"The favor of God is what God can do for you that you cannot do for yourself."
God's graciousness or kindness is one of His character traits I'm most drawn to. His benevolence and favor blows me away at times because I don't deserve it. Ezra, a priest who led the second group of Israelites returning to Jerusalem from Babylon, felt the same way.
In chapters seven and eight of the book of Ezra, six times the priest mentions the "gracious hand of God was on them." The repeated phrase caught my attention this morning while studying it during my time alone with God. I'm impressed with not only God's favor and kindness towards Ezra and the Israelites, but also with Ezra's humble heart.
Over and over again, Ezra acknowledged God's gracious hand. He didn't take God's kindness for granted, nor did Ezra take the credit himself; instead, he gave God the glory.
Ezra took the time to journal how God came through for him and the Israelites.
The gracious hand of God was displayed when:
...the king granted Ezra everything he asked for. (Ezra 7:6)
...Ezra took courage and gathered leading men from Israel to go with him. (Ezra 7:28)
...men of understanding joined their group. (Ezra 8:18)
...God protected them from their enemies and bandits along the way. (Ezra 8:31)
...Ezra safely arrived in Jerusalem on the first day of the fifth month. (Ezra 7:9)
You know the gracious hand of God is upon you when:
...your boss gives you everything you requested and you have their favor.
...you walk in the authority God has placed upon you and you ask others to help.
...others follow and join you in what God is doing in your life.
...you are protected from those working against you, your competitors, and those who are trying to rob from you or steal your reputation.
...you arrive at your God-given destinations, completing God's assignments.
Ezra 8:22b gives us a key as to why God places His gracious hand upon us. "The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to Him, but His great anger is against all who forsake Him." Another translation reads, "The hand of our God is favorably disposed to all those who seek Him..." (NAS) To seek implies we're the ones going after God, inquiring of Him, and depending on Him for His favor.
I need God's gracious hand to be upon me so I can complete God's marching orders. I turn to God for what I need, whether it's supplies, courage, people or protection. I need God's kindness so that I obey His will and mentor the masses. I need the favor of God to write anointed blogs and to speak in His authority. I need His hand upon me so I can witness to my neighbors, give godly direction to my adult children and encourage those who are struggling.
So what are you waiting for? Look to God and His gracious hand will be upon you.
"The favor of God will take you where nothing else can."
1. Take a moment and reflect upon the past month. Humble yourself and acknowledge the gracious hand of God upon your life.
2. Looking ahead to this month, how do you need God's favor to be upon you?