ARE YOU BUILDING

Thoughts on Stewardship – Lesson 23 from Deuteronomy

Are you Building a Golden Calf or the House of God?
Foundation Scriptures: Deuteronomy 9 verses 4 – 16

Do not say in your [mind and] heart, after the Lord your God has thrust them out from before you, It is because of my righteousness that the Lord has brought me in to possess this land–whereas it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is dispossessing them before you. 5 Not for your righteousness or for the uprightness of your [minds and] hearts do you go to possess their land; but because of the wickedness of these nations the Lord your God is driving them out before you, and that He may fulfill the promise which the Lord swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 6 Know therefore that the Lord your God does not give you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a hard and stubborn people. 7[Earnestly] remember and forget not how you provoked the Lord your God to wrath in the wilderness; from the day you left the land of Egypt until you came to this place, you have been rebellious against the Lord. 8 Even in Horeb you provoked the Lord to wrath, and the Lord was so angry with you that He would have destroyed you. 9 When I went up the mountain to receive the tables of stone, the tables of the covenant which the Lord made with you, I remained on the mountain forty days and forty nights; I neither ate food nor drank water. 10 And the Lord delivered to me the two tables of stone written with the finger of God; and on them were all the words which the Lord spoke with you on the mountain out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly. 11 And at the end of forty days and forty nights the Lord gave me the two tables of stone, the tables of the covenant. 12 And the Lord said to me, Arise, go down from here quickly, for your people whom you brought out of Egypt have corrupted themselves. They have quickly turned aside from the way which I commanded them; they have made for themselves a molten image. 13 Furthermore the Lord said to me, I have seen this people, and behold, they are stubborn and hard. 14 Let me alone, that I may destroy them and blot out their name from under the heavens; and I will make of you a nation mightier and greater than they. 15 So I turned and came down from the mountain, and the mountain was burning with fire. And the two tables of the covenant were in my two hands. 16 And I looked, and behold, you had sinned against the Lord your God; you had made for yourselves a molten calf. You had turned aside quickly from the way which the Lord had commanded you.  Deuteronomy 9:4-16 AMP

The Children of Israel were miraculously delivered from the land of Egypt and from the slavery that they had been under for hundreds of years. In this passage, God reminds them of where He brought them from – how He delivered them in the past and His plan for blessing them in the future, if they would obey and serve Him.

When the Israelites were delivered from their captivity, God brought them forth with an abundance of silver and gold. They stripped the Egyptians of their wealth. God did this to repay them for the stuff that was taken from them, and also what they were owed, during their years of slavery. It was God’s way of making the Egyptians make restitution. Then He wanted to provide for them and give them all they needed to start a new life in the Promised Land. He wanted to make sure that they had sufficient to take care of themselves, as well as a surplus, so that they could build the house of God.

Something happened while Moses was up on the mountain receiving the Holy Commandments of God for the people. He was gone for 40 days. They thought he was dead and because of the evil in their hearts, they decided to build an idol to worship. Even though they were taken out of Egypt, Egypt was not yet taken out of them, so a golden calf was made from the offerings with which God had blessed them.

This was not God’s plan. God’s plan was for them to use their gold, jewels, and precious stones to build HIS house! An idol could be money, a house, a car, sport, music, another person, or your own good looks! An idol is anything that we value above God, Himself. God’s plan is not for us to waste money on idols. God’s plan is for us to be blessed and to bless the house of God.

Pastors Adonica’s Thoughts:
People might not believe that they really have an idol in their life that is above God, but the best way to know is by taking a look at your money and how and where it is spent. When you get paid, what is the first thing you do with your money? If you are a Christian, and you do not set aside the tithe before you spend anything else, God is not first in your life – you have a golden calf in there somewhere consuming your blessing!

Pastor Rodney’s Thoughts:
The Christian church, today, is no different from the children of Israel. The fact of the matter is that the Lord has blessed us, and will continue to bless us, when we obey and serve Him. However, His blessings are not to be spent on temporary idols of the flesh or mind, but His blessings are for the building of His house and that which is eternal. Understand this one thing – you will either give for a golden calf or you will give for the building of the house of God – but you WILL give. Don’t build idols, build God’s house, which will remain forever.

