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Watch 2022 online sermons » Leon Fontaine » Leon Fontaine - Toughen Up

Leon Fontaine - Toughen Up


Leon Fontaine - Toughen Up

I was raised in a pastor's home, both my parents were pastors. And one of the things I've noticed as then and now as a pastor, because a pastor's job is to equip the saints for the work of the ministry. You are an incredible person, and inside of you are gifts and abilities to use in business and church, etcetera. But I noticed and I want to talk about, my message today is going to offend somebody I'm sure. But hang in there with me till I get to the end, and I think it's going to be okay. But I noticed when I, as I've worked now with people over the years that people who have come out of a life that was hard.

People whose, who got banged around by life, or a family that wasn't a blessing at all. That they had strength. They were tough when it came to storms and things in their Christian walk. And then I noticed that Christian kids raised in Christian homes were often really wimpy. And everything about them, "Pray for me". And that irritated me and it bothered me because I was raised in a Christian home. I'm the most kissed and hugged guy you know. I mean, my mom and dad loved me and prayed with me every night. I got more hugs and kisses and teaching and training. I have no excuses. So, but I thought, and then my dad had a friend who is in the ministry, who is a firm believer in suffering. The only way you do anything for God is to suffer. Oh, I didn't like that and I disagreed with him.

So today, I want to talk about that. When you look at the Bible, there's an incredible verse I want to read you. In Isaiah 41:9, or the verse 10 and 11. And it says, "Fear not for I am with you. Do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen and harden you to difficulties". Can we just stop right there. What? I'm going to strengthen and harden you to difficulties. Well, I am used to, you know, prayer meetings and prayer requests where it's rather than get in agreement with me, I'm going to believe God for a miracle. Please pray for me. Life is so hard and it's so rough. And you kind of go, "Ugh". But here it's saying that He's going to strengthen us, harden us. And it says, "Yes. I will help you. I will hold you up and retain you with My victorious right hand of rightness and justice". It says, "Behold, all they who are enraged and inflamed against you shall be put to shame and confounded. They who strive against you shall be as nothing and they shall perish".

I want to talk about toughening up. Now, we've all go through times, or we need help, absolutely. But this guy said, "Leon, until you go through hell, you're not going to really do anything great for God". And I've had many people as I've traveled, training and equipping people and leaders around the world said to me, "Oh, you must have gone through rough times to have the ministry that you have. I mean, with the televisions and the schools and the churches and the speaking". I go, "Oh, yeah. Ah, no". They go, "What do you mean"? No. Because some people love to tell you how much they have burdens. And as a kid growing up in church, I got tired of it. We'd have testimony service and people get up and share how much the devil's on their case and please pray for me. They talk about how rough their life is. I'm thinking, this is supposed to be testimony which means positive.

Look what God's done. And instead we got people who want everyone to understand how rough their life is. Well, you know what? Whatever you begin to talk about and focus on you get more of. And so I thought to myself, well, according to my dad's friend, the only way I can be tough and strong is if I, I'm going to have to get what? I'm going to go bankrupt, lose my wife. I'll get cancer. I'm going to be like, all this stuff. Everybody thinks you're going to do the toughen up. And so I was determined as a young man in my twenties. I don't believe this and I want to find out. David was considered one of the toughest fighters going. Considered the guy that could kill giants. Mighty men followed him. Men that could kill seven hundred people by themselves at one time followed David. This dude was bad. He's good but you know what I mean. And he came from a great home. Great dad, great mom.

And I started to get some relief going, "Oh, thank You, Jesus". Because, you know, back when I was a kid, all the great speakers that spoke at conferences were ex-Hell's Angels, and somebody who was so abused and broken and an ex-prostitute. And I'm glad because they make amazing leaders, too. But then where's the church kids? Where's the kids raised in Christian families? Well, I'm going to be honest, usually is wah, wah. I was determined. I was determined. I'm going to figure this out. And I'm going to be tough as heaven because heaven's a billion times tougher than hell. I don't want to be tough as hell. I want to be tough as heaven. So I began to go into God's Word and I found out that that God would strengthen you. And the word strengthen means to harden you.

