ENCOURAGE YOURSELF IN THE LORD

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

For even when we arrived in Macedonia, our bodies had no ease or rest, but we were oppressed in every way and afflicted at every turn – fighting and contentions without, dread and fears within [us]. 6 But God, Who comforts and encourages and refreshes and cheers the depressed and the sinking, comforted and encouraged and refreshed and cheered us by the arrival of Titus. 7 [Yes] and not only by his coming but also by [his account of] with which he was encouraged and refreshed and cheered as to, while he told us of your yearning affection, of how sorry you were [for me] and how eagerly you took my part, so that I rejoiced still more.  2 Corinthians 7:5-7 AMP

We can all find reasons to be sad or depressed or angry or bitter with life, with circumstances, with other people or even with God. Even Paul went through some moments of discouragement and of feeling sorry for himself. Some people fall into depression very easily, but even normally very positive people experience a certain amount of mental and physical pressure in their daily lives and can be tempted from time to time to think negative thoughts and to begin to feel depressed. It is easier to feel better and have a more positive outlook when you are refreshed, when your body and mind have had some rest and comfort. However, when you have had no opportunity to rest and refresh yourself, when you are pressured from every side, fighting and contentions without, dread and fears within – if it isn’t one thing it is another – then it is not hard to become really discouraged and depressed.

In their discouragement, depression and despair, many people even become angry with God for their circumstances. This is because we don’t think that it could have anything to do with us at all and we choose to find fault with someone or something outside of ourselves. We think – wrongly – that God is our servant and that He is supposed to line everything up in our lives in a way that should always benefit us. We are fine until something goes wrong, or until we are inconvenienced and then we throw our little tantrum, we blame God and everybody else for our problems, and we sink into feeling sorry for ourselves and into discouragement and depression. Many times, the depression and discouragement we feel involves a fair amount of ungratefulness. We do not consider nor appreciate God’s blessing upon our lives.

We need to remember that God gives us a choice of good and bad, death and life, cursing or blessing. We live in an imperfect world and are subject to that world system. We need to remind ourselves that God is not our problem, but He is our answer. Stuff happens, but God is our way out. It is God, Who comforts and encourages and refreshes and cheers the depressed and the sinking! If you are a child of God then it is God Who is the One Who is on our side. God is the One Who is for us not against us. When we remember that God is the answer, then we will begin to be grateful for His blessings and we will become encouraged once again.

So David and his men came to the city, and, behold, it was burned with fire; and their wives, and their sons, and their daughters, were taken captives. 4 Then David and the people that were with him lifted up their voice and wept, until they had no more power to weep. 5 And David’s two wives were taken captives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the wife of Nabal the Carmelite. 6 And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.  1 Samuel 30:3-6 KJV

The NKJV says, “But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God.” And the NIV says, “But David found strength in the LORD his God.”

The Israelite men were grieved at the destruction of their city and the loss of their wives and families. Then they became angry and bitter and they looked for someone to blame. David was as upset as they were, plus he felt the pressure of being at the receiving end of the wrath of his men. Then David did something that was key to his survival and key to his prosperity and the blessing of God upon his life – he turned to the Lord instead of from Him. Many times we take the tragedies of our lives as a sign that God doesn’t like us anymore, but that is not true. Many times, we trust in the strength of our own hand, but at times like these, God is the only One we can turn to and Hewill come through for us.

David was successful, because he chose to encourage himself in the LORD his God. David strengthened himself in the LORD his God. David found his strength in the LORD his God. When we feel discouraged, disheartened and depressed, we need to remind ourselves that God loves us, He is on our side, He is working for us not against us, and He is the way out, the answer to all our problems and the source of all we need.

GOD’S WAYS ARE HIGHER THAN OURS

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

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,”

 declares the LORD. 9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV

God’s ways are higher than our ways. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are His ways higher than our ways and His thoughts than our thoughts. But what are His ways? People use this scripture to justify their theories about God. They make ignorant and misguided statements about God, His character, His ways, His thoughts and intentions and then tell us that we cannot understand God – that His plans and purposes do not make sense. But that is just not true!

God and His ways make perfect sense. Even though we cannot fully know God here on earth – it is only because of our human limitations – not because God is hiding His nature, character and intentions from us, because He has already revealed Himself to us in His Word and by His Spirit. Let us look at what God says about Himself right before He says that His ways are higher than ours.

Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. 7 Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.  Isaiah 55:6-7 NIV

God is a merciful God. He freely pardons those who turn to Him. He chooses to forgive us. In fact He longs to show us His mercy. He is not willing to abandon us to our destruction. We are given the choice, to choose life or death, blessing or cursing, but God’s plan and desire for us is life and blessing! (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 24 I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” 25 The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;

26 it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.

Lamentations 3:22-26 NIV

For men are not cast off by the Lord forever. 32 Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. 33 For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men.  Lamentations 3:31-33 NIV

Because God is a good, kind, loving, compassionate God – and He never changes – mankind has been graciously spared through the ages even though we have severely tested God’s patience, love, grace and forgiveness.

“For I am the LORD, I do not change; therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob.  Malachi 3:6 NKJV

“I the LORD do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. 7 Ever since the time of your forefathers you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the LORD Almighty.  Malachi 3:6-7 NIV

As high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is God’s love for those who fear Him. In our mind, God should hate us and be angry with us, because we are all sinners. He should punish us, because we deserve it. We also think that God should send all those who offend us, wrong us, or who commit evil against us straight to hell with no chance of redemption. In our ungodly, human thinking – without the washing of the water of the word – we expect God to behave as we would if we had the fate of our enemy in our control. However God does not behave as we think He would. He responds with grace – and it is this grace that we cannot begin to understand unless we allow God to do a work in our heart and the Word to renew our minds.

The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.

9 He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; 10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. 13 As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; 14 for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. 15 As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; 16 the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. 17 But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children–18 with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.  Psalms 103:8-18 NIV

The LORD has compassion on those who fear him just as a father has compassion on his children. From everlasting to everlasting the love of the Lord is extended toward those who fear him, and who keep his covenant and who obey his precepts. His righteousness is offered to their children’s children. God is a good God and it is His ways of His grace, mercy and forgiveness that are beyond our human comprehension and higher than ours.

ANSWERED PRAYER – PART FOUR

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

The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working].  James 5:16b AMP

When a righteous man prays a continued, earnest, heartfelt, prayer, there is a tremendous power that is released – a dynamic active power that effectively goes to work – producing the desired result. If you want your prayers to be answered, there are a few things that you must do to ensure the desired result – you must walk righteously before the Lord, you must pray sincerely and fervently and you must pray according to God’s will.

1 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. 3 when you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.   James 4:1-3 NIV

James tells you that you don’t have the things that you want, because you have not asked God for them. Many times, people do terrible things to each other, because instead of looking to the Father as their source and supply, they look to get things from other people. They are jealous over their neighbor’s stuff and they covet it. They see it, they want it and they go to help themselves to it – instead of working for their own stuff or asking for it from the Lord. Christians, especially have no business coveting and fighting over their neighbor’s stuff – they should know where to go to get it – from God. And when you do ask for stuff, make sure that you ask with the right motive. Your heart must be yielded to the Lord – He is not your servant, but He is your Master! Don’t ask for selfish things that only gratify your own flesh. God will bless you, but He expects you to be a blessing to others, too.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  Philippians 4:6 NIV

Don’t worry! Ask your Father! In everything by prayer and petition and supplication – let God know what it is you want. When you get to heaven, you cannot go to God to complain about all the things that He never gave you that you never asked for! If you ask correctly, then He will answer. He will give you the things that you ask for in faith. You must persist in your faith and your asking as if you expect an answer and you will get one.

7 And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.   Matthew 6:7-8 NKJV

Being persistent in your heart and your faith and your prayers is not the same as praying the same thing over and over and over and over. Jesus tells you not to use vain repetitions like the heathen do – saying the same words over and over. The heathen think that God will hear them and answer them if they say the same thing enough times, but whether they realize it or not, they are trying to manipulate God and He doesn’t respond to manipulation. God responds to our faith and our obedience. Most of the time people try to get God to do things for them, but they don’t want a relationship with Him. However, God wants us to build a relationship with Him first and foremost. He knows what you need before you ask and the moment you ask Him correctly, He moves to bring the answer to your prayer to you.

