The Power of Oneness

The Power of Oneness

As a Pastor, I have always ached in my heart when people, who use to attend our church, decided to come every once in a while or eventually they don’t come at all. I felt there was something wrong with me because my loveThe Power Of Oneness (WP) for them would get the better of me. Sometimes it consumed me because I knew they were missing out on what God was doing and I wanted them to be a part, also those who were faithful attenders really missed those who were not there too. “Did I do something wrong?” “Are my sermons boring or not having substance?” “Don’t they long to be in the presence of God?” “Is it because I am a woman?” These and more questions I would ask myself.

So many people have an independent spirit about them and believe they can come and go from church whenever they so choose, and they think it doesn’t effect anyone or anything. American Christians are notorious for this behavior.

God showed me the reasons why I was aching so much over these people. I found in the Book of Acts my answer and it has nothing to do with me, but it has to do with us.

Appearing to the Disciples after His death and resurrection, Jesus told them to wait in Jerusalem.

Luke 24:49 NKJV
Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.

In the beginning of Acts we see Jesus assembled together with them and He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now. (Acts 1:4 – 5)

Jesus knew they needed to receive power from the Holy Spirit to be witnesses for Him. He also knew what was ahead of them, they didn’t. He was preparing them for more. More people to teach and disciple, more miracles, signs, and wonders, more power, and more of His Spirit.

It was important for all of them to be together and to stay together and wait together.

Acts 1:14 NKJV
These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.

The phrase, “one accord” is translated from the Greek: homothumadon (hom-oth-oo-mad-on’) and it means, unanimously: – with one accord (mind) [Adverb from a compound of the base of G3674 and G2372].

This is something we can learn and glean for our own lives and church in that phrase, “One Accord.” To all come together with one mind, unanimously expecting God to move in our midsts should be our mindset. Most people won’t tarry. Most people have other things on their mind instead of waiting for something they don’t even know what it is. It is easy to wait for something you know is coming… Holidays, package coming in the mail, a certain event, but to wait for an unknown promise, in todays instant culture, is hard and challenging.

Acts 2:1 NKJV
When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

What a powerful manifestation of the Holy Spirit on each of the one hundred and twenty in the upper room waiting together for the promise of the Father which Jesus told them about. There oneness kept them there together, and they all were seeking what God wanted for all of them.

As we read more about what happened after that powerful event, we see how their oneness produced great results for the Kingdom of God.

On the Day of Pentecost there were people from all nations under heaven and they heard them speaking in their own language the praises of God. They were all amazed and marveled and wondered what it could be. At the same time there were others who were seeing it all and they mocked the disciples saying, “They are full of new wine” (Acts 2:13).

I found it interesting that there were mockers who instantly criticized the power of God and the manifestation of the Holy Spirit. We, as a church, need to be aware that critics will criticize what God will do and stay in oneness no matter what.

In spite of any mockery, there were those who gladly received Peter’s words and were baptized and 3000 souls were added to them that day (Acts 2:41)! I would say the Disciples oneness produced powerful results.

Acts 2:42 – 47 NKJV
And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear (awe) came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. []So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

The phrase “continued steadfastly” means to continually devote themselves to one another. It means to be earnest towards one another, to persevere, constantly diligent, and attend assiduously. (Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Definitions)

Continually means that they did these things consistently, while devoting means there was a strong focus on these things that deeply consumed them. They chose not to scatter their energy and investment of time into all kinds of other concerns and commitments.

I believe this is where the church, as a whole, has failed. We have not continually devoted ourselves to one another or there would not be church splits, or indifference in coming to church, or a lack of desire to be together. We all have to work on this. It is biblical. Oneness set the church of Acts on a solid foundation and I believe we need to do the same.

The more they were together, they realized how important each other was. They saw the value of being together because it knit their hearts as one. Never underestimate the power of fellowshipping together.

There is more to being in One Accord then being in one mind and purpose. It also is being one soul, or a covenant community. We make a covenant when we marry our spouse saying I will be with you always and there is no other. God established a new covenant with us by sending His Son to save the world from damnation and we no longer have to follow the law and rules of the old covenant. God’s new covenant will not change. It abides forever. But have you ever considered to make a covenant with the body of Christ you attend on Sunday? I challenge you to establish that covenant with one another and keep it at all costs! Not to be legalistic but to create a bond that will produce results! Amen!

Each week we come together to worship God and to learn from His Word. But there is so much more then that. We come together to see and fellowship with one another.

Fellowship means spending time together with other believers in a connected and vulnerable way, sharing lives and being accountable to people with whom you have chosen to share life. Even a quick reading of the books of Acts will show the people of the early church spent a lot of time just being together, everyday, often.

Acts 2:42 – 44 Amplified Bible
“And they steadfastly persevered, devoting themselves constantly to the instruction and fellowship of the apostles, to the breaking of bread [including the Lord’s Supper] and prayers. And a sense of awe (reverential fear) came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were performed through the apostles (the special messengers). And all who believed (who adhered to and trusted in and relied on Jesus Christ) were united and [together] they had everything in common;”

“Devoting themselves constantly to…” The first thing on the list to which the early church gave its devotion was the apostles’ teaching. In other words they devoted themselves to hearing and absorbing what would later become the New Testament. They were constantly getting fed and allowing the word of God to become a part of their soul. You could say they were absorbing or being saturated in good teaching of God’s Word.

The important thing here is that they were being taught the same thing. If one person left and received a teaching from another place, contrary to what the disciples were teaching, it wasn’t the same. Being taught the same thing brings unity and oneness. You are a part and you understand where your fellowship is going.

Then comes fellowship, breaking of bread and prayer which implies, and even requires consistent, deep, passionate covenant relationship between people inspired and filled by the Holy Spirit.

I talked about fellowshipping, now lets look at breaking of bread. It’s more then observing communion and/or eating together. In the Bible times, sharing a meal meant much more than our own casual invitation to “do lunch” together. For people in the Bible, sharing a meal constituted one of the most intimate forms of fellowship possible. You ate together only with people to whom you felt willing to commit in a covenant way. I think that’s why churches love potlucks. There were many jokes about potlucks at church in the past, but seeing how the early church came together often and broke bread and communed together, we should do the same. Enjoy days where the church has a potluck or lunch/dinner. Enjoy those you are eating with. Find out more about them. Truly care about them and have compassion for them. This is being biblical and it pleases God’s heart!

Finally, prayer seemed most often to be something they did together as a unified body. The time leading up to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost the apostles and a few others were praying together in the upper room and ended with 120 pouring out their hearts to God in one accord, or oneness. Just like it states in Acts 2, verse 1, that they were all with one accord in one place. This is a picture of unity! Prayer is vital for your breakthrough!

Just as soon as the Holy Spirit fell on that original one hundred and twenty a deep, passionate and strong sense of community resulted.

Acts 2:43
Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles.

Notice the sense of awe came before the signs and wonders. The awe was a direct result of their depth and power of the love and fellowship they experienced. The wonders and signs did not produce the awe. The passage only mentions wonders and signs only once, while the remainder of the passages focuses on all the things they did together in love, and on the sacrifices they made for one another as they lived out their faith in covenant relationship, consistently and deeply pursued.

God calls us to oneness in relationship powered by the heart and Spirit of Jesus. Oneness with God leads directly to oneness with each other. The effect is prophetic, producing the fruit that is beyond our needs so that the world may believe.

Our focused covenant community affects others in a great way. Your part is so vital in the scheme of things. All are needed, and all were filed with the Holy Spirit, and all fellowshipped and broke bread together.

What if I, the wife of my husband of almost 30 years, decide to live half of the time at another man’s home? What if I said to him, Honey, I love you. You are my husband and this is my home but I just need to live part-time at John’s house because he has something I need right now? How stable and effective would our household be? How would that impact our children? How would it impact my covenant with my husband?

Or what if I informed my husband, “You will always be my first husband, but I just feel I need to be married to this other one, too? We all know it wouldn’t work. Our marriage would resolve and it would effect my entire family, and possibly community.

Spiritual polygamy does not build the Kingdom of God. It only keeps us fragmented, ineffective and unproductive at making a prophetic impact on this world. Spiritual polygamy means you are not planted anywhere. You become a vagabond (wondering from place to place without a home).

