JOYFULNESS AND GRATITUDE – KEYS TO RECEIVING THE BLESSING OF THE LORD

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

45 All these curses shall come upon you and shall pursue you and overtake you till you are destroyed, because you do not obey the Lord your God, to keep His commandments and statutes which He commanded you. 46 They shall be 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], 48 Therefore you shall serve your enemies whom the Lord shall send against you, in hunger and thirst, in nakedness and in want of all things; and he will put yoke of iron upon your neck until he has destroyed you.   Deuteronomy 28:45-48 AMP

Deuteronomy 28:1-2 says that if you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all His commandments, many blessings will come upon you. But verse 45 says that if you do not obey the Lord your God, keeping His commandments and statutes, that curses will come upon you, pursue you, and overtake you until you are destroyed. Verse 47-48 says that you will end up serving your enemies if you do not serve the Lord your God with joyfulness and gratitude. If you are going to serve God, you should do it with the right attitude. The right attitude of mind and heart is to serve God with joy and to be grateful for His blessings on your life. The Amplified Bible says, that you should be grateful for the abundance of all with which He has blessed you and the NIV says thatyou should serve the LORD your God joyfully and gladly in the time of prosperity.

If you are blessed, and you want to stay blessed, remember Whom it is Who blesses you and remember – do not forget – to be grateful and thankful to Him and to tell Him so!

However, if you don’t feel very blessed and you are struggling just to make it, it is hard to be joyful or grateful. After all, how can you be joyful or grateful when you have no blessings to be joyful or grateful for? Of course, if you want to stay where you are, then you can continue to be grumpy and feel sorry for yourself, but if you want to lift yourself up and out of your situation, then you need to change your attitude and begin to thank God for His many blessings! You need to “count your blessings!” Remember all the good things that God has done for you and it will begin to lift your spirits. You will begin to have hope and then faith and then you will begin to expect blessings instead of curses on your life.

It is a medically proven fact that even if you don’t feel good – if you make yourself smile – you automatically begin to feel better. In the same way when you change your perspective and count your blessings, your situation will begin to change for the better. If you change your attitude you could change verse 47 to “you will be abundantly blessed ‘because you served the Lord your God with joyfulness [of mind] and heart [in gratitude] for the abundance of all [with which He had blessed you].'”

11 And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria andGalilee. 12 And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: 13 And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. 14 And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that,as they went, they were cleansed. 15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, 16 And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. 17 And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? 18 There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. 19 And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.   Luke 17:11-19 KJV

Ten lepers asked Jesus to heal them and all ten lepers were cleansed and cured, but only one, when he realized he was healed, turned back to thank Jesus and to give glory to God. Jesus was surprised that only one out of ten, a Samaritan at that, came back to thank Him. Because the Samaritan expressed his gratefulness with joy, not only was he healed, but he was also made whole. The Greek word translated here as “whole” is “sozo” which means to save, deliver, protect, heal, preserve, do well, be whole or make whole. Ten were healed, but only one was made whole!

We would see so much more of God’s blessings on our lives, if we would only change our attitude and be joyful and grateful for the blessing that He has already poured out on our lives.

A MORE EXCELLENT WAY

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

NOW YOU ARE THE BODY OF CHRIST, AND EACH ONE OF YOU IS A PART OF IT. 28 AND IN THE CHURCH GOD HAS APPOINTED FIRST OF ALL APOSTLES, SECOND PROPHETS, THIRD TEACHERS, THEN WORKERS OF MIRACLES, ALSO THOSE HAVING GIFTS OF HEALING, THOSE ABLE TO HELP OTHERS, THOSE WITH GIFTS OF ADMINISTRATION, AND THOSE SPEAKING IN DIFFERENT KINDS OF TONGUES. 29 ARE ALL APOSTLES? ARE ALL PROPHETS? ARE ALL TEACHERS? DO ALL WORK MIRACLES? 30 DO ALL HAVE GIFTS OF HEALING? DO ALL SPEAK IN TONGUES? DO ALL INTERPRET? 31 BUT EAGERLY DESIRE THE GREATER GIFTS. AND NOW I WILL SHOW YOU THE MOST EXCELLENT WAY.   1 CORINTHIANS 12:27-31 NIV

GOD HAS A PLACE FOR EVERY ONE IN HIS BODY. YOU ARE NOT ALL CLONES OF EACH OTHER. YOU ARE UNIQUE, YOU ARE DIFFERENT, AND YOU NEED TO BE CONTENT TO BE DIFFERENT. YOU WILL NEVER BE HAPPY UNTIL YOU ACCEPT YOURSELF AS YOU ARE AND STOP COMPARING YOURSELF TO OTHER PEOPLE. GOD LOVES YOU AS YOU ARE AND HE WANTS YOU TO BE LIKE HIM AND TO WALK IN HIS LOVE TOWARD OTHERS. THERE IS NO PLACE FOR COMPETITION IN THE BODY OF CHRIST. THE GIFTS AND THE CALLING OF GOD ONLY FUNCTION AS THEY WERE INTENDED TO FUNCTION WHEN THEY ARE MOTIVATED BY AND OPERATED IN THE LOVE OF GOD.