18 Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 19 This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence 20 whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 21 Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22 and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. 24 Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.  1 John 3:18-24 NIV

How do you know if God is listening to your prayers? If your heart is right with God, then His Word says that He hears your prayers. If you have a relationship with God and His Spirit lives in you, then your heart will keep you in line and make sure that you have a good attitude and that you stay willing and obedient. Sin negatively affects your relationship with the Father. If your heart convicts you of sin, then you know that it is time to repent before you come to God to ask for anything. If your heart is at peace with God, then you can boldly come into His presence to ask for what you need. First you obey, then you ask and then you receive.

PUT AWAY UNRIGHTEOUSNESS FAR FROM YOUR HOUSE

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

Job 22:23

If you return to the Almighty [and submit and humble yourself before Him], you will be built up; if youput away unrighteousness far from your tents. AMP

If thou return to the Almighty, thou shalt be built up, thou shalt put away iniquity far from thy tabernacles. KJV

If you return to God and put right all the wrong in your home, then you will be restored. TLB

Job 22:23 says that you must put away iniquity and unrighteousness from your tabernacle – the place you live – your tent or your home. The tabernacle could be the tabernacle of your attitude, the tabernacle of your body, the tabernacle of your house, or the tabernacle of your family. If you want the blessing of God on your life, then you need to humble your heart, submit to the Lord, and deal with and eliminate any form of sin – whether in thought or deed, in your heart or in your home.

132 Turn to me and have mercy on me, as you always do to those who love your name. 133 Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.  Psalms 119:132-133 NIV

Sin, iniquity, and unrighteousness seek to dominate, control and destroy you. You may think that you are in control of sin, but once you yield to it, sin is always in control of you. The only way to be free of sin is to confess your sin, to ask God for forgiveness and to yield to righteousness.

Psalms 66:18-19

18 If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear. 19 But certainly God has heard me; He has attended to the voice of my prayer. NKJV

18 If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened;

19 but God has surely listened. NIV

18 He would not have listened if I had not confessed my sins. 19 But he listened! He heard my prayer! He paid attention to it! TLB

The first place that sin abides that must be dealt with is our own heart and mind. This is the root that must be eliminated in order to prevent the growth of the trunk, the branches and, eventually, the fruit.

20 He went on: “What comes out of a man is what makes him `unclean.’ 21 For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 23 All these evils come from inside and make a man `unclean.'”  Mark 7:20-23 NIV

In order to get rid of sin, you must expose it. You must confess it to the Lord and receive His forgiveness.

5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”–and you forgave the guilt of my sin.  Psalms 32:5 NIV

The second place that you must deal with sin is in your body.

12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.  Romans 6:12-14 NIV

12 Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation-but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, 14 because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.  Romans 8:12-14 NIV

Deal with sin in your own heart and mind and then in your body. Then deal with and eliminate all sin from your house and your family. Charles Finney would not allow anyone – relative or friend – into his house or around his children, if he thought that they would be used by the devil to corrupt either their morals or their manners. You should set the standard in your home and your family. Do not allow sin in your house – chase it away when it comes knocking at your door – so that God’s blessing is welcome to come to reside and abide at your house. You need to decide whom it is that you serve. If you serve God then sin must be ousted from out of your house!

19 Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”  2 Timothy2:19 NKJV

TO THE ANGEL OF THE CHURCH IN SMYRNA

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

“To the angel of the church in Smyrna write:

These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again. 9 I know your afflictions and your poverty-yet you are rich! I know the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. 11 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death.   Revelation 2:8-11 NIV

Smyrna is a city which lay on a gulf with the same name. It lay a little north of Ephesus. Around about 627 BC, the original city was destroyed. It lay deserted and in ruins for four hundred years. The new city was built a short distance south of the ancient one, and became the finest city in Asia Minor. It was known as “the glory of Asia.” It was one of the cities which claimed the honor of being the poet, Homer’s, birthplace. The Smyrnaeans erected a splendid temple to his memory. Apparently, he was said to have composed his poems in a cave in the neighborhood of the city. Smyrna’s fine harbor made it a commercial center; but it was also well known for its schools of rhetoric and philosophy. The city was a seat of the worship of Cybele the Mother of the gods, and of Dionysus or Bacchus. The church of Smyrna suffered much from persecution and Polycarp, who was the first bishop of this church, was said to have been martyred in the stadium of the city, A.D. 166 at the instigation of and with the support of the Jews.

