Leon Fontaine - More Than Success
As a young teenager, I have avid memories of me getting interested in God's Word. My mom and dad had taught me the Word literally from a baby up. But in my early teens, I began to understand clearer the principles in the Word and so many people who didn't believe them and believed wrong principles. I remember a family friend, an older much older man than me and had been serving God for so much of his life. Him and I would get into debates. He's a wonderful man, still a friend. But he made me feel like he was saying that if you want to do something great for God, God's going to make you suffer. Every level has a new devil. And it was kind of like, "What in the world". And he would take verses out of context and he would make it look as if the suffering that is ahead of you, and ah, and so this debate went back and forth.
And I remember it just, it was good because it forced me to go into the Bible for myself, instead of swallowing what everybody else says. Which is a good model for a life period. And as I got into the Word, man, I discovered things as never before. Some of his comments were it's going to be a hard road. You know, God might decide. That, you know, and oh, the one-liners that I had to clean out of me. So in my study, I just something in me rejected this teaching. And since then I've learned that most of religious Christianity which is man-made rules, man-made judgments, man-made structures and systems that have really destroyed real faith in Jesus Christ. That it is our greatest enemy many times.
And so I found this amazing verse in Psalms 119 at the age of 15, in my mid-teens, verse 96 and it just lit me up. It says, "Nothing is perfect except your words, oh, God. Oh, how I love them. I think about them all day long. They make me wiser than my enemies, because they're my constant guide. You make me wiser than my teachers from ever thinking about them. You make me wiser than people older than me". Man, when I got a hold of that, because he made me feel like I was going to take forever to do anything great for God after years or decades of suffering, being in the wilderness on the backside of the desert. I mean, he took, that then maybe God would use me. And then I began to read as a young man. I could be wiser than my enemies, wiser than my... How's that possible? I began to understand the favour of God.
Now, when it comes to Jesus, you need to understand something. When it comes to your desires, your hopes, your dreams, there is nothing too small, insignificant for Jesus. I'm telling you. If it matters to you, it matters to God. The God who sees a sparrow fall. The God who feeds the birds. The God who counts the hairs on your head. He cares about what is bothering you. Don't think for a minute that when God shows up, he's judging you, slapping you upside the head. You know, if you were raised with only a disciplinary parents, and they never knew how to encourage, they never knew how to instill principles of faith, to believe, and favour with God. Then you'll look at God as this hard task master. But I want you to know as I begin to dive into the Word, I found out Jesus cares. That it was His ability that would perfect my imperfections. It was His strength that would strengthen my weaknesses. And man, did it change my life as I found verses about, "My yoke will be easy and my burden light".
I found out that, hey, on this planet there is suffering. It's not heaven yet. But I noticed that both people who went out and went for it, succeeded, lived up. Yeah, there was suffering that came from this planet but it was also with the people in the ghetto. It was also with the people, you know, who whatever they're doing. They weren't doing. They got the same suffering. In other words, their great grandparents it hurts to watch them die and your parents one day, and the people that come against you. And Jesus said, "Hey, they hated Me. They're going to hate you". It's not God putting you through suffering. It's not God trying to... No. And so everything I begin to study begins to talk about that if your life is believing in your efforts, your acumen, your strength. And you have, your proud and you got to do it on your own.
Welcome to a hard life. But if you can get your eyes on Jesus and what He has done for you from the cross to the throne. That His favour, He earned it. He qualified you. And you could begin to walk in that favour. You've got a choice to make as a follower of Christ. And that is your own meritocracy and of your own merits. Your own strength, your own wisdom, your own sharp, or you could believe in the undeserved favour of God. The Bible calls that His grace. You need to know that God's grace is designed to be in you, upon you, to go through you. And His plan for your life is far beyond your ability, far beyond your strength, far beyond your ability to plan and strategize, far beyond your ability to stand strong and confident in front of storms and an enemy that in your own strength you can't do it. You've got to make a choice today. Are you going to focus on Jesus and His finished work so that you can have His grace? Or you're going to stay focused on your ability and trust in the arm of flesh and self-righteousness, etcetera, etcetera. There's no middle road. You can't mix grace and works.
The Bible says in 2 Peter 1:2, "May grace, God's favour and peace". It says, "Be multiplied in your life through the knowledge of Jesus". Oh, my! What's this? It means that the more you increase in the knowledge of Jesus and His finished work. The more that His undeserved favours will multiply, explode, blow your mind in your life. Some of the people I would talk to as a teenager as I was really forming and choosing what I was going to believe as a young man. So thankful for a mom and dad who really taught me the authority of the Word. And that I don't care what others say. If the Word says it, I'll believe it. I'll stand on it. And I thank, and I pray that that's the way you are. For the young people that are listening to me, for the young 20 somes that are watching. I want you to know that religion will destroy you. It will fill you full of wrong beliefs. It will make you judgmental, irritable, and angry. It will make you rise up against anybody else that succeeds.
