Tag Archives: The Great Awakening

Clean Hands and a Pure Heart

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

Who shall go up into the mountain of the Lord? Or who shall stand in His Holy Place? 4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted himself up to falsehood or to what is false, nor sworn deceitfully. 5 He shall receive blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of his salvation.  Psalms 24:3-5 AMP

Sin cannot enter or stand in the presence of God and neither can anyone who is full of sin. Who can ascend into Heaven? Who may enter the Father’s Holy Presence?

Only those who:

1. Have clean hands
• Hands that have not committed sin – sin free
• Hands that are innocent – blameless; clean; clear; exempted; free; guiltless
• Psalms 15 NKJV – Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle?     Who may dwell in Your holy hill? 2 He who walks uprightly, And works righteousness, And speaks the truth in his heart; 3 He who does not backbite with his tongue, Nor does evil to his neighbor, Nor does he take up a reproach against his friend; 4 In whose eyes a vile person is despised, But he honors those who fear the Lord; He who swears to his own hurt and does not change; 5 He who does not put out his money at usury, Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved.
• No matter what we have done in the past, we can repent and have a heart-change, receive God’s forgiveness, have our sins washed away by the blood of Jesus and have the power of sin broken over us. We can have a brand new start and begin to do right from that moment on.

2. Have a pure heart
• A heart empty or void of sin and iniquity
• A sincere heart; beloved
• A choice, clean, clear, pure heart
• Psalms 51:7-11 NKJV – Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. 8 Make me hear joy and gladness, That the bones You have broken may rejoice. 9 Hide Your face from my sins, And blot out all my iniquities. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
• Malachi 3:2-3 NKJV – “But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire And like launderers’ soap. 3 He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi, And purge them as gold and silver, That they may offer to the Lord An offering in righteousness.
• Matthew 5:8 KJV – Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

3. Do not lie, have idols or live a selfish, ungodly life
• 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 NKJV – 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.
• Galatians 5:19-21 NKJV – Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
• Hebrews 12:14 KJV – Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.

4. Love truth
• Revelation 21:8 NKJV – But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

Have you received Jesus as your Lord? Do you live to do His will and not your own? Heaven welcomes those who are perfect – not perfected by their own goodness, but who have truly repented, been washed in the blood of Jesus, been forgiven and who continue to serve Him in the beauty of holiness.

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, 23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24 to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.  Hebrews 12:22-24 NKJV

The twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass. 22 But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light. 24 And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it.  25 Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there). 26 And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it.  27 But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.  Revelation 21:21-27 NKJV

Is your name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life? Only those with clean hands and a pure heart, whose names are written in there, will be able to enter that glorious City of God, to live forever with Him, filled with and surrounded by His joy and His peace. The reward of having clean hands and a pure heart is that you will receive blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of your salvation!

 

20 LIFE LESSONS FROM EPHESIANS 5

Therefore be imitators of God [copy Him and follow His example], as well-beloved children [imitate their father]. 2 And walk in love, [esteeming and delighting in one another] as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a slain offering and sacrifice to God [for you, so that it became] a sweet fragrance. 3 But immorality (sexual vice) and all impurity [of lustful, rich, wasteful living] or greediness must not even be named among you, as is fitting and proper among saints (God’s consecrated people). 4 Let there be no filthiness (obscenity, indecency) nor foolish and sinful (silly and corrupt) talk, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting or becoming; but instead voice your thankfulness [to God]. 5 For be sure of this: that no person practicing sexual vice or impurity in thought or in life, or one who is covetous [who has lustful desire for the property of others and is greedy for gain] — for he [in effect] is an idolater — has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no one delude and deceive you with empty excuses and groundless arguments [for these sins], for through these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of rebellion and disobedience. 7 So do not associate or be sharers with them.  For once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of Light [lead the lives of those native-born to the Light]. 9 For the fruit (the effect, the product) of the Light or the Spirit [consists] in every form of kindly goodness, uprightness of heart, and trueness of life. 10 And try to learn [in your experience] what is pleasing to the Lord [let your lives be constant proofs of what is most acceptable to Him]. 11 Take no part in and have no fellowship with the fruitless deeds and enterprises of darkness, but instead [let your lives be so in contrast as to] expose and reprove and convict them. 12 For it is a shame even to speak of or mention the things that [such people] practice in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed and reproved by the light, it is made visible and clear; and where everything is visible and clear there is light. 14 Therefore He says, Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall shine (make day dawn) upon you and give you light. 15 Look carefully then how you walk! Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as the unwise and witless, but as wise (sensible, intelligent people), 16 Making the very most of the time [buying up each opportunity], because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be vague and thoughtless and foolish, but understanding and firmly grasping what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but ever be filled and stimulated with the [Holy] Spirit. 19 Speak out to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, offering praise with voices [and instruments] and making melody with all your heart to the Lord, 20 At all times and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father. 21 Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).
Ephesians 5:1-21 AMP

