When I was very young, I experienced bigotry and attacks because my mother was Jewish.
I vividly remember making my way home from school and complaining to my mother because some of the older boys had called me a “kite.” (At least, that’s what I thought they were saying.) I said, “I don’t even have a kite. Why do they call me that?” I was too young to understand the racial slur, but I knew something was wrong. I saw people throw things at my mother or call her names when she went to the store.
Looking back now, I understand why when I was just four years old, she told me, “Christians hate Jews. Christians kill Jews.” Her grandfather perished inside his synagogue in what is now Belarus. The Jews of the town were herded inside, the doors were nailed shut, and the building was set on fire. The people outside celebrated as the screams of the dying filled the air.
Many years later, Israel’s 9th president and my dear friend Shimon Peres talked to me about that event. His family was from the same little village as my mother’s family. He had researched the tragedy there and discovered that his grandfather perished in the same fire as my great-grandfather. They were rabbis together, and they died together. He told me that day, “Mike, we are family.” It was an amazing connection, but one born in great sadness and pain.
The bitter reality is that most Jewish people have never seen an act of kindness or love from a Believer. They really do think that Christians hate them. Because so much persecution and death have been carried out by those who claim to be following Jesus, they think that Christianity is opposed to them.
I grew up experiencing a divide between Christians and Jewish people. I heard the slurs and name-calling and saw the prejudice in action. I heard from my mother the stories of her family members who perished in the Holocaust. God has given us the privilege of sharing a different story, the reality that true Christians MUST love and care for His Chosen People.
God created you in His image for a purpose. Jehovah God wanted to have an intimate relationship—friendship—with you. There is a DNA component of God that is within us. When He is magnified, this mysterious “X” factor activates His Word. The Bible says in Luke 2:52: “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.”
Are you increasing in favor, or are you decreasing? I wear a bracelet inscribed with the words Living in the F.O.G. I’ve been asked repeatedly what that means. F.O.G. is an acronym for Favor of God. What is God’s favor and how can you live in it? Favor is “unmerited grace; regard shown by another, especially a superior; an act of kindness; a token of love; effort on one’s behalf.” Because you are His child, God, in an act of kindness and as a token of His love, extends unmerited grace and works tirelessly on your behalf. Not only does He bestow favor on you, He also blesses you with favor and affirmation from those around you. God acknowledged His Son when He said: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased”(Matthew 3:17).
Living in the F.O.G. will help you reach the place in life where you can turn the head of God, touch the heart of God, and move the hand of God, a place where you can gain affirmation from the Father and His Word rather than from those around you—at home, at work, wherever you may be. You can learn to refuse to allow people and problems to define you. The one thing that has the power to release emotional, physical, spiritual, and financial success in your life is “F.O.G.”
To have the Favor of God in your life, you must focus on the image of God and not your own. Any image that comes before His is a graven image. When Moses delivered the Ten Commandments to the Children of Israel, the second one was: “Thou shalt not make thyself any graven image, or any form of what is in the heavens above, or what is in the earth beneath, or what is in the waters under the earth” (Exodus 20:4).
The Bible says we were created in God’s image. What does that mean? God emotes; He hears; He sees; He feels; He has personality. He created you for friendship, relationship. Knowing that, how can you live in His image? First, surrender your life to Him. Then, you magnify His image in four ways that represent His DNA. The Favor of God means that He will give you the resources you need to develop His image in your life, to do what He has called you to do—whether it is to be a missionary or an evangelist, a pastor or teacher, a salesman or chief executive officer, a doctor or a stay-at-home parent ministering to your family. Whatever you need, He will supply, and all because of the Favor of God.
In Matthew 6:33, Jesus said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”
When you magnify the image of God, you are manifesting the DNA of God in your own life. Then, and only then, can you live in the Favor of God and activate the Word of God. What is DNA? I could give you a long, scientific explanation about deoxyribonucleic acid, the molecule that contains your genetic code, but I like to use the definition, “Divine Nature Acquired.” Paul wrote that “Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun” (2 Corinthians 5:17). I know this is true because it happened to me, and I know that once you experience God’s favor, your life will never be the same.
Those near Jesus told Bartimaeus, “Be of good cheer. Rise, He is calling you” (v. 49). Some other translations say, “Cheer up!” In other words, your negative words or attitude can block God’s favor. Bartimaeus had an attitude of expectancy, and that was a vital factor in the miracle he would soon receive. He was also told to “rise” and hear Jesus’ voice. Without a hint of procrastination, this desperate man sprang into action: “Throwing aside his garment, he rose and came to Jesus” (v. 50).
Notice that if you want to activate the Favor of God (F.O.G.) in your life, you often must take action of some kind. It’s likely that Bartimaeus never would have received his healing if he had remained seated on the side of the road. OBEDIENCE is one of the most important ways to unleash God’s favor, and we see that principle here in the story of the beggar who needed a breakthrough.
Another thing Bartimaeus did was throw aside his old garment. If you are going to start a new life, you need a fresh set of clothes! We see this in passages such as Isaiah 61:3, where God promises to give us “the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.” In order to enter into a new dimension of God’s favor, you will need to cast off any old garments of fear, depression, unbelief, or unforgiveness. It’s a new day!
Jesus next asks Bartimaeus one of the most important questions in the entire Bible—and it’s the same question He is asking YOU today: “What do you want Me to do for you?” (v. 51).
