FIRST FRUITS

rodney howard browne

Thoughts on Stewardship from the Book of Genesis

First Fruits or Leftovers?
Foundation Scriptures—Genesis 4 verse 1-5

And Adam knew Eve as his wife, and she became pregnant and bore Cain; and she said, I have gotten and gained a man with the help of the Lord. 2 And [next] she gave birth to his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. 3 And in the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground. 4 And Abel brought of the firstborn of his flock and of the fat portions. And the Lord had respect and regard for Abel and for his offering, 5 But for Cain and his offering He had no respect or regard. So Cain was exceedingly angry and indignant, and he looked sad and depressed. Genesis 4:1-5 AMP

Verse 3 says that Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground in the course of time. The King James says he brought it in the process of time. Abel brought his first fruits, but Cain brought his leftovers.

Some people think that God rejected Cain’s offering because He prefers meat over vegetables, but that is not true. God does not expect anyone to bring what they do not have. By faith, Abel put God first. Before he partook of the fruit of his labor, he honored God with his first and his best—the firstborn of his flock and of the fat portions. God was pleased and received Abel’s offering. After a while Cain brought a portion of his harvest to the Lord, but it was not his first fruits, neither was it his best. Obviously, Cain had no faith in God and no respect for Him. Cain grew angry when God had no respect for him or his offering and when He did not receive or accept it. When Cain saw that his offering was not accepted, he could have and should have repented and changed his own attitude and behavior. However, he got mad at Abel, who was accepted, and killed him instead.

Many people do what Cain did—they spend their money and pay all their other bills before they bring their offering to the Lord. The tithe is the first fruits—the first tenth of all your increase—of all your income. God honored Abel because he brought the first fruits of the flock. Your attitude in your giving is a huge part of your giving. People might see your gift, but God sees your heart and your gift. God knows when you are putting Him first and honoring Him in your giving or not. God does honor first fruits, but He rejects leftovers. The Bible says that Cain was very angry and depressed. This is what happens to you when you bring God your leftovers. People who are angry and depressed—mad at God and mad at believers who are blessed—are people who have been bringing God their leftovers!

Comments: Pastor Adonica Howard-Browne

Even if you get paid on a Monday and you only go to church on a Sunday, you should set it aside to bring to the Lord before you spend any other money on anything. When you work for a boss, your company is required by law to take your taxes out and pay it for you. Why? Because the government knows that they would have a hard time getting it from 90% of the people if they gave them the option to pay it themselves and they don’t want to wait until the end of the year and find out that you have already spent it and can’t pay it anyway! Money has a funny way of disappearing unless we have a definite plan and we execute that plan right away. Even though you receive your pay check without the taxes that were taken out, your gross income is still your income and 10% of your gross income is your tithe.

Before you decide to argue about this—remember that no one is going to make you do anything you don’t want to do—it is completely your choice and your decision. However, you must also remember that God is not obliged to bless you either! The tithe is a covenant obligation—it establishes your covenant with Almighty God. By paying your tithe—first—you activate the power of God to work on your behalf—to rebuke the devourer, to protect you, provide for you, and favor you!  

Comments: Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne

One of the things that every believer has to do is honor God with the first fruits of all their income—the money coming to you before you even pay your taxes. If you don’t bring your first fruits, then it is a sign that you have forgotten God in your life. By bringing the first fruits you signify that you have put God first place—above everything—your house; your car; even your hopes and dreams. Something happens when you put God and His house first place —He will put your house first place!

Prayer and Confession:

Father I make a decision to honor you with the first fruits of all my income. Thank you for your abundant blessings on my life. 

GOOD FRUIT

rodney howard browne

I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much (abundant) fruit. However, apart from Me [cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing.  John 15:5 AMP

God uses growing things – plants; fruit – as examples when He talks about our relationship with Him, how He expects us to behave, and what He expects us to do. He expects us to be grafted into Him, to abide in Him, and to bring forth good fruit. The Spirit realm created the natural world and similar laws apply. Know that there are no shortcuts with God or with the Word of God. You cannot manufacture or fake fruit – good fruit is produced only under the right conditions – with the right amount of sunlight, water, and good soil.

Likewise, my brethren, you have undergone death as to the Law through the [crucified] body of Christ, so that now you may belong to Another, to Him Who was raised from the dead in order that we may bear fruit for God.  Romans 7:4 AMP

Jesus died and was raised from the dead – like a seed that is planted in the ground has to die before it can grow and produce fruit. We can bear fruit for God because of His resurrection power at work in us.
 