“These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again.” Jesus Christ is the first and the last. He is the first – for by Him all things were made. He was before all things with God and was God himself. He is the last, for all things are made for Him, and He will be the Judge of all. Jesus is God from everlasting to everlasting. He is an unchangeable Mediator between God and man. Jesus is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. He was dead and is alive. He was dead, and died for our sins; He is alive, for He rose again for our justification, and He ever lives to make intercession for us. He was dead, and by dying purchased salvation for us; He is alive, and by His life applies this salvation to us.

“I know your afflictions and your poverty-yet you are rich!” They may have been poor in goods, but they were rich toward God and rich in grace – their spiritual riches being set off by their outward poverty. Where there is spiritual plenty, outward poverty may be easier to bear. When, for the sake of Christ and a good conscience, God’s people are impoverished in natural goods, He makes all up to them in spiritual riches, which are much more satisfying and enduring. Obviously they suffered powerful persecutions and tribulations, even to the spoiling of their goods, which contributed to their poverty. They were willing rather to give up their goods and have Jesus, than to deny Him and have plenty and therefore they were spiritually prosperous. Not one of these sacrifices went unnoticed by Jesus.

“I know the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.”  Jesus is aware of the enemies of the cross and of His people – they will not get away with the things they say and do to the true church. They may claim to be God’s people, but they are tools of the devil, used to do his work. They may claim to represent God as they persecute the people of God, but they will be judged and punished for their blasphemy. Their cousins are still around today. In Smyrna, the Jews claimed to be the only truth even as they supported the murder of Christians, but they were full of and used of the devil. Even today, there are so-called Christians who claim to be the only ones who hold the truth as they persecute the people of God. They are as much the “synagogue of Satan” as were the Jews who violently persecuted the church in Smyrna in the first century.

“Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.”  God foreknows the future trials of His people, He forewarns them of them, and fore-arms them against them. They are prepared and also encouraged, because they know that God is with them and there is a reward awaiting them. Jesus proposes and promises a glorious reward to their fidelity: a crown of life – a crown, to reward their poverty, their fidelity, and their conflict. A crown of life, to reward those who are faithful even unto death, who are faithful till they die, and who part with life itself in fidelity to Christ. The life so worn out in his service, or laid down in his cause, shall be rewarded with another and a much better life that shall be eternal.

“He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death.”  There is not only a first, but a second death, a death after the body is dead. The expression, “second death” is peculiar to the Book of Revelation. It is defined as “the lake of fire” – the death awaiting the wicked after judgment.

In the book of Revelation, everyone can see and hear what passes between Christ and His churches – how He commends them, how He comforts them, how He reproves their failures, and how He rewards their fidelity. As the world observes God’s dealings with His own people, they may learn instruction and wisdom from it.

 

TO THE ANGEL OF THE CHURCH IN PERGAMUM

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

Revelation 2:12-17 NIV

“To the angel of the church in Pergamum write:

These are the words of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword. 13 I know where you live-where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city-where Satan lives. 14 Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: You have people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality. 15 Likewise you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. 16 Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. 17 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.

Pergamum was situated in Teuthrania in Mysia, in the Caicus Valley, about fifty-five miles north-east of Smyrna. It was in a district watered by three rivers, one of which flowed into the sea. The original city was built on a lofty hill, which afterward became the citadel as houses sprang up around its base. It was a great political and religious center. Eumenes II (B.C. 197-159) extended Pergamum and embellished it with many great buildings, including a fantastic library with 200,000 volumes, which was second only to Alexandria. The kingdom of Pergamum became a Roman province 130 BC. All the main roads of Western Asia converged there. Pliny called it “by far the most illustrious city of Asia.”

Pergamum was celebrated for the manufacture of ointments, pottery, tapestries, and also parchment, which derives its name (charta Pergamena) from the city. The great glory of the city was the Nicephorium, a grove of great beauty containing an assemblage of temples – belonging to Zeus, Athena, and Dionysos – rivaling Ephesus. Next to this was the celebrated and much-frequented grove and temple of AEsculapius (or Asklepios), the god of healing, with a university for medical study. AEsculapius was also called the god of Pergamum, worshipped in the form of a living serpent, kept and fed in the temple. On the coins struck by the town, he often appears with a rod encircled by a serpent.