IF I SPEAK IN THE TONGUES OF MEN AND OF ANGELS, BUT HAVE NOT LOVE, I AM ONLY A RESOUNDING GONG OR A CLANGING CYMBAL. 2 IF I HAVE THE GIFT OF PROPHECY AND CAN FATHOM ALL MYSTERIES AND ALL KNOWLEDGE, AND IF I HAVE A FAITH THAT CAN MOVE MOUNTAINS, BUT HAVE NOT LOVE, I AM NOTHING. 3 IF I GIVE ALL I POSSESS TO THE POOR AND SURRENDER MY BODY TO THE FLAMES, BUT HAVE NOT LOVE, I GAIN NOTHING.  1 CORINTHIANS 13:1-3 NIV

WITHOUT LOVE, YOU ARE EMPTY – YOU ARE ONLY A RESOUNDING GONG OR A CLANGING CYMBAL – YOU MAKE A LOT OF NOISE, BUT PRODUCE NOTHING OF VALUE! WITHOUT LOVE, ANYTHING YOU DO FOR THEKINGDOM OF GOD IS POINTLESS AND VALUELESS – IT IS WOOD, HAY AND STUBBLE, READY TO BE BURNED UP AT THE LAST. LOVE IS THE “MORE EXCELLENT WAY.”

Dear friends, let us practice loving each other, for love comes from God and those who are loving and kind show that they are the children of God, and that they are getting to know him better. 8 But if a person isn’t loving and kind, it shows that he doesn’t know God-for God is love.  1 John 4:7-8 TLB

Whoever does not love others does not know God, because God is love. God is not the source or inspiration of this person. The absence of God’s love in their life is proof of that.

Love is very patient and kind, never jealous or envious, never boastful or proud, 5 never haughty or selfish or rude. Love does not demand its own way. It is not irritable or touchy. It does not hold grudges and will hardly even notice when others do it wrong. 6 It is never glad about injustice, but rejoices whenever truth wins out. 7 If you love someone, you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost. You will always believe in him, always expect the best of him, and always stand your ground in defending him. 8 All the special gifts and powers from God will someday come to an end, but love goes on forever.  1 Corinthians 13:4-8 TLB

People have a lot to say on the subject of love, innumerable songs and poems and books have been written on the subject of love, but they still have no idea what true love is. True love is God’s love. It is completely unselfish – in fact it is devoted to the well-being of the one being loved. God’s love gives value where there was none before – He sees you and me as valuable and precious and He treats you and me as valuable and precious when we are nothing of the sort.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.  1 Corinthians 13:8-11 NIV

Contrary to religion and tradition and the devil, the gifts of the Spirit have not “passed away.” If they were “passed away” then we would all be perfect and we all know that we are far from perfect. You will never be perfect until you see Him face to face! The gifts of the Spirit are still available to you today and will continue to be available as long as the earth remains as it is. Even so, the gifts of the Spirit are only needed here on earth, but love goes on into eternity. 1 Corinthians 14:1 says that we should, follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts.”  You should not refuse God’s gifts, but you should eagerly seek them, allowing God’s love all the while to have its way in you.

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12 Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.   1 Corinthians 13:11-13 NIV

God’s love, operating in you, causes you to come to a place of spiritual and emotional maturity. Faith, hope and love will stand the test of time, but love is the most important thing you can possess even into eternity. You will always need faith. You will always need hope. You will always need love. But love is the most important thing you can possess. God’s love will never let you down.

WHO IS MY NEIGHBOR?

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

And then a certain lawyer arose to try (test, tempt) Him, saying, Teacher, what am I to do to inherit everlasting life [that is, to partake of eternal salvation in the Messiah’s kingdom]? 26 Jesus said to him, What is written in the Law? How do you read it? 27 And he replied, You must love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself. 28 And Jesus said to him, You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live [enjoy active, blessed, endless life in the kingdom of God]. 29 And he, determined to acquit himself of reproach, said to Jesus, And who is my neighbor?  Luke 10:25-29 AMP

This lawyer tried to trip Jesus up and expose Him by asking an argumentative question. However the lawyer was the one whose heart was exposed. Jesus knew the Word of God and submitted Himself to it. He did not preach His own doctrines or draw people after Himself, but He always pointed people to the Father and to the Word of God. Jesus answered the question with a question, “What does the Word say? What does the law say?”

