GIVING THANKS

“From the Heart” teaching by Drs. Rodney & Adonica Howard-Browne.

All these curses shall come upon you and shall pursue you and overtake you till you are destroyed, because you do not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep His commandments and His statutes which He commanded you. 46 They shall be upon you for a sign [of warning to other nations] and for a wonder, and upon your descendants forever. 47 Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joyfulness of [mind and] heart [in gratitude] for the abundance of all [with which He had blessed you].  Deuteronomy 28:45-47 AMP

It is so very important that we maintain a grateful attitude toward the Lord at all times and in every situation and circumstance. When we are ungrateful, we open ourselves up to negative thinking, negative believing and negative speaking. When you become negative, you expose yourself to everything that can go wrong in your life. The devil loves to divide you from your Heavenly Father and bring in a wedge between you, because that is how he can destroy you. He cannot touch you when you are pressing into God’s presence. The devil may shoot his fiery darts, but your faith and trust in God allow Him to work and move on your behalf and protect you from the devil. Read Psalm 91 and you will see how pressing into God will protect your life.

Your gratefulness is your faith in action – faith in God and faith in His love and provision. Gratefulness is an acknowledgement of God’s place in your heart and in your life and that He is the source of all the good things in your life. Your gratefulness acknowledges all that God has given you and all that He is giving you and all that He will give you. Gratefulness is not only being thankful for all that God has done, but it is a demonstration of your faith in His future provision for you. If you want to continue to be blessed, you must remain grateful.

All the commandments which I command you this day you shall be watchful to do, that you may live and multiply and go in and possess the land which the Lord swore to give to your fathers. 2 And you shall [earnestly] remember all the way which the Lord your God led you these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and to prove you, to know what was in your [mind and] heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. 3 And He humbled you and allowed you to hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you recognize and personally know that man does not live by bread only, but man lives by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord. 4 Your clothing did not become old upon you nor did your feet swell these forty years. 5 Know also in your [minds and] hearts that, as a man disciplines and instructs his son, so the Lord your God disciplines and instructs you. 6 So you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and [reverently] fear Him. 7 For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing forth in valleys and hills; 8 A land of wheat and barley, and vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey; 9 A land in which you shall eat food without shortage and lack nothing in it; a land whose stones are iron and out of whose hills you can dig copper.

10 When you have eaten and are full, then you shall bless the Lord your God for all the good land which He has given you. 11 Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments, His precepts, and His statutes which I command you today, 12Lest when you have eaten and are full, and have built goodly houses and live in them, 13And when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all you have is multiplied, 14 Then your [minds and] hearts be lifted up and you forget the Lord your God, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage, 15 Who led you through the great and terrible wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water, but Who brought you forth water out of the flinty rock, 16 Who fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and test you, to do you good in the end. 17 And beware lest you say in your [mind and] heart, My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth. 18 But you shall [earnestly] remember the Lord your God, for it is He Who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day. 19 And if you forget the Lord your God and walk after other gods and serve them and worship them, I testify against you this day that you shall surely perish. 20 Like the nations which the Lord makes to perish before you, so shall you perish, because you would not obey the voice of the Lord your God. Deuteronomy 8:1-20 AMP

Don’t ever forget that it is God Who has blessed you – it is not just your own work, talents, wisdom or abilities that have brought you the blessing. Remember the Lord and all He has done for you by being thankful at all times and in everything and He will continue to bless you and provide for you above and beyond anything you could ask, or think, or imagine.

PROTECT YOUR HEART FROM THE DEVIL’S DEVICES

“From the Heart” teaching by Drs. Rodney & Adonica Howard-Browne.

If you forgive anyone anything, I too forgive that one; and what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sakes in the presence [and with the approval] of Christ (the Messiah), 11To keep Satan from getting the advantage over us; for we are not ignorant of his wiles and intentions.  2 Corinthians 2:10-11 AMP

The Lord knows us humans very well – inside and out. He knows what motivates us, what we need and what we want. He also knows the devil and how he operates. The devil hates God and he hates man – God’s crowning creation. He has figured out how to deceive man, how to divide man, and how to control him through fear, lust and selfishness. The Word will protect you from the devil and his devices if you will put the Word in your heart. If you know the devil’s devices – his wiles and intentions – it will not be so easy for him to get an advantage over you.

Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5 “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” 6 He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.  John 12:3-6 NIV

14 Then one of the Twelve-the one called Judas Iscariot-went to the chief priests 15 and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty silver coins. 16 From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over. Matthew 26:14-16 NIV

Judas Iscariot was Jesus’ treasurer – he was in charge of the money that belonged to Jesus and the disciples. The only problem is that he was also covetous and a thief – he was stealing from the bag. He thought that he was in charge of the money, but he forgot that it wasn’t his money, it was Jesus’ money. He thought that he was controlling the money, but it was controlling him. Judas did not really care about the poor – because he loved money more than God, he gave the devil access to his life – to deceive him and to control him. Judas and the devil were offended when the woman anointed Jesus with the whole pint of valuable perfume. He was so mad that he walked right out and cut a deal with the chief priests to betray Jesus. He was blinded by the devil and blinded by greed.

Jesus knew that one of His disciples would betray Him and He told them so. When they asked who it was, Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, son of Simon. 27 As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. “What you are about to do, do quickly,” Jesus told him, 28 but no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. 29 Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the Feast, or to give something to the poor. 30 As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night.  (John 13:26-30 NIV)

Even though Jesus knew what Judas was up to and He even told Judas that He knew that he would betray Him, Judas still went ahead with it. He was so blinded by the devil that he could not see what he was doing – betraying Jesus – an innocent Man. There are many wrong choices that people make that open themselves up to be deceived by the devil and manipulated by him to destroy others and themselves. God wants us to love one another in order to preserve us and protect us, but the devil wants us to turn on each other and to destroy each other and ourselves. When people are sinning, their heart condemns them. If they won’t repent and change, they must shut off their conscience and find fault with the people who convict them. When someone is sinning, they are jealous of those who are obedient and who have found favor with God – like Cain and Abel. Whatever was motivating Judas, whether it was greed or jealousy, he was wrong and he made a wrong choice to betray Jesus.

While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him,   48 but Jesus asked him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”  Luke 22:47-48 NIV

Early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people came to the decision to put Jesus to death. 2 They bound him, led him away and handed him over to Pilate, the governor. 3 When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders. 4 “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.” “What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.” 5 So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.  Matthew 27:1-5 NIV

Once the devil had used Judas for his purposes, he did not need him anymore and so he did not care that Judas’ eyes were open and he could see what a terrible thing he had done. Judas was so devastated that he took his own life. If only he had not opened the door to the devil, the devil would not have been able to deceive him and he would not have ended up killing himself instead of being part of changing the world with the other disciples. Don’t give the devil access to your life through lies and sin. Protect your heart and you will protect your life.

DO NOT RELY ON YOUR POWER – RATHER RELY ON THE POWER OF GOD

“From the Heart” teaching by Drs. Rodney & Adonica Howard-Browne.

For [simply] consider your own call, brethren; not many [of you were considered to be] wise according to human estimates and standards, not many influential and powerful, not many of high and noble birth. 27[No] for God selected (deliberately chose) what in the world is foolish to put the wise to shame, and what the world calls weak to put the strong to shame. 28 And God also selected (deliberately chose) what in the world is lowborn and insignificant and branded and treated with contempt, even the things that are nothing, that He might depose and bring to nothing the things that are, 29 So that no mortal man should [have pretense for glorying and] boast in the presence of God. 30 But it is from Him that you have your life in Christ Jesus, Whom God made our Wisdom from God, [revealed to us a knowledge of the divine plan of salvation previously hidden, manifesting itself as] our Righteousness [thus making us upright and putting us in right standing with God], and our Consecration [making us pure and holy], and our Redemption [providing our ransom from eternal penalty for sin]. 31 So then, as it is written, Let him who boasts and proudly rejoices and glories, boast and proudly rejoice and glory in the Lord.  1 Corinthians 1:26-31 AMP

In the world, in secular realms, there is a great emphasis placed on talents, abilities, knowledge, learning, money, influence, power, and noble birth. That is because they rely exclusively on their own ability in every sphere of their lives. This causes them to be respecters of persons, rejecting those they deem inferior or unacceptable. God, however, is not a respecter of persons – He will use anyone who is willing and available.

And Peter opened his mouth and said: Most certainly and thoroughly I now perceive and understand that God shows no partiality and is no respecter of persons, 35 But in every nation he who venerates and has a reverential fear for God, treating Him with worshipful obedience and living uprightly, is acceptable to Him and  sure of being received and welcomed [by Him]. Acts 10:34-35 AMP

Humility is a quality not especially valued or esteemed in the world’s system, but it is highly valued in the kingdom of God. That is because a humble person does not find it difficult to yield to the Lord and can therefore be used by Him to the fullest extent possible. God deliberately chooses to use those who are foolish, weak, lowborn, and insignificant in the world’s eyes so that only His power can be seen and displayed; so that only He can be recognized and glorified.