The city has been described as a sort of cross between a pagan cathedral-city, a university-town, and a royal residence. It was enlarged and improved during a succession of years by several wealthy kings. Pergamum was the first city in Asia (A.D. 29) with a temple for the worship of Augustus (Octavius Caesar). Hence, in the Apocalypse, Pergamum is a very center of emperor-worship “where Satan dwells.” The Nicolaitans also flourished here as in Ephesus and Thyatira. Like Ephesus, this city is called temple-sweeper (neookoros) for the gods. All forms of pagan ungodliness prevailed openly in this city.

In Numbers, chapters 22 through 24, Balak tried to get Balaam to curse the Israelites, but all he could do is bless them because God would not allow him to curse them. He knew what was right and wrong, and yet he chose to ignore his conscience, oppose God’s will, and do what was wrong. He could not curse Israel or do anything to destroy them from the outside, so he tried to do it from the inside – he encouraged the daughters of Midian and Moab into sexual relationships with the Israelite men. In this way, the introduced the worship of Baal of Peor into the Israelite camp and brought a curse upon Israel (Numbers 31:16). The sins of Balaam were idol worship, including eating foods offered to idols, and sexual immorality.

The Church in Pergamum remained faithful to the name of Jesus Christ, even though they suffered persecution and were surrounded by extreme ungodliness on every side. However, they had been a little too tolerant of those among them who clung to vile and immoral, ungodly beliefs and practices. This was unacceptable to the Lord and He calls on them to repent or else He would deal with them using His two-edged sword – the sword of the word – bringing judgment upon them.

“To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna.”  Jesus is the Manna – the Bread from heaven – hidden from all, and unappreciated by all, except those who embrace Him. He is the life and sustenance of those who love Him and love His Word. He is all we need!

I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.”  The white stone was regarded as a token of favor, prosperity, victory or success everywhere. It represents your allegiance. The white stone also represents heaven and the presence of God. In some cultures, it was the prize the victor received for winning the competition. As such, it would denote that the Christian, to whom it was given, would meet with the favor of the Redeemer and would have a token of his approval. In eternity, the favor and approval of man counts for nothing, but the favor and approval of Almighty God means everything!

THE POWER IN THE LIVING WORD

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

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.  Hebrews 4:12 NIV

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 55:11 AMP

God’s Word is alive and active and it is always productive and prosperous. When God wants to do something, He speaks it and it happens. There is power in His Word! God’s Word always produces and what it produces is always positive and always good. It is never useless, ineffective, or unproductive when it comes out of God’s mouth. God’s Word accomplishes what He pleases and purposes and it prospers in the thing for which He sends it. If you believe God’s Word and speak it in faith, it will produce for you too.

The devil knows the awesome power of the Word of God and he knows that he is powerless before, and defeated by, the Word. He does not want you to know the power of God’s Word, because you will use it against him to thwart his evil plans and to defeat him, and so he works to a) keep you ignorant of God’s Word, b) to get you to mix it in and dilute it with religion and tradition, and c) for you not to believe in it.

IGNORANCE
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.  Hosea 4:6a AMP

God’s Word is the evidence that God is in control and that the devil is defeated. The Word gives you the key to being free of the devil’s influence and control and the key to living a victorious life. If you don’t know what God’s Word says, you don’t know what your rights and privileges are and you have no knowledge and no ability to defend yourself against the devil, giving him an opportunity to destroy your life.

RELIGION AND TRADITION
But He said to them, Excellently and truly [so that there will be no room for blame] did Isaiah prophesy of you, the pretenders and hypocrites, as it stands written: These people [constantly] honor Me with their lips, but their hearts hold off and are far distant from Me. 7 In vain (fruitlessly and without profit) do they worship Me, ordering and teaching [to be obeyed] as doctrines the commandments and precepts of men. 8 You disregard and give up and ask to depart from you the commandment of God and cling to the tradition of men [keeping it carefully and faithfully]. 9 And He said to them, You have a fine way of rejecting [thus thwarting and nullifying and doing away with] the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition (your own human regulations)! 10 For Moses said, Honor (revere with tenderness of feeling and deference) your father and your mother, and, He who curses or reviles or speaks evil of or abuses or treats improperly his father or mother, let him surely die. 11 But [as for you] you say, A man is exempt if he tells [his] father or [his] mother, What you would otherwise have gained from me [everything I have that would have been of use to you] is Corban, that is, is a gift [already given as an offering to God], 12 Then you no longer are permitting him to do anything for [his] father or mother [but are letting him off from helping them]. 13 Thus you are nullifying and making void and of no effect [the authority of] the Word of God through your tradition, which you [in turn] hand on. And many things of this kind you are doing.  Mark 7:6-13 AMP

Religious tradition is the invention of man, not God. The devil uses tradition to dilute the Word of God and also to distract people from what is truly important. People worship God, but the Word says that they do it in vain when they reject the commandment of God and cling to religious tradition. Religious tradition nullifies the Word of God and makes it ineffective in your life, opening a door for the devil to keep you defeated and in bondage.