Prayer and Confession:
Father, I pray that you help me to never take my eyes off Your house. Help me not to look away from Your beauty and be turned to idols. I promise you that I will focus on eternal things – for all the carnal things shall pass away, but eternal things will never pass away.

TAKE AN OFFERING

Thoughts on Stewardship
Lesson No. 14 from Exodus
Take an Offering Only From Those Who Have a Willing Heart!

Foundation Scripture: Exodus 35 verses 5 – 29

‘Take from among you an offering to the LORD. Whoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it as an offering to the LORD: gold, silver, and bronze; 6 blue, purple, and scarlet thread, fine linen, and goats’ hair; 7 ram skins dyed red, badger skins, and acacia wood; 8 oil for the light, and spices for the anointing oil and for the sweet incense; 9 onyx stones, and stones to be set in the ephod and in the breastplate. 10 ‘All who are gifted artisans among you shall come and make all that the LORD has commanded: 11 the tabernacle, its tent, its covering, its clasps, its boards, its bars, its pillars, and its sockets; 12 the ark and its poles, with the mercy seat, and the veil of the covering; 13 the table and its poles, all its utensils, and the showbread; 14 also the lampstand for the light, its utensils, its lamps, and the oil for the light; 15 the incense altar, its poles, the anointing oil, the sweet incense, and the screen for the door at the entrance of the tabernacle; 16 the altar of burnt offering with its bronze grating, its poles, all its utensils, and the laver and its base; 17 the hangings of the court, its pillars, their sockets, and the screen for the gate of the court; 18 the pegs of the tabernacle, the pegs of the court, and their cords; 19 the garments of ministry, for ministering in the holy place — the holy garments for Aaron the priest and the garments of his sons, to minister as priests.’” 20 And all the congregation of the children of Israel departed from the presence of Moses. 21 Then everyone came whose heart was stirred, and everyone whose spirit was willing, and they brought the LORD’s offering for the work of the tabernacle of meeting, for all its service, and for the holy garments. 22 They came, both men and women, as many as had a willing heart, and brought earrings and nose rings, rings and necklaces, all jewelry of gold, that is, every man who made an offering of gold to the LORD. 23 And every man, with whom was found blue, purple, and scarlet thread, fine linen, goats’ hair, red skins of rams, and badger skins, brought them. 24 Everyone who offered an offering of silver or bronze brought the LORD’s offering. And everyone with whom was found acacia wood for any work of the service, brought it. 25 All the women who were gifted artisans spun yarn with their hands, and brought what they had spun, of blue, purple, and scarlet, and fine linen. 26 And all the women whose hearts stirred with wisdom spun yarn of goats’ hair. 27 The rulers brought onyx stones, and the stones to be set in the ephod and in the breastplate, 28 and spices and oil for the light, for the anointing oil, and for the sweet incense. 29 The children of Israel brought a freewill offering to the LORD, all the men and women whose hearts were willing to bring material for all kinds of work which the LORD, by the hand of Moses, had commanded to be done. Exodus 35:5-29 NKJV

1. God told Moses to take an offering from the children of Israel—only from those who had a willing heart.

a. Why did God do this?

b. He did this because God does not want us to give Him an offering out of compulsion—He wants us to give Him an offering out of our love for Him, just as He blesses us out of His love for us.

c. He gave them a choice to bring what they had—from the costliest of treasures, down to acacia wood, to goat’s hair. Every type of offering was needed for a different aspect of God’s house. Every offering was welcomed and received.

2. Verse 29 says that the children of Israel brought to the Lord a freewill offering—those whose hearts made them willing were the ones who gave.

a. Everyone whose heart was stirred, and whose spirit was willing came with something.

b. Many brought bracelets, earrings, rings, tablets, and jewels of gold.

c. God is looking for willing vessels—those who will come to Him and give to Him of their treasure, their time, and their talents.

N.B. Let us always be willing to give God our best.

Pastor Adonica’s Thoughts:

The Lord did not want anything in His house that was given grudgingly—with an attitude of unwillingness or resentment. He wanted only those things that were presented to Him with love and joy. Whatever you give—always give with a willing heart.