Now when they saw the boldness and unfettered eloquence of Peter and John and perceived that they were unlearned and untrained in the schools [common men with no educational advantages], they marveled; and they recognized that they had been with Jesus.  Acts 4:13 AMP

A beggar who had been crippled from birth was healed by the power of God through Peter and John, who proceeded to preach the gospel to the amazed crowd. When the Sadducees pulled them in for questioning, they were amazed at their demeanor and the power of their witness. They realized that they did not have the education, the ability or the power to do a miracle or to speak so eloquently. They marveled and recognized that they had been with Jesus. So God was glorified in their midst even though they refused to change their mind and acknowledge the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

As for myself, brethren, when I came to you, I did not come proclaiming to you the testimony and evidence or mystery and secret of God [concerning what He has done through Christ for the salvation of men] in lofty words of eloquence or human philosophy and wisdom; 2 For I resolved to know nothing (to be acquainted with nothing, to make a display of the knowledge of nothing, and to be conscious of nothing) among you except Jesus Christ (the Messiah) and Him crucified. 3 And I was in (passed into a state of) weakness and fear (dread) and great trembling [after I had come] among you. 4 And my language and my message were not set forth in persuasive (enticing and plausible) words of wisdom, but they were in demonstration of the [Holy] Spirit and power [a proof by the Spirit and power of God, operating on me and stirring in the minds of my hearers the most holy emotions and thus persuading them], 5 So that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men (human philosophy), but in the power of God.  1 Corinthians 2:1-5 AMP

Many preachers think that they need to preach in lofty words of eloquence or human philosophy and wisdom in order to be effective, but God does not want anyone’s faith to rest in the wisdom of men or in human philosophy, but in the power of God. The Lord wants you rather to be totally yielded to and dependant upon Him, He wants you to be personally acquainted with Jesus, and He wants to anoint you with His power, so that you can demonstrate His Holy Spirit and power as a sign and a wonder and a witness to the world!

WISDOM IS THE PRINCIPAL THING

“From the Heart” teaching by Drs. Rodney & Adonica Howard-Browne.

If any of you is deficient in wisdom, let him ask of the giving God [Who gives] to everyone liberally and ungrudgingly, without reproaching or faultfinding, and it will be given him. 6 Only it must be in faith that he asks with no wavering (no hesitating, no doubting). For the one who wavers (hesitates, doubts) is like the billowing surge out at sea that is blown hither and thither and tossed by the wind. 7 For truly, let not such a person imagine that he will receive anything [he asks for] from the Lord, 8[For being as he is] a man of two minds (hesitating, dubious, irresolute), [he is] unstable and unreliable and uncertain about everything [he thinks, feels, decides].  James 1:5-8 AMP

God says that if we want wisdom, we need to ask Him for wisdom, but we must ask in faith, expecting to receive it from Him. We must not be double-minded and God will liberally and ungrudgingly give us wisdom without reproaching or faultfinding.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.  Psalms 111:10 NIV

The reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord is the beginning and the principal and choice part of knowledge [its starting point and its essence]; but fools despise skillful and godly Wisdom, instruction, and discipline.  Proverbs 1:7 AMP

Anyone, who wants to walk in wisdom, must first revere and worship God, because any wisdom that does not honor God is not really wisdom at all.

Let no person deceive himself. If anyone among you supposes that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool [let him discard his worldly discernment and recognize himself as dull, stupid, and foolish, without true learning and scholarship], that he may become [really] wise. 19 For this world’s wisdom is foolishness (absurdity and stupidity) with God, for it is written, He lays hold of the wise in their [own] craftiness; 20 And again, The Lord knows the thoughts and reasonings of the [humanly] wise and recognizes how futile they are.  1 Corinthians 3:18-20 AMP

The world’s wisdom is foolishness with God. They do not recognize or acknowledge God at all. They think they are so smart, but their reasoning is darkened. Because they have rejected God and His word, they have a reprobate mind, and all their choices – no matter how well intentioned – lead them on the path to death.

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. 17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.  James 3:13-18 NIV

The world’s wisdom is unspiritual and has its roots in the earth and its source in the devil. The world’s wisdom is full of envy and selfish ambition, but the wisdom that comes from heaven is pure first of all; then humble, peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Get the wisdom that comes from heaven, from God’s word.

