THE HERITAGE OF THE SERVANTS OF THE LORD

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

“Sing, O barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labor; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband,” says the LORD. 2 “Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes. 3 For you will spread out to the right and to the left; your descendants will dispossess nations and settle in their desolate cities. 4 “Do not be afraid; you will not suffer shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated. You will forget the shame of your youth and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood. 5 For your Maker is your husband–the LORD Almighty is his name–the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth. 6 The LORD will call you back as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit–a wife who married young, only to be rejected,” says your God. 7 “For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with deep compassion I will bring you back. 8 In a surge of anger I hid my face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you,” says the LORD your Redeemer.  Isaiah 54:1-8 NIV

This passage of scripture is addressing the nation of Israel, but the same principles apply to us as Christians. We are spiritual Israel. We know that the Lord never changes – He loves Israel, He loves Christians, and He even loves sinners! In reality, every one of us without God in us, are sinners, whether we are born to a Jewish family or a Gentile family. It is our faith in God that saves our souls. God is merciful and compassionate beyond what we have a capacity to understand. At our human best, we feel compassion for other people and we try to help them and rescue them and save them. Many people have a heart of compassion for animals and spend their lives saving them and taking care of them. God’s love, mercy and compassion are way beyond our human understanding!

Religion paints a picture of a stern, judgmental God, Whom we must appease so that He does not squash us like a bug. But this is so far from the truth. He is kind and compassionate, patient and long-suffering with us – ever ready to remember the covenant we broke and bring us back into fellowship with us. His greatest desire is for an unbroken fellowship with us. Who are we, who are so unworthy and yet the Almighty Lord of Heaven and earth would consider us worthy of His love and mercy and He would and pour out His life for us?

9 “To me this is like the days of Noah, when I swore that the waters of Noah would never again cover the earth. So now I have sworn not to be angry with you, never to rebuke you again. 10 Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.

11 “O afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted, I will build you with stones of turquoise, your foundations with sapphires. 12 I will make your battlements of rubies, your gates of sparkling jewels, and all your walls of precious stones. 13 All your sons will be taught by the LORD, and great will be your children’s peace.  Isaiah 54:9-13 NIV

God will never stop loving those who are in covenant with Him, and compassionately reaching out to them when they return to Him. He promises to build us a shelter – not just of wood and stone, but precious stones! This is one more great example of His lavish generosity toward us. It is hard for us to grasp how God can be so kind and so generous to people who are so inconstant and inconsistent! He even makes promises to us about how He will teach and bless our children. If you give the devil an open door into your life – he will come in with plans to utterly destroy you. If you give God an open door into your life – He will come in with plans to bless and prosper you!

14 In righteousness you will be established: Tyranny will be far from you; you will have nothing to fear. Terror will be far removed; it will not come near you. 15 If anyone does attack you, it will not be my doing; whoever attacks you will surrender to you. Isaiah 54:14-15 NIV

If you are established in righteousness, you will have nothing to fear. Whoever and whatever comes against you will just have to surrender to you, because God is on your side. You don’t have to fight the enemy in your own strength – just be submitted to God and He will fight the battle with you and for you.

16 “See, it is I who created the blacksmith who fans the coals into flame and forges a weapon fit for its work. And it is I who have created the destroyer to work havoc; 17 no weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and this is their vindication from me,” declares the LORD. Isaiah 54:16-17 NIV

No weapon that is formed against you will prosper. Every tongue that rises against you in judgment, you will show to be wrong. This is the heritage of the children of God and the servants of the Lord. Your righteousness and vindication are from the Lord.

GOD GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE – PART 2

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

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. 4 You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely?   6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”  7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.  James 4:1-10

If you want God’s grace in your life, then you owe it to yourself to lay down your pride and humble yourself under the mighty hand of God. Pride prevents the blessings of God in your life, but humility welcomes and makes way for them.

Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. 12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?  James 4:11-12

When you slander or criticize your fellow Christians, you are setting yourself up as a judge. The problem is that there is only one Lawgiver and Judge. If you realized that when you judge another you are trying to take a place and a position that belongs only to the Lord, then you might be quicker to put a guard on your lips. This judgmental attitude—setting yourself up as better than another—stems from your pride. Your pride will always get you into trouble!

John 3:17 AMP says that, “God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him.”  If Jesus does not even judge you, then you certainly have no right to judge each other. Remember—you might have a reason to judge others, but you still do not have a right.

