DON’T BE IGNORANT OF THE DEVIL’S DEVICES

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

Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.  2 Corinthians 2:10-11 NKJV

God loves us with all His heart. We are the crowning glory of His creation. He made the earth and everything on the earth before He made us and placed us in the middle of it. The devil hates God and he hates God’s creation. The devil tries to destroy man by trying to get us destroy each other. If we are ignorant of his devices and how he operates, then we won’t recognize his handiwork and he will be able to take advantage of us. If we are aware of his tactics and his devices, then we will recognize when he is at work and then he is in trouble because we will be able to deal with him and we will defeat him. One of the ways the devil gains the advantage over us is by stirring up strife between us. Then he manages to maintain an ongoing advantage by keeping the strife fresh in our hearts by getting us to walk in unforgiveness toward one another.

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth.  This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.  James 3:13-18 NKJV

Envy and selfishness are earthly, sensual and even demonic. When we are envious, covetous and selfish, then we will inevitably strive with one another. We will fight each other for wealth, power and control. This covetousness and strife open the door to confusion and every evil work. In other words, the devil has his way, imposing his will on us. The love of money and worldly goods is the root of all kinds of evil and it will destroy the covetous person in the end.

Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness.  1 Timothy 6:5-11 NKJV

God does not want us to be destroyed and if we do not want to reap a harvest of destruction in our lives, then it is vital that we seek peace and pursue it. It is vital that we are peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. We must flee envy, selfishness and covetousness and we must pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, and gentleness.

We must be aware that when we strive with each other, that we give the devil the advantage, but when we do everything we know to do to walk in love and forgiveness by the help of the Holy Spirit, then we close of any avenue that the devil might have had and instead, we give place to the Lord, Who will defend and protect us. The blood of Jesus and the Name of Jesus will give us the advantage over the devil and that is where we want to be. He is under our feet as long as we are submitted to God and as long as we are joined together in unity and peace with each other.

Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another. Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.

Ephesians 4:25-27 NKJV

Don’t be ignorant. Don’t give place to the devil. Walk in love and refuse to strive with your fellow man. Rather give place to the Holy Spirit!

FORGIVEN AND HEALED

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

Now it happened on a certain day, as He was teaching, that there were Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting by, who had come out of every town of Galilee, Judea, and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was present to heal them. Then behold, men brought on a bed a man who was paralyzed, whom they sought to bring in and lay before Him. And when they could not find how they might bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the housetop and let him down with his bed through the tiling into the midst before Jesus. When He saw their faith, He said to him, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, He answered and said to them, “Why are you reasoning in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise up and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”–He said to the man who was paralyzed, “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” Immediately he rose up before them, took up what he had been lying on, and departed to his own house, glorifying God. And they were all amazed, and they glorified God and were filled with fear, saying, “We have seen strange things today!”  Luke 5:17-26 NKJV

The four men (Mark 2:3) brought their paralyzed friend to Jesus to be healed. The house was so full of people that they could not get to Jesus. They could not get in the doors or the windows, so they decided to go through the roof. They ripped up the tiles and lowered their friend down right in front of Jesus. Jesus was blessed by their bold faith. He said, ”Man (Son), your sins are forgiven you.” Jesus saw their faith, manifested through their boldness and determination to get their sick friend to Him, and He healed the man even as He forgave him.

The scribes and the Pharisees were offended by this and began to accuse Jesus of blasphemy in their hearts. Of course, Jesus knew exactly what they were thinking! He said to them, “Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise up and walk’?” Jesus did not make a distinction between healing and forgiveness. Forgiveness and healing go together. Jesus died on the cross to bring you both forgiveness of sins and healing for your body. He has power to heal you and forgive you. When you repent of your sins and you accept Jesus as Lord – you can receive your healing as the same time!

Jesus said to the skeptics, “So that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins” — He said to the man who was paralyzed —

“I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” The man stood up, picked up the bed that he lay on as he was carried in, and walked out of the house praising and glorifying God. Everyone in the house was amazed by the miracle and they glorified God too.

