Leon Fontaine - Being Thankful in the Darkness
Hey, everybody. It is great to have you with me today, because the topic today is crucial for you to breakthrough storms and to walk in a consistent place of miracles and success and overcoming faith, lives, etcetera. This message today is so crucial. All right. Let me start with a verse in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, it says, "Rejoice always". How often? Always. Now, the word "rejoice," the word joy is at the root. So you can have joy but it's not enough to have joy. You are to rejoice, which means do something with this joy that's in your heart. Rejoice, and how often? Always. It doesn't say in brackets, except in trouble, except in crisis, except in sickness, except when you have the worse day of your life.
So that's a pretty crazy word. Rejoice always? Then it says, "Pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you". Now, I want you to notice something here that is a religious issue. A lot of people think that we are to thank God for everything. That will be so horrible and so wrong and so far out of God's will. I can think of a situation right now. A friend gets raped. Thank God for it. Are you kidding me? Not a chance. So we don't thank God for the heartache, the pain, the disgusting sinful brutal things that the enemy can bring sometimes in people's life. Not a chance. It says, in everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
So in other words, rejoicing, praising God, giving thanks, has nothing to do with how you feel. It is a command from God. He doesn't say, "Hey, you guys, hope you could do this once in a while". No. He says rejoice always. It's like the strength command. Pray without ceasing. Now that word pray without ceasing doesn't, prayer is not begging God, bugging God, pleading with God. No. Prayer is a faith-filled declaring to mountains. Prayer is also a relationship of communing and hanging out with God and spending time with God. The other day, I was on a movie set and one of the people that was listening to me talking and she said, "Can I ask you a question? How much do you pray every day"? And I said, "Well". I said, "The actual word prayer means fellowshipping with God. So I guess all the time". What is that mean? It means like, He's with me.
If you ask me how much time I fellowship with Sally, my wife? I got to feel like all day. I'm with her all day. We're communicating by making her a cup of coffee, her making me some toast, smiling, looking at things together, talking, laughing, touching. All of this has got to do with communicating with her. And so with God prayer is two things. It's communication, hanging out, talking, listening, explaining, going into His Word with Him. And then the second thing it is, is prayer is an act of commanding the things around you, mountains to move and stuff to happen. So, prayer without ceasing just stay connected to God, enjoy Him, thank Him. In fact, thanking Him and praising Him is prayer. That's one of the many different kinds of prayer. It's just thanking Him, praising Him.
Hey God! It's so good today. Thank You for a beautiful day. Thank You for amazing things. They're gonna happen with my appointments, who I'm gonna meet. I'm thanking You right now. Today is gonna be a great day. Just hanging out with You all day is good. I mean, God, You're awesome. That's kind of the conversation I have with God. I enjoy Him so much. He's so amazing, so awesome. So why don't we go back into, in everything give thanks. Let's take a look at this and let's help you get from the doldrums, the depression, or horrible unhappiness. Maybe something horribly bad has happened to you. You're in the midst of a lost and you just wanna literally live in depression. You know, you don't feel like you have a right to rejoice. First of all, rejoicing and praising Him and giving thanks to Him has nothing to do with your emotions. It has to do with a powerful overcoming spirit that will take you through the stuff that is going on in your life.
Let's go to an example of what I'm saying first. In Acts 16:25, here it says, "But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them". They're in jail. They're singing. Suddenly, now when we go further on, you'll notice they were chained. And by the way a Roman prison wasn't a cute little thing like we have today with a nice orange suit, new shoes, new underwear. You know, three square meals a day, access to coffee, and some of them even have televisions and books and your own little library. No, no. A Roman prison was a rat-infested hellhole where you were chained up. And they didn't care if it caused you rash or ripped your skin opened and blood was trickling down. Rats were running through. Everybody else's feces and urine are everywhere. This was a hellhole. They did not make prisons cute.
This where Paul and Silas were. When they put them in to jail, they had whipped them, so their backs were opened and bleeding. And if you ever had someone whipped your back even just for fun with a willow or something. The nerve endings in your back are so brutal. So to have them ripped up. I mean, these guys have nothing to be thankful about. But at midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake so that the foundations of the prison were shaken, and all the doors were opened, and everyone's chains were loosed. All right, as we get in to this thing, I want you to notice, in the middle of pain, loss of freedom, in the middle of what looks like failure, in the middle of looks like bad happenings. They didn't thank God for it. They were praising and singing hymns to God in the midst of it. And not only that they get a miracle, but everybody around them.
You know, as a pastor of a large church and other organizations and television station and private schools and an organization that takes TV and languages around the world. Whenever I'm around with people, the culture of these organizations is up to me. Am I gonna be praising and thanking even when I'm believing God for millions and wondering what's gonna happen next. Can I be praising God, giving Him thanks, trusting Him, so that everybody around me shares in the victory. I've always believed that the people working with me, volunteering with me, attending our organizations would have the blessing of God upon them financially, marriage wise, health wise. That as I'm praising and thankful and declaring God's goodness, that everybody around me would walk in that attitude and in that blessing. It's happening here.
