Leon Fontaine - Walk With Me
Hey, everybody, so good to have you with us today as we dive into God's Word. I love the Word. I've just, I've been teaching it for 40 years and it just gets so more exciting all the time because Holy Spirit just takes you further and further in the revelation of who God is, who I am, and you just feel so loved. Today, we dive into the stuff I want to share with you. And we're going to talk about pursuing Jesus. And ah, and this is crucial because too many people, well, when you ask them about their life with God, they don't know what to say. But when you say, "I'm pursuing Jesus". It is a stunning thing because John 10 teaches us that Jesus leads every one of us individually. We're not this world of clones, or like the Stepford wives. We are each individual and God has a plan for each of us individually. And to pursue Jesus is to become like Him, to laser-like focus on Him, because He not only is going to take us demographically to where we should be.
And we keep thinking of, He's going to guide me to which wife, how many kids, what career, and He does. But when you pursue Jesus, He leads you into truth as well. And so this pursuing Jesus is crucial. He knows what you need, what will heal you, what will change you, what will help you to become in your mind and in your physical body. What He's already placed within you when you are a believer. And so this issue of I'm following Jesus each step of the way is very important. And when I come to crossroads in my life and I go, "What should I be doing"? If you're not careful, you can get off and go, "What's good for me? What's good for them? What's good for this? What's good for". Before I go there, am I following Jesus in this? And so it's a beautiful thought this following Jesus. And when I say pursuing Him, I don't mean He's running away from you and hard to find, or hard to catch. No, not at all. I just mean you've got to decide when temptation is to get off track, that I'm following Jesus. I'm going to do what He does.
And so as we go on to a few of these thoughts today. I pray that it really helps you because it's kept me on track. I'll never forget making this decision as a teenager. I'm following Jesus. I'm not just going to be saved so I've got fire insurance and get to heaven. I'm so glad for heaven and eternity with Jesus. But I'm going to live my life me and Jesus. And I see this relationship of Him and I. Him, you know, there's a beautiful old hymn that says, "And He walks with me, and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own. And the joy we share as we tarry there, none other have ever known".
You know, as I look at my life, and I'm so happy with God, with what my wife Sally and I have done, our family and I have done, and the team around us have done. But every one of us alone, I see, I'm not afraid of being alone because being alone doesn't mean you're lonely. And so Jesus and I have had times that I can't even explain it to people. I just chat with Him and talk with Him as I look at what just happened, what He did. Some of the things He accomplished through me. And sometimes I like to be alone because people can encourage you, and give you accolades. And, but in following Jesus it's stunning to me how He rejoices with me. How He's proud of me. How He is, we're celebrating together. There's a laughter, a joy, a sense of encouragement. This following Jesus is just powerful. And I want you to think that way as we go through some of our thoughts today.
One of the crucial issues in following Jesus is loving God. In Luke 10:27, it says, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, all your mind. And love your neighbor as yourself". Now people look at this and they often get discouraged. And I've heard this very often, "Leon, I don't know if I love God. I don't think I love Him anywhere near enough". And a lot of us don't know how to interpret the word love. I don't have any feelings for Him. Some people say, "Well, I watched a lady worshipping God and she was weeping and telling Jesus, I love you so much. Or I'll see people in worship services just fold their arms around them and just rock. I just enjoyed the presence of God". And others will tell me, "I don't feel any of that. So I don't think I love God".
Emotions are great. God made them. But love isn't an emotion. Love is God. And another word that I found that really helps me is valuing God. I know many people who got married or who are in a dating relationship that have so much emotion for the other person. That it's almost, you roll your eyes. I mean, isn't he gorgeous? Isn't he awesome? Oh, man. I just love him so much. Oh, he's so cute just when he... You kind of go... but to value that person, spend the next 70 years with him, is to, you know, be there with each other, raising kids, and serving God because you value that person. There's a valuing of God, and I like that because it helps us men and many women who don't think they love God. So value God. And as you grow in your value of who God is and what He's done for you. You're going to be amazed.
