STAY AWAY FROM LAZY BUSYBODIES AND KEEP DOING RIGHT

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

In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow. For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.” We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat. And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right. If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of him. Do not associate with him, in order that he may feel ashamed. Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother. II Thessalonians 3:6-15 NIV

There are some born-again believers (sadly) who talk the talk, but they don’t walk the walk. Do not allow yourself to be influenced by these people. Don’t be moved by their gifts (or the gifts they claim to have) – look at how yielded they are to the Word of God. If they are not personally yielded to the Word of God – do not let them speak into your life because they do not hear God’s voice!  The measure of a person’s submission to God’s Word, is the measure of their heart condition toward God Himself.

Do not let lazy, irresponsible, disorderly, busybody shirkers have an influence on you. Remove yourself from their presence. Charles Finney said that he would not allow anyone near his children (even if they were relations) who might corrupt their morals or their manners. We should have that much sense with our own selves, as well as with our children. You don’t have to stand in judgement of that kind of person, just remove yourself and your family from their presence and their influence.

Some people think that if they do not work, they are walking in faith, but they are actually walking in foolishness. You must PRAY like it all depends on God, but you have to WORK like it all depends on you! Paul instructs us that we should work to feed and support our families and ourselves. We should not become a burden upon other people simply because we are too lazy, or too busy poking our nose into other people’s business, to provide for ourselves.

It is very important that we mind our own affairs and not those of other people, because while you busy yourself with other people’s business, your own responsibilities go unfulfilled. Minding your own business is a command given by God to you. In the day you stand before God, you only give an account for the areas you are responsible for, not the responsibilities of others. For example, while you involve yourself in other people’s affairs, yours are being neglected and getting all messed up and you can’t even see it. There is no one that will take care of your affairs, except you, so take care of your own business and not others people’s business.

If you encounter lazy, irresponsible, disorderly, busybody shirkers in church, the Bible says that you should not associate with them. However, it also says that we should not treat them like an enemy, but admonish and warn them as a brother. Rebuke lazy Christians, but don’t criticize them. Correct them with the Word in order to help them, not to hurt them.

Continue to do the right thing without becoming weary or losing heart. Every one wants to do right, but many give up because of worldly pressure or because they feel that they are the only ones doing right. Make up your mind that even if no one else honors God by doing right – you will be the one to do it and the blessing of the Lord will be upon your life.

THE SEED AND THE GROUND

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

The farmer sows the word. Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop– thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown.”  Mark 4:14-20 NIV

 

The seed is the word of God and the ground is our heart. The Lord sows the seed of the Word into our heart through the written and the spoken word. The seed is the same seed that is sown into each person. The quality of the seed is never in doubt, but rather it is the condition of our heart that determines the quality of the harvest we reap from that seed. The seed is very, very good, but it must be planted in optimum conditions in order to produce an optimum harvest.

 

There are four categories of ground, mentioned in Mark 4, that the seed falls on to. They are ground with: no soil, stony soil, thorny soil and good soil. The first heart, which has no soil, is not open to receive the seed of the word of God at all. They hear it, but their hearts are closed and hard and the word doesn’t even get anywhere near their heart. They hear, but they don’t receive.It goes in one ear and out of the other. The devil has already convinced them that the word is unimportant and they don’t need to even pay attention to it. He snatches it away immediately.

 

The next heart that Jesus mentions has some soil, but it is still very stony – partly hard and partly soft. These people initially hear the word and accept, receive and welcome it – with joy! They like what they hear, but they don’t allow the word to change their heart. They don’t allow the word to take root and become established in their lives. They have merely a superficial grasp of God’s word, but they have not allowed it to impact them. They expect God to do everything for them, but they are not prepared to make a stand for Him. They walk with the Lord for a little while, but when trouble and persecution comes against them because of the fact that they had initially received the word in their lives, they immediately get offended with God and those who brought them the word. They say, “This is not supposed to happen to me. This stuff doesn’t work. I am going back to what I believed before and back to the way I used to live!” They are displeased, indignant and resentful and they stumble and fall away.