By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.  Matthew 7:16-20 NIV

Either make the tree sound (healthy and good), and its fruit sound (healthy and good), or make the tree rotten (diseased and bad), and its fruit rotten (diseased and bad); for the tree is known and recognized and judged by its fruit.  Matthew 12:33 AMP

The tree is recognized by its fruit. If the tree is corrupt, rotten, diseased, and bad, then the fruit is corrupt, rotten, diseased, and bad. Be a good tree. Your roots – the foundation of your life – your heart must be good. You must be grafted into God; you must draw your life from Jesus, the Vine.

But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, 23 Gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence). Against such things there is no law [that can bring a charge].  Galatians 5:22-23 AMP

For the fruit (the effect, the product) of the Light or the Spirit [consists] in every form of kindly goodness, uprightness of heart, and trueness of life.
Ephesians 5:9 AMP

You can’t bring forth fruit in your own ability. The only way to bring forth good fruit in your life is to yield to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to work in you and through you.

For the time being no discipline brings joy, but seems grievous and painful; but afterwards it yields a peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it [a harvest of fruit which consists in righteousness–in conformity to God’s will in purpose, thought, and action, resulting in right living and right standing with God].  Hebrews 12:11 AMP

The fruit-bearing process involves yielding to God’s correction and discipline. We produce good fruit when we conform to God’s will in purpose, thought, and action – when we carry His heart and when we completely do what He asks of us.

The fruit of the [uncompromisingly] righteous is a tree of life, and he who is wise captures human lives [for God, as a fisher of men–he gathers and receives them for eternity].  Proverbs 11:30 AMP

The fruit that is produced in you as you grow and abide in the Lord becomes a tree of life and a blessing to other people.
 
The [uncompromisingly] righteous shall flourish like the palm tree [be long-lived, stately, upright, useful, and fruitful]; they shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon [majestic, stable, durable, and incorruptible]. 13 Planted in the house of the Lord, they shall flourish in the courts of our God. 14[Growing in grace] they shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be full of sap [of spiritual vitality] and [rich in the] verdure [of trust, love, and contentment]. 15[They are living memorials] to show that the Lord is upright and faithful to His promises; He is my Rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.  Psalms 92:12-15 AMP

The righteous are compared to palm trees and the cedars of Lebanon. They are planted in God’s house; they flourish in His courts; they grow in grace; they bring forth fruit – even in old age; they are fat and flourishing; full of sap; full of life; their fruit is plentiful and delicious; they are living memorials to God’s righteousness and faithfulness!

GOD LOVES CHILDREN

rodney howard browne

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”  Genesis 1:26-28 NKJV

When God created Adam and Eve, He instructed them to have children and for those children to have children. God loves us and He loves our children. He wants to bless us and our children. God wants to bless us with children. In a perfect world, no one would have any difficulty conceiving or giving birth to healthy offspring, but we do not live in a perfect world. Many people have a difficult time producing children and many never do. However, God’s Word is still true. We can stand on God’s Word concerning children, just as we can for healing or for finances. If it is not possible for us to have our own children and if God has not made us a specific promise about it that we can attach our faith to, and we still would like to raise some children, there are many options open to us. God loves ALL children and commands us to take care of ALL of them as a society. It is God’s people, who have more love in their hearts than anyone, when it comes to children.

He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth the needy out of the dunghill; 8 That he may set him with princes, even with the princes of his people. 9 He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the LORD.  Psalms 113:7-9 KJV
 
God promises to make the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children! Abraham and Sarah waited 25 years for Isaac. It took that long for Abraham’s faith to grow so solid and so unshakeable in the promise of God, so that when Isaac was a teenager, he did not hesitate to obey God and give him back to God as a sacrifice, expecting God to raise him up from the ashes! If he had not had 25 years to build strong faith in God and His promise, he may have hesitated to obey God at that moment.

Hannah waited for years for children and had none, but when she made a vow to God, to give Him her firstborn, He heard and answered her fervent prayer. He gave her the desire of her heart and this son was the great priest, Samuel. Hannah gave Samuel to God and He blessed her with many more children. God also gave children to other barren women, with the proviso that these children would be separated unto Him. God spoke to Manoah’s wife and gave her the child named Samson. He spoke to Zechariah and his wife, Elizabeth, gave birth to John the Baptist. These families were so grateful for the children that God gave them, that they were more than happy to obey Him in the naming and raising of these children.

