THE MINISTRY OF RESTORATION BELONGS TO THOSE WHO ARE SPIRITUAL

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

Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Galatians 5:19-24  NKJ

Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load. Galatians 6:1-5  NKJ

If we yield to the lusts and desires of our flesh as a way of life, the works of the flesh will be evident in our lives. If we allow the Spirit of God to work in our lives and wash us clean, the fruit of the Spirit will be made manifest in and through us. The more we allow God to do His work in us, the more truly spiritual we become. People think that spirituality is something you say or do, but it is who you are. People can try to act spiritual or try to talk spiritual and yet still be manifesting the works of the flesh, because they are still yielding to their flesh and by that they prove that they are actually still very unspiritual. You can be quite “normal” and yet be filled with the power and anointing of God – as opposed to being a super-spiritual “spooky” Christian with no power and no wisdom.

Being truly spiritual has nothing to do with a certain way of talking or acting, but it has to do with being totally yielded to the Spirit of God in every area of your life. When the Lord is allowed to have His way in your life, there is a sweetness, a holiness and a purity of attitude and speech that will be manifested in and through you that cannot be manufactured. The fruit of the Spirit is manifested through you even in the midst of extreme stress or pressure.

When a believer falls into sin, spiritual believers are required to help by ministering to them and helping to restore them back into fellowship with God and their spiritual family. A spiritual believer will not judge or criticize their fellow fallen Christian, but instead they will walk in love and kindly and gently help them to repent and find God’s forgiveness and be restored into fellowship with God. In this way we help to bear their burdens. Unfortunately, many believers who commit sins that badly destroy their fellowship with the Lord have a hard time finding help from the Church, because there are no spiritual believers to be found.

When you help to minister to a fallen believer, you get to know all their weaknesses and failures. If you have not dealt with your pride and if you think more highly of yourself than what you should, then you will begin to compare yourself with them or to judge them. If you do this, you will not be able to help them at all. If you are going to be of any help to your brother or sister, you must remain totally neutral. Do not judge or have any personal opinion, just speak the Word. God is the only One who has the right to judge. Do not condone the sin, but show mercy to the sinner as you know Jesus shows His mercy to them. Help them in the same way that you would like to be helped were you found in the same situation. Don’t discuss the situation with any one else either. Cover your fellow believer. Do not expose their personal situation to other people if they are looking to be restored. Some people disguise gossip about someone else by asking for prayer on their behalf and telling all the juicy details. Don’t do this.

Be sure to consider yourself and your own heart and your own attitude as you help another person. If you must bring a rebuke or a correction, do it in love, to help not to condemn. You may have a reason to judge another person, but you don’t have the right. Many people have judged another person for their sin and then ended up in the same sin or a similar sin within two years themselves. We are all responsible for only our own actions, not those of another person. Do not seek after spirituality itself. Seek after God and His presence and you will be filled with all the fullness of God and be a vessel that God can effectively use to minister to the hurting.

DO NOT GROW WEARY IN DOING GOOD – PART TWO

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

But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good.

II Thessalonians 3:13 NKJ

 

Don’t grow weary in doing good. Don’t allow discouragement to stop you from doing what is right. If you know the right thing to do – do it – and don’t give up. The devil would love for you to quit doing good. He will lie to you and tell you that all the good that you have done is worthless and in vain. He will try to make you feel like a failure. But he is a filthy, rotten thief and liar and he is wrong about you! God sees and knows and has a record in eternity of all you have done for Him and it will never be erased.

 

Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart.  Luke 18:1 NKJ

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.  Luke 18:1 NIV

 

God is watching you – and not from a distance either! He is listening to every word you speak. When you pray according to His will, He hears you and He answers your prayers. You cannot allow circumstances or the devil’s lies to distract you and make you think that God does not hear and He does not answer. If you say that you trust God and if you truly do trust Him, then you will not give up or lose heart – you will continue to talk to Him and to expect his reply.

 

Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 NKJ

Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. 2 Corinthians 4:1-2 NKJ

 

Because we have already received God’s mercy and we have experienced His life and His liberty, we should not give up or lose heart, but we should continue to allow the Spirit of God to transform us. There is nothing to go back to. Your past is past. It has nothing to offer you. Look forward to more of God and continue in the truth of God’s word.

