ThanksLiving – Living A Life Of Praise

Hebrews 13:15 (Amplified Bible)

“Through Him, therefore, let us constantly and at all times offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, which is the fruit of the lips that thankfully acknowledge and confess and glorify His name.”

A simpler translation is found in the Contemporary English Version:

Hebrews 13:15 (CEV)

“Our sacrifice is to keep offering praise to God in the name of Jesus.”

As a Christian, we should always live a life of praise and thanksgiving. Being a seeker of God it is not only a privilege but also our responsibility.

Worship and praise is the purest form of prayer because it focuses our minds and souls entirely away from ourselves and on to Him. What it communicates is pure love, devotion, reverence, appreciation, and thankfulness to God. It’s exalting God for who He is. It’s communicating our longing for Him. It’s drawing close to Him for the sake of being close. When we worship God, we are the closest to him we will ever be. That’s because praise welcomes His presence in our midst.

Praise is a declaration of who God is and what He’s going to do!

Praise is something that comes from within us… “I will praise God even in the midst of the storm.”

Praise is something that comes from without us… “I don’t feel like praising God, but I will because His word commands me to and I know He is worthy.”

Praise goes beyond our emotions and feelings and walks in obedience.

Obedience shows that we love God.

John 14:21 (NKJV)

“He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”

Praise is a beautiful thing

Psalm 33:1 (NKJV)

“Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous! For praise from the upright is beautiful.”

It is a beautiful thing to see people praise God. I was a Worship Pastor for over 32 years. It thrilled me to bring people to the throne of God in praise and worship. It was a zone that I new I was created to do. Seeing people praise God fueled my spirit. When we would worship corporately, and un-abandoned, I never wanted to leave. It was a beautiful thing.

What does praise do?

-It pleases God’s heart.

-It gives God much pleasure.

-It takes our focus off of ourselves.

-It is a great weapon against the enemy.

How is praise brought forth?

  1. The Spoken word 

We declare with our words who God is in our life, even when we don’t see the answer, God has all the answers.

-Speaking out loud who God is in a given situation helps you remember and also gets it into your spirit.

-It is heard in heaven, on earth, and in hell.

-It is a Decree! “I thank you God for healing me…..”

“I praise You Lord for being the God who sees me and You see me right now in the midst of my pain and trial!”

“I give You praise, Lord, for having a plan for my life and a hope and a future!”

We have to remind our selves what God can and will do in us.

2.  Our Singing/songs

Psa 40:3  

“He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD.” 

Psa 149:1

“Hallelujah! Sing to the LORD a new song, His praise in the assembly of the godly.” 

Isa 42:10

“Sing a new song to the LORD; sing His praise from the ends of the earth, you who go down to the sea with all that fills it, you islands with your inhabitants.” 

Singing songs of praise is a release. It is a time of action towards God to lift Him high. It frees our spirit to soar higher to new heights.

3.  Our Actions – Shout, Crying out how great God is. Corporate shouts of praise does a body good! Kneeling in humility or laying prostrate before God is showing praise. Obey God’s word is action because we want to please God’s heart.

4.  Our Thoughts/heart/soul – what we think and plan in our hearts

Psa 28:7

“The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped. Therefore my heart rejoices, and I praise Him with my song.” 

Psa 103:1  

“My soul, praise the LORD, and all that is within me, praise His holy name.” 

Psa 103:22

“Praise the LORD, all His works in all the places where He rules. My soul, praise the LORD!” 

Sometimes we forget to praise God. Sometimes we forget how Good God is. Sometimes we have to remind ourselves of both.

We are the only ones who can control the battle in our minds of any negative thoughts we may have about ourselves and our situation.

David reminded himself….

Psa 42:5  (MSG)

“Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues? Fix my eyes on God– soon I’ll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He’s my God.” 

Praise and worship turns our focus to where it should be! We think about ourselves or things concerning us 24/7, surely we can live a life of praise and love on God as a lifestyle.

Praise should be such a part of our vocabulary that it spills out constantly.

I find myself constantly saying under my breath, “Thank you Jesus.” “I love you.” “Have Your way!” “You are so good.”

Praise will lift our spirits out of the mundane, out of the trial, out of depression.

ThanksLiving – Living a Life Of Praise

1. When I am troubled by Negative Thoughts and Emotions

Critical speech just cannot come out of a worshiper’s lips. Praise and critical speech

should not come from the same source. I prefer to give God praise then to criticize Him

or his creation (people or myself).

Whenever we express our love for God through praise and worship, we open up the channel through which His love flows into our heart. We invite His presence to come into our lives in a powerful way that, in the process, breaks down the strongholds of negative emotions. That is the hidden power of praising God.

Stormie Omartian

Negative emotions are never God’s will for you. Praise and worship is one of your greatest weapons against them. This is ThanksLiving.

2. When I have Anxiety, Fear, and Discouragement

We all have experienced anxiety, fear, and discouragement at some point in our lives. What do we do when we are experiencing it?

Much of our anxiety comes from “What if” thoughts.

“What if we don’t have enough money to pay the bills and eat?”

“What if I lose my job?”

“What if terrorists come and try and attack the US again?”

“What if the terrorists come to my neighborhood?”

“What if something bad happens to my children?”

“What if my husband dies, what will I do then?”

“What if my past catches up to me?”

“What if I have cancer?

“What if….