If you want to work with metal back in those days and still today. If you want an edge on your sword, your spear, you had to toughen up the metal, to harden the metal. And I mean, there's strength in pliability, too. Which had to harden that edge. And I began to realize I could find it all through the Bible. In 2 Timothy chapter 2, it says, "Endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ". Well, there are, so good Lord. And now you say life's hard? No. We're saying soldiers get up and take it out. Soldiers get up and attack. Soldiers get up and win. On your road to victory toughen up. On your road to winning and getting the life that Jesus died for, it's going to take you get a little tougher than, gee, that's help. Why has Christianity produced such wimpiness? Jesus is a cute guy in a dress and flip flops. He loves you. Really?

Now, that was Jesus 2000 years ago. Read what Jesus looks like in, well, in Revelations chapter 1. As the King of kings and Lord of lords, with His face burning and His eyes. And His hair like white wool and out of His mouth is like a sword and He's wearing armour. The King of kings. This is the Jesus I'm serving. I wasn't put on this planet to get beaten up, punched, slapped. Well, Leon, the Bible says turn the other cheek. He's not talking about someone breaking into your house. He's talking about your pride. And people will take some teachings and take it so far. No. He's made you to be an overcomer, born of God. He's made you to rise up and be more than conquerors. He's made you to win.

And so today, I want you to understand that we can endure hardness as a good soldier. We can get up and look at the future and go, "I'm not backing down". What about the new covenant? What about the promises of God's Word? That says the people of God were the brightest. The best kings. The best warriors. The best battlers. The best financiers. They were the one... like, what is wrong with Christianity? No wonder our kids go, "Ah, go to church with you. Ugh, maybe not". I didn't go to church and be taught how to be a loser, be taught how to fail, be taught how to endure hardness because that's all you're going to get. That's not what any of this is saying. You really got to take it out of context to have this defeated Christian lifestyle.

And so my challenge to you today is recognize in the Word of God. When it talks about endure troubles. He's not saying, "Cause that's going to be the rest of your life". He's saying when you're standing and believing for things, and you're building a business. You're working on your marriage, you're raising kids. You don't think there's going to be some times where it's going to be hard? Of course, it will be. Well, I'm believing God for a miracle? So what are you going to be? This fat little teddy bear Christian, who just sits there while Jesus does this, it's like Aladdin's lamp. Prayer is like just rub the lamp, He pops out, and He fixes everything. That's not what the Bible teaches.

The Bible teaches God's going to flow through you and I, and so that's what's exciting about serving Him. He raises you up and He strengthens you and He makes you strong and He hardens you. I love what He said to the, to the, to the prophets in the Old Testament. When He says to Ezekiel, in Ezekiel 3:8, He says, "I have made your face strong and hard against their faces and your forehead strong and hard against their foreheads". What's He talking about? He's talking about your enemies that could have that, you know, you watch a movie. And Chris, "Oh, I love you. Blessed the Lord. Please like me". What is with us? It literally is saying, "If someone comes against you, then make your face hard or your forehead tougher".

He's talking about an overcomer. He's talking about a person who knows how to get up and stand. Whether it's financial, whether it's relational, whether it's real attacks, whatever's going on. We have depicted Christianity so pathetically, and then we wonder why the emerging generations don't want to follow it. In Jeremiah 12:5 became one of my favorite verses in the Bible. Listen to this, "But the Lord rebukes Jeremiah's impatience, and He says to him, 'If you raced with men on foot and they have tired you out, how are you going to compete with horses?'" Oh. "And if you take to flight and you run from problems in a land of peace where you feel secure, then what will you do when you tread the tangled maze of jungle haunted by lions in the swelling and the flooding of the Jordan"?

You know what He's saying here? As plain as a nose on your face. You were made to compete with horses. You're made to compete with jungle so full of lions. It doesn't matter what the problem. It doesn't matter who the giant is. It doesn't matter what the army. It doesn't matter what the problem is. You were designed to get up and speak to mountains, believe God, grow your faith, walk in His grace. You're designed. Holy Spirit in the new covenant that we live in, He's not here to do it for you. In fact, He's your helper.

If I ask somebody on the front row, and I say, "Hey, could you stack the chairs for me"? That's one way of saying it. But if I say, "Can you help me stack the chairs"? What's the difference? I'm involved. Holy Spirit is our helper. That means He's helping and strengthening and energizing and guiding and leading and giving wisdom to you. This is an adventure. You get to rise up and be amazing and incredible. You get to yes, get up, and be strong and strengthened and hardened and believed God for miracles and signs and wonders. Holy Spirit is our coach.

