MY COMMITMENT AS A CHRISTIAN

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

I’m a part of the fellowship of the unashamed.
I have Holy Spirit Power.  The die has been cast.
I have stepped over the line.  The decision has been made.
I’m a disciple of His.
I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still.

My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, my future is secure.
I’m finished and done with low living, sight walking, small planning,
smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions,
mundane talking, cheap living and dwarfed goals.

I no longer need pre-eminence, prosperity, position, promotions,
plaudits, or popularity.  I don’t have to be right, first, tops,
recognized, praised, regarded or rewarded.  I now live by faith,
lean on His presence, walk by patience, lift by prayer, and labor by power.

My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way
rough, my companions few, my Guide reliable, my mission clear.
I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back,
deluded or delayed.  I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the
presence of the adversary, negotiate at the table of the enemy,
ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.

I won’t give up, shut up, let up, until I have stayed up, stored up,
prayed up, paid up, preached up for the cause of Christ.
I am a disciple of Jesus.  I must go till He comes, give till I drop,
preach till all know, and work till He stops me.
And when He comes for His own, He will have
no problems recognizing me—my banner will be clear!

Written by a young African pastor and tacked on the wall of his house

The Power of the Seed

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

Thoughts on Stewardship
Lesson No. 5 from Genesis

The Power of the Seed
Foundation Scriptures: Genesis 1 verses 11-12

Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth”; and it was so.12 And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.  Genesis 1:11-12 NKJV

1.    God said, “Let the earth bring forth:
– Seed yielding grass and herbs
– Fruit trees that produce fruit after its own kind with its seed in itself

Then God said: It is good. God instituted the principle of sowing and reaping into the earth. He placed power in every seed to produce a harvest—to exactly duplicate itself and to greatly multiply.

2.    Everything starts out as a seed

a. According to the Word of God seed will produce after its own kind
b. Whether we realize it or not, our money is a seed
c. Our money is our seed and it will produce a harvest if it is sown into good ground

• We must make sure that we are sowing into good ground
• By good ground I mean ground that will produce   eternal fruit
• Sow in faith
• Give to the poor
• Ask yourself, ask the Lord, what you can do to help others
• Give to the Gospel
• Sowing into the Gospel will produce a harvest of souls

3.    Remember this: that this is a Law of God—God deposited multiplying power in the seed

Seed will always produce after its own kind. Galatians 6:8 says that, “he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.” When you sow into God’s kingdom, your giving will not only cause treasure to be laid up in heaven, but it will also produce a stream of income, on the earth, that will result in more provision coming to you as well as favor and open doors.

4.    This power is in your hand right now. Everything you need from now on out is in your hand in the form of a seed.
a. Don’t eat your seed. Plant it in good ground and watch it bring forth good fruit.

Pastor Adonica’s Thoughts:

Mark 4:26-29 NKJV says, “And He said, ‘The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground, and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how. For the earth yields crops by itself: first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head. But when the grain ripens, immediately he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.'”  The earth yields crops by itself because God designed it that way. You can do nothing to make a seed grow into a fruit producing plant. All you can do is follow the procedure and put the seed into good ground. The rest is done automatically. All the farmer has to do is to plow the ground, and plant and water the seeds, and when the fruit is ripe, harvest the crop.

When you sow a seed into the Kingdom of God and you water it with your faith, you can sleep and wake and the harvest will grow up without you doing anything else. Natural laws follow spiritual laws. If it works in the earth, it’s because it already works in Heaven. There is also an appointed time for the harvest. Don’t give up because of impatience and doubt. So sow your seed in faith and trust God to bring forth a ripe harvest of blessing in your life!

Pastor Rodney’s Thoughts:

When you receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior, there are many amazing promises that become available to you. All you need is the knowledge of what’s available and the faith to claim them for yourself. Every Christian has the same opportunity to flourish and be blessed because of these wonderful promises, but not all of them are. It really amazes me that some people just refuse to believe the Word of God and refuse to do what they need to do to activate the blessing. They don’t have anything and they are not happy about it, but they won’t change; they won’t do what the word says to do.

The Lord says that, “you have not because you ask not” (James 4:2). He also tells us not to fear because, “it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32). You can have two people sitting next to each other—both with the same Bible—one blessed and the other not. Why? Does God play favorites? Absolutely not! He responds to faith—to those who believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him (Hebrews 11:6).