Why do I say all of this? The majority of modern Christians attend and even commit themselves to more than one church in a year. I have heard that the average number of churches christians attend is six. This can never build stable and effective covenant community any more than the kind of living arrangements I described about my husband and I could create or sustain a stable home.

The kind of church life many Christians practice might be more aptly described as spiritual promiscuity, hopping from church bed to church bed seeking the next thrill or perhaps to have personal needs met without real concern for selfless sacrifice, depth of relationships or effective ministry for the sake of others. Personal trust, of others, so necessary to life changing ministry over time, can only be built in being consistent in oneness and covenant community.

God calls us to focused commitment that builds strong relationships in love. The sense of awe the early church experienced flowed not from the signs and wonders but from the love they practiced, the connection, the continual devotion to things that made for relationship in the power of the Holy Spirit. Prophetic community cannot develop without this kind of “continually devoting.”

I have been thinking why don’t we see miracles and healings? Why don’t we see amazing things; signs and wonders in today’s church? I believe it is in part because no one wants to commit to each other and to love one another deeply. We are so concerned with ourselves.

In Romans 12, the apostle Paul understood and taught the value, power and practice of community.

Romans 12:1
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.

No longer can the Christian walk be built around “me,” feeding “me,” entertaining “me.” I must become the sacrifice given up to God for His use and His purposes.

The world practices a way of thinking which revolves around self and pushes away anything that has to do with commitment or covenant. We are not to be conformed to this world but to be transformed by the renewing of our mind, so that we may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:2). We must absorb God’s mind – which begins and ends in covenant.

Covenant love makes us a prophetic people, a people with something to say, a light house, or city of refuge of God’s healing grace, a people who will change our world. In covenant love we will make a difference. Very few members of the first church in Acts 2 could be said to be prophetic individually, but they functioned as part of a prophetic community. What they did together and how they lived out their bond of love made a statement to the world that changed things forever. Without the bonded community meeting regularly, fellowshipping, loving, and praying and breaking bread together, all the signs and wonders would have been meaningless. When real devotion to one another develops, a prophetic statement is made. This is Church, and we are one!

If you have been gifted as one of those few who are truly prophetic, but without a solid foundation in a covenant with God that bonds you to one specific local expression of the Body of Christ, you will fail to make whole and accurate prophetic statements. Trying to be committed in covenant to more than one body at once is like practicing polygamy. You end up being truly close to no one and hindered in your effectiveness to anyone.

Being a part of a local church is one of the great joys and responsibilities of every believer. However, it involves more than showing up on Sunday! How do you participate in the life of your church? While you experience different levels of involvement in a church during different seasons of your life, be sure to consistently avail yourself of opportunities to fellowship, worship, serve, and receive teaching of the Word of God.

Romans 15:5 – 7 NKJV
Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be likeminded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God.

There is a song that was written back in the seventy’s that, as a little child, I remember singing in church. I think it is very appropriate to read the words of this song for the message.

They will know we are Christians by our love

1. We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord,
We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord,
And we pray that all unity may one day be restored.

Refrain
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love,
Yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.

2. We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand,
We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand,
And together we’ll spread the news that God is in our land.

Refrain
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love,
Yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.

3. We will work with each other, we will work side by side,
We will work with each other, we will work side by side,
And we’ll guard each one’s dignity and save each one’s pride.

Refrain
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love,
Yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.

4. All praise to the Father, from whom all things come,
And all praise to Christ Jesus, his only Son,
And all praise to the Spirit, who makes us one.

Refrain
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love,
Yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.

Who will make a covenant with me, and with those who you fellowship with to continue steadfastly with each other in teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, and in prayer? Let this become who we are every time we come together to worship our Lord, Amen!

Your sister in Christ,

Pastor Kris Belfils
www.KrisBelfils.com
www.HopeFellowshipSpokane.com
www.KrisBelfils.WordPress.com

 

 

 

 

Resources: Pastor Kris Belfils, “The Prophetic Church” by Loren Sandford, and “They Will Know We Are Christians By Our Love” Peter Scholtes

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Angel’s Song to the Shepherds

Angel’s Song to the Shepherds

The Songs of Christmas (Angels Song to the Shepherds Blog)Luke 2:8 – 20 (Read)

Why were shepherds chosen as the first on earth to hear the strange glorious news of the birth of the Savior of the world and experience the glorious song of Angels proclaiming God’s glory and peace?

Can you think of two groups more different than the angels and the shepherds? The angels belong to another world, but the shepherds belong to the lowest social class in this world. The angels are bright and glorious with heavenly light, but the shepherds are dirty and carry the stench of sheep. The angels knew what it was like to exist in the presence of God, but the shepherds were excluded from the very temple they provided sheep for sacrifice. The angels explode onto the scene with loud, dynamic shouts of praise and worship, but the poor shepherds are stunned and frightened into silence. (Ed Sasnett, Northeast Baptist Church)

The Shepherds

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, but often they don’t. Sometimes people treat Pastors like they do their Doctors. The patient thinks 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 there 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.

Luke 2:13 – 14 NKJV
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

First the angel, possibly Gabriel, stood before the shepherds sharing with them that born to you this day a savior who is Christ the Lord and letting them know what the sign would be “You will find the Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger (feed trough).”

Then, as soon as those words were spoken, multitude of angels came together and praised God. My creative mind could visualize this event with the angels who joined. They couldn’t contain themselves and had to praise God for what just took place! All of heaven was at a stand still waiting for this moment of God’s plan to happen.

The Angel’s song has several elements to it.

a. “Glory to God in the highest,” Let God have all the honor of this wonderful work. Glory to God, whose kindness and love designed this amazing favor. Other works of God are for his glory, but the redemption of the world is for his glory in the highest.

Your salvation is God’s highest priority!

b. “And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” Let men have the joy of it: On earth peace, good-will toward men. God’s good-will in sending the Messiah introduced peace to the world, it crushed the separation that sin had raised between God and man, and brought a peaceable communion.

The word peace, is translated “to join, prosperity; one, quietness, rest, set as one again. (Strongs G1515)

We are joined with God because of His Son. We find rest in our spirit.

If God be at peace with us, all peace results from it: peace of conscience, peace with angels, peace between Jew and Gentile. Peace is here put for all good, all that good which flows to us from the incarnation of Christ. All the good we have, or hope, is owing to God’s good-will; and, if we have the comfort of it, he must have the glory of it.
~ Matthew Henry Commentary

The word goodwill is translated “satisfaction, delight, kindness, wish, purpose, good pleasure, seem good.”

It was God’s kindness and delight to bring the world good pleasure through Jesus Christ. The shepherds 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 singing, “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.

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 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!

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!

Pastor Kris Belfils

www.krisbelfils.com
www.HopeFellowshipSpokane.com
www.KrisBelfils.WordPress.com

The Songs Of Christmas: The Song Of Mary

The Songs Of Christmas: The Song Of Mary

The Songs of Christmas: The Song Of MaryWe all know of how baby Jesus was born. But have we ever looked at the expressions of certain key people during that time? Mary is the first character to be approached by an angel, Gabriel, to share how highly favored she was and how blessed she was among women.

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 was humble, quick to obey God, and lived her life 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.

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 and His staying power.

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.

Mary was told by Gabriel that she would have a Son and He would be called, Jesus. “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:32 – 33 NKJV)

Mary’s response began with a question: “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” (Luke 1:34). Then Gabriel answered: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35)

Not only that but the angel proceeded to tell Mary that even Elizabeth, who was Mary’s relative, has also conceived a son in old age, and was six months along. She was called barren, but “For with God nothing will be impossible.” (Luke 1:37)

Mary then responded, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” This shows quick obedience, humility, and trust. Mary was just an ordinary young lady with an extra ordinary assignment.

She went to visit Elizabeth and as she greeted her and when she did, the babe in Elizabeth’s womb leaped and she was filled with the Holy Spirit. Elizabeth quickly spoke with a loud voice, “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.” (Luke 1:42 – 45)

The Song of Mary

This leads us to Mary’s response and a beautiful song came forth from her heart and spirit. It truly is an outward expression of what God was doing inside of her.

