Unlocking the Power of God’s Promises

Unlocking the Power of God’s Promises

Unlocking the Power of God Promises WPGod promises you and I many things, and unlike people who promise and renege (go back on a promise), God never will. He always fulfills what He promises.

God’s promises are seeds of faith, hope, and love. They are not given as options to enhance our lives occasionally, but as means that God can use to change our lives permanently. They are bridges that take us from the bondage of our old life to the freedom of our new life in Christ. They transport us from despair to hope.

2 Peter 1:3 – 4 NLT
As we know Jesus better, his divine power gives us everything we need for living and godly life. He has called us to receive his own glory and goodness! And by that same mighty power, he has given us all of his rich and wonderful promises. []He has promised that you will escape the decadence all around you caused by evil desires and that you will share in his divine nature.

When we fill our mind with the promises of God, God fills our lives with what we need. The promises empower us to overcome the doubts that erode our confidence. They open our eyes to the power and possibilities in Christ. They show us a new way to respond to life’s challenges and heartaches. They are God’s guides to our spiritual growth and vitality.  As you study these promises, here are four specific ways that they will encourage and strengthen you.

4 Ways God’s Promises encourage and strengthen you

1. God’s promises remind you of God’s love for you.

One of our greatest hindrances in times of trouble is our doubt that God is interested in our situation. Deep down, most of us assume that God doesn’t really care about our “little” problems because he is preoccupied with “bigger” things. But Jesus teaches us quite the opposite.

Luke 12:6 – 7 NLT
What is the price of five sparrows? A couple of pennies? Yet God does not forget a single one of them. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid’ you are more valuable to him than a whole flock of sparrows.

2. Let God’s promises enlarge your vision of what God can do.

When we take our eyes off of God, everything else is magnified. When we magnify God, everything else assumes its proper proportion. God’s promises are like corrective lenses, bringing our circumstances back into proper focus. They help us see life from an eternal perspective.

Romans 8:35, 38 – 39 NLT
Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or are hungry or cold or in danger or threatened with death? … I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death can’t, and life can’t. The Angels can’t, and the demons can’t. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can’t keep God’s love away. When ever we are high above the sky or in the deepest ocean, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

If we live our lives claiming God’s promises, nothing that life throws our way can come between us and God. Nothing can get in God’s way. Difficult circumstances are often when God reveals his infinite love and care for us most powerfully.

Psalm 138:8 The Passion Translation
“You keep every promise you’ve ever made to me!
Since Your love for me is so constant and endless,
I ask You, Lord, to finish every good thing
that You’ve begun in me!”

3. Let God’s promises overcome the power of discouragement and pessimism.

God’s promises break the spell that holds us in bondage to the lies, distortions, and deceptions of the devil. Many of us have a tendency to expect the worst. We assume that bad things will happen and brace ourselves for disaster.

We lose perspective because we look at our situation in the light (or the dimness) of human limitations and obstacles. But when the power of one of God’s promises breaks in, it’s like someone has turned on a bright light. We snap out of it and realize we have forgotten the most important factor in any situation: the God factor. As Paul says…

Ephesians 3:20 NLT
Now glory be to God! By his mighty power at work within us, he is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope.

4. Let God’s promises show you new ways to respond in faith.

When we are stressed, we tend to lose our sight of the many possible responses to our situation. God’s promises expand our repertoire by reminding us that we can respond differently because of who we are and what we have in Christ. When we hear Paul say from prison,

Philippians 4:13 NLT
I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need.

We realize that our joy is based on our trust in God’s power, not our outward circumstances. God’s promises remind us that God works in ways we cannot imagine. We read in …

Leviticus 26:8 NLT
Five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand! All your enemies will fall beneath the blows of your weapons.

A similar promise is found…

Joshua 23:10 NLT
Each one of you will put to flight a thousand of the enemy, for the Lord your God fights for you, just as he promised.

The Israelites watched God destroy the armies of Pharaoh without their having to lift a finger.

God used David to overcome Goliath with a single smooth stone. God enabled Gideon’s three hundred soldiers to defeat the armies of Midian, and the Lord used one hundred and twenty disciples to establish the church in Acts.

The power of God working through his promises enables us to attempt the unthinkable, to endure the unbearable, and even to forgive the unforgivable.

The power of the promises is rooted in the character of God and the power of his word. When we plant the seeds of the promises in our heart, they will bear fruit that will nourish us through life’s toughest time. As the Lord promises in …

Isaiah 55:10 – 11 NLT
The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with my words. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.

Trust God’s Promises

Let’s look at some promises on trusting God. This really is the beginning or foundation of standing on God’s promises. If we don’t trust God, we won’t believe His promises. If we don’t trust God, His Word will mean nothing to us.

2 Samuel 22:31 – 33 Amplified Bible
As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is tried. He is a Shield to me because I trust and take refuge in Him. For who is God but the Lord? And who is a Rock except our God? God is my strong Fortress; He guides the blameless in His way and sets me free!

God’s ways are perfect. His Word has been tried and is true. He is a Shield to us and we can trust Him, take refuge in Him, and depend on Him. There is no one, nothing like our God. He is immovable and a place to hide in times of trouble. We are blameless because of His Son, and we are set free from sin, depression, distress, and so much more all because we trust in the Lord and stand on His promises.

Psalm 2:2 Amplified Bible
I am blessed (happy, fortunate, and to be envied) because I seek refuge and put my trust in the Lord.

We are blessed when we trust the Lord. It brings us peace and assurance that we don’t have to try and figure things out, but that we can rely on the Lord to help us in any situation.

Psalm 18:2 – 3 Amplified Bible
The Lord is my Rock, my Fortress, and my Deliverer; my God, my keen and firm Strength in Whom I trust and take refuge, my Shield, and the Horn of my salvation, my High Tower. I call upon the Lord, Who is to be praised; so shall I be saved from my enemies.

There is always a result for our trusting in God and His word. In this case, God promises to be Lord, a Rock, a Fortress, A Deliverer, Strength, Refuge, Shield, Horn (projection) of salvation, a High and strong tower where the righteous can run to and are safe. We shall be saved from our enemies when we trust in the Lord for protection. All of these are promises for trusting in God.

Psalm 20:7 Amplified Bible
Some trust in Chariots, and some in horses’ but I remember (trust) the name of the Lord my God.

People have false security in so many things; Jobs, money, relationships, cars, their home, their education, how thing think, their own abilities, and so much more. If we replaced the words Chariots and horses, with some of the things I just mentioned, it would read like this:

“Some trust in jobs or money, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” “Some trust in education and their own abilities, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”

What this verse is saying is that anything earthly that you trust in can and will fail, but the name of the Lord will never fail us. Relationships will fade, homes can get burned up, education doesn’t promise you a job or income, cars, or our own abilities will fail us, but God will never fail. He is trustworthy.