Prayer and Confession:

Father, I thank you for the seed you have given me. I sow in faith and by faith. I believe you for a mighty harvest in eternity and favor and open doors on the earth.

 

God’s direction concerning our attitude and actions toward those in need

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

Thoughts on Stewardship – Lesson 26 from Deuteronomy
Foundation Scriptures: Deuteronomy 15 verse 1-11

The poor you will have with you always
God’s direction concerning our attitude and actions toward those in need

At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release. 2 And this is the manner of the release: every creditor shall release that which he has lent to his neighbor; he shall not exact it of his neighbor, his brother, for the Lord’s release is proclaimed. 3 Of a foreigner you may exact it, but whatever of yours is with your brother [Israelite] your hand shall release. 4 But there will be no poor among you, for the Lord will surely bless you in the land which the Lord your God gives you for an inheritance to possess, 5 If only you carefully listen to the voice of the Lord your God, to do watchfully all these commandments which I command you this day. 6 When the Lord your God blesses you as He promised you, then you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow; and you shall rule over many nations, but they shall not rule over you. 7 If there is among you a poor man, one of your kinsmen in any of the towns of your land which the Lord your God gives you, you shall not harden your [minds and] hearts or close your hands to your poor brother; 8 But you shall open your hands wide to him and shall surely lend him sufficient for his need in whatever he lacks. 9 Beware lest there be a base thought in your [minds and] hearts, and you say, The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand, and your eye be evil against your poor brother and you give him nothing, and he cry to the Lord against you, and it be sin in you. 10 You shall give to him freely without begrudging it; because of this the Lord will bless you in all your work and in all you undertake. 11 For the poor will never cease out of the land; therefore I command you, You shall open wide your hands to your brother, to your needy, and to your poor in your land.  Deuteronomy 15:1-11 AMP

1.  God’s way of ensuring that there was no poor amongst His people was to apply what was called a Sabbath Year of Release every seven years.

a. This meant that anyone, who had lent money or goods to his neighbor, and not been repaid after six years, was to forgive his neighbor of that debt
b. If it was a foreigner – an outsider – who owed the debt, they could still collect it

2.  There shall be no poor among you, for the Lord will bless you to be a blessing

a. The Lord will bless you if you will carefully listen to the Lord your God and watchfully do all His commandments and bless your neighbor
b. When you bless your neighbor and then when the Lord God blesses you as He has promised: i) you shall lend to many nations and shall not borrow; ii) you shall rule over many nations, but they will not rule over you

3.  Directions given by God on what to do when your neighbor is in need:

a. You must have a soft heart and an open hand to the needy
b. You should open your hand wide to him – you shall lend him sufficient for his needs
c. If you try to ignore your obligation and squirm out of it, you will get into trouble with God!
d. You will give it to the needy freely, without grudging. Because of this, the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake

4.  The poor will never cease out of the land

a. You will always have the needy people to help
b. You should always open wide your hands to your brother and the poor and needy in your land

Pastor Adonica’s Thoughts:
God loves people and He expects us to love and care for one another. Most people read the Law and see the rules and the regulations; they see the penalties and punishments. They look on the external. However, if you understand that God is love and you realize that mercy is His primary motivation, you read the Law with different eyes. You see that the whole law can truly be summed up in just two commandments: love God and love your neighbor. Also – obey God cheerfully, with your whole heart, not grudgingly. It is not merely actions that God rewards, it is attitude. When you get a revelation that you are God’s hands in the earth and that you are doing His work and that He will make sure that you are personally blessed and abundantly taken care of, and you freely give your help, then you will open your life to the full blessing of God. If you consider the poor, God will deliver you in your time of trouble, preserve you and keep you alive, bless you on the earth, protect you from your enemies, and strengthen and sustain you when sickness attacks! (Psalms 41:1-3)

Pastor Rodney’s Thoughts:
It is amazing to me how many people expect the blessing of the Lord on their life, and yet they are stingy and selfish when it comes to forgiving others of their debts or blessing the poor. God, under the Old Covenant, ensured that people could get a new start. Today, the only way for a person to get a new start is through bankruptcy – which is not a blessing. Some people have a negative attitude toward the poor and the needy. They feel that it’s not their problem, or that the poor are taking advantage by asking. However, God has compassion on the poor. He said that he who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord, and that which he has given He will repay to him. (Proverbs 19:17 AMP)

Prayer and Confession:
Father God, I thank you for a heart that is soft toward the things of God and toward the needy. Thank you, Lord, that I am generous and willing to help people and also to release people from debt if necessary. Therefore I thank you for your blessing upon my work and on all that I undertake.