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil.  James 4:13-16

As many of you may already have found out, you cannot say, “I will do this” or “I won’t do that” to the Lord. Just when you make up your mind, He changes your direction. You must lay down the pride that causes you to try to do things on your own—trusting in your own judgment, intelligence and wisdom—and yield to His superior wisdom and understanding. When you humble yourself to daily receive direction and wisdom from the Lord, then you will prosper in everything that you do.

Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.  James 4:17

You are accountable for what you know. If you know what is the right thing to do—then do it. Otherwise it will be counted as a sin to you. Make sure that you are a doer of the Word and not merely a hearer. Humble your heart to receive both correction and direction from the Lord and He will prosper your way.

PROVIDE FOR HONEST THINGS

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

As it is written, He who gathered much had nothing over, and he who gathered little did not lack. 16 But thanks be to God Who planted the same earnest zeal and care for you in the heart of Titus. 17 For he not only welcomed and responded to our appeal, but was himself so keen in his enthusiasm and interest in you that he is going to you of his own accord. 18 But we are sending along with him that brother [Luke?] whose praise in the Gospel ministry [is spread] throughout all the churches; 19 And more than that, he has been appointed by the churches to travel as our companion in regard to this bountiful contribution which we are administering for the glory of the Lord Himself and [to show] our eager readiness [as Christians to help one another]. 20[For] we are on our guard, intending that no one should find anything for which to blame us in regard to our administration of this large contribution. 21For we take thought beforehand and aim to be honest and absolutely above suspicion, not only in the sight of the Lord but also in the sight of men.  2 Corinthians 8:15-21 AMP

If you consider yourself a Christian, if you are a born-again child of God, you are obligated to live according to the Word of God – it is your duty and your privilege. It is very important that you are honest in all things, especially money. You ought to conduct yourself in such a way that you are above reproach and above suspicion. Paul said that he provided for honest things (KJV), which means that he took thought beforehand – he planned and he aimed – to be honest and absolutely above suspicion in financial matters. He did this in the sight of God and of man.

If you want to be honest before God then you must be completely and absolutely honest, for He sees everything you do and He knows what is in your heart – you cannot fool Him. Paul said that he planned, he took thought beforehand, and he aimed to be honest. You have to have a plan, you have to set a standard for your life so that when the occasion arises that your character is tested, you do not have to then decide how to conduct yourself, because you have already decided to do the right thing.

Who then is the faithful, thoughtful, and wise servant, whom his master has put in charge of his household to give to the others the food and supplies at the proper time? 46 Blessed (happy, fortunate, and to be envied) is that servant whom, when his master comes, he will find so doing. 47 I solemnly declare to you, he will set him over all his possessions. 48 But if that servant is wicked and says to himself, My master is delayed and is going to be gone a long time, 49 And begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with the drunken, 50 The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour of which he is not aware, 51 And will punish him [cut him up by scourging] and put him with the pretenders (hypocrites); there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.  Matthew 24:45-51 AMP

God gives everyone of us a chance to prove ourselves and to prove what is in our heart. He gives us authority and responsibility and then He leaves us alone to do it. He does not stand over us and nag or beg, He does not force us, but He leaves us to prove our faithfulness and integrity.

In this parable, before the master leaves, he puts his servant in charge – he gives him authority over the other servants and the responsibility to take care of them and to provide food and supplies at the proper time. The faithful, thoughtful, and wise servant is honest and he does what is expected of him even though no one is watching over him, because he knows that the master could come back at any time and he wants to please him. If that same servant was foolish and wicked, he would take advantage of the situation and instead of doing his duty and taking care of his fellow servants, he would get drunk and beat them. The problem is that when his master came back, unexpectedly, he would be in big trouble. His master would discover that he had been unfaithful and dishonest and he would punish him and put him with the other hypocrites.

Abstain from all appearance of evil.  KJV Abstain from evil [shrink from it and keep aloof from it] in whatever form or whatever kind it may be.  AMP 1 Thessalonians 5:22

You need to be faithful and honest at all times because God is watching over you. You need to run away from evil – even the appearance of it. If you avoid even the appearance of evil, you will protect yourself from evil itself. Run from evil and choose to do right and the blessing of God will be on your life.

