BLESS THE LORD O MY SOUL

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

Bless (affectionately, gratefully praise) the Lord, O my soul; and all that is [deepest] within me, bless His holy name! 2 Bless (affectionately, gratefully praise) the Lord, O my soul, and forget not [one of] all His benefits–3 Who forgives [every one of] all your iniquities, Who heals [each one of] all your diseases, 4 Who redeems your life from the pit and corruption, Who beautifies, dignifies, and crowns you with loving-kindness and tender mercy; 5 Who satisfies your mouth [your necessity and desire at your personal age and situation] with good so that your youth, renewed, is like the eagle’s [strong, overcoming, soaring]! 6 The Lord executes righteousness and justice [not for me only, but] for all who are oppressed. 7 He made known His ways [of righteousness and justice] to Moses, His acts to the children of Israel. 8 The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and plenteous in mercy and loving-kindness. 9 He will not always chide or be contending, neither will He keep His anger forever or hold a grudge. 10 He has not dealt with us after our sins nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. 11 For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great are His mercy and loving-kindness toward those who reverently and worshipfully fear Him. 12 As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. 13 As a father loves and pities his children, so the Lord loves and pities those who fear Him [with reverence, worship, and awe]. 14 For He knows our frame, He [earnestly] remembers and imprints [on His heart] that we are dust. 15 As for man, his days are as grass; as a flower of the field, so he flourishes. 16 For the wind passes over it and it is gone, and its place shall know it no more. 17 But the mercy and loving-kindness of the Lord are from everlasting to everlasting upon those who reverently and worshipfully fear Him, and His righteousness is to children’s children–18 To such as keep His covenant [hearing, receiving, loving, and obeying it] and to those who [earnestly] remember His commandments to do them [imprinting them on their hearts]. 19 The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, and His kingdom rules over all. 20 Bless (affectionately, gratefully praise) the Lord, you His angels, you mighty ones who do His commandments, hearkening to the voice of His word. 21 Bless (affectionately, gratefully praise) the Lord, all you His hosts, you His ministers who do His pleasure. 22 Bless the Lord, all His works in all places of His dominion; bless (affectionately, gratefully praise) the Lord, O my soul!  Psalms 103:1-22 AMP

The word bless in this psalm is the Hebrew word “barak” which means to kneel and to bless God as an act of adoration. Psalm 103 is a psalm of praise, adoration, and thankfulness for all that God has done for us.

You bless the Lord for His benefits, reminding yourself of what He has done and what He has promised. Why is it so important to remind yourself of what the Lord has promised? You must remind yourself so that you don’t ever forget. You don’t live in heaven yet. You have a devil to deal with. He would like you to forget the word and promises of God so that he can take advantage of you and kill, steal, and destroy. The devil knows that if you know God’s word and promises, you will recognize his attack and you will take authority over him and not allow him to continue with his plans and so he tries to keep you ignorant and if he can’t keep you ignorant, he will try to get you to forget and then to become ungrateful.

Many people have a false idea of Who God is and what He will do. They believe that He is a hard, unfair, judgmental God, Who is sparing with His blessings, Who holds grudges against us forever and Who condemns us to hell. They think that our works are what counts with God, but His word tells us another story. He tells us not to forget His benefits.

What are the Lord’s benefits? He forgives every one of your iniquities, He heals every one of your diseases, He redeems your life, pours His love and mercy on you, provides for you, satisfies you, and executes righteousness and justice for you. The Lord is righteous and just and He wants you to know this and to and expect it. The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and plenteous in mercy and loving-kindness. He does not nag you, argue with you, or remind you of all your faults and failings. He is not angry for long and He definitely does not hold grudges. He loves you so much, that He has not dealt with you after your sins nor rewarded you according to our iniquities. Rather, He has chosen to forgive you and to forever forget the bad things you have done. He has removed your transgressions from you, as far as the east is from the west and He loves you like a father loves his children. He understands all your shortcomings, failings, and weaknesses and He still chooses to love you with all His heart!

Once you have accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, you are in covenant with Almighty God and He will never forget this covenant – any promises He has made you will be fulfilled – therefore you can rejoice and praise Him, bless Him, and thank Him everyday as you enjoy all His benefits!

DON’T BE ASHAMED OF THE SPIRIT OF GOD WHO LIVES IN YOU

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

Paul, an apostle (special messenger) of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus, 2 To Timothy, [my] beloved child: Grace (favor and spiritual blessing), mercy, and [heart] peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord! 3 I thank God Whom I worship with a pure conscience, in the spirit of my fathers, when without ceasing I remember you night and day in my prayers, 4 And when, as I recall your tears, I yearn to see you so that I may be filled with joy. 5 I am calling up memories of your sincere and unqualified faith (the leaning of your entire personality on God in Christ in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness), [a faith] that first lived permanently in [the heart of] your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am [fully] persuaded, [dwells] in you also. 6 That is why I would remind you to stir up (rekindle the embers of, fan the flame of, and keep burning) the [gracious] gift of God, [the inner fire] that is in you by means of the laying on of my hands [with those of the elders at your ordination]. 7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control.  2 Timothy 1:1-7 AMP

God has a wonderful plan and purpose for every person on the face of the earth, but most of them don’t know it at all, because the devil tries to keep them ignorant of the perfect will of God for their lives. Even Christians sometimes are ignorant of the word of God and His calling on their lives, because they don’t keep God’s word before their eyes and in their mouth. Even if you know that God has called you, anointed you, and appointed you, you might forget to trust and rely on Him and the power of the Holy Spirit that already resides on the inside of you.

