Persecuted But Not Abandoned!

Persecuted But Not Abandoned!

persecuted-but-not-abandoned

This is the last message on the Beatitudes series I have been preaching these past few Sundays at Hope Fellowship in Spokane, WA. I pray it ministers to you!

Matthew 5:1 – 12 NIV

Introduction to the Sermon on the Mount

Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them.
The Beatitudes
He said: Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Matthew 5:10 – 12 NIV
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Now, more then ever, Christians are hated and persecuted. We should think it not strange, but rejoice because the coming of our Lord Jesus is soon. These signs are in the New Testament and they foretell of what is to come. The Apostle Paul knew first hand what persecution was like.

2 Timothy 3:10 – 12 NIV
You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,

Living a godly life is a blessed life, and it is also a persecuted life. If you haven’t had much persecution in your life, maybe it is because people don’t know you are a Christian and you haven’t stood on your beliefs in front of them. If you are persecuted, you are on the right track. If you are persecuted by religious people, you are definitely on the right track.

Jesus was persecuted often by the religious people of His day. Judaism was perverted and the Sadducees and Pharisees created something that would benefit them and not the people. Jesus’ message was opposite of this. His message was of love and connection with God. It was not something new to Jesus though. He knew what His mission was when He came to earth in spite of any persecution, He fulfilled his mission.

Persecution is when someone comes under physical and verbal attack for what they believe and for how they live their life. It is as if they were found guilty in court for no cause.

He knew the world would hate him, but it was irrelevant because Jesus knew their ignorance. Jesus even told his Disciples the world would hate them because of Him.

John 15:18 – 25

The World Hates the Disciples
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’[a] If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father as well. If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’”

Persecution is something that happens to you for no reason other than you are a Christ follower.

In that same breath, Jesus started talking about an Advocate who He will send from the Father – the Spirit of truth – who will testify of Him. This Advocate would be the Disciples as well.

John 15:26 – 16:1 – 15 NIV

The Work of the Holy Spirit
“When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning. “All this I have told you so that you will not fall away. They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God. They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. I have told you this, so that when their time comes you will remember that I warned you about them. I did not tell you this from the beginning because I was with you, but now I am going to him who sent me. None of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ Rather, you are filled with grief because I have said these things. But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 about sin, because people do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.
I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”

Why do I bring up all these verses? I hope I am painting a beautiful picture that we are not alone in life, and most importantly, in persecution. We will suffer persecution, the Bible is clear about that, but we don’t have to suffer alone.

John 16:33 NIV
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

The amazing news is that we as Christians already know the ending of the story. Jesus has overcome the world and we will spend eternity with Him! I believe Jesus also shared verse 33 to reassure us that even today, Jesus has overcome the world! With the Advocate, Holy Spirit, living in us, we have more power, more in site, and more help then the Disciples did during their time with Christ. They didn’t know what Jesus was thinking, but we, as Spirit-Filled believers, can tap into what Holy Spirit is saying (He hears only what Jesus tells Him) and be reassured of our life in this world and the world to come.

That is powerful to think about! Today, we have been given gifts from Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12) to encourage each other in the middle of any persecution. As such, we have enough “stuff” we go through during a given day of our life, we should be encouraging one another with our spiritual gifts daily!

I believe the more we are persecuted, the more our spiritual gifts should be manifested! We need help from above everyday! We can not make it on our own. That is why Jesus sent us the Advocate!

The word Advocate means: “a person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy, a person who pleads on someone else’s behalf. (Dictionary)

In the Old Noah Webster 1828 Dictionary, the word Advocate means:

1. Advocate, in its primary sense, signifies, one who pleads the cause of another in a court of civil law.

2. One who pleads the cause of another before any tribunal or judicial court, as a barrister in the English courts.

In Europe, advocates have different titles, according to their particular duties:

Consistorial advocates, in Rome, appear before the Consistory, in opposition to the disposal of benefices.
Elective advocates are chosen by a bishop, abbot, or chapter, with license from the prince.
Feudal advocates were of a military kind, and to attach them to the church, had grants of land, with power to lead the vassals of the church war.
Fiscal advocates, in ancient Rome, defended causes in which the public revenue was concerned.
Juridical advocates became judges, in consequence of their attending causes in the earl’s court.
Matricular advocates defended the cathedral churches.
Military advocates were employed by the church to defend it by arms, when force gave law to Europe.
Some advocates were called nominative, from their being nominated by the pope or king; some regular, from their being qualified by a proper course of study. Some were supreme; others, subordinate.
Lord advocate, in Scotland, the principal crown lawyer, or prosecutor of crimes.
Judge advocate, in courts martial, a person who manages the prosecution.
In English and American courts, advocates are the same as counsel, or counselors. In England,they are of two degrees, barristers and serjeants; the former, being apprentices or learners, cannot, by ancient custom, be admitted serjeants, till of sixteen years standing.

3. One who defends, vindicates, or espouses a cause, by argument; one who is friendly to; as, an advocate for peace, or for the oppressed.

Wow, so many titles for Advocate in Europe and the United States. Now, why do I bring all of them up? This is the exciting part… because Holy Spirit, our Advocate, is all that and more! He is there supporting and standing up for us in the middle of any “persecution court.”

Now, all that said, this is what I see: I see a church filled with Holy Spirit prophesying over each other, lifting, building, and encouraging each other up! I see each of us stirring up the gifts within us and using them daily. I see a church that is strong in any storm all because we come together and lift each other up prophetically, emotionally, and spiritually! We need each other! Let’s find the treasure in each of us and not the dirt! The gifts of the spirit are for Building people up, Comforting them, and drawing them near to God. It is for edification or to edify the church! Isn’t that AWESOME??? We are not to wallow in our persecution, but to find joy in it because we are Christ’s followers who have an Advocate defending and supporting us everywhere we go.

Yes, we may experience persecution, but we know Christ has overcome the world, and that means we are OVERCOMERS!

Persecution is not the only time to encourage one another in the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, but it sure is a powerful way to look past the suffering and receive from Him help in this area.

Your sister in Christ,

Pastor Kris Belfils
http://www.KrisBelfils.com
http://www.HopeFellowshipSpokane.com
http://www.KrisBelfils.Wordpress.com

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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

Fruit of the Spirit – Gentleness (Part 2)

Gentleness2

Gal. 5:22 Amplified Bible

“But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence). Against such things there is no law [that can bring a charge].”

God hates pride

Proverbs 6:16 Amplified Bible

“These six things the Lord hates, indeed, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look [the spirit that makes one overestimate himself and underestimate others], a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood. A heart that manufactures wicked thoughts and plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, A false witness who breathes out lies [even under oath], and he who sows discord among his brethren.”

A proud look – the spirit that makes one overestimate himself and underestimate others. God doesn’t like it when we think little of other people. Especially if He has gifted us in an area and we look down on others because they can’t do what we do.

Maybe some of you are gifted mentally and you learn really really fast. Sometimes those people make the worse trainers because they just don’t get it that others don’t get it the first go around. And if you are not careful you make others feel inferior by your words, “Well, how can you not understand that?” “Hello?” Don’t you hate that, “Hello, is anybody home in there?” “Yes, thank you I have been in here a lot of years.”

Some teenagers haven’t lived long enough to know a lot, but they think they know everything. Not all are like that, thank God. You don’t have to wait to be fifty to start humbling yourself. You can start now! This will put a smile on God’s face.

I have read this someplace: “When a person turns eighteen their brains fall on their pillow at night and they don’t get it back until they are twenty five. For me it was more like forty-five.

God hates pride. It’s not just something that He doesn’t like, He hates it.

Humility is defined as: “freedom from pride and arrogance, a modest estimation of your own worth.” In theology it means “lowliness of mind, having a consciousness of your own defects.”

Not unto condemnation. You should be able to tell people what your strengths and weaknesses are and not be embarrassed because we all have them.

God purposely leaves weaknesses even in His choicest of saints because if you had no weaknesses you would have no need for God. Sorry, you will never do it all right. No one is perfect! You can have a right heart, and you can want to do what is right and you can get up everyday and press toward that mark of perfection, but you have to get comfortable with having some weaknesses. Know what you are good at and know what you are not good at. Stop putting all your time into what you are not good at, trying to prove something you are never going to prove. If you are not good at something, find someone else who is.

