BLESSED IN THE PRESENCE OF MY ENEMIES

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

Psalms 23:1-6

1The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. 3He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. 5Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. 6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

Psalm 23
Verse 4 – Even though we walk under the threat of death and destruction, if we do not fear, God’s presence will be with us to protect and preserve us.  Winston Churchill made a true statement, when he said, “We have nothing to fear, but fear itself!”

It does not matter what threat of disaster comes your way, it cannot actually touch you, as long as you realize that God is on your side and He walks with you to comfort and encourage you. Only if you take your eyes off Jesus and His Word and allow the devil and the circumstances to intimidate you, will you fail or fall. As long as you keep your eyes on Jesus and His Word and you continue to trust in Him, you will make it through and you will come out in victory on the other side. Your victory is not dependent on the severity of the attack, but on the strength of your trust in God.

Matthew 14:26-32
26And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. 27But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. 28And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. 29And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. 30But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. 31And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? 32And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased.

Peter stepped out of the boat and walked on the water. This is a major miracle, defying all the natural laws of physics, even on a totally calm day. Peter, however, took his eyes off Jesus and looked at his surroundings, his circumstances, the wind and the waves, and he began to sink. He did not sink because he was on water – he sank because he considered the circumstances above Jesus’ word, “Come”. It does not matter what you are going through, your faith in God’s Word makes water solid ground under your feet. The good news is that Peter walked back to the boat, on the water, with Jesus.  You must deal with your fear if you want to make it through.

Psalm 23
Verse 5 – It does not matter what terrible circumstances you have to live through, or what the enemy is trying to do to you, God promised to prepare a table before you – to meet all your needs. Not only that, He anoints your head with oil. The word ‘anoint’ has to do with ‘fatness’ and ‘fullness’ – in other words –abundance. God also promises not only to fill your cup, but cause it to overflow! Even though you might face a strong enemy and a mighty battle, if you will trust God, He can bless you exceeding abundantly above all you can ask or think. Great victories come from great battles – as long as you do not lose heart or faint!

2 Timothy 1:7
7For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

Giving That Gets God’s Attention

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

Acts 10:1-6

1 Now [living] at Caesarea there was a man whose name was Cornelius, a centurion [captain] of what was known as the Italian Regiment,

2 A devout man who venerated God and treated Him with reverential obedience, as did all his household; and he gave much alms to the people and prayed continually to God.

3 About the ninth hour [about 3:00 p. m.] of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God entering and saying to him, “Cornelius.”

4 And he, gazing intently at him, became frightened and said, “What is it, Lord?”  And the angel said to him, “Your prayers and your [generous] gifts to the poor have come up [as a sacrifice] to God and have been remembered by Him.

5 And now send men to Joppa and have them call for and invite here a certain Simon whose surname is Peter;

6 He is lodging with Simon a tanner, whose house is by the seaside.”

Cornelius was a gentile, but he venerated and reverenced God, as did his household.  He prayed continuously to God and he gave a lot of money to those less fortunate than himself.  These two things – his praying and his giving – came up as a sacrifice before God.  They got God’s attention.  Because of this, God moved supernaturally on his behalf to bring salvation to him and his household.  When you honor God with your heart and with your actions, He notices you and remembers what you did.  He will move on your behalf to bless you.

When God created man, He gave them a garden with everything they needed.  They lacked no good thing.  When their disobedience removed them from this garden and their abundant supply, they began to know lack and deprivation for the first time.  It was not in God’s plan for man that they be in lack and want.  Even though man has been disobedient, God loves them and cares for them and desires to bless and provide for them.  God wants those of us who have – to share with those of us who don’t.  God never blesses you so you can be selfish – He blesses you to bless you – and to bless those who cross your path.

Proverbs 14:31  (NIV)

31 He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.

When you are kind to those in need and when you do what you can to help them, you are showing respect and honor to God. When you overlook the poor and you pass over opportunities to help – then you show contempt toward God – no matter what a good Christian you claim to be.

