Why Shepherds?

Why ShepherdsToday we are looking at the last visitation of an angel in the birth of Jesus. Angels are messengers from God. They are like a mail delivery system for the Lord. Their assignments are very important.

Looking at the birth of Jesus, God sent an angel to Zechariah and Elizabeth, who were past the child bearing years, to announce that they would have a son and to call him John (Luke 1:5 – 25). It was an unexpected gift from God. John would be the forerunner who would prepare the way of Jesus, the Son of God. God sent an angel to deliver the message to Mary that she was highly favored among women and that she would be overshadowed by the Holy Spirit and conceive a Son and they were to call him, Jesus (Luke 1:26 – 56). She pondered all that the angel said and all the events surrounding her Son in her heart. Joseph, Mary’s soon to be husband, also was visited by an Angel in a dream telling Him to keep Mary as his wife and to take her home with him. The messenger shared that Mary would be with child and to call His name Jesus who will save His people from their sin (Matthew 1:18 – 25).

Now let’s look at the last angel visitation in our series, “Touched By An Angel,” where the Angel visited the Shepherds announcing the birth of Jesus Christ.

Read Luke 2:8 – 20

Why Shepherds?

Why were shepherds chosen as the first on earth to hear the strange glorious news of the birth of the Savior of the world?

1. To show that God cares for the overlooked or forgotten.

Shepherds in the Bible times, and even today, are considered the poor or of the lower class of society. They often lived out in the open field maybe in tents. They didn’t bathe very often and I am sure they smelled.

In the Pulpit Commentaries it states about the shepherds, “among the Jews at that period shepherds were held in low estimation among the people. In the Talmud, which is the Jewish civil and ceremonial law (treatise ‘Sanhedrin’) we read they were not to be allowed in the courts as witnesses. In the treatise ‘Avodah-Zarah’ no help must be given to the heathen or to shepherds. The Mishna (Talmud) tells us that the sheep intended for the daily sacrifices in the temple were fed in the Bethlehem pastures.”

This tells us that for sure the shepherds were the overlooked and forgotten. They were not even considered a citizen and probably didn’t have much of an education if any, and yet an angel came and shared the good news to these lowly people. They were extremely important in God’s eyes. They represented the humble and the meek. God uses all kinds of people and in all classes of society. He loves everyone the same. No one is more important to God then another.

1 Corinthians 1:26-28 Amplified Bible

“For [ simply] consider your own call, brethren; not many [of you were considered to be] wise according to human estimates and standards, not many influential and powerful, not many of high and noble birth. [No] for God selected (deliberately chose) what in the world is foolish to put the wise to shame, and what the world calls weak to put the strong to shame. And God also selected (deliberately chose) what in the world is lowborn and insignificant and branded and treated with contempt, even the things that are nothing, that He might depose (remove) and bring to nothing the things that are.”

I believe God does this to get rid of pride and to keep us humble. The shepherds were not wise by human standards, not powerful, and not born into a privileged position in life. God deliberately chooses those people who, in the world’s standards, don’t have much going for them so that He can raise them up for His glory.

I looked up the word “shepherds” in the Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Definitions and it literally means; “shepherd, or pastor.” It made me look at my own life and what God has called me to do. He has called me to tend His sheep. I can see how shepherds and pastors are so similar. One major thing they have in common is that they are both overlooked and often rejected. There are times when I share God’s word and people choose to listen and respond and often they don’t. Sometimes people treat Pastors like they do their Doctors. They think they know better and do their own thing in stead of listening to and heeding their advise.

In today’s society being a pastor is not considered a job of esteem, especially when their have been many scandals and abuse in churches. But the bottom line is that pastors and shepherds all do the same thing; they tend for, protect, and feed the sheep.

God cared for the shepherds, the forgotten and overlooked, the lowest of humanity, and revealed His master plan of saving the world to them. I love it.

2.  To show all are important in the presence of God.

Having the angel appear to the shepherds gives hope that salvation is not only for a chosen group of people, caste, class or a nation, but for everyone. We all need a savior. God sent His only Son to the World, not just to a select group in society.

Divine revelation was given to the lowly shepherds. God chose to share the great news with the shepherds and even gave them directions in how to get there. The wise men saw the star and went to inquire about it. But no angels were sent to them. In fact it was probably at least two years later when the wise men came upon Jesus to give Him gifts of respect.

This is interesting because the wise were seekers and the lowly were chosen. I have to commend the wise men because they didn’t give up. In seeking the Messiah their actions shouted, “All my wisdom is not enough, I need a savior. Their pride, if any, was gone. The wise were humbled and the lowly were exalted. This is God’s Kingdom economy which baffles the world’s knowledge.

God doesn’t determine potential for service by human standards. If humans were in charge of announcing the Birth of Christ I am sure they wouldn’t start with the lowly. They would begin with the important groups first. Presidents, Kings and the media would be told first. If the lowly heard about it they would probably have to find out on their own. But coming to the shepherds first indicates honor.

3. To show that God chooses any one who responds in faith.

Herod responded in anger. He wanted Jesus killed. He was paranoid and worried that the Jews would revolt now that their Messiah was born. This is the opposite of how the shepherds responded. They responded in faith. They were eager to go and see this great event. I love their eagerness.

Luke 2:15 NKJV

“So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.”

They were visited by not just one angel, but a choir of angels praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:14 NKJV) Who can stand still after seeing and participating in that? Their faith was high! Listening to the revelation from the angels of who God is allowed their faith to arise in their hearts.

Luke 2:16 tells us that the shepherds came in haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. They had an assignment and immediately wanted to fulfill it; To go and see what the angels told them. This is obedience in action. How would you respond to angels coming to you and singing the praises of God and letting you know the Savior of the world was born? Would you “go and see?” or would you stand back in disbelief? Let us be people who are quick to walk in faith and not by sight and follow the direction of the Lord’s leading.

4.  To show God identifies with the meek and the lowly.

Jesus said:

Matthew 11:28 – 30 NKJV

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Jesus identifies with those who are gentle and lowly in heart. Often it is the gentle and lowly in heart who get abused and misunderstood. Jesus knows all too well  of being abused and misunderstood. When He was in front of Pilot, before His crucifixion, He spoke no word in His defense. He had every right to tell Pilot that He was falsely accused and that the religious rulers were just power hungry. Yet, Jesus spoke not a word.

Jesus identifies with the unlearned and uneducated in the estimate of the world as we read in 1 Corinthians 1:26 – 28.  You see if God were revealed in the wisdom of man, only wise men could know Him. If God were revealed in the strength of man, only strong men could know Him. If God were revealed in the accomplishments of man, only the proud could know Him. If God were revealed in the wealth of man, only the rich could know Him.

God chooses to reveal Himself in those who are despised in the world so that when the miracle of salvation is found in them, God alone receives the glory.