 

And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed and therefore I spoke,” we also believe and therefore speak, knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:13-18 NKJ

 

You cannot look just at outward things and judge the work of God in your life according to them. You must look at the inward things. Look at the work of God in your heart. Just because you face opposition and persecution it does not mean that you are in the wrong or that God has forsaken you. It could mean that you are doing precisely the right thing and you are just being persecuted for the word’s sake! We do not lose heart – we cling to the word of God and His promises, which we know, are true. His word is yes and amen – if He said it then He will do it. Don’t give up on God and He won’t give up on you!

 

“He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.  Revelations 3:5 NKJ

 

“To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.  Revelations 3:21 NKJ

 

“He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.  Revelations 21:7 NKJ

UNLESS THE LORD BUILDS THE HOUSE

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

Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it. Unless the LORD guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows; for so He gives His beloved sleep.  Psalms 127:1-2 NKJV

Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.

The word “house” here means a house in the greatest variation of applications, but it especially represents family. It could be used of your very own family or God’s family – the church. In either case, each member is a part of the whole house. You can try to build a family or a ministry, but unless God is at the helm of your vessel, even your best efforts will fail and come to nothing.

God is not our co-pilot. We need to make Him the pilot and we need to obey Him in everything. He is the author and the finisher of our faith. He is the architect and the builder. We must trust His judgment and His wisdom enough to follow it in spite of our own opinions to the contrary. God’s word is tried and proven and it stands as a rock and a testament to His truth and His faithfulness.

If you labor in vain – you labor uselessly. There is no fruit of your labor. The result you desired will not be achieved. Why spend all your efforts on something that is going to fail anyway? You need to step back, take your hands off of the helm and allow God to have His way – always, in everything. Only then will your efforts produce the desired result. You see – some people do nothing when they should be doing something, while others work really hard and yet they are both unfruitful, and they wonder why! You have to put an effort in, however, it must be led, guided and inspired by the Lord or it will be all your own efforts and it is destined to fail.

Unless the LORD guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.

If you serve and honor God in your life, He promises to watch over you and protect you in all your ways of obedience and service. Without Him, you are exposed to the elements. With Him, you are safe in the direst of situations. You cannot waste time worrying about your life. It won’t help one bit. All your worrying will be for nothing – you might as well just trust Him! You need to live your life, trusting in Him and He will take care of you.

It is vain for you to rise up early and to sit up late.

There is nothing wrong with getting up early or going to bed late unless you are doing it because of fear or because you are relying on yourself alone. You might as well get some sleep because you cannot do everything yourself – you need the Lord’s help anyway.

It is vain for you to eat the bread of sorrows.

“Sorrows” is grievous or painful toil. Deuteronomy 24:19 says that God will bless the work of your hands. If you are a believer, if you are serving God with all your heart, He will bless the work of your hands. It is unprofitable for you to work and sweat and struggle by your own efforts. Trust God, obey Him, allow Him to guide your way and your work will be blessed and fruitful. You will reap a multiplied harvest of blessing.

 For so He gives His beloved sleep.

You don’t need to worry

You don’t need to fret

God has never failed you yet

You can close your eyes and float away

As He watches over you until the light of day

You don’t have to stay up worrying about your way

He is in control every day

There is a rest for the people of God

It is faith in His power, His wisdom, His love

God loves you so and He watches you close

Give Him your all and rest in His hands

HONOR GOD WITH THE FIRST FRUITS OF YOUR INCREASE

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

9 Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: 10 So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.  KJV

9 Honor the LORD with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase; 10 So your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine.  NKJV

9 Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops;

10 then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.  NIV 

If you are truly a child of God, your desire is to honor the Lord. One of the first ways that you honor Him is with your substance; your possessions; your wealth. No one can serve God and mammon; money; possessions at the same time. You can only put one first place in your life.

“No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”  Luke 16:13 NIV

You honor God when you bring Him the first fruits of your increase. By offering the first fruits of the increase of your substance, you demonstrate that God is number one in your life. When you make God your priority, He will make you His priority! God says that if you will honor Him with your substance and your first fruits then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine. You will be abundantly blessed. You will have more than enough. You will have enough for what you need today and for what you will need tomorrow!