I tried to sow and do scrapbooking, but that was just stupid. I tried to garden and decorate my home, but that was not my gifting. I tried to do sales and work at a retail store but it left me feeling empty and never satisfied. When I minister for God I feel it is my purpose in life. It brings such a satisfying feeling and I know I am doing exactly what I was created for. It fuels me to see people transformed by the power of God. This is my theme and mission for ministry: “Seeing people transformed by the power of God to transform their world in turn!”

Humble (Vines Greek Dictionary): “Low lying, or to stay under.”

To stay under the mighty hand of God. To stay somewhere when you would like to leave or get out of it but you know God is telling you, “Not yet, not yet, not yet!”

Maybe staying at a job that you are the only believer and it really is not all that comfortable to you. Everything in you would love to go do something else, and you could. You could go get another job but you know deep down inside you are the only light in the place and that is where God needs you. So you humble yourself. You stay under the direction of God.

When are we going to learn to get around to living for God? To realize everything doesn’t have to be comfortable. Everything doesn’t have to feel good. There are sacrifices that we are asked to make sometimes. To stay somewhere where you really don’t want to be. To do something you really don’t want to do. Even as far as not defending yourself.

It’s taking me a long time to not try and convince people that I am a good person when they judged me. “Well, you just don’t understand.” Honestly, the more you try and defend yourself, the guiltier you look. Sooner or later you have to get to the point and say, “God you are in charge of my reputation, and if it isn’t good it is Your problem.”

No body is free until you get to the point you don’t try and impress anybody. I said you are not free until you stop trying to impress anybody!

Meek (Vine’s Greek Dictionary): “Gentle, mild, Christ’s own disposition. It is the Christian adornment. It is the opposite of self interest and self assertiveness. It is an inwrought grace of the soul.”

It has to be worked in us. You can’t just get in the prayer line and get this. I could lay hands on you until you had no more hair on your head and pray for you all night and not pray humility in you. You have a seed of it in you, I do too. This is the fruit of the Holy Spirit that dwells in us!

But a seed has to be watered, it has to be nurtured. You have to keep the weeds away from it. It has to have sunlight. You have to work with it. In order for this seed to grow you have to study in these areas, you have to spend time with God, and you have to go through things where you have to apply this fruit. In the beginning it is so hard you feel like there is no way you can do it.

Let’s talk about trails for a minute…

Trials

2 Cor. 1:8 Amplified Bible

“For we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about the affliction and oppressing distress which befell us [the province of] Asia, how we were so utterly and unbearably weighed down and crushed that we despaired even of life [itself].”

I’m telling you Paul was having a bad day!

2 Cor. 1:9 Amplified Bible

“Indeed, we felt within ourselves that we had received the [very] sentence of death, but that was to keep us from trusting in and depending on ourselves instead of on God Who raises the dead.”

Why do you find yourself in a situation that is definitely over your head and seems like more then you can bear? God wants you to say, “I can’t handle this, but God you can.” “This is too much for me, I lean on you.” “I rely on you God for wisdom.”

Sometimes the more God uses you and the more He blesses you, the more He will have these kinds of situations salted and peppered into your life every now and then.

There is something about us, we just can’t seem to stay right if all we ever have is good good, blessing, blessing, blessing, favor, favor, blessing, blessing. You know why? We start to get proud and puffed up.

The Bible says pride puffs one up. Sometimes God lets us walk into some stupid trap the devil placed before us. He’ll get us out of it but not until God is done with it.

God has to keep us in a position that He can use us and the only way God can use us is when we stay humble, under, submissive. It is not just about being submissive to God, we need to be submissive to the human authority God places over us. And we need to learn how to do it with a good attitude.

You have to learn to come under authority before you come in authority. Coming under authority is not just doing what someone tells you to do, and doing it with a bad attitude and start talking about them behind their back. Come on now! We have to say, “God if this is the job you have given me right now then I’m going to trust You. I’m going to do this for you. And I am going to do it with a good attitude. I’m going to do it unto you.”