Pastor Rodney’s Thoughts:

I have often watched, with interest, as the offering is being received, at how people respond. Some people act like they believe they are giving to a man, or a church, or an organization and either expect something back from them or they give without willingness. I am sure that some only give so others don’t see them not giving. However, I have come to realize that people don’t really get the big picture—for some reason they don’t realize that it is God they are giving their gifts to when they give to His work and His Kingdom. They don’t realize that God sees what they are doing and even looks into their heart at their attitude and intent as they do it. Your giving is totally between you and God. Do it like God is watching. Do it with a willing heart.

Prayer and Confession:

Father I pray that my heart will always be willing to serve You and obey You. In my giving, I will worship You and I give my best to You. All that I have is Yours. I am Yours and my heart has made me willing!

THE LAW OF KINDNESS

A capable, intelligent, and virtuous woman–who is he who can find her? She is far more precious than jewels and her value is far above rubies or pearls. Proverbs 31:10 AMP

She opens her mouth in skillful and godly Wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness [giving counsel and instruction]. 27 She looks well to how things go in her household, and the bread of idleness (gossip, discontent, and self-pity) she will not eat.  Proverbs 31:26-27 AMP

There is such a thing as a virtuous woman. She is a woman who loves God and loves His Word. She has submitted herself to the Holy Spirit and she is strong in the Lord and the power of His might! It is a blessed and wise man who can find himself such a wife. She is more valuable and precious than any worldly wealth.

One of the things that makes her such a godly, wonderful, wise woman is the fact that she has control over her attitude and over her mouth. We always end up speaking that which is in our heart, so our heart must first be yielded and submitted to God. When she speaks, she speaks with kindness and graciousness – on her tongue is the Law of Kindness. The Law of Kindness is the Law of Love. Her mouth only speaks things that will bless and benefit others, even if it is a rebuke. She speaks the truth in love.

She minds her own business and does not poke her nose into other people’s affairs, but when asked, she speaks forth with skillful and godly wisdom. She gives godly counsel and instruction. She takes good care of her family and makes sure that their needs are met. She is not lazy and does not waste her time gossiping or complaining; neither does she listen to others gossip and complain. She is not manipulative, nor does she dwell on the negatives or feel sorry for herself. She enriches the lives of others. She is a woman to look up to.

For the commandment is a lamp, and the whole teaching [of the law] is light, and reproofs of discipline are the way of life, 24 To keep you from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a loose woman. 25 Lust not after her beauty in your heart, neither let her capture you with her eyelids. 26 For on account of a harlot a man is brought to a piece of bread, and the adulteress stalks and snares [as with a hook] the precious life [of a man].
Proverbs 6:23-26 AMP

The mouth of a loose woman is a deep pit [for ensnaring wild animals]; he with whom the Lord is indignant and who is abhorrent to Him will fall into it. Proverbs 22:14 AMP

A lying tongue hates those it wounds and crushes, and a flattering mouth works ruin.  Proverbs 26:28 AMP

A loose, ungodly woman is another story entirely. She has no virtues. She does not love God or His Word. She has yielded herself to the lusts of the flesh and her carnal desires. She has given the devil place in her life. It is a foolish and doomed man who falls for her “charms.” There is no truth or wisdom in her mouth. Her heart is full of evil and her mouth is full of deceit. She is a flatterer and cares nothing for the man she is enticing. She is a user and a manipulator and thinks only of herself. The Law of Kindness is definitely not in her mouth! All kinds of negatives come out of her mouth. She will turn on you to destroy you, in a heartbeat. Her mouth is a deep pit! She is lazy and always looks for the easy way even if it means hurting or using others. A man may lust after her, but he will never be filled or satisfied. He will leave her presence emptier than before.

[The] women likewise must be worthy of respect and serious, not gossipers, but temperate and self-controlled, [thoroughly] trustworthy in all things. 1 Timothy 3:11 AMP

Your mouth can get you into all kinds of trouble if you are not careful. A woman (or a man), who wants to be used by God, must put a guard on her (or his) lips. Generally, women love to talk and interact with others much more than men. If they are not careful, they can say too much and end up hurting people. A mature person is a person who has control over their tongue. An immature person speaks before they think and speaks too much. We cannot lead others until we have some maturity in our own lives. The things that come out of our mouths are an indicator of our level of maturity and also of what is mostly in our heart. A person – man or woman – who is loose with their mouth is a person who cannot be trusted to minister to others or to have a position of authority in the Body of Christ.