Get skillful and godly Wisdom, get understanding (discernment, comprehension, and interpretation); do not forget and do not turn back from the words of my mouth. 6 Forsake not [Wisdom], and she will keep, defend, and protect you; love her, and she will guard you. 7 The beginning of Wisdom is: get Wisdom (skillful and godly Wisdom)! [For skillful and godly Wisdom is the principal thing.] And with all you have gotten, get understanding (discernment, comprehension, and interpretation). 8 Prize Wisdom highly and exalt her, and she will exalt and promote you; she will bring you to honor when you embrace her. 9 She shall give to your head a wreath of gracefulness; a crown of beauty and glory will she deliver to you. 10 Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings, and the years of your life shall be many. 11 I have taught you in the way of skillful and godly Wisdom [which is comprehensive insight into the ways and purposes of God]; I have led you in paths of uprightness. 12 When you walk, your steps shall not be hampered [your path will be clear and open]; and when you run, you shall not stumble. 13 Take firm hold of instruction, do not let go; guard her, for she is your life.  Proverbs 4:5-13 AMP

Through skillful and godly Wisdom is a house (a life, a home, a family) built, and by understanding it is established [on a sound and good foundation], 4 And by knowledge shall its chambers [of every area] be filled with all precious and pleasant riches. 5 A wise man is strong and is better than a strong man, and a man of knowledge increases and strengthens his power; 6 For by wise counsel you can wage your war, and in an abundance of counselors there is victory and safety.  Proverbs 24:3-6 AMP

My son, eat honey, because it is good, and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste. 14 So shall you know skillful and godly Wisdom to be thus to your life; if you find it, then shall there be a future and a reward, and your hope and expectation shall not be cut off.  Proverbs 24:13-14 AMP

If you submit to God’s wisdom in your life and make His wisdom your goal and your desire, wisdom will bless every aspect of your life. Wisdom will prosper your way and give you a future and a reward. Your hope and expectation shall not be cut off.

Be Still and Know – Part Two

“From the Heart” teaching by Drs. Rodney & Adonica Howard-Browne.

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! 11 The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. Psalms 46:10-11 NKJV

Be still and know that God is God! Acknowledge that He is the Creator and that He is over all the earth. Know that nothing or no one can be exalted over Him. He is Almighty God and the Mighty King; Ruler of everything. Be still and know that He is in control of your life. Be still and know that no one who fights against Him will be successful.

Be still and rest in the Lord; wait for Him and patiently lean yourself upon Him; fret not yourself because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who brings wicked devices to pass. 8 Cease from anger and forsake wrath; fret not yourself–it tends only to evildoing. 9 For evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait and hope and look for the Lord [in the end] shall inherit the earth. 10 For yet a little while, and the evildoers will be no more; though you look with care where they used to be, they will not be found. 11 But the meek [in the end] shall inherit the earth and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace. 12 The wicked plot against the [uncompromisingly] righteous (the upright in right standing with God); they gnash at them with their teeth. 13 The Lord laughs at [the wicked], for He sees that their own day [of defeat] is coming. Psalms 37:7-13 AMP

God commands us to be still – it is not a suggestion. Be still and rest in the Lord. Being still requires a rest. Slow down your pace; slow down your body; slow down your mind. Wait for Him to do what He said He would do. This requires patience. Impatience tries to force God’s hand; impatience tries to make things happen, but patience trusts in God; patience steps back and allows God to take over the steering wheel. Being still and resting in God does not mean that we do nothing; it does not mean that we get out of the vehicle entirely; it means that we stay in the process, but we give God the control.

Some people like to be in control and they get angry when they feel like they are losing control. They get angry when they do not see results quickly enough or they get angry when they do not see the results they expect. Some people get angry when it looks like other people are getting the very things that they wanted. Some people get frustrated because it seems to them that the evildoers are rewarded and get what they want, while the righteous struggle. The devil will use envy and jealousy to frustrate you and cause you to take matters into your own hands. He knows that nothing will work out right for you if your motives are wrong.

God tells us to cease from anger and forsake wrath; He tells us not to fret and worry, because if we do, we will make the wrong decisions do wrong things. God reminds us that evil doers will be cut off – you won’t even be able to find them. However, the meek – those who wait and hope and look for the Lord shall inherit the earth and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace. The wicked might plot against the righteous, but they will not succeed. God laughs at the wicked because He knows their day of defeat is coming! Therefore we can laugh too, because God is in charge and God is on our side!