The Bible never asks us to do things for man, it asks us to do things for God. The Bible says, The love of Christ constrains me (2 Cor. 5:14). The more we love God, the more we are going to control ourselves to operate in all this fruit. We are going to trust God to get what we are suppose to have. (We will be talking more about this when we talk about the fruit of self-control)

Meekness is not weakness. It is strength under control. Let’s talk about Paul’s famous thorn for a minute.

2 Cor. 12:7 – 8 Amplified Bible

“And to keep me from being puffed up and too much elated by the exceeding greatness (preeminence) of these revelations, there was given me a thorn (a splinter) in the flesh,…”

God was using Paul mightily more then anybody else at that time. He had a miraculous conversion. Miracles. He received by direct revelation two thirds of the New Testament. The greatest revelation on grace.

“…a messenger of Satan, to rack and buffet and harass me, to keep me from being excessively exalted. Three times I called upon the Lord and besought [Him] about this and begged that it might depart from me;..”

And He said, “No!” We’d like to think God is going to say yes after everything we ask Him. “Oh God You got to get me out of this!” Well, sometimes God says, “No! You are more valuable to Me in that situation then out of it.”

Vs. 9 “But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in [your] weakness…”

God said, “My grace is sufficient for you and My strength and power are made perfect in your weakness.”

God in essence said, “I have given you this thing that creates a weakness in you and inability in you so you’re going to need me and cry out for My grace, and it’s all gonna be okay anyway Paul cause I’m gonna fill up that strength with my grace and it will be as if you didn’t even have it, but I’m going to leave it with you so you need Me.”

Pride is independence. It’s all about me, and I, and what I can do, and not being needy. We inherently don’t want to need anybody. We would much prefer to be self-sufficient. But that’s not God’s plan.

Look at Job for a minute. He did have a problem. He was a righteous man but he had gotten a little smidge into self-righteousness. If you really studied the book of Job, which I highly recommend, you’ll see that he had a little attitude adjustment that was needed. And after he got it God blessed him twice as much as before.

God’s not trying to hurt anybody. He’ll bless you more after you humble yourself. Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God and in due time He might lift you up and exalt you.

Job 10:16 Amplified Bible

“If I lift myself up, You hunt me like a lion and again show Yourself [inflicting] marvelous [trials] upon me.”

You can scream at the devil until you don’t have any voice left. Realize it isn’t all the devil. Some of it was God growing me up. He was allowing me to be in certain situations to teach me how to still act like this no matter what my circumstances were or what situation I was in. This is the “grow up stuff” we need to learn.

The fact is God does want to bless you more then you can possibly imagine but you cannot maintain the gifts God wants to give you if you don’t have the fruit to balance it out. Otherwise you are a tree with no roots. First we have to get rooted and grounded in God.

 Job 33:16 Amplified Bible

“Then He opens the ears of men and seals their instruction [terrifying them with warnings].”

I believe when we are acting bad God gives us warnings but we don’t always listen.

Job 33:17 Amplified Bible

“That He may withdraw man from his purpose and cut off pride from him [disgusting him with his own disappointing self-sufficiency].”

Is anybody disgusted with your own self-sufficiency? Like, I am just fed up with acting like I know it all, can do it all, don’t need anybody, competing with other people, comparing myself to other people. I don’t want the pressure anymore of trying to impress anybody. I just want to be free to be me, and be wherever God has put me!

What hard work it is trying to impress people! We have to buy things we can’t afford, and dress in clothes we don’t even like and they are not even comfortable.

Fruits of Pride

Do you have pride in your heart? Believe it or not there is fruit produced from pride in our life. The things we do, the attitudes we have produce fruit. I read “50 Fruit of Pride” and it was amazing how many on the list I did.

Martha wanted to impress Jesus with all her work but Jesus said, “…Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41 NASB)

What do you do or use to make an impression on others? Cars? Jewelry? Home? The furniture you own? The neighborhood you live in? The company you work for? The amount of money you make a month? Your level of education? What restaurants you eat at? Who you know? What you know? What you look like? Are you a name dropper?

Be free from impressing people. Just be yourself and you will enjoy your life and have fun!

When you are full of pride you draw attention to yourself. You like to talk about yourself. Desire recognition and praise. “Give me the credit that is due me!” You are not fulfilled in serving others. You are self-sufficient. “I will do it myself, then I will know it is done right.”  OUCH!

