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!

GOD’S THOUGHTS AND WAYS OF GRACE ARE HIGHER THAN OURS

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

The LORD works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed. He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel: The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. 9 He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.  Psalms 103:6-12 NIV

God is a good God. He is merciful, compassionate, gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love. He will not always accuse us, nor continually chide us. He will not stay angry forever nor hold a grudge. He does not treat us as our sins deserve nor repay us according to our iniquities. These are His ways and He has let us know them. How blessed we are to have a God like this, Who willingly sent His Son to die, Whose blood can wash away our sins and transgressions as far as the east is from the west! We don’t deserve His forgiveness, but He offers it to us anyway. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him. His love is so much bigger than our love. We cannot comprehend His love for us, but He loves us anyway.

Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.  Isaiah 55:6-9 NIV

God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, neither are His ways our ways. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are His ways higher than our ways and His thoughts than our thoughts. Many people use this scripture to explain tragedies and to say that we cannot understand why God would kill, steal from or destroy us, because His ways are not our ways. However, we know from scripture and especially from these scriptures that God is not a destroyer, but He is a restorer! It is God’s mercy, grace and forgiveness that we cannot comprehend. We cannot understand how it is that God would forgive the vilest of sinners – even mass murderers. In our mind they should pay for their sins, but if they ask God to forgive them – He will not withhold His mercy. This is the same mercy that He shows to every one of us.

When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals-one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.  Luke 23:33-34 NIV

Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last. The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.”  Luke 23:46-47 NIV

Jesus’ compassion for the thief next to Him and His grace toward His murderers impressed the centurion. Even though these people mocked, despised, beat and crucified Him, He asked His Father to forgive them and to not lay this sin to their charge. This great love distinguished Him from every other person ever treated so cruelly. When we are treated badly, our earthly reaction is to fight back, but only God’s response is one of love and grace. The compassion and mercy of our Lord set Him apart from the rest. It is God’s grace, compassion, mercy, forgiveness and love that are higher than ours and when we display His heart – we are revealed as His very own!

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  John 13:34-35 NIV

God is a gracious God and only His own can begin to know His love – that is higher than the heavens – and to allow His love to flow through them – distinguishing them from the rest of the world.

REACH OUT AND RECEIVE

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

How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with Him.  Acts 10:38 KJV

God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power. He went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil…for God was with Him. About 70% of Jesus’ ministry was healing the sick and casting out devils.

Everywhere He went He ministered by the laying on of hands. The Bible does not say that He prayed for the sick, but it does say that He ministered the healing power of God by the laying on of hands. There was a transference of the anointing of the Holy Spirit in Jesus’ touch. This anointing brought life, healing, strength and deliverance to everyone Jesus ministered to.

Now a certain woman had a flow of blood for twelve years, and had suffered many things from many physicians. She had spent all that she had and was no better, but rather grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment; for she said, “If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well.” Immediately the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of the affliction. And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that power had gone out of Him, turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched My clothes?” But His disciples said to Him, “You see the multitude thronging You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’ ” And He looked around to see her who had done this thing. But the woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth. And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction.”  Mark 5:25-34 NKJV

This woman was a desperate case. She had suffered with an issue of blood for twelve years, having spent all her money on doctors who had done nothing to help her. Instead, her condition was even worse than before. In her desperate state, she heard of Jesus and when He came to her town, she formulated a plan to secure her healing.

Throngs of people surrounded Jesus and the scripture says that she had to work her way to Him through the press. When she was near Him, she reached out and touched the hem of His garment. The anointing flowed into her and she was instantly healed. Jesus did not pray for her. She touched Him and His anointing touched her.

Even though Jesus did not feel her physical touch on His garment, He felt the anointing flow from Him into her and He knew that someone was drawing the anointing out of Him by their faith. There is something about the touch of faith. By it, we can receive from God all that we need.

Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had. Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?” The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.” And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked. And that day was the Sabbath.  John 5:2-9 NKJV

A man who had been sick for thirty-eight years lay at the Pool of Bethesda, waiting for the angel to trouble the water. The first person in the water after it began to move, received their healing. He had no one to help him to the water, so he just lay there, sick, while others received their healing.