The Greek word for salvation means soundness, wholeness, healing, preservation, deliverance, and provision. All the goodness of God is wrapped up in the finished work of the cross.

Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.  Isaiah 53:4-5 NKJV

Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness–by whose stripes you were healed. 1 Peter 2:24 NKJV

Jesus died and rose again to restore everything the devil stole from us – our life, our relationship with the Father, our health, our peace and our joy. On the cross, Jesus poured out His blood to heal you and to save you. You need to receive both right now.

CHARACTERISTICS OF A BELIEVER

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

Romans 12:1-21

1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. 3 For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. 4 For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. 6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; 7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; 8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. 9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. 10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; 11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; 13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. 17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”  21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. NKJV

As Christians, we have a code of conduct to follow. God expects a certain standard of behavior from us that is different from the way we conducted ourselves when we were in the world. This passage in God’s Word gives us some practical guidelines that we need to follow concerning our Christian conduct.

Verse 6 says that we all have gifts that differ according to the grace that is given to us. Grace is God’s ability given to us – not indiscriminately – but according to His divine purpose and plan. Verse 8 says that the person who gives should give with simplicity and singleness (without strings attached and without an ulterior motive). We should give with sincerity (without dissimulation or self-seeking). Dissimulation is deception, dishonesty or pretense.  Self-seeking means that a person only gives in order to benefit themselves and not others. The Lord wants us to give in order that we would be a blessing to someone else. When we give it should be generously, liberally and bountifully.

Verse 10 says that we should be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love and that we should honor and give preference to one another.

Verse 11 says that we should not be slothful in business. We should be fervent in spirit – never lagging in zeal and earnest endeavor. We must be diligent as we serve the Lord – everything we do for Him should be done well and to the best of our ability. Verse 16 says that we should be of the same mind toward one another. We should not set our minds on high things, but we should condescend to men of low estate – we should associate with the humble. We must treat everyone the same way – not looking down on any person as being beneath us. We must not be haughty, snobbish, high-minded or exclusive, but we should readily adjust ourselves to people and things and be prepared to give ourselves to humble tasks. We should never overestimate ourselves or be wise in our own opinion.

Verse 20 says that if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in doing this, you will heap coals of fire on his head.  This verse is not referring to your hungry and thirsty friend, but your hungry and thirsty enemy! In the flesh, we want to fight back against our enemy, but God has a better way. He says that when you fight back, you will be overcome by evil, but when you respond with love and kindness, then you overcome evil with good. We should hate that which is evil; be patient in tribulation; bless those who persecute us and not curse them; avenge not ourselves; repay no one evil for evil; overcome evil with good; and live at peace with all men.

God does not tell us to do these things to torment us, but to bring us into a place of blessing and victory. God’s Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path – let us take God’s Word and apply it in our daily lives.

GOD DOES NOT ACCUSE THOSE HE HAS ACQUITTED

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

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

Jesus loves us so much that He sent the Holy Spirit, Who prays through us, interceding for us, according to God’s will. The Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit want the very best for us and they are working together for our blessing and our benefit.

We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew [of whom He was aware and loved beforehand], He also destined from the beginning [foreordaining them] to be molded into the image of His Son [and share inwardly His likeness], that He might become the firstborn among many brethren. 30 And those whom He thus foreordained, He also called; and those whom He called, He also justified (acquitted, made righteous, putting them into right standing with Himself). And those whom He justified, He also glorified [raising them to a heavenly dignity and condition or state of being].  Romans 8:28-30 AMP

God, through Jesus, has brought us into a relationship with Himself, molding us into the image of His Son. According to this passage – to God – all believers look just like Jesus! He calls us the children of His family. When we love God and we have responded to the design and purpose of His call, He becomes a partner in our labor. With God on our side – if we will trust Him – all things are working together and fitting into a plan for good.