THE WORD AND THE SPIRIT LIGHT OUR WAY

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

Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven [stands firm as the heavens]. 90 Your faithfulness is from generation to generation; You have established the earth, and it stands fast. 91 All [the whole universe] are Your servants; therefore they continue this day according to Your ordinances. 92 Unless Your law had been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction. 93 I will never forget Your precepts, [how can I?] for it is by them You have quickened me (granted me life). 94 I am Yours, therefore save me [Your own]; for I have sought (inquired of and for) Your precepts and required them [as my urgent need]. 95 The wicked wait for me to destroy me, but I will consider Your testimonies. 96I have seen that everything [human] has its limits and end [no matter how extensive, noble, and excellent]; but Your commandment is exceedingly broad and extends without limits [into eternity]. 97 Oh, how love I Your law! It is my meditation all the day. 98 You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies, for [Your words] are ever before me. 99 I have better understanding and deeper insight than all my teachers, because Your testimonies are my meditation. 100 I understand more than the aged, because I keep Your precepts [hearing, receiving, loving, and obeying them]. 101 I have restrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep Your word [hearing, receiving, loving, and obeying it]. 102 I have not turned aside from Your ordinances, for You Yourself have taught me. 103 How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! 104 Through Your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way. 105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalm 119:89-105 AMP

God’s Word is settled in heaven – it stands strong and sure. Nothing can stand against God’s Word – nothing can endure longer than His Word. Everything human has its limits and limitations, but God’s Word is limitless, enduring and extending into eternity. God’s Word is the lamp that lights my way and leads me in the way I should go.

The entrance and unfolding of Your words give light; their unfolding gives understanding (discernment and comprehension) to the simple.  Psalm 119:130 AMP

For the commandment is a lamp, and the whole teaching [of the law] is light, and reproofs of discipline are the way of life.  Proverbs 6:23 AMP

Your word have I laid up in my heart, that I might not sin against You. Psalm 119:11 AMP

The spirit of man is the candle of the LORD, searching all the inward parts of the belly.  Proverbs 20:27KJV

The spirit of man [that factor in human personality which proceeds immediately from God] is the lamp of the Lord, searching all his innermost parts.  Proverbs 20:27 AMP

For what person perceives (knows and understands) what passes through a man’s thoughts except the man’s own spirit within him? Just so no one discerns (comes to know and comprehend) the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have not received the spirit [that belongs to] the world, but the [Holy] Spirit Who is from God, [given to us] that we might realize and comprehend and appreciate the gifts [of divine favor and blessing so freely and lavishly] bestowed on us by God.  1 Corinthians 2:11-12 AMP

God has given us His Word and His Spirit to lead us and guide us into truth and into blessing. When God’s Word is laid up in our heart, we will walk in His ways and we will do what is right and the Spirit of God will remind us of the Word and point us toward His Word. It is the Holy Spirit that reveals God’s Word to us, it is the Spirit that gives us understanding of all the wonderful things He has done for us.

But when He, the Spirit of Truth (the Truth-giving Spirit) comes, He will guide you into all the Truth (the whole, full Truth). For He will not speak His own message [on His own authority]; but He will tell whatever He hears [from the Father; He will give the message that has been given to Him], and He will announce and declare to you the things that are to come [that will happen in the future]. 14 He will honor and glorify Me, because He will take of (receive, draw upon) what is Mine and will reveal (declare, disclose, transmit) it to you.  John 16:13-14 AMP

IN THE DAY OF MY TROUBLE I WILL CALL ON YOU

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

A Confession of Faith in God’s Hand of Protection on My Life

For You, O Lord, are good, and ready to forgive our trespasses, sending them away, letting them go completely and forever; and You are abundant in mercy and loving-kindness to all those who call upon You. Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer; and listen to the cry of my supplications. In the day of my trouble I will call on You, for You will answer me.  (Psalms 86:5-7)

I belong to Jesus and have already defeated and overcome the enemies of Christ, because Jesus, Who lives in me, is greater and mightier than he who is in the world.  (1 John 4:4)

No weapon that is formed against me shall prosper, and every tongue that shall rise against me in judgment I shall show to be in the wrong. This peace, righteousness, security, and triumph over opposition is the heritage of the servants of the Lord; this is the righteousness and vindication which I have obtained from Him.  (Isaiah 54:17)

