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.

GROWING UP INTO CHRIST’S PERFECTION

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

Ephesians 4:4-16

[There is] one body and one Spirit–just as there is also one hope [that belongs] to the calling you received–5[There is] one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of [us] all, Who is above all [Sovereign over all], pervading all and [living] in [us] all. 7 Yet grace (God’s unmerited favor) was given to each of us individually [not indiscriminately, but in different ways] in proportion to the measure of Christ’s [rich and bounteous] gift. 8 Therefore it is said, When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive [He led a train of vanquished foes] and He bestowed gifts on men. 9[But He ascended?] Now what can this, He ascended, mean but that He had previously descended from [the heights of] heaven into [the depths], the lower parts of the earth? 10 He Who descended is the [very] same as He Who also has ascended high above all the heavens, that He [His presence] might fill all things (the whole universe, from the lowest to the highest).

Ephesians 4:4-10 AMP

Before the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, the presence of God filled the earth. His presence was in man and in all of His creation. Man’s decision to disobey caused sin and death to take over where life once reigned. Jesus bought back the right for life to reign over death when He defeated death by His sacrifice on the cross. Once again, there will come a time when His presence will fill all things. Right now His presence fills the lives of those who choose to love, obey and serve Him, and as they spread the Word, He fills the lives of more and more people. His will is that all men would hear the Gospel, receive it, and be filled with His presence, until the whole world is changed and filled with Him, Himself.

And His gifts were [varied; He Himself appointed and gave men to us] some to be apostles (special messengers), some prophets (inspired preachers and expounders), some evangelists (preachers of the Gospel, traveling missionaries), some pastors (shepherds of His flock) and teachers. 12 His intention was the perfecting and the full equipping of the saints (His consecrated people), [that they should do] the work of ministering toward building up Christ’s body (the church), 13[That it might develop] until we all attain oneness in the faith and in the comprehension of the [full and accurate] knowledge of the Son of God, that [we might arrive] at really mature manhood (the completeness of personality which is nothing less than the standard height of Christ’s own perfection), the measure of the stature of the fullness of the Christ and the completeness found in Him.   Ephesians 4:11-13 AMP

God anoints and equips men and women to stand in the five-fold offices of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers.  Their job is to prepare – perfect and equip – the saints to do the work of ministry and to build up the Body of Christ. The process of growing up and being built up involves getting to know Jesus as He really is and growing in love and unity as a body. Father God wants the Body of Christ to develop and mature. Jesus is our standard – we must measure ourselves against Him and no one else. Father God wants us to be more and more like Jesus until we grow up and become just like Him.

So then, we may no longer be children, tossed [like ships] to and fro between chance gusts of teaching and wavering with every changing wind of doctrine, [the prey of] the cunning and cleverness of unscrupulous men, [gamblers engaged] in every shifting form of trickery in inventing errors to mislead.  Ephesians 4:14 AMP

When you spend time in God’s presence and in His word, when you receive from the ministry gifts that God has placed in the church, you will mature in the word and the things of God to a place where you are protected from deception. When people are ignorant about what the word of God says, they are more vulnerable to being deceived. God does not want any of us to be lied to or deceived at all. He wants us to know the truth – the truth about Himself and the truth about the devil – because it is the truth that makes us free (John 8:32).

Rather, let our lives lovingly express truth [in all things, speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly]. Enfolded in love, let us grow up in every way and in all things into Him Who is the Head, [even] Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed one). 16 For because of Him the whole body (the church, in all its various parts), closely joined and firmly knit together by the joints and ligaments with which it is supplied, when each part [with power adapted to its need] is working properly [in all its functions], grows to full maturity, building itself up in love.  Ephesians 4:15-16 AMP

Growing up into maturity in God involves growing up in love. If we don’t know love, we don’t know God (1 John 4:8).  Because of Jesus, the whole body of Christ is closely joined and firmly knitted together, working together, and growing to full maturity, building itself up in the love of God. We are being filled more and more with His presence and becoming more and more like Him until we see Him face to face. This is God’s kingdom coming to earth – we are His kingdom and we need to press into Him to be all that He wants us to be and to do all that He wants us to do!

