Giving So Much They Had To Be Restrained

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

Thoughts on Stewardship
Lesson No. 14 from Exodus
Take an Offering Only From Those Who Have a Willing Heart!

Foundation Scripture: Exodus 35 verses 5 – 29

‘Take from among you an offering to the LORD. Whoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it as an offering to the LORD: gold, silver, and bronze; 6 blue, purple, and scarlet thread, fine linen, and goats’ hair; 7 ram skins dyed red, badger skins, and acacia wood; 8 oil for the light, and spices for the anointing oil and for the sweet incense; 9 onyx stones, and stones to be set in the ephod and in the breastplate. 10 ‘All who are gifted artisans among you shall come and make all that the LORD has commanded: 11 the tabernacle, its tent, its covering, its clasps, its boards, its bars, its pillars, and its sockets; 12 the ark and its poles, with the mercy seat, and the veil of the covering; 13 the table and its poles, all its utensils, and the showbread; 14 also the lampstand for the light, its utensils, its lamps, and the oil for the light; 15 the incense altar, its poles, the anointing oil, the sweet incense, and the screen for the door at the entrance of the tabernacle; 16 the altar of burnt offering with its bronze grating, its poles, all its utensils, and the laver and its base; 17 the hangings of the court, its pillars, their sockets, and the screen for the gate of the court; 18 the pegs of the tabernacle, the pegs of the court, and their cords; 19 the garments of ministry, for ministering in the holy place — the holy garments for Aaron the priest and the garments of his sons, to minister as priests.’” 20 And all the congregation of the children of Israel departed from the presence of Moses. 21 Then everyone came whose heart was stirred, and everyone whose spirit was willing, and they brought the LORD’s offering for the work of the tabernacle of meeting, for all its service, and for the holy garments. 22 They came, both men and women, as many as had a willing heart, and brought earrings and nose rings, rings and necklaces, all jewelry of gold, that is, every man who made an offering of gold to the LORD. 23 And every man, with whom was found blue, purple, and scarlet thread, fine linen, goats’ hair, red skins of rams, and badger skins, brought them. 24 Everyone who offered an offering of silver or bronze brought the LORD’s offering. And everyone with whom was found acacia wood for any work of the service, brought it. 25 All the women who were gifted artisans spun yarn with their hands, and brought what they had spun, of blue, purple, and scarlet, and fine linen. 26 And all the women whose hearts stirred with wisdom spun yarn of goats’ hair. 27 The rulers brought onyx stones, and the stones to be set in the ephod and in the breastplate, 28 and spices and oil for the light, for the anointing oil, and for the sweet incense. 29 The children of Israel brought a freewill offering to the LORD, all the men and women whose hearts were willing to bring material for all kinds of work which the LORD, by the hand of Moses, had commanded to be done. Exodus 35:5-29 NKJV

1. God told Moses to take an offering from the children of Israel—only from those who had a willing heart.

a. Why did God do this?

b. He did this because God does not want us to give Him an offering out of compulsion—He wants us to give Him an offering out of our love for Him, just as He blesses us out of His love for us.

c. He gave them a choice to bring what they had—from the costliest of treasures, down to acacia wood, to goat’s hair. Every type of offering was needed for a different aspect of God’s house. Every offering was welcomed and received.

2. Verse 29 says that the children of Israel brought to the Lord a freewill offering—those whose hearts made them willing were the ones who gave.

a. Everyone whose heart was stirred, and whose spirit was willing came with something.

b. Many brought bracelets, earrings, rings, tablets, and jewels of gold.

c. God is looking for willing vessels—those who will come to Him and give to Him of their treasure, their time, and their talents.

N.B. Let us always be willing to give God our best.

Pastor Adonica’s Thoughts:

The Lord did not want anything in His house that was given grudgingly—with an attitude of unwillingness or resentment. He wanted only those things that were presented to Him with love and joy. Whatever you give—always give with a willing heart.

Pastor Rodney’s Thoughts:

I have often watched, with interest, as the offering is being received, at how people respond. Some people act like they believe they are giving to a man, or a church, or an organization and either expect something back from them or they give without willingness. I am sure that some only give so others don’t see them not giving. However, I have come to realize that people don’t really get the big picture—for some reason they don’t realize that it is God they are giving their gifts to when they give to His work and His Kingdom. They don’t realize that God sees what they are doing and even looks into their heart at their attitude and intent as they do it. Your giving is totally between you and God. Do it like God is watching. Do it with a willing heart.