UNBELIEF
For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.  Hebrews 4:2 KJV

The Word of God can be preached to you, but unless you believe it and have faith in it then it is dead to you – it will not profit you or benefit you and it will have no value to you. You have to mix faith with the Word of God.

What do you need to do to prosper and be blessed as God has planned for you? A) Study God’s Word and His commandments – believe them, receive them, obey them, and do them. B) Focus on God’s Word and keep your attention on it. Do not allow religious tradition to distract you or disarm you. Keep God’s Word in your mind and heart and mouth. C) Speak it in faith and see it go forth and produce good fruit as you promote God’s will and His kingdom on the earth.

PUT ON THE WHOLE ARMOR OF GOD

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

In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [be empowered through your union with Him]; draw your strength from Him [that strength which His boundless might provides]. Ephesians 6:10 AMP

The words “be strong” mean: to acquire strength; strengthen; enable; be strong; increase in strength. In yourself you are not equipped to successfully conquer the devil or the flesh or any other trial or tribulation that comes your way. Without God’s help you would fail and be crushed by the enemies of life, but with His help and strength you can do all things.

Put on God’s whole armor [the armor of a heavy-armed soldier which God supplies], that you may be able successfully to stand up against [all] the strategies and the deceits of the devil. Ephesians 6:11 AMP

God’s armor is something you put on like a garment, but unlike natural clothing, you do not put it on every morning and take it off every night. It is supernatural clothing – you put it on and keep it on. Look carefully at the armor and you will see what you need to do to clothe yourself in it. As you grow in God and in His Word and Spirit, the armor will begin to cover you.

For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere. Ephesians 6:12 AMP

Your warfare is not against other people, but against the spirits of darkness that are behind them. Look beyond the natural, see into the spirit and take authority, in the Name of Jesus, over the demons and devils that are working in that situation. Neutralize them by the power of God’s word and you will be able to make an impact in the lives of people who desperately need Jesus!

Therefore put on God’s complete armor, that you may be able to resist and stand your ground on the evil day [of danger], and, having done all [the crisis demands], to stand [firmly in your place]. Ephesians 6:13 AMP

There are two kinds of armor: defensive armor for protection and offensive armor for conquest. The defensive armor is the helmet, the girdle, the breastplate, the brazen boots, and the shield. The offensive armor is the sword. “Having done all to stand, stand” is a military phrase meaning “having conquered all, stand; ready to do battle again.

Stand therefore [hold your ground], having tightened the belt of truth around your loins and having put on the breastplate of integrity and of moral rectitude and right standing with God, Ephesians 6:14 AMP

Be equipped with the truth. Be prepared to give up your will and your opinions and embrace the truth of God’s word. Allow God to do a purifying work in your life. God’s word will bring life and freedom to your life. James 4:7 KJV says “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” No army goes to war without having trained their troops. In the training process, the individual will of the soldier is broken and yielded to the will of his commanders. The army of God must yield to the Lord to be purged of all self-will and become motivated only by the Spirit and the plans and purposes of God. When you are completely submitted to God, you will walk in integrity and righteousness. Your righteousness will protect you in the same way a breastplate protects your vital organs. The enemy may come against you, but he will not be able to deliver a fatal blow.

And having shod your feet in preparation [to face the enemy with the firm-footed stability, the promptness, and the readiness produced by the good news] of the Gospel of peace. Ephesians 6:15 AMP

Prepare yourself with the word of God. Know His word and be able to share this gospel of peace with those who have never heard. “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring glad tidings!” (Romans 10:15 AMP)

Lift up over all the [covering] shield of saving faith, upon which you can quench all the flaming missiles of the wicked [one]. Ephesians 6:16 AMP

You have a shield called faith – you must lift up and use it to protect yourself from the devil’s fiery darts. The fiery darts refer to any kind of missile thrown or launched, such as the javelin, spear, arrow, or stone from a sling. In traditional warfare, fiery darts are combustible arrowheads that set fire to the fortifications, ships, houses, and even the wooden and leather shields of the enemy. To quench these fiery darts, shield were coated with metal. As applied to Christian warfare, fiery darts refer to evil thoughts, lusts, passions, and temptations of various kinds.

