Tearing Down Strongholds Part Three

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

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; 6 And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled. 2 Corinthians 10:3-6 KJV

For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere.

Ephesians 6:12 AMP

God created you to be free and live free. Even now, His plan for you is to be free—in your spirit, in your soul and in your body. None of us is born into freedom—we are born into the bondage of sin. Sin exalts itself against the truth of God’s word and habitual sin is a stronghold in your mind. The key to your freedom from bondage and demonic strongholds lies in your obedience and submission to Christ.

The enemies we face in this life are not other people, but the devil and his demons. His ultimate plan is to kill you and send you to a lost eternity through sin and disobedience. If he can get you to take others with you, if he can get you to destroy other lives, he will do it. He doesn’t care what you do as long as the end result is eternal death—eternal separation from God. The greatest lie of the devil is that your freedom lies in following your own impulses and lusts. He is there to tempt you and to drag you down into the gutter of sin as far as he can. He knows full well that the wages of sin is death. The devil’s plan is to get you so tied up in sin that you cannot break free—to erect strongholds of sin and rebellion in your mind that keep you in bondage and drive you deeper into sin and death.

Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; 13 but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. Hebrews 3:12-13 NKJV

Sin is a deceiver—it is never satisfied—it is like a fire that cannot be quenched. Once you start on a particular path of sin, you will find that you are always drawn in deeper and deeper. Sin comes to harden your heart and pull you away from God—His protection and His blessings. When people—even Christians—yield to sin and make it a way of life, their heart becomes harder and harder and they move further and further away from the Living God. You are either both moving toward God, and freedom, and away from sin and bondage, or you are moving away from God and freedom, and toward sin and bondage.

The more you yield to temptations, the more you lose control of your own life. Sin is ruling and dominating you more and more. It’s a slippery slope. As you yield to sin and fleshly lusts, so you are yielding yourself also bit by bit into the control of the devil—all the time he is gaining more and more dominion in your life. You find yourself at a place where you are powerless to stop on your own—you need divine intervention! The devil’s plan is to defile God’s special creation—Man—so that he can possess and control them. Because the devil is a thief, even after you give your heart and life to Jesus, he is trying to tempt, deceive, control and destroy you. The devil wants to live in your house, but God says that you are created to be the temple of the Living God!

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 AMP says, “Do you not know that your body is the temple (the very sanctuary) of the Holy Spirit Who lives within you, Whom you have received [as a Gift] from God? You are not your own, You were bought with a price [purchased with a preciousness and paid for, made His own].” You have been bought and paid for by the precious blood of Jesus and you owe Him your life. The devil has no right to try to move in to a house that already belongs to God! Verse 20 goes on to say, “So then, honor God and bring glory to Him in your body.” You have an obligation to yourself to keep your house pure and clean. When you honor God, you keep the devil out!

God gives us armor for protection and weapons to fight the good fight. The weapons of our warfare are not weapons we can see, hear, touch, taste or smell—they are not man’s weapons—they are spiritual weapons. Our armor is truth, integrity, righteousness, the reality of the Gospel, faith, and salvation and our weapons are the Word of God and prayer. God’s word is a blueprint for a life of freedom and joy—now and in eternity. We can each choose this freedom by choosing obedience to God, His word and His way.

HUNGER AND THIRST AFTER GOD

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

Blessed and fortunate and happy and spiritually prosperous (in that state in which the born-again child of God enjoys His favor and salvation) are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness (uprightness and right standing with God), for they shall be completely satisfied! Matthew 5:6 AMP

Whatever we are hungry and thirsty for is what we will seek to satisfy that hunger and thirst. If we are hungry for God, then we will seek after Him and His righteousness, His salvation and His wisdom. If we seek satisfaction only in earthly things, then we will be happy when we feel full and sad when we don’t – and we won’t realize that we are missing true fulfillment and contentment. Jesus said to those who attended to their body’s desires, but not to their spirit, “Woe to (alas for) you who are full now (completely filled, luxuriously gorged and satiated), for you shall hunger and suffer want!” (Luke 6:25a AMP) There are people who stuff themselves with wealth and food and drink and entertainment and popularity and whatever else they desire, and yet they are still miserable on the inside. There is a hunger and thirst deep inside every person that can only be satisfied by the Lord, Himself.