Luke 1:46 – 55 NKJV
And Mary said:
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant;
For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
For He who is mighty has done great things for me,
And holy is His name.
And His mercy is on those who fear Him
From generation to generation.
He has shown strength with His arm;
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
And exalted the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
And the rich He has sent away empty.
He has helped His servant Israel,
In remembrance of His mercy,
As He spoke to our fathers,
To Abraham and to his seed forever.”

1. Mary gives God all the praise!

My soul magnifies the Lord…

Mary immediately makes God bigger by magnifying Him with her soul. Her very core of who she was bursts out with praise. She knew who she was and Who God was in her life. She knew it was nothing she had done to receive this amazing favor with God. It was all God’s doing.

When amazing things happen to you be quick to praise God for them and realize it wasn’t you, but God who brought it to you! Thanking Him is praising Him. Don’t be quick to take all the credit. Can you imagine if Mary took all the credit? How prideful that would have been. No, Mary was very humble in her view of herself and what was told to her. God could trust her with this amazing assignment He had for her. Can God trust you? What is your character like? Would you be trustworthy if God gave you an assignment? What are your dreams and desires? Can God trust you if He gave you what you wanted? Would you be quick to respond in praise and magnify the Lord like Mary did?

2. Mary rejoiced!

And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior…

Those who magnify the Lord are those whose spirits rejoices in God their Savior. If you are not rejoicing then look to see if you are magnifying the Lord. Are you making God great and glorious in your inner being?

Not only was Mary quick to praise God in all of this, but Mary’s spirit rejoiced in her God her Savior! Rejoice means to feel or show great joy or delight. Some synonyms: happiness, pleasure, joy, gladness, delight, elation, jubilation, exuberance, exultation, celebration, and merrymaking.

Mary allowed her joy to be seen and heard! She couldn’t keep it quiet. It is a natural thing to express joy or gladness outwardly and in Mary’s case, she did it with her entire spirit. This is worship in action. She was a worshipper and worshippers are quick to express their joy.

We find in the Bible many verses about showing our joy, here is just one…

Psalm 47:1
Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy.

In this verse we see clapping and shouting is a way of expressing our joy! God has done great things for all of us. Let us be people, like Mary, who express our joy to God outwardly.

Next we see why Mary magnified and rejoiced in Her God.

Mary magnified the Lord

3. For what God has done for her.

For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant;
For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
For He who is mighty has done great things for me…

She had never seen God so great as He now showed Himself to be to her. How personal to be chosen to give birth to God’s Son.

She was humble. She was capable of handling being the Mother of God’s Son without it going to her head.

Mary speaks of the blessing her privilege would bring her, For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. Mary would not be blessed because of any special or superior worth or perfection of her nature, but because of the Child she would bear. She regarded herself as unworthy to receive this favor, yet, not only Elizabeth but all generations would call her blessed. She realized this honor from God was incredible. Mankind would call her blessed. She was a simple human touched by divine power and presence.

God owes Mary nothing, but Mary owes God everything. She knew she shouldn’t be worshipped but God alone. When generations will call Mary blessed this means they are going to praise God because of the marvelous manner in which He honored her.

Think of that simple young girl in her hiddenness having been told that her name would be repeated, and recognized as blessed, until the world ends. Nobody knew her yet she was destined for greatness. Mary didn’t take any glory for this. She placed the honor at God’s feet with her words and attitude. This is a powerful lesson on how to receive distinctions, honor, and being exalted. We should give all the glory to God when He raises us up.

God cultivates the unseen to eventually be seen for His glory! Get ready to shine for Him when He takes you out of your hiddenness!

~ Pastor Kris Belfils

In verse 49 Mary gives the reason for her blessedness as God’s mighty power and holiness which brought about her conception. For the Mighty One has done great things for me; and holy is His name. Because the All Mighty God had worked in this pure, set apart, and sinless way, His name would be recognized as holy, completely set apart from sinfulness.

Verse 50 not only does Mary exalt God’s power and holiness, she also lifts up His mercy. AND HIS MERCY IS upon generation after generation Toward those who fear Him.

God’s mercy is available to the reverent or “to those who fear Him,” that is to those who in heart and mind are filled with worshipful or devout regard for God. These are the genuinely God-fearing and pure people God does not withdraw His kindness from.

Though God bestows common grace on all, He reserves special consideration, special mercy for those who fear Him. These are those who bow before His holiness and marvel at His kindness. Those who worship Him in Spirit and in truth.

4. For what He has done for mankind.

He has shown strength with His arm;
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
And exalted the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
And the rich He has sent away empty.

To thoughts of how God was towards herself, Mary shifts her thoughts to how God is towards others.

The “arm” is the symbol of strength. God has shown His strength to all mankind and will continue. God and God alone is supreme. No one or nothing is greater then our God. No one and nothing is stronger then our God.

Man can boast and be proud and think they are the best, but God will dethrone them and exalt the lowly and humble. This is foolishness to those who don’t believe or follow God. God did this with Mary, He did this with His Son from being born in a manger to being seated at the right hand of God, and He will do it with you and I as we stay close to Jesus and follow God’s ways.

Keeping our hearts tender towards God keeps us humble. Hardening our hearts towards God and His ways will make us proud and we will go into our own lawlessness.

Mary sings how God has scattered the proud (those who think more highly about themselves in their hearts) like a whirlwind scattering dust, and has put down the mighty from their thrones. God has lowered and will continue to lower those who are proud and arrogant and haughty from their earthly positions and will raise up those who seem insignificant and rejected. Those who are poor will be raised up at their proper and right time. Don’t think the proud or evil doers will not be punished or get away with their doings. God is a God who sees all and responds with justice.

Are you hungry? God will fill you with good things where as He will send the rich away empty handed. The rich stand on their own riches often. Usually riches makes one proud. Sometimes you will find a rich person who is humble. Those who are humble have not puffed themselves up in their own eyes. God can and will work with the humble and broken. It’s the proud and rigid He rejects. Their attitudes are, “Why do I need God when I have everything I need?” I am not saying all rich people are arrogant, but in this song of Mary there are general statements towards the proud and rich because often they are the ones who reject God and His ways.

I don’t know about you but I don’t want to be scattered or be brought down. I have experienced having too much pride in my life before and God always comes and humbles me. It is a promise from Him that He will do this. Do yourself a favor and guard your heart from pride. You will be better off for it.

5. For keeping His covenant promises.

He has helped His servant Israel,
In remembrance of His mercy,
As He spoke to our fathers,
To Abraham and to his seed forever…

Mary has been praising God in song for His deeds. In the closing stanza she points out what those deeds have meant to Israel and the promises made to the forefathers. Verse 54 lifts our hopes by calling to mind God’s help and mercy. “He has given help to Israel His servant, In remembrance of His mercy,

Through-out Israel’s history God has stepped-in to help the remnant who served Him. The history of Israel tells the story of God’s help and mercy.

God acts and His actions toward His people reflect His mercy. May His name be magnified forever and ever.

Verse 55 proclaims the hope and vindication of God’s covenant promises. As He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and his descendants forever.

Mary was aware that the birth of her Child was a fulfillment of the covenant promises to Abraham and his descendants. The blessed seed of Abraham is Jesus Christ, God’s one and only Messiah, who would give His perfect sinless life so that all who believe might be saved.

The God who has helped His people so often in their past distresses and captivities because of His covenant with them, was coming to offer them and all of mankind salvation and deliverance. It is an invitation He still extends to us today.

The Song Of Mary from The Message Bible brings it all down into perspective!

Luke 1:46 – 55 The Message
And Mary said,
I’m bursting with God-news;
I’m dancing the song of my Savior God.
God took one good look at me, and look what happened—
I’m the most fortunate woman on earth!
What God has done for me will never be forgotten,
the God whose very name is holy, set apart from all others.
His mercy flows in wave after wave
on those who are in awe before him.
He bared his arm and showed his strength,
scattered the bluffing braggarts.
He knocked tyrants off their high horses,
pulled victims out of the mud.
The starving poor sat down to a banquet;
the callous rich were left out in the cold.
He embraced his chosen child, Israel;
he remembered and piled on the mercies, piled them high.
It’s exactly what he promised,
beginning with Abraham and right up to now.