 

The third heart is thorny ground. It does have soil and has no rocks, but it is full of seeds already – unfortunately they are weed seeds. The seed of the word is received into their heart and they allow the word of God to take root in them and to grow up. Everything looks like it is growing just fine, but unless the weeds and their roots are ripped out of the ground, this heart will be in big trouble before long. This person allowed God’s word in to grow up in their heart, but they did not deal with their fleshly and worldly thoughts and desires. They left the roots of sin alone in their hearts and the weeds continued to grow up alongside God’s word. They did not allow God to weed their garden and clean them out so now the weeds choke the good word of God in their lives and it becomes unfruitful – it does not work for them. They allow the worry weed to choke the word that says that God is faithful. The cares and anxieties of the world are more real to them than the provision and protection that God offers.

 

They drop God’s word like a hot potato to go after the pleasure, delight, false glamour and deceitfulness of riches and the craving and passionate desire for other things. Except they don’t realize that they are pursuing a lie! They become distracted from the truth of God’s word by the pull of the world and all it offers – they allow the world’s voice to ring louder in their ears than God’s voice. They are tempted to go out and go after things the quick and easy way. They think that things will make them happy, but they will never be happy until they do things god’s way. They have not realized what a liar the devil is and that all he can give is pain and misery. They are looking at the beautiful icing on the cake and are tempted to take a bite, not realizing that there are worms chewing on the cake underneath the surface! If they would only lay down their lusts for other things and love God more and serve Him – then He would give them all those things besides – together with peace and joy and contentment!

 

The last heart that Jesus mentions has good, well adapted soil. They hear the word, receive it, accept and welcome it. They hear the word, giving it entrance into their lives. They receive it as the truth and believe every word of it. It doesn’t matter what the world says, or what they hear or see, they receive God’s word as the final authority. They accept the word and allow it to change them. They obey the word and allow it to burn out the junk that was there from the past. They welcome the word. The word moves in and is at home permanently in them. When the devil and his lies, pressure and persecution come knocking at the door, they tell him that he is not welcome. Not only do they believe God’s word is true, but they take him at His word. They act on His word and they are doers of His word. God’s word produces good fruit in their lives up to a hundred times as much!

 

God’s word is good and will produce good fruit in our lives if we will make the adjustments and make our hearts good soil to receive, accept and welcome the living, powerful, fruitful word of God into our lives!

SOLDIERS, ATHLETES AND FARMERS

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

So you, my son, be strong (strengthened inwardly) in the grace (spiritual blessing) that is [to be found only] in Christ Jesus. And the [instructions] which you have heard from me along with many witnesses, transmit and entrust [as a deposit] to reliable and faithful men who will be competent and qualified to teach others also. Take [with me] your share of the hardships and suffering [which you are called to endure] as a good (first-class) soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier when in service gets entangled in the enterprises of [civilian] life; his aim is to satisfy and please the one who enlisted him. And if anyone enters competitive games, he is not crowned unless he competes lawfully (fairly, according to the rules laid down). [It is] the hard-working farmer [who labors to produce] who must be the first partaker of the fruits. Think over these things I am saying, [understand them and grasp their application], for the Lord will grant you full insight and understanding in everything.  2 Timothy 2:1-7 NIV

Take [with me] your share of the hardships and suffering [which you are called to endure] as a good (first-class) soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier when in service gets entangled in the enterprises of [civilian] life; his aim is to satisfy and please the one who enlisted him.

As Christians, we are called to serve the kingdom of God. We are soldiers in the kingdom of God. A first-class soldier is dedicated to the service of the one who called him. He is prepared to endure anything to please his commanding officer. A soldier does not lead a cushy life. His life is hard, but he is wholly committed to the cause. He would even give his life if it were necessary. 1 Corinthians7:23 says, “You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.” We belong to Jesus. Jesus enlisted us into His service. We should not get entangled in things that distract us from our call or that are not beneficial to the kingdom of God.

And if anyone enters competitive games, he is not crowned unless he competes lawfully (fairly, according to the rules laid down).