Colossians 4:6 says that your speech should always be gracious and seasoned with salt so that you know how to answer any one you speak to. Proverbs 15:4 says that a gentle tongue has healing power and is a tree of life. Proverbs 12:18 says that the tongue of the wise brings healing.

Let us submit our mouths and our tongues to the Holy Spirit; let our minds and hearts be filled with the Word of God; so that we can be a blessing to the Lord and to those around us. Let us build up with our mouths and not tear down. Let us leave people in a better way that we found them. Let the Law of kindness be on our lips!

CONFESSION OF FAITH

Thoughts on Stewardship
Lesson No. 9 from Deuteronomy

CONFESSION OF FAITH FROM DEUTERONOMY 28

I listen diligently and pay attention to the voice of the Lord my God.
I am watchful to do all His commandments, which He commands me this day.
Therefore, the Lord my God is setting me high above all the nations of the earth.
All these blessings are coming upon me and overtaking me
because I heed the voice of the Lord my God:
I am blessed in the city and blessed in the field.
The fruit of my body is blessed and the fruit of my ground is blessed and so is the fruit of my beasts, the increase of my cattle and the young of my flock.
My basket is blessed and so is my kneading trough.
I am blessed when I come in and blessed when I go out.
The Lord is causing my enemies, who rise up against me, to be defeated before my face.
They may come out against me one way, but they will flee before me seven ways.
The Lord is commanding the blessing upon me in my storehouse and in all that I undertake.
The Lord my God is blessing me in the land, which He has given me.
The Lord is establishing me as a person holy to Himself, as He has promised me, because I am faithful to keep the commandments of the Lord my God and walk in His ways.
All the people of the earth see that I am called by the Name of the Lord and that His hand is upon me, and they are afraid of me.
The Lord is making me to have a surplus of prosperity, through the fruit of my body, of my livestock, and of my ground, in the land which the Lord promised to give me.
The Lord is opening to me His good treasury, the heavens, to give the rain to my land in its season and to bless all the work of my hands.
Therefore I will lend to many nations, but I will not borrow.
The Lord is making me the head and not the tail.
I am above only and not beneath.
I am blessed today and every day, because I heed the commandments of the Lord my God, which He commands me this day and I am watchful to do them.
I will not turn aside from any of the words, which He commands me this day—to the right or to the left—to go after other gods to serve them.
I am abundantly blessed, because I serve the Lord my God with joyfulness of mind and heart, in gratitude for the abundance of all with which He has blessed me.

Deuteronomy 28:1-14 and 47
Paraphrased from the Amplified Bible

PRAYER:
Lord, I thank you that obedience releases Your blessing. Lord, what You have planned for me is so much bigger than the plans I have for myself. I submit myself to You and Your word and I prepare my heart to receive Your abundant blessing and favor in my life.

WHAT ABOUT PENTECOST?

MY TREASURE
Foundation Scriptures: Matthew 6:19-24

Dr. F.L.K. Howard-Browne was my uncle—a preacher, a teacher, a theologian and a fiery Pentecostal pioneer. He was a wonderful man of God and a great inspiration to me. This is one of his many inspiring messages:

WHAT ABOUT PENTECOST?
What’s in a name?  Some say that “Pentecost” means fifty.  Technically they are correct, but to every Spirit-filled child of God it means vastly more than a mere technical definition.  There are words in our language that mean more to us than mere technicalities.  For instance, the word “Sterling” stands for a certain quality in silverware.  When we buy Sterling silver we know that we are obtaining a certain definite standard of silverware.  We are assured of its genuineness.  We know it will stand the test of time.  We know it has value.  We also know there are cheap imitations on the market, and if we are looking for quality we know enough to let such spurious articles alone.
Pentecost!  What does it mean?  It represents a pattern—a standard.  It signifies, in its spiritual significance, an empowered church.  It represents a Spirit-filled experience.  It stands for revival fires.  It holds within its inner meaning a burden for the lost; conviction for sin; repentance and faith toward God.
The early church walked in the light of Pentecostal fires and these were the results that followed.  Not only was the Gospel preached uncompromisingly, but also signs and wonders accompanied the preaching of the Word.  Pentecost meant something more than a name to the early Church.  A Spirit-endued people aroused opposition from unbelievers.  Persecution not only meant glory and shouting and great joy; it meant also being despised by the world—hated—stoned—being beaten with stripes —imprisonments—and many other trials.
Pentecost!  What does it mean today?  From a Scriptural standpoint it means as much as it ever did.  It is a proven fact that those who are truly Pentecostal, with a Pentecostal message and a Pentecostal experience backed up with a Pentecostal life of holiness, will have Pentecostal results in Pentecostal meetings in a Pentecostal way.  Instead of putting the soft pedal on Pentecost, let us magnify the work of the Lord as manifested in Pentecostal power and glory.
Pentecost has meant something wonderful to us.  It has meant the mightiest revival the world has ever seen since the days of the apostles.  It has meant the conversion of hundreds of thousands.  Likewise, untold thousands have received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and have been set on fire for God.  The sick and deformed have been miraculously healed.  Restitution has been made in numberless cases.  A life of holiness has been the experience of those who have come under the blessing of Pentecost.  Churches have been revived.  A great evangelistic movement at home and in foreign fields has been established.  Sadness and sickness, sin and shame, half-heartedness and indifference have given way before the mighty God-sent avalanche of Pentecostal revival.
By Dr. F.L.K. Howard-Browne (1905 – 1998) PhD, ThD, DD
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.  Acts 1:8 NKJV