It is amazing how one event changed and saved the world. This saving is still available to all of us today. We, like Mary, need a Savior. Let us be people who are humble and quick to respond in obedience and praise to God for all He has done!

Your sister,

Pastor Kris Belfils
www.KrisBelfils.com
www.HopeFellowshipSpokane.com
www.KrisBelfils.WordPress.com

How To Hear From God

How To Hear From God

How Can We Hear From God5Does God speak to people today? We can read in the Bible of different stories of how God spoke to them. In the Old and New Testament there are many events and circumstances of God speaking to people. But, does He still speak to us today? Some people think God is a fairy tale and isn’t real. Others believe He is real but is mute. Some think God stopped speaking after the New Testament. All of those thoughts are wrong. God DOES speak to people today.

How can we hear from God? There are several ways we hear from God and there are many hinderances that prevent us from hearing His voice. One thing is for certain if we are a Christian and follow the Bible, we should hear His voice.

John 10:27 NKJV

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.

Do you know the voice of your Shepherd? Do you have a hunger in your heart for fellowshipping with Him? Nothing can satisfy our longing for God, except communion and fellowship with Him. It is hard to walk in obedience to God if we don’t know or recognize His voice. We need to know Him. Know His character.

Hearing from God is vital to enjoying God’s eternal plan for our lives. Listening to God is our decision; no one else can make it for us. God won’t force us to choose His will, but He will do everything He can to encourage us to say yes to His ways.

We are sheep and Christ is the Good Shepherd. I love that! We have a Good Shepherd Who is constantly looking out for us. Are you an obedient sheep or a rebellious sheep?

Sheep are listeners and then doers. Sometimes they need correction, well often times. But our Good Shepherd has a rod and staff to guide, correct, and comfort us on our journey in life.

Psalm 23 Amplified Bible

A Psalm of David.

The Lord is my Shepherd [to feed, guide, and shield me], I shall not lack. He makes me lie down in [fresh, tender] green pastures; He leads me beside the still and restful waters. He refreshes and restores my life (my self); He leads me in the paths of righteousness [uprightness and right standing with Him—not for my earning it, but] for His name’s sake. Yes, though I walk through the [deep, sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my [brimming] cup runs over. Surely or only goodness, mercy, and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life, and through the length of my days the house of the Lord [and His presence] shall be my dwelling place.

David understood how the Lord was His Shepherd and what His role in his life was. God does lead and guide us through His Word, and through other ways for us to know what steps we are to take.

There are a few things we can do to help us hear God’s voice.

  1. Expect God to Speak to you.

God is always speaking to us today. Remember that you are in a relationship with Him as soon as you received Christ in your heart as Lord and Savior. Relationships take time. We expect people to talk to us, especially those we are close to.

I know my husband will talk to me an I know my husband’s voice. There could be a hundred people in a room with him, and all of them speaking, but I know I could pick out my husband’s voice. 29 years of marriage and communion with him has given me the ear to hear him. I want to hear from him. I expect him to speak to me, if not that would make for a very cold and shallow relationship.

This is the same with God. We have His Holy Spirit living in us and because of that, we do have the ability to tune into His voice. If you don’t know what the voice of God sounds like, spend time praying and reading His word. Take time to listen for His voice. Don’t be the one doing all the talking with your concerns and petitions. Love doesn’t demand. So there are times we wait in God’s presence and expect Him to Speak to us. We take the time to listen.

First, His voice will never contradict His Word. If you wonder if what you are sensing or hearing is from God, go to His Word and He will confirm it. If it doesn’t confirm, then chances are it is not from God.

Another way to know if it is God who is speaking to you is to test and see if the spirit  acknowledges Jesus Christ as the Son of God who has come in the flesh.

1 John 4:1 – 3 NKJV

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.

I stopped just now and took the time to quiet my heart. “Be still and know that I am God” came to my mind so I stilled myself. Then I waited. It was just a few seconds and this is what I heard:

-I love you

-I am a warrior

-I am strong in Christ

-No weapon that comes against me will prosper

Wow, this really happened. This is what I heard God say as I quieted myself before Him for just a few seconds.

Now, does what I heard line up with God’s Word? Yes, all four things that I heard do line up with His Word. Here are verses to prove what I heard:

“I love you” – God loves me with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3 “The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.)

“I am a warrior” – I do not fight against flesh and blood. (Eph. 6:10 – 18)

“The Lord gets his best soldiers out of the highlands of affliction.”

~ Charles Spurgeon

“I am strong in Christ” – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

“No weapon that comes against me will prosper” – Isaiah 54;17 “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.”

Imagine if we allow ourselves to slow down and rest in His presence and listen to His voice? The good news is God is always willing to speak to us. Sometimes we think God isn’t saying anything, and that may happen at times, but God is always right there wanting to comfort, guide, protect, and shield us if we listen and allow Him to.

Right now let’s stop and take a few minutes to listen to God’s voice. (Speak out what you hear to everyone – most Pastors wouldn’t do this for concern of what people might say, but I know God wants to talk to us right now.)

2. Expect to Hear Him.

Through Christ, and the power of His Holy Spirit, God wants to speak to you on a One-to-one basis, every day. He wants to lead you step by step to the good things He has in store for you. He cares about the tiniest details of your life. He even keeps track of how many hairs you have on your head (Matthew 10:30). He cares about the desires of your heart. And He wants to reveal truth to you that will set you free from worry, fear, past hurts, and so much more.

His plan to share an intimate relationship with you existed before you were even born. The psalmist said of God,[] “Your eyes saw my unformed substance, and in Your book all the days [of my life] were written before they took shape, when as yet there was none of them” (Psalm 139:16).

Like I mentioned in point 1, I expect my husband to speak to me, and he expects me to speak to him. When we pray, we need to expect an answer. When we want to spend time with God, we need to expect He will speak to us in some way. It might be an assurance that you can trust Him. It might be that still small voice you hear in your mind and heart that brings peace. But if we don’t expect to hear from God, we won’t be listening for His voice.

Doesn’t it stand to reason that, if God knows all of our days and where we are going to live before we are even born, it is important to learn how to hear form Him? Hearing God’s voice is not only exciting, it also keeps us on the right track!

In Matthew 7:13 – 14 Jesus spoke of a narrow path that leads to life and a broad path that leads to destruction, and He told us to stay on the narrow one. If we can discern God’s voice, we can know if we are veering off onto the wrong track, and we can make an adjustment before we reap bad results from a bad decision.

Each of us can hear from God and be led by the Holy Spirit daily! Look at your neighbor and tell them “God is speaking to you, are you listening?”

When you wake up in the morning, before you even get out of bed, tell the Lord you love Him and you are His. Ask Him what He would have you do that day. Even if you have to go to work or school, you can ask God to show you what to say to do that day  that would give Him glory. He might have an assignment in the middle of your day that would minister to someone. He might have something precious He wants to tell you about yourself. Expect to hear from God every day. So exciting will be your life!

3. God offers a lifetime partnership.

We need the Holy Spirit guiding us through every day of our time on this earth. God is committed to guide us even until we leave this life, so it seems important to learn how to hear what He is telling us.

One of the many benefits of hearing from God is that He helps us prepare for the future. The Holy Spirit gives the message to us that has been given to Him from the Father. He announces and declares to us things that will happen in the future.

John 16:13 – 15 NKJV

However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.

We see many instances in the Bible when God gave people information about the future. Noah was told to prepare for a flood that would come to destroy the people of the earth (Genesis 6:13 – 17). Moses was told to go to Pharaoh and ask for the release of the Israelites, but he was also told that Pharaoh would not let them go (Exodus 7). Obviously, God does not tell us everything that will happen in the future, but the Bible says He will tell us of “things to come.”

John 10:4 – 5 NKJV
And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.

God will tell us the way to go, but then we have to do the walking. A walk with God takes place through one step of obedience at a time. Some people want the entire blueprint for their life before they will make one decision. God does not usually operate that way; He leads us one step at a time.

By faith, we take the step God has shown us, and then He gives us the next one. At times we may fall down and must get back up; we may stumble, but He always helps us. We continue on by His strength and His grace, knowing that every time we face a fork in the road, God will guide us.