Psalm 31:14 – 15 Amplified Bible
I trust in, rely on, and am confident in You, O Lord; I say, You are my God. My times are in Your hands.

God is the one who created us. He knows our beginning and our end on this earth. Our times are truly in His hands. We can be confident that He has our best interest at heart. Who else to trust in then our Creator and sustainer. It is a win – win situation. God wants us to trust and rely on Him, and in turn He takes care of us.

Psalm 56:3 – 4 Amplified Bible
When I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?

There is something more important then life on earth; Eternal life in Heaven. Because of this, if man steals from us, tortures us, belittles us, ignores us, it doesn’t matter, they can NEVER take God away from us, no matter how hard they try or threat. People can take our cars, our homes, and even our friendships on earth, but they can NEVER take our relationship with God from us. That is why Christians have been targeted all over the world. We have something that no one can take away. We have a promise from the ultimate Promise Giver that brings life and freedom in the face of turmoil. It is something the world doesn’t understand until they make the same decision we have; Accept Christ as their Lord and Savior and live for Him on this earth. Giving God control brings FREEDOM!

Proverbs 3:5 – 8 Amplified Bible
I lean on, trust in, and am, confident in the Lord with all my heart and mind and I do not rely on my own insight or understanding. In all my ways I know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He directs and makes straight and plain my paths. I am not wise in my own eyes; I reverently fear and worship the Lord and turn [entirely] away from evil. It shall be health to my nerves and sinews, and marrow and moistening to my bones.

These are my favorite verses in the Bible. I have lived by them all my Christian life. Don’t lean on and rely on anything or anyone else but the Lord. Put your whole heart, mind, and passions into it. Trust God’s wisdom. Don’t rely on your own understanding or insight. Whatever we do, wherever we go, God is with you, so keep Him first and foremost in your thoughts and life. Don’t get haughty and think you know everything, because you don’t. Fear and worship the Lord and turn away from anything evil. Turn away from anything that doesn’t please the Lord, anything that goes contrary to His Word.

Proverbs 29:25 Amplified Bible
The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever leans on, trusts in, and puts his confidence in the Lord is safe and set on high.

Amen, Amen, Amen! Don’t fall in the trap of being afraid of people. Don’t get snared in trying to win their approval. Who is man that we want them to approve of us anyway? God is the only one we should desire for His approval. Put your confidence in God and He will set you on high. He will lift you up. He will even prepare a table before you in the presence of your enemies (Psalm 23). That is the God we love and serve. Man will let you down. People will disprove of you. It is okay, because you have God’s approval. Nothing else matters.

Nahum 1:7 Amplified Bible
The Lord is good, a Strength and Stronghold in the day of trouble; He knows (recognizes, has knowledge of, and understands) those who take refuge and trust in Him.

The Lord is good! He is strong and Who we can cling to in trouble. He knows everything about us, and understands us even when others don’t. We can take refuge and trust in Him always.

Hebrews 2:13 Amplified Bible
My trust and assured reliance and confident hope is fixed in Him.

Fix your hope, your confidence on the Lord. He is the best foundation to stand on. All other ground is sinking sand. God will never put you to shame for trusting in Him… Never! His name is at stake.

Psalm 25:3 NLT
No one who trusts in you will ever be disgraced (put to shame), but disgrace comes to those who try to deceive others.

Psalm 25:3 GNT
Defeat does not come to those who trust in you, but to those who are quick to rebel against you.

There is no better life than a life following God. It is so fulfilling, so joyful, so reassuring, and everlasting. The promises of God have so much power in them.

We need to search God’s word and allow the rich and wonderful promises water our faith, refresh our soul, and lead us into the life Christ made possible for each one of us today.

Your sister in Christ,

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

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I Pinky Promise

PinkyPromise3When you and I were children, there was a saying we’d often hear. I’m going to say the first half of the saying and let’s see if you know the 2nd half:

“Cross my heart and (hope to die)”
What was that child saying?
They were saying they’d made a promise, and if they were to break that promise they would expect something bad to happen.

Actually, the original phrase is a little longer:
“Cross my heart and hope to die. Stick a needle in my eye.”

The only thing kids could think of that was worse than dying was sticking needles in their eyes – and I would tend to agree. Kids understand the importance of promises. In fact parents have learned that they need to be very careful what promises they make to their kids.

When I really want someone to promise me something I put up my pinky and say, “I Pinky Promise?” If the other person wants to make the promise, they will put up one of their pinky fingers and connect it with my pinky finger and shake on it and say, “I pinky promise.” If they “pinky promised,” in my mind, they would keep their promise. But often they didn’t.

As my girls were growing up I learned that if I told them that…
• I was going to do something for them
• I was going to take them someplace
• I was going to get something for them.
and then (for whatever reason) I didn’t do that, you know what they’d say to me?
BUT YOU PROMISED!

As children we learned that promises are important and need to be kept. God understands that and so He has repeatedly told us throughout the Bible that if He makes a promise He’ll keep it. And in the Bible one of the most significant kind of promises God made were called “Covenants”.

God has made many promises or covenants with us. But, unlike people in our life, he keeps his promises. God has “Pinky Promised” all of us many promises and He is true to His promises!

1 Corinthians 1:20 NIV
For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.

Hebrews 10:23
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.

A promise is a declaration of some benefit to be granted.

The Webster’s Dictionary gives us this: One’s pledge to another to do or not to do something specified, narrowly, a declaration which gives to the person to whom it is made a right to expect or to claim the performance or forbearance of a specified act.
Ground for hope, expectation or the assurance, often specified of eventual success.
That which is promised—To engage to do, give, make, obtain: to make to another a promise of; also, to give one’s promise to assure as “He will go, I promise you.” To show or suggest beforehand.

The word “promise” is used more than 100 times in the Bible, there are other terms implying the same thought. The Old Testament is a record of God’s promises to patriarchs, kings, prophets, Israel, lowly saints, and to the world at large. The Hebrew noun, []dither, is generally rendered “word,” but “promise is found in…

1 Kings 8:56
According to all that He promised: there hath not failed one word of all His good promise.

Nehemiah 5:12 – 13
That they should do according to the promise.

Another Hebrew word for “promise” is omer, meaning “saying.” This is the term used in “Doth his promise fail for evermore?” (Psalms 77:8) Also, Psalm 68:11 “The Lord gave the word.”

Psalm 105:42 RV
He remembered his holy word. (Holy saying)

This reminds us that God’s Holy Word is always a Holy promise (a pinky promise). From cover to cover of the Bible it is filled with God’s promises for us. One could say it is God’s promise book for all people.

2 Timothy 3:16a NKJV
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God…

It’s divine promises must be God-breathed, and therefore impossible of not being fulfilled. Knowing this information makes me say farewell to any doubt and trust my God fully and completely.

Furthermore, His promises are backed by His faithfulness which runs like a golden thread through His Word. All writers of the Bible magnify God for His unfailing faithfulness to all generations. That’s a pinky promise if I ever saw one!

