Umbrella of Favor.

Mary and i were living our everyday, ordinary lives.  We were doing ministry, loving life and building a family.  Then one day we were invited to meet Pastors Joel & Victoria Osteen.  Who ever knew that one small breakfast meeting would create open doors for our lives to impact thousands and thousands of people.  God has placed so many amazing people in our lives.  Wow.

It is almost like we were placed under an “umbrella of favor.”  I believe if you want to be blessed – get around blessed people.  If you want to be successful in business – rub shoulders with successful people.  But if you want to live in God’s favor surround yourself with people who living in God’s favor.  Never in our wildest dreams did we ever think God would take us where He has and create the opportunities for us.

Psalm 5:12 declares, “Surely, LORD, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.”  We are under the umbrella of God’s favor.  It surrounds us.  Largely, because we are surrounded by pastors, leaders and friends who are living under God’s favor.  God has blessed our lives.  More than we deserve.Todd Bishop TBN with Frank Santora

Last night, was another milestone as I was asked to be a guest on TBN’s National Praise The Lord Broadcast – reaching 40 million viewers.  Wow.  I woke up this morning almost in tears because I know it’s His favor – not mine.  It would be amazing if it was the first time – but last night was the second time.  Repeat favor.  That’s what it means to be under the umbrella of God’s favor.  Repeat favor.

How do you get under the umbrella of God’s favor?

  1. Stay close to God.  Psalm 125:4: “O LORD, do good to those who are good, whose hearts are in tune with you.”  In order to get God’s favor you have to be in tune with God.  You have to stay close to Him.
  2. Get around the right people.  The right people will elevate you.  If you are around doubters, discourages or destroyers find a new circle of influence.
  3. Stay focused.  Don’t allow distractions to come around you.  The enemy will use many things … in fact, he will use anything.  He does not care what it is – if it will distract you he will try it.  Focus on God, His plan and His purpose for your life.
  4. Remove the doubt.  Don’t walk around saying, “It will never,” “That’s not for me.”  No, declare today, “God wants to bless me.  He wants to pour out his favor on my life.”  God will.  Simply believe.
  5. Have courage to step out.  Then just try things.  Don’t get stuck by good intentions – but by solid, godly actions.  I would rather try something for God than to sit around hoping something knocks at my door.  I am going to trust God and walk through every open door.

Moses prayed, “… let me know your ways so I may understand you more fully and continue to enjoy your favor” (Exodus 33:13).  That’s my prayer this morning – I just want to continue to enjoy God’s favor.


Don’t Focus On What You Can’t Change

I had to learn this principle: “Your focus determines your forecast.”  If you are going to focus on something that happened 5 weeks, 10 months or 20 years ago you will never be able to become all that God has … and you will never have strong relationships in your future.  If something happened and you can’t change it – don’t focus on it.

There is so much that takes place that we spend countless hours trying to change that we cannot.  You cannot change the past.  You cannot change a person.  Stop complaining about that broken relationship, refuse to cry over that job you did not get and don’t focus on the things you cannot change.

The apostle Paul said, “I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us” (Philippians 3:13-14).  The phrase “I press on” literally means to aggressively chase.  That means focusing on the right things is going to take hard work.

Moving past the things you cannot change will be tough, it is going to be challenging but the reward is worth it.  Don’t miss this: “If you can’t change it don’t chase it.”

Stop chasing things you cannot change, don’t sweat the small stuff or the old stuff!

Look Through The Negative.

Did you ever notice how quick we see the wrong – long before we see the right?  I have learned that negative thinking is our enemy.  It will keep you stuck in your past, your problems, your pains and your perversions.  We have to look through the negative.

“According to scientists, we have about 60,000 thoughts a day (about one thought per second). And what’s even more startling is that of those 60,000 thoughts, 95% are the same thoughts we had yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that.”  Our minds are playing the same thoughts over and over – just like iTunes on replay.

Now that wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the next statistic: “for the average person, 80% of those thoughts are negative. If you do the math that means most of us have more than 45,000 negative thoughts each day!”  Choose to see the good in everything.

Stop seeing the negative in YOU.

Stop seeing the negative in OTHERS.

You see, you will never have healthy relationships with a negative outlook.  Let’s be honest, seeing the negative sometimes too easy!  We have to look through the negative to see the positive or else we will sweat the small stuff all the time.  It takes 10 positive statements to overcome 1 negative statement! Choose to be a life-giving person.

Jesus. His friend Lazarus is dead. He has been in a tomb for 4 days. Many people were consoling Mary and Martha on the loss of their brother.  Jesus finally arrives. He simply asks, “Where did you put him?” He goes to the grave and calls “Lazarus out.”  He comes out alive.