We all have our “What If’s,” the question is what will we do with those thoughts and feelings when they come? But God says to not be anxious about anything; Phil. 4:6 – 8 (Read from NKJV)

For me, I immediately start talking to God and say, “God I thank You that you are bigger then what concerns me!” “You are all powerful, all mighty, all knowing, and You are my hiding place.” “God You are in control of my life.” “I give You praise for Your eye is always upon me.” (Psalm 139) “Please give me strength to handle anything that comes my way.” “Please protect my family.” “Please shelter them from any harm.”

When God tells us to not be anxious bout anything, it’s not the same as someone telling us to “cheer up.” It’s not the same as when something terrible happens and a friend says, “Don’t worry.”

God is not just saying, “Forget about it.” He is giving us the solution. He says we should pray about everything and give praise and thanks to Him. When we do that, He promises to give us His peace that is beyond all comprehension. That means we will have peace even when it doesn’t make sense. That kind of peace will protect our heart and mind.

Praising God is the way to combat all anxiety, and it’s best to do it the moment you sense anxiety over anything. And then continue to praise God until all anxiety leaves.

Whatever your deepest fears are right now, bring every one of them to God. Thank Him that He is greater than any of them.

Fear will lie to you. It will tell you things that are not God’s truth for your life. Fear denies that God’s presence is fully active, and it cancels all hope and faith in God’s power to work in your behalf. But faith, prayer, praise, and the Word of God will conquer every fear. This is ThanksLiving.

3.  When I struggle with doubt

Complaining instead of praising is a sign that we are not grateful to God and doubt His goodness and faithfulness. It shows that we do not believe God is really who He says He is. When we complain, we indicate we don’t trust God and fear He won’t come through for us. We doubt that nothing is impossible with Him. Our lack of faith puts up a barrier between us and Him, and we cut off the avenue by which He can bless us.

Praising God in the midst of times of doubt opens up the avenue by which a fresh infusion of faith comes into our souls. This is ThanksLiving.

Complaining is the opposite of praising! Complaining is really lifting up the enemy. When we praise we lift up God. When we complain we lift up the enemy.

4.  When I don’t see answers to my prayers

When we praise God at the first sign of disappointment and loss of heart, He will open our eyes to the truth and help us see things from a perspective closer to His own.

When we worship God, we open the channel through which God works most powerfully to defeat the enemy on our behalf. We confuse the enemy and weaken him to the point he has to flee.

Even when all hope for our situation seems to be dead, praising God releases His resurrection life to flow in us. This Is ThanksLiving!

5.  When I am attacked by the enemy

Praise is one of the greatest weapons of warfare found in the Bible. We must have a revelation of the power and purpose of praise and worship. As a believer, you should be worshiping and praising with the revelation of what you are doing and understanding its value.

Praise chases the enemy away. The devil hates it when we worship the Lord. It repels him and makes him miserable. It confuses him and makes him weak. It reminds him that he used to be the worship leader in heaven (Isaiah 14) and he blew it! That’s why he will do anything to divert our attention away from worshiping and praising God.

The enemy wants to take our joy away. He wants to make us take our focus off of God and His abilities and transfer our focus onto ourselves and our inabilities. The enemy wants us to feel overwhelmed and out of control. He likes to bring confusion and strife.

All of these things come when we take our focus off of God and onto our situation.

Along with praise, God’s Word and prayer are also mighty to use in battling the enemy.

James 4:7 

“Submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”

One of the ways we submit to God is by worshiping Him.

One of the ways we resist the enemy is by proclaiming the Lord’s praises. God blesses us with His presence when we worship Him, and in His presence we are kept safe. This is ThanksLiving.

ThanksLiving is a lifestyle of gratitude.

ThanksLiving should be who we are 24/7.

ThanksLiving will propel you to your destiny and help you achieve what you were created for.

Prayer:

“Lord, I pray you would help me to live a life of ThanksLiving everyday, 24/7. I want to please Your heart and lift Your name on high with my words, thoughts, and actions. May my life of ThanksLiving draw all people to you as I know others look at me and are watching what I do. I thank You Lord for Who You are and I look to you daily for direction for every step I take in life. ~ Amen”

Blessings,

Pastor Kris Belfils

www.krisbelfils.com

www.HopeFellowshipSpokane.com

www.krisbelfils.wordpress.com

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Praise and Thanksgiving

We are celebrating 30 Days of Thanksgiving this month of November. It is a time to enjoy the blessings of God in our life and to express our praise and worship to God. It is a time of reflecting and appreciating all that God has given and done.

We should always be thankful and cultivate a thankful heart (as per last week’s message “Cultivating a Thankful Heart.”)

There is a powerful chapter in the book of Psalms that will help shed some light on our praise and thanksgiving we should offer.

Psa 100:1-5

(1)  A Psalm of praise. Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.

(2)  Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.

(3)  Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

(4)  Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

(5)  For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

These verses show how we are to enter into God’s presence. It helps us to see that we are to be joyful, glad, with singing. It helps us see that God is god and we are not. He is the one who made us. We are God’s people and the sheep of His pastures. He is our Shepherd. He is our high priest and we enter in to his presence with thanksgiving and praise. We are to bless the Lord with our words and actions. The Lord is good and we need to remind ourselves of His goodness.

We could sit on these verses and look at them individually, but I want to zero in on verse four.

Psalm 100:4

“Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise: be thankful unto Him, and bless His name.”

Enter into His gates…

We are to enter into life and our relationship with God with thanksgiving. Coming with a thankful heart and offering the sacrifice of praise to Him. It is a privilege to come and worship God. It is an honor to have God in our lives. It’s an honor to know God.