God identifies with the meek, the lowly, the humble. Self-sufficiency pushes us away from God when we rely on our own abilities and not cry out to Him. Pride separates us from God. It puts up a wall that God will not cross. He will give us many chances to change our heart but most often, because pride comes before a fall (Proverbs 16:18), we fall into a mess we have made and then blame it on God when in reality we did it all.

1 Peter 5:5 NKJV

“Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

How many of you need God’s grace today? Yes, we all do. Be aware of any pride in your life and be quick to get rid of it before it causes destruction. Do anything to protect your relationship with God.

5. It shows that God revealed Himself as the lowliest of humanity.

Luke 2:12 NKJV

“And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

The Shepherds understood a manger for animals. It is was in contrast to what the angel just stated about Him, “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11) The Messiah had finally come but in a feeding trough for animals? If the angel didn’t describe the Messiah coming this way, in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger, the Shepherds might not have found Him and they very well could have thought “This can’t be the Savior of the world in such a lowly place in humanity.”

Think about it; Jesus was born in a place reserved for animals. Perhaps this was fitting for the One who was the Lamb of God. An animal stall, smelling of old hay and manure, was a fitting picture of the world into which God had entered. Jesus came down to earth from His high place in heaven. What a difference in atmosphere, position, and comfort.

Jesus was born in the depths of poverty. He was born in poverty so that He could reach those who were poor in spirit. He was born in poverty so the poor would know they were welcome. He was born in poverty to show that salvation was not a privilege reserved only for the fortunate few. He was born in poverty to show that salvation could not be purchased at any price. It puts a simplicity to it all. No money can buy salvation. Nor can works purchase this precious gift.

Now we can see why Jesus came in such a low estate. No achievement on our part can bring salvation to our hearts, only believing in Jesus, and what He ultimately did on the cross, is the way of salvation. He came the first time in poverty, but He will come again as King of Kings.

Why shepherds? Being One with infinite knowledge, I am sure that God had many reasons why He revealed Himself to shepherds. In my opinion, His primary purpose was to convey the message that the gospel is open to anyone who is willing to believe.

Do you fit the profile of a Shepherd? Or do you feel even worse. Maybe you feel you are a worm, worthless, looked down by the society, and insignificant? Rejoice, for Jesus came to this world to save people like you and I.

God’s love doesn’t know any class, race, position or title. It freely reaches to everyone who believes. You must decide whether you want to accept this love or not.

The wise men brought expensive gifts when they visited Jesus. The Shepherds had nothing but their faith. There is only one thing you can give unto Jesus in exchange for His love and acceptance: simply believe that only He can save you and invite Him in to your life!

Let this Christmas change your life forever like it did for the shepherds that day. Be eager and make haste in your heart to “go and see” this wonderful Savior and receive Him in your heart as Lord and savior. Then, as the shepherds did that wonderful day, go and tell others of all the wonderful things He has done in your life!

From one shepherd to another,

Pastor Kris Belfils

www.KrisBelfils.com

www.HopeFellowshipSpokane.com

www.KrisBelfils.WordPress.com

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Joseph’s Courage

Joseph's CourageWe are in the middle of the series, “Touched By An Angel” for this Christmas season. We have been looking at the events of the four different angels who came and visited the main characters in the Bible who were involved with Christ’s birth.

There is a story of courage that took place at the first Christmas. We often miss it because we focus in on a young mother and a baby. But the character I want us to focus on this morning was in the story too. He heard first hand that his bride to be was pregnant and it was not his child. He experienced a personal message from God because of the extraordinary event. He stood by the manger where the baby was laid. He provided protection for the mother and child during the early years of the child’s life. The man’s name of course is Joseph.

What can we learn from him?

Matthew 1:18-25 (NKJV)

“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ’Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.’ So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: ’Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which is translated, ’God with us.’ Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus.”

We can learn from the life of Joseph in this Christmas story. Joseph was a man of courage. I believe it was “God-given” courage to endure any ridicule or judgement. Courage to protect the Son of God. Courage to believe what the angel told him.

What we can learn from Joseph’s Courage

1. God gives courage to ORDINARY PEOPLE. 

In the midst of the story of the miraculous birth of Jesus, we find an ordinary man by the name of Joseph. Many of us don’t view biblical characters as ordinary – do we? Many times we attribute to them almost super-human powers. But that is not the case. They were people just like you and me. They had problems – fears – doubts – worries – just like you and I – yet God is able to use them. In fact that is a major theme of the Bible.

God uses ordinary people to do EXTRAORDINARY THINGS.

Look at how Paul states this fact:

1 Corinthians 1:26-29 (MSG)

“Take a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life. I don’t see many of ’the brightest and the best’ among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families. Isn’t it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these “nobodies” to expose the hollow pretensions of the “somebodies”? That makes it quite clear that none of you can get by with blowing your own horn before God.” 

Joseph was an ordinary man – but He was a man God could trust to be strong in the midst of crisis. He was strong and resilient enough to protect his family. Matthew says it this way – “He was a just man.” In other words he was man of honor. Did he have concerns? – Yes, but he was a man, as the scriptures tell us, that was “just”.

“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly.”

Joseph was an ordinary man – yet he was a just man. What that means is that:

Joseph displayed MORAL COURAGE.

He displayed the character of God in his own life. That’s tough to do sometimes isn’t it?

In the movie “Last Ounce Of Courage” we meet a man like Joseph. It is a story that shows the courage of one man and his family standing up for what they believed in. The Mayer put up the nativity scene and a Christmas tree in the city center. It was a tradition every year. He was criticized, lost his job, and put in jail all because he stood up for his rights as a U.S. citizen and for standing up for what he believed in. Who would have thought 50 years ago that today we would have opposition from putting up Christmas decorations in town? I am sure our founding fathers never would have expected that.

Sometimes God has us stand up for what is right even though it is not “Politically correct!” We have to stand up for what is morally right. If we don’t, who will?

“I would define true courage to be a perfect sensibility of the measure of danger, and a mental willingness to endure it.”

W.T. Sherman

2. God gives us courage to overcome OUR DOUBTS AND FEARS.

We can only imagine how Joseph must have felt when he found out that Mary was pregnant. His natural response would have been that she had been unfaithful to him. He knew the child was not his. She must have been unfaithful. What emotions do you think he would have had?

Shock – Disappointment – Embarrassment – Sorrow – Anger; probably a mixture of all. Yet Joseph’s character enabled him to keep rein on his emotions. His love for God and for Mary compelled him to seek for a way to protect her. For we know the scripture says;

“And above all things have fervent love for one another, for love will cover a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8 (NKJV)

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23 (NKJV)

3 reasons why Joseph might have sought divorce

a. Jewish and Roman law both demanded that a man divorce his wife if she were found guilty of adultery. (In fact, Roman law actually treated a husband who failed to divorce an unfaithful wife as a panderer exploiting his wife as a prostitute.

b. Because others would assume that Joseph himself had gotten her pregnant unless he divorced her, his reputation was at stake for the rest of his life.

c. Joseph could have profited financially by divorcing Mary publicly. By taking her to court, he could have impounded her dowry – the total assets she brought into the marriage – and perhaps even gotten back the bridal price, if he had paid one at betrothal.