Now when the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.  Acts 2:1-4 NKJV
Then He said to His disciples, The harvest is indeed plentiful, but the laborers are few. 38 So pray to the Lord of the harvest to force out and thrust laborers into His harvest.  Matthew 9:37-38 AMP

But all things are from God, Who through Jesus Christ reconciled us to Himself [received us into favor, brought us into harmony with Himself] and gave to us the ministry of reconciliation [that by word and deed we might aim to bring others into harmony with Him]. 19 It was God [personally present] in Christ, reconciling and restoring the world to favor with Himself, not counting up and holding against [men] their trespasses [but cancelling them], and committing to us the message of reconciliation (of the restoration to favor). 20 So we are Christ’s ambassadors, God making His appeal as it were through us. We [as Christ’s personal representatives] beg you for His sake to lay hold of the divine favor [now offered you] and be reconciled to God.  2 Corinthians 5:18-20 AMP

What To Do When You Are Between The Promise And The Manifestation

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: 18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints. Ephesians 6:10-18 KJV

1. Standing on the promises

God has made us many wonderful promises, but His promises won’t do anything for you, personally, unless and until you believe His word and stand on it. He has already done the giving – you need to do the receiving. Remember this: God does not lie and cannot lie.

God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good? Numbers 23:19 KJV

2. Keep praising and worshipping your way to victory

…for the joy of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10 KJV

As long as you are praising and worshipping God, you can keep your eyes on Him and His promises. The joy of the Lord is your strength! The devil tries to get you to take your eyes off God and His Word. If the devil can steal your joy, he will be able to steal your stuff.

And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. 26 And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed. Acts 16:25-26 KJV

When you worship God, bands are loosed.

3. Keep an attitude of gratitude

All these curses shall come upon you and shall pursue you and overtake you till you are destroyed, because you do not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep His commandments and His statutes which He commanded you. 46 They shall be upon you for a sign [of warning to other nations] and for a wonder, and upon your descendants forever. 47 Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joyfulness of [mind and] heart [in gratitude] for the abundance of all [with which He had blessed you]. Deuteronomy 28:45-47 AMP

If you have a bad attitude, you will miss out on the blessings God has for you. Serve God with joyfulness in your heart and mind. Be thankful for all He has blessed you with and show Him your thankfulness. Show it in your mouth and in your giving. Think back on all your victories. Remind yourself of all that God has done for you. Testify – talk about your victories. Tell others.

4. Stay consistent in your commitment to walking out the promises of Go

a. Church attendance – don’t forsake gathering together

And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25 KJV

We need each other. We need to stand together and worship together, and encourage each other, and stir each other up to do good – to walk in love, and do good works.

b. Fellowship with the believers – don’t be a loner

That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. 1 John 1:3 KJV

c. Prayer

Rejoice and exult in hope; be steadfast and patient in suffering and tribulation; be constant in prayer. Romans 12:12 AMP

d. Study the word

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15 KJV

e. Walking in love and forgiveness

And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. 26 But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses. Mark 11:25-26 KJV

We love him, because he first loved us. 20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? 21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

1 John 4:19-21 KJV

f. Giving – keep giving

But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. 7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 KJV

g. Be a witness and demonstrate the power of the resurrection

(For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) 3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. 1 John 1:2-4 KJV

THE LIGHT OF THE GOSPEL SHINES THROUGH YIELDED VESSELS

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

Foundation Scriptures: 2 Corinthians 3:17 – 4:7 (ASV) Vs. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, (there) is liberty. Vs. 18 But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord the spirit. 4:1 Therefore seeing we have this ministry, even as we obtained mercy, we faint not:  Vs. 2  but we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by the manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.