4. Don’t have selective hearing.

When we are unwilling to hear in one area, it may render us unable to hear in other areas. Sometimes we choose to turn a deaf ear to what we know the Lord is clearly saying to us. We only hear what we want to hear; it’s called “selective hearing.”

After a while, people think they can’t hear from God anymore but in reality there are lots of things they already know He wants them to respond to, and they haven’t done so.

The more quickly we do whatever it is the Lord tells us to do, the more quickly He reveals the next step we are to take. Obedience brings blessing. Obedience brings growth. Obedience sharpens our fellowship with God. Disobedience is a growth blocker.

I assure you that if you fight with God every time He tells you to do something, it will make you just plain miserable.

Jesus said, “Follow Me.” He did not say, “You take the lead, and I will follow you.” We may as well just do quickly whatever God says, the way He wants it done, because in the long run, if we want to enjoy God’s perfect plan for our lives, we are going to have to follow Him.

Are you the type of person who when having a conversation with someone you think you are listening but in reality you are thinking of the next thing you will say to them? This is not listening. Oh you may be hearing them, but you are not connecting with what they are telling you.

Personally, I get so frustrated with people who do this with me. In fact, I will down right stop and say, “You are not listening to me!” They will reply, “Yes, I am you said….” but their answer after I spoke tells me they heard what I said but didn’t pay attention to it because they said something totally different then the topic I was on. If we don’t listen to people, who are right in front of us, how can we ever listen to God?

When you ask someone a question in the natural, you have to take time to listen to their reply. If you are thinking about the next question or the next thing you want to ask them, you will not even pay attention or be sensitive to what they are saying in the first place. Seriously, don’t waste other’s time and don’t waste God’s time. Be sincere and really listen. Be a listener.

5. Create an Atmosphere to Hear From God.

If we want to be led into victory by the Spirit of God, then we have to be willing to change our lifestyle as God speaks to us. We need to create an atmosphere that is conducive to hearing from God. By atmosphere I mean the climate, environment, or main mood that surrounds us.

Atmosphere is created by attitudes, and certain attitudes enhance or hinder our relationship with God.

Example: If we live in a constant life of strife, which is a spiritual problem, we can feel that strife in the atmosphere. If we enter a room where several people are angry or upset, we can feel that tension even if nobody is saying anything.

We should work to create and maintain a peaceful atmosphere:

Romans 12:18 

If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

To enjoy the fullness of God’s presence, we must consistently maintain an atmosphere conducive to seeking Him, honoring Him, and being faithful and obedient to Him.

If we want to hear form God, we must yield our attitudes to the lordship of Jesus Christ and learn to be led of the Spirit in all of our ways.

Attitudes for hearing God

  1. Keep a Listening Attitude.

Listening is an important key to hearing! Have you ever met someone who asks questions, but doesn’t listen to the answers? It is hard to talk to people who are not listening. The Apostle Paul warns us that we will miss learning rich life principles if we don’t have a listening attitude.

Hebrews 5:11 Amplified Bible

Concerning this we have much to say which is hard to explain, since you have become dull in your [spiritual] hearing and sluggish [even slothful in achieving spiritual insight].

When we have a listening attitude, we will know it is God Who is speaking. Remember He doesn’t contradict His Word. We can also know what we are hearing by placing it against His character. We must know God’s character in order to know what is from Him and what isn’t. He is gentle, not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing.

Matthew 11:28 – 30 Amplified Bible

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.] Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls. For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good—not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne.

Listening to God’s voice we know that He will never go against Himself. In other words, if you hear a voice, thinking it is the Holy Spirit, and it goes against the Father or the Son, or against His Word, it is NOT the Holy Spirit speaking to you. If it goes against God’s character, it is not from the Holy Spirit. God’s voice will never tell you to walk in disobedience to His Word, never!

There are many facets of God’s character, and each one of them seems to be more wonderful than the next. He is faithful, true, loving, kind, long-suffering, just, and honest – among many other wonderful attributes.

If I thought I heard God tell me to give up on something just because it was difficult for me, I would question whether that message was from Him, because I know His character is to be faithful. His word says that even when we are faithless, God remains faithful; therefore, when He is told me to do something, it is unlikely He would tell me to give up quickly. He would be telling me to have endurance, perseverance, courage, and to never quit!

2 Timothy 2:13 Amplified Bible

If we are faithless [do not believe and are untrue to Him], He remains true (faithful to His Word and His righteous character), for He cannot deny Himself.

People need to see God in action and He wants to work through His children. Don’t let Satan deceive you in this area of hearing from God. Know God, know His character, and you will be able to discern the voices that come to you, whether they are His, yours, or the enemy’s.

Jesus said that people have ears to hear, but they hear not; and eyes to see, but they see not.

Matthew 13:15 NKJV

For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their heart and turn, so that I should heal them.

This is all about our attitude towards God and listening to what He wants. If your ear is dull to God’s voice it is time to sharpen it so you can be healed once and for all of your past issues.

Have an attitude to listen, and go the next step and obey His voice. Even if it requires the pain of letting go of past offenses and looking at yourself to change. You will experience a freedom in God you have never experienced before.

II.  Keep an attitude of Faith.

I remember when God called me to go to a Lutheran church in Washington state to be their Minister of Music. I was raised Pentecostal and charismatic. But God told me to “Bring the water to the desert.” Much opposition came from the religious group who wanted things to remain the same. They had secret meetings (about 50 of them) discussing the Senior Pastor and I. Ultimately they made the church Board vote to decide on keeping me or not. They printed out over 50 statements of their “concerns” regarding how their church was going. The vote was 3 to 2 to keep me. During that time I had to totally keep an attitude of faith and believe God’s voice of bringing the water to the desert. I wanted to quit many times. It was hard and people came against my character. Why would they invite me to come and be their Minister of Music if they had issues of me being female, and have a pentecostal background in the first place? My attitude would make or break me if I let it. God was teaching me to have a “bull-dog” grip on His words He spoke to me and to keep a good attitude of faith.

Sometimes we give more consideration to what people tell us or what they think instead of what God has said to us. If we pray diligently, hear from God, but then start asking everybody else what they think, we are honoring people’s opinions above the Word of God. This attitude will prevent us from developing a relationship in which we consistently hear from God. This is not an attitude of faith.

Paul had been persecuting the Christians and was not a likely person to be called to preach. If I was one of Paul’s peers, I would have had a hard time believing that he was called. He knew what the reaction to his ministry would be, so he wrote:

Galatians 1:15 – 17 NKJV

But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.

The Amplified Bible adds: [did not consult or counsel with any frail human being or communicate with anyone]. Paul said that he kept the news of his calling to himself; he didn’t check it out with “the big guys” who were supposed to always be hearing from God. He knew what God had done with him on that road to Damascus. He knew that he had been changed forever (Acts 9:3 – 8). He knew that the Son of God had been unveiled and disclosed on the inside of him. He knew that he could never go back to the life he had lived. He knew that for the rest of his life he would have to preach the gospel and remain faithful to why he head heard Jesus say to him.

Paul kept God’s Word in his heart and let it grow and  manifest on its own. Then he started doing what he was called to do. Soon others recognized that the calling on him must have been from God. Paul finished by saying, “And they glorified God [as the Author and Source of what had taken place] in me” (Galatians 1:24).

I had to learn how to be led by the Holy Spirit. We all have a conscience. Our conscience will bear witness with the Holy Spirit when God is calling us or guiding us to do something.

Romans 9:1 Amplified Bible

I am speaking the truth in Christ. I am not lying; my conscience [enlightened and prompted] by the Holy Spirit bearing witness with me.

Did you know God created our Conscience? Doesn’t it make sense that our conscience has to bear witness to the Holy Sprit when He is talking to us? It does. So, never ignore your conscience because it has to line up with God’s Spirit. If you think you have heard from God don’t move on it until you know for sure that it “fits inside.” Everything that is right for our lives has a place on the inside of us, where it is going to settle comfortably.

God may call us to do something we don’t always like in the flesh, but deep inside it will give us pleasure if it is truly a calling from God. For example I am not eager to write a sermon every week because it takes time, prep, and sacrifice, but I know what I am called to do. I am excited about preaching, so I don’t think about the parts of my ministry that are less pleasant.