So they read from the Book of the Law of God distinctly, faithfully amplifying and giving the sense so that [the people] understood the reading. 9 And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all of them, This day is holy to the Lord your God; mourn not nor weep. For all the people wept when they heard the words of the Law. 10 Then [Ezra] told them, Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet drink, and send portions to him for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. And be not grieved and depressed, for the joy of the Lord is your strength and stronghold. 11 So the Levites quieted all the people, saying, Be still, for the day is holy. And do not be grieved and sad. 12 And all the people went their way to eat, drink, send portions, and make great rejoicing, for they had understood the words that were declared to them. Nehemiah 8:8-12 AMP

In Nehemiah, on the day God’s people celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles, the priests told the people to “Be still!” because they were weeping and wailing. They told them, “Today is Holy – so rejoice and go enjoy yourselves!” An important part of “being still” and knowing that God is God is that we must take time to rejoice. Unless we cast our cares on God and stop worrying, we cannot laugh or rejoice. Laughter and joy can bring us to a place of resting in God that nothing else can. Having faith in God – being still in His presence and resting in Him – requires that we walk in God’s peace and also in His joy.

 

Be an Example for the Believers

“From the Heart” teaching by Drs. Rodney & Adonica Howard-Browne.

Let no one despise or think less of you because of your youth, but be an example (pattern) for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.  1 Timothy 4:12 AMP

Paul spoke these words to Timothy, but they are true for all of us, who are disciples of Jesus Christ. A disciple is one who has been trained by God’s word and by His Spirit; someone who has grown up in the Lord over time; not a brand new believer or a baby Christian. As with natural children, spiritual children grow and mature. As our children mature, we expect more of them. As we mature, God expects more of us. We must not behave like a spiritual baby or make excuses for it. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we should not sin or make excuses for sin. We have no grounds for excuses. The blood of Jesus not only washed away our sin, but it deprived sin of its power over us (Romans 6:6-7).

Pattern yourselves after me [follow my example], as I imitate and follow Christ (the Messiah). 1 Corinthians 11:1 AMP

Paul obediently submitted himself to the Word and Spirit of God, following the example Jesus set, not for his own benefit alone, but as an example, or a pattern, for us to follow. Jesus is our ultimate example. We are to follow Him and be an example and pattern to others of His love, humility, grace, and purity. Even if we are young in age, we can still walk in the wisdom of God and His righteousness, earning the respect of others. God expects us to be a good example to other believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.

In speech:
For we all often stumble and fall and offend in many things. And if anyone does not offend in speech [never says the wrong things], he is a fully developed character and a perfect man, able to control his whole body and to curb his entire nature.  James 3:2 AMP

The person who can control his mouth is a person who is mature in God and who has submitted himself to God’s word and His Spirit, to the best of his ability. This person is wise in his speech, gracious and loving. Ephesians 4:15 says that we should speak the truth in love. Colossians 4:6 says that our speech should at all times be gracious, as if it were seasoned with salt.

In conduct:
Likewise, exhort the young men to be sober-minded, 7 in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, 8 sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you.
Titus 2:6-8 NKJV

God wants us to show a pattern of good works – integrity in word and deed. That means it should be a habit for us; a way of life.

In love:
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35 NKJV

Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.  Ephesians 5:1-2 NKJV

The love of God manifested in our lives demonstrates two things: that we know the Lord Jesus Christ and that we are disciples of His. This means that we have allowed God to do a work in us so that He can work through us. We are conformed to His image and we obey Him in all things.

In faith:
We ought and indeed are obligated [as those in debt] to give thanks always to God for you, brethren, as is fitting, because your faith is growing exceedingly and the love of every one of you each toward the others is increasing and abounds. 4 And this is a cause of our mentioning you with pride among the churches (assemblies) of God for your steadfastness (your unflinching endurance and patience) and your firm faith in the midst of all the persecutions and crushing distresses and afflictions under which you are holding up.  2 Thessalonians 1:3-4 AMP

Faith is manifested in two ways: belief and commitment (faithfulness). Because we believe in the Father, Son, Holy Spirit, and His Word, we obey Him and therefore we stand firm through all kinds of persecutions and difficulties. This is an example and encouragement to other believers.