The lawyer quoted the law in reply, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”  Jesus told him, “That’s exactly right – now go and do it!” This embarrassed the lawyer, because he was looking for an argument and he wanted to put Jesus on the spot. Instead Jesus put him on the spot. Instead of shutting up and leaving, he tried to save face and maintain his pride by asking, “Who exactly is my neighbor?” Jesus answered with a story.

Jesus, taking him up, replied, A certain man was going from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him of his clothes and belongings and beat him and went their way, [unconcernedly] leaving him half dead, as it happened. 31 Now by coincidence a certain priest was going down along that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 A Levite likewise came down to the place and saw him, and passed by on the other side [of the road]. 33 But a certain Samaritan, as he traveled along, came down to where he was; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity and sympathy [for him], 34 And went to him and dressed his wounds, pouring on [them] oil and wine. Then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii [two day’s wages] and gave [them] to the innkeeper, saying, Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I [myself] will repay you when I return. 36 Which of these three do you think proved himself a neighbor to him who fell among the robbers? 37 He answered, The one who showed pity and mercy to him. And Jesus said to him, Go and do likewise.  Luke 10:30-37 AMP

Here this man was beaten and robbed and left for dead out on the open road. A priest came by and saw him, but did nothing to help him. All he did was move as far over to the other side of the road as possible and hurry by. A Levite came by after that and did the exact same thing. Then a Samaritan came by. He did not do what the priest and the Levite had done – he stopped and helped the man. He dressed and bound his wounds, placed him on his own transportation – his beast – and took him to an inn. He gave the innkeeper money and instructed him to take care of the wounded man. He promised to come back by later and to reimburse the innkeeper for any further charges he might incur taking care of him.

This was not a small thing he did. He was on his way conducting his business and this man was a perfect stranger to him. He went out of his way to help this man; he spent his time and his money on this man who was nobody to him. He could have hurried away and minded his own business like the others, but he didn’t. Maybe he thought to himself, “If I had been coming down this road a little earlier, it might have been me lying helplessly on the road right now!” and he had compassion on the man. The priest and the Levite may even have felt sorry for the wounded man, but not enough to inconvenience themselves in any way. The Samaritan did not just feel sorry for him, he did something about it.

The Jews despised the Samaritans and looked down on them. They thought that they were better than them and that they weren’t “saved” and yet the Samaritan, alone, proved himself to be the good neighbor. He showed himself to be a man of character and integrity. It is not our heritage, our title, or position that matters to God. He is pleased when we walk in love an when we are humble and kind. It is our generosity of spirit that matters above all else.

Withhold not good from those to whom it is due [its rightful owners], when it is in the power of your hand to do it.   Proverbs 3:27 AMP

LOVE FULFILLS THE LAW

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

8 Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  10 Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.  Romans 13:8-10 NKJV

Under the Old Covenant, God’s people spent all their time trying to fulfill the law. Of course, they never managed to keep the law one hundred percent of the time and that was the whole point of the law: to give them a standard to live by, to make them aware that they were incapable in their own power of living up to that standard, that they needed a Savior and to point them toward Jesus Himself as Savior and Lord.

17 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18 For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.  Matthew 5:17-18 NKJV

Jesus did not come to destroy the law, but to fulfill it and to deliver us from the curse of the law (Galatians 3:13). Out of His own mouth He gave us a new standard to live by.

34 But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together. 35 Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, 36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.  Matthew 22:34-40 KJV

He did not tell us that we do not have to obey God’s commands once we are born anew from above, but He did give us an easier way to obey the commands of God—walk in the love of God. Romans 5:5 NIV says that, “God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.” Our righteousness, as believers, had nothing to do with what we have done, but with what Jesus did for us. We are washed in His blood, saved sanctified and redeemed! Now, with the help of the Holy Spirit we walk out our righteousness in obedience to God’s Word. It is love that fulfills the law and it is God’s love in us that enables us to keep God’s law and obey it. We do not obey God’s commands because we are afraid of Him, but because we love Him. Because we love Him, we also love our neighbor as He has commanded us to.