Deut. 7:9
Know therefore that the Lord thy God, He is God, the faithful God, which kept covenant and mercy with them that love Him and keep His commandment to a thousand generations.

Hebrews 10:23
He is faithful that promised.

1 Thess. 5:24 “Faithful is he that calleth you, who will also do it.

God’s faithfulness, then, is our special ground of encouragement as we apply His promises.

Lamentations 3:23
Great is Thy faithfulness.

Looking just at the names of God, each one designates a promise:

-El Shaddai – Lord God Almighty
-El Elyon – The Most High God
-Adonai – Lord, Master
-Yahweh – Lord, Jehovah
-Jehovah Nissi – The Lord My Banner
-Jehovah-Raah – The Lord is my Shepherd
-Jehovah Rapha – The Lord that heals
-Jehovah Shammah – The Lord is there
-Jehovah Tsidkenu – The Lord our righteousness
-Jehovah Mekoddishkem – The Lord who sanctifies you
-El Olam – The everlasting God
-Elohim – God
-Qanna – Jealous
-Jehovah Jireh – The Lord will provide
-Jehovah Shalom – The Lord is peace
-Jehovah Sabaoth – The Lord of Hosts

Let me pick one of those names, Jehovah Jireh, and share a promise:

Philippiains 4:19
My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Let’s look at one of God’s promises and dissect it today:

Psalm 34:17 NKJV
The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, And delivers them out of all their troubles.

“The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears…

One of the biggest advantages of being righteous is the privilege of crying out to God or calling out His name with the assurance that He will deliver us. It is a privilege to call upon God; a privilege of prayer. There is no blessing superior.

Can you imagine what a world this would be if we couldn’t cry out to God for help? How sad, how helpless, how wretched if there were no God for the guilty, the helpless, the broken, the suffering, or the sinner to call to.

More scripture on calling out to God.

Isaiah 65:24
It shall come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear.

Psalm 91:15
He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him.

Psalm 145:18 – 19
The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He also will hear their cry and save them.

Jeremiah 33:3
Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.

…And delivers them out of all their troubles.

He often delivers them from trouble in this life.
He will deliver them literally from all trouble in the life to come.

The promise is not that they shall be delivered from all trouble on earth, but the idea is that God is able to rescue them from trouble here; that he often does it through prayer; and that there will be, in the case of every righteous person, a sure and complete deliverance from all trouble here after.

There are a few verses that go along with Psalm 34:17.

Psalm 34:6
This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him, And saved him out of all his troubles.

The word “poor” here does not mean “poor” in the sense of a want of wealth, but “poor” in the sense of being afflicted, crushed, forsaken, desolate. The word “miserable” would better express the idea than the word “poor.”

…And the Lord heard him – That is, heard in the sense of “answered.” He regarded his cry, and saved him.

Psalm 34:19
Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.

This is not to say the righteous have more afflictions then the unrighteous. But the righteous do have suffering and trials. The good news is that God sustains us in our trials. He supports us and makes beauty from ashes. He turns trials into triumphs!

As a Christian, we are never alone in the middle of any trial. God is always with us. Even when we go through deep waters, we are not alone.

Isaiah 43:2 NLT
When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.

Isn’t it amazing to realize all these verses are actually promises from God to help us in our everyday life? I love it! God tenderly holds us with these verses to reassure us that we have help in all situations. They are “Pinky Promises” from God that He never ever stops fulfilling!

I am excited for this new series we are embarking on. I need to get the promises of God in my heart and I believe you do too. We will grow and learn as we look as some powerful promises together.

Let me leave you with a quote from Dwight L. Moody:

“Take the promises of God. Let a man feed for a month on the promises of God, and he will not talk about how poor he is. You hear people say, ‘Oh, my leanness! how lean I am!” It is not their leanness, it is their laziness. If you would only read from Genesis to Revelation and see all the promises made by God to Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob, to the Jews and to the Gentiles, and to all His people everywhere — If you would spend a month feeding on the precious promises of God — you wouldn’t be going about complaining how poor you are. You would lift up your head and proclaim the riches of His Grace, because you couldn’t help doing it!”
Dwight L. Moody

Your sister,

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

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus in 2016

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus in 2016

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus WPThis is a pivotal time. It is a transition time. A lot has happened in 2015. I am sure as you place a mental calendar in front of your mind’s eye you could tell me all kinds of things that happened in your life each month. Some good and some bad. Now we are in 2016. A new year.

This past year has been a journey for us all. For some the road has brought joy, for others pain. We look and see a broken world. As we gaze at all the craziness around us our hearts can feel uncertain. Fear of the unknown can set in. We can look at 2016 and feel anything but secure. We wonder if HOPE is losing. We have been talking about HOPE since the end of September. My heart was to get it in our spirit to the point no matter what we go through or what the future holds, we can face it with the Hope we have in God and His promises. As this new year begins, what do we do? We are to:

TURN OUR EYES UPON JESUS!

LOOK FULL IN HIS WONDERFUL FACE

AND THE THINGS OF EARTH WILL GROW STRANGELY DIM

IN THE LIGHT OF HIS GLORY AND GRACE

The author of “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus,” Lilias Trotter, wrote:  It is easy to find out whether our lives are focused, and if so, where the focus lies. Where do our thoughts settle when consciousness comes back in the morning? Where do they swing back when the pressure is off during the day? Dare to have it out with God, and ask Him to show you whether or not all is focused on Christ and His Glory. Turn your soul’s vision to Jesus, and look and look at Him, and a strange dimness will come over all that is apart from Him. – Lilias Trotter

We are embarking on a new year. Now is the time for New Beginnings. Now is the time to release all the bad that has happened in 2015 and let it go. Forgive who you need to forgive. Let go of events or circumstances that brought despair or destruction. Leave it in 2015. Leave it at Christ’s feet. Walk into 2016 strengthened by these things instead of allowing them to overtake you. This new year is a year of breakthrough and change. We are moving forward, holding God’s hand, and our heads up knowing we are not alone.

We serve a God of endings and beginnings. We cannot have a new beginning without something coming to an end. In this case, it’s 2015. Turning our eyes upon Jesus and looking into His wonderful face will protect our hearts from any despair or downheartedness. We need this! You and I need to protect our hearts from falling into any trap the enemy, satan, wants to use to bring disillusion and confusion.

Turning our eyes upon Jesus is a command in Scripture.

Hebrews 12:2a NKJV

looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith

Hebrews 12:2a Amplified Bible

[looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity],

The Bible tells us to look and to fix our eyes on Jesus. Make this be your New Year’s resolution for 2016. No matter what, you keep your eyes on Jesus. No matter how many bills you have to pay; Keep your eyes on Jesus! No matter all the things that can go wrong; Keep your eyes on Jesus! No matter what tries to distract you; Keep your eyes on Jesus. No matter how many disappointments you may encounter; Keep your eyes on Jesus. Know that []a disappointment can sometimes be a divine appointment in disguise! 