Jesus looked through the grave to see Lazarus’ resurrection.  Look through your grave situation and you will always see God’s divine intervention!  Look through the negative and you will see the hand of God.

Wake Up Everyday and Be Thankful.

Get up in the morning and be grateful.  Stop and thank God for every blessing that He has given to you.  You may not have the biggest house but you can still have a blessed house.  You may not possess the grandest bank account but you have the greatest God favoring you.

The allegory tells of a man who was really upset that he had no shoes until he met the man who had no feet!  Find something to be thankful for.  Food. Clothes. Family. Friends. And most importantly our relationship with Jesus Christ.

To be honest, sometimes we have to remind ourselves to be thankful.  Colossians 3:15 reminds us to “always be thankful.”  The people who complain the most are those who say “thanks” the least!  Be thankful. Find the good things that God is doing in your life.

Hezekiah became very sick. It looked as though he was going to die. Hezekiah prayed and God healed him. The Bible says he “was ungrateful and became proud.”  God lifted his hand off of Hezekiah for a moment. Hezekiah immediately humbled himself and repented.  Hezekiah had to remind himself to be thankful.

Make a list of things that you are thankful for – you will discover your list is longer than you think it is!

Stop Complaining.

God’s people, the children of Israel, are now free. They were in slavery to the Egyptians for 430 years.  Now they are free. They are on a journey to their promised land. They send the scouts. 10 of them come back with a negative report … the Bible says in Exodus 14 that all of God’s people began weeping and stayed up all night crying.  Then they said to Moses, “If only we had died in Egypt or even in the wilderness.”

They started to complain.  “Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?”  Joshua and Caleb stand up and say, “God will bring us safely to the land and give it to us. It is a rich land, flowing with milk and honey.”  But the complainers became bitter and spoke about stoning Joshua and Caleb – the negative majority outvoted the positive minority!

You see, people who fail to see the goodness of God, those who want to go back to their past and those who complain about everything will eventually want to destroy everyone around them – especially the encouragers.

God’s people were focused so much on the negative – that they began to become negative, bitter and filled with complaints.  What was the result? 40 days of waiting became 40 years of wandering in the wilderness (Numbers 14:34).

Grumbling, complaining and possessing a critical spirit with your spouse, kids, family and friends will keep you from enjoying your promised land too.  Don’t complain.  Choose to be positive.  Focus on all that God has done right!

Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff.

There are many people today who cannot find anything good in anything, they complain about everyone and everything or they lose it when things do not go their way.  And then they can’t move on – they allow the small stuff to infect every area of their life.  Here’s my advice: “Don’t let petty things distract you from the important things.”

I think we live in an overly sensitive world today.  Just my opinion but everyone gets “offended” by the little things:

  • “I can’t believe they did not say hi to me.”
  • “Why do they always leave the place a mess.”
  • “I am not sure why they did this.”

There are so many things we can go crazy about but we can’t get stuck on the little things.  The Bible teaches, “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that no one can criticize you” (Philippians 2:14-15 NLT).  What’s the point? Don’t sweat the small stuff.

You see, people who sweat the small stuff – or major on the minors – are really filled with a spirit of complaining.  The Bible says everything we do should be without complaint.

Did you know that the average adult complains about 8 minutes and 46 seconds per day? Which equates to about 53 hours per year!  The average American spends 2+ straight days complaining.  And more often than not we complain about things we cannot control.

A lot of spouses think they can changes their spouse by complaining or nagging until they change but more often than not it does not fix the problem it causes someone to fixate on the problem.

Don’t sweat the small stuff.  Don’t complain about things you cannot change.  Everyday celebrate God’s goodness.

Refuse to Have a Negative Mindset

If we flood our mind with negativity – we will become a product of our own thoughts.  Your focus determines your forecast. And if we constantly focus on everything wrong … all the reasons we can’t … and always see the glass as half empty … we may never experience the life of excellence God wants for us.

Scripture declares, “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).  In another translation of the Bible “be alert and of sober mind.”  To be sober means to keep your thoughts right – because if you don’t have the right thoughts the enemy is waiting for that negativity so he can devour you.

Negative thoughts give room for the enemy.  He comes in and tells you things about yourself that are not true … “you are not good” – “you won’t get that job” – “you will never be healed” – “God does not have good plans for you” – “your best days are behind you.”  We have to keep a sober mind – looking at what is right and not letting negativity control our thoughts.

People who grow up in an average household hear “No” or are told what they can’t do more than 148,000 times by the time they reach age 18.  What is the result? We program each generation to be negative before they go to college!

Let’s start reprogramming our thinking. Don’t let the 1 negative comment someone said to you override the 7000 positive promises God has for you in the Bible.  Refuse to have a negative mindset.