Proverbs 19:17  (NAS)

17 He who is gracious to a poor man lends to the LORD, and He will repay him for his good deed.

When you are gracious (showing grace and mercy) to a poor man – you are lending to the Lord.  God sees, remembers, and repays you.  You give to the poor as much for his sake as yours.  God watches your attitude.  He watches to see if you walk in love and generosity toward everyone – not only to those in your own circle.

You might not have much to give.  You might only be able to give $5 or $10 or $20, but that could mean the difference between someone else being able to eat that day or not!  It is not the amount – it is the fact that you care enough to be generous toward others with what God has given you.

2 Corinthians 8:9  (NKJ)

9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.

God provided for every one of us to be redeemed from poverty through the sacrifice that Jesus made.  The way you tap into the blessings available to you is to give – and one of the ways you give is to give as much as you can to those less fortunate than yourself.  God sees, He hears, He remembers – and He supernaturally brings to you the things you need the most!

THE WORD IS THE SEED – HOW GOOD IS YOUR GROUND?

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

Mark 4:14-20  (NKJ)

14″The sower sows the word.

God sows the seed of the word in our hearts. His word is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart (Hebrews 4:12 NKJ). However, as powerful as the word is, it can not have any kind of positive effect in our lives unless we receive it into our hearts, keep it and act upon it. God determines the quality of the seed – you determine the quality of the ground!

15″And these are the ones by the wayside where the word is sown. When they hear, Satan comes immediately and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts.

The word does not go very far into some people. It lands right beside them, not inside them. They allow the devil to steal it immediately. The moment they hear it, they have already forgotten it. “In one ear and out the other!”

16″These likewise are the ones sown on stony ground who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness;

17″and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time. Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they stumble.

The “stony ground” people receive the word and allow it past their ears into their heart, but because the ground of their heart is hard, the word is not allowed to dig down and become rooted in them. The slightest bit of persecution or pressure that they encounter, the word goes right out the window and they are back to square one.

18″Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word,

19″and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.

Some “weedy” and “thorny” people hear the word, but because they allow worries, greed, lust and covetousness into their hearts, the word is choked right out of their hearts. You can’t have the weeds and the good seed of the word growing together. The nature of weeds is to overtake and destroy the good plants. You will have to weed your garden and root out all the bad attitudes if you want the word to produce in your life.

20″But these are the ones sown on good ground, those who hear the word, accept it, and bear fruit: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.”

Your heart is good ground only if you hear the word, accept it and bear fruit. The word must be allowed to take root in you in a clean, soft patch of heart that is not being choked by the weeds. Each person’s fruit is going to be different – thirty, sixty or one hundred fold – depending on how good the soil is, how deep the roots go and how often it is watered. You cannot just be a hearer of the word you must be a doer too.

James 1:23-25  (NKJ)

For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

Luke 6:46-49  (NKJ)

“But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things which I say?

“Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: “He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock. “But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great.”

THINK ON THESE THINGS

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

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy– meditate on these things.  Philippians 4:8 NKJ

 

As most of us were growing up, we were taught by parents, teachers and even religious leaders, to modify and control our outward behavior, but not necessarily our thought life. However, the Lord made it very clear in the Old and New Covenant that our thought life influences our behavior and therefore it dominates the success or failure of our life. Proverbs 23:7 says that as a man thinks in his heart, so is he. He may say one thing with his mouth, but his thoughts represent what he truly thinks and feels.

 

In order to truly influence a person, you must influence their mindset, not just their behavior. You can dominate someone in order to control their behavior, but if you do not influence their opinions, then when they leave your presence they will go ahead and do whatever they have decided to do anyway. As we raise our children, we should watch over their attitudes and keep them on track as much as we watch their behavior. When you bring correction to your children you must see that your discipline influences their attitude and straightens it out and the desired behavior will automatically follow. The bottom line is that they should have a soft heart toward God, not a hard one. And, most importantly, YOU make sure that you set a good example. BE who you want THEM to BE.

