GO OUT OF YOUR WAY TO BLESS GOD AND HE WILL GO OUT OF HIS WAY TO BLESS YOU

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

One day Elisha went on to Shunem, where a rich and influential woman lived, who insisted on his eating a meal. Afterward, whenever he passed by, he stopped there for a meal. 9 And she said to her husband, Behold now, I perceive that this is a holy man of God who passes by continually. 10 Let us make a small chamber on the [housetop] and put there for him a bed, a table, a chair, and a lamp. Then whenever he comes to us, he can go [up the outside stairs and rest] here. 11 one day he came and turned into the chamber and lay there. 12 And he said to Gehazi his servant, Call this Shunammite. When he had called her, she stood before him. 13 And he said to Gehazi, Say now to her, You have been most painstakingly and reverently concerned for us; what is to be done for you? Would you like to be spoken for to the king or to the commander of the army? She answered, I dwell among my own people [they are sufficient]. 14 Later Elisha said, What then is to be done for her? Gehazi answered, She has no child and her husband is old. 15 He said, Call her. [Gehazi] called her, and she stood in the doorway. 16 Elisha said, At this season when the time comes round, you shall embrace a son. She said, No, my lord, you man of God, do not lie to your handmaid. 17 But the woman conceived and bore a son at that season the following year, as Elisha had said to her.  2 Kings 4:8-17 AMP

Shunem was a city in the tribe of Issachar that lay in the road between Samaria and Carmel, a road that Elisha often traveled. One day as Elisha passed through town, a rich and influential woman who lived there insisted that he stopped for a meal at her house. She did not give him an opportunity to say no thank you — she would not take no for an answer — she was going to be a blessing to him whether he liked it or not.  Fortunately, he liked it.  And after that, when ever he passed by, he stopped there for a meal.
She was not only rich and influential, but she was obviously deeply committed to the Lord.  She recognized that Elisha was a prophet of the Most High God and, out of respect for God, she desired to be a blessing to his prophet. She asked her husband for permission to provide a special room furnished with a bed, a table, a chair, and a lamp, exclusively for Elisha’s use.  Not only did she feed him, but she provided a private accommodation for him to use any time he needed it. This woman did not do this with any ulterior motives.  She did not do this so that she could brag to her friends that the prophet stayed in her house. She did this because she loved God, she recognized his messenger, and she simply wanted to bless the prophet, and in so doing, she blessed the Lord.  She did not expect anything from Elisha in return, she simply did what she felt was right.

One day while Elisha was lying upon his bed, in the rich woman’s house, he began to wonder what he could do for her.  I believe that the Holy Spirit stirred him up to begin to think about it.  He had some political influence and so he asked her if there was anything that he could do for her. He offered to use his influence for her in the king’s court, but she politely declined.  She did not need favor from man — she was already well connected politically.  What she did desire — only God could give her!

If Elisha could not intervene for her in the courts of men, he wondered if he could intervene on her behalf in the courts of heaven.  Elisha servant, Gehazi, thought he knew what she needed and told Elisha.  She was married, but had no children, and now her husband was old. Obviously it was very painful for her that she had borne no children, but she had had to give up on that dream.  She put it behind her and went on with her life and yet, deep down in her heart, the desire was still there. So Elisha told her that at the same time next year she would hold a son.  She became very emotional and said to the prophet, “Please don’t mess with my emotions — only speak the truth to me because I cannot bear to be disappointed once again after all this time.” Sure enough, the next year, against all odds her son was born.

Many times people only do what’s right in order to impress other people and to be seen of man.  Often they will only bless those who can bless them in return and do them some special favor. Before they do anything they always ask, “What’s in it for me?” They are selfishly motivated and they will never have the blessing of God on their life. Because the Shunammite woman honored God by being a blessing to his prophet, God went out of his way to bless her and to give her the secret desire of her heart. She did not pursue recognition or a reward — she pursued God — therefore God stirred up his prophet to speak out her heart’s desire and He blessed her with a baby boy — something that was impossible in the natural!

When you go out of your way to bless God and to be a blessing to His people — then he will pursue you and go out of His way to give you the desires of your heart — even if they are impossible in the natural!