I often refer to a conference I did years ago, where I was doing a leadership conference in a city where it was a base for Navy Seals, and like 12 of them or so showed up. And they came to the leadership conference and then took me out for lunch. And to meet these guys and to listen to them. We've all seen movies about Seal training and Navy Seal training and what it's like. It's actually not about skills. It's about toughness. And if you ain't got it, you're not going to make it. Ring the bell means you can go home, sucker. Only the hardest. Only those who never quit. Never quit ever, ever, ever. Make it.

And that's what I like to think about when I look at the things of God. Holy Spirit, He's a mighty man trainer, a warrior princess trainer. He's here to help you run through a troop and leap over a wall. Not sit on your couch and pray that God does it for you. No, I thank God there's things that God puts into motion. But if you're not going to become a person who believes that Christ in you makes you a stunning phenomenal person for the things of God. You're going to miss out on all the adventure that He's prepared you for.

Here David is talking about, "I can run through a troop and leap over a wall. He makes my feet like the feet of a mountain goat running up a mountain. He trains my hands for war. I pursued my enemies and destroyed them. I did not turn back till they were consumed". As you read through this chapter, one thing stands out. God's not doing it for him. God's doing it through him. What an adventure. I'm so excited about that. It's just powerful and wonderful to know that God will give you the wisdom, the ability. He'll make you strong. When I see some of the great families and people, and these single mom who out of no choice, they're going, "I've got to stand up and raise families and that warrior princess".

I mean, my mom comes from a strong family. She was raised by an alcoholic dad and mom. And he was abusive and left them. And so there was like a bunch of girls in that family. And when you look at what kind of moms they made, it was like you couldn't shut them down. You couldn't make them stop. They got up and raised kids that were positive and happy and blessed. Not. But it doesn't mean that you have to go through stuff to be strong. King David came from a great family. Most of the heroes in the Bible weren't strong because they had been abused and beaten and misused. Some were. That's fine because we've got both sitting in this room. Some of you who are sitting here that it would, your story would curl the hair of people listening. And don't you stop. You get up and keep going for God.

Man, He's restoring you, raising you up. You're going to be amazing. Then there's some even raised in Christian homes. And where you, all you've had is a kiss on the cheek and a bed time story. You're wonderful. You're amazing. You're incredible. You're beautiful. And you go, "Where does toughness come from"? It comes from making a decision, that I'm going to do something great for God. And when you learn to read the Word and feed on the bread of life. When you learn to fellowship with the Holy Spirit, means He strengthens you. He hardens you. I don't mean hard as in hard-hearted. I mean, He hardens you to trial and hardens you to the battle to get up and have such confidence. Me? When the dust settles and the smoke clears, I will be standing.

People often ask me. Where do you get that confidence? I go, "From Holy Spirit". Well, isn't Holy Spirit like just kind of this cloud that drifts in and makes people cry and fall. Oh, I mean, might. That's cool. But once you pick yourself up off the floor, what you're going to do with it? Once you're done crying and letting things go and God healing you. Now, what you're going to do? I won't spend the rest of my life crying and falling. I want to get up and do something great for God. And Holy Spirit's going to strengthen me. Holy Spirit's going to bless me. He's going to give me wisdom. He's going to guide me. We've got to wake up to this fact that He's going to work through us in a powerful way. And if you want to do great things, you have to be able to handle some pain.

Why can't we serve God and get up and go, "I'm going to get up and do great things for God. And yeah, there's going to be things that push at me". He's not talking about the curse. See, Jesus took the curse. And the curse is written down in Deuteronomy 28:15 and on. The curse of sickness, poverty, disease, all of that. We're not talking about that. Today, I'll hear, "Well, I'm just suffering for Jesus". I go, "Okay. Well, how are you suffering for Jesus"? And then they'll, they'll name something like a disease or poverty. I'm going, "The Bible doesn't ask us to suffer for Jesus with sickness. It's talking about suffering with people coming against us, backstabbing you, try to take your business away, lying about you". Because Jesus said, "They hated me. They're probably going to hate you because you're not of this world". Meaning, there's something in you that is precious and wonderful.

And so many people are going to be attracted to it. If you'll stand up and be strong and be that warrior princes and that mighty man for God. People want that, desire that. But there's also a group, it annoys them to no end that you're so confident. I remember when I was a paramedic, I walked, we were stationed in a hospital. I walked down on Monday, walked down the hall just kind of softly whistling to myself. And peer, "Shut up, stop whistling. Quit that". He was just, they didn't get it. I want to challenge you, make a decision. Make a decision. Make a decision to be strong. Then I want you to start thinking about the word toughen up. I'm not minimizing your pain and somebody here who might have just lost a loved one. Holy Spirit is called in the King James the comforter.

