Leon Fontaine - You Are A Warrior
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. 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. And I hated that teaching, hated that doctrine. And he said, "Leon, if you're going to do anything great for God, it's going to take years of hell to fashion and to inform you and toughen you and make you". And I would just look at him and say, "I don't agree with that. I don't accept that at all". But then it made me really go, "Well, I need to look into God's Word then, because he says that God's allowing suffering to train me. And his God such a lousy teacher that He has to give you cancer or kill your kids or bankrupt your business. Like, really that's how we become strong and tough"?
And so it really was a journey for me. So today I want to talk about this. There's a verse in the Bible and it's Isaiah 41:10 -11, and it says, "Fear not for I am with you, do not look around you in terror, or be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you". In the Amplified it says, "And I will harden you to difficulties". Interesting. Harden. I thought, "Well, that can't really be in the Bible. God's going to make me hard"? But I went into the, into the Hebrew and read and studied this. I thought, "It's true". This word to strengthen means to harden. I thought, "Well, the Bible say we shouldn't have a hard heart". But he's not talking about our heart. He's talking about our ability to deal with difficulties. When storms and difficulties and tribulations rise up, you are alike whoa! Whereas the most people, "Please for me". And I don't mind prayer request. Don't get us wrong. We know this. We pray.
And we love it when someone goes through something, share with someone. Let them pray with you. But then we want to help take you into victory. And so this verse says, "I will strengthen you and harden you to difficulties. I'll help you. I will hold you up and retain you with My victorious right hand of rightness and justice. Behold, all who are enraged and inflamed against you". You know, when someone's gets really mad at you, it makes more people gulp and back up and go, "Oh, Jesus, help me". But it says here in the next verse, "Everybody who's angry, so angry they are enraged, inflamed, and they are against you. They're going to be put to shame and confounded. Those who strive against you shall be as nothing and they're going to perish".
Now this verse when you begin to, that begin to dissected and go into it. There is something that really stood out to me here, and that was that He was going to strengthen me and harden me against difficulties. Years ago, we noticed in church, the church world, that for every guy you had coming to church, there would be like eight women. Why was that? Being a Christian. If you ask somebody, so, if you're to tell somebody, "I'm a Christian". In our world it would be just literally you're admitting you're a little bit weak. You need religion to get you through. Jesus Christ is going to see you through. You're kind of a wimpy churchy guy. If there's any Christians who were in movies, they're always a little bit weird. This is the way our society has portrayed it and it's the church's fault.
And so today we're going to talk about toughening up. Today, we're going to talk about the fact that that Holy Spirit is here to strengthen you but a part of that word is to harden you to difficulties. Now, Christians stay on the defense. So, that Christians really just think like, "I'm here on the planet and the big bad devil was going to attack me. And so I got to be very careful. I hang on to what I've got because we're going to barely get by". But that's not Bible either. You are more than an overcomer. You are to be building, raising things up, going places. And so for 2 Timothy 2:3, says, "Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ". See, see, life is hard. No, it's saying as a soldier. What's a soldier doing? He's fighting for the protection of his family, fighting for new territory, going somewhere. If you want to go somewhere for God, then you're going to have to learn to handle a little bit of pain. You have to learn to toughen up. You can't be this little cutie Christian, or this little wimpy princess. You'd be a warrior princess. You need to recognize that life is not going to just hand you everything.
2 Corinthians 11:23-29, Paul lays out his pedigree as to being an apostle of God. And it shocks everybody to read it because it's not his training. It's not his equipping. It's not his awards. It is what he went through and never quit. That's the biggest thing. He was whipped three times, thirty-nine lashes. He was beaten with rods three times on the bottoms of his feet, a Roman punishment that breaks the bones of your feet and usually cripples you for life. He was shipwrecked. He was attacked by wild animals in the wild. And it seems to say that he was also put into the arena against wild animals and he survived everything. He was shipwrecked three times when he said it, and he was shipwrecked one more time after he said it, when you study the timeline of scripture. Nothing stopped this guy. Tough as nails, loved God, excited about God, and he just kept going and going. And things to try to shut him down and stop him.