If God gives you an assurance in your heart about your own children, then, by all means, put all your trust and faith in His promise. You see, when you know that the answer is already yours, you know it in your heart – you have not one doubt. You might have an occasional doubtful thought that tries to intrude into your head, but your heart is fixed on God and His promise! If you are just hoping, but you have doubts in your heart, first talk to God some more. Clarify the issue in your heart before God. Whatever you have a release for in your heart, you can apply your faith to. Whatever you have a “scratchiness” or uneasiness about requires more prayer and time in God’s Word. You can only extend your faith into areas that God has said, “Yes” to not the things that are “No” or “I don’t know.”

This is a prayer you can pray every time you bless your food:
You shall serve the Lord your God; He shall bless your bread and water, and I will take sickness from your midst. 26 None shall lose her young by miscarriage or be barren in your land; I will fulfill the number of your days. Exodus 23:25-26 AMP

God’s promise to us always comes with a condition. Serve God so that He can bless you. If we meet the condition, He will keep His word. Remember, it is always according to your faith – not merely your hopes or your wishes. God wants to bless you and He already has a plan for your life. Sometimes, we want to give God the plan and ask Him to bless it. Find out what God’s plan is for you – it is already blessed! When it comes to believing God for children, it seems as if more people get messed up in this area than any other, because it’s such an emotional issue. God wants us to love children, protect them and provide for them – whether it’s your own or another’s. Whether we raise our own children, adopt children, build orphanages, or give money to those who take care of abandoned or orphaned children. God loves children and will bless those who bless them!

May the Lord give you increase more and more, you and your children. 15 May you be blessed of the Lord, Who made heaven and earth! 16 The heavens are the Lord’s heavens, but the earth has He given to the children of men.  Psalms 115:14-16 AMP

TRULY GOD

rodney howard browne

Truly God is [only] good to Israel, even to those who are upright and pure in heart.  Psalms 73:1 AMP

 

The Psalmist is correct when he speaks of the goodness of God. God is a good God and He is good to those who are upright and pure in heart. We choose blessing by choosing to serve and honor God.

 

But as for me, my feet were almost gone, my steps had well-nigh slipped. 3 For I was envious of the foolish and arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. 4 For they suffer no violent pangs in their death, but their strength is firm. 5 They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they smitten and plagued like other men. 6 Therefore pride is about their necks like a chain; violence covers them like a garment [like a long, luxurious robe]. 7 Their eyes stand out with fatness, they have more than heart could wish; and the imaginations of their minds overflow [with follies]. 8 They scoff, and wickedly utter oppression; they speak loftily [from on high, maliciously and blasphemously]. 9 They set their mouths against and speak down from heaven, and their tongues swagger through the earth [invading even heaven with blasphemy and smearing earth with slanders]. 10 Therefore His people return here, and waters of a full cup [offered by the wicked] are [blindly] drained by them. 11 And they say, How does God know? Is there knowledge in the Most High? 12 Behold, these are the ungodly, who always prosper and are at ease in the world; they increase in riches.  Psalms 73:2-12 AMP

 

The psalmist was not in a good place. He had nearly lost his way, because he started to look to the wicked and think that they had it better than him. He looked at their wealth, their pride, and their arrogance; he looked at they way they scoffed and blasphemed; and yet they seemed to have it so good. They seemed only to increase in riches.

 

Surely then in vain have I cleansed my heart and washed my hands in innocency. 14 For all the day long have I been smitten and plagued, and chastened every morning.  Psalms 73:13-14 AMP

The psalmist is tempted with thoughts of envy for the wealthy wicked. He starts to feel that serving God and his self-sacrifice have not been beneficial to him; that God has not taken care of him; that he does not have it as good as the arrogant wicked.

Had I spoken thus [and given expression to my feelings], I would have been untrue and have dealt treacherously against the generation of Your children.  Psalms 73:15 AMP

Thankfully, the one mistake he does not make, is to open his mouth and speak his negative thoughts out loud. Even though he is tempted by the devil to make terrible accusations against God – in his heart, he knows the truth. If he had spoken these demonic lies he would have been lying and he would have been betraying every child of God, who loves and serves Him and who has experienced His goodness.