What then shall we say to [all] this? If God is for us, who [can be] against us? [Who can be our foe, if God is on our side?]  32 He who did not withhold or spare [even] His own Son but gave Him up for us all, will He not also with Him freely and graciously give us all [other] things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect [when it is] God Who justifies [that is, Who puts us in right relation to Himself? Who shall come forward and accuse or impeach those whom God has chosen? Will God, Who acquits us?] 34 Who is there to condemn [us]? Will Christ Jesus (the Messiah), Who died, or rather Who was raised from the dead, Who is at the right hand of God actually pleading as He intercedes for us?  Romans 8:31-34 AMP

Contrary to what the devil and religion would like us to believe, God is really and truly on our side! If He did not withhold His own precious Son, sending Him to die for us, then He will surely freely and graciously bless us with all the other things! The devil wants us to think that God is angry with us, judging us, condemning us and accusing us, but it is the devil that is the accuser of the bretheren. God went to so much trouble to justify and acquit us, He is not about to start condemning us. Jesus, Himself, died for us and now intercedes for us, pleading with God on our behalf.

Who shall ever separate us from Christ’s love? Shall suffering and affliction and tribulation? Or calamity and distress? Or persecution or hunger or destitution or peril or sword? 36 Even as it is written, For Thy sake we are put to death all the day long; we are regarded and counted as sheep for the slaughter. 37 Yet amid all these things we are more than conquerors and gain a surpassing victory through Him Who loved us.  Romans 8:35-37 AMP

Jesus loves us so much that even in the midst of the worst of circumstances and persecution, He is working with and in us, giving us the victory.

For I am persuaded beyond doubt (am sure) that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things impending and threatening nor things to come, nor powers, 39 Nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 8:38-39 AMP

There is nothing in the natural realm or the spirit realm – even death – that can separate the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Nothing in creation can stop the love of God in our lives. God loves us beyond what our minds can imagine or comprehend, but we need to meditate on His Word and begin to get a revelation of God’s immense and immeasurable love for us so that we can walk in the fullness of all He has planned and prepared for us.

HONOR GOD WITH YOUR MOUTH AND FROM YOUR HEART

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

The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus and 2 saw some of his disciples eating food with hands that were “unclean,” that is, unwashed. 3(The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders. 4 When they come from the marketplace they do not eat unless they wash. And they observe many other traditions, such as the washing of cups, pitchers and kettles.) 5 So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with ‘unclean’ hands?” 6 He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. 7 They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.’ 8 You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.”   Mark 7:1-8 NIV

Religion and tradition are terrible things. They cause you to take your eyes off the really important things and to become obsessed with trivia – things that are completely unprofitable to your spiritual life. If the devil can’t get the Church to reject God outright, he will try to dilute the power of God and the power of the Word by mixing it with doubt, unbelief and man-made tradition. In the end you are serving a ritualistic form of religion and you have no more relationship with the Lord at all – you only think that you do. This is the place the Pharisees were. They were blinded and deceived by their religion, relying completely on their own works for favor with God and neglecting to keep their hearts pure and honest before God. They only did Him lip service. They worked at perfecting the outward man to impress people, rather than humbling themselves before God – the only One Who has the power to save their souls. Because they only gave lip service to God without giving Him their hearts, all their efforts amounted to nothing before God and were of no eternal value.

And he said to them: “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.’   11 But you say that if a man says to his father or mother: ‘Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is Corban’ (that is, a gift devoted to God), 12 then you no longer let him do anything for his father or mother. 13 Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.”   Mark 7:9-13 NIV

Because the Pharisees’ hearts were not right with God, they were not afraid to brashly pervert the Word of God. They were so deceived by religious tradition that they even encouraged people to bring an offering to the temple in lieu of obeying the Word and commandments of God! They built their kingdom at the expense of God’s kingdom. No wonder they were disturbed and threatened by Jesus – He exposed their lies and hypocrisy and their impure hearts.

Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. 15 Nothing outside a man can make him ‘unclean’ by going into him. Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him ‘unclean.'”  17 After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable. 18 “Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him ‘unclean’? 19 For it doesn’t go into his heart but into his stomach, and then out of his body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods “clean.”) 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 7:14-23 NIV

You must not only put a guard on your lips, but you must guard and protect your heart. Don’t try to please or impress man. The only One you should be trying to please, is the Lord – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Your lip service is totally insufficient without a humble heart that is yielded to the Lord. Your sacrifice is worthless if your heart is not submitted to God and if it is not right with God. If you turn your heart toward God and you seek to please only Him, then He will gladly accept all your sacrifices, including your sacrifice of praise.

O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. 16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.  Psalms 51:15-17 NIV

PREPARE THE WAY OF THE LORD

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

A voice of one who cries: Prepare in the wilderness the way of the Lord [clear away the obstacles]; make straight and smooth in the desert a highway for our God! 4 Every valley shall be lifted and filled up, and every mountain and hill shall be made low; and the crooked and uneven shall be made straight and level, and the rough places a plain. 5 And the glory (majesty and splendor) of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it.  Isaiah 40:3-5 AMP

John, the Baptist, was set apart for a special mission from the moment he was conceived. He was a messenger sent by God to prepare the way for Jesus. His task was to put everyone on alert that the long-awaited Savior was finally here. He called on them to repent of their sin, to turn from the world and worldly pursuits, and to prepare their hearts to receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Messiah. God is found by them who seek Him. You must look for Him; you must seek Him; you must be hungry for Him – draw nigh to Him and He will draw nigh to you.

Seek, inquire for, and require the Lord while He may be found [claiming Him by necessity and by right]; call upon Him while He is near. 7 Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the Lord, and He will have love, pity, and mercy for him, and to our God, for He will multiply to him His abundant pardon.  Isaiah 55:6-7 AMP

The Lord sends messengers out ahead to prepare the hearts of people for His coming. If you are a Christian, then you are a bearer of good news. When you tell people how much Jesus loves them and what He has done for them, you are preparing the way for them to receive Him as their Lord and Savior. They might receive Him into their hearts immediately, they might receive Him after some days, or months, or even years, but as long as you are as faithful and as bold as John to speak the truth, they will never be able to say, “I never heard the Gospel. I did not know that I had to seek the Lord. I did not know what Jesus did for me. I did not know that I had to confess with my mouth and believe in my heart to be saved and to make heaven my eternal destination.”  John did not take an opinion poll before he preached. He just preached what the Spirit told him to say, regardless of who was offended. Because he boldly spoke the truth, he lost his life, but he never backed down, he never compromised and those who heard him have no excuse.

As the people were in suspense and waiting expectantly, and everybody reasoned and questioned in their hearts concerning John, whether he perhaps might be the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed one). 16 John answered them all by saying, I baptize you with water; but He Who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of Whose sandals I am not fit to unfasten. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 17 His winnowing shovel (fork) is in His hand to thoroughly clear and cleanse His [threshing] floor and to gather the wheat and store it in His granary, but the chaff He will burn with fire that cannot be extinguished. 18 So with many other [various] appeals and admonitions he preached the good news (the Gospel) to the people.  Luke 3:15-18 AMP

Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John to be baptized by him. 14 But John protested strenuously, having in mind to prevent Him, saying, It is I who have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me? 15 But Jesus replied to him, Permit it just now; for this is the fitting way for [both of] us to fulfill all righteousness [that is, to perform completely whatever is right]. Then he permitted Him. 16 And when Jesus was baptized, He went up at once out of the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he [John] saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on Him. 17 And behold, a voice from heaven said, This is My Son, My Beloved, in Whom I delight!  Matthew 3:13-17 AMP

John never pointed people to himself, but he always pointed them to the Father, to Jesus and to the Holy Spirit. That is your responsibility, to point people to the Word, to the cross, to Jesus Christ. You are the messenger, and not only that, you are commissioned by Jesus, Himself, and anointed by the Holy Spirit, to demonstrate the power of God to your generation! When you talk about Jesus, when you do the works of Jesus, you show the glory of God in an earthen vessel and He is lifted up and glorified. There is no other way to prepare the way of the Lord and to prepare people to meet Jesus, than to pray and most importantly, to preach the good news of the Gospel.