TAKING CONTROL OF YOUR THOUGHT LIFE

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

The upright (honorable, intrinsically good) man out of the good treasure [stored] in his heart produces what is upright (honorable and intrinsically good), and the evil man out of the evil storehouse brings forth that which is depraved (wicked and intrinsically evil); for out of the abundance (overflow) of the heart his mouth speaks. Luke 6:45 AMP

Do you not see and understand that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the abdomen and so passes on into the place where discharges are deposited? 18 But whatever comes out of the mouth comes from the heart, and this is what makes a man unclean and defiles [him]. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts (reasonings and disputings and designs) such as murder, adultery, sexual vice, theft, false witnessing, slander, and irreverent speech. 20 These are what make a man unclean and defile [him]; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him unclean or defile [him]. Matthew 15:17-20 AMP

Many people are so particular about what goes into their mouth, and yet they are not at all concerned with what comes out of their mouth. Jesus made it clear that whatever is coming out of your mouth—good or bad—is coming out of the abundance, or the overflow, of your heart. The evil and the unclean things in your life come from within you—your thought life—and that is where it must be dealt with. Jesus said in Matthew 5:28 AMP, “I say to you that everyone who so much as looks at a woman with evil desire for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” If you retain sin in your thoughts, you can’t help but to continue to make wrong decisions and to do wrong things in your life. You need to start from within. If you deal with, and eliminate, sin in your thought life, you will begin to eradicate it from your life.

For those who are according to the flesh and are controlled by its unholy desires set their minds on and pursue those things which gratify the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit and are controlled by the desires of the Spirit set their minds on and seek those things which gratify the [Holy] Spirit. 6 Now the mind of the flesh [which is sense and reason without the Holy Spirit] is death [death that comprises all the miseries arising from sin, both here and hereafter]. But the mind of the [Holy] Spirit is life and [soul] peace [both now and forever]. Romans 8:5-6 AMP

Those who are controlled by the unholy desires of the flesh have set their minds on and have pursued those things which gratify the flesh. The carnal (fleshly) mind is hostile to God and His Word and results only in death, but the mind of the Holy Spirit is life and peace. If you want to have life, peace, and blessings, you need to seek those things, and to set your mind on those things, which gratify both the Holy Spirit and your born-again spirit. Start taking control of your thought life by renewing your mind to the Word of God and welcoming the work of the Holy Spirit in your life.

On that day when, as my Gospel proclaims, God by Jesus Christ will judge men in regard to the things which they conceal (their hidden thoughts). Romans 2:16 AMP

When Judgment Day comes, you will not be judged merely on your words and deeds, but on your thoughts and your attitudes. The things that people can’t see or hear—your thoughts—are seen and heard by God. So it is vital that you begin now to deal with your thoughts and bring them into subjection to the Word of God.

2 Corinthians 10:4-5 KJV says, “(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ and the Amplified Version says, “For the weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood], but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds, 5[Inasmuch as we] refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed one).”

The most important war we all wage is not a war with flesh and blood, but a war with our own imaginations. The worst strongholds in people’s lives are not demons from without, but they are arguments, theories, and reasonings; pride, carnality, and deception from within. All rebellious thoughts and imaginations, that exalt themselves against the knowledge of God, must be brought down into captivity through obedience. By submitting yourself in obedience to the Lord and His Word; you overthrow and destroy the strongholds that once captured your mind and thought processes and you are released into freedom and peace. Make a choice to think good and pure thoughts and you will walk—here on earth—in the glorious peace that comes only from God Himself!