Our prayer should be:

Lord, I keep my eyes on You! I know you are good to me. I know You are watching over me. You are working all things for my good this past year and the year to come. I let go of my desires, or what I think should happen, and focus on You and Your desires. I want what You want. I will do what You want me to do. I just know I need you desperately, always in my life. I soak in Your love. I soak in Your goodness. 2016 is going to be an amazing year because You have brought it to me! Thank you for Your peace and assurance that I am standing on solid ground when I keep my eyes on You!

Delayed Gratification

As we turn our eyes upon Jesus and stay focused, it keeps us on the right path. Being on the right path and walking forward in all that God brings us to do, we will receive a gratifying reward.

There is the principle of delayed gratification. We can see this principle at work in our own lives. There are times when we must give up the good to obtain the best.

•If one of our resolutions is to lose weight, we give up certain foods so that we might lose weight.

•Students give up a night out with friends to study for final exams.

•A young man gives up dinner and a movie because he is saving to buy a new car.

There is sacrifice involved. One pleasure is sacrificed so that a higher one might be achieved. It is amazing what we can sacrifice or give up if we really want something or really want to do something. There is a higher level of delayed gratification that involves enduring pain to receive a reward.

This is why athletes lift weights at 6:00 a.m., while their friends are still in bed. They give up sleep, in order to win a championship.

This is why aspiring pianists practice for hours when they might be watching TV or playing video games. They put in the hours in the hope that some day they may play for thousands.

In all these things there is a pain involved, but it is pain endured for the sake of the joy that comes when the goal is reached.

What has your year been like? God spoke to me that this past year we have endured. We have given up much. We have sacrificed much. We have been faithful at Hope Fellowship. The Lord impressed on my heart that 2016 will be the year of reward…. the gratification of the sacrifices we have made.

I want to share personally in my life some sacrifices to allow you to see possibly in your life something similar and to know that this delayed gratification of not seeing the results we want right away will be worth it all when God brings His rewards with Him!

Personally: My family and I are here every Sunday and Friday nights serving you. All the surgeries, and all the health issues I endured in 2015. All the tears shed in 2015 for the lost, broken, and for Hope Fellowship. All the hours spent counseling, encouraging others, and training my staff. All the time spent in prayer for Hope Fellowship and those who attend. All the sermons prepared, and worship sets planned and played. All the studying and preparing. All the graphic design and computer work… God is bringing a reward, gratification, and transition into the new He has waiting in my life!

Now turn that onto you. What have you sacrificed this past year? What have you gone through and still kept your faith. What did you obey day in and day out that God required? Obedience brings blessing! God is telling you today that YOU WILL have much reward for your efforts. He sees all and is a rewarder to those who diligently seek Him.

Hebrews 11:6 Amplified Bible

But without faith it is impossible to [walk with God and] please Him, for whoever comes [near] to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He rewards those who [earnestly and diligently] seek Him.

Please don’t give up in doing good. We will receive a reward. People go to work to receive a reward in the form of a paycheck. There are so many examples of preparing and doing things, that in time, will produce something of value.

Galatians 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.

That is why keeping our eyes on Jesus throughout the year keeps our focus where it should be. This helps us to keep on keeping on in spite of our circumstances. It reminds us that God is fighting for us and our situation is not going unnoticed. God sees our situation and He is MIGHTY to save! He is in the “saving business!” It is His speciality.

It is amazing the benefits we receive when we turn our eyes upon Jesus and keep our gaze there. Distractions grow strangely dim, they can’t help it. Nothing compares to the light, the powerful love God pours into us when our focus turns to Him.

So, keep your eyes on Jesus. Don’t be distracted by the things of the world.

Keep running. Don’t look back. Fix your eyes on Jesus and run with all your might for the finish line. Rejoice in Who you are looking at.

T. E. Marsh wrote on the fullness that is in Christ Jesus.

This a paraphrase of what he wrote:

•In Christ there is full acceptance, therefore do not doubt Him.

•In Christ there is peace, therefore trust Him.

•In Christ there is life, therefore abide in Him.

•In Christ there is blessing, therefore delight in Him.

•In Christ there is light, therefore follow Him.

•In Christ there is power, therefore wait on Him.

•In Christ there is all truth, therefore learn from Him.

•In Christ there is grace, therefore receive from Him.

•In Christ there is joy, therefore rejoice in Him.

•In Christ there is unlimited wealth, therefore depend on Him.

•In Christ there is strength, therefore lean on Him.

This is Who you are looking at! All these attributes and so much more. This is real hope for the new year. Everything we need, we have in Christ.

He has all the hope, all the love, all the acceptance, all the grace, all the power, all the strength, all the wisdom, all the patience, all the guidance, all the encouragement, all the joy, all the endurance, all the gentleness, all the forgiveness, all the determination, all the strength, and all the blessing that we need.

The Lord Jesus has already run the race for you. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, and we will run well. Keep your eye on the prize, Jesus, in 2016 and beyond.

Today, if you haven’t placed your gaze upon Jesus, now is the time. Set yourself up to look in the right direction. There is no better place to stare at then in the light of His glory and grace!

Pastor Kris Belfils

www.KrisBelfils.com

www.HopeFellowshipSpokane.com

www.KrisBelfils.WordPress.com

Parables of Lost Things – The Father and the Lost Son

Parables of Lost Things – The Father and the Lost Son

Parables - Lost and Found Mini SeriesWords are powerful. With our words we can speak life or death. With our speech we can put people in bondage or set them free. With the words we think or say we can bring healing or torment. James talks about the tongue being a rudder that steers the whole ship, or a bit in the horse’s mouth.

James 3:2 – 12 (Amplified Bible)
“For we all often stumble and fall and offend in many things. And if anyone does not offend in speech [never says the wrong things], he is a fully developed character and a perfect man, able to control his whole body and to curb his entire nature. If we set bits in the horses’ mouths to make them obey us, we can turn their whole bodies about. Likewise, look at the ships: though they are so great and are driven by rough winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the impulse of the helmsman determines. Even so the tongue is a little member, and it can boast of great things. See how much wood or how great a forest a tiny spark can set ablaze! And the tongue is a fire. [The tongue is a] world of wickedness set among our members, contaminating and depraving the whole body and setting on fire the wheel of birth (the cycle of man’s nature), being itself ignited by hell (Gehenna). For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea animal, can be tamed and has been tamed by human genius (nature). But the human tongue can be tamed by no man. It is a restless (undisciplined, irreconcilable) evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse men who were made in God’s likeness! Out of the same mouth come forth blessing and cursing. These things, my brethren, ought not to be so. Does a fountain send forth [simultaneously] from the same opening fresh water and bitter? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine figs? Neither can a salt spring furnish fresh water.”

We can take a look at one of the parable’s of Jesus to see how much power words really have. In the parable of the Prodigal Son, there are three characters. Each one speaks words and acts upon them.