1. Be imitators of God – copy Him and follow His example

2. Walk in love sacrificially – just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us

3. Immorality, impurity or greediness must not even be named among you

4. NO filthiness, obscenity, indecency; nor foolish and sinful, silly and corrupt talk; nor coarse jesting should come out of your mouth

5. Let no one delude and deceive you with empty excuses and groundless arguments for these sins – because God will be punishing those who commit these sins

6. Don’t associate or partner with people who practice the works of the flesh – those who are rebellious and disobedient

7. Walk as children of the Light

8. Learn what pleases God – and do those things

9. Have no fellowship with the works of darkness

10. Reprove the works of darkness – let your life be so in contrast to these so as to convict and expose them

11. Wake up! Awake from sleep and death – let Jesus shine His light into your heart and life

12. Walk circumspectly – live purposefully and worthily and accurately

13. Walk as wise men – as sensible, intelligent people

14. Redeem the time – make the very most of the time you have

15. Don’t be vague and thoughtless and foolish, but understand and firmly grasp what the will of the Lord is

16. Don’t be drunk with wine or alcohol

17. Do be continuously filled with the Holy Spirit

18. Edify yourselves with worship, music and singing that glorifies God

19. Continue to give thanks to God in Jesus’ name

20. Be submitted and accountable to one other

The Gospel of Glad Tidings

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

And this good news of the kingdom (the Gospel) will be preached throughout the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then will come the end. Matthew 24:14 AMP

The Gospel is good news! The word Gospel literally means good news or glad tidings. The Greek word is “euangelizo”, so when we talk about evangelizing, it literally means “sharing the good news”. Isaiah 61:1a AMP prophesies about Jesus: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed and qualified me to preach the Gospel of good tidings…”  John the Baptist preached the good news that Jesus was coming. Jesus preached the good news about the Kingdom of God and healed people everywhere He went. We, today, preach the good news that Jesus has come and died and rose again for our salvation and we show His goodness by doing the works of Jesus.

The Gospel is the Good News about:

1.  The Kingdom of Heaven and of God
– Matthew 4:23 AMP – And He went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the good news (Gospel) of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every weakness and infirmity among the people.
– Matthew 9:35 AMP – And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news (the Gospel) of the kingdom and curing all kinds of disease and every weakness and infirmity.
– Mark 1:14-15 ERV – After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee and told people the Good News from God. 15 He said, “The right time is now here. God’s kingdom is near. Change your hearts and lives, and believe the Good News!”

2.  God
– Romans 1:1-2 ERV – Greetings from Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus. God chose me to be an apostle and gave me the work of telling his Good News.  2 God promised long ago through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures to give this Good News to his people.
– Romans 15:16 AMP – In making me a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles. I act in the priestly service of the Gospel (the good news) of God, in order that the sacrificial offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable [to God], consecrated and made holy by the Holy Spirit.

3.  Jesus Christ
– Mark 1:1 AMP – The beginning [of the facts] of the good news (the Gospel) of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
– Romans 1:16 AMP – For I am not ashamed of the Gospel (good news) of Christ, for it is God’s power workinffg unto salvation [for deliverance from eternal death] to everyone who believes with a personal trust and a confident surrender and firm reliance, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
– Romans 15:29 AMP – And I know that when I do come to you, I shall come in the abundant blessing of the Gospel of Christ.

4.  Salvation and Redemption for All
– Mark 16:15 AMP – And He said to them, Go into all the world and preach and publish openly the good news (the Gospel) to every creature [of the whole human race].
– Luke 4:18-19 AMP – The Spirit of the Lord [is] upon Me, because He has anointed Me [the Anointed One, the Messiah] to preach the good news (the Gospel) to the poor; He has sent Me to announce release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to send forth as delivered those who are oppressed [who are downtrodden, bruised, crushed, and broken down by calamity], 19 To proclaim the accepted and acceptable year of the Lord [the day when salvation and the free favors of God profusely abound.]

5.  The Grace of God
-Acts 20:24 NKJV – But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.

6.  Peace
– Romans 10:15 KJV – 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!
-Ephesians 6:15 KJV – And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.

7.  The Promises
– Ephesians 3:6 KJV – That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the Gospel.
Hebrews 8:6 NKJV – But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.

8.  The Truth
– Ephesians 1:13 NKJV – In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.
Colossians 1:5 NKJV – Because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the Gospel.