Even though Joseph was going to take the least painful route to terminating the relationship, God sent an angel to reveal another option.

“Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)

After learning about Mary’s pregnancy, Joseph was faced with a tough decision. Joseph was not unrighteous for wanting to divorce Mary. In fact, the manner in which he chose to proceed shows that he was a righteous man. (Matthew 1:19) Joseph planned to privately divorce Mary.

But, the angel gave Joseph a message that changed his plans.

Joseph faced down his own emotions and courageously chose to walk in obedience and protect Mary. Can you image rumors that must have spread through the community? The neighbors would have thought that they had broken the law. Obviously the neighbors thought they were having a sexual relationship.

It is always the right time – to do the right thing.

Joseph not only did the right thing by staying with Mary, but he loved her and the baby she gave birth too. He was obedient to what God wanted him to do.

God gives us the courage to face our own doubts and fears.

He gives us courage to face the rumors from others.

The third point I want to leave you with this morning is…

3. God gives us courage to face THE FUTURE.

In the case of Joseph – he was given a vision – a dream to help reinforce his faith. He knew the neighbor’s opinion of him would change. He knew the rumors would be flying. But he also knew that God had spoke to him in a special way. The scriptures say:

“But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream,” Matthew 1:20a (NKJV)

Does God always give a vision to people? No. But sometimes He does. Sometimes God will give you a vision. Sometimes He will speak to you in a dream. Sometimes He will lead you to a verse in the Bible and show you how that verse applies to your situation. He does not do that every time but sometimes He does.

You know what He will always do? He will never, never, never leave you or forsake you. He will always be there. That is a promise.

Hebrews 13:5 (NKJV)

“I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

This fact gives me the courage to face the unknown.

Romans 8:31 (NKJV)

“If God is for us, who can be against us?”

When we face doubts – when we face fears – when we face an uncertain future – we are tempted to avoid the wilderness.

We like our comfort zones. If we are approaching an area of the unknown we try to find another way around or to make a U turn to avoid it.

We are afraid of the wilderness. There might be Giants there. There might be bullies there. There might be rumors, judgements, and criticisms. There might be hardships and struggles. But it is only by a journey through the wilderness that we will reach the Promised Land. And if we make the journey – God will be with us.

God is a faithful God. He has been faithful in your past and He will be faithful in your future. Draw on the times God brought you out of hardships and trials. Remember how He provided. Tell yourself that “He was faithful before and He will be faithful again.”

We can trust God with our past, present, and future knowing we are not alone and He walks every step with us.

Because:

1. God gives courage to ordinary people like you and me.

2. God gives courage to face our doubts and fears.

3. God gives courage to face the future.

Trust in God – believe in Him. No matter what you are going through He will be there with you. Have the courage to know God is fighting your battle. Be strong and courageous like Joseph during this Christmas season and beyond.

Your sister in Christ,

Pastor Kris Belfils

www.krisbelfils.com

www.hopefellowshipspokane.com

www.krisbelfils.wordpress.com

Mercy Seat Mother – Touched By An Angel Christmas Series

Mercy Seat MotherGod chose angels to be His messengers on earth. We can see in His Word many accounts of angels visiting people to share the heart of God. Powerful! This message is not about angels but more about looking at why the angel came to the individual and how we can apply it to our lives.

Do angels visit people on earth today? This has been a subject of much controversy. Everybody has their opinion, but I remember a time when I was praying alone in my bedroom many years ago. I was laying prostrate on the floor crying out to God. Actually feeling like a worm because of some bad choices I had made in my past. I didn’t like myself and thought I had blown any chance of doing anything with my life. Then, as I was praying, I sensed an angelic being hovering over me. Now I didn’t see them with my eyes as I was laying with my face to the ground, but in my spirit I could see one of the cherubim that hovered over the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant above me. Their wings were so long and wide they went through my bedroom walls into my living room and out the outer walls of my house. Again, I saw this all in a vision in my spirit. As they were hovering over me I knew I was in the presence of holiness. It took my breath away. I worked up some courage and asked, “Why are you here?” and the cherubim replied, “I hover over holy things.” I began to weep. My mental opinion of myself was terrible and now this angelic being was telling me they “Hovered over holy things.” I was calling myself “un-holy” and God wanted me to get the message that I was holy because I was forgiven and he washed all of my impurities away. This message brought by the angel visiting me that day changed my view of myself and actually changed my life.

We can learn from the angelic event that happened to Mary, the mother of Jesus, let’s read Luke 1:26:38.

What we can learn from the Mother of Jesus

1. Favor comes from God.

Luke 1:28 – 30 Amplified Bible
“And he came to her and said, Hail, O favored one [endued with grace]! The Lord is with you! Blessed (favored of God) are you before all other women!! But when she saw him, she was greatly troubled and disturbed and confused at what he said and kept revolving in her mind what such a greeting might mean. And the angel said to her, Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found grace (free, spontaneous, absolute favor and loving-kindness) with God.”

Mary was just an ordinary young lady with an extra ordinary assignment. She was favored by God. This means that she was endued with grace. She was favored as the Lord was with her. She was human just like you and I. But I believe she received favor because she lived doing the right thing. She was highly favored among women. She was beautiful inside and out.

Grace is “unmerited favor,” meaning something we receive despite the fact that we do not deserve it. Mary needed grace from God just as the rest of us do. Mary herself understood this fact, as she declared in Luke 1:47, “. . . and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. . .” Mary needed a Savior just like you and I.

God gave His unmerited favor to us when He forgave our sin through the sacrifice of His Son. We can ask for His favor to go before us where ever we go. We are His children.

The word Favor means “to grace, that is, indue with special honor: – Make accepted, be highly favored.”

This is our portion too. Sometimes we receive God’s favor when others think we shouldn’t. I love it when God uses the foolish things to confound the wise. When He uses me in spite of what others think I deserve or what they think I should be doing.. God brings promotion not man. We can receive a promotion that we were not even qualified for. That’s God’s favor! When God gives you favor He puts you somewhere you have no qualifications, or maybe even no right to be there and it is God who keeps you there. Trust in God for His favor.

Remember when God does promote you that you are nothing without Him. Tell yourself: “I am everything in God and I am nothing without Him!” This will keep you humble which is what Mary was and I believe that is why God favored her so highly.

2.  Be teachable.

Luke 1:34 Amplified Bible
“And Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I have no [intimacy with any man as a] husband?”