Prayer and Confession:

Father I pray that my heart will always be willing to serve You and obey You. In my giving, I will worship You and I give my best to You. All that I have is Yours. I am Yours and my heart has made me willing!

The Hungry Heart

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

Foundation Scriptures: Psalms 42:1-2, Psalms 63:1, Psalms 36:7-9, Psalms 34:8, Isaiah 55:1-2, Matthew 5:6, John 7:37-38, Revelation 21:6, Revelation 22:17

As the heart pants and longs for the water brooks, so I pant and long for You, O God. 2 My inner self thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of God?  Psalms 42:1-2 AMP

  1.  Spiritual hunger is the number one ingredient for revival and the only way to receive anything from God.
  1. Spiritual appetite is something that needs to be developed, cultivated, and protected. It determines how hungry you are for the things of God.
  2. As with natural things, your diet—what you put in your mouth—dictates what you will be, so it is with spiritual things. You are what you eat! If you eat junk food, that is what you will be hungry for—that is what you will crave. You will not have an appetite for the things that are good for you and nourishing to your body. As a result, you will be sick, have health problems and die prematurely. If you make a habit of eating good, healthy, wholesome food, you will have an appetite for more good food and your body will be healthy and strong and resistant to disease. You will live longer and will have a good quality of life.

?  Body: A healthy body: healthy heart; strong constitution; no health problems; etc. An unhealthy body: sickly; anemic; high cholesterol; heart conditions; cancer, pain; etc.

?  Spirit: Eating good spiritual food will produce a healthy heart—free, filled with joy and peace and all of the nine fruit of the Spirit. Eating spiritual junk food—giving in to the appetites and lusts of the flesh—will produce a sickly heart, filled with anger, bitterness, covetousness, strife, and all the 17 works of the flesh.

  1.  What must you do to develop a hungry heart?
  1. Strip away everything that would clog up your heart, hinder you, and cause you to lose your hunger for God and for what is good.
  2. Take a critical look at how you use your time.

?   What is your daily routine?

?   How much time is wasted time: TV; movies; sports; friends; restaurants; Internet; computer games; etc?

  1. Get rid of spiritual junk food.

?   False doctrines

?   Wrong associations; bad influences

?   Wrong choices; wrong living

  1. Pray; spend time in the Word of God; meditate on the Word; be filled with the Spirit; be  led by the Spirit.
  1.  Ask yourself: Am I hungry for God with a passion?
  1. If yes: protect your heart and your mind so you stay that way.
  2.  If no: ask yourself what you must do to cut the spiritual junk food out of your life.
  1.   Always: be humble; be repentant; allow God’s Word to correct you; make straight paths for your feet; God’s Word is a lamp unto your feet and a light unto your path.

O God, You are my God, earnestly will I seek You; my inner self thirsts for You, my flesh longs and is faint for You, in a dry and weary land where no water is.  Psalms 63:1 AMP

How precious is Your steadfast love, O God! The children of men take refuge and put their trust under the shadow of Your wings. 8 They relish and feast on the abundance of Your house; and You cause them to drink of the stream of Your pleasures. 9 For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light do we see light.  Psalms 36:7-9 AMP

O taste and see that the Lord [our God] is good! Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the man who trusts and takes refuge in Him.  Psalms 34:8 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].  Isaiah 55:1-2 AMP

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.  Matthew 5:6 NKJV

Now on the final and most important day of the Feast, Jesus stood, and He cried in a loud voice, If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink! 38 He who believes in Me [who cleaves to and trusts in and relies on Me] as the Scripture has said, From his innermost being shall flow [continuously] springs and rivers of living water.  John 7:37-38 AMP

And He [further] said to me, It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I [Myself] will give water without price from the fountain (springs) of the water of Life.  Revelation 21:6 AMP

The [Holy] Spirit and the bride (the church, the true Christians) say, Come! And let him who is listening say, Come! And let everyone come who is thirsty [who is painfully conscious of his need of those things by which the soul is refreshed, supported, and strengthened]; and whoever [earnestly] desires to do it, let him come, take, appropriate, and drink the water of Life without cost.  Revelation 22:17 AMP

Why do Christians Suffer?