For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them]. 9 Practice what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and model your way of living on it, and the God of peace (of untroubled, undisturbed well-being) will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9 AMP

REQUIREMENTS FOR LEADERSHIP FROM FIRST TIMOTHY 3 – PART 1

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

The saying is true and irrefutable: If any man [eagerly] seeks the office of bishop (superintendent, overseer), he desires an excellent task (work).  1 Timothy 3:1 AMP

If anyone wants to participate in building God’s kingdom – that is a good thing. However, there are some qualities you need to have, and some requirements that need to be met, that qualify you for leadership, for the good and benefit of all concerned.

Now a bishop (superintendent, overseer) must give no grounds for accusation but must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, circumspect and temperate and self-controlled; [he must be] sensible and well behaved and dignified and lead an orderly (disciplined) life; [he must be] hospitable [showing love for and being a friend to the believers, especially strangers or foreigners, and be] a capable and qualified teacher.  1 Timothy 3:2

A person, who wants to be a leader, must lead the way by setting a good example and giving no grounds for accusation. 1 Thessalonians 5:22 says that we must abstain from all appearance of evil. You must abstain from evil and the appearance of evil. Those who want to be in leadership must conduct themselves in such a way that they are above reproach; that no one could have a valid reason to accuse them of anything at all because they avoid even the appearance of evil. Those who want to be in leadership must obey God’s word and truly live a godly life, not just pretend to do it. God does not expect us to be perfect – He knows we are dust – but He does expect us to be righteous – to walk in the righteousness for which His Son paid so high a price!

Leaders must be faithful to their spouse and take care of their marriage. They must unconditionally love their spouse; they must protect them; and, at the same time, speak the truth in love to them. Husbands and wives should protect each other – not covering sin, but preventing it if possible, and if it’s not possible – working together to repent, forgive and restore.

Those who want to be in leadership must bring their flesh under subjection to the word of God and the Holy Spirit. They must be courteous. They must not be selfish, but they must walk the love walk and they must be generous and hospitable, not being a respecter of persons. They must also have an anointing to preach or teach and to minister to others. This is not something that you can just decide to do, but it is a gift only God can give.

Not given to wine, not combative but gentle and considerate, not quarrelsome but forbearing and peaceable, and not a lover of money [insatiable for wealth and ready to obtain it by questionable means].  1 Timothy 3:3

Those who want to be in leadership must not yield their bodies to temptations of the flesh. When your body is addicted to a substance, whether it is alcohol, drugs, or nicotine, those things control you and your mind. They impel you to do things you wouldn’t normally do. Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and should be yielded to Him alone. The devil uses addictions to control you and destroy you and your loved ones, but God will only bless you as you yield your body to Him. Proverbs 31:4-5 AMP says, “It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, or for rulers to desire strong drink, 5 Lest they drink and forget the law and what it decrees, and pervert the justice due any of the afflicted.”

The Holy Spirit is your helper to free you of any controls that the devil tries to put on you. 2 Corinthians 3:17 AMP says, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (emancipation from bondage, freedom).”

Those who want to be in leadership must not be quarrelsome, because that is a sign of someone who is spiritually immature. A spiritually mature person walks in the love of God and is at peace with others. Those who want to be in leadership must definitely not be greedy or covetous! Covetousness has a corrupting influence – it makes money and selfish ambition more important than people and than God’s will and His word. Luke 16:11 AMP says, “Therefore if you have not been faithful in the [case of] unrighteous mammon (deceitful riches, money, possessions), who will entrust to you the true riches?” God knows that if you are not faithful with money, you won’t be faithful with the anointing of God, or the presence of God, or the Gifts and callings of the Holy Spirit – so be faithful with money! Be a cheerful, generous giver yourself!