 

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ “But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.Matthew 5:27-28 NKJ

 

And He said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man.”  Mark 7:20-23 NKJ

 

If you have sinned in your heart, then you have sinned. Deal with sin at the root level – in your thought life – and it will not be able to destroy your life, because even at the current rate of inflation, the wages of sin is still death! Whatever we feed our heart and mind is what we will think about and what we will eventually be saying and doing. Many times even people who are born again have friends who are a bad influence. They think that the crude, worldly talk will not influence them, but before they know it they are talking and acting just like those friends and they have left Jesus behind!

 

If you regularly expose yourself, by what you hear and see, to any form of uncleanness – lies, bad reports and any unjust, impure, unlovely, ugly, critical, evil, ignoble things, then they will begin to play in your mind like a video. If you don’t get rid of the thoughts and stop allowing yourself to think on them then you will be in big trouble before long. The Lord looks on the heart, because our heart, with all its attitudes and opinions, is who we really are. We may be able to fool other people for a while with our outward show, but God knows who we really are and what we really think. We think that we are fooling people, because we are secure in the privacy of our own imagination, but many times even they eventually see through the façade. Your thoughts are revealed in your face more than you think they are!

 

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.

Psalms 1:1-3 NKJ

 

If you want to change the course of your life – change the way you think and what you think about. Stop thinking negative, evil, destructive, unproductive thoughts and fill yourself up with God’s word, meditating on it day and night. The devil may have lied to you and told you that you will never make it as a child of God because you are trapped in this twilight zone of evil thoughts that dominate and control you. You find yourself thinking them even when you don’t want to. Your only answer is to meditate on God’s word – constantly – and it will begin to crowd out the devil’s trash and burn it up. All that you need to do is to make a quality decision that you WILL be FREE, WHATEVER it takes!

DO NOT ALLOW A ROOT OF BITTERNESS TO SPRING UP AND DEFILE YOU

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

Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.

Hebrews 12:14-15 NIV

Other people may do and say things that we don’t like, but we are not responsible for them. We are not accountable for other people, but we are accountable for ourselves. We are accountable for our own behavior and attitudes. We are responsible for our own responses. We cannot change other people, they must change themselves, but we cannot allow them to affect or influence us negatively either. We must choose to walk in peace, no matter what choices the other person makes. If you allow someone else to make you angry and if you fight with them then you have given them power over you. They have the power to provoke you and get a response out of you. But if you refuse to respond in anger and you keep your emotions under control, then you will have the power and be in control of the situation.

The grace of God is extended toward you and others, alike. If you think that other people are your problem, then you will become angry toward them and if you do not deal with those emotions, you will become bitter toward them. Realize that your emotions are your own responsibility. Most times other people don’t even know that they have done anything to you to offend you, but you have allowed yourself to be angry with them and then this anger turned into bitterness. Bitterness is a root that will grow into a tree that will cause trouble for you and will cause you to be defiled. Ultimately, bitterness will bring destruction to your own life – not to anyone else’s.

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.  Ephesians 4:22-32 NIV

Bitterness is listed here with rage, anger, brawling, slander, and every form of malice. God tells us to get rid of it. There are people who are angry and bitter against someone. They never miss an opportunity to tell others what this person did to them. They continually sing the “somebody done somebody wrong song”. But the problem is that they are the only ones who are all messed up. The bitterness on the inside of them is destroying them. They have opened the door to sin in their own life, while they criticize the other person. Your bitterness eats you up on the inside and it opens the door to the devil in your life.

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother’s eye.  Matthew 7:1-5 NKJV

Bitterness, criticism and a judgmental spirit go together. You are in dangerous territory when you judge another person, because you are setting a standard by which you will be judged. Critical, judgmental people always have big problems of their own. Either they are sinning themselves, or they open themselves up for sin to take control of them. Even if we are in a position where we have to help another person straighten themselves up, the Bible tells us to be very aware and careful of our own attitude even as we bring a correction to theirs.

Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.  Galatians 6:1 KJV

You need God’s grace in your life on a daily basis. Don’t hinder His grace by allowing bitterness to have control of you. Stop the cycle and forgive and release whomever it is that you are bitter against. God will forgive you and His grace will be extended toward you.

GOD LOVES A CHEERFUL GIVER WHOSE HEART IS IN HIS GIVING

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

2 CORINTHIANS 9:1-15 NIV

Verses 1-5 There is no need for me to write to you about this service to the saints. 2 For I know your eagerness to help, and I have been boasting about it to the Macedonians, telling them that since last year you in Achaia were ready to give; and your enthusiasm has stirred most of them to action. 3 But I am sending the brothers in order that our boasting about you in this matter should not prove hollow, but that you may be ready, as I said you would be. 4 For if any Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared, we-not to say anything about you-would be ashamed of having been so confident. 5 So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to visit you in advance and finish the arrangements for the generous gift you had promised. Then it will be ready as a generous gift, not as one grudgingly given.

We must adjust our attitude about our giving. Our gift (offering) must be given generously and willingly – not extorted, not wrung out of us.

Verse 6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.

If we sow sparingly and grudgingly, we will also reap sparingly and grudgingly. If we sow generously – in order to be a blessing – we will also reap generously and with blessing.

Verse 7 Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Make up your own mind – purpose in your heart to give. You decide – you choose – when, where and how to give. Not reluctantly, not sorrowfully, nor under compulsion. God loves, takes pleasure in, prizes above other things and is unwilling to abandon, or to do without a cheerful, joyous, prompt to do it giver, whose heart is in his giving. God is not pleased with a grumpy, selfish minimal giver.

Verse 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

For the generous cheerful givers – God is able to make all grace – favor, earthly blessing – come to you in abundance. So that you may always, under all circumstances and whatever the need – be self-sufficient. You will possess enough to require no aid or support and you will be furnished in abundance for every good work and charitable donation. When you are a generous, cheerful giver – you will lend and not borrow. You won’t need anyone to help you, but you will be the one who has and who gives to those who have a need.

Verse 9 As it is written: “He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” 

The benevolent person scatters abroad – he has a lot to give to a lot of people. He thinks of others and gives to the poor. His giving amounts to deeds of goodness, kindness, benevolence and justice. His giving has eternal consequences – the results of his giving go on and endure forever.

Verse 10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.

God provides seed for the sower and bread for the eater. God will provide seed and also multiply your resources for giving. If you are a giver – God will get stuff to you to give. He will increase the fruit of your righteousness. The fruit of your righteousness is active goodness, kindness and charity. The more you give – the more good and kind and charitable you become. The more good and kind and charitable you become – the more you give. It’s a wonderful cycle of blessing and increase in every area. Giving will change your heart for good. Make a decision to give and keep on giving – you will get free – you will begin to enjoy your life!

Verse 11 You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

God will bless you and enrich you in all things and in every way so that you can be generous. Your generosity glorifies God – it brings forth thanksgiving to God.

Verse 12-13 This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.

People will glorify God for your loyalty and obedience to the Gospel of Christ and for your generous-hearted liberality to them. You can say that you believe the Gospel, but your giving proves that you do.

Verse 14-15 And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

God’s gift – Jesus – eternal life – is free. But we Christians must decide to be a part of bringing this Gospel – free – to all those who have yet to hear!

 

ENTRUST YOURSELF INTO HIS KEEPING

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

22 The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten. 23 After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24 Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. 25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose. 27 The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!” 29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved-you and your household.” 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33 At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized. 34 The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God-he and his whole family. Acts 16:22-34 NIV

Verse 31, in the Amplified Bible, says, “And they answered, Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ [give yourself up to Him, take yourself out of your own keeping and entrust yourself into His keeping] and you will be saved, [and this applies both to] you and your household as well.”