And take the helmet of salvation and the sword that the Spirit wields, which is the Word of God. Ephesians 6:17 AMP

The Greek word translated “take” here also means “to receive” or “to accept.” Jesus rescued us and delivered us from death and sin and anything else hell has to offer. Receive and accept His salvation for your spirit, soul and body. Allow the Word of God to wash and renew your mind. Get to know God’s word thoroughly. Then, by faith, pick up the word of God and skillfully use it against the enemy. Jesus is your example. He fended off the attack of the enemy with the word of God: “It is written!” The armor of God gives you the ability to stand against all enemies, to withstand all attacks, and to quench every fiery dart of Satan. When you are properly equipped with the armor of God, you will be victorious!

JESUS – OUR RULER AND LAWGIVER

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

For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father [of Eternity], Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of His government and of peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from the [latter] time forth, even forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.  Isaiah 9:6-7 AMP

Jesus Christ, the Messiah, is our Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and our Prince of Peace! He was born to rule. Not only was He born to rule, He earned the right to rule by His sacrifice – His death, burial, and resurrection. His authority is over everything and everyone in the entire universe! The devil is not in charge – Jesus is. Adam gave the authority, given him by God, to the devil when he ate the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Then Jesus took this authority back from the devil and gave it back to all those who love Him and serve Him.

Unfortunately, at this time, Jesus cannot just wipe the devil from the face of the earth without wiping out all those who still belong to the devil – people who have not yet made Jesus the Lord of their lives. Jesus wants them to have the opportunity to receive Him as Lord and Savior – so, for now the devil has a limited lease on the earth. However, the Word of God says that of the increase of Jesus’ government and of peace there shall be no end! In the end, Jesus will have the last word. The devil will be done away with and Jesus will rule ALL. Peace will prevail!

Right now – peace rules in the lives of all those who receive His leadership in their lives. Jesus rules over and upholds His kingdom with justice and with righteousness. Justice and righteousness is what upholds and extends the Kingdom of God. It is the Law of the universe – that which is good and right and truth will always endure beyond that which is not.

The scepter or leadership shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until Shiloh [the Messiah, the Peaceful one] comes to Whom it belongs, and to Him shall be the obedience of the people. 11 Binding His foal to the vine and His donkey’s colt to the choice vine, He washes His garments in wine and His clothes in the blood of grapes.  Genesis 49:10-11 AMP

The scepter represents authority. Jesus is our Ruler and Lawgiver. He commands respect and obedience. The foal represents royalty – royalty would ride on white foals. The vine represents the Body of Christ and wine represents the Holy Spirit. This scripture prophesies that Jesus would be the Prince of Peace – anointed by the Holy Spirit. Jesus fills us, the branches of His vine, with His Holy Spirit.

After that I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse [appeared]! The one Who was riding it is called Faithful (Trustworthy, Loyal, Incorruptible, Steady) and True, and He passes judgment and wages war in righteousness (holiness, justice, and uprightness). 12 His eyes [blaze] like a flame of fire, and on His head are many kingly crowns (diadems); and He has a title (name) inscribed which He alone knows or can understand. 13 He is dressed in a robe dyed by dipping in blood, and the title by which He is called is The Word of God. 14 And the troops of heaven, clothed in fine linen, dazzling and clean, followed Him on white horses. 15 From His mouth goes forth a sharp sword with which He can smite (afflict, strike) the nations; and He will shepherd and control them with a staff (scepter, rod) of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fierceness of the wrath and indignation of God the All-Ruler (the Almighty, the omnipotent). 16 And on His garment (robe) and on His thigh He has a name (title) inscribed, KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.  Revelation 19:11-16 AMP

Some people like to remember Jesus as a little baby in a manger and get all sentimental about Him. Some people like to remember Jesus on the cross, but He is not on the cross! He is not even in the grave. He is risen and He is glorious and powerful and mighty and seated on God’s right hand! This is Jesus as He is now – King of kings and Lord of lords!  He rides a white horse. His eyes are like fire and on His head are many crowns. He is dressed in a robe dyed by dipping in blood. He is called The Word of God. From His mouth goes forth a sharp sword with which He can smite the nations, He will shepherd and control them with a staff of iron, and He will tread the winepress of the fierceness of the wrath of Almighty God. He has been given authority to pass judgment and He does so in righteousness!