 

But when I considered how to understand this, it was too great an effort for me and too painful  17 Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I understood [for I considered] their end. 18[After all] You do set the [wicked] in slippery places; You cast them down to ruin and destruction. 19 How they become a desolation in a moment! They are utterly consumed with terrors!  Psalms 73:16-19 AMP

It was hard for him to understand why the sinners – the arrogant, wealthy people seem better off, but he started to understand when he realized what their end would be. No man can stand against God and live. Only those who honor Him will live forever. This life is so short and eternity is so long. You can serve yourself and think that you are really something, but if you refuse to humble yourself before God, you will suffer in hell forever. Forever is a long time! Whatever the believer suffers on this earth in order to serve God, it is nothing compared to eternity in the glorious presence of God!

 

As a dream [which seems real] until one awakens, so, O Lord, when You arouse Yourself [to take note of the wicked], You will despise their outward show. 21 For my heart was grieved, embittered, and in a state of ferment, and I was pricked in my heart [as with the sharp fang of an adder]. 22 So foolish, stupid, and brutish was I, and ignorant; I was like a beast before You.  Psalms 73:20-22 AMP

The psalmist is honest with God. He confesses the torment he went through, as a result of feeling that life was unfair, until his conscience pricked him and he realized the truth – that he was stupid for thinking like that and stupid for listening to the devil.

Nevertheless I am continually with You; You do hold my right hand. 24 You will guide me with Your counsel, and afterward receive me to honor and glory. 25 Whom have I in heaven but You? And I have no delight or desire on earth besides You. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the Rock and firm Strength of my heart and my Portion forever. 27 For behold, those who are far from You shall perish; You will destroy all who are false to You and like [spiritual] harlots depart from You. 28 But it is good for me to draw near to God; I have put my trust in the Lord God and made Him my refuge, that I may tell of all Your works.  Psalms 73:23-28 AMP

The psalmist once again reminds himself of God’s faithfulness and His promises, and he testifies of it to others. Sometimes we feel that life is unfair and that we have not been appropriately rewarded for doing right, but we must remind ourselves of God’s goodness. The devil would love to separate us from God with his lies, but when we hide God’s word in our hearts, we will keep on believing right and talking right and we will live to see His blessing on our lives.

WALK, TALK AND LIVE

rodney howard browne

Furthermore, brethren, we beg and admonish you in [virtue of our union with] the Lord Jesus, that [you follow the instructions which] you learned from us about how you ought to walk so as to please and gratify God, as indeed you are doing, [and] that you do so even more and more abundantly [attaining yet greater perfection in living this life].  1 Thessalonians 4:1 AMP

 

When your mother gave birth to you, you had everything you needed to live on this earth as a member of your family. You were “you” only a smaller version, with no knowledge of the world you were born into. You had your body, but you didn’t know what to do with it or how to control it. All you knew how to do was to drink milk and to cry when you were hungry, tired, or uncomfortable, or when you needed to be held. You had to grow up and learn how to control your body and your impulses. You had to learn how to walk, talk, feed yourself, communicate, obey, be courteous, share, work, give, be kind, be a decent person, etc. You had to learn to obey and respect your parents. If your family did not care for you and teach you, you would not have the skills you needed to be successful in your relationships and your life.

When you receive Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior your heart, your spirit, is instantly changed. You are like a brand new baby in the spirit. The only problem is that you have this body that wants to do its own thing and you have to learn how to control it and bring it under subjection to your spirit. The way you do that is through the Word of God. Many people claim to be “born-again,” but their conduct tells another story. Some of them have never been taught that they must obey the Word of God and that they ought to walk and conduct themselves in such a way so as to please and gratify God. They are still pleasing themselves.

For you know what charges and precepts we gave you [on the authority and by the inspiration of] the Lord Jesus. 3 For this is the will of God, that you should be consecrated (separated and set apart for pure and holy living): that you should abstain and shrink from all sexual vice, 4 That each one of you should know how to possess (control, manage) his own body in consecration (purity, separated from things profane) and honor, 5 Not [to be used] in the passion of lust like the heathen, who are ignorant of the true God and have no knowledge of His will  1 Thessalonians 4:2-5 AMP

The best way to avoid sexual sin is to stay away from the source and cause of it. Protect your eyes and ears. Don’t even think that you can look at it and be okay. The battle between good and evil, sin and righteousness in your life begins in your mind. Guard yourself in this area. Don’t allow ungodly TV channels in your home. Put a blocker on your computer. In order to avoid sinning, you have to be able to control your body, but if you feed your mind pornography and perversion, you can be sure that you are going to have a very hard time preventing your mind and your body from leading you straight into sexual sin!