Salvation is far from the wicked, for they seek not nor hunger for Your statutes. Psalm 119:155 AMP

They told you beforehand, In the last days (in the end time) there will be scoffers [who seek to gratify their own unholy desires], following after their own ungodly passions. Jude 18 AMP

Our natural taste buds are just like our spiritual taste buds: if you fill up on junk food, you will have no appetite for healthy foods. Healthy food actually tastes good and is very good for you, but if you live on the junk, you won’t desire the healthy. If you don’t want to be sick and die young, then your body is going to need the healthy foods, so you will have to develop an appetite for them – not because you want them, but because you need them. What we all need – more than earthly food – is God and His heavenly food. We must develop an appetite for God and for godliness. Only then, will we be truly content and satisfied.

Blessed (happy–with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, apart from your outward condition–and to be envied) are you who hunger and seek with eager desire now, for you shall be filled and completely satisfied! Luke 6:21a AMP

In John 6:33-35 NIV, Jesus told the disciples, “For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” “Sir,” they said, “from now on give us this bread.” Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well, “All who drink of this water will be thirsty again. But whoever takes a drink of the water that I will give him shall never, no never, be thirsty any more. But the water that I will give him shall become a spring of water welling up (flowing, bubbling) [continually] within him unto (into, for) eternal life.” (John 4:13-14 AMP).

We need to get hungry and thirsty for God and seek Him with all our heart:

•Psalm 119:2 AMP – Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) are they who keep His testimonies, and who seek, inquire for and of Him and crave Him with the whole heart.
•Psalm 107:9 AMP – For He satisfies the longing soul and fills the hungry soul with good.
•Proverbs 8:17 AMP – I love those who love me, and those who seek me early and diligently shall find me.
•Isaiah 44:3 AMP – For I will pour water upon him who is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground. I will pour My Spirit upon your offspring, and My blessing upon your descendants.
•Isaiah 55:1-3 AMP – Wait and listen, everyone who is thirsty! Come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Yes, come, buy [priceless, spiritual] wine and milk without money and without price [simply for the self-surrender that accepts the blessing]. 2 Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your earnings for what does not satisfy? Hearken diligently to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness [the profuseness of spiritual joy]. 3 Incline your ear [submit and consent to the divine will] and come to Me; hear, and your soul will revive; and I will make an everlasting covenant or league with you, even the sure mercy (kindness, goodwill, and compassion) promised to David.
•Revelation 21:6 NIV – He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life.
•Revelation 22:17 NKJV – And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.
•Deuteronomy 4:29 AMP – But if from there you will seek (inquire for and require as necessity) the Lord your God, you will find Him if you [truly] seek Him with all your heart [and mind] and soul and life.
•Hebrews 11:6 AMP – But without faith it is impossible to please and be satisfactory to Him. For whoever would come near to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He is the rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him [out].

What a wonderful God we serve, who loved us first and who sent His son to die for us while we were yet sinners. He is looking for, and longing for, those who will seek Him; and who will worship Him in Spirit and Truth (John 4:23). When we, by faith, genuinely and diligently seek after God, we will find Him. When we seek after the things of God, He will reward us. When we hunger and thirst after Him, we will be fed and satisfied.