What it Means to be Filled with the Holy Spirit

“From the Heart” teaching by Drs. Rodney & Adonica Howard-Browne.
Foundation Scripture: Ephesians 5:18

And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit. Ephesians 5:18 KJV

1. When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, He brings us into a greater revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ

The Holy Spirit is the way to the Father.
He is the way from the Father to us.
He is like an Artist—He paints Jesus upon the canvas of life and makes Jesus real to us.
The more we are filled the more we recognize and depend upon Jesus.
The Holy Spirit brings us into a life of personal union with and constant dependence upon the Lord Jesus Christ.

N.B. To be filled with the Spirit is to be filled
with Jesus.

2. The Holy Spirit cuts us off from the life of self and sin and brings us into a life of holiness, righteousness, and obedience.

Exodus 40:34-35 AMP – Then the cloud [the Shekinah, God’s visible presence] covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle! 35 And Moses was not able to enter the Tent of Meeting because the cloud remained upon it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.
This is the picture of a Spirit-filled man—full of God’s glory—leaving no room for the flesh.

3. The Holy Spirit brings us into joy and fullness of joy.

John 15:11 KJV – These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.
John 17:13 KJV – And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.
After Jesus had spoken of the promise of the Spirit and that we should abide in the Vine (in Him), He told of the joy that would follow. He said, “My joy will remain in you and your joy will be full.”
The fullness of joy wipes out the pain, doubt, fear and sorrow.

4. There will be a release of the Fruit of the Spirit from the heart of the Spirit-filled man and woman.

Galatians 5:1-26 NKJV – Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. 2 Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. 3 And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. 4 You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. 5 For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love. 7 You ran well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? 8 This persuasion does not come from Him who calls you. 9 A little leaven leavens the whole lump. 10 I have confidence in you, in the Lord, that you will have no other mind; but he who troubles you shall bear his judgment, whoever he is. 11 And I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why do I still suffer persecution? Then the offense of the cross has ceased. 12 I could wish that those who trouble you would even cut themselves off! 13 For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another! 16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
The fruit of the Spirit springs spontaneously from the fullness of the Holy Spirit, in your spirit, working in and affecting spirit, soul, and body.
When your life is full of God your life will be full of godliness.

5. When you are full of the Holy Spirit, there will be an outflow of the Spirit of God—a tangible presence—affecting every area of your life.

Speech – Ephesians 5:18b-19 KJV – Be filled with the Spirit; 19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.
Actions – you are made a blessing unto many.
Circumstances – everything God’s presence touches is set in order.

The Humility to Repent

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

Come close to God and He will come close to you. [Recognize that you are] sinners, get your soiled hands clean; [realize that you have been disloyal] wavering individuals with divided interests, and purify your hearts [of your spiritual adultery]. 9 [As you draw near to God] be deeply penitent and grieve, even weep [over your disloyalty]. Let your laughter be turned to grief and your mirth to dejection and heartfelt shame [for your sins]. 10 Humble yourselves [feeling very insignificant] in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you [He will lift you up and make your lives significant].  James 4:8-10 AMP

“If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action]. If we say (claim) we have not sinned, we contradict His Word and make Him out to be false and a liar, and His Word is not in us [the divine message of the Gospel is not in our hearts].”  1 John 1:9-10 AMP

When you received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you repented of your sins and asked Him to forgive you and wash you in his blood—which He did! As you may have realized—since then—you are by no means perfect. You may be a new creature in Christ, but you still make mistakes and do and say wrong or bad things. In other words—you still sin! Not to worry though—Jesus has provided for you. Because He died and shed His blood for you, ALL your sins are covered—the past, the present and the future. In order to receive this forgiveness, however, you need to do something to activate it in your life. You must humble yourself to repent.