 

Blessed to be a Blessing

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

Thoughts on Stewardship Lessons from Genesis

Blessed to be a Blessing
Foundation Scriptures: Genesis 12 verses 1-3 and Genesis 13 verses 1-2

Now the LORD had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. 2 I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
Genesis 12:1-3 NKJV

Then Abram went up from Egypt, he and his wife and all that he had, and Lot with him, to the South. 2 Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold. Genesis 13:1-2 NKJV

1. In order for God to bless Abram, He had to take him out of where he was and He also had to take where he was out of him! God had a great plan for Abram and his descendants and in order to fulfill this plan, God had to take Abram out from his current surroundings. Sometimes we are limited by our circumstances and by the people around us. We are stuck in the same old rut and we need to be shaken up and our eyes opened to all the possibilities that are available to us in the Lord. If we want to walk in the blessings of God, we may have to make some defining choices. We will need to leave the influence and company of those who are negative and destructive and who are leading us away from the plans and purposes God has for us, and press into God for His will for our lives.

God separated Abram from his kinsmen and their gods so that Abram could come to know the true God and serve Him alone. God had a plan to bless Abram and to make him a great blessing to ALL the families of the earth!

2. God’s promises to Abram:

a. I will make you a great nation.

b. I will bless you.

c. I will make your name great.

d. You will be a blessing.

3. God will bring you out in order to bring you in—He will bless you to be a blessing:

a. You were born to be blessed.

b. You were born to be a blessing.

c. You cannot be a blessing if you are not blessed.

d. There is MORE than enough blessing to go around so that EVERYONE can be blessed.

Pastor Adonica’s Thoughts:

The Lord owns the cattle on a thousand hills—He has more than enough provision for everyone on the earth—He has more than enough for you. You need to change the way you think and believe so that you can start to see yourself as God sees you. In Psalms 21:6, David says that God made him (David) to be blessed and a blessing forever and that applies to all those who love and obey God. Begin to expect God’s blessing in your life. Thank God for His blessings—rejoice and praise Him for them. SEE yourself as a blessing. BE a blessing wherever you are every day. Don’t wait until you have what you think you need to be a blessing. Just do what you can and give what you have right now. Be a blessing to everyone who crosses your path. Watch the Lord transform your life!

Pastor Rodney’s Thoughts:

I purposed in my heart many years ago that I wanted my life to count for eternity and that I wanted to be a blessing. I was blessed with godly parents and I had been raised in a godly home, so I had a good foundation in my life that ought to have brought blessings to me. However, I knew that God was calling me out and that I had to move to obey the call of God. God called me to America even as a young boy. I knew that I would go to America and that all I needed was God’s perfect time and the open door. I had to get up from where I was, take my family—my wife and three children—and travel to the United States of America and obey heaven’s call to be a missionary. Adonica and I climbed aboard the 747, with our three children and $300 cash, and when we landed in America in December of 1987 we had an excitement and an expectation in our heart. We knew that the Lord had promised not only to bless us, as we obeyed Him, but also to make us a blessing unto many!

God blessed Abram and he paid tithes to Melchizedek. Abram was a generous person. Look at how kind he was to Lot. Remember, that the Word of God declares that if you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good of the land (Isaiah 1:19). You were born to be a blessing and you were born to be blessed! God has blessings for you that cannot be contained, and it all begins with a seed.  We purposed in our hearts to give our way into God’s blessings, and it worked! Open your heart as you sow seed today.

Confession and prayer:

I was born to be a blessing and I was born to be blessed! Father, teach me your ways and I promise you I will be a giver and be a blessing to the world.