If you love God, you will keep the Ten Commandments. If you love God, you will put Him first in all things. You will not worship any other god or any other earthly thing, like money or possessions. If you love God, you will not take His Name in vain. You will take time to honor Him and to spend time in His presence. If you love God you will honor and respect your parents. Even if they were not perfect, the love of God in your heart will forgive them and begin to appreciate them and see them as valuable and precious. When you forgive them, you will not repeat their mistakes and where there are generational curses, they will lose all their power over you. As far as God is concerned, all curses are broken on the day you are born-again. You activate this power of God in your life in this area by walking in the love of God.

If you love God and your neighbor, you will not murder your neighbor—either in your thoughts, with your mouth or with your hands. If you love God and your neighbor, you will not commit adultery. You will honor the other person by not allowing the lusts of your flesh to triumph. You will not do anything that dishonors your neighbor and their current or future spouse. If you love God and your neighbor, you will not steal—you will not take something that belongs to your neighbor. You will work with your hands and earn your living honestly and you will give to the Lord and your neighbor according to the blessing of the Lord on your life.

If you love God and your neighbor, you will not lie about your neighbor nor accuse them falsely. You will always tell the truth. If you love God and your neighbor, you will not covet your neighbor’s possessions. You will not be jealous or envious. Instead, you will be blessed by the fact that your neighbor is blessed and you will sow your own seed and you will expect God for a harvest of blessing to come to your life in due season. When you love God and your neighbor, you are sowing seed for blessings to come back to you, good-measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over!

BESIDE YOURSELF WITH THE JOY OF GIVING

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

Jesus inspired great joy from the moment He was born – everyone who believed in Him, approaching Him with an open heart, experienced great joy! On the night Jesus was born angels appeared to shepherds in the field. “And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”  (Luke 2:10-12 KJV)

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem wise men from the east followed a special star, which went before them, until they found Him. “When they saw the star, they were thrilled with ecstatic joy. And on going into the house, they saw the Child with Mary His mother, and they fell down and worshiped Him. Then opening their treasure bags, they presented to Him gifts–gold and frankincense and myrrh.”  (Matthew 2:10-11 AMP)

When the wise men found Jesus, they were thrilled with ecstatic joy. The KJV says that they rejoiced with exceeding great joy and the NIV says that they were overjoyed. They came a long way to worship and honor Jesus and it was all worth it. They were overwhelmed and beside themselves with joy and they worshipped him with their heart and soul and then with their treasure. In that day, you always brought a special gift when you came before the king and they had come prepared with very precious gifts to give Jesus – gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Because the wise men honored Jesus as King, they were overjoyed to be in His presence and thrilled to shower Him with gifts. God loves to bless us, it gives Him great joy, and He would like us to feel the same way about Him!

[Remember] this: he who sows sparingly and grudgingly will also reap sparingly and grudgingly, and he who sows generously [that blessings may come to someone] will also reap generously and with blessings. Let each one [give] as he has made up his own mind and purposed in his heart, not reluctantly or sorrowfully or under compulsion, for God loves (He takes pleasure in, prizes above other things, and is unwilling to abandon or to do without) a cheerful (joyous, “prompt to do it”) giver [whose heart is in his giving].   2 Corinthians 9:6-7 AMP

God loves a cheerful giver.  The Greek word for cheerful is “hilaros” from which we get our English word “hilarious.” It means that you are happy and merry, but also prompt and willing. A cheerful giver’s heart is in his or her giving and they do it promptly without griping. There is a true saying, “Givers never gripe and gripers never give.” Your cheerful attitude sets the tone and the standard every time for your giving. People who are willing to give, are happy to give, and people who are happy to give, don’t hesitate, argue, or waste any time. They have already made up their mind to obey God and they are happy to do it. They don’t have to stop and wonder what to do next. They don’t argue with themselves over what to do. When the opportunity presents itself, they give with a happy smile.

We want God to answer our prayers promptly and to meet our needs on time and therefore we should bless Him by not hesitating to sow our seeds cheerfully and promptly.

And God is able to make all grace (every favor and earthly blessing) come to you in abundance, so that you may always and under all circumstances and whatever the need be self-sufficient [possessing enough to require no aid or support and furnished in abundance for every good work and charitable donation]. As it is written, He [the benevolent person] scatters abroad; He gives to the poor; His deeds of justice and goodness and kindness and benevolence will go on and endure forever! And [God] Who provides seed for the sower and bread for eating will also provide and multiply your [resources for] sowing and increase the fruits of your righteousness [which manifests itself in active goodness, kindness, and charity]. Thus you will be enriched in all things and in every way, so that you can be generous, and [your generosity as it is] administered by us will bring forth thanksgiving to God.  2 Corinthians 9:8-11 AMP

We should expect God to honor His word. This is faith in action. When you expect God to honor His word, you will not hesitate to DO His word! God promises that as you put Him first in your life and honor Him with your obedience in giving, He will grace you with every favor and earthly blessing so that you will have enough for your needs, your desires, and enough to share with others. God wants to bless you so much that you can be really generous in your giving. You will never have to give sparingly ever again!