Proud people are anxious because they are always worried about something. They actually think they can solve their own problems.

Self-focused, overly self-conscious. They fear man, and are very concerned about what people think of them.

The Bible says we need to be very careful about our thinking. Be careful when you think you stand, lest you fall.

Even giving your testimony can be given in pride. It it glorifies the person instead of God, it is pride. When giving our testimony the time has to be right and our motives have to be right or we are just gloating.

“Oh brother are you sick? I was sick just last week with the same thing but I prayed and it instantly went away!” What an insensitive, unfeeling, unthinking, unloving, haughty, puffed up Christian! … Selah

We should never give our testimony unless it glorifies God. So many times we lose the power of something that is a secret between us and God because we have to tell somebody!

God has so much that He wants to do in everyone of our lives. God wants to lift you up. He wants to bless you in amazing ways and share His power with you. But first we have to humble ourselves. We have to prove that we will do what ever God asks us to do with those blessings and with that power. Otherwise we become dangerous and all we do is hurt people. Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God. that in due time He may exalt you and lift you up! Amen!

Ask God to help you be a more gentle, meek, and humble person. Be a plant that wants to grow they way the Master Gardner wants you to grow instead of a stubborn week that wants its way and chokes out all the other healthy plants.

Blessings,

Pastor Kris Belfils

www.krisbelfils.com

www.HopeFellowshipSpokane.com

www.krisbelfils.wordpress.com

(A portion of this article was from Joyce Meyer’s audio CD: “Fruit of the Spirit – Gentleness”)

Fruit of the Spirit – Gentleness (Part 1)

GentlenessGal. 5:22 Amplified Bible

“But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence). Against such things there is no law [that can bring a charge].”

Gentleness, (meekness, humility) is one of the hardest Christian virtues to develop in our lives. A person who needs humility thinks they don’t need it at all, and thats proof that they do need it.

In this message we will be looking at Gentleness, meekness, and humility.

Gentleness

The word “Gentle” in the Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language: “Mild; meek; soft; bland; not rough, harsh or severe; as a gentle nature, temper or disposition; a tame; peaceable, not wild, turbulent or refractory, soothing, treating with mildness, not violent.”

Are you a gentle person? How do you respond when someone rubs you the wrong way? Are you rough, harsh, or wild in your response or are you meek, humble, and peaceable?

Phil. 4:5 NIV

“Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.”

This fruit of gentleness should be seen by the world, Christian and non-Christians alike should see you as a gentle person. Gentleness preserves us and brings peace in our lives. When we are calm and gentle with our responses to others, our lives are better for it.

I use to think it was my right and duty to tell someone how they hurt me. I wanted them to know that what they did had much consequence in my life. After I spewed out my retaliation I felt good and life was better. But was it? Telling someone the negative things of how you feel towards them or trying to stand up for yourself just makes you look bad, especially in how you deliver it. In my case, I usually delivered it with much emotion and fire. No one could stand after receiving my wrath. It was never a good thing. I was deceived in thinking it was okay to behave like that. It didn’t show gentleness in any form. It wasn’t the fruit of the spirit manifesting in my life it was the fruit of pride and selfishness. This was a hard lesson for me to learn.

We are to be gentle when dealing with people, especially when we are correcting them.

Gal. 6:1 Amplified Bible

“Brethren, if any person is overtaken in misconduct or sin of any sort, you who are spiritual [who are responsive to and controlled by the Spirit] should set him right and restore and reinstate him, without any sense of superiority and with all gentleness, keeping an attentive eye on yourself, lest you should be tempted also.”

Meekness

Gentleness is also known as meekness as you saw in the Dictionaries definition of gentle. Being meek is part of being gentle.

It is hard to respond sometimes with gentleness. Human nature tells us to stand up for ourselves and don’t allow others to get away with hurting us. Meekness differs from gentleness. In many ways these two fruit of the Spirit at the same; but meekness is an inward and passive thing, and gentleness is an outward and active thing. A man feels meek, but he acts gently.