In purity:
Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.  2 Timothy 2:22  NKJV

For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them]. 9 Practice what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and model your way of living on it, and the God of peace (of untroubled, undisturbed well-being) will be with you.  Philippians 4:8-9 AMP

The Word of God tells us to flee everything that is impure and fix our thoughts on those things that are pure. Just as Jesus and Paul are our examples, our models, so we should desire and strive to be a good example to others so that they too can live a godly life and experience the joy and the blessings of obeying and serving our wonderful, gracious Lord and Savior!

TWO KINGDOMS – TWO TREASURES – YOUR CHOICE

“From the Heart” teaching by Drs. Rodney & Adonica Howard-Browne.

MY TREASURE
Foundation Scriptures: Matthew 6:19-24

Do not gather and heap up and store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust and worm consume and destroy, and where thieves break through and steal. 20 But gather and heap up and store for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust nor worm consume and destroy, and where thieves do not break through and steal; 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. 22 The eye is the lamp of the body. So if your eye is sound, your entire body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is unsound, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the very light in you [your conscience] is darkened, how dense is that darkness! 24 No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stand by and be devoted to the one and despise and be against the other. You cannot serve God and mammon (deceitful riches, money, possessions, or whatever is trusted in).  Matthew 6:19-24 AMP

1. Jesus speaks about the believer’s proper conduct in relationship to money and possessions.

Martin Luther said: I have held many things in my hand and I have lost them all. But whatever I placed in God’s hands, that I still possess.
A. W. Tozer posed four questions we should all ask ourselves:
What do we value most?
What would we most hate to lose?
What do our thoughts turn to most frequently when we are free to think of what we will?
What affords us the greatest pleasure?
Earthly or Heavenly treasure:
When spent on earthly treasure, money is only of temporary value.
When spent on heavenly treasure, money takes on eternal value.

2. Jesus wants us to choose our treasury – where we make our deposits.

If it is an earthly treasury, it will be lost when we die.
If it is a heavenly treasury, it will be ours for eternity.

3. Jesus is saying that amassing wealth isn’t morally wrong – it’s just a poor investment.

Moths, rust and thieves imperil your earthly treasure and in the end, everything will be consumed by fire anyway. (2 Peter 3:7)
John Wesley said: I value all things only by the price they shall gain in eternity.
David Livingstone said: I place no value on anything I possess, except in relation to the Kingdom of God.

4. Discovering true wealth.

Matthew 13:44 AMP – The kingdom of heaven is like something precious buried in a field, which a man found and hid again; then in his joy he goes and sells all he has and buys that field.
What we keep, we lose. What we give up and share and do, in Christ’s Name, will ultimately come back to us in heaven.
If we store up heavenly treasures, they will never stop paying dividends!
Ecclesiastes 5:15 AMP – As [the man] came forth from his mother’s womb, so he will go again, naked as he came; and he will take away nothing for all his labor which he can carry in his hand.
Psalms 49:16-20 NAS – Do not be afraid when a man becomes rich, When the glory of his house is increased; 17 For when he dies he will carry nothing away; His glory will not descend after him. 18 Though while he lives he congratulates himself–And though men praise you when you do well for yourself–19 He shall go to the generation of his fathers; They shall never see the light. 20 Man in his pomp, yet without understanding, Is like the beasts that perish.

5. What is your treasure?

House; car; boat; library; gun collection; art; coins; gold; jewels?
Savings; retirement program; insurance policies; annuities; real estate; commodities; shares?
1 Timothy 6:18-19 AMP – [Charge them] to do good, to be rich in good works, to be liberal and generous of heart, ready to share [with others], 19 In this way laying up for themselves [the riches that endure forever as] a good foundation for the future, so that they may grasp that which is life indeed.
Philippians 4:17 AMP – Not that I seek or am eager for [your] gift, but I do seek and am eager for the fruit which increases to your credit [the harvest of blessing that is accumulating to your account].

6. Where is your heart?

Show me your check book, your credit card statements, your cash receipts and I will show you where your heart is!
You cannot serve two masters. You cannot serve both God AND mammon. It is impossible. Loving and being devoted to one means that you automatically hate and despise the other.

NB. Will you choose a life wasted in pursuit of wealth on earth, or a life invested in the pursuit of wealth in heaven?

For Unto to Us a Child is Born

“From the Heart” teaching by Drs. Rodney & Adonica Howard-Browne.

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this. Isaiah 9:6-7 KJV

For to us a Child is born:
Unto us: The Child, Jesus Christ, was born to Israel – not just to Judah, but to both houses of Israel. Christ was descended from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; Judah; Jesse; David; and from Israel as a nation.