In the Old Testament people were required to come to the temple and offer sacrifices for they sins. They brought their offering to the Priests and the priests would in turn offer their sacrifice to God for the people. Thank God we do not have to do that today because Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice who willing went to the cross. That is why the veil was torn. We no longer needed a high priest to offer our sacrifice or petition to God like the priests did. Then, the priests would enter the Holy of holies on behalf of the people. Today, we can enter into God’s presence on our own because of what Christ did for us.

The word enter in the Hebrew means: “To go or come, abide, apply, or attain, be, bring, call, carry, come, depart, or employ” (Strongs Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries).

We are to come or employ ourselves into God’s presence with thanksgiving. We are to come and bow before God in worship.

Psalm 95:6

“O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.”

It is coming with a humble and thankful heart. Being thankful is the key to entering God’s presence that’s why Philippians states giving our requests to God “with thanksgiving.”

Php 4:6-7  (KJV)

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Emphasis added)

We are to magnify God with our Thanksgiving.

Psalm 69:30

“I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify Him with thanksgiving.”

Believe it or not the word “thanksgiving” is a form of worship. Thanksgiving in the original Hebrew means: “With extended hands, to revere in worship.”

Imagine every time you are thankful and expressing that to God you are actually worshipping Him! So long as we are receivers of mercy we must be givers of thanks.

Psalm 100:4

“Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise: be thankful unto Him, and bless His name.”

The word “gates” refers to an outer perimeter of something that is on the inside. Gates in the Hebrew is translated “an opening, door, gate: city, door, gate, or port.”

When Nehemiah rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem he also rebuilt the gates too (Nehemiah 3:1 – 32) Some of the gates they repaired were: The Sheep Gate, The Fish Gate, The Old Gate, The Valley Gate, The Refuse Gate, The Fountain Gate, The Water Gate, the Horse Gate, The East Gate, and the Miphkad Gate. Each one of these gates had a meaning and were important to the overall walls of Jerusalem.

Gates signify the outer edge to enter into something more personal or intimate. It allows access. You have to enter through a gate so you can be in more of an intimate setting as you walk through the courts to go into the Holy Of Holies. The same is true when you “enter into His gates with thanksgiving.”  Again, Thanksgiving is the key in entering into God’s presence.

Whether with our families, in public, or in secret we come and give God praise and thanksgiving (worship). It is an honor and privilege to do this.

This verse in Psalms 100:4 refers to public worship. We are to join joyfully in public worship to God. Gates take you from one realm to another. They are there to help and guide you into something new, or something precious.

If you read a verse about a gate being left open this is often referring to being yielded or surrendered to God. It can also mean that the gates are open to receive new converts or people into the house of God, and it shows free access in and out with no hindrances.

Isaiah 60:11

“Therefore your gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day or night, that men may bring to you the wealth of the Gentiles, and their kings in procession.”

Isaiah 60:18

“Violence shall no longer be heard in your land. Neither wasting nor destruction within your borders; But you shall call your walls salvation, and your gates praise.”

God is constantly bringing peace into our borders and because we are His children He watches over our land.

Psalm 100:4

“Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise: be thankful unto Him, and bless His name.”

“…and His courts with praise…” We are to enter God’s courts with praise. In His court is where He is. It is the beginning stages of truly going into the Holy of Holies in worship. The courts of the Lord can also be His house, or His church.

Psalm 84:2

“My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God.”

I don’t know about you but I long to be with God constantly everyday. When we give God praise and thanksgiving we are giving ourselves access through His gate to come and be with him in His courts.

Praise is a powerful weapon. Praising God can release any fear, anxiety, or insecurity we may have. There is power in Praise. Especially when we praise God in hard circumstances.

I can think of Kim, who just lost her Dad this week. I was talking to her on the phone the day her Dad went to heaven and shared; “We can praise God in this storm!” She said she thought of that song earlier that day and was doing just that.

Video:  “Praise You In This Storm

I am thankful when it is sunny and when there is a storm. Praising God in the middle of a hardship is truly a sacrifice of praise. God is worthy when things are going good and when we struggle. Praising God gets our mind off of ourselves and onto the One who can calm us down. ~ Pastor Kris Belfils

We will become what we worship. The more we worship God, the more we become like Him.

The more we worship God the more we get to know Him. If you ever wanted to know God more, give Him praise! If ever you wanted to go deeper in God, worship and adore Him and He will take you farther than you have ever dreamed.

This is where I am right now. This is what I’m experiencing. I want more of Him so I worship Him. I am captivated by His presence. I just want to stay there. As I do, God imparts new revelations of Himself to me.

Every time we praise God for who He is and all that He has done, it unleashes His life-changing power in our lives.

Lets meditate on Psalm 100 during this Thanksgiving season and all year through.

Psa 100:1-5

(1)  A Psalm of praise. Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.

(2)  Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.

(3)  Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

(4)  Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

(5)  For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

God is the strength of our life and He is worthy of our praise and thanksgiving!

Your sister in Christ,

Pastor Kris Belfils

www.krisbelfils.com

www.krisbelfils.wordpress.com

www.hopefellowshipspokane.com

Cultivating A Thankful Heart

Eph. 5:20 

“Always give thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Read Luke 17:11 – 19

Leprosy is a physically debilitating disease. You lose limbs and it deforms your body. Faces are unrecognizable. Often you lose fingers, hands, arms, and legs. It can affect your nerves and respiratory system too. Without proper treatment you will die from it. It is highly contagious and is easily transferred. That is why in the Bible, all lepers were ordered to stay outside the city to keep the rest of the population safe.