Luke 15:11 – 32 (Amplified Bible)
“And He said, There was a certain man who had two sons; And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the part of the property that falls [to me]. And he divided the estate between them. And not many days after that, the younger son gathered up all that he had and journeyed into a distant country, and there he wasted his fortune in reckless and loose [from restraint] living. And when he had spent all he had, a mighty famine came upon that country, and he began to fall behind and be in want. So he went and forced (glued) himself upon one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed hogs. And he would gladly have fed on and filled his belly with the carob pods that the hogs were eating, but [they could not satisfy his hunger and] nobody gave him anything [better]. Then when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father have enough food, and [even food] to spare, but I am perishing (dying) here of hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; [just] make me like one of your hired servants. So he got up and came to his [own] father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with pity and tenderness [for him]; and he ran and embraced him and kissed him [fervently]. And the son said to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son [I no longer deserve to be recognized as a son of yours]! But the father said to his bond servants, Bring quickly the best robe (the festive robe of honor) and put it on him; and give him a ring for his hand and sandals for his feet. And bring out that [wheat-]fattened calf and kill it; and let us revel and feast and be happy and make merry, Because this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found! And they began to revel and feast and make merry. But his older son was in the field; and as he returned and came near the house, he heard music and dancing. And having called one of the servant [boys] to him, he began to ask what this meant. And he said to him, Your brother has come, and your father has killed that [wheat-]fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and well. But [the elder brother] was angry [with deep-seated wrath] and resolved not to go in. Then his father came out and began to plead with him, But he answered his father, Look! These many years I have served you, and I have never disobeyed your command. Yet you never gave me [so much as] a [little] kid, that I might revel and feast and be happy and make merry with my friends; But when this son of yours arrived, who has devoured your estate with immoral women, you have killed for him that [wheat-] fattened calf! And the father said to him, Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But it was fitting to make merry, to revel and feast and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and is alive again! He was lost and is found!”

This is the story of The Prodigal Son.

Prodigal in the dictionary means, “Wastefully, or recklessly extravagant, giving or yielding profusely; lavish, lavishly abundant, profuse, a person who spends, or has spent his or her money or substance with wasteful extravagance.”

We act upon what we say:

1. Younger son spoke – Younger son dwelt on what was going to be his “someday.” He asked his father: “… give me the part of the property that falls [to me].”( Luke 15:12)

The younger son had been thinking about this for some time and planned on asking his father for what was rightfully his… but this only comes when the father has passed away.

Action of his words:

“And not many days after that, the younger son gathered up all that he had and journeyed into a distant country, and there he wasted his fortune in reckless and loose [from restraint] living.” (Luke 15:13)

He wanted to go out and live his own life the way he wanted to live it. His actions reflected what he was thinking and again he acted upon it. He spent his money recklessly extravagantly. This is being a prodigal.

2. He came to himself

He spoke words to himself again:

“How many hired servants of my father have enough food, and [even food] to spare, but I am perishing (dying) here of hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; [just] make me like one of your hired servants.” (Luke 15:17-19 Amp)

Action of his words:

“So he got up and came to his own father.” (Luke 15:20 Amp)

He acted on his words and left for home. But this time he had “come to himself.”

We Come To Ourself

We come to our self when we realize we can’t make it on our own. We come to our self when we see that all our choices have made big mistakes in our life. We come to our self when we give up control and give it back to our Heavenly Father. We come to our self when we go to the Father and ask Him to forgive us of our wrong we have done.

We all need to “come to ourselves” from time to time. If we don’t we will lead ourselves astray. We will “self-destruct” without God! We, as sinners, are slow to come to our self and go back to God, but God is quick to run to us as He sees our brokenness and repentive heart.

3. The Father saw his son from a far off and ran to him.

The Father always was waiting and looking for the son to come home. He longed for him to be home. For the father to see him from a far off, you know he was constantly thinking about the way-word son and looking for his return.

God always has His eye on us, waiting for us to move towards Him!
You might feel far away from God.
You may have distance yourself from Him for some reason. Know this; God has his eye on you, waiting for you to draw near.

“I do not know that the prodigal saw his father, but his father saw him. The eyes of mercy are quicker than the eyes of repentance. Even the eyes of our faithWhy are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues? Fix my eyes on God— soon I’ll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He’s my God. (Psalm 42:5 MSG) are dim compared with the eye of God’s love. He sees a sinner long before a sinner sees Him…. He was resolve to come, yet he was half afraid. But we read that his father ran. Slow are the steps of repentance, but swift are the feet of forgiveness. God can run where we scarcely limp, and if we are limping towards Him, He will run towards us. The father “saw” his son. There is a great deal in that word, “saw.” He saw who it was; saw where he had come from; saw the swineherd’s dress; saw the filth upon his hands and feet; saw his rags; saw his penitent look; saw what he had been; saw what he was; and saw what he would soon be. His father saw him.” God has a way of seeing men and women in a way you and I cannot understand. He sees right through us at a glance, as if we were made of glass; He sees all our past, present and future.”
C.H. Spurgeon (wrote in a sermon on the Prodigal Son)

The Father had prodigal love towards his son as he was moved with pity and tenderness [for him]; and he ran and embraced him and kissed him [fervently]. (Luke 15:20)

Other translations read:

“… fell upon his neck and affectionately kissed him.” (New Testament In Modern English)

His father extravagantly kissed him and loved on him. He was waiting and anticipating his son to come home. I am sure the father always had his son on his mind. Any loving father would.

His father showed more extravagant love for his son as he said to bring the best robe (festive robe of honor) and put it on him; and give him a ring for his hand and sandals for his feet. This signifies kingship, authority, rule and reign. I am sure the son didn’t feel like he deserved it. He knew what he did and where he came from. His father gave him all that, and a fatten cow to eat, and celebrate the homecoming with his friends. We act upon what we say!

The father spoke: 

“Bring quickly the best robe (the festive robe of honor and put it on him; and give him a ring for his hand and sandals for his feet. And bring out that [wheat-] fattened calf and kill it; and let us revel and feast and be happy and make merry, Because this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!” (Luke 15:22 – 24 Amplified Bible)

When we stray it hurts the Father. The Father will mourn like someone is dead. He will ache in His heart until we come back like someone who has lost a precious jewel and longs to find it.

Action He took:

He lavished His love on the prodigal son and gave him even more than before! The Father sees you! He knows where you have been. He knows what you have done. He knows what you have spoken, and He knows your name!

We don’t have to worry about the past. God has wiped it all away the moment we repent. We don’t have to worry about our future because God has prepared ahead of time what we will need. All we have to do is trust God with our lives and allow Him to be the Father.

Anger and jealously will make us act first…

4. The older son’s actions:

“But [the elder brother] was angry [with deep-seated wrath] and resolved not to go in.” (Luke 15:28 Amp)

In this case, he took action before he spoke to his father. But his “actions spoke louder than words,” as the father pleaded with him to join in the celebration.