Your life as a Christian can be compared to a race or an athletic competition. You may cross the finish line first, but you are not the winner unless you followed the rules. If you take a shortcut, cheat or disregard the rules, you are disqualified and you lose. The challenge of the game, and the enjoyment of it, is in following the rules that are laid down and conquering the game fairly. You feel good when you have done your best and you have played according to the rules.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.  1 Corinthians 9:24-27 NIV

We are running a race, with our eye on the prize. We run to win – not to lose. The winner is not just trying to get there first, but he is prepared to run the whole race, to go all the way. We have an audience. We have a crowd of witnesses watching us. Some are there to cheer us on. Some are watching our example. We must know where we are going and we must discipline ourselves to run and not grow weary nor become distracted nor try to win by harming our fellow runners in any way. You don’t win because others are weak. You win because you are strong.

[It is] the hard-working farmer [who labors to produce] who must be the first partaker of the fruits.

God does not ask you to labor in His garden without a reward. Luke 10:7 says that “the worker deserves his wages.” 1 Timothy 5:17-18 says, “The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.”

Whatever you do for the Lord, whatever the sacrifice, He will reward you. God does not ask us to do something for nothing. He always blesses us beyond our giving. Whatever we give up for God – He promises to multiply back to us – one hundred-fold. So if you work for God, give Him nothing less than your best. Whatever you give up for Him, don’t feel like you have been deprived, just know that you are in for a blessing!

We need to understand these things and grasp their application so that we can be successful in all we do.

JESUS HAS SPRINKLED THE NATIONS

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

See, my servant will act wisely; he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted. Just as there were many who were appalled at him–his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness–so will he sprinkle many nations, and kings will shut their mouths because of him. For what they were not told, they will see, and what they have not heard, they will understand.  Isaiah 52:13-15 NIV

Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.  Isaiah 53:1-3 NIV

In their pride, men have been trying for generations to reach God their way. They look at what they can see with their eyes and understand with their minds. They imagine that they know who God is and also what He requires of us. Because of this, men have done all kinds of weird, wonderful and sometimes strange and even horrible things in their quest to please God or who or what they think of as their god. They are not aware that God has already reached down to them and provided a path into His glorious presence through Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

We expect a king – or the son of a king – to look, speak and behave a certain way. We judge them by their outward appearance. If we met the son of a king, knowing that he was the son of a king, we would undoubtedly treat him with great dignity and respect. However, if we did not know that this person was actually a prince, we would probably treat him like any other regular person.

If he did not make a very good impression on us, we possibly would not think much of him and we might treat him with even less regard than we would treat any one else. Once we found out that he was royalty, our attitude might change a great deal. We would suddenly offer this prince preferential treatment. This is rather insincere of us, but it is how people act all the time. We look at outward appearances and allow them to influence us.

Jesus came to seek and save that which was lost. He came to heal, deliver and set us free. But when He walked on the earth, as a man, we had no idea Who He was or what He came to do for us. The Bible says that He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. Even now He is despised. Despised by those who do not recognize Him for who He really is and by those whose eyes have been blinded by the enemy and also by their pride.

Jesus was the Son of God. He came to love, heal and forgive. He offered us a ticket to heaven – priceless and yet totally free of charge to us – all we have to do is humble our hearts to receive. And yet He was despised and rejected by men – we did not regard Him nor esteem Him. In fact, there were many who were appalled at Him–His appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and His form marred beyond human likeness.

They thought of Him as nothing more than a mere man – a liar and a fraud. They mocked Him, beat Him, spat on Him and crucified Him. And yet He was an offering, poured out for the very ones who despised Him. Not only that – He did it all willingly in spite of the way He was treated.

Because Jesus acted wisely in obeying His Father, God says that He will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted. “He will sprinkle many nations” – Jesus may have been despised and rejected, but through His death and resurrection He has impacted the nations of the world by His Spirit and His word. “Kings will shut their mouths because of Him” – the whole world – kings too – must bow their knee and acknowledge Him as King of all kings and Lord of all lords.