People were outcasts if they had leprosy. No interaction with their families or friends. The colony of lepers were their only social interaction.

How many of those ex-lepers do you think felt glad to be free from leprosy as they walked away from Jesus, completely healed of their incurable, disgusting, socially isolating disease? There’s no question about it—all ten did. But how many came back, threw themselves at Jesus’ feet, and thanked him, and was made whole by their gratitude?

Just one.

They all received the outward cure; only one received a spiritual blessing:  wholeness (verse 19).

Luke 17:19

“And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.”

Just like the lepers we can receive a healing too, yet the one leper knew what it was like to be made whole.

The nine thought they were whole. At least they were not suffering like they use to. Their skin healed up, and I believe their deformities from the leprosy were also healed. Yet, the nine had no idea what it really was like to be totally and completely whole.

How can one be completely whole without the Master’s touch? We cannot. We cannot be whole on our own; we need a Savior to make us whole.

The one who came back to thank Jesus was thankful, humble, and broken all at the same time. He shouted praises to Jesus and fell on his face at Jesus’ feet. This was brokenness in action.

Leprosy is progressive, causing permanent damage to the skin, nerves, limbs and eyes.

Ten lepers were healed of leprosy, but only one was healed of spiritual leprosy. Why didn’t the others go back and show their thankfulness?

Was it because of…

►Pride?

►Self-centeredness?

Were they too self-centered wanting to go back to their families, their jobs, and their lives? How quickly they forgot the hardship they endured before their healing.

How simple it would have been to go and thank Jesus, the One who healed them of their disease and deformities.

Why did the one go back and thank Jesus?

►He was truly thankful and wanted to show his gratefulness.

►He recognized who Jesus was and he couldn’t help but show it outwardly

Do you think he knew he would be healed from his spiritual leprosy just by saying and showing his thankfulness? No, but what an awesome benefit for a thankful heart.

Cultivating a thankful heart is imperative to our spiritual life.

Another example is the woman who touched the hem of Jesus’ garment.

Mark 5:25 – 34

“And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years, And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse, When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment. For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole. And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague. And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes? And his disciples said unto him, Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me? And he looked round about to see her that had done this thing. But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth. And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.” 

She was an outcast by this time, as women, who were on their monthly, were sent out of the city for the week because they were considered “unclean.” She constantly bled. She constantly was unclean. She was an outcast, and I am sure was scorned by society. How do you think she felt? I believe she felt insecure. She felt she had no value or future. All her hope was gone. Yet she pressed in, through the crowd, and touched someone. This act alone was forbidden by anyone who was bleeding. She didn’t care. She went against society and the law to receive her healing. The woman was broken and fell at Jesus’ feet.

She also received an extra blessing of being made whole. I believe this was not only a physical healing, but an emotional and spiritual healing as well.

In these two examples, neither of them knew they needed to be spiritually whole; they just had a need to go to Jesus. Jesus is the only One who can make us whole. When He touches us we are healed. This alone should bring thankfulness out of your heart.

Cultivate a thankful heart

There are several steps in cultivating a thankful heart. Before we look at those steps, lets look at the word: “Cultivate” for a minute.

The word “cultivate” from the Dictionary means:

1. Prepare and use (land) for crops or gardening.

• break up (soil) in preparation for sowing or planting.

• raise or grow (plants), esp. on a large scale for commercial purposes.

• Biology grow or maintain (living cells or tissue) in culture.

2. Try to acquire or develop (a quality, sentiment, or skill): he cultivated an air of indifference.

• try to win the friendship or favor of (someone): it helps if you go out of your way to cultivate the local people.

•apply oneself to improving or developing (one’s mind or manners).

World English Dictionary

  1. To till and prepare (land or soil) for the growth of crops
  2. To plant, tend, harvest, or improve (plants) by labour and skill
  3. To break up (land or soil) with a cultivator or hoe
  4. To improve or foster (the mind, body, etc) as by study, education, or labour
  5. To give special attention to: to cultivate a friendship ; to cultivate a hobby
  6. To give or bring culture to (a person, society, etc); civilize

This shows us that we need to be constantly tilling and working our hearts to grow thankfulness. It doesn’t come naturally. We really are born selfish. We have to teach ourselves to share and be nice to others. To cultivate a thankful heart takes work, yet it should spring from deep within when it comes to being thankful for all God has done in our lives.

Steps to cultivate a thankful heart:

1. We have to focus on the good and not the bad. 

Far too often we humans only see the bad in our life. We have to open our eyes to the bigger picture. God has blessed us with many blessings. Even for the fact of you breathing is enough to be thankful for. Still there’s more! Take a look in your life. Refuse to look at all the bad. Take inventory of all the blessings and good. I know you can do this. Remind yourself of all the good: Family, home, food, vehicle, health, relationships, freedom, and so much more are reasons to be thankful.

Romans 1:21 (GW)

“They knew God but did not praise and thank him for being God. Instead, their thoughts were pointless, and their misguided minds were plunged into darkness.” 

We have to praise and thank God for being who He is. It keeps our focus on the good and not the bad. This verse expresses that they didn’t praise and thank God but that their thoughts were pointless, misguided and plunged into darkness.

There is much good in your life if you would just choose to see it!

2.  We have to learn to praise God in the middle of the storm!

It is easy to be thankful when all is well in your world. Praise comes easily when you are on a spiritual high. It is when we walk in the middle of a storm, or a valley that our true character comes out.