Paul speaks to Timothy here in this epistle, but his advice applies to all of us. Stir up the gift of God that is in you. Don’t forget what God has done in you and don’t take His anointing for granted. God anoints you for the same purpose that He anointed Jesus. He anoints you with the Holy Spirit, strength, ability and power so that you can do good and heal all who are harassed and oppressed by the power of the devil, in the wonderful Name of Jesus (Acts 10:38). Because of this, the devil will try to stop you by causing you to draw back through the fear – through fear of the devil, himself, and through fear of man. When you are too afraid of man you will back off of the word of God, the power of God and the anointing that resides in you.

However, God has not given you a spirit of timidity – of cowardice or craven, cringing and fawning fear – but He has given you a spirit of power and a spirit of love and of a calm and well-balanced mind and He has given you a spirit of discipline and self-control. You have the ability and the spiritual equipment to carry out the plan and purpose of God for your life. Do not allow the devil to hinder you or harass you. Don’t be afraid of people’s opinion. Don’t allow them to stop you from operating in your call and your anointing and your gift.

Do not blush or be ashamed then, to testify to and for our Lord, nor of me, a prisoner for His sake, but [with me] take your share of the suffering [to which the preaching] of the Gospel [may expose you, and do it] in the power of God. 9[For it is He] Who delivered and saved us and called us with a calling in itself holy and leading to holiness [to a life of consecration, a vocation of holiness]; [He did it] not because of anything of merit that we have done, but because of and to further His own purpose and grace (unmerited favor) which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began [eternal ages ago]. 10[It is that purpose and grace] which He now has made known and has fully disclosed and made real [to us] through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, Who annulled death and made it of no effect and brought life and immortality (immunity from eternal death) to light through the Gospel.  2 Timothy 1:8-10

God has not called and anointed you because of anything of merit that you have done, but because of His own purpose and grace, which was given to you in Christ Jesus, and also in order to further this purpose and grace. You will suffer persecution and some even are killed for the Gospel’s sake, but don’t be afraid, because Jesus has conquered death for you. He is the One who set you apart, called you, and who will never let you down. There is no pressure on you to perform. Put the pressure on the word! Trust in the Spirit that lives in you! Do not be ashamed to testify of Jesus and what He has done and what He will do!

 

WHAT IS IN YOUR HEART?

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

All the commandments which I command you this day you shall be watchful to do, that you may live and multiply and go in and possess the land which the Lord swore to give to your fathers. 2 And you shall [earnestly] remember all the way which the Lord your God led you these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and to prove you, to know what was in your [mind and] heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. 3 And He humbled you and allowed you to hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you recognize and personally know that man does not live by bread only, but man lives by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord. 4 Your clothing did not become old upon you nor did your feet swell these forty years. 5 Know also in your [minds and] hearts that, as a man disciplines and instructs his son, so the Lord your God disciplines and instructs you. Deuteronomy 8:1-5 AMP

You might think you know what’s in your own heart, but you do not really know until you are humbled by your circumstances – by life! When everything else is stripped away, what is left is the essence of YOU! The hardest things you go through will be the things that define who you are. How will you respond? Will you be bitter or will you be better? Will you allow God’s word to govern your life; your choices; your circumstances? The sword of the word of God is sharper than a two-edged sword and will cut down deep on the inside of you and reveal the thoughts, intents, and purposes of your heart (Hebrews 4:12).

You can only change the things you are aware of. The Lord will cause your own heart to be revealed to you – so you can change, so you can grow, so you can make the adjustments, so you can make corrections to your direction – so you can walk in liberty and in blessing.

Unless you have suffered hunger, and been fed with manna, you may not come to realize that man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. If you do not remember that God is the One who took care of you when you could not take care of yourself, then when He blesses you and promotes you, you will think that your ability and talents brought the blessing. You will forget God; you will forget what He has done; you will forget that it is HE Who gives you the power to get wealth and the power to succeed. You will think that you did it yourself and forget that God is actually the One who has empowered you to walk in blessing and success as a fulfillment of a covenant promise He made with you. You owe Him your appreciation.