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. 14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!  Romans 10:13-15 KJV

WHAT AN INCREDIBLE QUALITY OF LOVE!

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

See what [an incredible] quality of love the Father has given (shown, bestowed on) us, that we should [be permitted to] be named and called and counted the children of God! And so we are! The reason that the world does not know (recognize, acknowledge) us is that it does not know (recognize, acknowledge) Him. 2 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 3:1-3 AMP

God has bestowed an incredible amount of love on us in making us His very own children. No other religion of man can make the same claims. Every other religion requires do’s and don’t’s. They have a long list of things you can and can’t do, and even if you fulfill all the requirements (which is impossible any way), you have no idea if you will actually make heaven and miss hell and damnation! The Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is the only message that truly offers a guarantee! Since the Gospel offers heaven based on faith and not works, God made it very, very simple for every person on the planet to become His very own child and spend eternity in His wonderful presence.

He loved us so much that He did it all – He did all the hard work and left nothing up to us, except believing and receiving – so that we can be assured of eternal life, eternal peace, and eternal joy!

Wait and listen, everyone who is thirsty! Come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Yes, come, buy [priceless, spiritual] wine and milk without money and without price [simply for the self-surrender that accepts the blessing]. 2 Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your earnings for what does not satisfy? Hearken diligently to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness [the profuseness of spiritual joy]. 3 Incline your ear [submit and consent to the divine will] and come to Me; hear, and your soul will revive; and I will make an everlasting covenant or league with you, even the sure mercy (kindness, goodwill, and compassion) promised to David.  Isaiah 55:1-3 AMP

Even if we owned the whole world with a gold fence around it, we could not pay for one drop of God’s priceless mercy or one drop of the priceless blood of Jesus. He loves us so much that He freely offers His priceless blood, grace, mercy, and forgiveness to every person, no matter how bad they are and no matter how awful their sin. The only way to access this gracious, free gift is by humbling your heart and surrendering your life to the Lord. The way – the only way – that the blessing comes to you is by self-surrender, as it is only by self-surrender that you are able to accept the blessing!

Unfortunately, for some people, this is too high a price to pay. They will do anything else, but do not ask them to surrender their life to the will of the Father. Many people are outwardly religious – some of them ridiculously so – but they will not submit their heart to the Lord. Of course, there are many people who do not know that this is all that God requires of them, as they have never heard the Gospel and their eyes are blinded by the devil, but there are others who have heard and yet find it too difficult to do. You would think that people would be thrilled to know that they no longer have to fulfill a long list of difficult and uncomfortable, sometime tortuous requirements, in order to be guaranteed eternal life, but strangely they would rather suffer and feel like they DID something to pay for their salvation or their reward.

This is not humility – it is false humility – pride dressed up like humility. True humility embraces the free gift. True humility is bold to say, “Yes, I am the righteousness of God in Christ,” knowing all along on the inside that HE paid the price and that we are completely undeserving!

Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God’s unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it].  Hebrews 4:16 AMP

Because of God’s grace, you can come boldly into the presence of God to ask for what it is that you need. Because you have surrendered to Him and allowed Him to wash and cleanse and change you, you are unashamed to enter into His presence. Because you have a revelation of how much He loves you and how much He has done for you and how much He has promised you, you are not afraid to come straight to Him and ask Him personally for what you need!

BEHOLDING HIS GLORY WITH AN UNVEILED FACE

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

The secret things belong unto the Lord our God, but the things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all of the words of this law. Deuteronomy 29:29 AMP

The secret things belong to the Lord, but the things He has revealed to us are ours. Through the truth of God’s Word, His will is revealed to us so that we can walk uprightly before Him and enjoy His promises and benefits.

