus and called out to Him just as much as He loves His beloved son, Jesus. Why else would Jesus have said to the thief, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” We are all favored because we call Him Father.

God loves all His children the same, but He doesn’t treat them all equally. A few examples of this? Abraham was richly blessed with land and flocks, but had to wait until he was HOW OLD to have a child, who was a fulfilment of a promise God had given him? Joseph became second in command in Egypt during a crucial time but only after first being hauled away from his family and sold as a slave, then falsely accused, and after spending years in prison. All the major prophets were ostracized during their lives as they warned of the coming ruin of Israel. David was anointed to be king of Israel by Samuel, but had to endure being chased around and almost killed by his boss and predecessor for years beforehand. Mary was chosen to be the mother of the Savior of the World, but she almost lost her engagement, her family’s name was scorned because she was pregnant before wedlock, and she later watched her son die a criminal’s death when he’d done nothing wrong.

Jesus talks in Matthew 7 about what we should do with this apparent discrepancy between what each of us gets from God. In Matthew 7:1-2 (NIV) he says, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” 

Some of us get so distracted by what others are doing or achieving or receiving, we lose sight of the path laid out before us. We are focused on whether so-and-so deserves this-or-that instead of what God has purposed us to accomplish during our lifetime. We get caught up in negative emotions and thoughts that weigh us down instead of thinking about the things Paul mentioned in Philippians 4:8 (NIV), “...whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

This is exactly what happens when our kids fight about who is the favorite. They forget about the unique gifts they have to offer the world. They forget about how God has designed each of them differently, that they were raised differently, and that they will each head down different paths in life. They forget they each have different strengths and weaknesses, character qualities that need to be pruned or watered, depending on God’s plan and timing and desire. They’re not going to all choose the same career. They’re not going to all get married at the exact same age or have the exact same number of kids...or maybe even get married at all.

God doesn’t shape his children to be factory-made dishware; we aren’t all supposed to be the same. We are unique creations created for bringing variety and beauty and love into the world. Imagine if there was only one kind of tree or one kind of animal or one kind of food. God said we were His “very good” creation, so why wouldn’t we be as multi-faceted as the rest of His creations?

Of course each of our four children think THEY are the favorite. They are not wrong; they’re each our favorite in a different way. It is amazing the difference in our children’s behavior when they think they’re the favorite, how willing they are to please us and to listen to us.

So today, I say to you: Start to believe you are God’s favorite and live like it. Do things to please your Father, not the people around you. Ask God for things like a favorite would ... and don’t act like a spoiled brat when He doesn’t give them to you right away.

Jesus Christ’s words in Matthew 7:11-12 (NIV) say, “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” 

Love God and love others as one who is highly favored by God. Because you are His favorite.

Author Bio:

Amy Odland has been serving in church ministry as a volunteer leader for over 16 years, in various worship, prayer and women’s ministry roles. 

Her passion for helping women stems from her own struggles and lessons learned in her journey as a Christian since first deciding to follow the Lord in 1994.

Amy’s priorities after her faith include her family — husband Rick, and their four kids — as well as extended family who all live close in proximity and the many friends she’s made over the years.

In addition to a love of teaching and helping her husband with the bookkeeping for their many businesses, Amy has recently expanded her stay-at-home work to include leading author’s book launch teams for publishing companies like Baker, Revell, Barbour, and Lifeway.

She also enjoys teaching new authors about platform building, self-launching, and online marketing.

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