Something wonderful happens when our eyes are opened and we see Jesus for Who He really is. Something happens on the inside of us and we are changed. What we were not told, we will see, and what we have not heard, we will understand. You may have unknowingly despised Jesus in the past, but as you acknowledge Him and receive Him as Lord and Savior – you will see what you have not been told and understand what you have not heard and you will know the truth – that Jesus is Lord!

GOOD TRADITION AND TRUE RELIGION

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

13 But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, 14 to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle. 16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, 17 comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work.   2 Thessalonians 2:13-17 NKJV

The word “tradition” used here means a teaching, a transmission, an ordinance or a precept. Paul is telling the Thessalonians – and us – that they need to continue to follow the teachings they received from Paul, himself, and the other disciples and apostles. He is also recommending that they follow the example that they set before them.

6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. 8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.  Colossians 2:6-8 NIV

The teachings and traditions that we are taught by the Holy Spirit and recorded in the Bible are teachings and traditions that bring us into liberty and not into bondage. It is the hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world that lead us into bondage. Whenever people depart from the Word of God and begin to make up their own minds about how things are, that is when they – and everyone who listens to them – get into trouble.

Paul encourages the Colossians – and us – to grow in the things of God when he says, “Just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him.” Just as we came into an intimate relationship with Jesus when we were born anew from above, so we must remain close to Him and intimate with Him, coming to know Him more and more every day. We must be rooted in Him and built up in Him alone and not in man’s tradition. We must continue to be strengthened in the faith just as we have been taught. We must maintain an attitude of gratitude and be overflowing with thankfulness.

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 7:5-8 NIV

There is good tradition and there is bad tradition. The important thing to remember is that we are to love God with all our hearts and honor Him always, in everything. As long as we remain humble and allow God’s work in our hearts, we will stay on the right path. It is human arrogance that will lead you into deception – thinking that we can make up our own rules whilst we ignore God’s rules.

26 If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.   James 1:26-27 NIV

Our religion – our worship – is in vain if we do it our own way and not God’s way. True religion – worship – is to keep a tight rein on our tongue, to care about other people and to continue to follow the Word of God and the Spirit of God. We live in this world, but we must not allow ourselves to be polluted by the world. We must allow the Word and the Spirit to lead us, guide us, direct us and keep us. The most important thing to remember is that it is God alone, Whom we must please and God alone, Whom we must honor – with all our hearts, at all times, every day and in every way!

THE RIGHTEOUSNESS THAT COMES BY FAITH

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

John, the son of Zechariah, went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins – preparing the way for the Messiah, Jesus – as he was born to do.

John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 9 The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”   Luke 3:7-9 NIV

John came to prepare the hearts of men to receive Jesus. He came to stir them up, to make them hungry for God, to make them aware that they needed a personal Savior. Usually, it is so much easier for people to trust in their heritage and to rely on someone else’s faith and sacrifice, rather than building their own relationship with God. The Israelites faith was in the fact that Abraham was their earthly father. Now Abraham believed the Word of God and because of his faith, Father God made him some wonderful promises. These promises applied also to those who would follow him, who approached God in the same attitude of faith. The promises are not inherited because of who your earthly father is, but because you had the same faith in your Heavenly Father as father Abraham did. Your inheritance comes to you as a result of your faith and your faith alone.

What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? 2 If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about-but not before God. 3 What does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” 4 Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. 5 However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.   Romans 4:1-5 NIV

Abraham was justified in the eyes of God, because of his faith, not because of his own efforts. This justification is a free gift, which you receive by trusting in God alone – and not yourself – and by believing His Word.

And he is also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised. 13 It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. 14 For if those who live by law are heirs, faith has no value and the promise is worthless, 15 because law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression. 16 Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring-not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. 17 As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed-the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.   Romans 4:12-17 NIV

God made this promise of righteousness – of right-standing with Him – to Abraham and to all those, from any and every nation, who would believe in God and believe His promise just as Abraham did. Even Abraham’s own blood descendants were required to accept the promise by faith. The act of circumcision alone was not enough to release Abraham’s offspring from the curse of the law – it was faith in God’s sacrifice, on mankind’s behalf, that purchased their freedom from final judgment and eternal damnation.