The older son spoke:

“Look! These many years I have served you, and I have never disobeyed your command. Yet you never gave me [so much as] a [little] kid, that I might revel and feast and be happy and make merry with my friends; But when this son of yours arrived, who has devoured your estate with immoral women, you have killed for him that [wheat-] fattened calf!” (Luke 15:29-30 Amp)

The older son spoke with jealously and anger. He didn’t understand why his father would lavish so much love on his younger brother after all the WRONG that he did. It didn’t make sense to him.

Mercy and grace never makes sense to someone who is not the receiver, only the one who receives.

When jealously and anger grips our hearts it paralyzes us. It makes us do things that are selfish. The older son was offended because all he could see is the “good” he had done and the “bad” his brother did.

Being critical or judgmental towards others is a sin. The older brother was just as guilty of wrong as the younger brother.

5. The father spoke:

“And the father said to him, Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But it was fitting to make merry, to revel and feast and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and is alive again! He was lost and is found!” (Luke 15:31-32 Amp)

This parable was spoken to the tax collectors and Scribes and Pharisees.

Luke 15:1-2
“Now all the tax collectors and the sinners were coming near Him to listen to Him. Both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” (Luke 15:1-2 Amp.)

The church is likened to that of the older son. Maybe you have been a child of God most of your life. Do you get critical towards sinners? Do you cast a judgmental eye towards those that have fallen or that keep falling? We can get judgmental towards the lost ones that come in as they may not talk like us or walk like us. We can think of them as “less then” because of their past. This is sin! God wants us to let go of the judgment and celebrate the change in people’s lives. We need to rejoice over one lost sinner that comes to Jesus and treat them with respect and love. Love will always receive; jealously and judgment always pushes away.

What have you been speaking to yourself lately? Are they words of hope or discouragement? What have you been speaking about people lately? Are they words of hope or judgment?

Maybe you can relate more with the Prodigal son. Do you feel like you can’t come back to God because of your past? Do you feel lost and all alone? Do you identify with the prodigal son? Do you identify with the older brother?

God sees everything. He knows your name! We can come to God and ask for forgiveness no matter what we have thought, spoke, or have done. No matter what actions you have taken with your words, God is there waiting for you to embrace Him.

There is power in our words. Let’s do the right thing with our actions and run to God and experience His extravagant love He has waiting for you!

Prayer:
Lord, I need You. I am sorry for leaving You and doing my own thing, going my own way. Please run to me. I come back to you. I don’t deserve your acceptance, but I am so thankful you always give it to me. Today I turn from going my own way, and choose Your way. Thank you for Your forgiveness. Thank You for a new start. Amen!

Your sister in Christ,

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

Be An Encourager

Be An EncouragerOne of the great tragedies of our time is that there are so few kind people around. There are plenty of mean spirited, critical, cynical people, but there are few who just take the time to be kind as a lifestyle.

I believe that this is how every child of God ought to be. Let’s be honest, all of us are at times opinionated, self-centered, rude and sometimes just plain mean in our dealings with other people. This ought not to be! I believe that the Lord would have us to practice a ministry of encouragement as we pass through this world.

Fifty-seven years ago, on June 18, 1956, a freak accident happened on a lake in New York. A speeding motorboat bounced on a wave and shot into the water two of its passengers, a 50-year old man and a little girl. To keep her from drowning, the man held her head above water while the boat circled back. They rescued the girl. But the man sank and drowned.

That’s how Dawson Trotman died, the founder of the Navigators, an international discipleship ministry. According to a quote in Time Magazine, “He lived to save others. His death was just the way he would have planned it.” I read somewhere that his obituary reads like this: “Dawson Trotman, always lifting someone up.”

Now that’s a legacy. Would that be yours, too? That you live to save others? That you always lift someone up? In a word, encouragement. Today, we will talk about “The Power of Encouragement.”

Be An Encourager

Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV)

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

In the Greek, the word “encourage” means “to call to one’s side, to comfort, to console, to strengthen.” Basically, to put courage in. At the time of the writing of Hebrews, there was a great persecution. Our tendency during such trying times would be to save our skin or to each his own. But, the book of Hebrews encourages us to encourage one another.

“Encouragement is the kind of expression that helps someone want to be a better Christian, even when life is rough… To encourage is to inspire another with courage.”

Unknown

Your very encouragement could be the very thing to help someone survive!

It is interesting to note that the Greek word for “encourage” is the one used for the name “Comforter” of the Holy Spirit (John 14:16). People usually equate the works of the Spirit with signs and wonders. But, when we encourage one another, we show that the Spirit really dwells among us. Encouragement, I believe, is the best indicator that the Spirit is working in and through our church.

The word “encourage” is in the present tense. It means a habit or a way of life. In fact, Hebrews commands us to “encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today” (Hebrews 3:13). It is also in the active voice. It means we don’t wait for others to encourage us. But we take the initiative. We must encourage even if others could not, even if others would not. Note that we are to “encourage one another”. That means that it is not only for pastors but for every one of us.

Hebrews 3:12-13 

“See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”

When a person is discouraged, when we fail to encourage, sin can deceive and harden his heart to the point that it becomes sinful and unbelieving, leading the person to turn his back from God.

“People live by encouragement. Without it they die. Slowly… Sadly… Bitterly.”

Unknown

Going back to:

Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV)

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

“let us consider…” It means “to observe attentively, fix one’s eyes or mind upon.” In short, we are to focus on encouraging one another. It is never accidental but intentional.

I like how The Message expresses it: “Let’s see how inventive we can be…” Let us think of creative ways of encouraging others.

14 Ways To Encourage Others 101

1.  Encourage someone by using your gifts and talents and making something for them.

How special it is when we use our encouragement and God given gifts to help others. It’s such a simple thing to give to others using our natural gifts, whatever that gift is in each of us such as encouraging with a written card, or  cooking a meal for someone, or giving a piece of your art, or singing a song to them, etc…. I think we sometimes dismiss this idea because we don’t think the gift we have, could make a difference in the life of someone else, BUT IT DOES!

2.  Encourage someone by praying for them.

3.  Encourage someone by praising them when they do good! (Be specific and truthful)

Saying, “Good Job” can go a long way in someone heart. You know how it is if you worked hard on something and nobody noticed. Learn how to give words of praise.  (LIST of encouraging phrases)

4.  Encourage someone by giving them a hug.

A hug goes a long long long way! Never underestimate the power of a hug. A hug is comforting. It reassures the receiver that you care and are interested in their life. Hugging someone brings security. If you want to get closer to someone, give them a hug.

We could learn form the way team athletes freely pat, touch, and high-five each other in competition. Often even a touch on the shoulder connects you with someone else. A touch expresses connection. It breaks down walls and allows freer conversation and interaction.