Mary asked the angel, “How can this be?” It is what Mary does not say that I find remarkable.  She does not say, “You have got to be kidding me. That is not going to happen!”  She just asks a question in a posture of learning. We too should be teachable, ready to learn even when it seems impossible.

How many times have you questioned God? Maybe God has asked you to do something and your brain just can’t seem to wrap around it because it doesn’t make sense in your natural reasoning.

Can you imagine being in Mary’s situation? You are young, and you’ve never been with a man and now an angel comes and tells you that you will be pregnant and give birth to the Son of God. Mary’s character really shined at this moment because she didn’t shrink back in disbelief. She was in for a lot of ridicule and shame from people who would think the worse in her situation; either she was unfaithful to Joseph, was pregnant before they were betrothed, or even worse, that they had sex out side of marriage. In those days it was the worse evil a woman could do. Yet, Mary was open to what was going to happen. It messes with our natural thinking. This is where a lot of people turn their backs on accepting Jesus because of His miraculous conception. This is why so many atheists fight in our nation to get Christ out of Christmas. It doesn’t make sense and they don’t believe.

Doesn’t make sense

Often God doesn’t make sense. Did it make sense when the Israelites finally were freed to go into the promised land and they came to the Red Sea and water was on one side and the Egyptians were on the other and yet the Israelites prevailed and walked on dry land and their enemies were destroyed and drowned? Did it make sense when the blind man needing to see and Jesus spit in the dirt and put it in the blind man’s eyes and he could see? Did it makes sense that Jesus lingered a few more days while his close friend, Lazarus was very ill and died? Did it make sense that Jesus raised him from the dead? Did it make sense when Jesus died and then rose again and sits at the right hand of the Father interceding for you and me?

We all have had “How can this be” moments in our life. This leads me to my next point…

3.  Jesus is our Mercy Seat.

Luke 1:35 Amplified Bible
“Then the angel said to her, The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you [like a shining cloud]; and so the holy (pure, sinless) Thing (Offspring) which shall be born of you will be called the Son of God.”

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you [like a shining cloud];…” The word “overshadow” is really interesting when you find out more about it.

Other versions of the Bible state;

CEV – “God’s power will come over you.”
GNB – “God’s power will rest upon you.”
ISV – “Holy Spirit will come over you, and the power of the Most High will cover you.”
LITV – “Holy Spirit will come upon you.”
Message Bible – “Power of the Highest hover over you.”

“Come over,” “rest upon,” “cover you,” “come upon you,” “hover over you”… all these statements are what happened to Mary in the conceiving of the Son of God. The Holy Spirit overshadowed or hovered over Mary to make her fruitful.

Overshadow is translated in the Greek (G1982 Strongs Hebrew and Greek Definitions): “to cast a shade upon, to envelope in a haze of brilliancy; (figuratively) to invest with preternatural (Supernatural) influence.”

God supernaturally investing Mary with His power, his life, and she was divinely impregnated. This makes me think of the Cherubim who hovered over the covering or lid of the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark represented God’s presence, the most holy place. The lid or covering was also known as the mercy seat. Read Exodus 25:17 – 22.

In the Old Testament, Leviticus 16 talks about how the Priest were to approach the mercy seat. How they were to bring a cloud of incense to cover the mercy seat so that they wouldn’t die. They were to sprinkle the blood of the sacrifices and on the mercy seat for atonement for the uncleanness of the children of Israel sins (Lev. 16:12 – 17). God spoke to Moses in the Holy place from the mercy seat (Numbers 7:89).

Mercy seat is translated “to cover, to condone, to cancel, appease, make an atonement, cleanse, disannul, forgive, be merciful, pacify, pardon; to pitch or to purge (away), (make) reconcile (-liation).” (Strongs #H3722)

Jesus Christ, was the ultimate High Priest appearing before the throne of God after His making atonement or covering of the sins of humanity, and He is our mercy seat (Hebrews 9).

The very act of the Holy Spirit hovering or overshadowing over Mary, who would give birth to the “mercy seat” (Jesus) to pardon, cleanse, conceal, cover, disannul to pitch or purge away our sins has brought the Old Testament to the New Testament as Jesus Christ covers us all. He is the mercy seat of atonement! Mary was the Mercy Seat mother.

We need the Mercy Seat (Jesus) in our relationships with people to pardon what they have done to us and help us forgive them. We might even need the Mercy Seat to pardon what we have done to others. It is a place of mercy. How many of you need mercy today? We all do.

Getting back to Mary’s teachable question: “How can this be?” It was the Holy Spirit that made Mary’s womb fruitful. The Holy Spirit makes us fruitful (Fruit of the Holy Spirit Gal. 5) and equips us with His power (Acts 2) to do what God has called us to do.

When we have those “How can this be” moments in our own life remember no matter the task; be it great or small, public or private, physical or spiritual, God is faithful to equip us with His power through His Holy Spirit. We can stand and remember that “Nothing is impossible with God!”

Luke 1:37 Amplified Bible
“For with God nothing is ever impossible and no word from God shall be without power or impossible of fulfillment.”

4.  Be obedient.

Luke 1:38 Amplified Bible
“Then Mary said, Behold, I am the handmaiden of the Lord; let it be done to me according to what you have said. And the angel left her.”

Mary could have refused to be pregnant and NOT carry the Son of God. I am sure she was surprised that the angel told her she would give birth, let alone to the Son of God. It was unexpected. Something she didn’t even expect or think could happen to her. Yet, she trusted God and His plans and purposes.

Mary had an immediate response of obedience.  She had and exemplary attitude of servanthood in the face of a crazy word from an Angel!  She knew that she would get looks, loose friends, get ridicule, and receive persecution.  She was about to be pregnant as a Virgin!  She is not married yet!  She knew this would be very difficult and the community would shame her, BUT despite this, she said, “I am the Lord’s Servant!”  Q. Can you say that?  Are you quick to obey God no matter the circumstances?  Are you sticking close to his Word, not wavering from the Truth no matter what others might say or do?  Let’s be like Mary!

Has God ever asked you to do something you never expected to do? Mary’s trust in God, and her obedience and cooperation with God’s plans and purposes, is a great example to follow. Allow God to work in you as He wants to, and know that all His plans for you are for your good. When unexpected things happen, keep trusting Him!

5. Mary knew how to be quiet and trust God.

Whatever Mary may have thought or felt, she controlled it because she said to the angel who first brought the news, “…let it be done to me according to what you have said.”

I believe that when God speaks something to us, many times we need to keep it to ourselves. He gives us the faith to believe what He has said to us, but if we try to tell it to others, they may think we have lost our minds. Other people do not always have the faith to believe what God has told us.

Luke 2:19 NKJV
“But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

When God spoke to Mary through the angel, there was a gift of faith that came with that word to her from the Lord so that she was able to say, “Let it be done.” But she was also wise enough not to go around knocking on doors saying, “I just had a visitation from an angel who told me I am going to give birth to the Son of God. I am going to get pregnant by the Holy Spirit, and the Child I will bear will be the Savior of the world.” Mary knew how to keep her mouth shut and her heart open. I encourage you to do likewise.