You must humbly:
• Recognize and acknowledge you have sinned
• Confess it as sin
• Be sorry for your sin and tell the Lord you are sorry
• Ask Him to forgive you
• Turn your back on the sin and start to obey God

Yet I am glad now, not because you were pained, but because you were pained into repentance [and so turned back to God]; for you felt a grief such as God meant you to feel, so that in nothing you might suffer loss through us or harm for what we did. 10 For godly grief and the pain God is permitted to direct, produce a repentance that leads and contributes to salvation and deliverance from evil, and it never brings regret; but worldly grief (the hopeless sorrow that is characteristic of the pagan world) is deadly [breeding and ending in death].  2 Corinthians 7:9-10 AMP

According to God’s word, sin is serious business and we should not treat it lightly or think it’s just a joke. The only sin that can be forgiven is sin that is confessed from a heart that is genuinely sorry. Some people expect God to forgive them, even though they are not actually sorry for their sin. James admonishes us to humble ourselves, draw near to God, and be deeply penitent—even grieve and weep—over our sin. Without humility, we won’t feel sorry and we won’t come to ask forgiveness and therefore we can’t and won’t be forgiven —even though the Lord, Himself, longs to show us His mercy and grace. Paul tells us that godly grief, and the pain that results, produce a repentance that leads and contributes to salvation and deliverance from evil.

Jesus, in Luke 13:3 AMP told everyone who would listen, “I tell you, No; but unless you repent (change your mind for the better and heartily amend your ways, with abhorrence of your past sins), you will all likewise perish and be lost eternally.”  And in Matthew 11:20 AMP “He began to censure and reproach the cities in which most of His mighty works had been performed, because they did not repent [and their hearts were not changed].”

Sometimes, people are sorry or repentant over the consequences of sin, but not the cause. They are not sorry they sinned, they are only sorry that they got caught or sorry that their sin created a problem for them. They have had a change of mind, such as to produce regret or maybe even remorse on account of sin, but not necessarily a change of heart. They are not sorry that their heart was wrong and selfish; they are not sorry for their bad attitude. True repentance is to change one’s mind for the better.  It is not merely forsaking sin, but to change your attitude toward it and your love for it. The Hebrew words for repentance mean: to sigh; breathe strongly; to be sorry; to turn back; to regret; to think differently; to reconsider. The Greek word means: to change the mind for the better morally; to change the attitude toward sin. In Matthew 3:8 AMP, Jesus told us to, “Bring forth fruit that is consistent with repentance [let your lives prove your change of heart].”  True repentance brings forth the fruit of repentance!

True repentance is:
• Feeling grief over your sin
• Having a true sense of your own guilt and sinfulness
• Acknowledging your helplessness and your need for forgiveness from God
• Having faith in God’s mercy in Christ
• An actual hatred of sin
• Turning from sin to serve God
• A persistent pursuit of a holy life
• Pursuing a walk with God; walking in the way of his  commandments

True repentance:
• Must precede forgiveness
• Must be more than admitting guilt
• May require a broken heart
• Is changing the behavior that produces sin
• Is revealed by changed actions
• Measures our spiritual integrity

Wherefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision, 20 But made known openly first of all to those at Damascus, then at Jerusalem and throughout the whole land of Judea, and also among the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works and live lives consistent with and worthy of their repentance.  Acts 26:19-20 AMP

The Humility to Love and Serve Others

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

Humble yourselves [feeling very insignificant] in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you [He will lift you up and make your lives significant].  James 4:10 AMP

If you want the Lord to be able to use you, then you will need to make yourself available to Him. You will need to be willing to humble yourself so God can use you. If you will humble yourself—lower yourself in your own estimation before the Lord—He will make your life significant—He will make your life count for eternity. Micah 6:8 AMP says, “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, and to love kindness and mercy, and to humble yourself and walk humbly with your God?”  What God requires of us, above all, is justice, mercy and humility. If you want to lead a significant life, you will have to humble yourself to love and serve others.

1 Corinthians 13:5 AMP says that love, “is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong].”  There can be no love without humility and no humility without love. Because of the attributes of love, only the humble are capable of walking in love. The proud and arrogant cannot and do not love others, because they are selfish—they are number one in their own heart and life. Pride, conceit and arrogance are empty and vain. Pride puts its own needs first, but love puts others before itself and the needs of others before its needs. You could say that pride is rude and unmannerly, acts unbecomingly, insisting on its own rights and its own way, is self-seeking, is touchy, fretful and resentful, and it takes everything personally. Love, however, humbles itself to serve and put others first; love humbles itself to not take things personally; love humbles itself to keep being kind to people who are being mean.