 Vs. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled in them that perish. Vs. 4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should not dawn (upon them). Vs. 5 For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. Vs. 6 Seeing it is God, that said, Light shall shine out of darkness, who shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. Vs. 7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the exceeding greatness of the power may be of God, and not from ourselves.

 Wherever the Spirit of God is allowed and welcomed—there is liberty. If we allow the Holy Spirit free rein and free course, to do whatever He wants—then we will have liberty and freedom. If we inhibit and try to control Him, we will have bondage. Religion—man’s ideas, man’s tradition—always produces bondage. Because we are born again, because we handle God’s Word truthfully, and because we allow God to work in us, we see and know His glory. His glory is not hidden from us as if we look through a veil, but we see Him clearer and clearer all the time. God’s Word is the mirror we look into (James 1:23-25).

The devil blinds the unbeliever’s eyes to the glorious light of the gospel, as if they had a veil covering their face. They cannot understand God’s Word. It makes no sense to them. You will notice that the scripture (verse 4) says that their minds are blinded. The heart is the part of man ready to receive. We must reach past a person’s mind, into the heart, with the gospel. Preach the gospel to their spirit man. You receive the truth of God’s Word into your heart by faith. As your spirit lights up with God’s presence, your eyes begin to open to Him and you start to see Him more clearly. We do not preach of ourselves, by ourselves, nor do we preach our own gospel (2 Corinthians 3:5). We speak what we hear our Father say—or so it should be. Jesus did not preach His own ideas—He preached exactly what He heard His Father say to Him.

 Verse 6 – The light of God shines on us, in us, and through us as we allow His Word to enter our hearts and minds. The knowledge and truth that God has given us concerning Jesus is the light that shines in and through us. Imagine a book, lying open, in a darkened room—you cannot read it. Then you flip on the light switch and you can see every word. It is the same book, no matter how much light is in the room, or not. The amount of light, reflected on the book and bouncing into one’s eyes, determines how easy it is to read the words on the pages. God is the light. The more you have of Him, the more you know and understand Him. You begin to see things differently than before. Psalms 119:105 (KJV) Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

 Verse 7 – God chooses to use “earthen” vessels so that when His glory is displayed through these vessels, He will be glorified. Everyone can see that the vessel does not have much to give and they realize that God is the One doing the work in and through that vessel, and God gets all the glory. God is glorified in and through yielded vessels.

THE LORD’S PRAYER

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

John 16:31-33  (NIV)

31      “You believe at last!” Jesus answered.

32      “But a time is coming, and has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.

33      “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

 

JESUS PRAYED THIS PRAYER FOR YOU.

 

After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.

 

“I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name– the name you gave me– so that they may be one as we are one.

While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.

 

“I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.

I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.

 

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

 

“Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

 

“Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

John 17:1-26 (NIV)

 

AS YOU MEDITATE ON THIS PRAYER – TAKE IT PERSONALLY – RECEIVE IT AS IF HE IS SPEAKING ABOUT YOU – BECAUSE HE IS!

Glad tidings of great joy – Part One

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

Foundation Scripture: Luke 2:8-14

8        And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

9        And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10      And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11      For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12      And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13      And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14      Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

 

The “holiday” season is here once again: shopping malls crammed with shoppers, Christmas music playing, candy and cakes for the sweet tooth, while the desperate shopper looks frantically for that bargain stocking stuffer hoping that that gift would put the sparkle in the eye of the one they love. This little ritual is played right up to 10:00pm on Christmas Eve – looking, hoping, and trying to find that perfect gift – a new Tickle Me Elmo or the right dress. However, the day after Christmas, the same mall is jammed once again with the recipients of the gifts trying to return them because they didn’t like them or because it was not the right size or color etc. The credit cards are now maxed out. Its money they did not have to spend. They did not have it so they charged it. Then the pain sets in – they know that the bill is on its way and wonder how in the world they are going to pay it off. Months will go by until that bill is finally settled and then the process begins again – a vain search by people trying to fill their heart with a joy that cannot be bought at any store and a joy that only Jesus can bring.