The Law of the Tithe

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

Thoughts on Stewardship – Lesson 25 from Deuteronomy

The Law of the Tithe
Foundation Scriptures: Deuteronomy 14 verses 22 – 29

You shall surely tithe all the yield of your seed produced by your field each year. 23 And you shall eat before the Lord your God in the place in which He will cause His Name [and Presence] to dwell the tithe (tenth) of your grain, your new wine, your oil, and the firstlings of your herd and your flock, that you may learn [reverently] to fear the Lord your God always. 24 And if the distance is too long for you to carry your tithe, or the place where the Lord your God chooses to set His Name [and Presence] is too far away for you, when the Lord your God has blessed you, 25 Then you shall turn it into money, and bind up the money in your hand, and shall go to the place [of worship] which the Lord your God has chosen. 26 And you may spend that money for whatever your appetite craves, for oxen, or sheep, or new wine or strong[er] drink, or whatever you desire; and you shall eat there before the Lord your God and you shall rejoice, you and your household. 27 And you shall not forsake or neglect the Levite [God’s minister] in your towns, for he has been given no share or inheritance with you. 28 At the end of every three years you shall bring forth all the tithe of your increase the same year and lay it up within your towns. 29 And the Levite [because he has no part or inheritance with you] and the stranger or temporary resident, and the fatherless and the widow who are in your towns shall come and eat and be satisfied, so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands that you do. Deuteronomy 14:22-29 AMP

1. The tithe was to be brought as an act of worship, to honor God, by all those who feared His Name

a. It was to be brought with joy – not with sadness or with reservations. It was a time to feast and rejoice and give thanks.
b. The whole family was involved – you and your house. God continually emphasizes the importance of His people personally obeying His word and also teaching these principles to their children and establishing them as a way of life so that every generation would love and serve the Lord. Joshua says, “As for me and my house, we WILL serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15b)

2. Give according to the increase.

a. You are to tithe and give, according to the blessing of the Lord. As He has blessed you – give.
b. You are supposed to bring a tithe to God off of your increase. You are expected to increase – not decrease. God expects you to increase. You are to expect increase in your own life. God tells us to bring a tithe of that increase.

3. Every one doing their part – taking responsibility – this is how the kingdom of God functions.

a. Don’t forget the Levites – the priests – the ministers of the Gospel. Don’t forget to bless and support them. The Body of Christ is responsible to take care of their own. Bring your tithe to your local church. Pray and give offerings as the Holy Spirit leads you. This is God’s way of taking care of ministers and the ministry. God does not want us to forget those who labor in the ministry.
b. God says that those who labor in the ministry are worthy of double-honor. When Jesus sent the disciples out to preach and minister, He told them not to make provision for themselves, because “the workman deserves his support (his living, his food). (Matthew 10:10 AMP) Also, 1 Timothy 5:17 AMP says, “Let the elders who perform the duties of their office well be considered doubly worthy of honor [and of adequate financial support], especially those who labor faithfully in preaching and teaching.”
c. Today, so many people are totally focused on themselves and their own needs and they forget the stranger, the fatherless (orphans), and the widows. Hebrews 13:2 NIV says, “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” James 1:27 NIV says, “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.” Bless them as God blesses you.

4. If you obey God in this, He promises to bless you and to bless all the work of your hands.

Pastor Adonica’s Thoughts:
Every one of us, in the Body of Christ, has a responsibility toward God and His Kingdom. God’s plan for His people is blessing and more blessing. Some of us are called to ministry; some of us are called to business; ALL of us are called to support the Gospel and each other. God does not want us to fearfully sit on what we have – He wants us to spread the blessing around. As the blessing is spread around, the Lord increases it. The more we give, the more increase comes to our life.

Pastor Rodney’s Thoughts:
There are many people, in the church world today, who want to be blessed even though they are disobedient to the word of God. With every one of the promises, there is a condition. If we meet the condition, we receive the promise. The tithe is Holy – it tells God you love Him, and fear Him, and put Him first, above all. Take care of God’s servants, the stranger, the orphans, and the widows. These are the basics of our financial responsibility in and to the Kingdom of God. If you don’t get this, then, as far as spirituality goes – you are still in pre-school!

Prayer and Confession:
Father, thank you today that I have the privilege of blessing You, even as You have blessed me. I honor you and covenant with You to obey Your word. I expect the increase and I thank and praise You for it.

THE HUMILITY TO RECEIVE INSTRUCTION, GUIDANCE AND WISDOM

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

Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls. 30 For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good—not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne. Matthew 11:29-30 AMP

Jesus offers rest for our souls, a yoke that is easy, and a burden that is light—if we will be prepared to take His yoke upon us and learn of Him. That means that we submit ourselves to His guidance, that we learn about Him and also come to know Him personally. We cannot experience the blessing of truly knowing Him unless we will humble ourselves to submit to Him, to His word and His Spirit.