Interesting when Moses, Jesus, John the Baptist, Stephan, and many others, were standing up for truth, and what was right, they would speak boldly. They even called those they were speaking to as “Brood of vipers or Stiffed neck, or Hypocrites. But when they were accused they didn’t speak up for themselves or retaliate. This is meekness.

Meekness is not weakness. Meekness requires great strength.

Numbers 12:3 Amplified Bible

“Now the man Moses was very meek (gentle, kind, and humble) or above all the men on the face of the earth.”

Moses was a meek man yet he was one of the greatest leaders in history. He could be stern when an occasion demanded; for example when he made the worshipers of the golden calf drink the dust of their own idol (Exodus 32:30). This was holy zeal for the sake of God Almighty.

When Moses own name was reproached by his brother and sister, Aaron and Miriam, he didn’t make any attempt to retaliate. This reveals the true character of the man, and his meekness.

Stephen is another good example. His meekness shines in his prayer for his murderers when they were stoning him: “And falling on his knees, he cried out loudly, Lord, fix not this sin upon them [lay it not to their charge]! And when he had said this, he fell asleep [in death].” (Acts 7:60 Amplified Bible)

With Stephen, there was no appearance of weakness when he scolded the Sanhedrin, “Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost” (Acts 7:51 KJV).

Notice the qualities in Moses and Stephan: zeal for God, but meekness for self.

What about Jesus? Scripture tells us that he was “led as a lamb to the slaughter” yet cleansed the temple with a whip! Jesus didn’t have to go to the cross. He said, “Don’t you know I can call on a legion of angles and they would deliver me.” But He humbled Himself under the mighty hand of God because He knew that was what God wanted Him to do and what was going to be best for everybody else.

He didn’t use His power to get out of something but humbled Himself to go through something that He thought God wanted Him to go through. It would be like if somebody really did me dirty and it made me made and I knew I had the ability to get them back but I refused to do that because I knew it wasn’t what God wanted me to do. That’s meekness. When you have the ability to do something but you won’t do it because you don’t believe that is what God wants you to do. Amen!

That’s a powerful person. It takes a much more powerful person to wait on God then to take fleshly action in your own zeal. “Well bless God you are not going to treat me that way!” If that fire is in you, allow God to give you a different kind of fire.

If you have the authority or ability to get even or hurt the other person who spoke badly about you this is what you need to do: Forgive, pray, and bless (FPB) and allow God to take care of the situation.

There was a person who was on my staff and to my face they were kind and nice and seemed obedient, but I was getting feed back from other people who were around them that they were speaking negative words about me to others. It hurt me. I was in the position to give her fits in our staff meetings, or even point blank tell her I knew what she was saying about me behind my back. I could have taken action but I humbled myself instead. I loved her every time I saw her. This wasn’t easy. I had to pray constantly when I was in her presence, and when I thought about her. God told me to give her some gifts even though I knew what I knew about her. It was hard. I felt I was wasting them on her because she didn’t deserve them. But, I obeyed in spite of what I felt. Eventually she left the staff and did her own thing. Months went by and one day she attended where I was speaking at. By this time God showed me her character and condition of her heart and it made me pray for her every time I thought of her. After the service I went up to her and her friend and asked if there was anything she wanted prayer for. She broke down and started to cry and asked for my forgiveness. She didn’t say why, but I knew, yet she didn’t know I knew. God gave me so much love for her at that moment. I saw her countenance change from anxiety and fear to peace and joy. I never told her what I knew. It didn’t seem to matter any more. Later she thanked me and said she had peace for the first time in over a year.

You see we never know what others are going through because of the mean things they have done to you. Meekness is holding back your strength when you have the power to let them have it! Meekness is gentleness and humility all rolled up into one. Are you a gentle person?

Meekness is not weakness at all. A meek man is a powerful man, a real man. Jesus was a meek man. A real man. A powerful man. A gentle man is a real man. What has happened to gentlemen? My husband still will open the door for me or hold a door as I walk into a store. Even if I opened the store door and motion for him to walk in, he will put his arm out and hold the door and I know I am to walk in first. This is being a gentleman. He has the power to push his way in first, but he chooses not too.

We as believers we need to fight for these qualities. We need to fight for these virtues. The way we do it is by being a good example everywhere we go. The Fruit of the Spirit is there for our taking but many don’t. Why? I believe because it costs them something. It costs us to change.