THE LORD WILL GIVE YOU VICTORY THROUGH YOUR OBEDIENCE

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

Now when David and his men came home to Ziklag on the third day, they found that the Amalekites had made a raid on the South (the Negeb) and on Ziklag, and had struck Ziklag and burned it with fire, 2 And had taken the women and all who were there, both great and small, captive. They killed no one, but carried them off and went on their way. 3 So David and his men came to the town, and behold, it was burned, and their wives and sons and daughters were taken captive. 4 Then David and the men with him lifted up their voices and wept until they had no more strength to weep. 5 David’s two wives also had been taken captive, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess and Abigail, the widow of Nabal the Carmelite. 6 David was greatly distressed, for the men spoke of stoning him because the souls of them all were bitterly grieved, each man for his sons and daughters. But David encouraged and strengthened himself in the Lord his God.  1 Samuel 30:1-6 AMP

David went through some very, very hard and difficult things in his life. The only way he made it through these things was by his humility. He put God first place in his life – he respected, honored, and worshiped God, and gave Him the credit, in every situation. He submitted himself to God in everything and he did not try to fight battles in his own strength. When you are in a position of leadership, you are the one who is praised when things go well and you are the one who is blamed when things go wrong. If you want to be a great leader, you cannot afford allow praise to go to your head and to be lifted up in pride when things go well. Neither can you afford to react negatively, toward yourself or others, when things go wrong. In the middle of his intense pain over the loss of his own family and the threats against himself, by his own men, David turned to the Lord. David encouraged and strengthened himself in the Lord his God. He remembered God’s promises to him and he put his trust in the Lord.

David went to the Lord to ask for direction. The Lord told him to pursue the enemy and that he would surely overtake them and recover all that was taken. David took only 400 men with him, because 200 of them were too exhausted and faint to cross the brook Besor. On the way, his men found an Egyptian in the field and brought him to David. He had not had food or water for three days so they gave him bread, figs and raisins to eat and water to drink. As it turned out, he was a servant of an Amalekite, who had left him behind because he had fallen ill. He told David that the Amalekites had raided several cities, including Ziklag. David asked the servant to take him down to this band and he did, after making David promise to neither kill him nor deliver him into the hands of his master.

God told David that he would prevail and win the victory, but He never told him that he would meet an Egyptian, who would help him. David’s men could have minded their own business, as they passed him by, ignored his plight, and left him to die, being selfishly focused only on their mission to recover their families and property. They would have missed their opportunity to gain a valuable advantage over a powerful enemy. However, they did what was right in God’s eyes, showed kindness and saved his life. They had no idea that this act of mercy would be the key that would open the door, leading them to their victory. Do not only do what the Holy Spirit tells you personally and specifically to do – do what God generally tells you to do in His Word. A small key – a small action – can lock or unlock a huge door! Don’t be so busy with your own stuff that you miss an opportunity to show mercy and kindness to someone else who needs it. Don’t forget what is most important to the Lord and don’t forget why you are here – to be a giver and not just a taker. Don’t be disobedient to God’s Word and then blame Him for your defeat, when you are the one who missed your opportunity to do the right thing!

And when he had brought David down, behold, the raiders were spread abroad over all the land, eating and drinking and dancing because of all the great spoil they had taken from the land of the Philistines and from the land of Judah. 17 And David smote them from twilight even to the evening of the next day, and not a man of them escaped, except 400 youths who rode camels and fled. 18 David recovered all that the Amalekites had taken and rescued his two wives. 19 Nothing was missing, small or great, sons or daughters, spoil or anything that had been taken; David recovered all. 20 Also David captured all the flocks and herds [which the enemy had], and the people drove those animals before him and said, This is David’s spoil.  1 Samuel 30:16-20 AMP

God gave David a great victory and restored everyone and everything that was taken, together with the additional spoil from the other tribes and cities that had been raided by the Amalekites. When David arrived back to the brook Besor, where the 200 exhausted men had stopped and waited, some of David’s men who had gone with him, did not want to share any of the recovered goods with those who did not fight. In other words, they were personally taking the credit for the victory. Instead, David spoke to them about being grateful to the Lord, Who was the One Who had saved them, and about sharing equally with those who had stayed behind. In God’s eyes, when you are obedient, everyone counts and every job well done – whether fighting the battle or waiting with the baggage – is worthy of a reward.

PREVENTING STRIFE AND DIVISION – PART 3

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

Proverbs 6:19 says that God hates “he who sows discord (or strife) among his brethren.”