To us a Child is born, to us a Son is given:
Jesus was born as a baby just like every other human. He grew up to give His life for mankind on the Cross. He was Born to be like us and to take our place – He was Given as an offering for our salvation.

The government shall be upon His shoulder:
The government – the empire – will be on His shoulders. To Him alone is given the authority to rule and the right to be the Sovereign of all the earth and the responsibility of rule, judgment and justice is upon Him.

His name shall be called:

Wonderful: a miracle; a marvelous thing

-Exodus 15:11 KJV – Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?

Counselor: advise; consult; to deliberate; guide. He is the only one who is supremely qualified to give counsel, advice and guidance to all.

-Psalms 16:7 AMP – I will bless the Lord, Who has given me counsel; yes, my heart instructs me in the night seasons.

Mighty God:
Mighty: p?owerful. By implication – warrior. Champion, chief, excel, giant, strong, valiant. God: Almighty; the Strong One. It literally means the Mighty Almighty, or the conquering God. Jesus was God in the flesh.

-John 1:1 KJV – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
-1 Timothy 3:16 KJV – And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.
-Hebrews 1:8 KJV – But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.
-1 John 5:20 KJV – And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.

Everlasting Father [of Eternity]: Jesus is one third of the Trinity and was there with the Father and the Holy Spirit from the beginning. He was there for the planning and execution of creation – nothing was done without Him. He is the Ancient of Days (Daniel 7).

-John 1:2-4 AMP – He was present originally with God. 3 All things were made and came into existence through Him; and without Him was not even one thing made that has come into being. 4 In Him was Life, and the Life was the Light of men.
-Hebrews 1:1-2 NKJV – God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds.

Prince of Peace: Jesus brought peace between God and man as He reconciled the two by bearing the penalty of sin in His own body. Jesus brought about peace between men – uniting Jew and Gentile – all have sinned and all may receive forgiveness through faith.

-John 14:27-28 NKJV – Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
-John 16:33 NKJV – These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.
-Ephesians 2:14 AMP – For He is [Himself] our peace (our bond of unity and harmony). He has made us both [Jew and Gentile] one [body], and has broken down (destroyed, abolished) the hostile dividing wall between us.
-Ephesians 2:17-18 AMP – And He came and preached the glad tidings of peace to you who were afar off and [peace] to those who were near. 18 For it is through Him that we both [whether far off or near] now have an introduction (access) by one [Holy] Spirit to the Father [so that we are able to approach Him].
-Philippians 4:7 NKJV – And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

A Prayer Confession for a New Day

“From the Heart” teaching by Drs. Rodney & Adonica Howard-Browne.

Father,
Thank You that Your mercies are new every morning
Thank You that because of the blood of Jesus I have a fresh, new beginning
Thank You that You have forgiven me and washed me clean
Thank You that You have given me a new heart and a new spirit
Thank You that You have made me a brand new creation
All old things are passed away; all things have become new
I have a new life
I have a new heart
I have a new calling
I have a new start
I have a new destiny
I have a new purpose
I have a new vision
I have a new name
Thank you for the Truth that is setting me free
Thank You that I have received power to be a son of God
Thank You that, because of Jesus, I am clothed in a robe of righteousness
Thank You that I have full freedom and confidence to come into the Holy of Holies by the blood of Jesus
Thank You that I can come boldly before your throne to ask for mercy, grace and help
Thank You that You have provided me a new and living way
Thank You that I am clothing myself with my new, spiritual self
Thank You that I am being renewed in the spirit of my mind
Thank You that I am in the process of being renewed and remolded, in knowledge, into Your image
I am putting on the new man, which is created in God’s image in righteousness and true holiness
Thank You that You are doing a new thing
You are making a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert
Thank You that I am not my own; I have been bought with a price
Thank You for the Holy Spirit who is daily working in me and on me
Thank You that the Holy Spirit bears witness with my spirit that I AM a child of God
Thank You that I live and walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh
Thank You that my flesh was crucified with Christ
Thank You that I have been raised up with Him
Thank you that I am washed, sanctified and justified
Thank You that I am recreated in righteousness and true holiness
Thank You that I am cleansed from ALL sin and unrighteousness
Thank You that I am delivered from the power and dominion of sin
Thank You that I am free from condemnation and from the law of sin and death
Thank You that I am a servant of righteousness
Thank You that I walk in the grace of God which rules in my heart
Thank You that although my outward man may be perishing, my inward man is being renewed day by day
Thank You that You satisfy my mouth with good things and my youth is being renewed like the eagle’s
Thank You that You have put a new song in my mouth
Thank You that I can worship you with a new heart and a new song
Thank You that You – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – live in me
Thank You that You have placed eternity in my heart
Thank You that my name is written down in the Lamb’s Book of Life