When you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, in essence, you are giving yourself up to Him and into His care. You are no longer in your own care – you are in His care. You take yourself out of your keeping and entrust yourself into His keeping. From the moment you trust Him with your life, He begins to watch over you in earnest. You are now His and He takes that very seriously. He watches over those who are is – to bless them, to keep them, to protect them and to provide for them.

22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Luke 12:22 NIV

31 So do not worry, saying, `What shall we eat?’ or `What shall we drink?’ or `What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Matthew 6:31-33 NIV

When you give yourself into the Father’s keeping it means that you cease to worry yourself about your own keeping and you now completely trust Him to take care of you. Before you were a believer, you spent all your energy worrying about and working to take care of your basic needs, but as a believer, God says to you, “I will watch over you and provide for you!” We tend to think that we are responsible for the basic things and God is responsible for the bigger things. We want to decide when to invite God to participate in our lives, but that is our pride manifesting! He wants us to know that we can depend on Him from the smallest things to the biggest things and that wemust depend on Him from the smallest things to the biggest things!

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price.  1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NIV

We are not our own. We belong to the Father, the Son – Jesus – and the Holy Spirit. We must honor God by trusting Him with our lives. By allowing Him to lead us, guide us, protect us and provide for us. We must trust His Word that says we are His and that we must “cast our cares on Him because He cares for us” (1 Peter 5:7).

Hebrews 12:2 says that Jesus is the “Author and the Finisher of our faith” and in Philippians 1:6, Paul says that he is confident of this, “that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” I can trust Him with every aspect of my life, from the smallest to the greatest, because, “I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine.” (Song of Solomon 6:3) and “He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.” (Song of Solomon 2:4)

HONOR YOUR FATHER WITH YOUR ACCEPTABLE OFFERING

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

A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a Father, where is My honor? And if I am a Master, where is the [reverent] fear due Me? says the Lord of hosts to you, O priests, who despise My name. You say, How and in what way have we despised Your name? 7 By offering polluted food upon My altar. And you ask, How have we polluted it and profaned You? By thinking that the table of the Lord is contemptible and may be despised. 8 When you [priests] offer blind [animals] for sacrifice, is it not evil? And when you offer the lame and the sick, is it not evil? Present such a thing [a blind or lame or sick animal] now to your governor [in payment of your taxes, and see what will happen]. Will he be pleased with you? Or will he receive you graciously? says the Lord of hosts. 9 Now then, I [Malachi] beg [you priests], entreat God [earnestly] that He will be gracious to us. With such a gift from your hand [as a defective animal for sacrifice], will He accept it or show favor to any of you? says the Lord of hosts. 10 Oh, that there were even one among you [whose duty it is to minister to Me] who would shut the doors, that you might not kindle fire on My altar to no purpose [an empty, futile, fruitless pretense]! I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord of hosts, nor will I accept an offering from your hand. 11 For from the rising of the sun to its setting My name shall be great among the nations, and in every place incense shall be offered to My name, and indeed a pure offering; for My name shall be great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts. 12 But you [priests] profane it when [by your actions] you say, The table of the Lord is polluted, and the fruit of it, its food, is contemptible and may be despised. 13 You say also, Behold, what a drudgery and weariness this is! And you have sniffed at it, says the Lord of hosts. And you have brought that which was taken by violence, or the lame or the sick; this you bring as an offering! Shall I accept this from your hand? says the Lord. 14 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 1:6-14 AMP

There is an honor that is due from a servant to a master and from a son to a father. A servant who does not honor his master and a son who does not honor his father despise and abuse the relationship and cut off their avenue of blessing. Honor, where honor is due, goes hand in hand with blessing. You show honor toward God by your offering or dishonor toward Him by your lack thereof.

By bringing no offering, you demonstrate that you do not honor the Lord. If you bring an offering, but it is your dregs and scraps – the blind, the lame and the sick – then you openly dishonor your Heavenly Father. You think that He does not see or know, but He does – your offering rises up to Him either as a sweet smelling savor or a terrible stink – depending on the quality of the offering and the attitude in which you offer it. The two things that matter every time you give an offering are your attitude and the measure or quality of your offering.