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

Foundation scripture:

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.

Hosea 4:6 KJV

1. People Suffer Because of Lack of Knowledge: 

a. People need to be teachable, humble themselves, and learn.

b. 2 Timothy 2:15 KJV – “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

c. God’s word is freely available to us. There is no reason to be ignorant. We have access to books, CDs, DVDs, the Internet, etc.

2. Not Acting on the Word of God:

a. Matthew 7:24-27 KJV – “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great  was the fall of it.”

b. James 1:22 KJV – “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.”

3. Opposing the Truth:

a. 2 Kings 5:9-14 KJV – Naaman, the Syrian, wanted to be healed of leprosy, but he didn’t want to dip himself in the Jordan as Elisha commanded him, because he thought the Jordan was not as good as his rivers back home. Although it was a simple enough assignment, he thought it was beneath him. It was only when he swallowed his pride and  dipped where he was told to dip, that he received his healing.

b. Some people call themselves Christians, but have no respect for the Word of God. They don’t think that it applies to them.

c. Some people are in outright rebellion toward the Word of God. They are going to do it their way no matter what the word says.

d. Humble yourself and obey.

4. Living in Sin:

a. Galatians 6:7-8 KJV – “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.”

b. If you sow to the flesh – rebellion; self-will; carnality – you will reap corruption. The wages of sin is still death.

c. Isaiah 1:19-20 KJV – “If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.”

5. Not Discerning the Lord’s Body:

a. 1 Corinthians 11:17-30 KJV

b. Verses 29-30 KJV – “For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.”

c. Discern the Lord’s body – beaten and broken for you – His stripes for your healing.

d. Discern the Lord’s body – love your brothers and sisters – walk in love toward the Body of Christ.

6. Unforgiveness:

a. Mark 11:22-26 KJV

b. Verse 25-26 KJV – “And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.”

7. Envy, Strife, and Pride:

a. James 3:14-16 KJV – “But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.”

b. Proverbs 16:18 KJV – “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”

8. Murmuring and Complaining:

a. 1 Corinthians 10:10 KJV – “Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.”

b. Deuteronomy 28:45-48 KJV

c. Verse 47 KJV – You are cursed with a curse: “Because thou servedst not the Lord thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things”

9. Persecution:

a. It is scriptural to suffer persecution for preaching the Gospel, and nothing to be ashamed of. God will grace you to handle it and deal with your enemies on your behalf.

b. 2 Timothy 3:12 KJV – “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”

c. Mark 10:29-30 KJV – “And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.”

d. If you suffer as a result of your own foolishness or wrongdoing, then you must also suffer the consequences – this suffering is your fault, not God’s. Bear it without complaining.

e. 1 Peter 4:15-16 KJV – “But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.”

f. The suffering that is NOT God’s plan for you is sickness, disease, poverty, lack, torment, misery, fear, curses, etc.

God Confirms His Word

 

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

Foundation Scriptures: Mark 16:15-20

And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.  16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18 they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” 19 So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. 20 And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen.  Mark 16:15-20 NKJV

After Jesus rose from the dead, and before He ascended to His seat at the right hand of the Father, He sent the disciples out to do His work. He commissioned them to preach the gospel to every person, to get them filled with the Spirit and to heal and deliver them. The key to the signs and wonders and miracles was the preaching of the Word. The signs followed the Word of God! God will not confirm your opinion – He will only confirm the Word.

Moreover, the word of the Lord came to me, saying, Jeremiah, what do you see? And I said, I see a branch or shoot of an almond tree [the emblem of alertness and activity, blossoming in late winter]. 12 Then said the Lord to me, You have seen well, for I am alert and active, watching over My word to perform it.  Jeremiah 1:11-12 AMP

The Lord is not fast asleep – He is active and alert. He is ever watching over His Word to perform it. God’s Word is not like the words of man, which fall to the ground. God’s Word is active, alive and full of power.

For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart.  Hebrews 4:12 AMP

The power of God is in the Word of God!