WHO LIVES IN YOUR “HOUSE”?

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

But when the unclean spirit has gone out of a man, it roams through dry [arid] places in search of rest, but it does not find any. 44 Then it says, I will go back to my house from which I came out. And when it arrives, it finds the place unoccupied, swept, put in order, and decorated. 45 Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and make their home there. And the last condition of that man becomes worse than the first. So also shall it be with this wicked generation. Matthew 12:43-45 AMP

A person is like a house. If God does not live in your “house” and if you give place to the devil in your life, it is possible that a demon could take up residence in your “house.” If a person has a demon living in their “house” and he is cast out, in the Name of Jesus, he must leave and wander through dry places. Destruction and devastation follow demons everywhere they go. If they get into your “house” they will inevitably make a huge mess of it. After the devil is cast out, in the Name of Jesus, the Lord cleans your “house” up – it is swept, put in order, and decorated – but it is very important for you to immediately invite Jesus to live in your heart. You cannot leave your “house” empty because eventually the demon will decide to try to come back to his “house.” When he sees that it is cleaned up, but empty, not only will he move back in, but he will bring in seven spirits, more wicked than himself, and you will be in a much worse condition than you were before you were delivered.

If you want to remain free there are a few things you can do. Receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior, renew your mind to the word of God, and allow the work of the Holy Spirit in your life. Allow God to occupy your house so that the devil can’t move in. You need to submit yourself to the Lord so that you will be able to resist the devil (James 4:7).

I appeal to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you]. Romans 12:1-2 AMP

You need to offer yourself as a living sacrifice to the Lord so that He can do a cleansing work in your heart and mind. Don’t be conformed to this world’s system. Allow God, by His word and His Spirit, to transform you as your mind is renewed to His principles that bring life and liberty. This is God’s will for you.

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will imprint My laws upon their minds, even upon their innermost thoughts and understanding, and engrave them upon their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Hebrews 8:10 AMP

God wants to imprint His laws on your mind and engrave them upon your heart.

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 So that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word, 27 That He might present the church to Himself in glorious splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such things [that she might be holy and faultless]. Ephesians 5:25-27 AMP

The water of God’s word washes you clean of every trace of the world’s junk and the devil’s junk. If you want to be free – fill yourself up with God’s word. God’s word is your protection and your victory!

So this I say and solemnly testify in [the name of] the Lord [as in His presence], that you must no longer live as the heathen (the Gentiles) do in their perverseness [in the folly, vanity, and emptiness of their souls and the futility] of their minds. Ephesians 4:17 AMP

Strip yourselves of your former nature [put off and discard your old unrenewed self] which characterized your previous manner of life and becomes corrupt through lusts and desires that spring from delusion; 23 And be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude], 24 And put on the new nature (the regenerate self) created in God’s image, [Godlike] in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:22-24 AMP

The souls of the heathen are empty and their minds are lifeless. If you will strip yourself of your old nature and walk fully in your new nature, when the demon comes back he will find your “house” full of Jesus and full of life and activity. There will be no place for Him or his filthy buddies. He will have to leave and go look somewhere else for some other “house” to move into!

BORN INTO FREEDOM AND MARRIED TO FREEDOM!

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

For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the bondmaid and one by the free woman. 23 But whereas the child of the slave woman was born according to the flesh and had an ordinary birth, the son of the free woman was born in fulfillment of the promise. 24 Now all this is an allegory; these [two women] represent two covenants. one covenant originated from Mount Sinai [where the Law was given] and bears [children destined] for slavery; this is Hagar. 25 Now Hagar is (stands for) Mount Sinai in Arabia and she corresponds to and belongs in the same category with the present Jerusalem, for she is in bondage together with her children. 26 But the Jerusalem above (the Messianic kingdom of Christ) is free, and she is our mother. 27 For it is written in the Scriptures, Rejoice, O barren woman, who has not given birth to children; break forth into a joyful shout, you who are not feeling birth pangs, for the desolate woman has many more children than she who has a husband. 28 But we, brethren, are children [not by physical descent, as was Ishmael, but] like Isaac, born in virtue of promise. 29 Yet [just] as at that time the child [of ordinary birth] born according to the flesh despised and persecuted him [who was born remarkably] according to [the promise and the working of] the [Holy] Spirit, so it is now also. 30 But what does the Scripture say? Cast out and send away the slave woman and her son, for never shall the son of the slave woman be heir and share the inheritance with the son of the free woman. 31 So, brethren, we [who are born again] are not children of a slave woman [the natural], but of the free [the supernatural]. Galatians 4:22-31 AMP

Jesus Christ has paid the price for us and redeemed us from the curse of the Law! There is not one person on the earth who could ever hope to meet God’s approval and be acceptable to Him by means of the Law, because it is impossible for sinful man to keep the Law, for even if you break one small Law, you have broken the whole Law. The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 6:23).