But, on the contrary, as the Scripture says, What eye has not seen and ear has not heard and has not entered into the heart of man, [all that] God has prepared (made and keeps ready) for those who love Him [who hold Him in affectionate reverence, promptly obeying Him and gratefully recognizing the benefits He has bestowed]. 10 Yet to us God has unveiled and revealed them by and through His Spirit, for the [Holy] Spirit searches diligently, exploring and examining everything, even sounding the profound and bottomless things of God [the divine counsels and things hidden and beyond man’s scrutiny]. 1 Corinthians 2:9-10 AMP

In your wildest imagination, you could not dream up what God has prepared and ordained for you, and yet, He has revealed them to you by His Holy Spirit!

Since we have such [glorious] hope (such joyful and confident expectation), we speak very freely and openly and fearlessly. 13 Nor [do we act] like Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze upon the finish of the vanishing [splendor which had been upon it]. 14 In fact, their minds were grown hard and calloused [they had become dull and had lost the power of understanding]; for until this present day, when the Old Testament (the old covenant) is being read, that same veil still lies [on their hearts], not being lifted [to reveal] that in Christ it is made void and done away. 15 Yes, down to this [very] day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies upon their minds and hearts. 16 But whenever a person turns [in repentance] to the Lord, the veil is stripped off and taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (emancipation from bondage, freedom). 18 And all of us, as with unveiled face, [because we] continued to behold [in the Word of God] as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are constantly being transfigured into His very own image in ever increasing splendor and from one degree of glory to another; [for this comes] from the Lord [Who is] the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:12-18 AMP

When Moses met with God and received the Ten Commandments, he came down the mountain with the glory of God so strong on his face that he had to wear a veil for the sake of the people. God told Moses that no man could look upon His face and live. These people were not even able to look upon the reflected glory of Almighty God on Moses’ face, because their hearts were grown hard and calloused – they had become dull and had lost the power of understanding. Sin causes you to have a veil over your face when it comes to the truth of the word of God. But whenever a person repents and turns to the Lord, it is as if this veil is stripped off and taken away from you by the Holy Spirit, Who opens God’s word up to you. As you continue, as with an unveiled face, to look and see and understand the word of God and to behold the glory of God as in a mirror, you will continue to be transfigured and transformed into His very own image in ever increasing splendor and from one degree of glory to another!

But even if our Gospel (the glad tidings) also be hidden (obscured and covered up with a veil that hinders the knowledge of God), it is hidden [only] to those who are perishing and obscured [only] to those who are spiritually dying and veiled [only] to those who are lost. 4 For the god of this world has blinded the unbelievers’ minds [that they should not discern the truth], preventing them from seeing the illuminating light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ (the Messiah), Who is the Image and Likeness of God. 5 For what we preach is not ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves [merely] as your servants (slaves) for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God Who said, Let light shine out of darkness, has shone in our hearts so as [to beam forth] the Light for the illumination of the knowledge of the majesty and glory of God [as it is manifest in the Person and is revealed] in the face of Jesus Christ (the Messiah). 2 Corinthians 4:3-6 AMP

The Gospel is not hidden – it is openly proclaimed and revealed – but it is veiled to those who are spiritually lost. Not that God wants it veiled – He is not hiding it from us – He wants it to be openly revealed to all men. It is veiled because the devil – the god of this world’s system – has blinded the unbelievers’ minds, in order that they should not discern the truth, preventing them from seeing the illuminating light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ. That is why the glory of God shines out of God’s people’s hearts – light shining out of darkness – so that those who need Jesus may be illuminated with the knowledge of the majesty and glory of God, revealed in the face of Jesus Christ. The devil can try to keep people ignorant and blinded to the truth, but once the glory of God is revealed to a sinner and their eyes are opened, there is nothing the devil can do to stop them from receiving the life of God in Jesus Christ! Thank God for the unveiled glory of His word that brings life and liberty to His people!