For as the rain and snow come down from the heavens, and return not there again, but water the earth and make it bring forth and sprout, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, 11 So shall My word be that goes forth out of My mouth: it shall not return to Me void [without producing any effect, useless], but it shall accomplish that which I please and purpose, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.   Isaiah 55:10-11 AMP

God’s Word is like the rain, which comes down to water the earth and produce food and seed, bringing life and blessing everywhere it falls. You never see land that is well watered, that does not have grass and trees and food growing, supporting and sustaining life. The desert areas of the world are that way because they have no rain to bring life to the ground. In the same way, wherever God’s Word goes, life is produced. God’s Word does not just fall to the ground – it is never useless or ineffective. Whatever God pleases, will be accomplished through and by His powerful Word and whatever He sent it to do it will do. Not only will His Word produce exactly what He sent it out to do, but it will prosper and be multiplied!

The Lord said to Moses, Has the Lord’s hand (His ability and power) become short (thwarted and inadequate)? You shall see now whether My word shall come to pass for you or not.  Numbers 11:23 AMP

For all these things My hand has made, and so all these things have come into being [by and for Me], says the Lord. But this is the man to whom I will look and have regard: he who is humble and of a broken or wounded spirit, and who trembles at My word and reveres My commands.  Isaiah 66:2 AMP

Moses got into trouble with God because he asked too many questions after God had already answered him and told him everything he needed to know. He doubted God’s ability to use him for His purposes. If God tells you to do something, it is because something is going to happen as you obey His Word. It doesn’t matter if it makes no sense to the natural mind; it doesn’t matter if you feel worthy or not; God’s Word will produce and prosper when you act on it. Remember, God will not confirm your opinion or your own idea – He will confirm His Word!

We need to have a much greater respect and regard for God’s Word. We should tremble at God’s Word – not in fear, but in utmost respect. We should surrender ourselves – our will and our destiny – to His Word. God’s Word is worthy of our full attention and complete obedience at all times. Only then will we be blessed and prosperous in all that we do.

 

The Profession of our Faith

Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised.) Hebrews 10:23 KJV

Hold fast to the profession of your faith – your faith in Jesus and in the Word of God. The word “profession” means to confess; to promise; to acknowledge; assent; to give thanks. It is a weighty thing – a covenant affirmation or acknowledgement. It’s not a flippant thing to say, that has nothing to back it up. It is a serious and committed statement. The dictionary meaning of profess or profession is: a declaration; to lay claim to; to declare openly; announce or affirm; avow or acknowledge; to affirm faith in or allegiance to. Confess means: to admit as true.

Almighty God means everything that He says. He never wastes any of His words. His words have power to create and to command and to bring to pass. He created the entire universe with His words: “Let there be…” Isaiah 55:11 KJV says, “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” If He makes a promise, He is faithful to also keep it.

But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Romans 10:8-10 NKJV

Salvation does not come through the works we can do – it comes through faith in Jesus’ substitutionary work. We receive salvation by believing in our heart and confessing with our mouth. It is not good enough for someone else to pray for you – you need to willingly pray the prayer with your own mouth. Our words, spoken in faith, have the power to change our eternal destiny.

Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:9-11 NKJV

Every tongue will soon confess Jesus as Lord – whether they want to or not – because He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Better to confess Him now and be saved than to die without Him and be made to bow your knee and confess Him later, even though it’s too late for you.

Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus. Hebrews 3:1 KJV

Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. Hebrews 4:14 KJV

Jesus is the Apostle and High Priest of our profession. When we profess Him and His word, He works on our behalf. Hold onto your profession. Do not back of due to pressure or persecution. Never be ashamed of Him. Confess Jesus is Lord and never change your confession – never confess anyone else as Lord – never deny Him. Eternity hinges on your profession.

Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. 1 Timothy 6:12 KJV

Fight the good fight of faith. A good fight is a fight that you win! Lay hold on eternal life. You are called to be a person of faith and you are intended for eternal life. With your profession you are saved; with your profession of faith, you receive everything that you believe is yours according to the Word of God.

“Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. 33 But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven. Matthew 10:32-33 NKJV

Jesus is your Advocate before the Father. If you confess Jesus before men, He will confess you before the Father. If you deny him – with your mouth – He will deny you before the Father. The words that come out of your mouth determine your destiny. Jesus is committed to you – be committed to Him!

Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 1 John 4:15 NKJV

God comes to live in the person who confesses that Jesus is the Son of God.

For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. 2 John 7 NKJV

Those who do not confess that Jesus came in the flesh are deceived and deceivers. They are anti-Christ – against Christ.

Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled. 16 They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.
Titus 1:15-16 KJV

You are in very big trouble with God if you say that you know God, but you behave like the devil. In this case, your mere words are not enough – your heart and deeds must line up with your words.

With your words, you shape your life and direct your path.

SUFFERING FOR THE CAUSE OF CHRIST

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

For you have been granted [the privilege] for Christ’s sake not only to believe in (adhere to, rely on, and trust in) Him, but also to suffer in His behalf. Philippians 1:29 AMP

The Bible speaks about Christians suffering with and for Christ. This is not the undeserved suffering of sickness and disease as some misinformed, religious people have taught, because that is unscriptural. The only suffering that is appropriate and even inevitable for a true Christian is persecution and the pressures and opposition that come from obedience and yieldedness to God’s will. Opposition and persecution come from the devil and demons and from ungodly people. Sometimes, even lukewarm or backslidden Christians are the ones who are used by the enemy to persecute those who are living godly lives and who are on fire for God. Persecution is a consequence of faithfulness toward God and His word and being a doer of the Word and will of God.

1. It is not strange or unusual for Christians to suffer—godliness attracts persecution

1 Peter 4:12 AMP – Beloved, do not be amazed and bewildered at the fiery ordeal which is taking place to test your quality, as though something strange (unusual and alien to you and your position) were befalling you.

2 Timothy 3:12 AMP – Indeed all who delight in piety and are determined to live a devoted and godly life in Christ Jesus will meet with persecution [will be made to suffer because of their religious stand].

2. You should rejoice when you become a partaker ofthe sufferings of Christ­—you are not alone—and great is your reward

1 Peter 4:13 AMP – But insofar as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, rejoice, so that when His glory [full of radiance and splendor] is revealed, you may also rejoice with triumph [exultantly].

Matthew 5:10-12 NIV – Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

3. The greater the suffering you experience, the greater also your joy and glory

Romans 8:17-18 AMP – And if we are [His] children, then we are [His] heirs also: heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ [sharing His inheritance with Him]; only we must share His suffering if we are to share His glory. 18 [But what of that?] For I consider that the sufferings of this present time (this present life) are not worth being compared with the glory that is about to be revealed to us and in us and for us and conferred on us!

4. Not only is there a greater glory that is to come, but Christians also have the Holy Spirit upon them now to help them and enable them to endure

1 Peter 4:14 AMP – If you are censured and suffer abuse [because you bear] the name of Christ, blessed [are you—happy, fortunate, to be envied, with life-joy, and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, regardless of your outward condition], because the Spirit of glory, the Spirit of God, is resting upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified.

Romans 8:26-27 AMP – So too the [Holy] Spirit comes to our aid and bears us up in our weakness; for we do not know what prayer to offer nor how to offer it worthily as we ought, but the Spirit Himself goes to meet our supplication and pleads in our behalf with unspeakable yearnings and groanings too deep for utterance. 27 And He Who searches the hearts of men knows what is in the mind of the [Holy] Spirit [what His intent is], because the Spirit intercedes and pleads [before God] in behalf of the saints according to and in harmony with God’s will.

5. Christian sufferings glorify God and it is an honor and not a shame, to suffer as a Christian

1 Peter 4:16 AMP – But if [one is ill-treated and suffers] as a Christian [which he is contemptuously called], let him not be ashamed, but give glory to God that he is [deemed worthy to suffer] in this name.

6. Christians should patiently bear sufferings according to the will of God, realizing that God is always faithful toward those who are His own, in the midst of their sufferings

1 Peter 4:17-19 AMP – For the time [has arrived] for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will [be] the end of those who do not respect or believe or obey the good news (the Gospel) of God? 18 And if the righteous are barely saved, what will become of the godless and wicked? 19 Therefore, those who are ill-treated and suffer in accordance with God’s will must do right and commit their souls [in charge as a deposit] to the One Who created [them] and will never fail [them].

1 Corinthians 10:13 NKJV – No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

Jesus suffered major persecution and when we accept Him as Lord and Savior, that is what we sign up for as well—whether we like it or not. But for those who endure and don’t buckle under the pressure—there remains great rewards from our Father in Heaven! You will not be tested beyond your ability to endure—God’s grace is always enough for you. So don’t back off; don’t give in, keep hanging in there and praising God, and you will finish your race and win your prize!

Testimony by Eddie M.