Do you know the Bible promises things to those who are meek?

The promises to the meek:

  1. The meek shall eat and be satisfied (Psalm 22:26)
  2. The meek will He guide in judgment (Psalm 25:9)
  3. The meek will He teach His way (Psalm 25:9)
  4. The meek shall inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5)
  5. The meek will find rest for their souls (Matthew 11:28 – 30)

Matthew 11:28 – 30 KJV

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Humility

Humility is so major. I give kudos to those who came today and have come during this Fruit of the Spirit series. It means that you want to grow. A lot of people want to see what God can do for them, but they really don’t want to hear what they need to do.

We are living in darkness but we are the light. Everyone of us need to dust off our bulbs and get ourself turned up to full power! There is a great danger living in the world today because we can drift. If you don’t set an example for your kids in your home, I don’t know what is going to happen to them. There was a day if the parents didn’t do their job there would be people and heroes out there that would be an example. WE have to bring it up higher!

The Fruit of the Spirit, these are the most beautiful things you can show your children.

Philippians 2:3 Amplified Bible

“Do nothing from factional motives [through contentiousness, strife, selfishness, or for unworthy ends] or prompted by conceit and empty arrogance. Instead, in the true spirit of humility (lowliness of mind) let each regard the others as better than and superior to himself [thinking more highly of one another than you do of yourself].” 

That doesn’t mean to think lowly of yourself. That’s not what it means at all. It means not to think you are better then other people. Are you willing to listen to what they have to say. They might be right and you are wrong? Can you receive a word of correction from them? Listen, you have no idea how God will speak to you.

God had to talk to a prophet through a donkey. A person with a humble attitude is willing to receive. Don’t think that you are better then other people or that what you do is more important then what somebody else does. Don’t have a lowly opinion of yourself, but never mistreat somebody else because you think that you are better then them. These are things we have to think about a little bit.

Philippians 2:4 – 7 Amplified Bible

“Let each of you esteem and look upon and be concerned for not [merely] his own interests, but also each for the interests of others. Let this same attitude and purpose and [humble] mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus: [Let Him be your example in humility:] Who, although being essentially one with God and in the form of God [possessing the fullness of the attributes which make God God], did not think this equality with God was a thing to be eagerly grasped or retained, but stripped Himself [of all privileges and rightful dignity], so as to assume the guise of a servant (slave), in that He became like men and was born a human being.”

Jesus coming down here and becoming a human would be like us seeing a little red ant and we decided to become an ant and crawl around in the dirt to help them. Jesus sweat drops of blood under the pressure of enduring the cross. He had the power to walk away from it but was obedient to what His Father wanted.

Philippians 2:8 – 11 Amplified Bible

“And after He had appeared in human form, He abased and humbled Himself [still further] and carried His obedience to the extreme of death, even the death of the cross! Therefore [because He stooped so low] God has highly exalted Him and has freely bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, that in (at) the name of Jesus every knee should (must) bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue [frankly and openly confess and acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Humility comes before honor, and pride goes before destruction. (Proverbs 16:18 , Proverbs 15:33.) Pride destroys us but humility promotes and blesses us.

The devil’s sin was pride. Interesting. He lost his position through pride and will live in everlasting shame because of it. Jesus bought us back and He received His position through humility. Humility had to come to overcome the pride of the enemy. We were stolen through pride and gained back through humility. Powerful!

Naturally the devil wants us to be like him. He wants us to take on his nature. He wants us to be full of me, myself, and I. I think, I want, I know. Until you get throughly fed up with you, talking about you, thinking about you, and trying to make provision for you. Some of you are just about there aren’t you?!

I’m tired of thinking about myself, worrying about myself, trying to make plans for myself, trying to make everything work out for myself. Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God and see what God can do. That place of humility brings you into rest. It brings an ease.

Next week Part 2 of Fruit of the Spirit – Gentleness. We will be looking more at Humility and The 50 Fruit of Pride.

Pastor Kris Belfils

http://www.KrisBelfils.com

http://www.HopeFellowshipSpokane.com

http://www.krisbelfils.wordspress.com