 

No Weapon Formed Against You Will Prosper

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

And all your [spiritual] children shall be disciples [taught by the Lord and obedient to His will], and great shall be the peace and undisturbed composure of your children. 14 You shall establish yourself in righteousness (rightness, in conformity with God’s will and order): you shall be far from even the thought of oppression or destruction, for you shall not fear, and from terror, for it shall not come near you. 15 Behold, they may gather together and stir up strife, but it is not from Me. Whoever stirs up strife against you shall fall and surrender to you.16 Behold, I have created the smith who blows on the fire of coals and who produces a weapon for its purpose; and I have created the devastator to destroy.17 But no weapon that is formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue that shall rise against you in judgment you shall show to be in the wrong. This [peace, righteousness, security, triumph over opposition] is the heritage of the servants of the Lord [those in whom the ideal Servant of the Lord is reproduced]; this is the righteousness or the vindication which they obtain from Me [this is that which I impart to them as their justification], says the Lord. Isaiah 54:13-17

When you establish yourself in righteousness, conforming yourself to God’s will and purpose in every aspect of your life, God will pour out all His precious promises onto your life.

Those who yield to the will of God and who establish themselves in His righteousness have no reason to have any fear at all. The Lord says that you will be far from even the thought of oppression or destruction and from terror. He says that it will not come near you. Even if people stir up strife against you, you don’t need to worry because the Lord will cause you always to triumph – He says that those whose rise up against you will surrender to you.

The Lord says that NO weapon that is formed against you will prosper! EVERY tongue that shall rise against you – you will show to be wrong! There is nothing that you need to do to defend yourself. All you need to do is to be yielded to the Lord, believe His word, and trust completely in Him. Be a doer of the word. Act on God’s word. Walk in the love of God. He will take care of everything else.

For the Lord will judge and vindicate His people, and He will delay His judgments [manifesting His righteousness and mercy] and take into favor His servants [those who meet His terms of separation unto Him]. Psalms 135:14 AMP

This is what you can expect if you are a hearer, a believer in, and a doer of God’s word:

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty [Whose power no foe can withstand]. 2 I will say of the Lord, He is my Refuge and my Fortress, my God; on Him I lean and rely, and in Him I [confidently] trust! 3 For [then] He will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. 4[Then] He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings shall you trust and find refuge; His truth and His faithfulness are a shield and a buckler. 5 You shall not be afraid of the terror of the night, nor of the arrow (the evil plots and slanders of the wicked) that flies by day, 6 Nor of the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor of the destruction and sudden death that surprise and lay waste at noonday. 7 A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand, but it shall not come near you. 8 Only a spectator shall you be [yourself inaccessible in the secret place of the Most High] as you witness the reward of the wicked. 9 Because you have made the Lord your refuge, and the Most High your dwelling place, 10 There shall no evil befall you, nor any plague or calamity come near your tent. 11 For He will give His angels [especial] charge over you to accompany and defend and preserve you in all your ways [of obedience and service]. 12 They shall bear you up on their hands, lest you dash your foot against a stone. 13 You shall tread upon the lion and adder; the young lion and the serpent shall you trample underfoot. 14 Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him; I will set him on high, because he knows and understands My name [has a personal knowledge of My mercy, love, and kindness–trusts and relies on Me, knowing I will never forsake him, no, never]. 15 He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. 16 With long life will I satisfy him and show him My salvation.

Psalms 91:1-16 AMP

Don’t be an Esau Christian

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

Jacob was boiling pottage (lentil stew) one day, when Esau came from the field and was faint [with hunger]. 30 And Esau said to Jacob, I beg of you, let me have some of that red lentil stew to eat, for I am faint and famished! That is why his name was called Edom [red]. 31 Jacob answered, Then sell me today your birthright (the rights of a firstborn). 32 Esau said, See here, I am at the point of death; what good can this birthright do me? 33 Jacob said, Swear to me today [that you are selling it to me]; and he swore to [Jacob] and sold him his birthright. 34 Then Jacob gave Esau bread and stew of lentils, and he ate and drank and rose up and went his way. Thus Esau scorned his birthright as beneath his notice.  Genesis 25:29-34 AMP

In Bible times, a birthright was the right, privilege or possession of the firstborn son; that to which he is entitled by virtue of his birth. In Israel, and the rest of the ancient world, the firstborn son enjoyed a favored position. His birthright included a double portion of his father’s assets upon his death. Another benefit was that he received a special blessing from his father and the privilege and responsibility of leadership of the family, including the spiritual leadership. He became responsible for the younger brothers, the widows, and the unmarried daughters.