1 Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, and said, “I have acquired a man from the LORD.” 2 Then she bore again, this time his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. 3 And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the LORD. 4 Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the LORD respected Abel and his offering, 5 but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. 6 So the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.” 8 Now Cain talked with Abel his brother; and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.  Genesis 4:1-8 NKJV

Cain and Abel both brought an offering to the Lord. Abel brought the firstborn of his flock and their fat, but Cain brought only an offering of the fruit of the ground – not the first fruit of his harvest. God accepted Abel’s offering, but He did not accept Cain’s offering. Cain was angry with God for rejecting Him, when it was he who had rejected God first because did not honor Him with his first and best. If we do not honor God in a way that is acceptable to Him, it is because we do not have the right heart attitude. If we do not have the right heart attitude, then sin will rule over us. God does not want sin to rule over us. He wants us to rule over sin, for our own sake.

Cain did not kill Abel because god had rejected him and his offering. Cain killed Abel because he had a jealous, covetous spirit. His covetousness was the reason God rejected him in the first place – because he kept the best for himself instead of offering it to God. God sees your heart and God sees your offering. Give of the first fruits of the increase of your substance with a willing heart and the Lord will accept you and your offering.

4 Moses said to the whole Israelite community, “This is what the LORD has commanded: 5 From what you have, take an offering for the LORD. Everyone who is willing is to bring to the LORD an offering of gold, silver and bronze; 6 blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen; goat hair; 7 ram skins dyed red and hides of sea cows; acacia wood; 8 olive oil for the light; spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense; 9 and onyx stones and other gems to be mounted on the ephod and breastpiece.  Exodus 35:4-9 NIV

As a church, we are going to honor God with the first fruits of our increase in the month of January 2002. All those, at The River, who are of a willing heart and mind are going to bring a week’s worth of our salaries and wages and we are going to offer it to the Lord as our first fruits. We are trusting the Lord for a blessing upon us and our families in this New Year, where our barns will be filled to overflowing, and our vats will brim over with new wine!

ANSWERED PRAYER – PART ONE

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

6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:6-7 NKJV

Let your requests be made known to God. Everything God does, He speaks out. He commands even the elements with His Word and they respond every time. He expects us to function as He functions. He designed us to function as He functions. Whatever we expect or desire, we must speak it out and pray it out to the Lord. Most people don’t have what they say, because they are to busy saying what they have! That means that whatever you speak out over your life that is what you will have. If we speak good things with our mouth, in faith, we will have good things in our life. If we speak doubt and unbelief and other bad things with our mouth, we will have bad things in our life. Sometimes we have bad things happening because we sowed those bad seeds with our mouth. Sometimes we have bad things happening because we have simply neglected to sow any good seeds with our mouth. Your life is like a garden – you have to weed the bad stuff out of it and you have to plant the good seeds in it.

The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.  James 5:16b NKJV

The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.   James 5:16b NIV

The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working].  James 5:16b AMP

When a righteous man prays a continued, earnest, heartfelt, prayer, there is a tremendous power that is released – a dynamic active power that effectively goes to work – producing the desired result. If we want our prayers to be answered, there are a few things that we must do to ensure the desired result – we must walk righteously before the Lord, we must pray sincerely and fervently – and very importantly – we must pray according to God’s will.

For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him.  2 Chronicles 16:9a KJV

Sometimes, when we don’t get our prayers answered according to our timetable, we think that God can’t or won’t hear us, or that maybe He is just ignoring us, but if we are washed in the blood of Jesus and submitted to God’s Word, then that is not true. The Bible says that God is constantly on the look out for righteous people – those people whose hearts are perfect toward Him – so that He can show Himself strong on their behalf. His eyes go to and fro across the earth trying to find them. Not only are we searching for God, He is searching for us! When He finds that righteous person, He shows up in their situation and He moves on their behalf.

For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. 1 Peter 3:12 KJV

God’s eyes see every move the righteous make and His ears are open to hear every word they pray. He protectively watches over the righteous and He waits for and pays attention to their prayers. God makes His righteous family His responsibility, but He is not obligated to those who do evil – He turns His face from them – they are on their own with no defense against the devil. This is not God’s choice, but theirs.  God gives us the choice to obey and serve Him and to reap life and blessing, or the choice to serve ourselves and reap death and curses.