Finally, all [of you] should be of one and the same mind (united in spirit), sympathizing [with one another], loving [each other] as brethren [of one household], compassionate and courteous (tenderhearted and humble).  1 Peter 3:8 AMP

Do nothing from factional motives [through contentiousness, strife, selfishness, or for unworthy ends] or prompted by conceit and empty arrogance. Instead, in the true spirit of humility (lowliness of mind) let each regard the others as better than and superior to himself [thinking more highly of one another than you do of yourselves]. 4 Let each of you esteem and look upon and be concerned for not [merely] his own interests, but also each for the interests of others.  
Philippians 2:3-4 AMP

Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty (snobbish, high-minded, exclusive), but readily adjust yourself to [people, things] and give yourselves to humble tasks. Never overestimate yourself or be wise in your own conceits.  Romans 12:16 AMP

We are commanded by the Lord to be compassionate, courteous, sympathetic and understanding—not haughty —to live in harmony with one another and to be readily and easily adjustable. Remember—we are servants of the King —He commands us not to overestimate ourselves or to be so important in our own eyes that we can’t give ourselves to doing humble tasks for ourselves and others. James 3:13-18 says that if you are wise and intelligent, then you—by your noble living—should show forth your good works with the humility which is the proper attribute of true wisdom. He warns us that unchecked pride stirs envy, jealousy and strife and that this prideful behavior is carnal and even demonic in origin and outworking. God’s wisdom, on the other hand, is humble and peace-loving, pure and courteous; it is willing to listen and yield to reason; it is whole-hearted and straightforward; it is impartial and genuine; full of compassion and good fruits and produces, and leads to, peace.

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, 2 Living as becomes you] with complete lowliness of mind (humility) and meekness (unselfishness, gentleness, mildness), with patience, bearing with one another and making allowances because you love one another. 3 Be eager and strive earnestly to guard and keep the harmony and oneness of [and produced by] the Spirit in the binding power of peace.  Ephesians 4:1-3 AMP

Paul begs us to lead a life worthy of the Lord’s divine calling on our lives. No matter what anyone else does, you have to choose to walk in love and peace. Romans 12:18 AMP says, “If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” You have to be willing to put an effort into guarding and keeping harmony, unity and peace alive. It takes lots of patience to live in harmony and unity with others and it is love and humility that make patience possible.

Finally, all [of you] should be of one and the same mind (united in spirit), sympathizing [with one another], loving [each other] as brethren [of one household], compassionate and courteous (tenderhearted and humble). 9 Never return evil for evil or insult for insult (scolding, tongue-lashing, berating), but on the contrary blessing [praying for their welfare, happiness, and protection, and truly pitying and loving them]. For know that to this you have been called, that you may yourselves inherit a blessing [from God—that you may obtain a blessing as heirs, bringing welfare and happiness and protection].  
1 Peter 3:8-9 AMP

The humble person is one who can continue to love someone who is cruel and mean, and still pray for their welfare, happiness, and protection, returning blessing for evil, rather than fighting back. When we submit to the Lord to obey Him, rather than following man’s wisdom or allowing our flesh to rule us, we will come out on top in the end. There is a reward for those who walk in love, humility and unity toward each other. They are the ones who inherit His blessings. The Lord has promised to bless those who walk in love with His welfare, happiness and protection.

BEGOTTEN AGAIN

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

BEGOTTEN AGAIN

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you.” 1 Peter 1:3-9 KJV
The Greek word “begotten” here is anagennao, which means “to beget anew”. It is translated “begotten again” in 1 Peter 1:3 and “be born again” in 1 Peter 1:23: “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.“ We, who are washed in the blood of Jesus, have been born more than once – once into our earthly family by our natural birth and the second time into our heavenly family, the family of God! The second birth is a spiritual birth. In John 3:3-8, Jesus told Nicodemus that unless one is born again – with a spiritual birth – he cannot see the kingdom of heaven. Nicodemus did not understand this at the time.The believer is being kept from sin as he walks in the light.

Man was created in harmony and union with God and also in God’s grace and favor. He fell from this position and the only way for him to get back into God’s grace is to be born again.

New Birth facts:

1. The New Birth is not a physical change, but a moral and spiritual one.
2. The New Birth is a change of heart, will, motives, desires, life and conduct.

2 Corinthians 5:17-18 NKJV – “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

3. We have a change of masters. (See Romans 8:1-4 and Romans 6:11-23)

Romans 6:11 KJV – “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

4. We are adopted from out of the satanic family into the family of God. (See Romans 8:14-16)

Galatians 4:5 KJV – “To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.”
Ephesians 1:5 KJV – “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.”

5. It is not a coming into existence of the body, soul, or spirit, as in the natural birth, but it is our consecration to serve God and holiness instead of Satan and sin. (See Romans 8:1-13 and Colossians 3:5-10 and Galatians 5:16-26)

Romans 6:16 KJV – “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?”
Colossians 3:5-7 NKJV – “Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, 7 in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them.”
Galatians 5:16 KJV – “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.”