The Lord is my Shepherd – He feeds, guides, and shields me – I shall never lack. He makes me lie down in fresh, tender, green pastures; He leads me beside the still and restful waters. He refreshes me and restores my life; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Even if I walk through the deep, sunless valley of the shadow of death, I will fear and dread no evil, for Jesus is with me; His rod to protect me and His staff to guide and comfort me. He prepares a table before me in the presence of my enemies. He anoints my head with oil; my brimming cup runs over. Surely only goodness, mercy, and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life, and through the length of my days the house and the presence of the Lord shall be my dwelling place.  (Psalms 23:1-6)

For behold, Your adversaries, O Lord, for behold, Your enemies shall perish; all the evildoers shall be scattered. But my horn – emblem of excessive strength and stately grace – You have exalted like that of a wild ox; I am anointed with fresh oil. My eye looks upon those who lie in wait for me; my ears hear the evildoers that rise up against me. I am uncompromisingly righteous, therefore I shall flourish like the palm tree, I will be long-lived, stately, upright, useful, and fruitful; I shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon – I will be majestic, stable, durable, and incorruptible. I am planted in the house of the Lord and I shall flourish in the courts of our God. I am growing in grace and I shall still bring forth fruit in old age; I shall be full of the sap of spiritual vitality and rich in the verdure of trust, love, and contentment. I am a living memorial to show that the Lord is upright and faithful to His promises; He is my Rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.  (Psalms 92:9-15)

The Lord is my Light and my Salvation – whom shall I fear or dread? The Lord is the Refuge and Stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid? Though a host encamps against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, even then in this will I be confident. One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek, inquire for, and insistently require: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord – in His presence – all the days of my life, to behold and gaze upon the beauty, the sweet attractiveness, and the delightful loveliness of the Lord, and to meditate, consider, and inquire in His temple. For in the day of trouble He will hide me in His shelter; in the secret place of His tent will He hide me; He will set me high upon a rock. And now shall my head be lifted up above my enemies round about me; in His tent I will offer sacrifices and shouting of joy; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord. Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud; have mercy and be gracious to me and answer me! Lord, You have said, “Seek My face – inquire for and require My presence as your vital need.” My heart says to You, Your face and Your presence, Lord, will I seek, inquire for, and require. Although my father and my mother have forsaken me, yet the Lord will take me up and adopt me as His child. What, what would have become of me had I not believed that I would see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living! I will wait and hope for and expect the Lord; I will be brave and of good courage and let my heart be stout and enduring. Yes, I will wait for and hope for and expect the Lord.  (Psalms 27:1, 3-8, 10, 13, 14)

Paraphrased from the Amplified Version

THE MIND OF CHRIST

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

Now we have not received the spirit [that belongs to] the world, but the [Holy] Spirit Who is from God, [given to us] that we might realize and comprehend and appreciate the gifts [of divine favor and blessing so freely and lavishly] bestowed on us by God. 13 And we are setting these truths forth in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the [Holy] Spirit, combining and interpreting spiritual truths with spiritual language [to those who possess the Holy Spirit]. 14 But the natural, nonspiritual man does not accept or welcome or admit into his heart the gifts and teachings and revelations of the Spirit of God, for they are folly (meaningless nonsense) to him; and he is incapable of knowing them [of progressively recognizing, understanding, and becoming better acquainted with them] because they are spiritually discerned and estimated and appreciated. 15 But the spiritual man tries all things [he examines, investigates, inquires into, questions, and discerns all things], yet is himself to be put on trial and judged by no one [he can read the meaning of everything, but no one can properly discern or appraise or get an insight into him]. 16 For who has known or understood the mind (the counsels and purposes) of the Lord so as to guide and instruct Him and give Him knowledge? But we have the mind of Christ (the Messiah) and do hold the thoughts (feelings and purposes) of His heart. 1 Corinthians 2:12-16 AMP

You, who are born again and baptized in the Holy Spirit, have been separated from the world by the work of the Holy Spirit. You are no longer deceived by the lies of and/or blinded by the devil. Your eyes have been opened and you now see the truth. If you will continue in God’s Word, the devil will never again be able to blind your eyes. It is the Holy Spirit Who reveals to you all the wonderful things that God has done for and in you and all the magnificent gifts He has so lavishly and freely bestowed on you, so that you might comprehend them and also appreciate them. The more influence the Holy Spirit and the Word of God have in your life, the more aware you become of spiritual things and the more spiritual you become. Not religious—spiritual—conscious of God.