 

You control your body by keeping your mind on things that are pure. The heathen don’t know God. They don’t feel that there is anything wrong with what they do with their bodies. You are not an ungodly heathen. You know the difference between right and wrong. Don’t follow ungodly people down the path of destruction. You are not ignorant of God’s will for you!

That no man transgress and overreach his brother and defraud him in this matter or defraud his brother in business. For the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we have already warned you solemnly and told you plainly. 1 Thessalonians 4:6 AMP

Don’t defraud your fellow Christians with your sexual impurity. Don’t go after someone who is not your wife – she belongs to someone else. If you go after her, you will wreak havoc in many people’s lives through your lack of self-control. Keep your eyes and your hands to yourself. Keep you mind pure in this area.

Don’t defraud your brother or sister in a business transaction! There seems to be so many people, who call themselves Christians, who are liars and thieves when it comes to money and business. God is very serious when He tells us to be honest and faithful with money. He tells the thief to steal no more and to work honestly with his hands and to give to those who are needy (Ephesians 4:28). Don’t be a thief; don’t be a liar; don’t defraud people by deception; don’t make promises you don’t intend to keep; don’t take what is not yours. Do you have any fear of God? Remember that God is the avenger in all these things!

For God has not called us to impurity but to consecration [to dedicate ourselves to the most thorough purity]. 8 Therefore whoever disregards (sets aside and rejects this) disregards not man but God, Whose [very] Spirit [Whom] He gives to you is holy (chaste, pure).  1 Thessalonians 4:7-8 AMP

God has called us to purity – to consecrate ourselves to Him – to be dedicated to Him. If we disregard God’s word about sexual purity, we are not rejecting man, but we are rejecting God. Every person who chooses sexual immorality is also making a choice against God. It is a fact that Atheists and Agnostics are way far more likely to see nothing wrong with sexual impurity and sin, than a person who loves and obeys God. Always stay in close relationship and fellowship with God – this fellowship is your protection!

THE POWER OF TWO

rodney howard browne

And this is the confidence (the assurance, the privilege of boldness) which we have in Him: [we are sure] that if we ask anything (make any request) according to His will (in agreement with His own plan), He listens to and hears us.

 

15 And if (since) we [positively] know that He listens to us in whatever we ask, we also know [with settled and absolute knowledge] that we have [granted us as our present possessions] the requests made of Him.

1 John 5:14-15 AMP

 

If you want God to answer your prayers, you must pray in agreement with his will – you must pray in agreement with His own plan. God won’t give you anything that is not in His will and plan. His Word is His will and plan for you. When you know what God’s Word says then you know what to agree with and what to ask for. There is great power available when two agree.

 

God’s Word is full of power, but it will only work in your life when you believe it and act on it. That is how you agree with God’s Word – you believe it and act on it. When you agree with God and His Word, then His Word will work in your life and you will be greatly blessed.

 

But I urge and entreat you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in perfect harmony and full agreement in what you say, and that there be no dissensions or factions or divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in your common understanding and in your opinions and judgments. 1 Corinthians 1:10 AMP

 

When we humble ourselves before God, come in agreement with His Word, and submit to His Holy Spirit, we will automatically come in agreement with each other and be united in our common understanding and in our opinions and judgments. This is God’s will for the Body of Christ, but unfortunately it’s not the way it usually works.

 

“Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:19-20 NKJV

 

When two or more believers are gathered together in the Name of the Lord, He will be there in their midst. And if they ask God for anything, standing in agreement with God’s Word and each other, God will answer their prayers and give them what they asked for. Matthew 18:19 AMP says, “Again I tell you, if two of you on earth agree (harmonize together, make a symphony together) about whatever [anything and everything] they may ask, it will come to pass and be done for them by My Father in heaven.”

 

Being in agreement is like making beautiful music. It’s very obvious that musical instruments are not in harmony with each other when the sound is not pleasing to your ear. When they are flowing together it is a beautiful sound. When we come together in harmony and agreement, we make beautiful music, pleasing to God’s ear.

 

Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up. 11 Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone? 12 Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NKJV

 

We need one another. We cannot survive on our own. The devil knows this. He knows that to conquer us, he must first isolate us. That is why he is always trying to sow seeds of strife and division among us. He would like nothing better than to split up marriages and families and friends and churches.