6. We are not begotten by the Holy Spirit exactly like Jesus, who is called the only begotten Son of God – there was only one like Him born into the earth -but it is a renewal in righteousness and true holiness of one who is already in existence.

Ephesians 4:23-24 KJV – “And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”
Colossians 3:10 KJV – “And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.”
Psalm 51:10 KJV – “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”

7. It is a change of nature, but not the coming into existence of that nature.

Romans 3:24 KJV – “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”
Titus 3:5 KJV – “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.”

8. A change of favor, a new standing before God. (See Ephesians 2:1-9 and Titus 2:11-14 and 1 John 3:8-10)

Ephesians 2:1 KJV – “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins.”
Romans 5:1-2 KJV – “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”
Titus 2:11 KJV – “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men.”
1 John 3:8 KJV – “He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.”

9. A change of character, state and service. (1 Corinthians 13 and Titus 2:11-14)

Galatians 5:22-23 KJV – “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”
2 Timothy 2:21 KJV – “If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.”
Titus 2:14 KJV – “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”

10. It is a matter of choice. You had no control over your natural birth: conception, embryo, growth process, and actual birth. However, the very moment you are grown up enough to recognize that you are a sinner and when you repent and believe the gospel, a moral and spiritual change takes place.

Romans 10:9-10 KJV – “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

Tearing Down Strongholds


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

(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 KJV

The most critical battles we face on this earth are spiritual ones. Our battle is spiritual and our weapons to fight the battle are spiritual. The strongholds that keep people in bondage are not up somewhere in the heavens, but right down here in their heads! People are held captive by their thoughts, fears, beliefs and imaginations. Your mind is either yielded to the Spirit of God or it is yielded to the devil. If you follow after the lust and desires of your flesh—your carnal nature—you are submitting your mind and thoughts to the devil. Only the preaching of the Gospel and the anointing of the Holy Spirit can break through and destroy these strongholds.

Proverbs 23:7 says that as a man thinks in his heart—so is he.

Now the mind of the flesh [which is sense and reason without the Holy Spirit] is death [death that comprises all the miseries arising from sin, both here and hereafter]. But the mind of the [Holy] Spirit is life and [soul] peace [both now and forever]. 7 [That is] because the mind of the flesh [with its carnal thoughts and purposes] is hostile to God, for it does not submit itself to God’s Law; indeed it cannot. Romans 8:6-7 AMP

Your victory, or defeat, starts and ends in your mind. A mind submitted to the flesh is hostile to God—it cannot and will not submit to God or His laws. Jesus came to destroy the work of the devil; to destroy yokes of bondage and carnal strongholds. In order to live free in your mind and destroy the strongholds, one must be submitted to Jesus and His word.

And you [He made alive], when you were dead (slain) by [your] trespasses and sins. 2 In which at one time you walked [habitually]. You were following the course and fashion of this world [were under the sway of the tendency of this present age], following the prince of the power of the air. [You were obedient to and under the control of] the [demon] spirit that still constantly works in the sons of disobedience [the careless, the rebellious, and the unbelieving, who go against the purposes of God]. 3 Among these we as well as you once lived and conducted ourselves in the passions of our flesh [our behavior governed by our corrupt and sensual nature], obeying the impulses of the flesh and the thoughts of the mind [our cravings dictated by our senses and our dark imaginings]. We were then by nature children of [God’s] wrath and heirs of [His] indignation, like the rest of mankind. Ephesians 2:1-3 AMP

When you follow the dictates of your flesh, because of the strongholds in your mind; when you follow the course and fashion of the current generation; you may think that you are making your own choices, but in reality, you are under the influence of demonic spirits and obedient to their whims. If you ever want to be free, you must begin to take hold of your thought life, your imagination and your feelings and submit them to God.

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. 18 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]. 19 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]. 20 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. Ephesians 4:17-24 AMP

If you want to truly walk in freedom, you have to make a concerted effort to renew your mind with the Word of God. You cannot do it by yourself or by your own willpower. You need to fill yourself up with the Word of God. The Word of God will transform your mind and heart, tear down the strongholds the enemy built in your mind, and protect your mind and heart from the onslaught of the enemy for the rest of your life, as long as you continue to abide in God’s word.

Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. Isaiah 55:7 KJV

Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].