The desire of the righteous is only good, but the expectation of the wicked is wrath.   Proverbs 11:23 NKJV

Our righteousness is not our own, it is bought with a price – the precious blood of Jesus. We cannot buy it or earn it – we must simply surrender to His will in order to receive it. When we are yielded to God and we have allowed the work of the Spirit in our lives, our desires are in line with His desires.

17 The LORD is righteous in all his ways and loving toward all he has made.

18 The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.

19 He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them. 20 The LORDwatches over all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy.   Psalms 145:17-20 NIV

God fulfills the desires of the righteous – those who fear Him. God answers the prayer of the righteous man or woman, who asks according to His will.

PRODUCE FRUIT IN KEEPING WITH REPENTANCE

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

John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 9 The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” 10 “What should we do then?” the crowd asked. 11 John answered, “The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same.” 12 Tax collectors also came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?” 13 “Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them. 14 Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?” He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely-be content with your pay.”  Luke 3:7-14 NIV

When a change occurs in your heart, a change occurs in your mouth and in your actions. John preached a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. He commanded the people that they should, “produce fruit in keeping with repentance!” and he told them that, “the ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”

John was straightforward and brutally honest with people – he called things as they were and he got people’s attention. They were either convicted of their sin and they repented, or they became really mad at John and continued in their sin. Once people repented and were baptized, they were hungry for righteousness.  They asked John questions about how they should conduct their lives from then on.

John encouraged all of them to be unselfish and to share whatever extra clothes and food that they had with those who had nothing. The tax collectors would usually take more from the people than what was owed and keep it for themselves. For this reason, they were hated and reviled by the populace. John told them to be honest concerning the taxes they collected and not to steal from the people. He told the soldiers not to use their authority to steal from, threaten, intimidate, or falsely accuse people.

If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. 9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11 For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker. 12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment! 14 What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15 Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.  James 2:8-17 NIV

James writes, in his book, that, “faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” You may have faith, but until you put action to your words, your faith is not proven. You don’t have faith because you say you have faith – you have faith because you acted on your faith. Faith, by its very nature requires action!

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”

Galatians 2:20-21 NIV

Righteousness with God is not attained through your own works, actions or efforts – it is purchased with the priceless and precious blood of Jesus. However, once you have heard the gospel – once you have realized that Jesus died for you – you must take action. If you believe then you must speak – you must believe in your heart that God raised Jesus Christ from the dead and you must open your mouth and confess that Jesus is your Lord and Savior. Otherwise you will not be saved.

James encourages us to, “Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!” As the body of Christ, we are not judged as the world is judged, but we will be judged by the Word – whether what we believe is translated out into our life and our actions. Whatever is in your heart will be heard coming out of your mouth and will be seen manifested in your actions. Your fruit will reveal your root and all that is truly in your heart.

THE PERFECT LAW OF LIBERTY

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

For whosoever keeps the Law [as a] whole but stumbles and offends in one [single instance] has become guilty of [breaking] all of it. 11 For He Who said, You shall not commit adultery, also said, You shall not kill. If you do not commit adultery but do kill, you have become guilty of transgressing the [whole] Law. 12 So speak and so act as [people should] who are to be judged under the law of liberty [the moral instruction given by Christ, especially about love]. 13 For to him who has shown no mercy the judgment [will be] merciless, but mercy [full of glad confidence] exults victoriously over judgment.  James 2:10-13 AMP

There are some legalistic Christians who say that without the law, you cannot be convicted of sin and therefore you cannot be saved. Also, many people, Christian and non-Christian alike, wrongly believe that your good deeds save you and your bad deeds damn you. This is not scriptural. You are saved by faith alone in the precious blood of Jesus and it is the goodness of God that leads you to repentance (Romans 2:4)!

If you seek to be justified and declared righteous and to be given a right standing with God through the Law, you are brought to nothing and so separated (severed) from Christ. You have fallen away from grace (from God’s gracious favor and unmerited blessing). 5 For we, [not relying on the Law but] through the [Holy] Spirit’s [help], by faith anticipate and wait for the blessing and good for which our righteousness and right standing with God [our conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action, causes us] to hope. 6 For [if we are] in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith activated and energized and expressed and working through love.  Galatians 5:4-6 AMP

Under the New Covenant, you cannot and do not rely on the law to save you or to help you, but on the Holy Spirit instead. If you are washed in the blood of Jesus Christ, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything. Your own works and your own righteousness are worthless. The only thing that counts is your faith, which is activated, energized, expressed, and works through love.