Allow the Holy Spirit to equip you. Spend some time with Him as He hovers over you to do great and mighty things. God can use anybody and He wants to use you. Don’t think less of yourself. Know that since God created you, He has good plans for your life. Have you given up on a dream God gave you? It is time to resurrect that dream and believe all things are possible with God. He will help you fulfill what He has called you to do. Don’t give up!

Your sister in Christ,
Pastor Kris Belfils

http://www.krisbelfils.com
http://www.HopeFellowshipSpokane.com
http://www.krisbelfils.wordpress.com

Expect the Unexpected (Touched By An Angel Christmas Series)

Expect the UnexpectedHow do you approach life? Do you expect good things from God or do you expect nothing good? We get what we expect. It reminds me of a story I heard about a wise clerk who worked at a convenience store in a small town out west.

One day, a stranger walked in, picked up some bread and milk, and made his way to the cash register.
“New to town?” the clerk asked.
“Yep. Just moved here with my family,” the stranger replied.
“Well, then let me be the first to welcome you,” the clerk offered, extending his hand.
“Thanks,” the stranger said as he shook it. “Say, what are the people like in this town?”
“Well … what were they like in the town you just left?” the clerk queried.
“Oh, they were fantastic,” the stranger replied. “Friendly, upbeat, and generous. We hated to leave.”
“I know what you mean,” the clerk nodded. “I think that’s pretty much what you’ll find here, too.”
A few days later, another stranger walked into the convenience store. Like the first, he picked up a few staples and headed to the cash register.
The same clerk asked, “New to town?”
“Yes,” the stranger mumbled. “Just arrived.”
Following the same track, the clerk smiled and extended his hand. “Let me be the first to welcome you!”
The stranger took his hand reluctantly, frowned, and quickly looked down. “So what are the people like in this town?”
“Well … what were they like in the town you lived in last?” the clerk queried.
“Not great,” he stammered. “They were cold, aloof, and selfish. We were glad to get out of there.” He looked up at the clerk.
“I know what you mean,” the clerk affirmed. “I’m afraid that’s probably what you’ll find here, too.”

Our outlook on life can determine if you enjoy your life or not. It can even determine the blessings you receive all because you chose to acknowledge them or not. If it’s true that we get what we expect, it’s worth noticing our expectations—and shifting them toward a more positive outcome.

God is calling all of us to live a life of extraordinary dependance upon Him. God wants us to live by faith, not by sight. God wants us to stop expecting what we expect to get out of life, and start expecting to see Him move in our midst. He wants us to expect the unexpected.

We can see this in the first angel visitation concerning the birth of Christ with Zechariah and Elizabeth.

Read Luke 1:5 – 25

It’s interesting that as Luke begins to tell the story of Jesus, he doesn’t begin with Jesus himself. He doesn’t even begin with Mary and Joseph. He begins with Zechariah and Elizabeth. But I understand why Luke did this. It’s because the story of Jesus doesn’t begin with the birth of Jesus. It goes way back into the Old Testament and has to do with the fulfillment of prophecy.

Zachariah means “Remembered of God” and Elizabeth means “One who gives loyalty to God.” (Strongs Hebrew and Greek Dictionary)

What We Can Learn From Zechariah and Elizabeth


Read Luke 1:5 – 25

1. The text tells us that Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous before God (v. 6).

Let’s not misunderstand what the text is saying about them. They were not sinless. The Bible is clear that everyone has sinned (Romans 3:23). And this is even clear from this passage, because Zachariah sinned when he doubted God’s message. Rather, they were made righteous by God’s grace because of their faith in the coming Messiah. And they were blameless in the sense that they earnestly sought to please God in all that they did, not in order to earn God’s favor, but out of their love for God.

Zechariah took his job as a priest seriously. Even though his own family couldn’t grow numerically, he diligently performed as a priest because he loved God and hoped that God would show mercy on his family to bless them with a child.

Elizabeth was a descendant of Aaron, the first priest of Israel. Zechariah was a priest. It is interesting that John came from this background and Jesus, the Messiah, didn’t. John could have taken his rightful role as a priest because of his linage but John was born to prepare the way for Christ. Jesus came from the tribe of Judah and this tribe of Israel were never priests. Only the tribe of Levi or Levites were priests.

Another interesting thing to note is that angels never appeared in the temple before Gabriel’s appearance to Zachariah and never did an angel appear in the temple again. How God loved this family and wanted to show it by having such a unique revelation of them having a child and what that child was born for.

2. If we want to have peace with God, we’ve got to be like this couple.

We’ve got to believe in Jesus Christ to save us from our sin. And because we know the grace of God, we ought to serve Him out of joy. This is what this couple did; serve God out of joy not obligation.

They had peace in their lives. Living obedient lives to God brings His peace. Living disobedient lives will always bring unrest and chaos in our life and the lives close to us. We affect others by the choices we make. Having peace is so essential in life. Living a righteous life brings peace.

What about you? Have you been living your life in obedience to please God or living your life to please your self? Even our actions or how we treat people can be a reflection of living a righteous life or not. Guard your peace by doing the right thing and not following your flesh.

Proverbs 16:7 KJV
“When a man’s ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.”
Isaiah 32:17 NIV
“The fruit of that righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever.”

3. Zechariah and Elizabeth prayed for a child.

The text also tells us that this godly couple didn’t have any children. Children are a blessing. We need to remember that. They’re not a hindrance. They may keep you from advancing in your career. They may need constant attention. They may require you to devote your entire life to caring for them. But they are a blessing, and we need to see them as a blessing.

Zechariah and Elizabeth saw children this way. They desperately wanted a child. According to verse 13, Zechariah had prayed for a child. When you pray, trust God. He will answer at the best time in the best way. Sometimes God will answer your prayer in the most unexpected way at the most unexpected time. But when you trust in God you need to learn to expect the unexpected.

They prayed for a child for many years I am sure, but now they were up in years and Elizabeth was beyond childbearing. I believe they figured God wouldn’t answer their prayer do to the facts of their age and how their bodies have aged. We do that don’t we? We pray a prayer and then time goes by and we don’t see an answer. We look at the facts and decide it wasn’t God’s will to give us what we asked for and we resign to the fact that it won’t happen.

Zechariah must have forgotten to trust God’s timing when it came to this prayer. Zechariah had prayed for a child. An angel told Zechariah that he would have a child, and not just any child.

Verse 15: “This child would be great before the Lord.”
Verse 16: “This child would turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord.”
Verse 17: “This child would go in the spirit and power of Elijah, and would prepare people for the coming of the Lord!”

This would be the man of whom Jesus says, “Among those born of women, none is greater than John.”