“A hug is the perfect gift–one size fits all,

and nobody minds if you exchange it.”

–Ivern Ball

5.  If an encouraging thought comes to mind, share it!

6.  When someone is discouraged or hurting, offer specific, practical help.

7.  Remind fellow Christians of the specific promises of God for their situation.

8.  Write someone a note of encouragement when God places them on your heart.

9.  Make celebration a more regular part of your relationships. (Celebrate the good)

10.  If you are part of a church Bible study or Fellowship, be committed to showing up!

How does this help? You could be the encouragement someone needs. You could receive encouragement from someone. Being faithful in fellowship makes you stronger in your faith. Being faithful encourages your Pastor or leader!

11.  If someone you know is working on a large project, send her a flower, or text him words of encouragement! 

12.  Use encouragement as an outreach!

Encouraging a non-Christian shows your Christian witness. It shows you care. Encouraging someone is a form of love, and Christians should be known by their love.

13.  When you see someone making positive changes in their life, affirm them.

14.  Tell people how they have encouraged you! (Even an encourager needs encouragement!)

Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV)

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

Verse 24 continues, “let us consider how we may spur one another on…”

To spur means “to stir up, provoke, stimulate or incite someone to do something.” In other words, to create a thirst. A thirst for what? “toward love and good deeds.” That’s how we measure encouragement. It is not a fuzzy feeling. Always remember, as the song goes, “Feelings are nothing more than feelings.” If someone became a more loving person or a better person, then we really encouraged him or her.

Verse 25 says, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

We usually use this verse to remind people to be faithful in attending church services. However, note the conjunction “but”. It gives a strong contrast between the clauses “Let us not give up meeting together” and “let us encourage one another”. That means that, even if we attend church services, if we fail to encourage others, we have not obeyed this verse to the full extent. Encouragement is the purpose of our meeting together, whether it is a worship service or a small group meeting.

“It is easy to laugh at men’s ideals; it is easy to discourage others. The world is full of discouragers. We have a Christian duty to encourage one another. Many a time a word of praise or thanks or appreciation or cheer has kept a man on his feet. Blessed is the man who speaks such a word.” 

William Barclay

So what about you? Are you an encourager? Even if it is not your personality, there is hope! Allow yourself to be more like Jesus and you are on your way to being an encourager. Jesus had compassion on people and touched them. Even when other people were ready to stone the Adulterous woman, Jesus was offering forgiveness and hope.

How easy it is to keep to yourself and not reach out to others who are hurting. But that is just being selfish and weak. It takes a strong person, willing to step outside of their comfort box, and help another human being. Let it be you!

Remember the time you needed encouragement. What if no one was willing to help you? Where would you be? What if Jesus decided to be selfish and not go to the cross for you and I? Where would we be?

This is a pretty simple message today, but it is so needed in the body of Christ. Hope Fellowship is a church built on family, love, and support. We are the “Imperfect who are perfectly welcome to passionately know Christ and make Him known.” This is our mission statement! May it begin with me. May it begin with you. Let us be a church who is known for our acceptance and ministry of encouragement towards others. Do you know this is what people crave?

Let’s read the main text again:

Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV)

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

Your Pastor,

Kris Belfils

www.krisbelfils.com

www.hopefellowshipspokane.com

www.krisbelfils.wordpress.com

How To Encourage Yourself In The Lord

How To Encourage Yourself In The LordAll of us need encouragement. It is a tool that increases our confidence and inspires us to act with courage, spirit and strength. That is what we need! We don’t need anyone around to discourage us… instead we need encouragement. First and foremost we need to learn how to encourage ourselves. We are the only person we are with twenty four hours each day, seven days a week: 24/7 is our time with ourselves. We need to be equipped with tools to help us minister to ourselves.

Video: “Encourage Yourself

David strengthened himself in the Lord

Before David was king in the Old Testament, God brought him through many difficult trials, hardships, rejection, and pain. We all know David as a “Man after God’s own heart.” His relationship with the Lord was highly unusual for his day because the entire outlook for worship in Israel at the time was focused on the sacrifice of animals to temporarily deal with sin, and not the sacrifice of praise from the heart. His heart led him beyond the letter of the law to the heart of the Lord. David learned how to rely completely on God for victory. David’s trust for God did not change with each circumstance. David had integrity of heart. His heart was forever faithful to God in-spite of his circumstances.

David was anointed to be king, but he didn’t assume the throne until 10 – 13 years after Samuel had anointed him. God was grooming David for greatness. He was being groomed for the throne of Israel. He endured more difficulty, persecution, and rejection than many of us face in a lifetime. David developed strength of character that only comes by winning private battles.

Read 1 Samuel 30:1 – 6

David learned the ability to do something in the face of the deepest betrayal and rejection imaginable. When he stood completely alone, that is when David “strengthened himself in the Lord his God.” (1 Samuel 30:6)

1 Samuel 30:6 

“Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters…”

How would you respond to a situation like that? Without question I would feel “greatly distressed” too if my life was threatened by my closest friends, not to mention having your entire family taken from you. It is one thing to deal with the grief of missing your wife and children, it is added hardship to face at the same time those who are rejecting you and remain strong. David was human.

The Bible doesn’t go into detail how David encouraged himself, but we do know his source of encouragement was the Lord.

In this message you will find tools to encourage yourself in-spite of any hardship you may be facing. We have to learn to encourage ourselves so that we can advance in God. God wants us to learn how to strengthen ourselves through Him because developing our skills will promote spiritual longevity. We need longevity because our destiny and potential cannot be attained in a few years; they extend to the end of our lifetime here on earth.

How To Encourage Yourself In The Lord

 1.  Look the right way!

Phil. 4:8 (NKJV)

“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things.”

Look for the good. Look for what is true and noble. This verse tells us to look for the lovely. If we do this, we will be encouraged and strengthened.

Phil. 4:8 (The Message)

“Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious – the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.”

You will be challenged from day to day. We are not promised that our days will always be blissful and peaceful. As you go through your day you may encounter things which make you cringe, or things that are wrong or ugly. Deal with these as you must, but do not let them become your focus. Remember that almighty God is with you. Can you hear Him say to you, “Look the right way?” Remind yourself of how faithful God has been in your life and set your gaze in that direction. God will be faithful again because it is his character.

2.  Listen to God’s voice and follow!

Don’t allow the enemy to tell you that you can’t hear God, or that God doesn’t speak to you because God does speak to us. We have to tune our ear to His frequency by spending time with Him to recognize His voice.

John 10:4 (NKJV)

“And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them and the sheep follow him; for they know his voice.”

John 10:27 (NKJV)

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

Close out all other voices of the world and focus on the One True Voice of God which will lead you out of your despair. Any voice that is shouting doom and gloom is NOT of God! God’s voice instantly brings peace. As a matter of fact God’s voice is peace.

It is one thing to hear His voice and another to follow and obey. If we cried out to God and He answers; obey. Our actions should follows hearing His voice.