Being thankful to God even when things are not so good shows a sign of maturity. We as adults know life has its ups and downs. We also know seasons change. Learn to be thankful in the winter as well as the summer season of your life.

Ecc. 3:1 (NKJV)

“To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.”

Being thankful is not denying the circumstance, it is trusting God in the middle of the battle knowing He is with you and is always victorious!

~ Pastor Kris Belfils

3.  We have to look for ways to help or bless others.

Getting our focus off of ourselves and onto others is one of the best ways I have found to help me to be thankful. We can get so self-absorbed we can’t even see our neighbor is hurting. Helping others forces us to look away from ourselves. It immediately shows us we don’t have it so bad, as others may have a harder struggle then we do.

Being self-absorbed shows immaturity. We are not being like Jesus, who gave His very life for us. What if Jesus was self-absorbed, where would we be right now? Lost!

1 Peter 3:8  (GW)

“Finally, everyone must live in harmony, be sympathetic, love each other, have compassion, and be humble.”

John 13:34  (GNB)

“And now I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” 

4.  We have to open our hearts to receive from God.

When was the last time you allowed yourself to receive something from God? Why do we toil and struggle to figure things out on our own? Maybe it is because we feel we are not worthy? Maybe its human reasoning? Maybe it is pride?

John 3:16 (Amplified)

“For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life.”

It takes faith to receive this verse as truth! If you receive this verse, you have to receive the entire Bible and all that it says about you. God loves you with an everlasting love. You are deeply cherished.

Jer 31:3  

The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” 

Knowing we are deeply loved brings thankfulness. 24/7, 365 days a year is how much you are cherished and loved. God chose to create you! He chose to breath life into you! You are His favorite. Makes me giggle inside to think about that! It brings a sense of belonging and purpose. It brings a heart of thankfulness.

5.  We have to cultivate a thankful heart! 

There is always something in your life to be thankful for. Choose to focus on the good. Choose to praise and thank God even when the storms come.

Helping people and being compassionate is being like Jesus, and opening our hearts to receive from God daily will help us to grow in Christ and spread His love to others.

Being thankful is the only way to live. God has done so much for each of us. Let’s quickly give Him the thanks and praise He deserves.

Pastor Kris Belfils

www.krisbelfils.com

www.hopefellowshipspokane.com

Self-Inflicted Imprisonment

Isaiah 61:1 (Amplified Bible)

“THE SPIRIT of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed and qualified me to preach the Gospel of good tidings to the meek, the poor, and afflicted; He has sent me to  – bind up and heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the [physical and spiritual] captives and the opening of the prison and of the eyes to those who are bound…”

“…to proclaim liberty to the [physical and spiritual] captives and the opening of the prison and of the eyes to those who are bound…” Christ came to set us all free, not only from eternal death, but also from spiritual and emotional imprisonment too.

Lately, I have come across people who are captives. They are bound in self-inflicted prisons. What do I mean by that? Let me give you some examples;

A woman comes to church and feels like she is invisible and no one talks to her. She feels like she is not valuable and that no one even cares if she lives or dies. In reality, she isolates herself from others emotionally and this creates a bubble around her. She comes to church with a chip on her shoulders thinking that people don’t care or that no one likes her. She doesn’t talk to people and just sits alone with her thoughts. It puts a barrier between people and her. People come up to her to say, “Hi” and ask, “How are you doing?” but she turns her head and looks away and replies, “I am fine.” They try to continue the conversation but she doesn’t respond. In her mind, the way that she is thinking, is truth. But she believes a lie. Her very own words to herself put her in a prison and she doesn’t even know it. The crazy thing is that her prison door is not locked, it is always open. She could walk out of this prison at any time if she would just look up and see there is way out.

A man comes to church and is on the Worship Team. There are younger people on the adult team. The Worship Leader allows youth on the team to help them learn and grow. Some of the youth have pride in their hearts. They feel they are well capable of being on the team and could even lead the worship if given the chance. But the man only sees the pride the youth have in their hearts. He gets angry and decides to leave the church service after the Worship Team finishes the praise and worship during the Sunday service. He is tormented by his own anger over the youth’s prideful heart. His anger, and lack of mercy and grace for others, cause him to miss out on a sermon about the very thing he was struggling with… anger.

Stories like these happen over and over again in our world. We can see things the wrong way or think people are thinking bad thoughts about us and this stifles or handicaps our relationships. We can’t afford to allow people to be our handicap. The truth is we could be set free from this captivity.

Steps to be set free from ourselves

There is hope to be set free from our captivity. We have to understand that the enemy is working overtime to defeat us. He never gives up. He will try anything and everything to bring us down and to take us out. We have to be wise to his schemes.

1. Remind yourself of who you are in Christ.

In the case of the woman thinking no one liked her, she forgot who she was in Christ. She was looking to people for acceptance and yet rejecting the very thing she was craving by pushing people away with her isolation bubble.

We can’t rely on people to make us feel accepted. People will come and go. They will disappoint us and let us down. The only one who will never reject us is Christ. He has His eye on you and loves you unconditionally. You never have to “perform” to win His love. You just have to be yourself; faults and all.

1 John 4:9 – 10 (Amplified Bible)

“In this the love of God was made manifest (displayed) where we are concerned: in that God sent His Son, the only begotten or unique [Son], into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation (the atoning sacrifice) for our sins.”

We are deeply loved by God. There is nothing we have done or nothing we will do that will stop His love for us. Also, we are fresh and new. Your past is gone.

2 Corinthians 4:17 (Amplified Bible)

“Therefore if any person is [ingrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come!” 