Zechariah should have responded with praise! But notice how Zechariah responds,

“And Zechariah said to the angel, ‘How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.’ And the angel answered him, ‘I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.’ And the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they were wondering at his delay in the temple. And when he came out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple. And he kept making signs to them and remained mute. And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home. After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept herself hidden, saying, ‘Thus the Lord has done for me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.’ (Luke 1:18-25)

When you pray, trust God to answer. And when God answers, don’t be surprised that He answered! If you know Christ as Savior, then God is your Heavenly Father who desires to give good gifts to His children.

4. The reproach was taken away from Elizabeth.

Luke 1:24 – 25 NKJV
“Now after those days his wife Elizabeth conceived; and she hid herself five months, saying, ‘Thus the Lord has dealt with me, in the days when He looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.’”

In the Jewish culture of that time when a woman didn’t have any children it was a reproach or disgrace. The word “Reproach” means: “an expression of disapproval or disappointment, loss of reputation, something that causes shame or disgrace.

People disapproved of her because of her barrenness. She was, in a way, rejected by society because of her lack of children. God is a god Who sees and he saw Elizabeth’s view of herself of being a reproach. He saw her reproach and wanted to take it all away. Giving Zechariah and Elizabeth a child not only answered their prayer but it also turned their disgrace away. God has a way healing us totally and completely in all areas. God has more for us then disapproval. He has His divine approval.

God approves of us. No matter what people say or what you believe, God approves of you because you have His Son living inside of you. He will turn ashes into beauty and your mourning into dancing. Expect the unexpected!

5. Elizabeth and Zechariah were filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied.

Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit the moment the Messiah’s mother, Mary, greeted her.

Luke 1:39 – 45 NKJV
“Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah, and entered the house of Zachariah and greeted Elizabeth. And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. []Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.”

Mary was excited about what was going to happen! She quickly went to tell her relative Elizabeth about it. Mary didn’t know who to talk to about this, but she knew Elizabeth would understand, because she was in a very similar situation.

But before Mary could say much at all, John the Baptist starts to fulfill his prophetic role. It was John’s job to point to Jesus as being the Christ. He started doing this even before he was born! (v. 41).

This verse says a lot about how we’re to think about children, even before they’re born. The Bible never refers to an unborn child as anything but a baby. It’s not a group of cells, or a tissue, or a fetus. It’s a baby! Life begins at conception!

So the baby inside Elizabeth leaped for joy! This caused Elizabeth to cry out in praise and prophecy. Elizabeth’s child was unexpected because Elizabeth had always been barren!

Zechariah was also filled with the Holy Spirit and Prophesied. After John was born and he wrote on a tablet saying his name would be John, he immediately could talk again and was filled with the Holy Spirit and Prophesied saying:

Luke 1:68 – 79 NKJV
“Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people, and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David, as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets, who have been since the world began, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us, to perform the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember His holy covenant, The oath which He swore to our father Abraham: To grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life. And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest; For you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways, to give knowledge of salvation to His people by the remission of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God, with which the Dayspring from on high has visited us; to give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

Both Elizabeth and Zechariah were filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied the goodness of God. They both believed that their child was given to them by the Lord. Their belief carried them to the fulfillment of the promise given them. They both expected the unexpected.

You need to expect the unexpected. Don’t be surprised when God does the miraculous in your life! He’s God! God does miracles more easily than we can do anything! God made the sun with less effort than we can flip a light switch! We have to lift an arm, He merely spoke a few words! We might be impressed that we can build a boat and float, but Jesus could walk on water! We can turn on a faucet and fill a glass with water, but Jesus turned water into wine! With God all things are possible.

Don’t give up on what you are believing for. God hears our prayers and will answer them in His time. Remember when things look hopeless that is when the God of hope steps in and does the unexpected. Expect the unexpected in your life and watch what God does this year for you.

Your sister,

Pastor Kris Belfils

http://www.krisbelfils.com
http://www.hopefellowshipspokane.com
http://www.krisbelfils.wordpress.com

Play Nice

Play NiceChildren are taught to “Play Nice’ in school and on the play ground, but when we grow into adults, we tend to be less kind and more selfish.

We have to approach relationships and getting along with people differently then having the attitude of “what can I get out of this.” We have to put our big boy and girl pants on as adults and be mature when getting along with others. It is easy to decline and fall back into our old nature habits of only thinking of ourselves, but once you have conquered something, once you have grown and matured naturally, we are responsible for our behavior. Actually we are responsible for our behavior all the time.

It doesn’t matter if you are a Christian or not; people hurt people. We all have hurt someone in our life. No exceptions. Often it comes when we don’t get our own way or we feel rejected. Looking at the United States Government and how the Democrats and Republicans seem to not get along, in essence they haven’t learned how to “Play nice” with others. Playing nice means that you don’t always get what you want. It means thinking of the other person’s needs beyond your own. This is hard for us, especially when what the other person thinks or wants is contrary to what you want or even believe is right.

So what do we do?

Matthew 7:12 Message

“Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them. Add up God’s Law and Prophets and this is what you get.”

How would you like to be treated? If you were the other person receiving your behavior how would you react? One thing is for certain we should never behave badly because someone else behaves badly. Two wrongs don’t make a right. Learn to maintain good behavior in spite of your coworker’s or your family’s actions. Take the higher road. Negotiations can never happen if rather party is unwilling to budge from their opinions or viewpoints. Compromise is not a bad thing when it comes to working out differences. Compromise is an extremely bad thing if it means compromising the Word of God and your morals. We all should be people of integrity. But there is still room for working things out even when we are standing up for what we believe. Fighting doesn’t get us anywhere.

PLAY NICE

1. Understand that everybody is different.

More fights are had all because we are expecting people to be just like us. Don’t expect people to be like you. God has made us all different for a reason. He even works out circumstances so that we are with people that rub us the wrong way all to build our character. We might not like it. We might actually hate it, but what are you going to do? I have learned to say to myself, “It’s okay, that is how they are and I can’t change them.” I remind myself (if the person is a Christian) that the same Holy Spirit who works on my heart and character is working on their heart and character too.

Do you have multiple children, with different personalities, and wonder how they all came from the same place? How many of you have kids you get along with better then some of the other kids you have? How many have a child you love but don’t get along with them very well? Is the one you don’t get along with a lot like you? Usually that is the case. This makes my point of how would you respond if you were the one receiving your own behavior?

When you have a strong personality and you have a strong-willed child the war is on! Give them something to be in charge of that you are okay with. Then, don’t meddle in their business. If they fail at what they are in charge of it will be a learning experience for them. If they succeed, which is what we hope for, then it will help build their character of being responsible.