And I love that about the Holy Spirit. That in the midst of whenever I've lost loved ones. Whenever I've gone through things. Whenever I'm feeling a little bit iffy. He has an ability to make me feel loved and to be there and be peaceful. But do you know the same word that is interpreted comforter is also interpreted strengthener where we get the word hardness. So Holy Spirit will comfort you and He's got this stunning ability as your coach to harden you. Another words, making you something that like a hardened blade that will cut through anything.

Like this powerful hard armour that Ephesians 6 talks about. That no fiery darts going to get through. That nothing's going to get past that shield or that helmet or that breast plate or these feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. If we do not begin to represent Christ in the Word of God properly, we're going to lose generations. And you only lose one generation, you can lose a whole country. We've got to look at church differently.

I love church. I love watching the kids come in with their parents and go to Sunday school or sit in worship with their parents. I love doing coffee. I love the worship together. I love teaching and preaching the Word. I love everything about it, from the classrooms to the coffee shops, to the worship, the praise. I like coming here early and watching them praise and practice and seeing the stuff going on. Oh, I love of the church of Jesus Christ when it's being done according to Jesus. Because Jesus said, "I will build my church and the gates of hell can't stop it". He did go, "And they'll be a bunch of whiny people sitting around singing oh, woe it's me songs. And just help each other to hang in there while they all fail".

And then I finally got to blow a trumpet and come rescue my church. My challenge to you today is just one simple word, Holy Spirit. When you get to know the Word, He strengthens you. He hardens you for service. Makes you able to get up. And when others are, their eyeballs are this big and they're whining. You just go, "No problem. We'll make it. We'll see you through". Why? My God doesn't fail me. God always sees me through. God is there. He's my rear guard. He is with me. He's inside of me. If the Old Testament could have miracle after miracle only when the presence of God came upon them.

Did you know Elijah, the prophet, had seven miracles when you read through his life. Elisha asked him for a double portion. Elijah said, "If you see me go when I die, it'll be granted". And you count Elisha, another prophet, had 14 miracles. I love the teaching and the stuff to go with but I had 14 miracles by age 20. I'm not being proud. I want to show you something. Why? Why is this? Because in the Old Testament, the presence of God would come and go. Moses would say, "If your, if your spirit does not go before me, I'm not going anywhere". But in the New Testament, the Bible says we are in Him. David said, "By my God, I can run through a troop and leap over a wall".

In the New Test, I'm in Him. He never leaves me or forsakes me. And this power of Holy Spirit who's the one that does all the miracles from, in every book of the Bible. He is inside of me and He's gotten nine of these gifts. I have an arsenal. You have an arsenal of the gifts of the Spirit. One that says that heals. One's a gift of faith, a gift of miracles, a word of wisdom, a discerning of spirits. These incredible gifts are for you and I to get up and live our lives with. And instead we're listening to a message that just says, "Well, hanging in there. Life's rough". You. You were made. You were designed to win.

If you're going to have something that's designed like a sail boat to race. They don't design it to float. They designed it to win. You weren't designed to drift. You were designed to achieve. You weren't designed to barely get by. You were designed to overcome. You weren't designed to have everybody understand what it is you're going through this day? No. You're design to get up. And yes, there's times it hurt. And when people wept, give them a hug. And weep with those who weep, and cry with those who cry. But the Bible says weeping only lasts for a night and joy comes in the morning. Simply meaning, that as we walk through these things and we help each other and we hug each other and we blessed each other. That our whole goal is to get you back on your feet.

You know, there's a song that goes, "Pick me up, Lord. Brush the dirt off my face. Show me where I've wronged and put me back in my place". Another words, this desire that says, "Man, I need some time. I lost somebody I love. And so I need to grieve and I need to get some space. And I'm so glad people hug my neck and cry with me. But I'm not doing this the rest of my life". Today, I'm just talking about you being hardened, strengthened. Rise up and believe. That what is ahead of you, you're going to win. You're going to take ground. Mighty man for God, warrior princess for Him. And then the emerging generations will watch you and they'll want what you've got. Because you're an overcomer. You're born of God. This is the victory that overcomes the world even our faith. You can run through a troop and leap over a wall. Hallelujah! I mean, this is the attitude, the atmosphere of an overcoming believer.
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