The person who is not born again, not filled with the Spirit, and who is not open to the Word of God, is carnal, natural, and non-spiritual. He cannot perceive the truth that is right in front of him—he is oblivious to things of the Spirit. The gifts and teachings and revelations of the Spirit of God are spiritually discerned, estimated, and appreciated. Because of this, they are meaningless nonsense to the carnal person and so he does not accept, or welcome, or admit them into his heart. Everyone who is spiritual can easily discern the carnal man’s state and his situation. Although the spiritual man discerns all things, no one can discern him—no one can appraise or get an insight into him. In other words, the spiritual man can see into the heart and life of a non-spiritual person, but the non-spiritual person cannot figure the spiritual person out.

In the same way, you don’t know everything there is to know about the Lord. No matter how much you learn of spiritual things, you will never know enough to be able to advise Him. That is just not your job or your place—it never will be. But when Jesus lives in your heart, when the Holy Spirit has burned the junk of the world out of your life, and when God’s Word has become alive in you, you grow to be more like Jesus every day. You begin to walk like Him, talk like Him, think like Him, see like Him, feel like Him, and act like Him. You have the mind of Christ; you hold the thoughts, feelings, and purposes of His heart. You are not God, but you represent Him to the world.

Beloved, we are [even here and] now God’s children; it is not yet disclosed (made clear) what we shall be [hereafter], but we know that when He comes and is manifested, we shall [as God’s children] resemble and be like Him, for we shall see Him just as He [really] is. 3 And everyone who has this hope [resting] on Him cleanses (purifies) himself just as He is pure (chaste, undefiled, guiltless). 1 John 3:2-3 AMP

I have heard a person say, “I have the mind of Christ, therefore every thought I have is from Christ.” This is not totally true. Your thoughts come from your head, not from heaven. You cannot trust every thought you have to be a godly thought. Sometimes the devil will place thoughts in your mind. Of course, you ought to resist and reject those thoughts! Remember that godly thoughts and inspirations come primarily from your heart—your regenerated spirit. The Spirit of God will speak to your heart—you need to train yourself to recognize His voice. Your mind, on the other hand, is a work in progress until you see Jesus face to face. When you see Him, you will be like Him, but until then, you are not perfect by any means. You need to renew your mind to the Word of God, regularly and consistently. You need to humble yourself and lay down your agenda.

As you yield yourself to Him, as you make yourself available to Him, to be used by Him, He will work in you and through you to do His will, and you can safely say, “I have the mind of Christ!”

Don’t Quit

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

Therefore then, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who have borne testimony to the Truth], let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us, 2 Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection]. He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Just think of Him Who endured from sinners such grievous opposition and bitter hostility against Himself [reckon up and consider it all in comparison with your trials], so that you may not grow weary or exhausted, losing heart and relaxing and fainting in your minds. Hebrews 12:1-3 AMP

Jesus was not distracted from His purpose by what He had to go through. He endured grievous opposition and bitter hostility against Himself from sinners – the very people who needed the salvation He offers the most. He endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame. He kept His eyes on the expected end result – the joy of obtaining the prize. Paul tells us to follow Jesus’ example, comparing what He went through with what we are going through, so that we do not grow weary or exhausted, or lose heart, or give up hope, or faint in our minds. If Jesus could make it through what He had to endure, then surely we can make it through our trials as well. The thing most people fear the most is death, but the Bible tells us that, “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21) If there is no fear in death, then we should have no fear concerning anything else we must endure!

Blessed (happy, to be envied) is the man who is patient under trial and stands up under temptation, for when he has stood the test and been approved, he will receive [the victor’s] crown of life which God has promised to those who love Him. James 1:12 AMP

God rewards those who are patient through trials and who resist temptation. When you have stood through the trials and tests that life throws at you, God has a crown of life for you. This crown has been promised to those who love God. You demonstrate your love for God by your obedience and by your submission to His word.