But who am I, and what are my people, that we should retain strength and be able to offer thus so willingly? For all things come from You, and out of Your own [hand] we have given You.  1 Chronicles 29:14 AMP

Everything you have is God’s and it belongs to Him. He graciously allows you to partake of it. He even shares what is His with the unjust – He rains on the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45).

Cain did not bring an acceptable offering – God did not receive his offering – because he did not bring his first or his best (Genesis 4:3-8). Abel brought the first and the best and his offering was acceptable to the Lord. If God does not accept your offering – then there is no blessing for you – there is no harvest and no return. Cain got mad at Abel and murdered him, but what he should have done was to repent, obey God and bring an offering that was acceptable to the Lord. Abel wasn’t Cain’s problem – Cain’s disrespectful attitude was his problem.

Be honest with the Lord in all your dealings – particularly your offerings – because He knows your thoughts and the intents and purposes of your heart. If your attitude is wrong – He knows it. If your offering is second-rate – He knows it. If you want Him to accept your offering and to bless it – then you must bring Him that which is acceptable to Him. Do not try to slip a polluted offering past Him and then get mad when He does not receive it – change your attitude and do what is right so that all of God’s blessings may come your way.

DEFEAT THE ENEMY WITH THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT

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

For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart. 13 And not a creature exists that is concealed from His sight, but all things are open and exposed, naked and defenseless to the eyes of Him with Whom we have to do. 14 Inasmuch then as we have a great High Priest Who has [already] ascended and passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession [of faith in Him]. 15 For we do not have a High Priest Who is unable to understand and sympathize and have a shared feeling with our weaknesses and infirmities and liability to the assaults of temptation, but one Who has been tempted in every respect as we are, yet without sinning. 16 Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God’s unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it].  Hebrews 4:12-16 AMP

God’s Word is alive and full of power. It is active, operative, energizing, and effective. That means itworks! God’s Word works when you work it. God’s Word works when you speak it and when youact on it. If you come into God’s presence in the boldness of the righteousness purchased for you at Calvary and standing on the authority of His Word – He has promised to help you and show mercy to you in your time of need.

So shall My word be that goes forth out of My mouth: it shall not return to Me void [without producing any effect, useless], but it shall accomplish that which I please and purpose, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.  Isaiah 55:11 AMP

God’s Word is powerful and accomplishes His purposes. That means that His Word always works for Him and produces the results He planned them to. God’s Word will work for you if you speak it with conviction – if you believe that it is true and that He says what He means and He means what He says. If you don’t actually believe God’s Word, you can speak it until you are blue in the face and nothing will happen.

Then Jesus was led (guided) by the [Holy] Spirit into the wilderness (desert) to be tempted (tested and tried) by the devil. 2 And He went without food for forty days and forty nights, and later He was hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to Him, If You are God’s Son, command these stones to be made [loaves of] bread. 4 But He replied, It has been written, Man shall not live and be upheld and sustained by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God. 5 Then the devil took Him into the holy city and placed Him on a turret (pinnacle, gable) of the temple sanctuary. 6 And he said to Him, If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written, He will give His angels charge over you, and they will bear you up on their hands, lest you strike your foot against a stone. 7 Jesus said to him, On the other hand, it is written also, You shall not tempt, test thoroughly, or try exceedingly the Lord your God. 8 Again, the devil took Him up on a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory (the splendor, magnificence, preeminence, and excellence) of them. 9 And he said to Him, These things, all taken together, I will give You, if You will prostrate Yourself before me and do homage and worship me. 10 Then Jesus said to him, Begone, Satan! For it has been written, You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him alone shall you serve. 11 Then the devil departed from Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.   Matthew 4:1-11 AMP

The devil came to tempt Jesus and to try to get Him to yield to him in His weakened state after His forty-day fast. The devil is basically a coward – he waits until you are vulnerable and then he goes in for the kill. However, even though Jesus was physically weak, which made Him mentally more vulnerable than normal, His Spirit was strong. He had just spent forty days intensely fellowshipping with the Holy Spirit after spending thirty years meditating in the Word. He allowed the Word to rise up on the inside of Him and He spoke it out, “It is written!” and shut the devil up. Jesus did not defeat the devil on the basis of who He was – the Son of God – He defeated him with the Word!