Not only are we deeply loved and our past is forgiven and gone, but we are dearly prized and valuable.

John 3:16 (Amplified Bible)

“For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life.”

We are loved and dearly prized, each one of us. God loved us so much that He gave His only Son to us. This is a gift from God. Jesus was given to us even before we were born, so that ultimately, if we believe in Christ, we will not perish, but be with God forever. This is love. This is God’s love for you!

We need to remind ourselves of these awesome facts.

2. Don’t listen to lies.

So many times people have come to me and share how they “think” about a given situation only to find out what they were thinking was not true. We have to recognize a lie in our mind. Anything that is contrary to the Word of God and what it says about us is a lie.

Thoughts will come into your mind that are contrary to what the Bible states, but cast down those imaginations and stand on God’s Word of who you are.

2 Corinthians 10:5 (KJV)

“Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;”

I struggle with this from time to time too. We are human. It is natural to listen to your own thoughts. But we have to recognize a truth from a lie.

You can speak lies to yourself

 We can tell ourselves the worst will happen and inevitably it will because of our negative attitude. We can lie to ourselves about how good we are and how bad our neighbor is. We can listen to ourselves instead of God’s Word and make bad choices for our lives. We can sabotage our future.

Jeremiah 17:9 (Amplified Bible)

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly perverse and corrupt and severely, mortally sick! Who can know it [perceive, understand, be acquainted with his own heart and mind]?”

Mark 7:21 – 23 (Amplified Bible)

“For from within, [that is] out of the hearts of men, come base and wicked thoughts, sexual immorality, stealing, murder, adultery, coveting (a greedy desire to have more wealth), dangerous and destructive wickedness, deceit; unrestrained (indecent) conduct; and evil eye (envy), slander (evil speaking, malicious misrepresentation, abusiveness), pride (the sin of an uplifted heart against God and man), foolishness (folly, lack of sense, recklessness, thoughtlessness). All these evil [purposes and desires] come from within, and they make the man unclean and render him unhallowed.”

Ephesians 4:22 – 25 (Amplified Bible)

“Strip yourselves of your former nature [put off and discard your old un-renewed self] which characterized your previous manner of life and becomes corrupt through lusts and desires that spring from delusion; And be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude], And put on the new nature (the regenerate self) created in God’s image, [Godlike] in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, rejecting all falsity and being done now with it, let everyone express the truth with his neighbor, for we are all parts of one body and members one of another.”

“…rejecting all falsity and being done now with it,” is what we have to do when we recognize a lie we believe about our self. If it does not line up with what the word of God says you are, reject it immediately, even when you’ve been in the habit of saying it to yourself over and over again. The only one who can stop lying to you about yourself is you!

It’s hard to know the difference between a lie about yourself and something that’s possibly true, that you can change. Yet, there’s a harshness the Devil uses that is usually direct and painful. Thoughts that bring doom and gloom, that bring no hope, are the key to knowing a lie.

When negative thoughts come into your mind, if you dwell on them for any length of time, they begin to take root in your heart. They start becoming your paradigm, or how you look at life. This is when it becomes unhealthy. As you dwell on how bad you are, you’ll begin to believe it and start to act or react out of that unhealthy outlook.

Be careful what you say out loud, or even to yourself. It is easy to say things you regret, or speak out negative words. Remember our words have power and listening to the lies you tell yourself will bring death. Choose life with your words and thoughts.

Why do we feel the way we feel? Perhaps it is because we talk the way we talk!

Proverbs 18:6 – 7 (CEV)

“Foolish talk will get you into a lot of trouble. Saying foolish things is like setting a trap to destroy yourself.”

The enemy will speak lies to you

Satan wants to destroy us all. What better way than to use ourselves against us? He will speak lies to you about yourself to get you to self-destruct. He will make you think thoughts that will self-inflict imprisonment upon you. He will speak lies to you about your future. He will speak lies about anything and everything concerning us. Here are a few verses that show his character.

John 8:44 (Amplified Bible)

“…he (the Devil) was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a falsehood, he speaks what is natural to him, for he is a liar [himself] and the father of lies and of all that is false.”

“…of all that is false.” That’s the Devil’s character. He constantly tells us falsehoods about ourselves. If we are not careful, we will listen to those lies and act upon them. The enemy will fill your mind with feelings of worthlessness about yourself to destroy you. He’ll fill your mind with negative thoughts about you, your family and friends, and everything else you come in contact with. Thoughts like, “No one cares about me!” “I am invisible.” Or, as in the case of the man with anger issues, the Devil will fill your mind with thoughts like, “How stupid to stay here on the Worship Team with someone on it who is prideful?” (That statement in itself is pride). “I might as well quit the team and the church as no one sees it but me.” “Everyone else comes and goes as they wish so why can’t I?”

Please, if this is you, STOP listening to false information. It’s not true. God has a hope and a future for you. Have some mercy and grace for yourself and for others. No one is perfect. No one, not even you!

3. Understand Who God is in your life!

Now that we have looked at how to get out of the self-inflicted prison, I encourage you to take the first step and stop looking at yourself and what you can or can’t do and start looking at God and what He can do and who He is in your life.