God gives us all a temperament and they are all different. We can look at all the personalities of the Disciples. Peter and John were so different. Peter was like a fireball who couldn’t keep his mouth shut for two seconds, and John just hung out with Jesus. He even referred to himself, in the book that he wrote, “I am the disciple whom Jesus loves.” I am sure that grated on Peter. Remember when Jesus was teaching on forgiveness it was Peter who said, “How many times am I to forgive someone for the same thing?” These guys were people just like us. They got offended at each other. They were constantly dealing with that stuff.

Jesus had opportunity to be offended. Jesus came to do a job, He was anointed to do that job, He had to maintain that anointing on His life. Let me tell you He needed an anointing to go to the cross. He needed the presence and power of the Holy Spirit to get through Gethsemane. We have to have the power of the Holy Spirit to get through these things.

What would have happened if Jesus would have gotten offended at John the Baptist when he began to doubt rather He was the One.” What if Jesus hid that offense in his heart and dwelt on it? What if He got offended a the religious leaders because they were always giving Him trouble and Jesus didn’t let it go but dwelt on it? What if He got offended at His own family because His brothers thought He was stock raving mad? Even though Jesus kept on trying to do what God called Him to do He was carrying heavy weights and bondages because of the un-forgiveness in His heart. You know what? We wouldn’t be here today! You wouldn’t be having this message today. We wouldn’t have believers today because He could not have finished what God had called Him to do. He was tempted every time He turned around to take offense but He didn’t.

I hope you are seeing something here! I have to work constantly to keep offense out of my heart. Deal with it violently. Don’t think that I am any different then you. I can be going through my day or even praying and a thought goes through my mind about what someone said or did towards me and start to think, “Well, I can’t believe they said that!” or “I can’t believe they did that to me!” We all have to be aggressive in dealing with being offended. This is learning how to play nice.

The devil is the devil in everybody’s life. He is not easier on one person compared to another. Sometimes I have to say out loud, “No! I am not going to dwell on that junk.” “I refuse to dig up that stinking garbage any longer.” Often I Pray, “God help me!” You know why? Because I don’t belong to myself. Neither do you. we don’t have the privilege of acting like an ordinary person. Paul told the Corinthian church, “You are carnal, fleshly babies because you are acting like mere unchanged men.

1 Cor. 3:1 – 3 Amplified Bible

“However, brethren, I could not talk to you as to spiritual [men], but as to nonspiritual [men of the flesh, in whom the carnal nature predominates], as to mere infants [in the new life] in Christ [unable to talk yet!] I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not yet strong enough [to be ready for it]; but even yet you are not strong enough [to be ready for it], For you are still [unspiritual, having the nature] of the flesh [under the control of ordinary impulses]. For as long as [there are] envying and jealousy and wrangling and factions among you, are you not unspiritual and of the flesh, behaving yourselves after a human standard and like mere (unchanged) men?”

Let me say it again, “We don’t have the fleshly privilege of acting like everybody else.” The whole rest of the world can get mad and stay mad, but we don’t get to stay mad! We get mad, but we don’t get to stay mad. We have to let it go, drop it and leave it and not be stumbling over that stumbling block all the time.

I am determined to finish what God has called me to do. And you need to be determined to do what God has asked you to do! Whatever that is you need to be determined to finish it. If it is nothing more then serving the Lord with gladness then be determined to do that! Everybody is not like us and we need to understand and look at a person and say. “you have just as much right as I do to think like you do. We don’t have to answer for anyone else, we only have to answer for ourselves.

Life would be pretty boring if we were all alike. Just think about making a pizza with just the crust? Adding more ingredients makes the pizza a pizza. Sauce, cheese, pepperoni, olives, … etc. We need to learn to appreciate the differences in people. Appreciate the value they are to us stop thinking about how different they are. Amen!

Stop trying to be somebody else and just be fully and completely you and let everybody else be who they are!

2. Be humble. 

No one likes an arrogant person. Don’t over or underestimate yourself.

Romans 12:3 Amp

“For by the grace (unmerited favor of God) given to me I warn everyone among you not to estimate and think of himself more highly than he ought [not to have an exaggerated opinion of his own importance], but to rate his ability with sober judgment, each according to the degree of faith apportioned by God to him.”

Learn how to say I am not always right. Learn how to say, “Yes its ok if we do that, I don’t have to get my way all the time!” Always wanting your way is childish. That is how we were when we were toddlers. They don’t understand sharing or thinking about the other person. But we are adults and we know better. Only a dictator gets their way all the time. Don’t be a dictator. A dictator is someone who has complete power and no one can trump it. Usually a dictator is oppressive and demands their own way. They have unrestricted power and control. This is NOT the case with any Bible believing Christian. We are all subject to God and His authority.

Being around a person who is a leader and they act like a dictator is oppressive bondage. “My way or the highway!” Does this describe you? We should have freedom our creative selves. Are you a dictator in your house? In your work? With other Christians? We need to learn to be humble and realize we don’t have all the answers. Remember in marriage that you and your spouse are a team. Each have important things to bring into the marriage. Love will be patient and kind and not self-seeking. What have you contributed to your relationships lately?

James 4:10 KJV

“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.”

If you are being oppressed don’t try and seek revenge or feel it will be like that the rest of your life. God sees. He will lift you up. He will bring deliverance. God is your vindicator. He fights for injustice. He is fighting for you so you don’t need to fight but just to remain stable and keep your ground.

Exodus 14:14 NKJV

“The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.”

God will fight for you so stop fighting for yourself. Learn to play nice with others and know that God keeps the books.

3. Give criticism sparingly. 

People don’t respond well to criticism but they respond well and are motivated by encouragement. You can have a student who has one teacher that gives encouragement and one teacher who criticizes. Inevitably the student who has the subject with the encouraging teacher will have a higher grade then the subject with the teacher who criticizes their work. It is the same in our families and any relationship we may have; encouragement goes a long way.

Are you a nosey ninny? Sometimes we just need to mind our own business! Here are a few quotes about minding your own business:

-The hardest part of business is minding your own.

-The biggest fool is one who minds the business of others rather than minding his very own.

-Hey, I found your nose, it was in my business again.

-Everyone else notices everyone else’s problems but never pay attention to their own.

-Facebook; Letting you put your nose in other people’s business since 2004.

You have enough to deal with in your life, it is not your job to know it all or fix others. If you see something wrong in someone else’s life, pray that God shows that other person. The Holy Spirit can do a far better job then you can. There will be times we have the means to help somebody, then do it!

There are times we need to give criticism, but not at the expense of destroying someone.

Criticism means: “the act of expressing disapproval and of noting the problems or faults of a person or thing : the act of criticizing someone or something: a remark or comment that expresses disapproval of someone or something (merriam-webster.com).”

This causes fights. People won’t respond well to judgement.

Matthew 7:1 – 5 NKJV

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

Powerful words. Here is a down to earth rendition of those verses:

Matthew 7:1 – 5 Message

“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.”