Romans 12:2 AMP

PERSECUTION FROM OLD FRIENDS

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

So, since Christ suffered in the flesh for us, for you, arm yourselves with the same thought and purpose [patiently to suffer rather than fail to please God]. For whoever has suffered in the flesh [having the mind of Christ] is done with [intentional] sin [has stopped pleasing himself and the world, and pleases God], 2 So that he can no longer spend the rest of his natural life living by [his] human appetites and desires, but [he lives] for what God wills. 3 For the time that is past already suffices for doing what the Gentiles like to do—living [as you have done] in shameless, insolent wantonness, in lustful desires, drunkenness, reveling, drinking bouts and abominable, lawless idolatries. 4 They are astonished and think it very queer that you do not now run hand in hand with them in the same excesses of dissipation, and they abuse [you]. 5 But they will have to give an account to Him Who is ready to judge and pass sentence on the living and the dead.  1 Peter 4:1-5 AMP

Verse 1:
So, since Christ suffered in the flesh for us, for you, arm yourselves with the same thought and purpose [patiently to suffer rather than fail to please God]. For whoever has suffered in the flesh [having the mind of Christ] is done with [intentional] sin [has stopped pleasing himself and the world, and pleases God],

The sufferings of Christ make the strongest and best arguments against sin. Jesus Christ suffered in His flesh all for you and me—He died to destroy sin and its power over us. He cheerfully submitted to the worst sufferings, but never once did He yield to the least bit of sin. It was this suffering and bloodshed that purchased our freedom from sin. Since we know that He suffered so greatly in His quest to save you and me from our sins, should we not also strive with all our might to walk free from sin and walk in His ways from now on? Should we not also cease pleasing ourselves and our carnal nature and strive to rather please God?

Verse 2:
So that he can no longer spend the rest of his natural life living by [his] human appetites and desires, but [he lives] for what God wills.

If man was not already corrupt, temptations would not prevail. James 1:13-15 ERV says, “Whenever you feel tempted to do something bad, you should not say, “God is tempting me.” Evil cannot tempt God, and God himself does not tempt anyone. 14 You are tempted by the evil things you want. Your own desire leads you away and traps you. 15 Your desire grows inside you until it results in sin. Then the sin grows bigger and bigger and finally ends in death.”  True Christians make God’s will the rule for their lives and their actions—not their own lust or desires. When someone is truly born-again there is a wonderful, corresponding change that takes place in their heart and behavior! This change is seen in their attitude, their judgment, their conversation and their choices. The truly converted person is grieved over their past sin. He or she does not look back on his or her past life with any pride, joy or longing. As far as they are concerned, that was the old man who is now dead and their new man is now following hard after God alone.

Verse 3&4:
For the time that is past already suffices for doing what the Gentiles like to do—living [as you have done] in shameless, insolent wantonness, in lustful desires, drunkenness, reveling, drinking bouts and abominable, lawless idolatries. They are astonished and think it very queer that you do not now run hand in hand with them in the same excesses of dissipation, and they abuse [you].

Before you gave your life to Jesus, you lived a certain way—you lived an ungodly life. You may have thought of yourself as a basically “good” person, who just did a few small things wrong or you may truthfully acknowledge that you and your friends embraced sin fully and went all out to “enjoy” yourself and accommodate your flesh. Either way, you were all still sinners. Some of us have friends who also give their lives to the Lord around the time we do. Perhaps they find Jesus first and tell us the good news; sometimes we are the ones who lead them to the Lord. Many times though, you receive Jesus, but your friends think you are crazy. They think it’s weird that you don’t still hang out with them and do the things you do. They might tease you or mock you or even get angry with you and abuse you verbally or even physically.

You need to realize that they really don’t understand what has happened to you—their eyes have not yet been opened to the grace of God like yours have. You need to work to keep your heart right. Don’t be angry or offended at them and don’t allow the peer pressure to suck you back into your old, ungodly life-style. Just allow the love of God to rise up in you and know that you will come through this. If you don’t fight back and you show them love and forgiveness, you have a chance to win them for Jesus Christ.

Verse 5:
But they will have to give an account to Him Who is ready to judge and pass sentence on the living and the dead.

Always keep in mind that every person will need to give an account to Jesus Christ on the Day of Judgment. Do not try to fight your own battles. Trust the Lord to protect and vindicate you. If you do it God’s way and walk in the love of God, He will take care of your friends. Pray for them and trust the Holy Spirit to work a work in their hearts and lives!