Now, one of the things that really helps us is the Bible says we love him because. Now this is a crucial line. We love Him because He first loved us. Now, I don't know if anyone has ever helped you at a critical time where you thought there was no help whatsoever. And maybe it was a financial issue. Maybe, maybe you were lost. Maybe you were dying. I mean, I could tell you stories about being a young boy where I was drowning in the pool. I couldn't swim and I thought for sure I could swim. And here I'm going under. I'm going under over and over again. I remember as I'm bobbing up looking around and nobody's noticing me and I'm in the deep end, and there's no one even near me. And as I'm going down, I'm freaking out. I think this is the last. I don't think I'm ever coming up.
And one person noticed me, dived in, strong young guy pulled me out, sat me on the edge, kind of banged my back, didn't leave me because my eyeballs were this big. I was probably 7 or 8 and I was so scared. And he just sat beside me and he understood the fear. I think this guy was well-trained in swimming. And when he got done making sure that I coughed up the water and making sure that he got my fear down, and who were you with? And, you know, where's your family? And it was just, and I'll never forget that. That I just, I just want him around all the time. Look what he did for me. When you begin to dive into the Word of God and recognize how much God loves you, and that is done through Jesus. My love for God didn't come as I kept focusing on God, focusing on God. It came as I read the Word about what Jesus did for me. And the more I understood that He literally became sin. That it says, "God turned His head away from Him as he died with my sin".
And then He took my punishment. The curse that should have gone with all my mistakes in my entire life. Jesus took them. And then He died in my place, and the Bible says that His grave was amongst the wicked. And then He arose again with new life and He had taken my life but He exchanged and gave me His life. And the more I study and read this, the more I go, "God loves me that much". And as you study what Jesus has done for us. Especially the epistles which are the new covenant. This is where I developed this incredible value for God. This love for Him. And I pray that you would do that. If you're saying, "Well, l want to follow Jesus".
It's crucial that you understand love and recognize how much God loves you. Every time you read the Bible stop listening to preachers that says, "God's mad at you. You dirty rotten good for nothing sinner. You know, your righteousness like filthy, rot". They take Scriptures and they take them out of context. Of course our righteousness is nothing. But they make it look as if God doesn't care about us. We ought to be glad God even cares about us. Um, I think that's wrong. I think that God is so in love with us. We are He's crowning creation. He made the animal world and all the universe and the earth and the water. And then He made man in His likeness and in His image and He calls us His family. His sons and daughters. Does He value us? Off the charts. Does He love us? Off the charts.
As you see this in the Word, you believe how loved you are. And then you begin to sense, and nothing can take away, not a bad turn in your marriage, not a bad turn in your finances, not a storm that is shaking you, not someone around who's turned against you, not someone who's betraying you, not someone who's blogging about you. Nothing can interrupt this love because you just know that God's with you and He's going to see you through, and heal your marriage and your body, take you through the storm. Whatever is going on, God's on your side with you because He loves you. This is crucial that you stay love focus. If you don't, you'll never get faith to work because your faith will go up and down like a yo-yo until you anchor it in this incredible love.
When it comes to pursuing and following Jesus, you need to know it will always be about loving others, influencing others. Encouragement is a stunning and amazing gift. And I want to turn every person that's listening into an encourager. That's what Barnabas was in the Bible. The son of encouragement. I believe that encouragement is one of the most powerful gifts in the body of Christ. Because to encourage one another and to see and to be aware of who's going through something, most people are too self-focused. They're continually focus on what they want, what they need, what they're believing God for what people think about them. And this flesh of ours keeps us so focus on us.
1 Thessalonians 5:11, says, "Encourage and comfort one another and build up one another, just as you are doing". Okay. As you were walking church or you're meeting people in the shopping mall, and you run into them. The very first thing we try to do is impress the other person because we feel insecure. We try to impress them with how good we're doing and, listen, I'm going to try to get you to think in a completely different way. Everywhere you go love the other people, value them so much that you look at them and as you do you'll sense. And even if things are going fantastic. "Wow, Leon, guess what". Celebrate with them. High five them. Take them to an even greater level. Tell them how proud you are of them. The Bible says you can weep with those who weep. But the Bible says to rejoice with those who rejoice.
I find church people will weep with you when you're really hurting. Especially if you're hurting worse than them. But very few people, it's rare, rare, rare to have someone see a success in your life and come up and genuinely high five you and hug you, go, "Wow! Let's celebrate. Look what you did. Look what you got. Look what you achieved". Because people are so selfish. To influence believers is to encourage them. Then there's those that need comforting. And, you know, I read a story about two close friends, very close. And one of them had lost his wife. She passed away. And the story goes that he went home with such grief and heartache and brokenness. And his friend who wasn't a person of many words, came over to the house and sat in a chair in the front room. He didn't say a thing to his friend. He just sat there. They didn't talk. He's friend went about whether he was weeping by himself in the bedroom or making himself something to eat.