In fact, these prisoners were probably thieves, killers, liars. I mean, and they're getting blessed because of the praise and the worshipping attitude of Paul and Silas. It says, "Everyone's chains were loosed. And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself. But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, "Do yourself no harm, for we are all here". So, then it says, "Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas". The reason he was about to kill himself, it's because for Roman soldier or anybody who was involved in the holding of prisoners. If you feel asleep and lost them, didn't do your job, and they escaped. That was instant death. There was no tribunal. There was no have a big meeting about it. It's just every soldier involved in keeping that prisoner, a captive which was killed.
So you knew these guys were gonna be brutal and hang on to you. So he's about to kill himself rather than be killed. And Paul told him to stop. And he runs in trembling before Paul and Silas and he brought them out and he said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved"? This jailer had jailed people for days, weeks, months, years. He would knew exactly how tough that prison was. He knew how hard it was to open those prisons. He knew all of this. He had never been in a situation where every door blew opened. Now, they chained them up and when they chained them up they used that technology then of locking those chains around them, making sure that the shackles were on feet, hands, neck. They were, they didn't want them going anywhere. And he knew that every prisoner in this prison instantly the hands came free, the neck came free, the ankles came free. That everyone of their doors blew opened. And it was so powerful the foundations of the prisons were shaken. He knew what was taking place here was beyond anything any man could do. No one could run cell to cell popping doors, ankles, bracelets. This was God.
"And he said, 'Sir, what must I do to be saved?' So they said, 'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.' Then they spoke the Word of the Lord to him so that all and who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, washed their stripes. Immediately he and his family were baptized. Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them, and he rejoiced, having believed in God and with all his household". All right. Today in the church world we don't have a lot of miracles taking place. I know, I traveled from denomination to denomination and it's just rare. And people have been taught why miracles don't happen. People have been taught, "You know, God's allowed this to teach you something, because He's such a lousy teacher. He couldn't teach You through the Word. He'd have to kill somebody, bankrupt something, make you sick". Or whatever dumb doctrines they've got.
Today, we really don't thank Him in the midst of problem. Praise Him for the answer even before it happens. If faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. They were praising God, believing, their job wasn't done. Paul had a knowing as to what God had called him to. In fact, at the end of his life when he really did die, he knew it. And he said, I have fought a good fight. I have finished my course. I have kept the faith. I'm going to heaven. I'm gonna get a crown, something that God has for me. He knew, and he knew it wasn't his time then. He was praising God in faith. He was declaring the goodness of God. He knew the armies of heaven were greater than the armies of Rome. He knew the message of Jesus was more powerful than the message of Caesar. And he was just praising Him and thanking Him.
This was a minor thing. Oh, it was major to most people, whipped, beaten. I mean, they're in chains. Impossible! I mean, they could have been killed. They killed prisoners back then for anything and for any reason. I mean, they just killed people so easily. There was no value for human life. Later on, they hung Christians on crosses as far as the eye could see, fed them to lions, killed them, raped them, killed their children, their wife. These people had no problem killing. Paul and Silas praising, singing to God. I wonder if we do that in the midst of our problems. Remember the last time if you were sick lying in bed wondering if you're gonna make it. If you begin to say, just a minute, just give me a few minutes here. God, I thank You. I praise You. I'm wonderfully made. Your promises work. They're mine. I've got a long life ahead of me. Health and healing are the promises You've given me. Praise You, Jesus. Thank You, Father for what you did.
"Leon, I'm in pain". You ought to be whipped by a Roman soldier, locked in a Roman prison, put chains on every part of you. That whipping wasn't a cute little thing. They ripped up their backs. The pain was excruciating and off the charts. They knew how to punish men, brutal men. And they're thanking and praising God, not because you feel like it. Someone says, "Well, Leon, if you don't feel like praising God then it's not real. It's not true". Okay. You are a person who lives by your emotions. You think that if you don't emotionally feel like it, that you're not being authentic. Are you kidding me? You don't get up and go to work because you feel like it. You get up and go to work because you need to and it's right to do it, and money's gotta be made and bills have to be paid, your children have to be fed. And you've promised them that you would work for them for this much an hour. And you've promised them to be at work on time, 8 o'clock sharp. And so, you don't say, "Well, I just don't feel like it".
We live in a generation who really think their feelings are accurate and they get to live by them and they should follow them and that they're real. Oh, we know feelings are real, but they're not accurate and they're not truth. What situation are you in? Middle of a divorce? Middle of a bankruptcy? Are you sick? Maybe even being given up to die. I can hear someone thinking, "Leon, you're just not sensitive. You have no idea what it's like to be dying, laying in the hospital". The world, everybody's gonna die. Everyone experiences sickness. What the enemy wants you to do, he wants you to give up, curl into the fetal position and suck our thumbs and just give up and oh, woe it's me. We want everyone to understand the pain that we're going through. And it's important to ask for them to know how much pain and heartache we've got.