In the Old Testament God gives us an allegory – a type and shadow of what is to come. Jesus came, in a supernatural way, to bring us into the liberty of the Spirit. In Galatians we see that the child of the slave woman (Hagar) is born according to the flesh, but the child of the free woman (Sarah) is born in fulfillment of the promise! Ishmael’s birth was something that was possible with man. He was a child of the flesh. Isaac’s birth was supernatural, because it was impossible with man. Unlike Jesus, Isaac had a natural father and mother, however, because it was impossible for them to have children, because they were so old, and because Sarah was barren, his birth was a miracle – it was all God’s doing. He was a child of the Spirit.

How does this relate to us? All of mankind is born of the flesh initially. They can stay in that bondage if they choose to OR they can choose God’s way; they can choose Jesus; they can choose the miracle of the New Birth and be born again of the Spirit of God – the child of the free and the supernatural! The son of the slave will not inherit with the son of the free. There is only an inheritance for the son of the free woman!

Do you not know, brethren–for I am speaking to men who are acquainted with the Law–that legal claims have power over a person only for as long as he is alive? 2 For [instance] a married woman is bound by law to her husband as long as he lives; but if her husband dies, she is loosed and discharged from the law concerning her husband. 3 Accordingly, she will be held an adulteress if she unites herself to another man while her husband lives. But if her husband dies, the marriage law no longer is binding on her [she is free from that law]; and if she unites herself to another man, she is not an adulteress. 4 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. 5 When we were living in the flesh (mere physical lives), the sinful passions that were awakened and aroused up by [what] the Law [makes sin] were constantly operating in our natural powers (in our bodily organs, in the sensitive appetites and wills of the flesh), so that we bore fruit for death. 6 But now we are discharged from the Law and have terminated all intercourse with it, having died to what once restrained and held us captive. So now we serve not under [obedience to] the old code of written regulations, but [under obedience to the promptings] of the Spirit in newness [of life]. Romans 7:1-6 AMP

Another allegory is this: while she lives, the married woman is bound to her husband, but if he dies, she is free to be married to another. Once we were “married” to the Law. We have undergone death as to the Law through the crucified body of Christ, so that now we may belong to Another (Christ). We belong to Jesus! We are married to Him! We are discharged (delivered) from the Law, having terminated all intercourse with it. That old marriage is over – the law no longer applies. We died to that which once held us captive. Now we serve, not in bondage, under obedience to the old code of written regulations, but in freedom, under obedience to the promptings of the Spirit in newness of life! We are no longer governed, guided, constrained, and compelled by the outward force of the written code, but we are led and guided inwardly by the Spirit of God. He is the One who leads us into life and blessing as we yield and submit ourselves to Him in faith!

The Church of the Firstborn

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

As it is written in the Law of the Lord, Every [firstborn] male that opens the womb shall be set apart and dedicated and called holy to the Lord.  Luke 2:23 AMP

In Israel, the true firstborn was the first child, not only of his mother, but also of his father. The firstborn – particularly the male – was considered sacred. He was dedicated and sanctified unto God and the recipient of the birthright – a double-portion of his father’s estate – more than his brothers – and he carried both the physical and spiritual responsibility of the family. In patriarchal times, primogeniture (being the firstborn) gave princedom and priesthood.

And she gave birth to her Son, her Firstborn; and she wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room or place for them in the inn.  Luke 2:7 AMP

For to which of the angels did [God] ever say, You are My Son, today I have begotten You [established You in an official Sonship relation, with kingly dignity]? And again, I will be to Him a Father, and He will be to Me a Son? 6 Moreover, when He brings the firstborn Son again into the habitable world, He says, Let all the angels of God worship Him.  Hebrews 1:5-6 AMP

Jesus Christ of Nazareth was the firstborn of His mother, Mary, and His Father, God. Not only was He God’s first-begotten Son, but He was His only-begotten Son as well. He was born to die, offered as a sacrifice, and then powerfully and majestically raised from the dead – the firstborn from the dead! Now He was not the first person raised from physical death, but He was the first raised up from spiritual death. He took our sin upon Himself – He became sin for us – and died with that sin on Him. He took our place, giving up His life and taking our death, so that He could give us His life and we could be raised up with Him at the resurrection. When we believe God’s Word and accept Jesus’ sacrifice, death is turned into life and we are born-again into newness of life; new creations; justified and glorified; made to be kings and priests unto our God!