When God speaks and you follow, life will become a romance. It will awaken your passion for God, life, and others. Listening to God’s voice becomes the first thing you do instead of the last.

Why is it that we humans try to figure things out on our own and then end up discouraged and hopeless? Let it be the first thing we do and save ourselves undo grief.

3.  Pray your anxieties away!

Take inventory of what is occupying your mind. What occupies your mind the most becomes your god. Worries, if indulged, develop into idols. Anxieties will gain a life of their own like parasites infesting the mind.

What I am about to share may seem cliché or simple, but this is what I do when anxiety tries to overtake me. I run to my secret place in prayer with God and cry out how I feel and share all my anxieties with Him. He already knows, but something happens when I release it. I stay in my secret place until I sense His peace and reassurance that His is with me and I can trust Him with my life. Often we are anxious because we lack trust. We may have been wounded by others, or circumstances, and are afraid. I put on Christian worship music while in my prayer-time. It helps me to focus my attention on God, Who is my source of peace.

We have to stop playing and rewinding our memory tape of our past and allow God to heal us from the sting of it all.

Phil. 4:6 – 7 (The Message)

“Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.”

Affirm your trust in God and refresh yourself in God’s presence this will break you free from the bondage of fear, worry, and anxiety.

4.  Guard your thoughts!

Good thought choices keep us close to God, while bad thought choices will push us away. Do anything to guard your peace.

Isaiah 26:3 (NKJV)

“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in You.”

When you are discouraged your peace is gone. Hope is gone. Chances are you didn’t guard your thinking, or you are allowing circumstances to determine your mood. Circumstances come and go but God, and His peace, remain the same; always available to us.

Bring your thoughts into God’s presence. If they are negative, destructive, or blown up, God’s presence is the defuser.

2 Cor. 10:5 (NKJV)

“Casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.”

Don’t allow your vain imaginations to grow above who Christ is in your life. Focus on God’s answers and not your problems.

Psalm 105:4 (NKJV)

“Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His face forevermore.”

In God’s radiant light, anxious thoughts shrink and shrivel. Judgmental thoughts are unmasked as you bask in God’s unconditional love. Confused ideas are untangled while you rest in the simplicity of God’s peace.

Walk and talk with confidence. It’s time you look up, not down. It’s time for you to expect great things to happen in your life, not bad.

5.  Praise your way out of despair.

I am sure this is one of the ways David encouraged himself in the Lord. David was a praiser. He couldn’t help it. Remember he had integrity of heart. He was solid in who God was in his life. Praise came naturally to him.

Psalm 28:7 – 8 (NKJV)

“The LORD is my strength and my shield; My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart greatly rejoices, and with my song I will praise Him. The LORD is their strength, and He is the saving refuge of His anointed.”

When David was captured by the Philistines in Gath David cried out to God his heart and his praise.

Psalm 56:3 – 4 (NKJV)

“Whenever I am afraid, I will trust You. In God (I will praise His word), In God I have put my trust; I will not fear. What can flesh do to me?”

Our very concerns, as we cry them out to God, can turn into praises because they express our need for God to intervene. They are truly a sacrifice of praise and this is what God desires from us; to be real, and to know Who our source is.

Psalm 42:5 (NKJV)

“Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of my countenance.”

Praise brings God’s help. When we are depressed or feeling down, we are encouraged to hope in God in this prophetic song. It lets us know that God’s countenance, His face, turns towards the one who praises. Then the praiser’s countenance is lifted by God’s love.

When we praise God He comes. His presence saturates us and we can’t help but receive joy.

Psalm 16:11 (NKJV)

“You will show me the path of life; in your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

Face to face encounters with God will always bring peace – this is what our praises do. Knowing this makes me want to always seek God’s face in every situation in my life. Actually, it draws me to want to spend time with Him because I am forever changed after being in His presence.

Psalm 105:4 (NKJV)

“Seek the LORD and His strength; seek His face evermore.”

Numbers 6:25 – 26 (NKJV)

“The LORD make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.”

Wow! These verses in Numbers sums it all up. Let it be your prayer that God will shine His face upon you daily. One true way of assurance that it will happen is to spend time everyday in God’s presence. The peace of God is more valuable then all the riches in the world.

6.  Meditate on the promises of God.

All the verses I have placed in this message are God’s promises. We can stand on everyone. Reading God’s word and meditating on what it promises will lift our spirits. God’s word is truth. His word never lies. We will not be put to shame when we trust in God’s word.

Here are are more promises in God’s word to stand on:

Psalm 22:5 (NKJV)

“They cried to You, and were delivered; They trusted in You, and were not ashamed.”

Psalm 25:2 – 3 (NKJV)

“O my God, I trust in You, Let me not be ashamed; let not my enemies triumph over me. Indeed, let no one who waits on You be ashamed; Let those be ashamed who deal treacherously without cause.”

The words “trust” and “wait” are interchangeable. Trust = Wait. This means we need to ponder upon it, or roll around in it. Often trusting God requires waiting, and waiting requires trust.

Psalm 25:20 – 21 (NKJV)

“Keep my soul, and deliver me; let me not be ashamed, for I put my trust in You. Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for you.”

There are so many promises in God’s word. Find some which pertain to your situation and stand on them. Get them in your spirit so when the wind and waves come, you won’t be tossed here and there.

7.  Strength comes from covenant people in your life.

Our close friendships, especially with our spouses, are powerful because they are build on covenant.

Covenant establishes an agreement that allows the spiritual reality that governs your life to flow to the other person, and visa versa. This is why it is so vital to develop friendships with people whose lives consistently display the fruit of the Kingdom. When we steward covenant friendships with people of faith, we stay connect4ed to a growing source of strength that often greatly determines our ability to persevere through difficult times.

Ecc. 4:9 – 12 (NKJV)

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”

There are many close friends of genuine faith in my life. Sometimes I don’t have to even tell them what I am going through, but just spending time with them I am uplifted. Why? Because my friends are people of faith and they naturally exude hope, peace, and joy. Many times when I am low, tired, or discouraged I spend time with my godly friends and I walk away encouraged and my burden is lighter.

Remember to protect yourself when you are emotionally vulnerable or tired. Don’t allow yourself to be around people who will drain you, or are complainers or who are critical. This will bring you down even more and discouragement will set in. You will become who you hang around. Choose your friends wisely!

All this said, if you have sin in your life, this will always separate you from God and make you discouraged. Check your heart and ask God to show you anything that is not pleasing to Him. When he shows you, or you may already know, stop it immediately and turn away from it. The pleasures of sin are but for a moment, and the consequence can last forever.

I pray this has helped you to encourage yourself in the Lord and to walk with confidence and boldness to keep on with your life. Be your own cheerleader! If you don’t who will?

From one encourager to another,

Pastor Kris Belfils

www.krisbelfils.com

www.hopefellowshipspokane.com

www.krisbelfils.wordpress.com