9.  Having a Lifestyle of Faith
– Philippians 1:27 NKJV – Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the Gospel.

10.  Giving Hope
– Colossians 1:23 NKJV – If indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.

11.  Living Forever – Immortality
– 2 Timothy 1:10-11 NKJV – But has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel.

God has called us believers to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature, to baptize them in water and in the Holy Ghost, to get them healed delivered and on fire for God! The Gospel of the Kingdom is not a Gospel of something only in the future – a kingdom that is to come – but is the Good News of salvation and all the benefits of the redemption we have through Jesus Christ, which are available right now. We can have and enjoy His eternal life right now!

BLESSINGS TO OVERTAKE YOU

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

Foundation Scripture: Deuteronomy 28:1-14  (NAS)
1″Now it shall be, if you will diligently obey the LORD your God, being careful to do all His commandments which I command you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. 2″And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you will obey the LORD your God. 3″Blessed {shall} you {be} in the city, and blessed {shall} you {be} in the country. 4″Blessed {shall be} the offspring of your body and the produce of your ground and the offspring of your beasts, the increase of your herd and the young of your flock. 5″Blessed {shall be} your basket and your kneading bowl. 6″Blessed {shall} you {be} when you come in, and blessed {shall} you {be} when you go out. 7″The LORD will cause your enemies who rise up against you to be defeated before you; they shall come out against you one way and shall flee before you seven ways. 8″The LORD will command the blessing upon you in your barns and in all that you put your hand to, and He will bless you in the land which the LORD your God gives you. 9″The LORD will establish you as a holy people to Himself, as He swore to you, if you will keep the commandments of the LORD your God, and walk in His ways. 10″So all the peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the LORD; and they shall be afraid of you. 11″And the LORD will make you abound in prosperity, in the offspring of your body and in the offspring of your beast and in the produce of your ground, in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers to give you. 12″The LORD will open for you His good storehouse, the heavens, to give rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hand; and you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. 13″And the LORD shall make you the head and not the tail, and you only shall be above, and you shall not be underneath, if you will listen to the commandments of the LORD your God, which I charge you today, to observe {them} carefully, 14and do not turn aside from any of the words which I command you today, to the right or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them.

These are the blessings that come to those who obey God’s Word. Anyone who says that tragedy and destruction come from God has obviously not read their Bible! The curse comes to those who disobey God and go to serve other gods before Him. God will not destroy you, but you will be destroyed because you wandered into the enemy’s territory. Thank God we don’t have to walk under the curse, but we can walk in the blessing.

Galatians 3:13-14  (NAS)
13Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us– for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”–14in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

Thank God – Jesus has redeemed us from the curse! We can walk in the blessings that our Father has made available to us. Meditate on the blessings – they are yours. We don’t have to accept anything less!

JESUS OUR PEACE – PART TWO

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

John 14:26-27  (NKJ)

26 “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.

27 “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

After Jesus rose from the dead, He left us, but He did not leave us alone. He gave us the Holy Spirit to teach us and lead us. He also left us His perfect peace. We can walk in His peace if we will let the fear go. You make the decision on whether you will walk in fear or in peace. Peace is yours.

Psalms 34:12-15  (NKJ)

12 Who is the man who desires life, and loves many days, that he may see good?

13 Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit.

14 Depart from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.

15 The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry.

Peace is something you must pursue. You pursue it by putting a guard on your mouth  speaking truth and doing good. Nothing will destroy your peace like sin and lying will.

Psalms 37:37  (NKJ)

37 Mark the blameless man, and observe the upright; for the future of that man is peace.

An honest, upright man will always have peace in his life.

Romans 8:6-7  (NKJ)

6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.

If your mind is focused on the world and the carnal things of the world you will not have any peace. Peace comes when you put your mind and attention on the things of God.

Isaiah 26:3  (NKJ)

3 You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.

As you put the Word of God into your heart, peace will reign in your life.

Psalms 119:165  (NKJ)

165 Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing causes them to stumble.

Proverbs 3:1-2  (NKJ)

1 My son, do not forget my law, but let your heart keep my commands;

2 For length of days and long life and peace they will add to you.

Colossians 3:15  (NKJ)15

15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.

Isaiah 54:13-14  (NKJ)

13 All your children shall be taught by the LORD, and great shall be the peace of your children.

14 In righteousness you shall be established; you shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear; and from terror, for it shall not come near you.

Isaiah 52:7  (NKJ)

7 How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!”

The gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is a gospel of peace — peace with God, peace in your own heart and life, peace in the lives of your children, peace with your enemies, and peace in the midst of the storm.

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!