For those whom He foreknew [of whom He was aware and loved beforehand], He also destined from the beginning [foreordaining them] to be molded into the image of His Son [and share inwardly His likeness], that He might become the firstborn among many brethren. 30 And those whom He thus foreordained, He also called; and those whom He called, He also justified (acquitted, made righteous, putting them into right standing with Himself). And those whom He justified, He also glorified [raising them to a heavenly dignity and condition or state of being].  Romans 8:29-30 AMP

[The Father] has delivered and drawn us to Himself out of the control and the dominion of darkness and has transferred us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, 14 In Whom we have our redemption through His blood, [which means] the forgiveness of our sins. 15[Now] He is the exact likeness of the unseen God [the visible representation of the invisible]; He is the Firstborn of all creation. 16 For it was in Him that all things were created, in heaven and on earth, things seen and things unseen, whether thrones, dominions, rulers, or authorities; all things were created and exist through Him [by His service, intervention] and in and for Him. 17 And He Himself existed before all things, and in Him all things consist (cohere, are held together). 18 He also is the Head of [His] body, the church; seeing He is the Beginning, the Firstborn from among the dead, so that He alone in everything and in every respect might occupy the chief place [stand first and be preeminent]. 19 For it has pleased [the Father] that all the divine fullness (the sum total of the divine perfection, powers, and attributes) should dwell in Him permanently. 20 And God purposed that through (by the service, the intervention of) Him [the Son] all things should be completely reconciled back to Himself, whether on earth or in heaven, as through Him, [the Father] made peace by means of the blood of His cross. 21 And although you at one time were estranged and alienated from Him and were of hostile attitude of mind in your wicked activities, 22 Yet now has [Christ, the Messiah] reconciled [you to God] in the body of His flesh through death, in order to present you holy and faultless and irreproachable in His [the Father’s] presence.  Colossians 1:13-22 AMP

The expression “first-born” not only means the first one born, but it can also mean the prime, most excellent, and most distinguished of things. Jesus Christ is not only the first-born of every creature – begotten before creation – but He is the first-born from the dead. Jesus is the Firstborn of many brethren! We are the Church of the Firstborn and we enjoy all the rights and privileges of a firstborn child of God, thanks to Jesus, the Firstborn of creation and Firstborn from the dead!

And to the church (assembly) of the Firstborn who are registered [as citizens] in heaven, and to the God Who is Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous (the redeemed in heaven) who have been made perfect.  Hebrews 12:23 AMP

And from Jesus Christ the faithful and trustworthy Witness, the Firstborn of the dead [first to be brought back to life] and the Prince (Ruler) of the kings of the earth. To Him Who ever loves us and has once [for all] loosed and freed us from our sins by His own blood, 6 And formed us into a kingdom (a royal race), priests to His God and Father–to Him be the glory and the power and the majesty and the dominion throughout the ages and forever and ever. Amen (so be it).  Revelation 1:5-6 AMP

And You have made them a kingdom (royal race) and priests to our God, and they shall reign [as kings] over the earth!  Revelation 5:10 AMP

He’s Alive!

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

March: My Worship

Foundation Scriptures: Matthew 28:1-8

Now after the Sabbath, near dawn of the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala and the other Mary went to take a look at the tomb. 2 And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled the boulder back and sat upon it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his garments as white as snow. 4 And those keeping guard were so frightened at the sight of him that they were agitated and they trembled and became like dead men. 5 But the angel said to the women, Do not be alarmed and frightened, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, Who was crucified. 6 He is not here; He has risen, as He said [He would do]. Come, see the place where He lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell His disciples, He has risen from the dead, and behold, He is going before you to Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you. 8 So they left the tomb hastily with fear and great joy and ran to tell the disciples. Matthew 28:1-8 AMP

1. Around the world, people worship idols of wood and stone—gods that have eyes that cannot see, ears that cannot hear, and a mouth that cannot speak.

We worship the One and Only True and Living God—Creator of heaven and earth.
Religion is man trying to reach God by or through millions of ways—Christianity is God reaching out to man by and through One Way and One Person—the Way, the Truth, and the Life—Jesus Christ!
John 3:16-17 AMP—For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten ( unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life. For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him.