And I forget how many days, was it a day or two or three that he was just there in the house. He didn't try to give him some kind of platitudes that didn't work. He was just there. And the man made, you know, told him how, how crucial it was. I don't know what it's going to take to comfort your friend, your family. To someone else it might just be as simple as passing them and seeing them that they're down and saying, "Hey, you're looking a little bit down. Everything okay"? But say it in a way that matters, because they might want to sit down and talk for two hours. And you sit down and you miss supper and you miss going to your movie and you listen to the person. When they're done talking, you say, "Man, I'm just going to pray, believe God's going to show you and guide you, together".
And so make sure that we are about looking at others. I have found in my life that when things are going really wrong, and I want to just focus on me, me, me, me, me. And it could just pull me out of everything. My marriage, my kids, friends, walking around and go, "I haven't got time. I don't care what that guy. I'm trying to get through it". But if you can selflessly instead reach out and help someone else. You know, there's a, in the first couple of Psalms, there's a portion in Scripture that talks about when the kings of this earth. And he's talking here about the enemy comes against you and, and you're under attack. And God gave me this verse I really, you know, hard time in my life.
And it says, "God laughs". And I think in Psalms 2, "God laughs". And then he says, "Ask me, and I'll give you the heathen for your inheritance". I remember reading that. I'm thinking, here I am trying to solve my problems and I think the enemy is trying to discourage me from encouraging others, loving others, comforting others, being there for others. And so, by the way, I was in my early twenties when I first saw this. And any time things begin to go wrong where I could just sense, and I'm believing God and I spoke the Word, believing God that it's answered. Now get up and go encourage others.
There were times I would simply just head out to the mall. I'd head out for a walk in the park. Someone would come to my mind. I'd phoned him up, or if I knew they were, and I would just encourage him and love on and say, "You're going to make it". From my heartache, my hurt, my emptiness. The storms in my life, I would just look for someone else to encourage. And I really want to challenge you. That being outward focused is the key. And here's what I found. That as I reach out to others, something miraculously happen to my issues. And I think you need to understand that, that as you do something for others, the Bible says, "Give, and it shall be given, good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom".
When you learn to encourage others and bless others and comfort others and be there for others. Did you know that comes back on you. And it doesn't say God. It says the people around you will give good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over shall people pour into your life. I've watched in the church that I pastored. People who are loving and giving and encouraging, and all of a sudden have a need in their own life.
I remember one time their friends turning around and rebuilding half this guy's house. They had, they just loved him and valued him so much because he always gave and comfort and was there for others. I really want to challenge you. Make sure you're outward focus. And as you do that, you'll find that the things you're going through, that you'll deal with them quicker with more faith and you'll find a joy and a peace as you minister to others. Even as you are believing God and walking through something in your own life. A third thing I want to talk to you about is following God's Word. As you pursue Jesus, the Bible says, "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God". And in John chapter 1, it talks about how that Jesus and the Word. How do you separate them? And so if you're following Jesus, you're following God's Word. Especially when you look at the new covenant in the New Testament.
In Psalm 119:105, says, "Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path". That means that God's Word is like a flashlight. And it will show you, it will illuminate your darkness the Bible says. Whatever you don't need to know. Well, you don't know what to do with that teenage girl. You don't know what to do with that investment. You don't know how to answer your spouse. You've never seen them this way. You don't know what you should do because of someone has hurt you and wronged you and you've got to walk this out. I mean, whatever you don't know. Did you know that as you spend time in the Word, Holy Spirit will reveal and show you. And so following God's Word, learning God's Word is crucial.
You know, Ephesians 6:10 and on, says that if you want to walk in a way that you're untouchable, immovable, never failing, then put on the armour of God. Which is knowing the truth in the new covenant about righteousness, about truth, about, about the shield of faith, about the sword of the Spirit. Which is the speaking the Word of God. And so when you follow God's Word, it not only gives you wisdom in decision making and how to act morally, but it gets planted in your heart. And it makes you into this incredible power force because rivers of living water flow out of your innermost being. That's what Jesus is talking about when you're born again and you're spirit-filled.