Jesus walked in and came to find him. He asked him if he wanted to be healed. The man was not expecting his healing to come from anywhere else but the troubled water and he believed that the hindrance to his healing was the fact that he had no man to help him down into the pool at the appropriate time.

Jesus told him, “Rise, take up your bed, and walk.” Immediately the man was made whole, picked up his bed and walked! He did not even know who it was who had healed him until later.

You can receive your healing by a touch of faith or you can receive it by a word of faith or you can simply reach out and receive as the Spirit of God moves in our midst. When the waters of the Pool of Bethesda began to stir, anyone could receive their healing. The only requirement was that they jumped into the waters first. Whosoever could get whatsoever!

When the Spirit of God begins to move and stir in our midst, it is time to reach out and receive! God is no respecter of persons. If you will reach out and receive, you will be healed. You are a whosoever who could receive whatsoever if you will open your heart to receive when the Spirit of God is moving.

LOVE FULFILLS THE LAW

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

8 Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  10 Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.  Romans 13:8-10 NKJV

Under the Old Covenant, God’s people spent all their time trying to fulfill the law. Of course, they never managed to keep the law one hundred percent of the time and that was the whole point of the law: to give them a standard to live by, to make them aware that they were incapable in their own power of living up to that standard, that they needed a Savior and to point them toward Jesus Himself as Savior and Lord.

17 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18 For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.  Matthew 5:17-18 NKJV

Jesus did not come to destroy the law, but to fulfill it and to deliver us from the curse of the law (Galatians 3:13). Out of His own mouth He gave us a new standard to live by.

34 But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together. 35 Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, 36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.  Matthew 22:34-40 KJV

He did not tell us that we do not have to obey God’s commands once we are born anew from above, but He did give us an easier way to obey the commands of God—walk in the love of God. Romans 5:5 NIV says that, “God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.” Our righteousness, as believers, had nothing to do with what we have done, but with what Jesus did for us. We are washed in His blood, saved sanctified and redeemed! Now, with the help of the Holy Spirit we walk out our righteousness in obedience to God’s Word. It is love that fulfills the law and it is God’s love in us that enables us to keep God’s law and obey it. We do not obey God’s commands because we are afraid of Him, but because we love Him. Because we love Him, we also love our neighbor as He has commanded us to.

If you love God, you will keep the Ten Commandments. If you love God, you will put Him first in all things. You will not worship any other god or any other earthly thing, like money or possessions. If you love God, you will not take His Name in vain. You will take time to honor Him and to spend time in His presence. If you love God you will honor and respect your parents. Even if they were not perfect, the love of God in your heart will forgive them and begin to appreciate them and see them as valuable and precious. When you forgive them, you will not repeat their mistakes and where there are generational curses, they will lose all their power over you. As far as God is concerned, all curses are broken on the day you are born-again. You activate this power of God in your life in this area by walking in the love of God.

If you love God and your neighbor, you will not murder your neighbor—either in your thoughts, with your mouth or with your hands. If you love God and your neighbor, you will not commit adultery. You will honor the other person by not allowing the lusts of your flesh to triumph. You will not do anything that dishonors your neighbor and their current or future spouse. If you love God and your neighbor, you will not steal—you will not take something that belongs to your neighbor. You will work with your hands and earn your living honestly and you will give to the Lord and your neighbor according to the blessing of the Lord on your life.

If you love God and your neighbor, you will not lie about your neighbor nor accuse them falsely. You will always tell the truth. If you love God and your neighbor, you will not covet your neighbor’s possessions. You will not be jealous or envious. Instead, you will be blessed by the fact that your neighbor is blessed and you will sow your own seed and you will expect God for a harvest of blessing to come to your life in due season. When you love God and your neighbor, you are sowing seed for blessings to come back to you, good-measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over!

When you walk in love towards your neighbor, you have fulfilled the law.