And often when I'm complaining about my life, I got to look at Paul and go, "Okay, Paul. We're going to talk when I get to heaven. You the man, dude! Like, you are the man". And I want you to understand that when Holy Spirit and God's Word begins to get into you, we have this preconceived idea that it softens you up. And it makes you act like an, you know, like a sweetie pie. But that's not what the Word says. It's a stunning thing when you realize it was Holy Spirit. When Paul accepted Christ as his Saviour, and his name was Saul. And he became Paul and he began to rise up. You couldn't stop this man, an army couldn't stop him, cities couldn't stop him. I mean, they stoned him. History says he was thrown into boiling oil and swam out. I mean, it's just an incredible thing. We need to recognize that Holy Spirit has strengthens us which means to harden us, toughen us up.
And many times in my life, "Oh, Jesus". It's just like, Just toughen up and walk this thing out. I just walk through it, Leon. And when the dust settles and the smoke clears, I'll still be standing because Jesus is with me. Holy Spirit is my helper. And when you begin to adopt, and adapt to this is what a Christian is. Life gets way easier than to look at every attack and go... And so when we look at God working on our behalf, it's kind of like Aladdin's lamp. I used to be one of these chubby fat little Christian who's laying in a hammock. Just drinking a Coke and eating, you know, Cheetos and Jesus' going to do everything for me. No! When you study the Word, what's exciting about this Christian life is He's working it through you. David says, "I can run through a troop. I can leap over a wall by my God".
Interesting. In the Old Testament, when God would get upon somebody, they would rise up and do miracles. David was very clear, "By my God I will run through a troop". And now you couldn't do miracles until the presence of God came upon you. So Elijah, when you study his life, had seven major miracles. Miracles for you. Elisha who follow Elijah around. Their names are very similar. He said, "I want a double portion of what you have Elijah". Elijah said, "And of the Spirit of God, if you see me when I go, it'll be the sign God has answered that prayer". And Elisha did fourteen miracles in his lifetime. Oh, I've got news. Many believers see that many miracles in the first year of their lives.
Now, in the New Testament, David would say it, "By my God, I can do this". But in the New Testament, I'm in Him and He's in me. He never leaves. Whereas Samson, he would shake himself and the Spirit of God would come on him or it wouldn't come on him to do a miracle. But you and I, He never leaves us, or forsakes us. And the gifts of the Spirit which are your arsenal of incredible weapons to get up and to walk with the gift of faith or a gift of the working of miracles, or the gifts of healings, or a word of knowledge, the discerning of Spirit. All of these incredible gifts that are given to every believer for business, for child raising, for taking the church of Jesus Christ somewhere. We have all of this stuff. And somehow the preaching from our pulpits has gotten us all to just kind of be like, and rather than being an overcomer. I'm an overwhelmed.
God needs you to get up and win. He needs you to get up and be strong. When you go through stuff, you need to talk to a good friend. If you've lost someone lately, you need to learn to grieve and take some time. Let people hug you and be there for you. Holy Spirit, the King James calls Him the comforter. It's a beautiful name because all of us are going to lose things in this life. Your great grandparents, your grandparents, your parents, friends. People going to stab you in the back. People going to make their own decisions and hurt you. Lots of stuff goes on. Thank God Holy Spirit's a comforter. A stunning ability to take you through things that would make others just live and hurt. You can walk His peace through it. But did you know the very same word that means comforter also means strengthener. And that word strengthener, that word means to harden to difficulties right in that word.