And so as you get into God's Word, oh my! Your ears which is the ears of your heart, can begin to sense and know and He speaks to you through His Word. Often when I'm in the middle of a situation, God will just give me a sense and a direction. But did you know that the majority of the time a verse rises up, and that verse is the answer to completely knowing what to do. I mean, I've had a whole story rise up on the inside of me. And I go, "Why am I thinking about Gideon"? Okay, that's what I'm going to do for this situation or I'll have a soft answer, "Turns away wrath". But I really feel I need to talk to this person.
All right, I'm just going to be soft and peaceful in this situation. And find out I'm glad I did. It was the smart move as a leader. And they work for me at this point because they were going through something. They have cancer. I just found out. Here I thought they were slacking off in their work. Following God's Word is it gives you direction in every area of your life. Raising kids, your marriage, your finances, serving God, reaching out to the people around you. So never, so make sure that you're in a life-giving church. Make sure that you look at that that senior pastor and what he teaches, because the Word will just come and it'll refresh you and guide you. And then you make sure that you get into the Word. And you're going to do that through so many great resources today. Another thing I want to talk about is, is make sure that you exemplify Jesus. And this is a really crucial thing.
1 Corinthians 11:1, it says, "Imitate me, just as I imitate Christ". Imitate. Well, that's not a really cool word. That means act. It means acting. One guy said to me, "You know what, I'm tired of acting as if everything's okay". I said, "Okay, what do you mean by that"? And what he meant was he wanted to tell everybody, every one of his problems, his heartaches, and his hurts. I said, "If everybody did that, be the most depressing church service. The most depressing thing". Yes, if you're acting and not being honest and you need to share with someone to get help. For sure do that. But here it says, "Imitate me, as I imitate Christ". Because in 2 Corinthians 5:17, it says, "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature, old things have passed away. Behold, all things have become new". I told this guy who said, "I'm so sick and tired of acting like everything's okay". And I said, "Well, let me encourage you with one thing. Is God in you"? Well, absolutely. Then is there peace in you? Well, yes.
So if you act peaceful, couldn't you draw up the peace that is Jesus within you? Oh, I suppose. I said, "Is God in you? Yes. So then God is full of joy and God's joy is on the inside". Well, yes. I'm tired of acting as if I'm happy. But, but, but, but, but, if you choose to start to laugh and tell jokes and enjoy others. If you just choose to imitate and just do that. Do you think the joy of the Lord, which is inside of you, wouldn't be drawn up? Just like a syringe when you pull it back, pulls water up into that syringe. And I begin to show him, that it's not a matter of ignoring pain and stuff. It's a matter of getting the counseling you need, sharing it with the one friend that maybe can agree with you. And then it is declaring that the end from the beginning that God's going to see me through.
So I'm going to be peaceful and I'm going to be joyful. And it's amazing as you choose to act out peacefully. I've gone home with, you know, my wife and kids had no idea the stuff I had to walk through that day. But they didn't know. And at the doorstep, I had to learn, say, "Jesus, I give You all my burdens. I hand You all the suitcases I've been carrying of other people's hurts and problems and the rape and the death and the abuse and the accusations. And I'm going to walk into my home and I'm going to rejoice and I'm going to smile. I'm going to be happy". And man, it was amazing how, you know, the Bible says, "Cast your cares on Him". And I would just practice that. And then when I walk into that house, I could giggle and laugh and play dolls with my little girls, or, you know, as years went by trucks with my son, or take them out for walks and just be so present and alive.
I chose to and I began to just act happy. And you say, "Well, were you"? Yes! I just found the joy rose up. You know, I found, they know. That if you're not feeling good, just start to smile. And that just the action of moving the muscles of your face, makes you begin to feel better. Look for that friend that laughs. Get out and try to find someone that you can bless. This exemplifying, this imitating Christ. And others you know who are Christ-like that can be a good example. Imitate the way they are under pressure. The way they treat their wives, their kids. The way, and you'll be amazed at how the presence of God begins to rise up on the inside of you. I want to encourage you. Live your life pursuing Jesus. This simple but profound thoughts I've given you already. Well, you just keep learning and growing and life can be amazing.