El Shaddai (Lord God Almighty)

El Elyon (The Most High God)

Adonai (Lord, Master)

Yahweh (Lord, Jehovah)

Jehovah Nissi (The Lord My Banner)

Jehovah-Raah (The Lord My Shepherd)

Jehovah Rapha (The Lord That Heals)

Jehovah Shammah (The Lord Is There)

Jehovah Tsidkenu (The Lord Our Righteousness)

Jehovah Mekoddishkem (The Lord Who Sanctifies You)

El Olam (The Everlasting God)

Elohim (God)

Qanna (Jealous)

Jehovah Jireh (The Lord Will Provide)

Jehovah Shalom (The Lord Is Peace)

Jehovah Sabaoth (The Lord of Hosts)

We sing worship songs about the character of God; “All together lovely,” “Strong Tower,” “Jesus, Lover of my soul,” “Blessed be Your name.” But do we really listen to what we are singing? Do we allow those words to sink in and know who God is? Do we believe what we sing?

Take the time to spend some alone time with God. this is how you get to know Him intimately. Listen to His heart beat. Fall in love with Him. Realize you are never alone and that your King is always with you. Run into His arms when you feel lonely or invisible. Tell Him how you are feeling when you become angry. Anger is not a sin, it is what we do with that anger that can become a sin. Commit your life daily to please the Lord in your thoughts and actions. Look beyond yourself and minister to others in spite of their weaknesses. And above all, have the strength and courage to walk out of your prison once and for all! Don’t be a victim of “Self-Inflicted imprisonment any longer!

Blessings,

Pastor Kris Belfils

www.krisbelfils.com

www.krisbelfils.wordpress.com

www.hopefellowshipspokane.com

Revival Of Our Future

The title of this message seems to be almost an impossible statement. How can we revive something that has not happened yet? The truth is what we do today affects our future. How you handle your life today; emotions, actions, relationships, your attitudes and reactions, will flow into your tomorrow.

If you keep carrying dead thoughts of your life or how you perceive yourself, you will be carrying those images into your future. It will become who you are. I want to plant good seeds now so that in the future I will be harvesting a good crop.

Imagine carrying a dead corpse everywhere you go. Remember dead corpse smell terrible and attract flies and other kinds of insects. This is what happens when we carry our dead thoughts into our future. People see and smell our stench, and like insects invading a dead carcass, the enemy suffocates us with his lies and schemes and it brings even more decay and decomposing. We will end up settling for so much less then why we were created. God has a destiny for your life. Don’t allow your past or present mistakes to infest your future.

Not only can people see and smell our stench, but we are carrying something that will never benefit us. Dead things have no life. There is no advantage of bringing your past into your future. The past is just that; past! It is past away and you will never be able to relive that moment again. If you are constantly thinking about your past it would be like sitting on the ground right next to a dead body. It doesn’t speak to you. It doesn’t help you. It just reminds you of your fatal mistakes.

Don’t misunderstand me, we can learn from our past, just like we can learn from an autopsy of a dead body, but once we learn from it, discard the body and burry it once and for all. Trying to take something dead into our future will only bring frustration and magnify the lifeless carcass.

Psalm 42:2 (NLT)

“I thirst for God, for the living God.”

This verse expresses David’s thirst for God. He was young and strong, yet he knew only God could satisfy him. He had spent time in God’s presence playing his harp and tending sheep (the normal things of life for him). Spiritual thirst is as natural as physical thirst.

There are churches today that want revival but the people in the church seem to think that revival will suddenly appear and affect them. This is not how revival works. Revival happens by us doing our part. We have to eagerly pursue God. We need to develop a hunger for God on a daily basis.  We have to be thirsty for the living God. The Bible says that if we are thirsty we should come buy and eat. What it costs us is our action and our will. What it cost is giving up our control and allowing God to have His way.

Isaiah 55:1 – 3 (Amplified Bible)

“WAIT and listen, everyone who is thirsty! Come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Yes, come, buy [priceless, spiritual] wine and milk without money and without price [simply for the self-surrender that accepts the blessing]. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your earnings for what does not satisfy? [] Hearken diligently to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness [the profuseness of spiritual joy]. Incline your ear [submit and consent to the divine will] and come to Me; hear, and your soul will revive; and I will make an everlasting covenant or league with you, even the sure mercy (kindness, goodwill, and compassion) promised to David.”

I was traveling in 1993 and 1994 to churches all over the Pacific Northwest area of the United States ministering in Churches. Everywhere I went I saw this complacency and lack of thirst. It broke my heart. I felt I was experiencing just a touch of what God was feeling. I wrote a song that I ministered to the churches during that time and the words were taken directly from Isaiah 55:1 – 3. The very first time I sang that song a young man came to the alter while I was singing it. He wept and wept at the alter. He longed to receive the Living Water from God and he also ached to see others drink as well. The song is called; “Come Buy and drink!”

John 7:37 (NIV)

“Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.”

“… let him come to me and drink.” This takes action on our part. Again, revival doesn’t come to you, you go after revival!

Are you dehydrated in your heart, spirit, or emotions? 

It is time you get wet. It is time you dive into the Living Water and drink of God’s goodness and soak in His presence. God’s Living Water will not only take care of any dehydration as you drink it, but as you allow God to saturate your entire being you will be a “living well” yourself.

Others will smell, see, and taste this Living Water from you as Living Water never sits still. Living Water is just that…living! This water can’t help but affect those around you. They are watching your life and seeing your joy and passion and they will want to hang around you. They might not know why, yet they have a desire to talk to you and overall want to spend time with you. These are the affects of your time spent drinking and soaking in the Living Water!

We need to get rid of our dignity. 

It can prevent us from letting go of ourselves to experience something new in God. Who cares what people think of you. We should care more about what God thinks. He sees what truly is in our hearts and what we are thinking. We can’t hide anything from God. Why even try?