James, inspired by the Holy Spirit, says that you, as a Christian, will not be judged by the Law of Moses, but you will be judged under the law of liberty! What is the law of liberty? The Amplified Bible says that it is “the moral instruction given by Christ, especially about love.” You will be judged by the Laws of Love! Jesus gave you your New Commandment, to love God and love your neighbor, which fulfills and supercedes all others. Paul repeats it here in Romans 13:8-10 AMP

Keep out of debt and owe no man anything, except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor [who practices loving others] has fulfilled the Law [relating to one’s fellowmen, meeting all its requirements]. 9 The commandments, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet (have an evil desire), and any other commandment, are summed up in the single command, You shall love your neighbor as [you do] yourself. 10 Love does no wrong to one’s neighbor [it never hurts anybody]. Therefore love meets all the requirements and is the fulfilling of the Law.

Love fulfills the law. When you stand before Jesus at the Judgment Seat of Christ, you will be judged not on whether you kept the law or not, but you will be judged on your love walk! Did you walk in the love of God, which was shed abroad in your hearts by the Holy Spirit? Did you show mercy and grace to other people or did you judge and condemn them?

You set the standard of your own judgment by the way you have treated others. If you have shown mercy, mercy will be shown to you. If you have been hard and judgmental, you will be judged by the same high standards of judgment that you meted out on others.

With this in mind, you would be wise to put a guard over your own mouth and mind your own business. You would be wise to judge your own heart, life and attitude and allow God, alone, to judge those around you. You would be wise to choose a lifestyle of love, mercy and graciousness toward others.

But he who looks carefully into the faultless law, the [law] of liberty, and is faithful to it and perseveres in looking into it, being not a heedless listener who forgets but an active doer [who obeys], he shall be blessed in his doing (his life of obedience).  James 1:25 AMP

RECEIVING FAITH LEADS TO GIVING FAITH

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

Give, and [gifts] will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will they pour into [the pouch formed by] the bosom [of your robe and used as a bag]. For with the measure you deal out [with the measure you use when you confer benefits on others], it will be measured back to you.  Luke 6:38 AMP

If you don’t have “receiving faith” – knowing how to believe God for His provision – you won’t have “giving faith” – faith to give more. People who are afraid to give have no faith in God’s promise to provide.

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]. 23 For if anyone only listens to the Word without obeying it and being a doer of it, he is like a man who looks carefully at his [own] natural face in a mirror; 24 For he thoughtfully observes himself, and then goes off and promptly forgets what he was like. 25 But he who looks carefully into the faultless law, the [law] of liberty, and is faithful to it and perseveres in looking into it, being not a heedless listener who forgets but an active doer [who obeys], he shall be blessed in his doing (his life of obedience).  James 1:22-25 AMP

So also faith, if it does not have works (deeds and actions of obedience to back it up), by itself is destitute of power (inoperative, dead). 18 But someone will say [to you then], You [say you] have faith, and I have [good] works. Now you show me your [alleged] faith apart from any [good] works [if you can], and I by [good] works [of obedience] will show you my faith.

James 2:17-18 AMP

Your giving is a measure of your faith in God and your trust in His Word. Tithing is where you start. If you do not or will not tithe – you are demonstrating a complete lack of faith in God. If you say, “I don’t tithe, but I do have faith,” then you are deceived, because faith without works is dead. You are a hearer and not a doer and you have betrayed yourself into deception by reasoning contrary to the truth.

How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “LORD, who has believed our report?” 17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Romans 10:14-17 NKJV

Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. If you are not hearing, receiving, believing, and doing the Word of God – then your reasoning process will be faulty and you will make wrong decisions for your life.

Some people sit where the Word of God is preached, but they never allow it to make an entrance into their heart. They never soften the soil of their heart to receive the seed of the Word – or they allow the weeds of greed to choke their seed!

Bring all the tithes (the whole tenth of your income) into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and prove Me now by it, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.  Malachi 3:10 AMP

Tithe – so that there will be meat (food) in the house of God for you. The “closedness” or hardness of your heart that causes you to shut out the message of tithing and giving will cause you to shut out the rest of the Word as well. Your may hear it, but you will not grasp it or understand it. You won’t be eating the meat of the Word – you will barely be manage to swallow the milk!