There is a deep desire on the inside of me that is settled with any inconvenience associated with my calling. I know I have to sacrifice time during my week to write sermons in order to do what God has called me to do.

God may call you into things that you may not be used to doing. You may be scared in the natural, but you will feel that what you are doing fits inside with everything else that God has developed in you.  An attitude of faith will help you fulfill your calling.

III.  Keep an attitude of patience.

I need to hear from God everyday, and I want to hear from Him about everything. To hear God, we must be willing to wait on wisdom out of a passion for wanting God’s will more than anything else.

We will hear from God much more clearly if we are determined not to move in the heat of our fleshly desires or emotions. We will be blessed if we wait and make sure that we have heard form God before we take any steps at all. Then we should do what God is saying to do, even if it hurts, and even if it costs us something.

Patience is one of the fruit of the Spirit. Patience is not an ability to wait. Patience is a fruit of the Spirit that manifests while we are waiting. If patience doesn’t manifest in times of waiting, then we see the fruit of impatience during those times. We all have patience inside of us. What prevents it from coming out is being impatient.

Even this week I had to ask God to forgive me for being impatient waiting for Him to do something or to show me what to do. My flesh can win out and get the best of me sometimes. I hate that! That’s why we have to “die to our flesh” and allow the Holy Spirit to have His way in us. His ways are far better then our ways.

We need to wait for sound wisdom before we act on an impulse that we think is from God.

Learn to wait. Emotions that rise and energize us will fall, and emotional impulse won’t carry us where we really need to go. We need God’s energy, which is Holy Spirit determination to follow through and do what God has said.

We can miss God by being in a hurry to get what we want. If we don’t wait, especially in important areas, we will bring trouble into our lives. Patience is becoming more finely tuned in my life all the time.

I have learned that when I feel anxiety rise in me to handle something, I should let it rest for at least twenty-four hours. It is amazing how we can change our mind if we will just let things settle for a few hours. We can save ourselves so much trouble if we will learn to wait on God.

IV.  Keep an attitude of obedience.

The psalmist David said of God:

Psalm 40:6 Amplified Bible

Sacrifice and offering You do not desire, nor have You delight in them; you have given me the capacity to hear and obey [Your law, a more valuable service than] burnt offerings and sin offerings [which] You do not require.

God delights in the atmosphere of our obedience. Naturally, it doesn’t do God any good to talk to us if we aren’t going to listen and obey.

For many years, I wanted God to talk to me, but I wanted to pick and choose what to obey. I wanted to do what He said if I thought it was a good idea. If I didn’t like what I was hearing, then I would act like it wasn’t from God. God has given us the capacity both to hear Him and to obey Him. He does not require a higher sacrifice than obedience.

Some of what God says to you will be exciting. Some things God tells you might not be so thrilling to hear. But that doesn’t mean that what He tells you won’t work out for good if you will just do it His way.

If God tells you that you were rude to a person, and He wants you to apologize, it won’t work to answer back, “Well, that person was rude to me too!” If you talk back with excuses, you may have prayed, and even heard, but you haven’t obeyed.

Don’t allow excuses to prevent you from doing what God tells you to do. Excuses stop you from your promised land. Excuses are the easy way out. Excuses are birthed from the flesh. If the flesh wins, sin has won!

Instead, go apologize if God tells you to do so. Take yourself through the walk of obedience and say to that person, “I was rude to you, and I’m sorry.” Now you have obeyed. Now God’s anointing can flow through your life, because you are obedient.

Disobedience is sin. Sin separates us from God. God can not anoint and approve of sin. It goes against His character. Bottom line: Don’t disobey God, but pray and obey.

If you want God’s will for your life, I can tell you the recipe in its simplest form:  PRAY AND OBEY

God has given you the capacity to do both. If you do that, before you know it, you will have stepped right into God’s perfect plan for your life.

V.  Keep an attitude that honors God.

Another attitude that invites the presence of God into our atmosphere is one that honors Him above all others. We need to have an attitude that says, “God, no matter what anybody else is telling me, no matter what I think myself, no matter what my own plan is, if I clearly hear You say something to me, and I know it’s You, I am going to honor You and what You say above anything else.

Remember He will never tell you do to anything that goes against His Word. His role is supreme in our life. Not our will but His. Most people have a hard time with this. But if we want to be more like Jesus, we have to have the same attitude He did. Jesus said,

Luke 22:42 Amplified Bible

Saying, Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but [always] Yours be done.

The word honor means: “high respect, or esteem, a privilege, regard with great respect, fulfill an obligation or keep an agreement.” (google.com)

We show God respect when we obey Him. He deserves respect. Our attitude should be that God is in charge and I am to listen and obey His orders. I am to honor Him in my lifestyle, the words that I speak, who I hang around, what I watch or listen to, what I think, and what I do with my body.

Even having a critical spirit dishonors God. Being critical of others, or even being critical of God, can prevent us from hearing God’s voice.

There are so many things that can make us “un-clean.” But thank God we live in the New Testament Covenant and we have God’s mercy and grace so we can ask for His forgiveness. We just need to walk away from what doesn’t please Him that we are doing. He will always have something better for us when we do!

Perhaps you have wasted many years walking your own way without seeking God’s guidance. The good news is that it’s not too late to turn and go in a new direction – toward God’s plan and purpose for your life. It is not too late to learn how to hear from God. If you are sincerely willing to obey God, He will guide you on an exciting journey of learning to hear from Him every day of your life.

Get ready for the ride of your life as you walk in obedience and create an atmosphere to hear God’s voice.

Next week we will look at the “Hinderances to hearing God’s voice.”

Your Sister In Christ,

Pastor Kris Belfils

www.KrisBelfils.com

www.HopeFellowshipSpokane.com

www.KrisBelfils.WordPress.com

 

 

 

 

Sources: Pastor Kris Belfils and Joyce Meyer

Keys to Open Doors

Keys to Open DoorsDoors are all around us. You have a door to get into your house, to go from one room to another, to get into your car, to get into the store, and even the bathroom. I am sure if we took a pole of how many doors we walk in and out of each day we would be surprised at the number.

2014 is the Year of the Open Door. This is the fifth sermon in my Doors Series God placed on my heart back in August of 2013. There will be many doors that will be placed before you this year and beyond. What will you do with that open door? Many will get discouraged because they either don’t see the door or they will walk away from it because it seems too hard to open. Don’t let this be you!

God is growing us numerically, spiritually, prophetically, and in all directions by His Holy Spirit.

God has been speaking to my heart about His anointing of His Holy Spirit that will draw people to Him. Often churches don’t talk much about the Holy Spirit. They are either afraid, uneducated, or have decided it was for the Book of Acts but not for today. I am here today to tell you that the Holy Spirit longs for a living breathing relationship with everyone of us. He has gifts to give that will fall right in line with our natural gifts and talents to unlock doors for you this year.

Listen, if you had the key to open a vast treasury wouldn’t you use it? That is the same with learning the keys to open the right doors in our life. To me, using the key, is the same as God opening the door. He has given us keys to unlock and open doors, our job is to learn what those keys are and to us them for God’s glory.

Keys To Open Doors

1. Manifestation (Gifts) of the Holy Spirit.

God has blessed us already with some natural gifts and talents. Maybe you like to serve, or work with people or children. Maybe you like to teach or be a leader. Maybe you like to help others or like to have people over to your house and love on them. There are so many natural strengths we have. Most of the time we are told to focus on our weaknesses and work on them. But to me that is wasted energy. The Holy Spirit is helping us with our weaknesses and brings change as we yield to Him. Truly God cannot be strong in our life if we don’t have weaknesses (2 Cor. 12:9 – 11). Let’s develop and focus on our strengths and allow God to launch us through any door He has set up for us.

Take a look at your strengths and see what you are good at in the natural, then you can look at the Spiritual gifts and even the Fruit and combine them to be a useful and effective person for God.

Let’s look at the Manifestation of the Spirit, or Spiritual Gifts, and the fruit of the Spirit.

1 Cor. 12:7 – 10 NKJV

“But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.”