 

OUR GIVING OF THANKS

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

Just as we Americans have a Day of Thanksgiving in which we, and our families, pause to think about our blessings and give thanks to God for bringing us to this land and making us a nation, so Israel also had a Day of Thanksgiving. In Deuteronomy 26:1-19*, God gave them instructions, through Moses, on what they were to do and how they were to go about giving thanks to God.

1. God promised them their own land and they were to bring the first fruits of that land, as an offering, to where the presence of the Lord was:

Verses 1-2: When you have come into the land which the Lord your God gives you as an inheritance and possess it and live in it, 2 You shall take some of the first of all the produce of the soil which you harvest from the land the Lord your God gives you and put it in a basket, and go to the place [the sanctuary] which the Lord your God has chosen as the abiding place for His Name [and His Presence].

2. They were to bring these first fruits and present it to the priest and make a confession to him of all that the Lord had done for them, their fathers, and their nation:

Verses 3-9: And you shall go to the priest who is in office in those days, and say to him, I give thanks this day to the Lord your God that I have come to the land which the Lord swore to our fathers to give us. 4 And the priest shall take the basket from your hand and set it down before the altar of the Lord your God. 5 And you shall say before the Lord your God, A wandering and lost Aramean ready to perish was my father [Jacob], and he went down into Egypt and sojourned there, few in number, and he became there a nation, great, mighty, and numerous. 6 And the Egyptians treated us very badly and afflicted us and laid upon us hard bondage. 7 And when we cried to the Lord, the God of our fathers, the Lord heard our voice and looked on our affliction and our labor and our [cruel] oppression; 8 And the Lord brought us forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm, and with great (awesome) power and with signs and with wonders; 9 And He brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey.

3. They were to worship the Lord with their offering and rejoice in all the good which God had given them:

Verses 10-11: And now, behold, I bring the firstfruits of the ground which You, O Lord, have given me. And you shall set it down before the Lord your God and worship before the Lord your God; 11 And you and the Levite and the stranger and the sojourner among you shall rejoice in all the good which the Lord your God has given you and your household.

They brought the first fruits of all their crops and animals to God as evidence of their gratitude to Him. These offerings were used for Israel’s great feasts so that everyone could share and partake of the Lord’s goodness together.

4. The seventh year was a special Sabbath year and every third year of the six years between these years was a special year of tithing that went to help the poor, the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow. The Israelites brought it before the Lord and made a confession of the integrity of this tithe:

Verses 12-14: When you have finished paying all the tithe of your produce the third year, which is the year of tithing, and have given it to the Levite, the stranger and the sojourner, the fatherless, and to the widow, that they may eat within your towns and be filled, 13 Then you shall say before the Lord your God, I have brought the hallowed things (the tithe) out of my house and moreover have given them to the Levite, to the stranger and the sojourner, to the fatherless, and to the widow, according to all Your commandments which You have commanded me; I have not transgressed any of Your commandments, neither have I forgotten them. 14 I have not eaten of the tithe in my mourning [making the tithe unclean], nor have I handled any of it when I was unclean, nor given any of it to the dead. I have hearkened to the voice of the Lord my God; I have done according to all that You have commanded me.

5. Then they asked for God’s continued blessing – they asked Him to look down from Heaven and bless them and the land He had given them:

Verse 15: Look down from Your holy habitation, from heaven, and bless Your people Israel and the land which You have given us as You swore to our fathers, a land flowing with milk and honey.

6. The Israelites made a public declaration that they would continue to serve and obey the Lord their God:

Verses 16-17: This day the Lord your God has commanded you to do these statutes and ordinances. Therefore you shall keep and do them with all your [mind and] heart and with all your being. 17 You have [openly] declared the Lord this day to be your God, [pledging] to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes and His commandments and His precepts, and to hearken to His voice.

7. The Lord openly declared again to them His promise to always bless and keep them:

Verses 18-19: And the Lord has declared this day that you are His peculiar people as He promised you, and you are to keep all His commandments; 19 And He will make you high above all nations which He has made, in praise and in fame and in honor, and that you shall be a holy people to the Lord your God, as He has spoken.

In the same way, we should remember God’s goodness toward us by bringing our tithes and offerings. We should not bring it mindlessly, but we should remind ourselves of how good He has been to us, reiterate our commitment to Him, and remind ourselves of His promise to always bless and preserve us as well, so that He may continue to bless us and keep His promises to us.

*Amplified Bible

Rodney Howard Browne bringing Revival to America

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