 

Don’t give him place in your life. Don’t allow him to manipulate you or make you angry at each other. Recognize that he is your problem – not people – not your wife or your husband or your family or your friends. Don’t give him an opportunity to destroy you or anyone else. Don’t let pride ruin your relationships. Humble yourself in order to keep the peace and harmony in your relationships. Romans 12:18 AMP says, “If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

 

How could one have chased a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight, except their Rock had sold them, and the Lord had delivered them up? Deuteronomy 32:30 AMP

 

One can put a thousand to flight and two can put ten thousand to flight. The power of two people, who are standing in agreement with each other and God’s Word, is not just multiplied by two – it’s multiplied by ten! We can do so much more together than we can do apart. Get in harmony and agreement with each other and see what miracles God will do on your behalf!

 

 

GREATER IS HE

rodney howard browne

Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

 

2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:

 

3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.

 

4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.

 

5 They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them.

 

6 We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.

 

7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.

 

8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. 1 John 4:1-8 KJV

 

Many people study Old Testament prophecy and the book of Revelation and other end-time predictions and then they start looking for any sign of the antichrist himself. They are so afraid of this one man who is going to do all these bad things, but they miss the fact that there is already an antichrist spirit in the world today and it has been here a long time.

 

We need to have knowledge of the truth and we need to be aware of what is going on around us in society and in people. People are so worried about the devils in the atmosphere, but it’s the devils on the ground, in the people, that are our greatest threat. The strongholds we need to break are in the minds of men.

 

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh.

 

4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds,

 

5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,

 

6 and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled. 2 Corinthians 10:3-6 NKJV

 

Verse 5 in the Amplified Bible says, “[Inasmuch as we] refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed one).”

 

We don’t need to see demons around every bush, but we do need to know how the devil operates and know how to deal with him when we encounter him. People, who have not humbled themselves before God and acknowledged that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh and received Him as their personal Lord and Savior, are living in darkness. Their father is the devil.

 

They may not necessarily be evil people and they may not mean to do the wrong thing, but because their reasoning is darkened, they make bad choices. There are other people, who have yielded themselves to the temptations of their flesh and allowed the devil to have their mind and body, who do evil things intentionally. All of these people have an antichrist spirit. This spirit in them works constantly against the will, purpose and plan of God in the earth and, as a consequence, against those who are blood-washed and Spirit-filled and who acknowledge that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh.

 

Notice it also says, “…being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled. “ We must be submitted to God if we want to start taking authority over the devil, wherever he is, whether in our own thought processes or in other people or situations. James 4:7 AMP says, “So be subject to God. Resist the devil [stand firm against him], and he will flee from you.”

 

We know who belongs to Jesus. They are the ones who walk in the love of God. There are even some Christians who will not walk in the love of God. They still allow the devil to influence them. Instead of yielding their mind, heart, and flesh to God, they yield to the devil. If you are a Christian, who will not make a commitment to walk in the love of God, you will be vulnerable to be used of the devil to sow seeds of strife, confusion, and destruction. No Christian in their right mind wants to be used by the devil. Evaluate your own heart, mouth, and life now and make the changes.

 

Yes, there is an antichrist spirit that operates in the world, through people, but the Word of God also says that, if you are of God, if you are His little child, then greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world! You are victorious in Him! They may come out against you one way, but they will flee seven ways! (Deuteronomy 28:7)

 

No weapon formed against you shall prosper and every tongue that rises against you in judgment, you will condemn! This is the heritage of the obedient child of God. Your righteousness is of Him. (Isaiah 54:17)

 

ABBA FATHER

rodney howard browne

And He was saying, Abba, [which means] Father, everything is possible for You. Take away this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You [will]. Mark 14:36 AMP

 

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus introduced us to a new word –Abba. Abba means “Father,” but a better rendering of Abba would be the word, “Daddy.” Everyone who ever lived on the earth has a father, but not everyone has a “Daddy.”

 

A father is one of the people who were responsible for your very existence, but not every father takes the time or makes the effort to build a relationship with his offspring. Being “Daddy” and not just “Father” requires a special connection with the child. We respect our fathers, but we love our daddies!

 

Jesus had a special relationship with Father God. He knew Him intimately. He knew Him better than anybody. Most people have the wrong idea about God. They call Him “the Man upstairs;” they believe He is old and grumpy; they believe He is harsh and judgmental; they believe that God is waiting with a big stick to hit them; they believe that He does horrible things to them, like making them sick, to “teach them a lesson;” they think He kills people before their time because He wants them in Heaven; they think He will never be pleased with us no matter how hard or how long we try to please Him; they believe that God spends all His time planning how to destroy man.