I think that they are missing a detail.

This joy that they are looking for is a joy that only Jesus can bring – this joy is the joy of Salvation – the joy of having your sin’s forgiven and having your name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

 

Luke 2:15-20

15      And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

16      And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

17      And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

18      And all they that heard it wondered at those things, which were told them by the shepherds.

19      But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

20      And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

 

Once the shepherds heard about the baby Jesus they wanted to see Him. How will the world ever press in to find Him if they have never heard about Him? It’s important that everywhere we go this Christmas, we don’t just have carols and trees and eggnog and gifts while the real joy is never found. Remember whom the season is really about. Christ has been taken out of Christmas and Xmas has been left as another fairy-tale holiday with meaning. I tell you church family, that this season should be no different than any other time of the year. All year round we should be rejoicing over the fact that “Joy to the World – the Lord has come”!

He is alive and has come today to bring joy to you in the form of eternal life that springs up as a well of life and can become a river flowing out of you to touch a lost and dying world with the good news.

 

Matthew 2:10-11

10      When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

11      And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.

The Wise Men came and worshipped Jesus and they opened their treasure bags and gave gifts to him – seeing this is His birthday we are reminded to not forget him and lavish Him with our love and our hearts and our gifts this season……………………after all it is His birthday not ours.

JESUS — THE LOVE OF YOUR LIFE

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

“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands: I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. Revelations 2:1-5 NIV

 

In the book of Revelation, the Lord speaks through John to seven churches: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. He commends them, encourages them and rebukes them. The Lord commended the Ephesian church for working hard, being committed to the truth and persevering through hardships without giving up. But He had to rebuke them because they had forgotten to enjoy their relationship with Jesus and to keep Him first in their priorities.

 

You cannot work for or earn anything that God has given you or anything He has done for you. It is all a free gift given by grace and received in humility. Humility is the ability to receive that which you do not deserve. If the devil can’t stop you from serving God then he tries to get you so busy laboring and working hard FOR the Lord that you forget to have a relationship WITH the Lord. Jesus was your first love and He must remain your first love. The Greek word for “first” means foremost – in time, place, order or importance. It is translated variously as “before, beginning, best, chief, first of all, and former.” Jesus is the most important person in your life – your first love and your only love. When you marry your earthly true love, you commit to love them only and forever. You love them so completely that you are not ever tempted to even look around at another.

 

We are to commit to the Lord for eternity like we would to a marriage that will last a lifetime. God hates divorce and separation because when He commits to us, it is forever for Him. When we are flaky and uncommitted in our earthly relationships, then we will most likely be inconsistent and unfaithful in our heavenly relationships. The Lord loves us with all His heart. He longs to have a close relationship with us. He longs to fellowship and commune with us. The closer we get to Him, the closer we get to His protection and His blessing. He will never leave us alone – we are the ones who stupidly make the mistake of moving away from Him and the blessing of His presence.

 

If Jesus is your first love then you should treat Him like your first love. You should respect Him, reverence Him, notice Him, regard Him, honor Him, prefer Him, venerate Him, esteem him, defer to Him, praise Him, and love Him exceedingly!

 

What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all– how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died— more than that, who was raised to life— is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:31-39 NIV

 

God is FOR us – He is on our side! He did not spare His OWN SON to redeem us from the pit. WHO is there that can accuse us when GOD has justified and acquitted us? Jesus, Himself, is actually PLEADING as He intercedes on our behalf at the right hand of God. NOTHING in heaven, on the earth or under the earth will stop the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit from loving us! When you know how much God has given and how much He has done to show His love for you – how can you be fickle and wishy-washy about loving Him? Give Him your ALL – He is worthy of it! He is worthy of the best that you have. He is worthy of ALL your love, ALL your devotion and ALL your praise. Stop wasting your time on things that do not matter in eternity and show Him how much you love Him today. Give Him your heart and your life and He will never let you go!

Rodney Howard Browne bringing Revival to America

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