Gal. 5:22 – 23 NLT

“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

I wrote down some of the natural abilities I and others see in me and then combined them with the manifestation of the Spirit I see God using me in. (I share these things not to boast, but to give an example to look at. All of this is for the glory of God and to edify the body of Christ.) Then, I added all the fruit of the Spirit, and you can see how they work together to edify the body of Christ, grow the Kingdom of God, and to open doors. We may not have all the gifts of the Spirit, but we do have all the fruit in us, they just need to grow.

Natural Gifts Gifts of the Spirit Fruit of the Spirit
Teacher Word of Wisdom, Word of Knowledge, Discerning of Spirits, Interpretation of tongues Love, Joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control
Caring, Compassionate, Encourager Word of Wisdom, Word of Knowledge, Faith, Healings Love, Joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control
Creative/Dreamer of Dreams(Music, Writing, Graphic Design) Faith, working of miracles, Interpretation of tongues, wisdom, knowledge Love, Joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control
Leadership Word of Wisdom, Word of Knowledge, Faith, Prophecy, Discerning of Spirits Love, Joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control
Visionary Word of Wisdom, Word of Knowledge, Faith, Prophecy, Discerning of Spirits, Interpretation of tongues Love, Joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control
Tenacious, endurance, perseverance, Determined, Committed Word of Wisdom, Word of Knowledge, Faith, Prophecy, Discerning of Spirits Love, Joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control
Faithfulness, loyal, trustworthy, honest, integrity Word of Wisdom, Word of Knowledge, Faith, Prophecy, Discerning of Spirits Love, Joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control
Patient, Merciful Healings (Spiritually, Emotionally), Word of Wisdom, Word of Knowledge Love, Joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control
Self-Starter and Finisher Word of Wisdom, Word of Knowledge, Faith, Prophecy Love, Joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control
Out Spoken, Bold, Not afraid of Confrontation Prophecy, Faith, Discerning of Spirits Love, Joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control

You see it is when we walk in obedience, and practice His gifts, we will edify the body of Christ and do mighty things for God. What natural gifts and talents has God given you? What gifts of His Spirit has God given you? It is time we use them in the body and to help each other grow in Christ.

It is amazing how God uses our natural God-given abilities, with His gifts of His Spirit, to create the very key to open doors.

The apostle Paul assures us that each of us within the Body of Christ have different gifts that are a response to God’s grace.

Romans 12:6

“Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly…”

And Peter reminded his readers that they were on earth to glorify God through the use of their gifts.

1 Peter 4:10 – 11

“As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

Proverbs 18:16 promises us, “A man’s gift makes room for him and brings him before great men.”

The manifestations of the Holy Spirit + our natural gifts + Fruit of the Spirit = Keys to open doors.

2. Commitment

“Too many Christians have a commitment of convenience. They’ll stay faithful as long as it’s safe and doesn’t involve risk, rejection, or criticism. Instead of standing alone in the face of challenge or temptation, they check to see which way their friends are going.”

Charles Stanley

There is a lack of commitment in the world, and in the church. Are you a great starter but not so good at finishing things? It is probably because you are not committed. Commitment will keep you when you want to give up.

The word Commit means: “to give trust or charge, to pledge or engage oneself, to bind or obligate, to entrust.” So commitment means: “the act of committing, pledging, or engaging oneself, a pledge or promise” (dictionary.com).

Psalm 37:5 – 6 NLT

“Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you. He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.”

We see in this verse when we commit everything, all our ways, to the Lord and trust Him, He will help us. He will make us shine radiantly. Constantly committed to God. This brings success.

As the Israelites committed to obey the commands the Lord gave them, they were prosperous and succeeded. But when they broke their commitment and disobeyed, they were in bondage.

Where is your commitment level? It takes commitment after you walk through the open door God gives you to fulfill what that open door contains. It is easy to give up. Most people take the easy road when things get tough. When things don’t turn out how you expected do you decide to quit or find something else to do?

Laziness is an enemy of commitment. Letting your flesh win is not walking in the Spirit. Our flesh always takes the easy, lazy, most comfortable road. But that road never produces good results. When our flesh wins, we lose!

I saw an advertisement on the television the other day that shocked me. I actually thought it was a joke and was waiting for the punch line but it never came. This commercial was advertising a website about buying divorce insurance. This website states and I quote: “Over 50% of marriages will end in divorce. Insure that you are protected and lawyer bills are paid.” It also has a picture of a red paper heart with a woman ripping it in two. I couldn’t believe it. You are buying insurance saying, “I will get a divorce some day.” Where is the commitment in your marriage with that mindset? What is that?

Commitment! There is lack of commitment in marriages, church, jobs, friendships, family, beliefs and so much more. What happen to the days when people, even Christians, were faithful to their word? Where they showed up when they said they would? When they are committed even when it costs them something? This is integrity and it gives God a good name instead of a bad one.

When it comes to the work of God, your commitment will determine your promotion! God can not give you more when your commitment level where you are at is low. Don’t be deceived. When you are faithful with the little God has given you, He will then give you more. We don’t get a promotion when we are slackers. We get promoted because we show we are committed, faithful, good work ethics, responsible, and trustworthy. Is that you? If not, be determined to change and learn how to commit.

There was a time when my commitment level was low in many areas of my life. I would bolt when I didn’t like my circumstances. I would leave places when I felt I was treated unfairly. If I got tired of working at one place, I would look for another. When my friends didn’t agree with me I would stop being their friend. God showed me this and it grieved my heart. I saw my lack of commitment and also saw the consequences of it. Instead of believing everyone else was wrong, I had to look at truth and that I was wrong. Now, my commitment level has skyrocketed. Very seldom will you see me out sick or leave some place due to being upset. God showed me how to have a “bull-dog” grip on the things He wanted me to stick with. I am determined to stay committed and receive the promotion God has for me. I am determined to stay in agreement and reap the fruit of my long-suffering and endurance.

What about you? Where is your commitment level? If you leave or don’t finish what you started it is time you restart. Don’t decide to stop your participation all because it isn’t convenient or not fun any more. Decide you will finish what you started. Decide you are not a quitter. See where God takes you.

3.  Be Trustworthy.

Trustworthy means: “able to be relied on as honest or truthful.” Some synonyms are: reliable, dependable, honest, honorable, upright, truthful, ethical, virtuous, and unimpeachable.” An antonym is: “unreliable.”

Being trustworthy is so important. This effects your family, job, church, finances, reputation, and so much more. If you have in the past been a person who is not trustworthy it takes a while to build that trust in others again, especially if it was your behavior for many years.

Being trustworthy will keep and maintain you after you have walked through the open door. Don’t be a person that decides they are good after walking through the open door and then think you have arrived. No, that is just the beginning.

Remember my message of “What’s behind door #1, #2, or #103?” Many are called and few are chosen. Many are called to do great things but few will do great things, Why? Because few will take responsibility for the call. It doesn’t end with a call, that’s where the work starts. First comes the call, then comes the work, then comes the sacrifice, then comes the never giving up, and then comes the “going all the way through.” This requires commitment and being trustworthy.

Proverbs 11:13 ESV

“Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered.”

Colossians 3:9-10 ESV

“Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.”

Slandering someone is not being trustworthy. Lying about anything is not being trustworthy.

Did you know that saying you will be somewhere and then not show up is a lie? You may not even give it a second thought but it is sin. This is a hard one because we can justify our actions away thinking it is no big deal if we don’t do what we said we would do. But in really it is a lie and we are expecting others to be okay with it. It shows your lack of integrity and character.

Colossians tells us to not lie to one another. This is the old self before you knew Christ. We have put on the new because we are new creations after the image of our Creator. Is God trustworthy? Yes! Does He lie? No! Then that is what we should be doing as well. Be people of integrity and do what you say you will do and be where you say you will be.

Get ready for an exciting new year in 2014. There is no limit to what God will do in and through you. Be open! Be ready! Be trustworthy and committed!

4. Be Faithful.

Being faithful is being loyal, constant, and steadfast. Commitment, Trustworthy, and being faithful all go hand in hand. Do you see a theme here? This is what it takes to staying constant in your life and to keep on keeping on with what God has opened before you.