 

Nothing could be farther from the truth! God is none of these things and does none of these things. Anyone who knows God knows how loving and kind he is. He is merciful; gracious; tender; compassionate; slow to anger; abounding in mercy; protective; generous; unselfish; and so many other wonderful things – too many to mention!

 

There are earthly fathers who are abusive and insensitive and there are earthly fathers who are firm, but kind; who administer correction and discipline, and yet are loving, understanding, and encouraging. God is not an abusive Father. He tells earthly fathers how to treat their wives and children. He tells them to be kind and compassionate and understanding.

 

Why would He tell earthly fathers to be anything that He was not? We must come to know the truth about God. He must not just be “Father” to us, but He must be “Abba Daddy!” We must respect Him, but we must know that He has our best interests at heart and would never harm us. We are His precious treasure! God wants to know us and He wants us to know Him. He desires the intimacy of a Daddy/son and Daddy/daughter relationship with every one of us.

 

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.

 

15 For [the Spirit which] you have now received [is] not a spirit of slavery to put you once more in bondage to fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption [the Spirit producing sonship] in [the bliss of] which we cry, Abba (Father)! Father!

 

16 The Spirit Himself [thus] testifies together with our own spirit, [assuring us] that we are children of God. Romans 8:14-16 AMP

 

The blood of Jesus brings us into relationship with the Father God. The Holy Spirit, living in us, brings us into fellowship with Him. We are not just servants of God – we are children of God! The Holy Spirit works to convey to us the fact that we are children of God. He always reminds us that God is Abba Daddy to us.

 

Who is Abba Daddy? Daddy loves us; Daddy forgives us; Daddy accepts us exactly as we are; Daddy is proud of us; Daddy wants us to do well and be well, not out of competitiveness, but out of a genuine concern and love; Daddy would give His own life for us (and did); Daddy does not hold anything against us; we are the apple of Daddy’s eye; Daddy watches over and protects us; Daddy provides for us, nothing but the best; Daddy teaches us how to be better people; Daddy picks us up when we fall down; Daddy helps us to fix our problems; Daddy gives us the best advice; Daddy sticks up for us when the devil is a bully; Daddy corrects us when we are wrong; Daddy praises us when we do the right thing!

 

But when the proper time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born subject to [the regulations of] the Law,

 

5 To purchase the freedom of (to ransom, to redeem, to atone for) those who were subject to the Law, that we might be adopted and have sonship conferred upon us [and be recognized as God’s sons].

 

6 And because you [really] are [His] sons, God has sent the [Holy] Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, Abba (Father)! Father!

 

7 Therefore, you are no longer a slave (bond servant) but a son; and if a son, then [it follows that you are] an heir by the aid of God, through Christ. Galatians 4:4-7 AMP

 

GOD’S FAVOR IS BETTER

rodney howard browne

A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor rather than silver and gold. Proverbs 22:1 AMP

 

There are some things that money cannot buy – one of them is favor. When God’s favor is on your life, wonderful things will happen to you and for you. Favor will take you where nothing else can take you. Favor can open doors and prevent calamity. Favor can help you do more with less. Favor can make a way where there is no way!

And the Lord appeared to him the same night and said, I am the God of Abraham your father. Fear not, for I am with you and will favor you with blessings and multiply your descendants for the sake of My servant Abraham. Genesis 26:24 AMP

 

God promised to bless Abraham and his descendants through Isaac. He personally spoke to Isaac to confirm this and promised Isaac that He would favor him with blessings. Blessing always goes hand in hand with favor. In order to be blessed by someone, you must first be favored by them. You can recognize the favor by the blessing! As a spiritual descendant of Abraham and a child of God, God has promised to bless you. Expect God’s favor to be on your life because of His promises!