But if it's a true focus on Jesus, where you behold Him in His glory, in His beauty, in His finished work. That this beholding of Jesus through the Scriptures and through your relationship. It causes something to rise up in you. And I'm telling you right now that as a teenager, man, that's over 40 years ago. And as a grandpa, as a leader, as someone, I'll tell you right now. I have enjoyed the favour of God. I have laughed and loved. I've watched God be my rear guard. I've watched Him be by shield and my buckler. I've watched Him give me things I never could have imagined. I've watched Him transfer into my world things I never could have manipulated or influenced. I've watched Him do things when storms have risen and things came at me. I've recognized a peace as I've sheltered in that beautiful quiet secret place. I'm telling you right now from experience of the Word. That it is real and that it's stunning!
In the Old Testament they had a phrase. And the phrase was, "And the Lord was with them". I want to talk about that phrase, because every Jewish person knows. That any time the Lord is with them, there was no failure. Any time the old covenant, the Old Testament stories say, "And the Lord was with him". Oh, my! Would they achieved things. Now listen close to me church. Listen close to me. God's definition of success is different than yours. You think success is your car, your house, your money, your achievements, your position, your worldly influence, and how much your peers glorify your name. And God define success as He is with you. In 1 Samuel 18:14, David who we all know the stories of him. It said, "And David behaved himself wisely in all his ways for the Lord was with him, and Saul saw that and was very afraid".
You know, when you read the Bible and you read these Jewish stories. How that when they saw that the Lord was with them in the Old Testament, the countries were very afraid of them. When you saw in the New Testament which is, and we're going to explain how this works. When you saw, when the Jewish saw the Lord was with these new converts, they were afraid. Why? Because when the Lord is with somebody, they don't fail. You can't take them out. You can't surprise attack them. You can't do anything. You could be bigger, badder, stronger. You could come against them with all your might. But when you do, with the Lord is with somebody in the Old Testament, to come against that person was to come against the Lord. To come against that group was to come against the Lord. In the 2 Samuel 5:10, it says, "And David went on, and he grew great, and the Lord God of hosts was with him". When God was with somebody in the Old Testament, they prospered. They grew great. You couldn't take them out. You couldn't attack them. None of the strength of your hand would succeed against the Lord of hosts who has at His disposal the heavenly armies.
In 2 Samuel 5:10, "And David went on, and grew great, and the Lord God of hosts was with him". 1 Chronicles 11:9, "David became stronger and stronger, greater and greater, and the Lord all-powerful of heaven's armies of hosts was with him". This phrase, "The Lord was with him". This phrase, "The Lord was with them", is a stunning, and every Jewish person knows. That this means you'll grow greater and greater as Solomon dealt... Oh, I was going to on 2 Chronicles 1:1, "Solomon, David's son," It says here, "Strengthens himself," Oh, I'm sorry. "Became a powerful king, solidified, secured, established in his kingdom and in his royal authority, strengthened himself over his kingdom, because the Lord his God was with him, made him very great, exalted, magnified, and empowered him". Now, if they're going to continue to say in the Old Testament and the Lord was with them. Then it means there were times when the Lord wasn't with them. And when the Lord wasn't with them, it was because they weren't keeping the old covenant. They went into slavery. They could be slaughtered. They would do poorly. They would lose battles. They'd lose their country. They'd go in, like it's brutal. And so the Lord being with them was crucial. It was important.
Now, when you go through the verses, I'll give you another one. You can read 2 Chronicles 15:1, where it talks about Asa. Asa. And it says that people were attracted to him because the Lord was with him. And they came out of disenfranchised groups and countries and just began, began to be added to him because the Lord was with him. In Psalm 127, it says, "If the Lord doesn't build what you build, you're laboring in vain. It won't last. If the Lord doesn't guard what you have, you're guarding it in vain. If you get up early and work hard and eat the bread of hardship and pain. Without the Lord, it's never gonna last anyway". And then it says at the end of verse 2, "And by the way, the Lord not only gives His beloved sleep. He gives them things while they sleep". And that's repeated everywhere in God's Words.
In Acts 11:21, the disciples, "And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed, and turned to the Lord". Back then, they came to the Lord by thousands a day. In Acts 2:47, it says they were praising the Lord here, and having favour with all the people, and the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved. Did you know that Christians need to stop acting as though everyone is against them. The Bible says when the Lord is with you, even your enemies are at peace with you. Now Leon, does that mean everyone's going to like me? No. Jesus said, "They hated Me. They'll hate you". He didn't mean everybody. He mean that those who wouldn't gain control of their thinking, their emotions. And so, hey, if you're going to succeed, point two percent of the people who know you are going to hate you, and come against you, and make it look as if everybody hates you. Don't believe that lie.
Around you are a lot of people who love you, care about you, going to be there for you. They'll rise up with you. They're excited about you. It's just that your enemies, they're going to talk about you. You need to know that in the New Testament Jesus said He'll never leave you, never forsake you. That means the new covenant has something different. The Lord is always with you. It means the Lord never leaves you. Some people use, I was preaching with a guy at the conference and he got up and shared how that for so many years of his life. The Lord had left him. And ah, he was so far off doctrinally. It made me cringe. But you see, the Bible doesn't say what is true is what you get. The Bible says what you believe is what you get. Even by default to not believe in the favour and the hand of God on your life, is to allow the regular circumstances of life to encompass you, to destroy your peace, to remove your courage.