For all these things My hand has made, and so all these things have come into being [by and for Me], says the Lord. But this is the man to whom I will look and have regard: he who is humble and of a broken or wounded spirit, and who trembles at My word and reveres My commands.
Isaiah 66:2 AMP

So get rid of all uncleanness and the rampant outgrowth of wickedness, and in a humble (gentle, modest) spirit receive and welcome the Word which implanted and rooted [in your hearts] contains the power to save your souls. 22 But be doers of the Word [obey the message], and not merely listeners to it, betraying yourselves [into deception by reasoning contrary to the Truth]. James 1:21-22 AMP

If we want to be successful in life, we must have a deep respect for the authority of God’s word in our lives; we must be teachable; we must acknowledge that we don’t know everything and that we have something to learn. We must believe that God is speaking to us personally and receive it as such. Being teachable requires that we also receive and even welcome discipline and correction with a good attitude. This requires humility, repentance, and a willingness to change. When you come to a place in your life that you think you’ve arrived and you know everything—you have just proved that you know absolutely nothing. Be open to learn something new every day that you live! Know, and always remember this: God will pay attention to the man who pays attention to Him and honors Him—the man who trembles at His word and reveres His commands—and is a doer of them!

He leads the humble in what is right, and the humble He teaches His way. Psalms 25:9 AMP

The reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord brings instruction in Wisdom, and humility comes before honor. Proverbs 15:33 AMP

Haughtiness comes before disaster, but humility before honor. Proverbs 18:12 AMP

The humility to receive instruction brings wisdom and wisdom brings honor. Haughtiness and an un-teachable attitude will lead to disaster.

I warn and counsel the elders among you (the pastors and spiritual guides of the church) as a fellow elder and as an eyewitness [called to testify] of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a sharer in the glory (the honor and splendor) that is to be revealed (disclosed, unfolded): 2 Tend (nurture, guard, guide, and fold) the flock of God that is [your responsibility], not by coercion or constraint, but willingly; not dishonorably motivated by the advantages and profits [belonging to the office], but eagerly and cheerfully; 3 Not domineering [as arrogant, dictatorial, and overbearing persons] over those in your charge, but being examples (patterns and models of Christian living) to the flock (the congregation). 4 And [then] when the Chief Shepherd is revealed, you will win the conqueror’s crown of glory. 1 Peter 5:1-4 AMP

The Lord speaks to those who are called as teachers and leaders to have a humble attitude as they tend the flock that is their responsibility. They are not permitted to be domineering or manipulative or selfish, but must rather be a godly example to the congregation.

Likewise, you who are younger and of lesser rank, be subject to the elders (the ministers and spiritual guides of the church)—[giving them due respect and yielding to their counsel]. Clothe (apron) yourselves, all of you, with humility [as the garb of a servant, so that its covering cannot possibly be stripped from you, with freedom from pride and arrogance] toward one another. For God sets Himself against the proud (the insolent, the overbearing, the disdainful, the presumptuous, the boastful)—[and He opposes, frustrates, and defeats them], but gives grace (favor, blessing) to the humble. 6 Therefore humble yourselves [demote, lower yourselves in your own estimation] under the mighty hand of God, that in due time He may exalt you. 1 Peter 5:5-6 AMP

God requires that we all humble ourselves to respect and receive from those in authority over us. Many people have gone astray because they would not listen to the godly counsel of those who are older and wiser. It is foolishness for you to have a know-it-all, you-can’t-tell-me-anything attitude. You demonstrate wisdom in your own life, by your willingness to listen to and receive counsel.

Who is there among you who is wise and intelligent? Then let him by his noble living show forth his [good] works with the [unobtrusive] humility [which is the proper attribute] of true wisdom. James 3:13 AMP

Rodney Howard Browne bringing revival to America…