Faithfulness is doing the right thing when you are the only one doing the right thing! It doesn’t matter if someone else is unfaithful. Our job is to remain faithful in what God has given to us. Be faithful in your relationship with God. Don’t be an off and on again Christian. What a slap in the face of God to have a relationship with you when things are going well, but when things are tough, you close your heart and do your own thing.

If you see that you are an unfaithful person thank God for the people who have put up with you. It will take some time to build trust back in them once you decide you will stay faithful. It is okay. Be determined to remain faithful when you are trying to show others you are faithful.

During testing and trying times be determined to be faithful. Don’t give up on things. Don’t quit!

You may say, “Pastor Kris it is just too hard.” “I don’t understand why I have to go through this?” You need these hard years so you will grow. They are specifically designed for you because God is developing character. You only develop character when you refuse to run! We develop good character in the trials and uncomfortable places. Be determined to get your blessing out of what God is trying to teach you. You are in the Holy Ghost cooker! Get ready for the beautiful aroma of God’s character to shine in you as you yield to God’s Holy Spirit’s promptings to change.

You may say, “I just don’t have any joy so I think I will go somewhere else.” You cant run away from something and still not have any joy. You won’t have joy where you decide you want to bolt too. In other words, you are the common denominator in both places. Allow God to change you from the inside out. Give God your worries. Obey His word! A lot of our turmoil in our life is all because we don’t want to obey God’s word. Obedience brings blessing. There is joy in obedience. You will find peace when you obey God.

We all go through silent years of growth before God brings us to the open door of promotion. After Jesus’ birth, we don’t hear anything about Him until He was twelve years old. Then we don’t hear anything until he was thirty. Scriptures just tells us, “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men” (Luke 2:52) during those years.

Be faithful now and don’t give up!

Gal 6:9 NKJV

“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”

Keep on keeping on! Tell yourself, “I will never give up!” Press through those testing and trying times! Everyone on the face of the earth has to learn this lesson.

Heb 6:11 NKJV

“And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end.”

5. Be humble.

Being humble means to not be proud, not thinking of yourself as better than other people. Once we walk through our open door, and we start advancing, pride can come to our heart. We start thinking we have gotten to where we are by ourself. We start having a twisted view of ourself.

Pride goes before a fall, and usually some character building times too. There are reasons why God doesn’t share everything that will happen in our life. He wants us to rely on Him when we make mistakes, and see our humanity compared to His deity. We are nothing without Him.

Why do you do what you do? What are your motives? We need to get our motives right. Do you do what you do to be seen by people? We have to have the mindset that if God isn’t in it, then we shouldn’t do it.You will flow with ease and with a smile, and you will have success if you will change your mindset.

You have no idea what God will do when your heart is purified of pride. Did you know that believing your success is all your doing is really “works of the flesh?” Thinking it was your bright idea instead of God’s. We can reason things out and think, “If I do this, this will happen.” Then we do exactly what we thought, succeed, and start to think we are better then someone who is struggling just to pay their bills each month.

I wonder how much we give up and miss all because we try to get some attention to ourselves? We miss out on what God would love to do for us if we would only trust Him and stay humble.

We have to remind ourselves daily that we are nothing without God! This helps us to not get full of ourselves. If we do, it is over. We will fall from that prideful throne.

Here are some scriptures on being humble:

2 Chronicles 7:14 NKJV

“If my people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn form their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

Did you notice the “If – Then” statement? If we humble ourselves, then God will move. God will not move on our behalf if we are full of pride, full our ourselves. But if we humble our selves, God will always move. A broken and contrite heart God will never despise. He will never turn away from brokenness. Thank God for that!

So what does humility have to do with opening and walking through an open door? Humility will help you maintain your place in that new open door. Humility will sustain you and help you to handle success in the right way. Amen!

6. Be Bold.

What? You just told us to be humble, now you are telling us to be bold? Yes I am. We can maintain humility and still be bold at the same time. The key is to be bold in Jesus and who you are in Christ! Realizing you are nothing without Him, but you are everything with Him.

We can have a zeal for God and meekness or humility for self. Jesus was humble but when it came to God and the things of God, He was bold like a lion.

Being bold in the face of fears is what we need. We need to be bold and strong knowing God is always with us. Don’t allow your fear of the open door prevent you from walking through it and keeping it. We are children of the King! We are King’s kids. We take the land that is before us for God’s glory and for His Kingdom!

Walk in the boldness of the Spirit. Walk in the gifts God has given you. As they unlock the door, you boldly do what God has called you to do. If we are timid instead of being bold at this point, we will give the land back to the enemy. We will not be victorious. We will give up.

Ask God to help see yourself through His eyes and not your own. He sees a mighty warrior! He sees the battle won. He sees a successful son or daughter following His Word and His example.

2 Corinthians 3:12 ESV

“Since we have such a hope, we are very bold,”

Having hope gives you boldness. We have the best hope ever as a Christian. Stand strong in your belief. Now is the time to tell others of Jesus’ saving power. Today is the day of salvation, Amen!

God’s Holy Spirit gives us boldness!

Acts 4:31 ESV

“And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.”

We are a Spirit-Filled church! Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you to overflowing to empower you to walk in boldness. The Holy Spirit takes our timidity away and infuses us with His presence and power. Let’s walk in this boldness everyday! Don’t be intimidated by the enemy. Sometimes we have to get out of our own way and allow God’s presence to abide in us. Once we do, we will see things from a different perspective. We will see things from God’s view. We will want to advance His Kingdom and speak forth His Word with boldness.

Allow His presence to infill you and walk in God’s boldness to open the doors and walk in the new God has for you. You were designed to communicate the Word of God to your world! Life and death are in the power of the tongue. Speak life with the boldness God wants you to walk in.

7. Be Tenacious

Tenacious: “tending to keep a firm hold of something; clinging or adhering closely.” (Webster Dictionary) Another word to describe tenacious is relentless. 

We have to be tenacious with our faith and believing for good things. If God has told you of a promise and it hasn’t come to pass yet, be tenacious and keep believing. Don’t get robbed of a blessing by letting go of your dreams God gave you.

There are several examples in the Bible of tenacious people and the reward of their tenacity.

Elisha was determined to receive a double portion from Elijah. He was promised if he sees him being taken up he will be given a double portion of Elijah’s spirit to be upon him. Many times Elijah told Elisha to stay while he would go further, but Elisha would not. He was tenacious to receive the double portion anointing and he did (2 Kings 2:1 – 15).

In Matthew 15:21-28, we read of a mother who begged Jesus for help. Initially, He refuses her, yet she continues pleading for her daughter.

Matthew 15:21 – 28 NIV

“Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.” Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.” “Yes, Lord,” she said, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”

Then Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.”

Her tenacious faith turned Christ’s heart toward her and her child, granting what the woman requested.

The parable of the persistent widow’s story as accounted in Luke 18:1-5 illustrates how we are to be tenacious.

Luke 18:1 – 5 NLT

“One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up. “There was a judge in a certain city,” he said, “who neither feared God nor cared about people. A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, saying, ‘Give me justice in this dispute with my enemy.’ The judge ignored her for a while, but finally he said to himself, ‘I don’t fear God or care about people, but this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!’”

Even as the authority (the judge) stood against her, she never let go of her hope. Be tenacious.

Samuel’s mother Hannah probably couldn’t have guessed that she’d bear a child, let alone one of the more influential prophets of the day. The despair she felt because of her physical barrenness could have crippled her faith. But, she continued to weep and pray for her miracle.

I Samuel 1:11-17 NIV

“And she made a vow, saying, “O LORD Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the LORD for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.” As she kept on praying to the LORD, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk and said to her, “How long will you keep on getting drunk? Get rid of your wine.” “Not so, my lord,” Hannah replied, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the LORD. Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.” Eli answered, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.” 

This is the year of the Open Door. Be determined to unlock and walk through any door God brings before you by using your natural gifts with the manifestations and the fruit of the Spirit. Be committed, trustworthy, and faithful all the days of your life. Stay humble as you experience success in this open door and be bold in your faith and tenacious to never give up. You will fulfill your destiny as you lean and trust in the Lord every step of the way.

Your sister in Christ,

Pastor Kris Belfils

www.KrisBelfils.com

www.HopeFellowshipSpokane.com

www.KrisBelfils.wordpress.com

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

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