Everyone who believes (adheres to, trusts, and relies on the fact) that Jesus is the Christ (the Messiah) is a born-again child of God; and everyone who loves the Father also loves the one born of Him (His offspring). 2 By this we come to know (recognize and understand) that we love the children of God: when we love God and obey His commands (orders, charges)–[when we keep His ordinances and are mindful of His precepts and His teaching]. 3 For the [true] love of God is this: that we do His commands [keep His ordinances and are mindful of His precepts and teaching]. And these orders of His are not irksome (burdensome, oppressive, or grievous). 4 For whatever is born of God is victorious over the world; and this is the victory that conquers the world, even our faith. 1 John 5:1-4 AMP

For I am already about to be sacrificed [my life is about to be poured out as a drink offering]; the time of my [spirit’s] release [from the body] is at hand and I will soon go free. 7 I have fought the good (worthy, honorable, and noble) fight, I have finished the race, I have kept (firmly held) the faith. 8[As to what remains] Henceforth there is laid up for me the [victor’s] crown of righteousness [for being right with God and doing right], which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me and recompense me on that [great] day–and not to me only, but also to all those who have loved and yearned for and welcomed His appearing (His return). 2 Timothy 4:6-8 AMP

Don’t quit – don’t give up. The victor’s crown of righteousness is available to all those who have fought the good fight, finished the race, and kept the faith. If we keep our eye on the prize, as Jesus did, it will motivate us to keep going through the opposition, through the persecution, through the fight, through the pain, through the disappointments, through the temptations, tests, through the trials, through the rejections of life, until we see our precious Savior face to face. God’s will for us is not that we just endure, but that we are ultimately victorious!

For whatever is born of God is victorious over the world; and this is the victory that conquers the world, even our faith. 1 John 5:4 AMP

First Fruits or Leftovers?

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

Thoughts on Stewardship from the Book of Genesis

First Fruits or Leftovers?
Foundation Scriptures—Genesis 4 verse 1-5

And Adam knew Eve as his wife, and she became pregnant and bore Cain; and she said, I have gotten and gained a man with the help of the Lord. 2 And [next] she gave birth to his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. 3 And in the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground. 4 And Abel brought of the firstborn of his flock and of the fat portions. And the Lord had respect and regard for Abel and for his offering, 5 But for Cain and his offering He had no respect or regard. So Cain was exceedingly angry and indignant, and he looked sad and depressed. Genesis 4:1-5 AMP

Verse 3 says that Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground in the course of time. The King James says he brought it in the process of time. Abel brought his first fruits, but Cain brought his leftovers.

Some people think that God rejected Cain’s offering because He prefers meat over vegetables, but that is not true. God does not expect anyone to bring what they do not have. By faith, Abel put God first. Before he partook of the fruit of his labor, he honored God with his first and his best—the firstborn of his flock and of the fat portions. God was pleased and received Abel’s offering. After a while Cain brought a portion of his harvest to the Lord, but it was not his first fruits, neither was it his best. Obviously, Cain had no faith in God and no respect for Him. Cain grew angry when God had no respect for him or his offering and when He did not receive or accept it. When Cain saw that his offering was not accepted, he could have and should have repented and changed his own attitude and behavior. However, he got mad at Abel, who was accepted, and killed him instead.

Many people do what Cain did—they spend their money and pay all their other bills before they bring their offering to the Lord. The tithe is the first fruits—the first tenth of all your increase—of all your income. God honored Abel because he brought the first fruits of the flock. Your attitude in your giving is a huge part of your giving. People might see your gift, but God sees your heart and your gift. God knows when you are putting Him first and honoring Him in your giving or not. God does honor first fruits, but He rejects leftovers. The Bible says that Cain was very angry and depressed. This is what happens to you when you bring God your leftovers. People who are angry and depressed—mad at God and mad at believers who are blessed—are people who have been bringing God their leftovers!

Comments: Pastor Adonica Howard-Browne

Even if you get paid on a Monday and you only go to church on a Sunday, you should set it aside to bring to the Lord before you spend any other money on anything. When you work for a boss, your company is required by law to take your taxes out and pay it for you. Why? Because the government knows that they would have a hard time getting it from 90% of the people if they gave them the option to pay it themselves and they don’t want to wait until the end of the year and find out that you have already spent it and can’t pay it anyway! Money has a funny way of disappearing unless we have a definite plan and we execute that plan right away. Even though you receive your pay check without the taxes that were taken out, your gross income is still your income and 10% of your gross income is your tithe.

Before you decide to argue about this—remember that no one is going to make you do anything you don’t want to do—it is completely your choice and your decision. However, you must also remember that God is not obliged to bless you either! The tithe is a covenant obligation—it establishes your covenant with Almighty God. By paying your tithe—first—you activate the power of God to work on your behalf—to rebuke the devourer, to protect you, provide for you, and favor you!