Make a decision today to receive God’s Word concerning giving, make a decision to act on the Word, and become a giver. Don’t just give – become a giver! And watch the hand of blessing increase in your life!

 

COVETOUSNESS IS IDOLATRY – PART 3

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

So six days before the Passover Feast, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, who had died and whom He had raised from the dead. 2 So they made Him a supper; and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those at the table with Him. 3 Mary took a pound of ointment of pure liquid nard [a rare perfume] that was very expensive, and she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped them with her hair. And the whole house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But Judas Iscariot, the one of His disciples who was about to betray Him, said, 5 Why was this perfume not sold for 300 denarii [a year’s wages for an ordinary workman] and that [money] given to the poor (the destitute)? 6 Now he did not say this because he cared for the poor but because he was a thief; and having the bag (the money box, the purse of the Twelve), he took for himself what was put into it [pilfering the collections]. 7 But Jesus said, Let her alone. It was [intended] that she should keep it for the time of My preparation for burial. [She has kept it that she might have it for the time of My embalming.] 8 You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have Me.  John 12:1-8 AMP

Six days before the Passover Feast, Mary takes a pound of ointment of pure liquid nard – a rare perfume that was very, very expensive – and she pours it on Jesus’ feet and wipes them with her hair. The whole house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. Judas Iscariot throws a fit over the “waste” of this perfume, insisting that it could have been sold and given to the poor! The only problem was that Judas did not care about the poor one iota and it looked like he did not care about Jesus either. What he did was to reveal his own evil motives and his disrespect for Jesus.

Jesus was one of his closest friends. They traveled everywhere together, along with the other eleven disciples. Jesus had spent every single day of about three years with him. Judas had seen Jesus’ miracles and heard His anointed teaching. You would think that Judas would think that Jesus was worth a years worth of wages. You would think that Judas would be blessed by the blessing that Jesus received. But he was not. Instead he was quite angry and upset. In fact, in Matthew 26:6-16, after the woman emptied her alabaster box on Jesus head, Judas was so bent out of shape that he went straight out to negotiate with the chief priests over his planned betrayal of Jesus!

How did Judas come to this place in his life that he could go out and make such a terrible choice – to betray a beloved friend? The answer lies in what was hidden – not so deep – in his heart. His responsibility was to keep the treasury bag, which belonged to Jesus and the disciples, but instead of guarding it, he was stealing from it. He was stealing from his closest friends; he had given in to temptation; he had become covetous, selfish, greedy and a liar.

When people do things they know are wrong, their own conscience convicts them. At that point they do one of two things: stop, repent and make restitution, or they push their conscience away, hardening their heart, justifying their own actions, and finding fault, instead, with the very people they are sinning against! When Judas gave in to his covetousness and he stole money out of the bag, his conscience was compromised and his judgment skewed. He was now fully in deception. It did not concern him at all that he had betrayed an innocent man, until it was too late.

Covetousness is defined in Luke 12:15 (Amplified Version) as the immoderate desire for wealth and the greedy longing to have more. Covetousness will lead you to and cause you to commit sin. The more you yield to covetousness, the more it takes hold of you and the more covetous you become. The more covetous you become the worse your choices become. It is a vicious cycle. Your reasoning is faulty because your paradigm is distorted. Covetousness is destructive to you, your life, and the life of others. A human life is far more precious than material possessions. Possessions can be replaced, but a life can not. Covetousness will make you blind and stupid – it will cause you to value material possessions above a human life. Covetousness causes some people to even commit murder – something they would never do otherwise.

What leads to strife (discord and feuds) and how do conflicts (quarrels and fightings) originate among you? Do they not arise from your sensual desires that are ever warring in your bodily members? 2 You are jealous and covet [what others have] and your desires go unfulfilled; [so] you become murderers. [To hate is to murder as far as your hearts are concerned.] You burn with envy and anger and are not able to obtain [the gratification, the contentment, and the happiness that you seek], so you fight and war. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3[Or] you do ask [God for them] and yet fail to receive, because you ask with wrong purpose and evil, selfish motives. Your intention is [when you get what you desire] to spend it in sensual pleasures.  James 4:1-3 AMP

It is vital that we eliminate a selfish, covetous spirit from our lives, and the only way to do it is to move in the opposite spirit by being a blessing; working with our hands, earning money, and giving to God and others.