I have been preaching the gospel as a lay minister for a number of years before school at RBI. I knew I needed assistance to go to another level in my ministry the Lord.
When I launch out on my own I will continue under the covering of the River and be an extension of the river, as I preach the great Gospel commission.

The Signs of the End and Jesus’ Coming

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

Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” 4 And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. 6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of sorrows. 9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. 10 And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. 11 Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. 12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.
Matthew 24:3-14 NKJV

When the disciples asked Jesus for the sign of His coming and the end of the age, the first thing Jesus warned them of was to “Watch out that no one deceives you.” You see, if you are always looking for “signs”, you will also be susceptible to deception. There always have been false prophets and other liars around – some of whom claim to be Jesus or an Old Testament prophet resurrected – and there are more that will rise up as we get closer to the end. False prophets don’t preach or personally live by the truth of the Gospel; but they say what people want to hear, even and especially when the people are not following God as they should. According to Jesus, many – even believers – will be deceived by the false prophets and their counterfeit powers. False teaching and loose morals tend to go together. Many people claim to love and serve God, but their drinking, immorality, covetousness and witchcraft tell the real story. They want heaven, but they also want to fulfill the lusts of their flesh.

The only way you can be sure to keep from being deceived is to keep your heart right with God and keep your eyes on Jesus and on the Word of God. Don’t look for special signs; don’t spend time looking at other people; look to Jesus. Many Christians are being deceived by false prophets even now, because they have downplayed the importance and essentialness of the Word of God in their lives. They don’t read or study it and they won’t submit to it. The Word of God is our only sure guide and light in this dark age of endless sinful choices and pressure to conform to the world’s standards. A true Christian is personally submitted to God and His Word. Make sure that the Word of God has a place of honor and respect in your life; make sure you are a DOER of the Word.

Jesus said that near the end there would be increased trouble and strife on the earth – wars and rumors of wars; nation rising against nation and kingdom against kingdom; famines, pestilences, and earthquakes all over the place. It sounds like our News today! He also said that His followers would be persecuted – some severely – by those who hate Him and what He stands for. Some of them would even be betrayed by fellow “Christians”, friends and family!

There are levels of persecution. Some persecution is just verbal – people belittling you – saying bad things to you or about you. Some of it is meant to humiliate you – people used to throw eggs or rotten tomatoes, or send a mule with a burr under his tail through the church. But some persecution is truly hateful – they want to shut you up even if they have to kill you. It is not just the Early Church who suffered persecution and death for their faith. In every generation, there have been those who lost their lives, their families and/or their possessions because of people motivated by Satan, who hate God and hate the Gospel. We need to remember to pray for our brothers and sisters around the world who are suffering today for their faith and keeping the Gospel flame alive despite terrible persecution.

The thing about persecution is that it has a tendency to sort out the true Christians from the fair-weather Christians. Those Christians who “play” church, who have pastors who “tickle” their ears, and who are not sold out to Jesus – will not be able to withstand the pressures of persecution. The vast majority of American Christians in America have never experienced anything more than mild persecution, if any, but Christians in other parts of the world have and still are suffering intense persecution. You have to ask yourself the hard questions: Am I sold out to Jesus? Would I still serve Him, and preach the Truth, if my life depended on it? Would I be prepared to give up my possessions, my relationships, my security and even my life, for the Gospel’s sake? Could I keep walking in love if a close friend betrayed me? You need to prepare your heart to withstand the pressure to conform and deny Jesus. Remember that other people died to preserve the truth of the Gospel and to pass it down the generations to reach you!

When you are pressured to give up and turn your back on Christ, don’t do it! When you are persecuted for the Gospel’s sake, don’t take it personally. God did not call us to give up nor to fight back in the flesh – He said that He would vindicate us. He just asks us to trust Him, obey Him, walk in love, and preach the Truth. Remember the benefits of staying strong. Jesus said that, “he who endures to the end shall be saved.” He also said that, “this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” We can be the Church who denies Jesus or the Church who stands strong and continues to fulfill the Great Commission no matter what it takes! Which Church are you?

THE RIGHTEOUS SHALL FLOURISH

The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. 13 Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. 14 They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing; 15 To shew that the Lord is upright: he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him. Psalms 92:12-15 KJV

The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree:
The Hebrew word “flourish” used here means: to bloom or blossom; to spread or grow; to fly (as extending the wings); to break forth; to break out; to spring up. Palm trees are known for their long life. To “flourish like a palm tree” means to stand tall and to live long. The AMP says that the righteous will be: long-lived, stately, upright, useful, and fruitful.