Consider Abraham: “He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”   7 Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. 8 The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.”   9 So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.  Galatians 3:6-9 NIV

All those who put their faith and trust in the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ are saved from condemnation and blessed with eternal life, in the presence of Father God for eternity, along with father Abraham.

 

SACRIFICE IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR OBEDIENCE

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

And Samuel said to Saul, You have done foolishly! You have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God which He commanded you; for the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever; 14 But now your kingdom shall not continue; the Lord has sought out [David] a man after His own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be prince and ruler over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.

1 Samuel 13:13-14 AMP

When Saul disobeyed God, He told him that his kingdom would not continue – his sons would never reign in his stead. God had already chosen a man after His own heart – David.

But the Lord said to Samuel, Look not on his appearance or at the height of his stature, for I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7 AMP

Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. And Samuel said to Jesse, The Lord has not chosen any of these. 11 Then [he] said to Jesse, Are all your sons here? [Jesse] said, There is yet the youngest; he is tending the sheep. Samuel said to Jesse, Send for him; for we will not sit down to eat until he is here. 12 Jesse sent and brought him. David had a healthy reddish complexion and beautiful eyes, and was fine-looking. The Lord said [to Samuel], Arise, anoint him; this is he. 13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed David in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward. And Samuel arose and went to Ramah.  1 Samuel 16:10-13 AMP

David was a shepherd boy who loved to worship God. He was not a big man and was not highly regarded even by his own family. Jesse was David’s father. When the prophet came to his house to anoint one of his sons as king, Jesse did not even think of calling David. Only after God rejected one son after the other, did Jesse remember that he had one more son. No one but God saw David’s potential. His strength was not in his natural ability, but in his humility and his whole-hearted commitment to God.

Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your steadfast love; according to the multitude of Your tender mercy and loving-kindness blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me thoroughly [and repeatedly] from my iniquity and guilt and cleanse me and make me wholly pure from my sin! 3 For I am conscious of my transgressions and I acknowledge them; my sin is ever before me. 4 Against You, You only, have I sinned and done that which is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified in Your sentence and faultless in Your judgment. 5 Behold, I was brought forth in [a state of] iniquity; my mother was sinful who conceived me [and I too am sinful]. 6 Behold, You desire truth in the inner being; make me therefore to know wisdom in my inmost heart 7 Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean [ceremonially]; wash me, and I shall [in reality] be whiter than snow. 8 Make me to hear joy and gladness and be satisfied; let the bones which You have broken rejoice. 9 Hide Your face from my sins and blot out all my guilt and iniquities. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right, persevering, and steadfast spirit within me. 11 Cast me not away from Your presence and take not Your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and uphold me with a willing spirit. 13 Then will I teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners shall be converted and return to You. 14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness and death, O God, the God of my salvation, and my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness (Your rightness and Your justice). 15 O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall show forth Your praise 16 For You delight not in sacrifice, or else would I give it; You find no pleasure in burnt offering.  17 My sacrifice [the sacrifice acceptable] to God is a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart [broken down with sorrow for sin and humbly and thoroughly penitent], such, O God, You will not despise. 18 Do good in Your good pleasure to Zion; rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. 19 Then will You delight in the sacrifices of righteousness, justice, and right, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering; then bullocks will be offered upon Your altar.

Psalms 51:1-52:1 AMP

Saul disobeyed God when God told him to wipe the Amalekites off of the face of the earth – he allowed the king and the healthy animals to live – and then he had the audacity to defend his actions, deny his disobedience and blame the people. Because of it, God rejected him from being king. David was entirely different. When he sinned and God confronted him over it, he was relieved – He was tired of being out of fellowship with God. He immediately repented and offered no excuses. He submitted to the will of God and asked for forgiveness.

Saul thought that a sacrifice could make up for his rebellion and disobedience, but David knew that no sacrifice can take the place of a heart that is submitted completely to God. Even though David made a serious mistake, because of his repentant heart, he reigned with honor until he died and his sons and grandsons reigned after him. Jesus, Himself, came from the lineage of David.