2. The One we worship is alive and we are allowed to have a personal relationship with Him 24/7.

Worship involves intimacy:
It’s a love relationship
He loves us and we love Him
He loved us before we knew Him and while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us
He gave us His all
Ephesians 5:25 AMP—Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.
Ephesians 5:32 AMP—This mystery is very great, but I speak concerning [the relation of] Christ and the church.
It’s a marriage—He is the Groom and we are the Bride of Christ

Jesus’ Blood was given as an offering for sin and a purchase of our freedom.
Jesus’ Body was given as an offering for sin and a purchase of our freedom.

3. A week before He was crucified, Jesus made a triumphal entry into Jerusalem, but even as they worshipped Him, He wept over Jerusalem.

Luke 19:41-42 NKJV—Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.

They missed their Day of Visitation—much like the modern Church!

4. Today—and every day—we can celebrate the Resurrection—He’s alive—He lives—He reigns!

Worship involves a sacrifice.
He loved us and He loves us now—He gave His body and His blood—as a ransom for many.
We love Him—we give our hearts, our minds, our bodies, our finances—and we worship Him.
We interact with Him
He speaks—we listen
We speak—He hears
He loves on us
We love on Him
We tell about Him
He tells about us

Will you worship Him today—spirit, soul and body?
Will you give Him your all—your best?

The Place called There

 

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

“Elijah the Tishbite, of the temporary residents of Gilead, said to Ahab, As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, before Whom I stand, there shall not be dew or rain these years but according to My word. 2And the word of the Lord came to him, saying, 3Go from here and turn east and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, east of the Jordan. 4You shall drink of the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there. 5So he did according to the word of the Lord; he went and dwelt by the brook Cherith, east of the Jordan. 6And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning and bread and flesh in the evening, and he drank of the brook.”
1 Kings 17:1-6

No matter what is going on in the world, God takes care of those who are His, if they will trust in Him. God had a plan to provide for Elijah in the middle of drought and deprivation. When everyone else had no food, the Lord had already made a plan for Elijah’s provision. God told Elijah that ravens would feed him at Cherith and he believed it enough to go there. His life depended on his obedience. He had to trust the word of the Lord even if it sounded ridiculous. Ravens? Bringing food? Every day? Who would have believed it? But God’s faithful provision was right there where He said it would be – every day – at the place called There! God has made provision for you. Don’t be afraid to trust His word to you. In the will of the Lord, is the safest place you can be.

“After a while the brook dried up because there was no rain in the land. 8And the word of the Lord came to him: 9Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. Behold, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you. 10So he arose and went to Zarephath. When he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her, Bring me a little water in a vessel, that I may drink. 11As she was going to get it, he called to her and said, Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand. 12And she said, As the Lord your God lives, I have not a loaf baked but only a handful of meal in the jar and a little oil in the bottle. See, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and bake it for me and my son, that we may eat it–and die. 13Elijah said to her, Fear not; go and do as you have said. But make me a little cake of [it] first and bring it to me, and afterward prepare some for yourself and your son. 14For thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: The jar of meal shall not waste away or the bottle of oil fail until the day that the Lord sends rain on the earth. 15She did as Elijah said. And she and he and her household ate for many days. 16The jar of meal was not spent nor did the bottle of oil fail, according to the word which the Lord spoke through Elijah.”
1 Kings 17:7-16

Elijah trusted in God not in ravens or in other people! When the circumstances changed, God already had another avenue prepared – the widow woman. All God told Elijah was that He had commanded a widow in Zarephath to provide for him. Elijah obeys God and goes to Zarephath, but when he gets there, he realizes the person who is supposed to support him has nothing with which to do it. He found out that all she had was a handful of meal and oil – enough for one last meal for two people – definitely not enough for three people for the duration of the drought. He did not get flustered; he did not doubt God; he did not look to man as his source; he continued to trust that God had it all worked out.

He had faith in God’s word – an expectation that if God said it, it was true. He confidently expected that God would perform yet another series of miracles! If all the woman had was enough for one meal, then God was definitely about to perform a miracle! He trusted the word of the Lord and commanded her to bake the first cake for him and promised her that if she did, God would continue to provide for them until the rains came. She believed the word of the Lord to Elijah and to herself and when she obeyed, God performed the miracle that day, and for many days after that, until the drought broke.

When God told him to go “there” Elijah had faith in God’s word to him. He did not doubt even when it looked impossible. Trust God with your life. Trust that where He leads you, He will also provide for you as long as you need Him to. Always remember that God and not man is your source and supply. Just get yourself into the will of God – the place called “there” – and see God miraculously provide for you!

Reaching the world, one soul at a time