The title of firstborn was sacred in ancient Israel. When Esau transferred his birthright to Jacob for a lentil stew, he showed utter disregard for the rights, privileges and responsibilities of the firstborn. He showed that he did not value, nor had he any respect for, his heritage, his parents, the promise of God, or the spiritual privilege connected with this inheritance: being progenitor (the forefather) of the promised Messiah! At that moment, Esau turned God down and chose not to follow or obey God. He chose not to accept the leadership of the next generation. He chose not to be named in the bloodline of the Messiah. Esau did not have a heart after God. Later, he wanted the blessing from Isaac, but he never did accept the boundaries of obedience that God required of him.

When Esau was 40 years old, he took, not one, but two women as wives from among the Hittites. They made life bitter and a grief of mind and spirit for Isaac and Rebekah (Genesis 26:34-35). Esau obviously did not respect God or his parent’s opinions, because he did not consult them concerning his choice of wife. He did not look for a godly wife or ask God for the one He had for him. Your choice of spouse is the second most important choice in your life after you choose your God/god – who you will serve and where you will spend eternity. You need God’s guidance – you need to respect the authority of parents and those who are older and wiser than you – wiser in God’s ways not worldly ways.

In Genesis 28:1-9, Isaac called Jacob and blessed him and commanded him not to marry one of the women of Canaan. He told him to go to Padan-aram and take a wife from Rebekah’s family, one of the daughters of Laban. Isaac blessed Jacob with the blessing of Abraham and sent him away to do as he had instructed. Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob and sent him to Padan-aram to take him a wife from there, and given him a charge that he should not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan and that Jacob obeyed his father and his mother and had gone to Padan-aram. Esau saw that the daughters of Canaan did not please his father, Isaac, so he went to Ishmael – the son of the bondwoman not the son of the promise – and took one of his daughters as an additional wife!

In God’s family, every one of us is considered “firstborn” in God’s eyes, but many Christians behave like Esau. They call themselves Christians – members of God’s family – but they don’t submit themselves to God and His will for their lives. They do not esteem their birthright. They don’t appreciate the blessings or the responsibilities of being a firstborn child of God. They don’t take the time to find out what God wants for them and from them. They pursue relationships that are detrimental to themselves and others; they don’t marry the one chosen by God, and who serves God; they settle for less; they just follow their flesh and the lusts and desires of their flesh; they only do what feels good to them in the moment.

“Esau” Christians are oblivious to spiritual things – they have no respect for God. When they hear another Christian talk about God’s leading in their lives saying something like, “God told me not to marry a Canaanite,” they decide not to “marry a Canaanite” either, but they still don’t go and marry a godly woman. They go for the daughter of the flesh – Ishmael. We are not only talking about who you marry, but all of the decisions you make every day.

Some Christians live their lives oblivious to the Spirit of God and the word of God. God’s word is not their standard; they live life according to the world’s standards. They do not even understand the dynamics of the covenant relationship between the obedient Christian and the Father. They may be envious of that relationship and of the blessings that go with it, but are unmotivated to make the changes in their own life to have this relationship with the Father themselves. Even when they hear what the Father requires, they still try to put their own spin on it and still end up doing their own thing. They always assume and presume.

The “Esau” Christian will never have God’s best and not because God doesn’t have a wonderful plan for them, but because they place no value on God’s plan and will for them or the blessings of obedience. These people go through life envious of obedient Christians, but never stop to look at themselves in the mirror, evaluating their own heart attitude, or trying to do things God’s way for a change! Don’t be an “Esau” Christian!

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