 

 

DON’T PUT YOUR CONFIDENCE IN EGYPT

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

Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, who rely on horses and trust in chariots because they are many and in horsemen because they are very strong, but they look not to the Holy one of Israel, nor seek and consult the Lord! 2 And yet He is wise and brings calamity and does not retract His words; He will arise against the house (the whole race) of evildoers and against the helpers of those who work iniquity. 3 Now the Egyptians are men and not God, and their horses are flesh and not spirit; and when the Lord stretches out His hand, both [Egypt] who helps will stumble, and [Judah] who is helped will fall, and they will all perish and be consumed together. Isaiah 31:1-3 AMP

In this verse, God calls Egypt “the flesh.” Egypt is symbolic of the world and the world’s system, which is influenced and controlled by the enemy. The devil, first and foremost, is a liar. He offers, but never comes through – he promises, but never delivers. He deceives and confuses. Hebrews3:13 says that sin is deceitful. Sin promises wealth, power, satisfaction and freedom, but delivers only poverty, frustration and bondage.

Mark 4:19 AMP says that, “The cares and anxieties of the world and distractions of the age, and the pleasure and delight and false glamour and deceitfulness of riches, and the craving and passionate desire for other things creep in and choke and suffocate the Word, and it becomes fruitless.” When you look at the world and you allow yourself to crave and lust after what they have, you will choke the Word, the anointing, and the power of God in your life and leave yourself vulnerable to destruction.

If you are a believer, a child of God, and you think that worldly people have it better than you, then you are deceived. All the money and power in the world cannot buy one drop of the blood of Jesus and only the blood of Jesus can guarantee eternal life! If you keep your eyes on that which is eternal, God will take care of you.

Say, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I am against you, Pharaoh king of Egypt, the great monster [of sluggish and unwieldy strength] that lies in the midst of his [delta] streams, [boastfully] declaring, My river Nile is my own and I have made it for myself.  Ezekiel 29:3 AMP

It shall be the lowliest of the kingdoms, neither shall it exalt itself any more above the nations; I will diminish [the Egyptians] so they shall never again rule over the nations. 16 And never again shallEgypt have the confidence and be the reliance of the house of Israel; their iniquity will be brought to remembrance whenever [Israel] looks toward them [for help]. They shall know (understand and realize) that I am the Lord God [Who demands loyalty and obedient service].  Ezekiel 29:15-16 AMP

In this passage, God pronounced Himself to be against Egypt, because Egypt was proud and arrogant, taking credit for what God alone had done and given, and because Israel looked up to Egypt and trusted her instead of their Lord. God set Himself against Egypt, to make her land desolate and a waste, to bring her low, to place her in subjection to her enemies and to scatter her people among the nations. However, He promised to restore the Egyptians to their land at the end of forty years, but they would never be restored to their former glory, they would never again rule over nations and never again would Egypt have the confidence and be the reliance of the house of Israel.

The world’s system is not reliable or trustworthy. The world puts its trust in money and wealth, but history will show that the same way money can be made, it can be lost and there is little that you or anyone else can do about it. Another lie, perpetrated by the devil, is that money can buy health, peace of mind and happiness. Money can pay for doctors and treatments, but it cannot cure a terminal illness. Money can buy a fancy wedding, but it cannot buy a good marriage. Money can buy a nice house, but it cannot guarantee a happy home and family. Money can buy things and even some people, but it cannot buy genuine friendships. Money cannot guarantee happiness and contentment.

As long as you look to the world for help, as long as you trust in the arm of the flesh, and as long as you covet what the world has, you will never enjoy the fullness of the blessings of God. God will bring down the earthly things you trust in. You must wake up and realize that He is the only One worthy of your trust and reliance. You must KNOW that HE is the Lord God and you must put your hope and trust in Him. He is the Lord and He demands loyalty and obedient service in exchange for love, peace, joy and blessing. True blessing and everlasting life are in the hands of the Father and He offers it to you today. Take your eyes off the world and place your life firmly in the hands of the Lord, Who loves you and watches over you to do you good in the end.