CHARGE THE RICH TO DO GOOD

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

Let all who are under the yoke as bond servants esteem their own [personal] masters worthy of honor and fullest respect, so that the name of God and the teaching [about Him] may not be brought into disrepute and blasphemed. 2 Let those who have believing masters not be disrespectful or scornful [to them] on the grounds that they are brothers [in Christ]; rather, they should serve [them all the better] because those who benefit by their kindly service are believers and beloved. Teach and urge these duties. 3 But if anyone teaches otherwise and does not assent to the sound and wholesome messages of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah) and the teaching which is in agreement with godliness (piety toward God), 4 He is puffed up with pride and stupefied with conceit, [although he is] woefully ignorant. He has a morbid fondness for controversy and disputes and strife about words, which result in (produce) envy and jealousy, quarrels and dissension, abuse and insults and slander, and base suspicions, 5 And protracted wrangling and wearing discussion and perpetual friction among men who are corrupted in mind and bereft of the truth, who imagine that godliness or righteousness is a source of profit [a moneymaking business, a means of livelihood]. From such withdraw. 6[And it is, indeed, a source of immense profit, for] godliness accompanied with contentment (that contentment which is a sense of inward sufficiency) is great and abundant gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and obviously we cannot take anything out of the world; 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we shall be content (satisfied). 9 But those who crave to be rich fall into temptation and a snare and into many foolish (useless, godless) and hurtful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction and miserable perishing. 10 For the love of money is a root of all evils; it is through this craving that some have been led astray and have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves through with many acute [mental] pangs. 11 But as for you, O man of God, flee from all these things; aim at and pursue righteousness (right standing with God and true goodness), godliness (which is the loving fear of God and being Christlike), faith, love, steadfastness (patience), and gentleness of heart.  1 Timothy 6:1-11 AMP

People use money as security, but riches are temporary and unstable – wealth comes and it goes. People also see money as an indication of a person’s worth, but money has absolutely nothing to do with who you are or your worth in this world. God does not differentiate between us, based on what we have or what we know (head knowledge). God is no respecter of persons. There are people who are puffed up with pride and stupefied with conceit, even though they are actually woefully ignorant. They love to argue and they try to use the Gospel to profit themselves, but they are not contented. They are always striving for money and prestige and they don’t care who they trample along the way. This is not God’s plan for you.

God wants you to be content in spite of and apart from your circumstances. Godliness is indeed, a source of immense profit. Godliness accompanied with contentment – a sense of inward sufficiency – is great and abundant gain. We did not bring anything into the world and obviously we cannot take anything out of the world, but if we have food and clothing, we should be content and be satisfied with these, because those who crave to be rich fall into temptation and a snare. They are distracted from God’s true purpose for their lives. The love of money is a root of all evil. The love of money will cause you to make wrong decisions and mess up your life and other people’s lives.

If you want to be a man or woman of God, you must flee from all these things. Rather, you must pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, patience, and gentleness of heart.

As for the rich in this world, charge them not to be proud and arrogant and contemptuous of others, nor to set their hopes on uncertain riches, but on God, Who richly and ceaselessly provides us with everything for [our] enjoyment. 18[Charge them] to do good, to be rich in good works, to be liberal and generous of heart, ready to share [with others], 19 In this way laying up for themselves [the riches that endure forever as] a good foundation for the future, so that they may grasp that which is life indeed.

1 Timothy 6:17-19 AMP

God does not want you to be poor, He wants you to be blessed, but He wants you to put Him first – always. He does not tell you not to be rich and He does not say that it is wrong to be rich. He does warn the rich not to be proud, arrogant, or contemptuous of others. He cautions them not to set their hopes on uncertain riches, but on God. Why? Because God is the One Who richly and ceaselessly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. If we will pursue Him, He will pursue us. He charges the rich to do good, to be rich in good works, to be liberal and generous of heart, and ready to share with others,

So be blessed – be rich – but make sure that you always put God first, that you do not think of yourself more highly than you ought to, and that you are always generous and kind as well. If you do this, you will lay up for yourselves the riches that endure forever.