Comments: Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne

One of the things that every believer has to do is honor God with the first fruits of all their income—the money coming to you before you even pay your taxes. If you don’t bring your first fruits, then it is a sign that you have forgotten God in your life. By bringing the first fruits you signify that you have put God first place—above everything—your house; your car; even your hopes and dreams. Something happens when you put God and His house first place —He will put your house first place!

Prayer and Confession:

Father I make a decision to honor you with the first fruits of all my income. Thank you for your abundant blessings on my life.

Stewardship Will Only Work as We Love and Obey God

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

Thoughts on Stewardship

Stewardship Will Only Work as We Love and Obey God
Foundation scriptures: Deuteronomy 11 verses 8 – 28

Therefore you shall keep all the commandments which I command you today, that you may be strong and go in and possess the land which you go across [the Jordan] to possess, 9 And that you may live long in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers to give to them and to their descendants, a land flowing with milk and honey. 10 For the land which you go in to possess is not like the land of Egypt, from which you came out, where you sowed your seed and watered it with your foot laboriously as in a garden of vegetables. 11 But the land which you enter to possess is a land of hills and valleys which drinks water of the rain of the heavens, 12 A land for which the Lord your God cares; the eyes of the Lord your God are always upon it from the beginning of the year to the end of the year. 13 And if you will diligently heed My commandments which I command you this day–to love the Lord your God and to serve Him with all your [mind and] heart and with your entire being–14 I will give the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the latter rain, that you may gather in your grain, your new wine, and your oil. 15 And I will give grass in your fields for your cattle, that you may eat and be full. 16 Take heed to yourselves, lest your [minds and] hearts be deceived and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them, 17 And the Lord’s anger be kindled against you, and He shut up the heavens so that there will be no rain and the land will not yield its fruit, and you perish quickly off the good land which the Lord gives you. 18 Therefore you shall lay up these My words in your [minds and] hearts and in your [entire] being, and bind them for a sign upon your hands and as forehead bands between your eyes. 19 And you shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you rise up. 20 And you shall write them upon the doorposts of your house and on your gates, 21 That your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth. 22 For if you diligently keep all this commandment which I command you to do, to love the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, and to cleave to Him–23 Then the Lord will drive out all these nations before you, and you shall dispossess nations greater and mightier than you. 24 Every place upon which the sole of your foot shall tread shall be yours: from the wilderness to Lebanon, and from the River, the river Euphrates, to the western sea [the Mediterranean] your territory shall be. 25 There shall no man be able to stand before you; the Lord your God shall lay the fear and the dread of you upon all the land that you shall tread, as He has said to you. 26 Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse–27 The blessing if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you this day; 28 And the curse if you will not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way which I command you this day to go after other gods, which you have not known.  Deuteronomy 11:8-28 AMP

1. God promises His children blessings—as long as they obey Him and serve Him.

a. Many people want God’s blessings—however, they want to have them without obeying and serving Him.
b. Remember, the blessings originate from God— wherever He is, they are—we must stay close to Him to stay in His blessings.
c. He loves us; He loves His children; He wants to bless us.
d. He cannot bless disobedience and sinfulness.
e. The blessing of the Lord makes one rich and He adds no sorrow with it. (Proverbs 10:22)

2. If we obey we are blessed; if we disobey then we are cursed.

a. With every one of the promises of God there are conditions—if we meet the conditions then we will receive the promises.

b. Can God trust you with the blessing? Can you be trusted with riches? Will you continue to serve Him or will you be turned away after idols or other gods?

Pastor Adonica’s Thoughts:
Many people have a major problem submitting to God. Some people are outwardly compliant, but inwardly rebellious. Obedience is not just an act—it’s an attitude. The devil wants you to think that you are losing something or giving something up if you submit your life to the Lord. What you don’t realize is that if you are not submitted to or obeying God, you are in fact submitting your life to the devil. You might think that you are in control of your own life, but you have given the devil place in your life. Yielding to your flesh is yielding to the devil’s will for your life. Make a choice today to submit to the Father, who loves you and wants only the best for you!