THE WHEAT IS GATHERED AND STORED BUT THE CHAFF IS BURNED

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

But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee and escape from the wrath and indignation [of God against disobedience] that is coming? 8 Bring forth fruit that is consistent with repentance [let your lives prove your change of heart]; 9 And do not presume to say to yourselves, We have Abraham for our forefather; for I tell you, God is able to raise up descendants for Abraham from these stones! 10 And already the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 11 I indeed baptize you in (with) water because of repentance [that is, because of your changing your minds for the better, heartily amending your ways, with abhorrence of your past sins]. But He Who is coming after me is mightier than I, Whose sandals I am not worthy or fit to take off or carry; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 12 His winnowing fan (shovel, fork) is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear out and clean His threshing floor and gather and store His wheat in His barn, but the chaff He will burn up with fire that cannot be put out.  Matthew 3:7-12 AMP

Many people wondered whether John the Baptist was the Christ – the Messiah (Luke 3:15) – but he settled that issue when he told them that there was one coming who was mightier than himself. John baptized with water, but Jesus baptizes in the Holy Spirit and fire! Every one of us has two choices. You can be baptized in the Holy Spirit and fire here and now and allow the Lord to do a purifying work in your heart, mind and life or you can resist the Spirit of the Lord and be consumed by fire in the Day of Judgment. It is far better to yield to the Spirit of God here and now and allow Him to cleanse you – no matter how painful it is on your flesh and your self-will – than to resist Him and His work in your life and have to burn in hell for eternity.

It doesn’t matter who you are, it doesn’t matter how important you are, how learned you are, how many degrees you have, how many titles you carry – or if you are nobody and have nothing at all –everyone has to go through the fire. You are the one who chooses which fire you go through – the fire of God now or the fires of hell later. The wheat will be gathered and stored in God’s barn – those who have placed their life in God’s hands will live with Him in His presence forever. The chaff will be burned up – those who have rebelled against God will burn in hell. Hell was not prepared for men, but for the devil and his angels, however, unless men submit to God and resist the devil, God has no choice but to leave them to their fate – the tormenting fires of hell.

Another parable He set forth before them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while he was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed also darnel (weeds resembling wheat) among the wheat, and went on his way. 26 So when the plants sprouted and formed grain, the darnel (weeds) appeared also. 27 And the servants of the owner came to him and said, Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? Then how does it have darnel shoots in it? 28 He replied to them, An enemy has done this. The servants said to him, Then do you want us to go and weed them out? 29 But he said, No, lest in gathering the wild wheat (weeds resembling wheat), you root up the [true] wheat along with it. 30 Let them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will say to the reapers, Gather the darnel first and bind it in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my granary.  Matthew 13:24-30 AMP

God allows the wheat and the weeds to grow up together, unhindered, but again, at the time of harvest, there is a separation – the wheat is gathered to be stored safely in the granary, but the weeds are pulled out and burned.

The [basis of the] judgment (indictment, the test by which men are judged, the ground for the sentence) lies in this: the Light has come into the world, and people have loved the darkness rather than and more than the Light, for their works (deeds) were evil. 20 For every wrongdoer hates (loathes, detests) the Light, and will not come out into the Light but shrinks from it, lest his works (his deeds, his activities, his conduct) be exposed and reproved. 21 But he who practices truth [who does what is right] comes out into the Light; so that his works may be plainly shown to be what they are–wrought with God [divinely prompted, done with God’s help, in dependence upon Him].  John 3:19-21 AMP

Don’t wait until it is too late – come to the light now, come to the Lord now. Allow Him to do a purifying work in your life, allow the fire of the Holy Spirit to purge and burn your weeds and your chaff and make pure wheat out of you, so that you will be gathered into the presence of the Lord at the time of harvest and be stored in His granary – abiding in His wonderful presence forever, even throughout eternity!

GREAT FEAR AND GREAT JOY

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

The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre. 2 Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him. 3 Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre. 4 So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre. 5 And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in. 6 Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie, 7 And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself. 8 Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed. 9 For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead. 10 Then the disciples went away again unto their own home.  John 20:1-10 KJV

Jesus spoke to His disciples many times about what was about to happen to Him, including His death and resurrection, but when He was arrested and crucified, they were devastated. They did not understand God’s plan. Only in looking back, did they see the whole thing unfolded and revealed. Peter was so upset and afraid after Jesus was arrested that he denied knowing Jesus, three times. When Mary Magdalene came to the tomb, early in the morning, on the first day of the week, she was distraught. One can only imagine the pain and heaviness with which she approached the tomb that day – her Lord had been crucified and was dead. She was even more upset when she saw His body was gone. Her trip that day to the tomb was not one of gladness, but one of great sorrow. However, this was about to change!