COVETOUSNESS IS IDOLATRY – PART 2

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

So kill (deaden, deprive of power) the evil desire lurking in your members [those animal impulses and all that is earthly in you that is employed in sin]: sexual vice, impurity, sensual appetites, unholy desires, and all greed and covetousness, for that is idolatry (the deifying of self and other created things instead of God).  Colossians 3:5 AMP

Idolatry is the deifying of self and other created things instead of God. Idolatry is the worship of created beings or created things rather than the worship of the Creator – the only One worthy of worship. What people don’t realize is that when they commit idolatry by worshipping an object or a person, they give it, or them, control over their life. The devil will jump at the opportunity to take control over you through your idolatry and you really don’t want him to have any influence over your life, because he is a thief, a liar, a murderer, and a destroyer! The Lord, on the other hand, is worthy of your worship. He will receive your worship and reach out to you to embrace you, to protect you from the devil, to bless you, and to restore whatever the devil has stolen or destroyed. The bottom line is that you choose your outcome by whom or what you choose to worship.

God gave us direction for our blessing and prosperity – spirit, soul, and body – through His commandments. In Exodus 20:2-6 AMP, God gave us His first two of ten commandments. “I am the Lord your God, Who has brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before or besides Me” and “You shall not make yourself any graven image [to worship it] or any likeness of anything that is in the heavens above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; You shall not bow down yourself to them or serve them…” If we keep these, we will be blessed, blessed, blessed!

There are people who would not dream of worshipping an idol of wood or stone, and yet they worship their money and their stuff! You might say, “I don’t worship my possessions,” but if they are more important to you than God is to you, then you are an idolater. If you can’t give anything away, if you are offended when someone talks to you about giving your money or your stuff away, if the thought of losing your stuff or giving it away makes you extremely fearful, then you have made an idol out of your money and stuff. You are no longer the master of your stuff – it has mastered you!

No servant is able to serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stand by and be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon (riches, or anything in which you trust and on which you rely).  Luke 16:13 AMP

It is impossible to serve two masters. Every living person makes a choice of who they worship by whom or what is most important in their life. If you want to be blessed, if you want God’s blessing on your life, you have to realize that there is a choice to make and God’s word makes it abundantly clear which choice will result in your good and your blessing. If you are wise, you will take God’s advice and make Him your priority!

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.  1 Corinthians 6:8-11 NKJV

Covetousness is a hallmark of those who do not know Jesus, who are not yet washed in the blood of Jesus, who are not yet sanctified and made righteous by receiving Him as Lord and Savior. When you receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you are making a choice to love Him and serve Him. He gave His ALL to you; He gave His very own life! This is a covenant relationship. He gives you His life and you give Him your life – ALL of it and ALL of you! You now belong to Him and so does everything you own. You need to act like you belong to Him and He belongs to you by taking your hands off your stuff and by releasing it into His service.

It is like a marriage relationship – unless both partners give 100%, there are going to be problems. Selfishness in a marriage is always destructive to the relationship. Selfishness will cause you to hold back your heart, it will make your spouse feel unloved and devalued, and cause a breach in your relationship. There is nothing as awesome as a relationship where two people totally accept one another and give each other unconditional love. This is the only way to be truly fulfilled as God intended for you to be.

In the same way, selfishness in your relationship with the Lord will cause you to miss out on all the blessings of a committed relationship with Him. Everyone wants to get something from God without giving Him anything in return, but you need to realize that as committed as you are to Him, is as committed as He is going to be to you! Commit to Him, give Him your all, and allow Him to bless you exceedingly above all that you could ask or think!