So when you get to know Holy Spirit, He's constantly with you, comforting you through whatever goes on. And then simultaneously, He's strengthening you and making you and hardening you, toughening you up against difficulties. So that when stuff begins to come your way is going to, "Oh, yeah. I will be fine. We're going to go through that". Whereas others are freaking out. It's a chicken little. Buck, buck, buck, buck. The sky is falling. The sky is falling. And fear can find seventeen ways things can go wrong. God's designed you to win. He's designed you to overcome, not be overwhelmed. And I want you to understand, that this issue of letting Holy Spirit strengthen you and harden you is not something the church thinks about. If you were to talk to most people in my world and say, "What does it look like when Holy Spirit really begins to flow through somebody"? Oh, they cry. They fall. They sob. They pray. I'm going, "That's exactly whenever we say we're going to have Holy Spirit meetings. That's about most churches do. But what do you do when you're done all that"?
Oh, I want to get up and have a life. I want to get up and serve Jesus. I want to get up and be an example of my kids, to see how I'm not perfect but this is how to go through with strength. This is how to go through with the sense of victory. In 1 Timothy 6:12, it says, "Fight! The good fight". Grab hold of life. If you don't grab hold of a life, who's going to give you one? The world doesn't owe you a living. The word fair, get rid of it. What's fair? It's just not fair. The seconds someone says that I kind of go, "Ugh". Whatever you felt you've been done bad by, I can show you somebody ten times worse. So what do we do? We just, forget about those things which are behind, and now you might not be responsible or the reason things went so bad, or you got so hurt. But now from where you are today and forward, it's your responsibility to change. And every tool you need is given to you in Christ. Grab a hold of life. Get up and a live one.
"Well, you don't understand. My wife left me. My husband left me". I'm a pastor. I talked with hurts for 40 years and I'm still not depressed. That's a miracle. Because I teach them. I cry with them. I wept with them. But I let them know joy comes in the morning. And we're going to rise up and go and grab a hold of life again. And let's go do something for God. Ezekiel 3:8, says, "Behold, I have made your face strong and hard". See, most people think of Christians as soft and chubby. Sweet. But, yeah, when you look at men like David. When you look at men and women who rose up. You know what, there's a lady in the Bible that's one of the heroes. That there's a couple of them. One of them she led the battle because no man would lead the armies of Israel into battle. So the woman say, "Then I'm going to do it but you lost your chance to be the victor". She told the guy that should have led it in.
Another person, this enemy king was running for his life, hid in her tent. She grabbed the stick, a stake of a tent peg, put it through his head, killed him, and won the battle. I mean, there are warrior princesses out there. Oh, you can just be hurting little princess. I'm offending somebody. Hang in there with me. I'm going to help you out. Let me read you one of my favorite verses, Jeremiah 12:5, "But the Lord rebukes the prophet Jeremiah, his impatience, saying, 'If you have raced with men on foot and they've tired you out, how can you compete with horses? And if you run in a land of peace because you feel insecure, then what will you do when you've got to tread upon the tangled maze of jungle haunted by lions in the swelling and flooding of the Jordan?'"
This verse is saying that He's designed you to get up and do things so far beyond what this world sees. There's a story in the Bible of one of the prophets who pray down rain. And then as the king who was watching him because he takes off in his horses. He outruns them all the way back to the city. What? Presence of God hit him. Like, over and over again Old Testament and New, we see the absolute power of God at work through people. But if we accept the message of, "I'm just a Christian. God bless you. Jesus loves you". As though we're just on this world. We're nobody's. We're the low-end. No, the Bible says you're the head and not the tail, above and not beneath. In the Old Testament, the greatest world leaders are the, the greatest national leaders, provincial leaders, army leaders, were always Christians, or followers of Christ. And today it's, "Well, you know, we're just poor. I'm a Christian". Really? It's so backwards.
Now, I could go on a rant on a lot of these topics and I've done them before. But I want you to understand something. Holy Spirit is your helper. Now, the word comforter and the word strengthener, and there's about five other words that this word "parakletos" means. It means predominately He's your coach. I remember going to speak in Virginia Beach on leadership. They asked me to do a Men's Leadership conference. And a bunch of Navy Seals came out and it was fascinating. They took me out for lunch and they took me back to the, to the Baystate, toured me through ships and equipment. We went to the shooting range and shot together. It was a phenomenal time. And when you look at whether or not you make it as a Navy Seal. Many of us have watched movies on it. It's not about skill. It's only about the first part of all your training. It's only about toughness. Period, period, period.