Our dignity can prevent us from experiencing more of God and it can prevent revival from coming in the future.

Do you have walls up that are preventing you from experiencing a revival in your heart? We need to see our humanity and His divinity and realize we are lost without Him. We need to get desperate for Him. Who are we to think we can survive without God in our lives, or maintain our life without giving God everything? This is a lie!

Are you tired of how your life is going today? What do you plan to do about it? What you change in your life today will benefit your future. Many people think their life will change by the Government, or by some rich uncle passing away and leaving them a load of money. When will they realize they are just wasting their life away? If you want change to happen in your life, if you want revival to come, do something about it! The first thing and the best thing we can do is pray for God to help bring change. Ask Him what your part is in changing your life. Don’t think you are too old or too young for change to come. Be determined to take the land that is rightfully yours. Caleb, at the age of 85 years old demanded, “Give me my mountain” (Joshua 14:12). That hill country was promised as an inheritance by God because Caleb “wholly followed the LORD God of Israel” (Joshua 14:14b).

Let’s follow hard after God!

Psalm 63:1-8 (KJV)

“ O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary. Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee. Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name. My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips: When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches. Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice. My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me.” 

This is a Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah. He learned while in the wilderness how to follow hard after God by thirsting for water, it brought true meaning to thirsting after God.

God will always quench our thirst when we thirst and follow hard after Him. In these verses we can see that David learned how to worship God in the middle of a trial. He knew Who his source was. He remembered when he was laying in his bed who his help was. He praised God and meditated on Him “…When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches.” The word; watches” (ashmûrâh)  is translated; “watch, a period of time,” and the primitive root (shâmar) means; “properly to hedge about (as with thorns), that is, guard; generally to protect, attend to, beware, be circumspect, take heed, keep, mark, look narrowly, observe, preserve, regard, reserve, save, sure, wait, watch.”

In Bible times there were four watches (Matthew 14:25, Luke 12:38). David could be referring to the watches in the temple, or he could be referring to the watches at night with the guards which guarded his palace. At this point, he no longer was in the palace but the wilderness. I am sure he is remembering being with the congregation and in the sanctuary praising God. He is remembering on his bed, which could have been a rock for his pillow and dirt for his bedding, yet he is meditating on God and his goodness. David didn’t wait for a revival to come to him. No! He birthed it from his heart as he realized meditating on God, and the things of God, is better than meditating on himself and wallowing in self-pity.  Remember he was running for his life from king Saul. He feared for his life. If David complained we sure would understand, yet this man of God decided to keep his focus on God, even in the night watches. Albert Barnes expresses this thought well in his notes on this verse:

“That is, when I lie down at night; when I compose myself to sleep. Nothing can be more proper than that our last thoughts, as we sink into quiet slumber, should be of God; of his being, his character, his mercy, his loving-kindness; of the dealings of his providence, and the manifestations of his grace toward us, during the day; and nothing is better suited to compose the mind to rest, and to induce quiet and gentle slumber, than the calmness of soul which arises from the idea of an Infinite God, and from confidence in him. Often when restless on our beds – when nothing else will lull the body to rest, the thought of God – the contemplation of his greatness, his mercy, and his love – the sweet sense of an assurance of his favor will soothe us, and cause us to sink into gentle repose. So it may be – so it will be – when we are about to sleep the long sleep of death, for then the most appropriate thoughts – the thoughts that will best prepare us for that long sleep – will be thoughts of God.”

“My soul followeth hard after thee…” (Psalm 63:8) is a revival statement! It implies action. I like how the Amplified Bible states this verse:

Psalm 63:8 (Amplified Bible)

“My whole being follows hard after You and clings closely to You; Your right hand upholds me.”

The word “hard” is translated dâbaq, which means: “properly to impinge, that is, cling or adhere; to catch by pursuit: abide, fast, cleave (fast together), follow close, be joined, keep, overtake, pursue hard, stick, take.”

All these are action words. We need to cling, pursue hard, adhere to and catch God. It is like two pieces of wood being glued together, inseparable! This is revival! It is not settling for the same thing over and over again. It is pressing in to touch God and not caring what the crowd will think (Luke 8:43 – 48).

Your future is bright. You can experience revival if you would start following hard after God today! Don’t let anything get in your way.

Love people into revival

Watching Jesus and his actions will show us how we are to respond to people. He loved them. He showed love when He healed the sick and raised the dead. He showed love when he wept when Lazarus was dead and raised him back to life. He moved with compassion to forgive the woman caught in adultery. He even loved the Roman soldiers who crucified Him with his statement, “Forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

It was part of His character and makeup. People were drawn to this love.

I believe with all my heart that if we love people walls will come down and revival will come. I have seen this in action where ever I travel and minister. I go in and love on the people, treating them like my true brother or sister that they are. This automatically brings down any walls or preconceived ideas they may have. They see that I am real and a “safe” person to be around. No one will let down their guard if they think you don’t care about them. Love conquers all.

Have you ever experienced the love of God to the point you felt free to be yourself, free to love others with the love He has given you? Within ourselves we do not and cannot love others unconditionally. God’s love is indescribable and yet all powerful. What do you do with a love like this? You fall in love with Him even more. In doing so you will change your character. You will begin to exude God’s love to others.

Revival of our future starts today! Don’t put off tomorrow what you can do today. Let go of any dead corpse you are carrying from your past and reach for the new God has for you to revive your future. Your future awaits for a new beginning.

From one revivalist to another,

Pastor Kris Belfils

www.krisbelfils.com

www.hopefellowshipspokane.com