HOW TO BE A MAN OR WOMAN AFTER GOD’S OWN HEART

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

But now your kingdom shall not continue; the Lord has sought out [David] a man after His own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be prince and ruler over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.

1 Samuel 13:14 AMP

God called David “a man after His own heart.” What made David a man after God’s own heart? Firstly, David was a humble man and his heart did not change or become arrogant, even after he ascended to the thrones of Judah and Israel. He was the youngest of eight sons and the least regarded. As a young man, he served his father as a shepherd and when the prophet, Samuel, asked for all Jesse’s sons to be brought to him, his family did not even bother to call David. God chose David though. He chose him, not for his stature, but for his heart, and anointed him to be king in Saul’s place.

David spent his time with the sheep, practicing with his sling and writing worship songs to the Lord. He was not afraid of the lion or the bear. When they came to kill his father’s sheep, he killed them and gave the glory to God. He did not take the credit himself. When he killed Goliath, it was in the Name of the Lord. When David, as king, brought the Ark of the Covenant back from the Philistines, he removed his kingly robes, and put on the robes of a priest. He danced wildly as he worshipped God before the Ark. He was not ashamed to lower himself before his subjects as he honored his God. His wife, Michal, a true daughter of Saul, was offended by his humility, but he pledged to humble himself even further to honor his Lord. Michal’s attitude caused her to be barren for the rest of her life.

O LORD, you have searched me [thoroughly] and have known me. 2 You know my downsitting and my uprising; You understand my thought afar off. 3 You sift and search out my path and my lying down, and You are acquainted with all my ways. 4 For there is not a word in my tongue [still unuttered], but, behold, O Lord, You know it altogether. 5 You have beset me and shut me in–behind and before, and You have laid Your hand upon me. 6 Your [infinite] knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high above me, I cannot reach it. 7 Where could I go from Your Spirit? Or where could I flee from Your presence? 8 If I ascend up into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol (the place of the dead), behold, You are there. 9 If I take the wings of the morning or dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 10 Even there shall Your hand lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me. 11 If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me and the night shall be [the only] light about me, 12 Even the darkness hides nothing from You, but the night shines as the day; the darkness and the light are both alike to You. 13 For You did form my inward parts; You did knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I will confess and praise You for You are fearful and wonderful and for the awful wonder of my birth! Wonderful are Your works, and that my inner self knows right well. 15 My frame was not hidden from You when I was being formed in secret [and] intricately and curiously wrought [as if embroidered with various colors] in the depths of the earth [a region of darkness and mystery]. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance, and in Your book all the days [of my life] were written before ever they took shape, when as yet there was none of them. Psalms 139:1-16 AMP

David had a revelation of the greatness: the omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience, of God. He had a revelation that he owed everything to God. He knew that God knew everything and that nothing was hidden from His sight. Except for the Bathsheba incident, David lived his life like a man whose life was laid out bare before God’s eyes. He practiced integrity publicly and privately. He lived like a man who would need to give an account of his life. His deep love and respect for God is unfeigned and unapologetic.

How precious and weighty also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! 18 If I could count them, they would be more in number than the sand. When I awoke, [could I count to the end] I would still be with You. 19 If You would [only] slay the wicked, O God, and the men of blood depart from me– 20 Who speak against You wickedly, Your enemies who take Your name in vain! 21 Do I not hate them, O Lord, who hate You? And am I not grieved and do I not loathe those who rise up against You? 22 I hate them with perfect hatred; they have become my enemies. 23 Search me [thoroughly], O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! 24 And see if there is any wicked or hurtful way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalms 139:17-24 AMP

David submitted himself to God and tolerated no one who set themselves against God. He loved God and he loved the Word of God. He valued and treasured God’s Word—it was extremely precious to him. He opened up his heart to receive the Word of God and he also opened up his own life to be scrutinized by God. He invited God to check out his heart, to bring correction to his life, to set him straight, and lead him in the way he should go.

If you want to be called a man or a woman after God’s own heart, follow David’s example. Humble yourself before God; love Him; love His word; submit yourself to His word; honor Him; obey Him; and unashamedly worship Him alone.

Spiritual encounters with the living God

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