We can criticize or judge someone inwardly. Even though we didn’t share our critical thoughts to them we still have committed a sin because Jesus said if you even look at a person and lust for them you have committed the act in your heart.

We respond outwardly to how we think about others. If you think someone is doing something wrong, but you don’t tell them, your actions will reflect what you are thinking. You will probably treat them as if they were “less then.” You may even snub your nose at them. You could think, “I would never do that!” and your actions could be one of arrogance or indifference.

We all have faults. You do too if you would be truthful with yourself. If you are a person who is constantly being critical of others you will live a lonely miserable life. Criticizing doesn’t do anything good for anybody, including you. Learn to be easy going! Learn to accept the differences, or even the faults of others. Nobody is perfect. Give some people some slack: mercy and grace, even if they don’t acknowledge the wrongs they may have done to you.

4. Talk less and listen more.

Are you a person who likes to tell people what you think? Maybe you always have to tell something about yourself when others are talking. Many fights have started all because someone talked over another and didn’t really hear what the other person said. I know because it has happened in my life.

We could avoid undue stress and broken relationships if we would just talk less and listen more. Have you ever been around someone who talks so much you can never get a word in edge wise? It is pretty frustrating to say the least. When this happens voices are usually raised so the other person is heard. This can create an atmosphere of stress, or even worse, one can walk away from it thinking less valued.

Learn how to be quiet until the other person is finished talking. Even if you are afraid you will forget what you want to say or contribute into the conversation, just note what you want to say in your mind and turn your listening ears on.

People want to know you care. They don’t necessarily want a sermon or a lecture. If someone is going through a hard time, and they haven’t asked for your advice, don’t give it unless you ask them. We can say things like, “Would you like to know my advise?” or “Do you want to know what I think?”

Proverbs 10:19 NKJV

“In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise.”

We can sin just by talking too much. In other words if you babble on and on about you, your life, people, things that happened to you, chances are you will gossip and criticize others in the process. Talking less gives your tongue a rest and your ears a chance to function! LOL

Proverbs 17:28 Amplified Bible

“Even a fool when he holds his peace is considered wise; when he closes his lips he is esteemed a man of understanding.”

Holding our tongue, even when what we want to say is right, can keep the peace in a relationship. Sometimes it is just enough to know you are right. Other people don’t need to know that. Being a “know-it-all” is annoying to others and it is not playing nicely.

Often when we talk we don’t think about what we are saying. We should think about how it will come across to the listener. Our tone of our voice and our actions actually speak louder then words. We can tell someone that we love them, but if the tone of our voice is anger or if our actions suggest that we don’t value the other person, chances are you really don’t love that person. They will walk away feeling undervalued.

I like to learn how to watch people’s body language. It intrigues me to find out if someone is lying or not. There is a technique. There are many books out there too. Police and Law enforcement’s study people and can tell if someone is telling the truth. Most of the time if you talk less and listen more you can decipher things about the other person’s character. Not to criticize them but to understand them.

James 1:19 Amplified Bible

“Understand [this], my beloved brethren. Let every man be quick to hear [a ready listener], slow to speak, slow to take offense and to get angry.”

Be quick to listen. Be determined to find out more about the other person instead of the person knowing way more about you. We have two ears and one mouth. This should remind us that we should think twice as much as we speak!

Proverbs 8:2 ESV

“A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.”

Psalm 141:3 ESV

“Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!”

This should be our prayer. It will help in all areas of our life. I don’t want anything coming out of my mouth that is not pleasing to God. We can lose relationships just by what comes out of our mouth. Guard your mouth. Always think before you speak. Will the listener be okay with the words I say to them? This will help us to play nicely with others.

5. Display true love.

1 Cor. 13:4 – 7 Message

“Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.”

Often we think we need someone to love us but in essence we need somebody to love. The Bible says love is the most excellent thing we can do.

We are not called to “in-reach” we are called to “outreach!” Live to make somebody else happy.

1 Cor. 12:31 Amplified Bible

“But earnestly desire and zealously cultivate the greatest and best gifts and graces (the higher gifts and the choicest graces). And yet I will show you a still more excellent way [one that is better by far and the highest of them all–love].”

Loving people is a more excellent way. Choose to love instead of hate. Choose to look at the good and not the bad in people. You will always find bad, some people have more of it then others. Most of the time when someone is acting up it is because they have unresolved issues in their life. People are not our enemy though.

Matthew 5:44 Amplified Bible

“But I tell you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you to show that you are the children of your Father Who is in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the wicked and on the good, and makes the rain fall upon the upright and the wrongdoers [alike]. For if you love those who love you, what reward can you have? Do not even the tax collectors do that? And if you greet only your brethren, what more than others are you doing? Do not even the Gentiles (the heathen) do that?”

God wants us to do good to people who haven’t done any good for us because that is the best spiritual warfare to keep the devil under your feet. It breaks any stronghold the enemy is trying to put on you.

Love is the highest form of spiritual warfare. If we think we are doing something smart and stay mad at somebody and get revenge on them, it is the absolutely worse thing we could do for ourselves. Its all based on feelings. I feel, I feel, I feel! Feelings come and go but God’s word remains; we are to love one another as He loves us.

One of the main reasons people don’t walk in love is because love is an effort. Now get this: love will always cost you something. Its gonna cost some time, some effort, even to not start a fight in your home. It will cost you some pride. Be willing to swallow your pride to let someone else think they are right. Even though you are sure your right a fight and we have to guard our peace.

Its not that you become a doormat or let everybody walk all over you and push you around. You confront when God shows you to confront and you wait God tells you to wait.

Most of the time when God wants me to confront I want to leave it alone and when I want to confront He is telling me to leave it alone. When somebody has hurt us one of the hardest things in the world is to wait and let God bring our vindication. We want to take it for ourselves don’t we?

If you are waiting for the other person to do whats right, I have an announcement to make; You maybe waiting a long time. You are the one hearing this message so guess what? You get to start first! And not only that, if you’re the Christian in your house, then you ought to be the one to start first. You can’t expect the people who don’t know the Word to do anything right because they don’t even know what right is. So we have to do it as an example.

No matter how others act you stay the same. Don’t allow their behavior to dictate yours. Jesus didn’t change with the circumstances and act up with the people who were acting up. He remained the same. We can do this too by the grace of God. Love because we are commanded too. Love because it is being like Christ.

In order to get along with people in these last days we are living in it is imperative that we:

Play Nice (Review)

1. Understand that everybody is different.

2. Be humble.

3. Give criticism sparingly.

4. Talk less and listen more.

5. Display true love.

This is how we play nicely with others. It is not rocket science, just plan and simple stuff.  Be a person who lets go of selfishness and clings to kindness and love. Your world will be a much better place and you will keep your peace in any relationship you may have.

From one playground dweller to another,

Pastor Kris Belfils

www.KrisBelfils.com

www.HopeFellowshipSpokane.com

www.KrisBelfils.WordPress.com