 

My son, forget not my law or teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments; 2 For length of days and years of a life [worth living] and tranquility [inward and outward and continuing through old age till death], these shall they add to you. 3 Let not mercy and kindness [shutting out all hatred and selfishness] and truth [shutting out all deliberate hypocrisy or falsehood] forsake you; bind them about your neck, write them upon the tablet of your heart. 4 So shall you find favor, good understanding, and high esteem in the sight [or judgment] of God and man. Proverbs 3:1-4 AMP

 

Hear instruction and be wise, and do not refuse or neglect it. 34 Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. 35 For whoever finds me [Wisdom] finds life and draws forth and obtains favor from the Lord. Proverbs 8:33-35 AMP

 

When you embrace God’s Word – His principles and His wisdom – you will automatically find His favor as well. When you seek His mercy, kindness, and truth and reject and shut out all hatred, selfishness, deliberate hypocrisy, and falsehood, then you will not only find favor, but also good understanding and high esteem in the sight of God and man as well! Proverbs 16:7 AMP says, “When a man’s ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” God’s favor on your life translates into favor with man as well. Even sinners will say “yes” to you when they would have said “no” to anyone else. God will send His Spirit and His angels to cause favor to shine on you, from every direction and in all your ways.

 

When it goes well with the [uncompromisingly] righteous, the city rejoices, but when the wicked perish, there are shouts of joy. 11 By the blessing of the influence of the upright and God’s favor [because of them] the city is exalted, but it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked. Proverbs 11:10-11 AMP

 

There is no favor on or for the wicked – there is only favor on and for the just. God’s favor is on the righteous, therefore, when the righteous are in authority, through the blessing of their influence, God’s favor will be on the whole city! Just think, if you give yourself to God, His will, and His Word, He will be able to use you to bless entire cities!

He who diligently seeks good seeks [God’s] favor, but he who searches after evil, it shall come upon him. Proverbs 11:27 AMP

A good man obtains favor from the Lord, but a man of wicked devices He condemns. Proverbs 12:2 AMP

 

Whoever despises the word and counsel [of God] brings destruction

upon himself, but he who [reverently] fears and respects the commandment [of God] is rewarded. 14 The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, that one may avoid the snares of death. 15 Good understanding wins favor, but the way of the transgressor is hard [like the barren, dry soil or the impassable swamp]. Proverbs 13:13-15 AMP

Fools make a mock of sin and sin mocks the fools [who are its victims; a sin offering made by them only mocks them, bringing them disappointment and disfavor], but among the upright there is the favor of God. Proverbs 14:9 AMP

 

HE WHO BELIEVES IS NOT CONDEMNED

rodney howard browne

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. 18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” John 3:16-21 NKJV

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

In this the love of God was made manifest (displayed) where we are concerned: in that God sent His Son, the only begotten or unique [Son], into the world so that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation (the atoning sacrifice) for our sins. 1 John 4:9-10 AMP

We did not imagine God or make Him up, as some fools have claimed. (The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Psalms 53:1a KJV) God created us and He loved us before the foundation of the world. HE reached out to us before we ever knew Him. HE sent Jesus to die as a sacrifice for sin to bring us back into relationship and fellowship with Him and to give us everlasting life – if we believe.

For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

God did NOT send His Son into the world to judge, reject, condemn, or pass sentence on the world. He sent Him to love the world and save the world from their sin. When we know He loves us, we are no longer afraid of Him or afraid of being punished by Him. We know that we are accepted and loved.

And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. 17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. 19 We love Him because He first loved us. 1 John 4:16-19 NKJV

“He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Every person born on this earth is born with sin in their flesh and a death sentence hanging over their head. The first time they break the Law, they are judged to be guilty, condemned as a sinner, and doomed to end up in hell when they die. God does not want even one person to go to hell. He would like every person to hear His message of love, mercy, and forgiveness and for them to accept His offer of eternal life through Jesus Christ, the Lord of Lords and King of Kings. Those who believe in and receive Jesus are instantly acquitted of sin and declared innocent before God! They are not condemned to death and hell. Their sentence has been commuted.

And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”

Romans 3:23-24 says that, “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Everybody has sinned and everybody has the option of being justified freely by His grace. Some people are willing to come to the light and be washed by the blood of Jesus, but some people do not want to let go of their sin, so they stay as far away from the light of Jesus as they can.

People, who are submitted to God and who have conformed to His word and yielded to His Spirit, are not afraid of the light or to have their deeds exposed to the light, because their conscience is clear. They are not afraid of the light of God because their works are wrought in God – divinely prompted, done with God’s help, and in dependence on Him – and are acceptable to God. Trying to keep the Law in order to please God is fruitless. Any works which are not wrought in Him, or done with His help, are not acceptable to Him.

God has released His children into the liberty of the Spirit. Through faith in Jesus Christ, we are a new creation; no longer living under any condemnation whatsoever. We are no longer governed by the Law, but by the Holy Spirit and the Law of Love!