TRUST GOD WITH YOUR LIFE – PART III

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

Trust (lean on, rely on, and be confident) in the Lord and do good; so shall you dwell in the land and feed surely on His faithfulness, and truly you shall be fed. 4 Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desires and secret petitions of your heart. 5 Commit your way to the Lord [roll and repose each care of your load on Him]; trust (lean on, rely on, and be confident) also in Him and He will bring it to pass. 6 And He will make your uprightness and right standing with God go forth as the light, and your justice and right as [the shining sun of] the noonday. 7 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.  Psalms 37:3-11 AMP

Verse 3: “Trust (lean on, rely on, and be confident) in the Lord and do good; so shall you dwell in the land and feed surely on His faithfulness, and truly you shall be fed.” If we put our trust in God alone and not the arm of the flesh or the wisdom of man, then we will have His protection, favor and provision. If we truly trust God and His word, then we will focus on pleasing Him – by obeying Him; by doing good – and leave everything else in His hands. We cannot expect all God’s blessings if we don’t fully obey His commands. If we obey all God’s commands, then we are entitled to receive the fulfillment of all His promises to us.

Verse 4: “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desires and secret petitions of your heart.” Deep in the heart of every person are deep desires and secret wants. Not fleshly or evil or ungodly desires, but things that mean a lot to us, things that come from deep within us. We think they are our ideas, but the Lord is able to place things in our heart that line up with His plans for us – the things that will make us truly happy and content. As long as we try to follow our heads, we will be forever chasing rainbows, but if we look deep on the inside, we will see the things that have the ability to give us true satisfaction. The key to walking in the reality of these things is for us to delight in the Lord and also to commit our way – everything we have and everything we do – to Him alone. To “delight” in someone means to experience great pleasure and joy in his or her presence. This happens only when we know someone really well – so in order to delight in the Lord, we need to get to know Him so much better than we do now. It’s our life-long quest – to know Him better today than we did yesterday. The more we come to know Him, the more we become aware and convinced of His great love for us, the more we are delighted in and by Him!

To commit means: to roll upon, or repose on. Proverbs 16:3 NKJV says, “Commit your works to the Lord, And your thoughts will be established.” And the AMP says, “Roll your works upon the Lord [commit and trust them wholly to Him; He will cause your thoughts to become agreeable to His will, and] so shall your plans be established and succeed.”

To commit ourselves to the Lord means entrusting everything to Him – trusting Him with our lives – trusting Him with everything that concerns us – our families, our job/career/ministry, our possessions, our choices in life. To commit ourselves to the Lord means to trust in Him fully and completely, believing that He can care for us better than we can ourselves! If we do this, then for the rest, all we need is to patiently wait for Him to work out what is best for us! This is not procrastination or abdication, but it is faith – faith in God’s will, and faith in God’s plan, above our own. We are not sitting idly by – we are working according to what He directs and doing good and being a blessing wherever we are and wherever we go. While we work God’s plan, He is working to fulfill the desires and secret petitions of our heart!

Verses 7 & 8: “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. Cease from anger and forsake wrath; fret not yourself — it tends only to evildoing.”

Be still. Rest. Wait. Don’t fret. Cease from anger and forsake wrath. All these require great trust in God and great faith in His word. Most people live their lives frantically trying to make their own way. They are stressed and worried; impatient and hurried; and when things don’t go according to plan, they get angry and frustrated. This destroys their health and their relationships and ultimately, their quality of life and potential length of life. They live a shorter, harder life, because they won’t, or can’t, trust God with their life. Some people even resort to wrongdoing to accomplish their goals, but it opens the door to disaster and destruction.

The word “rest” here means: to be silent; be still or stand still; keep silence; be dumb; tarry; wait; to cease; to be cut down or off; to forbear; to hold peace; to quiet self. In other words, we should calmly resign and leave all things in the hands of the Lord. We should take a deep breath, relax and leave our life in God’s capable hands! The scripture says that you should “wait patiently for Him” or “patiently lean yourself upon Him”. That means that you are to set yourself to expect God to answer! Expect God to come through for you!

Anger and worry – or fretting – are both very destructive emotions. If we are angry or worried, we demonstrate that we have no faith in God’s love or His provision; we are trusting in the arm of the flesh; we don’t really believe that God is in control! God tells us not to worry, but to cast our cares on Him instead – because He cares for us and is watching over us and watching out for us! When you dwell on your problems, you will become anxious and angry. But if you concentrate on God and His goodness, you will find peace. You must make the choice of where you will put your focus!