I know this is hard for some of you listening. But listen to me, when I was a paramedic, I remember one time coming to a scene where a man had had a front in loader drive into him. And the shovel in front hit his legs, his knees, and crushed them into a cement wall. He collapsed on the spot with the joints destroyed, bones destroyed. In fact, as he was sitting there his legs just turned unnaturally in the wrong direction. When I came on the scene, he was screaming in pain. And as I came to him with my bag full of drugs and equipment. He looked at me and he didn't go, "Just a minute, just a minute. Do you know how I feel, right now"? He didn't care about me knowing how I felt. I didn't stop and look and say, "You know, I know how you feel right now". He didn't care if I felt like him and I didn't care. He looked at me and screamed, "Help me! Give me something for pain".
It wasn't, we didn't have an emotional bond. It was a cry for help and it was a man trained to bring relief. In God's Word, we need to get out of all of these little emotional things about, "Well, I just want people to know how rough this is". Why? What's the purpose? Do you really need that? But now, please love me and listen to this. Do you wanna be free? Do you wanna rise up and win? Do you wanna get up and see miracles in the situation that just wrecking your life, your mind, your heart, your body, your relationship. You might have losses so big, someone you love just died. The enemy wants to bury you in despair and keep stealing other people that you love.
If you're a mom and dad, the enemy will never stop. What do we do in situations? We begin to praise Him even with a heavy heart. We begin to praise Him even in a painful body. We begin to praise Him even in the midst of horrible circumstances. And we begin to thankfully praise Him for the future, for His promises, for His Word. Thank Him for heaven if you just lost someone. We can't let the enemy take us and just push us down and destroy us. In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. Paul and Silas were giving thanks. Paul had learned this the hard way. And in this giving of thanks, this thankfulness. This attitude of praise and thanking God, the miracle was so great everybody around them, chains dropped off.
And by the way, Paul and Silas were set free and they went on to preach for years of the power and the goodness of God. In 1 Corinthians 10:6 and on, it says the stories in the Old Testament. Okay, now, they're not accurate for today. I mean, in other words, you can't get principles from Old Testament stories unless you take them through the cross. Because of the cross, everything before the cross, that was the old agreement between man and God. Everything after the cross is the new agreement between mankind and God, and Jesus represented mankind. So that the agreement between Jesus and God for mankind. So we need to understand we gotta go to the cross. But then here it's talking about complaining and murmuring. And it says that in the Old Testament that when they complained and murmuring, they were destroyed by the destroyer.
Did you know that complaining, murmuring, oh woe it's me, continually talking about how hurting and negative you are? That it literally causes your heart to go and to move in that direction in a greater way. A lot of people talk about jumping from the frying pan into the fire. I've noticed that when many people go through a horrible circumstance, their response is what triggers the miraculous or keeps them right in the midst of more heartaches, more losses, months of depression, years of storms that never seem to quit. And they'll say things like, "I feel like I live under a black cloud. I feel there's just no place for me to go".
We have to understand that in everything, not for everything, in everything give thanks. This is the will of God. Why would it be His will? He wants to see you rise up and defeat everything in front of you. He's giving you all His power, giving you all His promises, giving you His presence. And he says that everything has been dealt with. But your response needs to be one of faith. Get up and declare, "I'm more than an overcomer. His grace is on me. His unearned favor is mine". And as you begin to learn to give thanks, to praise Him. Sometimes singing helps immensely for me. The other day there's something I was believing God for. We're in the middle of believing Him for a miracle. This old hymn just started to flow through my mind. And it goes like this: God will take care of you, and then every verse. And I hadn't heard that song probably for 30, 40 years, that old hymn. It was like the Spirit of God began to rise up through every day, through all the way. He will take care of you. God will take care of you. And I began to sing it.
In fact, I went to my YouTube and I just found some great groups singing this hymn. Put it on in my hotel room and let it just resounded that hotel room and I started singing. I had tears in my eyes as I was believing God for something big that needed to get done for the ministry. And I just started to sing, and this incredible peace came over me, not because the song was in my YouTube, not because I heard it once but because I began to sing along. There's something about singing, praising God, thanking Him ahead of time, even before the miracle is there. I'm encouraging you, do what Paul did, in everything give thanks. Even in the situation you have right now. I don't mean be phony, be weird. Just get up and say, "I choose to praise God".
Most of the great men and women I know, and in our lives when we went through dark times, we had a choice, given in to the darkness and let it keep stealing from us or in everything begin to thank Him and praise Him for heaven. Praise Him and thank Him for victory. Praise Him and thank Him that I'm walking through. Praise Him and thank Him that no weapon form against me that's gonna prosper. Praise Him and thank Him that even if I failed just now, I'm getting up off my feet and I'm gonna win. I am gonna conquer because of Jesus. Because greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world. Father, I pray right now to those who are listening. The presence of God would be upon them. That Father, this message would drive deep in to them. And let them even now, in the midst of that storm, in the midst of that trial, that heartache. Don't thank Him for it but in it. We're gonna give You thanks and praise for the victory. That we know You, that we love You. Father, I pray speaking into them deep. In Jesus' name, amen.