LEGALISM VERSUS LAWLESSNESS

“From the Heart” teaching by Drs. Rodney & Adonica Howard-Browne

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, 19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” Luke 4:18-19 KJV

“Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” 2 Corinthians 3:17 KJV

The only true liberty comes by the Spirit of God. True liberty comes from receiving, believing and acting on God’s word. There is no other way to walk in complete freedom than to be submitted to God’s word and Spirit. In the Christian world there are those who walk in true freedom, but unfortunately there are also those who have fallen in the “ditch” on either side of the freedom road. Some Christians are very legalistic and bound and others are so “free” that you can’t tell the difference between them and the world. The Lord does not want us to be religious and He certainly does not want us to be carnal – He wants us to be spiritual!

In the book of Galatians, Paul was dealing with law and grace. The Galatians were Gentiles who had been set free and converted to Christianity, but legalistic Judaizers had been trying to bring them back under the Law of Moses. The descendants of the Judaizers are still around today: people who are always trying to drag us back under the Law.

Legalistic Christianity
They define Christians as being people who live by a long list of rules and regulations; of do’s and don’ts. They believe and preach that God’s grace and favor is earned rather than a free gift. They espouse a works program of good behavior for salvation. What is true is that if a person is really changed by the Spirit of God, there should be evidence of it – we expect to see a corresponding change in character and behavior. The danger of legalism is that it tends to promote the idea that God’s love is earned, rather than just accepted freely. We should accept that God loves us because He said so, not because we worked for it or even because we feel it. Legalism reduces Christianity to an impossible set of rules. It leaves out the part where God’s goodness leads us to repentance (Rom 2:4) and turns the Good News into the bad news!

Legalistic Christians need to acknowledge the work of the Holy Spirit and realize that He is the One who helps each of us to walk out our Christianity. Change is important, but we need to realize that the Lord might be requiring different changes in us than He is in others. We need to focus on allowing Him to work in us and refrain from interfering in His work in others.

“[It is He] Who has qualified us [making us to be fit and worthy and sufficient] as ministers and dispensers of a new covenant [of salvation through Christ], not [ministers] of the letter (of legally written code) but of the Spirit; for the code [of the Law] kills, but the [Holy] Spirit makes alive.” 2 Corinthians 3:6 AMP

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” Galatians 5:1 KJV

The Law of Moses has no power to save or change a heart, but God’s word does. Jesus is that Living Word. God wants us free – neither legalistic nor lawless – not in bondage to the Law nor in bondage to sin and the flesh.

Lawless Christianity
They define a Christian as someone who lives above the Law. They feel that they need no guidelines and that God’s word is not as important as their own personal sense of God’s guidance. They follow their feelings and impulses. This is a very dangerous place to be. You leave yourself open to works of the flesh and demonic deception. Many of them view God’s word as if it was entirely full of religious tradition, which is simply not true. It is full of life and freedom. These Christians have recognized that God’s forgiveness is a free gift; made possible by Christ’s death on the cross; received by faith; and that it is not based on our ability to live up to God’s perfect standards, which is all true. However, they forget that Christians are also just humans and that their “feelings” are flawed. If you only live by what you “feel” God wants you to do and not by His word, you are bound to fail.

Lawless Christians need to recognize that there really is freedom in being submitted to God’s word even as they gratefully acknowledge His great and gracious salvation. Our freedom in Christ is not an excuse for sin, selfishness or self-will. Neither does He release us from our obligation to walk in His will and His ways, governed and led by the love of God.

“For you, brethren, were [indeed] called to freedom; only [do not let your] freedom be an incentive to your flesh and an opportunity or excuse [for selfishness], but through love you should serve one another. 14 For the whole Law [concerning human relationships] is complied with in the one precept, “You shall love your neighbor as [you do] yourself.” Galatians 5:13-14 AMP

“Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. 22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” James 1:21-22 KJV

“For it is God’s will and intention that by doing right [your good and honest lives] should silence (muzzle, gag) the ignorant charges and ill-informed criticisms of foolish persons. 16 [Live] as free people, [yet] without employing your freedom as a pretext for wickedness; but [live at all times] as servants of God.”
1 Peter 2:15-16 AMP

The Truth about the ministry of Rodney Howard Browne