But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre, 12 And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. 13 And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him. 14 And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.  John 20:11-14 KJV

This was Resurrection morning! It does not matter how bleak your life looks to you now – maybe you are full of sadness, disappointments, and regrets and you think that your life is over, that it is too late for you to have another chance – get ready for a resurrection!

Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. 16 Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master. 17 Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. 18 Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her.  John 20:15-18 KJV

Mary Magdalene ran to bring His disciples Word that Jesus was not dead, but alive – that He was raised from the dead! Matthew 28:8 says that she departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy! This fear was a reverential fear that gripped her. She was also overcome with excitement and great joy because Jesus was alive she had just seen Him with her own eyes.

In John 11:25, before Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, He said unto Martha, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” Jesus is still speaking to you today, “Fear not! That which was dead shall be dead no more – I am the resurrection and the Life – and that which was dead shall live again.” Jesus died on the cross – He was dead for three days – but the good news is that He rose again. Without Him, you are already dead, but Jesus said in John 6:40 KJV, “And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.”

If you have Jesus, you will never die, but you will live forever. New life – resurrection life – is working in you even now! What do you need Him to do for you? Today is the day of your salvation!

LEAD A LIFE WORTHY OF HIS CALLING

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

I therefore, the prisoner for the Lord, appeal to and beg you to walk (lead a life) worthy of the [divine] calling to which you have been called [with behavior that is a credit to the summons to God’s service.  Ephesians 4:1 AMP

If you have received Jesus as your Lord and Savior then you are washed in the blood of Jesus and you are free from the bondage of sin, fear and death. Before Jesus, sin had control over you and therefore guilt, fear, and death as well. You cannot yield to sin and control it at the same time – either you master it by resisting it or it masters you when you give in to it. It is like a drug addict claiming that they are in control of their drug use or an alcoholic claiming that they are in control of their alcohol consumption. They claim that they can quit if they wanted to, but that is simply not true because it has complete control of them, they just can’t or won’t admit it. Sin is not something you can play with – sin’s whole intention is to utterly dominate and control you and with sin automatically comes fear and death. If you want to be free from the bondage of sin then you must quit yielding to it.

So this I say and solemnly testify in [the name of] the Lord [as in His presence], that you must no longer live as the heathen (the Gentiles) do in their perverseness [in the folly, vanity, and emptiness of their souls and the futility] of their minds.  Ephesians 4:17 AMP

As a Christian – little anointed one – you are called to a divine calling – summoned to God’s service. Not only does God call you to lead a life worthy of His calling, but He has empowered you by His Holy Spirit to do so. You no longer live your life as you did in the world. You are free from that web of deceit and bondage. You are now free from the folly, vanity, and emptiness of your previous existence. Do not continue to walk and talk like a sinner.

Their moral understanding is darkened and their reasoning is beclouded. [They are] alienated (estranged, self-banished) from the life of God [with no share in it; this is] because of the ignorance (the want of knowledge and perception, the willful blindness) that is deep-seated in them, due to their hardness of heart [to the insensitiveness of their moral nature].  Ephesians 4:18 AMP

Sin alienates you from God. Sin causes you to have a hard heart, to be insensitive to the Holy Spirit, and even insensitive to your own conscience. Therefore, you are deeply ignorant of the truth. Because of this, your reasoning is beclouded, and you have absolutely no moral understanding. You have become blind by choice.

In their spiritual apathy they have become callous and past feeling and reckless and have abandoned themselves [a prey] to unbridled sensuality, eager and greedy to indulge in every form of impurity [that their depraved desires may suggest and demand].  Ephesians 4:19 AMP

It is a vicious cycle. Sin causes spiritual apathy and spiritual apathy causes you to become callous and reckless, with no more feelings and no more conscience that might otherwise have caused you to be sensitive to others and cause you to do the right thing. If you have no feelings for others and no sensitivity to what they are feeling, then there is nothing stopping you from hurting them. These kinds of people are eager to abandon themselves to fulfilling every perverted, impure, depraved desire that their flesh can come up with, with no thought to the damage being done to either them or others.