Palm trees have been important to humans throughout much of history. They are mentioned nearly 40 times in the Bible. Palm trees are among the best known and most widely cultivated plant families in the world. Palms can be found in every type of habitat, from rainforests to deserts – which means that they can grow almost anywhere. In barren soil palm trees are watered deep at the roots. They are not just functional in providing shade, but practically all the parts of the palm have a useful purpose. The fruit of the palm provided a great part of the diet of the East. Various palms also provide a great variety of usable materials – both in Bible days and now. The various parts of the palm tree produce highly nutritious foods, fruits, oils and syrups, waxes, dyes, medicines, varnish, raffia and palm woods. From the products of the palm tree, you can make furniture, baskets, doormats, brushes, mattresses, ropes, thatching and clothing. In many historical cultures, palms were symbols for victory, fertility, peace and plenty. Palms were laid before Jesus at His triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

The uncompromisingly righteous will be like a palm tree – long-lived, stately, upright, useful, and fruitful! They can grow, flourish and produce fruit anywhere in any conditions!

The righteous shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon:
The Hebrew word, “grow” means: to enlarge – especially upward; to grow; to grow up; to increase. The AMP says that the righteous: shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon – majestic, stable, durable, and incorruptible! Cedar trees were very important in Bible days. They have strong, beautiful wood and they were used to build very important and stately buildings, such as temples and palaces. The words cedar, cedars or cedar wood are found nearly 80 times in the Bible.

Cedar trees are large, evergreen trees, which live a very long time and grow very tall. The cedars of Lebanon were particularly large and of the best quality. Cedar trees are common in forest areas that have a good deal of annual rainfall. Cedar trees can live a long time, because the moist habitat they enjoy is relatively free of fire. Their wood is also very resistant to disease. The wood of cedar trees has a very pleasant smell, which comes from natural oils in the wood that are toxic to insects and fungus. These oils do not develop in the younger cedar trees, which often leads to the rotting of their heartwood, resulting in mature trees that have hollow trunks. Cedar trees have been very important to humans for thousands of years. Their wood was used to build buildings, canoes and boats, and other useful items. Their bark was used to make blankets and coverings. Cedar wood is also an excellent source of fuel.

They usually grow to a height of 50 feet, but some grow 80 to 100 or 120 feet tall and can be 30-40 feet around the trunk, thus, they were solid, strong, and immovable. Some are supposed to be 1,000 years old! Cedars express the ideas of majesty, durability, incorruptibility, and stability. The older they get, the better they get!

The uncompromisingly righteous shall grow up like a cedar in Lebanon – majestic, stable, durable, and incorruptible. Even though they may face challenges, they keep on going and keep on growing. They are honorable; they are incorruptible; they are solid, stable and immovable; they endure through the years and through the seasons of life; they have withstood the onslaught of sin, devils and demons; they have withstood sickness and disease; they only improve with age; they are clothed with strength and dignity; they will stand before kings; they will be held in honor. The righteous are upright, strong, and unmoved by the winds of circumstance. If you place your faith firmly in God, then you too can have and enjoy this strength and vitality and you will only get better with age!

They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing:
The Hebrew word for “bring forth fruit” means: to germinate; to cause to flourish; to bring forth fruit; to make cheerful; to increase. The word for “fat” means: fat; rich: fertile. The word translated “flourish” here, means: to be green; verdant; new; prosperous; flourishing.

The AMP says that the righteous are: growing in grace – they shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall continue to be full of the sap of spiritual vitality and rich in the verdure of trust, love, and contentment. Psalms 1:3 says that the man who trusts in the Lord and delights in His word is, “like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.” So if you honor the Lord, you will not grow old and weak and sickly and lose your faculties, like the rest of the world. Instead, you can expect to grow stronger; to increase, not decrease; to continue to bring forth fruit; to be fertile and productive and prosperous; and full of joy.

We – the righteous – are living memorials to the goodness of God. Our blessed lives show that the Lord is upright and faithful to His promises and also show that He is our Rock, and that there is no unrighteousness in Him!

Revival in Jacksonville