What leads to strife (discord and feuds) and how do conflicts (quarrels and fightings) originate among you? Do they not arise from your sensual desires that are ever warring in your bodily members? 2 You are jealous and covet [what others have] and your desires go unfulfilled; [so] you become murderers. [To hate is to murder as far as your hearts are concerned.] You burn with envy and anger and are not able to obtain [the gratification, the contentment, and the happiness that you seek], so you fight and war. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3[Or] you do ask [God for them] and yet fail to receive, because you ask with wrong purpose and evil, selfish motives. Your intention is [when you get what you desire] to spend it in sensual pleasures. James 4:1-3 AMP

In the Body of Christ, strife between believers is caused by the sensual desires that are constantly warring in their own bodies. The root of strife is in the individual himself or herself. Most of the time, it does not occur to the person who is stirring up the strife that they actually causing it – they are convinced that it is the other person’s fault! Strife is caused when people are jealous of what other people have – they covet their blessings. If you pointed out to most strife-causers that the root of their desire to fight with others is jealousy and covetousness, they would probably be shocked and surprised to learn what is really in their own heart. If you are armed with this truth, you will be able to recognize when your carnal nature is being stirred up with covetousness and jealousy and you will be better able to stop it in it’s tracks, and even avoid it completely, by allowing the Word of God and the Holy Spirit to regulate your thought life and to help you overcome your own flesh in these areas.

Cleaning up your life in this area is not optional – it is crucial. God commands that you face your sin and deal with it, because it will destroy your life and the lives of those with whom you war and fight. When you jealously covet another person’s blessings, you demonstrate that you have no faith in God to provide for you, too. There are two reasons you will not be blessed: one is because you don’t expect God to provide for you, so you don’t ask, and the other is that you are greedy and even when you do ask God for things, it is with a totally wrong motive. God cannot answer a prayer that is never prayed and He will not answer a prayer that is prayed with evil, selfish motives. When you behave like this, you just shoot yourself in the foot as far as God is concerned. If you want God’s blessing then stop being jealous of others, stop wanting what they have, be happy that they are blessed, start to find out what God requires of you, become a giver not a taker, find out how you can be a blessing to others, be motivated to be a blessing to others at all times, let your requests be made known unto God, and trust God to supply everything you need!

For you, brethren, were [indeed] called to freedom; only [do not let your] freedom be an incentive to your flesh and an opportunity or excuse [for selfishness], but through love you should serve one another. 14 For the whole Law [concerning human relationships] is complied with in the one precept, You shall love your neighbor as [you do] yourself. 15 But if you bite and devour one another [in partisan strife], be careful that you [and your whole fellowship] are not consumed by one another. 16 But I say, walk and live [habitually] in the [Holy] Spirit [responsive to and controlled and guided by the Spirit]; then you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh (of human nature without God).  Galatians 5:13-16 AMP

Fill up and complete my joy by living in harmony and being of the same mind and one in purpose, having the same love, being in full accord and of one harmonious mind and intention. 3 Do nothing from factional motives [through contentiousness, strife, selfishness, or for unworthy ends] or prompted by conceit and empty arrogance. Instead, in the true spirit of humility (lowliness of mind) let each regard the others as better than and superior to himself [thinking more highly of one another than you do of yourselves]. 4 Let each of you esteem and look upon and be concerned for not [merely] his own interests, but also each for the interests of others.  Philippians 2:2-4 AMP

If you want to avoid strife and be blessed in every way you must be motivated by the love of God – you must know that God loves YOU and you must know that He loves everyone else, too: you must love God and love people as you love yourself; you must serve others in and through the love of God; you must walk and live in the Holy Spirit as a habit; you must be controlled and guided by the Holy Spirit; you must be sensitive to Him and responsive to Him; you must not give in to your carnal nature – do not gratify the cravings and the desires of your flesh; you must not be motivated by selfishness or contentiousness; do not be prompted by conceit or arrogance; you must have a humble estimation of yourself; don’t think of yourself as better than anyone else; think more highly of others than yourself; do not think only of your own interests – what you want and what you need; think about the interests of others; think about how you can help them and bless them. If we will love others, stop focusing on ourselves alone, and reach out to bless and to be a blessing, we will cut all the strife out of our lives and God will be pleased!

TRULY GOD IS ONLY GOOD Psalms 73

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

Revival in Jacksonville