But you did not so learn Christ! 21 assuming that you have really heard Him and been taught by Him, as [all] Truth is in Jesus [embodied and personified in Him], 22 Strip yourselves of your former nature [put off and discard your old unrenewed self] which characterized your previous manner of life and becomes corrupt through lusts and desires that spring from delusion; 23 And be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude], 24 And put on the new nature (the regenerate self) created in God’s image, [Godlike] in true righteousness and holiness. 25 Therefore, rejecting all falsity and being done now with it, let everyone express the truth with his neighbor, for we are all parts of one body and members one of another.  Ephesians 4:20-25 AMP

You did not learn to do these things from Jesus. He has taught you a different way of life, free from your old nature. Strip yourselves of your former sin nature, your old unrenewed self, which has been corrupted through lusts and desires that spring from delusion. Continue to renew your mind with the washing of the water of God’s word. You are created in the image of God – put on your new nature. Reject the lies of the devil and embrace the truth of God!

How to Be Happy

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

I heard another report the other day about researchers investigating the causes of happiness. Everybody wants to be happy—we spend our lives chasing happiness. We think we know what will make us happy, but more often than not, once we achieve those things, we find out that we are not at all happier than we thought we would be! People think money, and the things it can buy, will make them happy. In one study, in another nation, they found out that in fact the more money people had, the less happy they were!

One of the things researchers have discovered is that one of the main sources of happiness is not money, possessions, intelligence, good looks, popularity, climate or health. They found out that the main source of happiness is gratitude! Gratitude is not something found outsidof yourself. Gratitude comes from within. It’s not what’s in your hands, but what’s in your heart. Gratitude is an attitude—an attitude you choose to have and display. Gratitude is a decision—you can choose whether or not to be grateful.

Therefore do not be vague and thoughtless and foolish, but understanding and firmly grasping what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but ever be filled and stimulated with the [Holy] Spirit. Speak out to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, offering praise with voices [and instruments] and making melody with all your heart to the Lord, At all times and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father. Ephesians 5:17-20 AMP

Understand what God’s will is and, at all times and for everything, praise and give thanks to the Father, in the Name of Jesus. Look for reasons to thank God and be thankful. Remind yourself of His blessings and what He has done for you. Don’t wait for the pie in the sky before you’ll be happy. With the help of the Holy Spirit, start to be happy and to enjoy your life right now.

Be happy [in your faith] and rejoice and be glad-hearted continually (always); Be unceasing in prayer [praying perseveringly]; Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus [the Revealer and Mediator of that will]. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 AMP

No matter what you are going though, be happy and give thanks to the Lord. It is His will that you would be happy and be thankful. Don’t be dominated and defeated by your circumstances. The more you allow your situation to get you down, the more entrenched in the mess you will be. Start to thank God for the way out; thank Him for the answer; and soon the solution will come and your circumstances will change. Don’t talk about your financial lack or how you can’t afford what you want and need. Thank God that you are the head and not the tail, above and not beneath, and that you will lend to many nations and you will not borrow! Speak your hopes and your faith, not your doubt and unbelief.

I give thanks to Him Who has granted me [the needed] strength and made me able [for this], Christ Jesus our Lord, because He has judged and counted me faithful and trustworthy, appointing me to [this stewardship of] the ministry. 1 Timothy 1:12 AMP

Even though Paul endured horrific persecution, as well as physical, mental, and emotional challenges, to fulfill the call of God, he remained grateful to the Lord—grateful that He would even count him worthy to be in the ministry. Instead of being mad or complaining—he was thankful! When he and Silas were arrested, thrown in a dungeon, and tied up in stocks, they chose not take it personally and ask, “Why me Lord?” Rather they chose to rejoice and praise God in the midst of their circumstance. Because they praised instead of complaining, God supernaturally delivered them. Gratitude does not consider the problem—gratitude considers the solution.

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. They shall be upon you for a sign [of warning to other nations] and for a wonder, and upon your descendants forever. 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 turn this scripture around, you could read it like this: 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.

Make a decision to serve the Lord with joyfulness of mind and heart. Make a decision to be grateful not only for what the Lord has already done for you, but also for what He has promised He would do for you, and see what wonderful things will open up in your life!

Rodney Howard Browne bringing Revival to America

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