Are you hardened enough to never quit? Are you strong enough, strengthen enough? That it doesn't matter what's going on. You will never vacate the team that you're on. You'll never walk away. You'll never go, "Oh, well. We gave it our best shot". Try is not even in the vocabulary. Well then, who's the trainer of mighty men in this new world for Jesus? Holy Spirit is. Who's the trainer of warrior princesses? Holy Spirit is. It's not a mamby pamby. Oh, you're just a cute little Christian kind of a life. That we are trained by the Word of God and by Holy Spirit to get up and go lead the charge, in business, in career, in relationships. And recognize that it doesn't matter where you were trained.
"Well, Leon, why did you bring up this bit about Christians and Christian home having wimpy kids"? Because of how we present Jesus. In 2 Samuel 22:30-31, David here, they're talking about, he can run through a troop. By my God, I can leap over a wall. He makes my feet like the feet of a mountain goats. So secure I could run up and down cliffs. He says here that I pursue my enemies to like destroy them. He talks about training his hands for war. It says he's girded with God's strength for the battle and he subdues. He crushes his enemies. It's all about God strengthening, preparing, and hardening David to be this incredible guy. That's the kind of life. I don't want to be the guy sitting back at the castle with God. I want to be a part of this. God's with me. I want to do things with my life.
And my challenge to you is simply this one thing. Let Holy Spirit begin to strengthen you. And maybe the next time you go through something and you start thinking. You get fearful. Just stop. Just tell yourself toughen up. Toughen up. You're going to make it through. The Bible talks about courageous people and it talks about cowards. And I don't want to be a coward. I want to be a courageous person. You know, when you look at Holy Spirit as the coach and the trainer of new covenant people. It's a stunning thing. That as I study the Word, I learned principle after principle of overcoming this world. I learned how to use faith. I understand where grace fits in, understand when my righteousness gets attacked, understand when my salvation gets attacked. I understand when I'm out of energy and out of strength.
What do I do? The Bible is a stunning book about how to get up whether it's war, whether it's building a family, whatever is going on ahead of you. The Bible is incredible, amazing. Not only does it give you strength when you read it, but it trains your mind and arms your hands and you'll run full speed into a situation and know in a tenth of a second what to do because Holy Spirits there guiding you and leading you. It's an incredible business help, an incredible marriage help, an incredible child, every area of your life. The Bible says that Holy Spirit's got nine strengths that are yours and you should continue to develop them. They're called the fruit of the Spirit. Joy and peace and patience. These things are what help you to have a relationship your entire life.
Some people are tough and they're strong and they've been hurt by life and so they're a lot tougher than others. But I see unless God begins to work on them. They can't make relationships go past a few years. Then there's the nine gifts of the Spirit. The arsenal that God's given you. As we talked about to, you know, to begin to have healing and discerning of spirits. These are incredible things. So I want to challenge you to don't any, don't drift in life. Don't just drift. Holy Spirit lead me, guide me. But there's only one thing I want to get across today. You're tough. You're extremely tough. You're tougher than anything this world could throw at you. You are hardened to difficulties by the power of Holy Spirit.
And when the enemy tries to shoot his best shot, gets his worst face through somebody else in front of you and says, "You're done. You're finished, career, marriage, health, whatever". You need to know that you've already been made and recreated in the likeness and the image of God and that you're strong. Now, don't get, don't mistake me, You're still full of God's love and His compassion. It's not like a hard heart. No, you've got all that. You're laughing and enjoying life. There is this the strength. The problem with the word strength today is that, it's kind of like, "The tough guy. That's strength". I disagree. Joy is strength the Bible says. Love is strength. If God is love, and you're supposed to pursue love. Then you're pursuing God. Somehow it's just gotten all mixed up. I simply want you to know, whatever is going on. You're a billion times bigger than that.