The Bible says that when you focus on Jesus and that you behold Him daily in the Scriptures and in relationship. That your grace and your peace multiplies. That's a stunning thing. Let me give you a picture that God gave me as I was meditating. Psalms 23 is 6 verses of what your life looks like when the Lord is with you. One of those verses says, "And He prepares a table before you in the presence of your enemies". What a stunning thing. On this planet, people are going to try to take your wealth. People are going to try to take your stuff. People going to compete with you, lie, cheat, and steal with you. All of us. Now here's what He says to you and I. As your enemies are walking around maybe even uttering threats and acting aggressive. When the Lord is with you, He'll just prepare a table. Now this is a picture of a family sitting down. I love lunches or dinners with my family. The laughter, the joy, the sharing, the envisioning, the encouraging, the loving that goes on, and it's an example of a family in love with each other, sitting down, eating the most amazing food, drinking amazing beverages, from the main courses to dessert. And it's the Lord that prepares this table for you.
Now as you see this picture. You're sitting around with the people that matter to you. The people that love you. The team that you're on. And you're laughing and eating, and around you are your enemies. And this picture is why would you look at them? Why would you behold them? Why would you study them? Now there's many problems that we look at and God gives you creative ideas. But for all the screaming haters and all the people trying to take you down, competing with you in business, or lying about you somewhere. What do you do? You just focus and walk in the blessing. On this planet, on this planet when the Lord is with you. You just focus on the blessing, the favour, the family. Teach your kids to laugh in the face of the dragon. Teach your teens to declare God's Word in the face of Goliaths. Teach your family to rise up and look to Jesus when the waves are so high, others get immersed in it. There's something about keeping this Jesus and the finished work of the cross before you. The Bible teaches us a very key principle.
People say, "Leon, the Lord, if the Lord is with me, why it isn't happening"? Because in the new covenant now, there are two things you must do. You must recognize that this salvation is a gift. All of the promises of God are a gift through Jesus who qualifies you. So this grace, this undeserved favour that makes you look better, be better, have better, go better than anything else. That gives you His grace, His ability, and gives you peace. Shalom which is a stunning joy, peace, meditation. If Jesus can sleep in the bow of the boat with a storm that scares fishermen. That peace is yours because He said, "My peace I leave with you". So whatever goes on in health care, government, viruses. Whatever goes on around you in your business, your family, your home. Whatever goes on around the people who threaten you or come against. Whatever goes on, you are to be at a table enjoying and rejoicing and know. You know, the Bible in the King James says that God is your re-reward. That means your rear guard. The things you don't know about. The things that people are going to rise up. And all of a sudden surprise you to take you out.
You go, "How can you be ready for what you don't know"? The Lord is with you, and He is your rear guard. He is the one who knows the plans of your enemy. The promises of the Old Testament says, "The net they spread for your feet, they will fall into the pit they dig. For you to fall into, they'll fall into. The sword they come for your heart enters their own heart. The arrow that shot at you will enter their own life and world". The stunning principles of God that teach you and I to be at peace. He prepares a table before us. As you look at God's grace, it's important to understand the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:10. He says that he was working mightily but it was God's grace working within him. God's grace doesn't mean you sit in a hammock and do nothing while he... No. It means that the grace of God that you believe in, it rises up in you. It magnifies and anoints the gifts and the skills within you. And as you go, you are stunned at the favour.
As I've looked at my life, and I've just seen what God has done. I just recognize I'm not that smart. I'm not that in control. I'm not that powerful for the storm. I'm not that at peace in my own. But I've come to behold Jesus. To behold means to keep Him in the center of your heart. Jesus is for your good. And when Jesus is with you, that's like saying the Lord is with you. And as you believe on Him, everything you put your hand to, prospers. Jesus said in John 10:10, the thief comes to steal, kill, destroy. But Me, I'm here to give you eternal, lasting, wonderful life, innumerable in quantity and incredible in quality.
If you're watching today and you say, "Leon, I don't know this Jesus". I'm going to show you how. Your choices are so spectacular that God honors them. He's giving you freewill. Every choice you make in life has consequences. But every choice you make in life has blessings and favour, too. Your choices are crucial. The most important choice every man, woman, or child will make on this planet is do you accept Jesus and what He did for you? Will you bel`ieve on it and will you choose Him? That's a choice only you can make. To not make that choice has eternal consequences. To make that choice has eternal blessings. You just need to say right now:
Jesus, I choose You. Come into my heart, my life. I don't understand it all. But I make a choice and I choose Jesus. Guide me, lead me, amen.
This decision. This decision you've made. You can always say in your quiet times, your fearful times. The Lord is with me. He'll never leave me or forsake me. As you grow in the understanding of grace, which is His ability, His favour. That He's qualified you and given it to you. Believe that, rise up, and walk in the favour of God. Your life can be beyond belief. Every area of your life, whatever you put your hand to. He will bless. This is the inheritance of the servant of the Lord.