PAY WHAT YOU VOW – THE GLORIOUS CYCLE

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

And whoever offers a sacrifice of peace offering to the Lord to make a special vow to the Lord or for a freewill offering from the herd or from the flock must bring what is perfect to be accepted; there shall be no blemish in it. 22 Animals blind or made infirm and weak or maimed, or having sores or a wen or an itch or scabs, you shall not offer to the Lord or make an offering of them by fire upon the altar to the Lord. 23 For a freewill offering you may offer either a bull or a lamb which has some part too long or too short, but for [the payment of] a vow it shall not be accepted. Leviticus 22:21-23 AMP

Anytime you vow a vow, anytime you commit to do something for God or give something to Him it must be the best you have, not the worst. Under the Old Covenant, it was a matter of law; under the New Covenant it is a matter of the heart; however God has always emphasized how important our attitude is in everything we do—under the Old and the New. God is extremely generous. He does not do things in a measured way; neither does He hold back His blessing; He always gives His all and His best. You are the one who puts the limits on God when you have a bad attitude and when you refuse to give your all, and your best, to Him. It is your choice to give God your best or to give Him your junk, but be forewarned that He will not accept your offering of junk. An unaccepted offering is the same—or maybe worse—than no offering at all.

But cursed is the [cheating] deceiver who has a male in his flock and vows to offer it, yet sacrifices to the [sovereign] Lord a blemished or diseased thing! For I am a great King, says the Lord of hosts, and My name is terrible and to be [reverently] feared among the nations. Malachi 1:14 AMP

When you make God a promise to give God something that is your best and then you change your mind, God is not satisfied with your offering and does not receive it from your hand. It is an insult. Don’t think that He won’t notice or won’t care, because you could not be more wrong. Just how little respect do you have for Him? It is arrogant and stupid of you to try to deceive and cheat the Lord. He is not some stranger, who does not count in your life—He is your Father, the One who has always given you nothing but the best and who loves you with an undying love. What kind of ungrateful, spoiled brat child are you to give Him a blemished, diseased offering? What kind of a slap in the face have you given Him? You are cursed for giving God your rubbish when you committed to give your best.

If you return to the Almighty [and submit and humble yourself before Him], you will be built up; if you put away unrighteousness far from your tents, 24 If you lay gold in the dust, and the gold of Ophir among the stones of the brook [considering them of little worth], 25 And make the Almighty your gold and [the Lord] your precious silver treasure, 26 Then you will have delight in the Almighty, and you will lift up your face to God. 27 You will make your prayer to Him, and He will hear you, and you will pay your vows. 28 You shall also decide and decree a thing, and it shall be established for you; and the light [of God’s favor] shall shine upon your ways. 29 When they make [you] low, you will say, [There is] a lifting up; and the humble person He lifts up and saves. 30 He will even deliver the one [for whom you intercede] who is not innocent; yes, he will be delivered through the cleanness of your hands. Job 22:23-30 AMP

When you make God your precious treasure, you give Him His rightful place in your life; you delight in Him; you adore Him; you worship Him; you look to Him alone as your source and supply; you give Him both those things for which He has asked of you and the things which you have promised Him. All these things work together to get God’s attention and to cause His promise to you to be activated, and His blessing to be released onto your life. When you are faithful to keep covenant with Him and pay Him what is owed to Him—the things He has asked you for and the things you promised to Him—you will lack nothing. God’s favor will be upon your life. You have honored Him and He will honor you. You will ask for something and He will do it for you. He will even listen to you when you stand in the gap to pray a prayer for someone who is not deserving of His mercy. If you honor Him with your best, you position yourself as a person of covenant, a person after God’s own heart, and a friend of God Almighty, Himself!

Offer to God the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High, 15 And call on Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall honor and glorify Me. Psalms 50:14-15 AMP

When you are faithful to keep your promises and pay your vows, God will be prompt and diligent to deliver you whenever you are in trouble. Then you will have yet another reason to praise and thank God.

In God have I put my trust and confident reliance; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? 12 Your vows are upon me, O God; I will render praise to You and give You thank offerings. 13 For You have delivered my life from death, yes, and my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of life and of the living. Psalms 56:11-13 AMP

I place my trust in my God. When it is time to pay my vows, I do it. I do it cheerfully and willingly and I praise and honor Him. Because I honor Him by paying my vows, He delivers me. Because He delivers me, I praise, thank, and honor Him by paying my vows! It’s a glorious cycle!

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