Let that sink in for a moment. Jesus is right there with you, and He wants you to tell Him what your greatest need is. What, exactly, do you want Him to do for you? This is a critical component of what it takes to unleash the F.O.G. in your life:
You must be able to define the miracle you are seeking from God. To no one’s surprise, Bartimaeus told Jesus that he wanted to receive his sight. I’m sure Jesus already knew this, just as He already knows the desire of your heart today. However, He wants you to pray it and say it, letting your specific request be known before His throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16, Philippians 4:6).
When Bartimaeus’ breakthrough came, it was sudden and amazing: “immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus on the road” (v. 52). Of course, Jesus could have told the blind man that his healing would come gradually, over a long period of time, but that was not the case with Bartimaeus. Jesus had unleashed the miraculous, and the results were instantaneous.
How did this happen? What secret had the blind beggar discovered? Jesus told him plainly: “your faith has made you well” (v. 52). Through faith and obedience, Bartimaeus had activated God’s supernatural favor and healing power.
The story of a blind man named Bartimaeus is a beautiful illustration of how to unleash more of God’s favor in your life…even when your situation appears hopeless. One minute this man was begging along the roadside, just as he had done for much of his life. But in a moment’s time, everything changed for him.
Suddenly, he could see! He had received a new beginning beyond his wildest dreams.
Bartimaeus had stumbled upon the secret to unleashing God’s miracle-working power, and his life would never be the same. When he went to sleep that night, his life was completely different than it was when he had awakened that morning. So, what can we learn from this amazing story, told in Mark 10:46-52? Let’s take a look…
When Bartimaeus encountered Jesus, he “sat by the road begging” (v. 46). This man had learned to depend on the favor of PEOPLE to give him his daily sustenance. However, even though God wants to give you favor with other people (Luke 2:52), you must look to HIM as the main source of your favor and provision. That’s why King David wrote, “those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing” (Psalm 34:10).
You see, the Favor of God (F.O.G.) is all you really need. Everything else will follow when you seek Him and His Kingdom (Matthew 6:33). Bartimaeus started his day seeking favor from anyone passing by on the road, but then he heard that Jesus of Nazareth was coming by. Faith began to rise in the heart of this blind man, for he knew that Jesus was no ordinary man. “‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me,’” (v. 47) Bartimaeus cried out. At that point, people in the crowd told him to be quiet, but he “cried out all the more” (v. 48).
If you need a breakthrough in your life today, it begins when you recognize that Jesus is nearby and you begin to call out to Him by faith. A crucial principle here is to not let anyone talk you out of your plea to the Savior! There will always be naysayers, trying to discourage you and undermine your faith, but you need to keep crying out to Jesus for your miracle.
Something stunning happens at this point in the story: “So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be called” (v. 49). If not for the impassioned cries of Bartimaeus, Jesus would have passed right on by. But sensing faith in the voice of this blind beggar, Jesus “stood still.” If you’ve been crying out to Jesus for a turnaround in your life, I encourage you to take a moment to picture Him stopping…pausing…standing right in front of you. Yes, the Lord of all creation is taking time to stop and hear your petition, ready to meet your need!
In 2012, I traveled to Jerusalem to seek a location for a Christian Zionism Museum. Through the museum, my plan was that the accounts of Christians who played crucial roles in helping to promote, defend, support, and establish the modern State of Israel could be told, as well as the stories of those men and women who fulfilled the moral duty to rescue Jewish people from the Holocaust. I believed the museum should offer interactive displays, areas for research, and also provide a bond between those Christians who have aided Israel through the years. My vision was to have a place where their achievements could be shared with thousands of visitors yearly.
During that trip, I met the owners of a five-story edifice at 20 Yosef Rivlin Street, just a stone’s throw from the Temple Mount. As Joshua circled Jericho, I prayerfully circled the blocks around the area, seeking God’s gracious approval to purchase the property. God granted me favor with the owners, for as we negotiated the price for the building, they not only lowered the price by $2 million but also carried the note interest-free to the end of 2014.
The Friends of Zion Heritage Center is now a reality and proudly stands in the heart of Jerusalem in a prominent location overlooking Independence Park and within walking distance to the Old City. It is one more building block in the plan and purpose God has surely had for my life.
The Friends of Zion Heritage Center is ground zero for the global Jerusalem Prayer Team prayer movement. With over one billion Christian Zionists worldwide, the goal is to unite them to stand with Israel and the Jewish people.
FOZ now has a vast social network platform to mobilize Israel’s greatest friends. The organization already has more than one million members in Indonesia alone and is presently growing at the staggering rate of two million members monthly.
Today my heart is overflowing with gratitude to God, as the dream He placed in my spirit more than 30 years ago has become a reality. When the contract for the purchase of the building that houses the Friends of Zion Heritage Center was signed, I was reminded once again that every promise from God is certain and sure, no matter how long we have to wait for it.
Abraham waited for the promised birth of Isaac for some 25 years, but in God’s perfect timing, the son of promise was born. When I first met with Prime Minister Menachem Begin more than 30 years ago, and we agreed to work together to build a bridge between Christians and Jews, part of that dream was to have a permanent presence in the Holy City. Now we proudly point to this beautiful facility that ministers to the physical needs of the Jewish people and to the spiritual needs of Christians worldwide. Don’t ever give up on what God has promised and placed in your spirit!