There is no one like Jesus and no one who can even be compared with Him! Hallelujah! Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Praise the Lord! (Psalms 150:6)

We are Stewards of What God Has Given to Us

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

Thoughts on Stewardship  – Lesson No. 12 from Genesis

We are Stewards of What God Has Given to Us
Foundation Scriptures: Genesis 1:26–28

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

1. God said, “Let us make man in our own image and let him have dominion.” God gave man stewardship over the earth and everything in it.

a. We are not here on earth by accident, but by divine design.

b. You and I are placed here on this earth by God as stewards of the earth and we must give an account of that which has been entrusted to us.

2. Our stewardship covers the earth and everything in it:

a. We have been given authority over the creatures of the earth and over the earth itself. With this authority comes the responsibility as well. You cannot have one without the other. A person who wants authority without responsibility is a dictator. A person who takes the responsibility without exercising authority will be frustrated in their efforts. There is not any one person who can take dominion over the entire earth, but we can all take authority and responsibility for that which God gives us and administer it wisely.

b. We must take dominion. God told us to populate the earth and subdue it. We are here to bless the earth—not to destroy it or each other! God placed more than enough resources in the earth to meet every need. Then why do people lack? Why are they poverty stricken? Because of wickedness and spiritual darkness. When people bow their knee to Almighty God, blessing and prosperity come to them. Ungodly people are greedy and covetous and will not share with others, but godly people do what they can to be a blessing, and are blessed in return.

c. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve exercised their faith to achieve their goals. After the Fall, they had to do it with their own hands, by the sweat of their brow. The devil stole the authority and dominion with which they were entrusted. Jesus bought back the dominion and authority that was man’s in the Garden and returned it into the hands of His blood-washed believers. You need to know what authority is available to you and you need to exercise that authority by faith, just as Adam did! God promises to bless the work of your hands. If you do things God’s way and if you look to Him for guidance, He will prosper your way.

3. God will bless the work of our hands if we busy ourselves with His eternal purposes.

a. We will give account of what we do with our time.

b. We will give an account of what we do with our talents.

c. We will give an account of what we do with our treasure.

d. We will give an account of what we do with our tongue.

N.B. God has entrusted much to us—it is vital that we take dominion over and be good stewards of what He has placed in our hands.

Pastor Adonica’s Thoughts:

God has given us ALL things that pertain to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). God has given us resources—tangible and intangible; abilities and things—and with them come authority, and responsibility. We are given stewardship in order to be a BLESSING—not so we can selfishly take advantage. 1 John 3:17 AMP says, “But if anyone has this world’s goods (resources for sustaining life) and sees his brother and fellow believer in need, yet closes his heart of compassion against him, how can the love of God live and remain in him?” Use what you have to be a blessing not a hindrance. Don’t allow the devil to lie to you and tempt you to be selfish and fearful. Realize that God has provided everything you will ever need and all you need to do is to obey Him in your giving and receiving. God cannot increase you until you obey and give out. Be a blessing wherever you can and then use your faith to receive from the Lord all that you need.

 

Pastor Rodney’s Thoughts:

We must realize that we only have one life to live and that we must to redeem the time, because the days are evil. You and I are stewards, because God has placed talents in each of our hands, for which we will need to give an account at the Judgment Seat of Christ. One of these “talents” is our money. What are we doing with it? How much of it is being used for the Kingdom and for eternity? The choices we make now make a difference, not only personally, but to many, many other people. This includes things you do and things you don’t do that you could or should do. These choices could affect generations. Let’s take stock of our life and choices today and purpose to use our finances wisely from now on. It is vital that you obey God and tithe (10%) of your income to the Kingdom and then give offerings, over and above your tithe, as you have purposed in your heart and with the Lord’s leading. Everyone needs to fulfill their obligation back to the Gospel.

 

Prayer and Confession:

Father, help me to be a good steward of all that you have placed in my hands so that on that day I might not be found wanting! I purpose to be a good steward of that which God has placed in my hands.

Rodney Howard Browne bringing Revival to North Miami Beach