Pastor Rodney’s Thoughts:
It amazes me how many people in the Body of Christ, worldwide, think that God is obligated to bless them, no matter how they live their lives—whether or not they obey or serve Him! However, God’s Word is plain. The blessing comes from loving Him and serving Him. I have wondered how to get that message through to people, when they don’t seem to want to hear it. I have decided the best thing is to just keep on preaching the truth of the Word—some people will eventually grab a hold of it and they will walk in the blessings of God.

Prayer and Confession:
Father, I thank You for Your blessings in my life. I purpose to love and obey You all the days of my life. I purpose always to put You first place and to submit to and follow Your Word.

WE HAVE A COVENANT FATHER

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

Foundation Scriptures:
Psalms 111:9; Jeremiah 31:31-33

He has sent redemption to His people; He has commanded His covenant to be forever; holy is His name, inspiring awe, reverence, and godly fear.  Psalms 111:9 AMP

Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, 32 Not according to the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was their Husband, says the Lord. 33 But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel: After those days, says the Lord, I will put My law within them, and on their hearts will I write it; and I will be their God, and they will be My people.  Jeremiah 31:31-33 AMP

1. We have a covenant Father. He has made promises that He will never, ever break.

Adam
Abraham; Isaac; Jacob (Genesis 15:18; Genesis 17:1-21)
Moses (Exodus 2:24-25; Exodus 6:4-5; Exodus 19:5; Exodus 24:7-8; Exodus 34:27-28;
David etc. through Jesus to us (Psalms 98:3; Isaiah 55:3)

2. The Father loves man so very much—He has chosen to be in relationship with us and interact with us. He makes covenant provision for us and gives us the choice to accept it. He gives us choices and even tells us which is the right and good choice that will bring the blessing.

Noah and the Ark (Genesis 6:18; Genesis 9:9-17)
Abraham and Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18:17-19)
Solomon and wisdom (1 Kings 3:5-14)

3. Come let us reason together.

Come now, and let us reason together, says the Lord. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be like wool. 19 If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; 20 But if you refuse and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken it.  Isaiah 1:18-20 AMP

Jesus came to bridge the gap between God and man ­—to show us the Father. Colossians 1:20 AMP – And God purposed that through (by the service, the intervention of) Him [the Son] all things should be completely reconciled back to Himself, whether on earth or in heaven, as through Him, [the Father] made peace by means of the blood of His cross.
He sent the Holy Spirit to make us one with Him. 1 John 4:13 AMP – By this we come to know (perceive, recognize, and understand) that we abide (live and remain) in Him and He in us: because He has given (imparted) to us of His [Holy] Spirit.
Work out your own contract with God.
He is waiting to hear from you.

4. Things you need to know about your Father.

This covenant is sealed in the blood of Jesus. Hebrews 9:12-14 AMP – He went once for all into the [Holy of] Holies [of heaven], not by virtue of the blood of goats and calves [by which to make reconciliation between God and man], but His own blood, having found and secured a complete redemption (an everlasting release for us). 13 For if [the mere] sprinkling of unholy and defiled persons with blood of goats and bulls and with the ashes of a burnt heifer is sufficient for the purification of the body, 14 How much more surely shall the blood of Christ, Who by virtue of [His] eternal Spirit [His own preexistent divine personality] has offered Himself as an unblemished sacrifice to God, purify our consciences from dead works and lifeless observances to serve the [ever] living God?
This covenant cannot fail. Psalms 103:17-18 AMP – But the mercy and loving-kindness of the Lord are from everlasting to everlasting upon those who reverently and worshipfully fear Him, and His righteousness is to children’s children–18 To such as keep His covenant [hearing, receiving, loving, and obeying it] and to those who [earnestly] remember His commandments to do them [imprinting them on their hearts].
This covenant has over 30,000 promises.
This covenant favors you—the recipient—to receive His grace and favor, because of Calvary—the Cross, the Resurrection and Pentecost.

For I will be leaning toward you with favor and regard for you, rendering you fruitful, multiplying you, and establishing and ratifying My covenant with you.  Leviticus 26:9 AMP

Now may the God of peace [Who is the Author and the Giver of peace], Who brought again from among the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, by the blood [that sealed, ratified] the everlasting agreement (covenant, testament), 21 Strengthen (complete, perfect) and make you what you ought to be and equip you with everything good that you may carry out His will; [while He Himself] works in you and accomplishes that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ (the Messiah); to Whom be the glory forever and ever (to the ages of the ages). Amen (so be it).  Hebrews 13:20-21 AMP

Bringing you closer to God