If you are going to have any hope of defeating the devil and overcoming all the challenges that life throws your way, you will have to do it with the Word of God deposited and abiding firmly in your heart and coming out of your mouth with faith and boldness!

SIN WILL MAKE YOU BLIND AND STUPID

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

Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5 “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” 6 He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.

John 12:3-6 NIV

Judas was a thief – he was stealing from the treasury bag that belonged to Jesus and the other disciples. He saw how Jesus looked into people’s hearts and knew their thoughts. How he think that he was getting away with it? Obviously sin makes you blind and stupid! When you steal from someone – your boss, your parents, or any other person – you demonstrate that you have no respect for others – not because there is something wrong with them, but because there is something wrong with you! You are supposed to be respectful of authority – spiritual and natural authority. Your disrespect for authority is a tell-tale sign that something is wrong in your life.

Then one of the Twelve-the one called Judas Iscariot-went to the chief priests 15 and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty silver coins. 16 From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.  Matthew 26:14-16 NIV

Because Judas had stolen from Jesus; because he did not respect Him; he was offended when the woman anointed Jesus with the very expensive perfume. Forgetting who Jesus was (the Son of God), forgetting all the wonderful things and mighty miracles He had done, forgetting all the wise things He had said, forgetting how Jesus had loved all of them and served them, and demonstrating an utter lack of respect for the Spirit of God, Judas went straight out of the house to the betray Jesus to the chief priests. You can try to hide your disrespect, but sooner or later it will be manifested for all to see.

The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus.  John 13:2 NIV

If you make a mistake, if you give in to the devil’s temptation and you commit sin, you heart will convict you. Listen to your heart, immediately repent and shut the door on the devil. If you refuse to repent and you justify your sin, your heart will become hardened by the deceitfulness of sin (Hebrews 3:13). This unwise choice signals the beginning of your end. It’s all downhill from there. Everything you have worked for and built in your life will be lost. Judas opened the door to the devil through his unrepentant sin. Now the devil was the one pulling the strings and controlling Judas. Judas was no longer in charge. Judas was merely a pawn of the evil one.

As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. 28 “What you are about to do, do quickly,” Jesus told him.  John 13:27-28 NIV

At the Passover meal, Jesus told them all that one of them would betray Him. Judas knew that Jesus knew that it was him and he could have and should have changed his mind at that point, but he still went out and did it. His sin and his terrible attitude of disrespect brought Judas to such a place of self-deception that he never came around out of his “trance” until after he had betrayed his Lord with a kiss, for a mere 30 pieces of silver. When the devil was finished with Judas, he left him. The scales of self-deception fell off his eyes and he regretted everything he had done.

When he saw the result of his actions – the arrest and brutal treatment of Jesus, an innocent man – he was completely distraught. He tried to give the money back, to tell them that Jesus was innocent, and to beg them to let Jesus go, but it could not be reversed. The only thing he could think of to do was to end his own life. Judas did not have to die and go to hell. He could have been filled with the Spirit and preached with Peter on the day of Pentecost! What a sad end – and it all began in such a “small” way – stealing out of the bag. Sin makes you blind and stupid and will be the cause of the ruin and the premature end of your life.

Guard your heart. Watch over the small things. Don’t allow the devil to tempt you with sin. Don’t give him any place in your life. Always do the right thing. It may be harder to work than to steal. It may take longer to earn it than to take it, but in the end you will be blessed and you will have heaven and not hell in your future.

Rodney Howard Browne bringing revival to America…