The ear that listens to the reproof [that leads to or gives] life will remain among the wise. 32 He who refuses and ignores instruction and correction despises himself, but he who heeds reproof gets understanding. 33 The reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord brings instruction in Wisdom, and humility comes before honor. Proverbs 15:31-33 AMP

The reward of humility and the reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord is riches and honor and life. Proverbs 22:4 AMP

When you are going through hard times, and you want to experience a victory, you will need to humble your heart before the Lord. The attitude adjustments you get when you humble yourself under the mighty hand of God during the hard times – if you remember the lessons learned – will carry you through the good times. You need to humble yourself even more when you are prospering and succeeding, so that you do not become arrogant and lose what you have – or worse – lose yourself, by moving away from and then rejecting the Lord.

I know how to be abased and live humbly in straitened circumstances, and I know also how to enjoy plenty and live in abundance. I have learned in any and all circumstances the secret of facing every situation, whether well-fed or going hungry, having a sufficiency and enough to spare or going without and being in want. 13 I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency]. Philippians 4:12-13 AMP

Possessions, position and prestige are not the answer to all your problems. Some people are mad at God when they don’t have what they think they should have, as if it is His fault, but then they take the credit when they prosper and they forget all about God. These people are never truly happy or satisfied. Even when they have more than enough, they are not satisfied.

There are other people who rejoice, praise and thank God whether they have or not and God always seems to come through for them. These humble, thankful people do not think of themselves more highly than they ought. They know how to be abased and live humbly no matter what state they find themselves in, whether having more than enough or not quite enough, therefore they are always happy and joyful and they truly enjoy their lives and their relationship with the Lord.

ABBA FATHER

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

And He was saying, Abba, [which means] Father, everything is possible for You. Take away this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You [will]. Mark 14:36 AMP

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus introduced us to a new word –Abba. Abba means “Father,” but a better rendering of Abba would be the word, “Daddy.” Everyone who ever lived on the earth has a father, but not everyone has a “Daddy.” A father is one of the people who were responsible for your very existence, but not every father takes the time or makes the effort to build a relationship with his offspring. Being “Daddy” and not just “Father” requires a special connection with the child. We respect our fathers, but we love our daddies!

Jesus had a special relationship with Father God. He knew Him intimately. He knew Him better than anybody. Most people have the wrong idea about God. They call Him “the Man upstairs;” they believe He is old and grumpy; they believe He is harsh and judgmental; they believe that God is waiting with a big stick to hit them; they believe that He does horrible things to them, like making them sick, to “teach them a lesson;” they think He kills people before their time because He wants them in Heaven; they think He will never be pleased with us no matter how hard or how long we try to please Him; they believe that God spends all His time planning how to destroy man.

Nothing could be farther from the truth! God is none of these things and does none of these things. Anyone who knows God knows how loving and kind he is. He is merciful; gracious; tender; compassionate; slow to anger; abounding in mercy; protective; generous; unselfish; and so many other wonderful things – too many to mention!

There are earthly fathers who are abusive and insensitive and there are earthly fathers who are firm, but kind; who administer correction and discipline, and yet are loving, understanding, and encouraging. God is not an abusive Father. He tells earthly fathers how to treat their wives and children. He tells them to be kind and compassionate and understanding. Why would He tell earthly fathers to be anything that He was not? We must come to know the truth about God. He must not just be “Father” to us, but He must be “Abba Daddy!” We must respect Him, but we must know that He has our best interests at heart and would never harm us. We are His precious treasure! God wants to know us and He wants us to know Him. He desires the intimacy of a Daddy/son and Daddy/daughter relationship with every one of us.

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For [the Spirit which] you have now received [is] not a spirit of slavery to put you once more in bondage to fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption [the Spirit producing sonship] in [the bliss of] which we cry, Abba (Father)! Father! 16 The Spirit Himself [thus] testifies together with our own spirit, [assuring us] that we are children of God. Romans 8:14-16 AMP

The blood of Jesus brings us into relationship with the Father God. The Holy Spirit, living in us, brings us into fellowship with Him. We are not just servants of God – we are children of God! The Holy Spirit works to convey to us the fact that we are children of God. He always reminds us that God is Abba Daddy to us.

Who is Abba Daddy? Daddy loves us; Daddy forgives us; Daddy accepts us exactly as we are; Daddy is proud of us; Daddy wants us to do well and be well, not out of competitiveness, but out of a genuine concern and love; Daddy would give His own life for us (and did); Daddy does not hold anything against us; we are the apple of Daddy’s eye; Daddy watches over and protects us; Daddy provides for us, nothing but the best; Daddy teaches us how to be better people; Daddy picks us up when we fall down; Daddy helps us to fix our problems; Daddy gives us the best advice; Daddy sticks up for us when the devil is a bully; Daddy corrects us when we are wrong; Daddy praises us when we do the right thing!

But when the proper time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born subject to [the regulations of] the Law, 5 To purchase the freedom of (to ransom, to redeem, to atone for) those who were subject to the Law, that we might be adopted and have sonship conferred upon us [and be recognized as God’s sons]. 6 And because you [really] are [His] sons, God has sent the [Holy] Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, Abba (Father)! Father! 7 Therefore, you are no longer a slave (bond servant) but a son; and if a son, then [it follows that you are] an heir by the aid of God, through Christ. Galatians 4:4-7 AMP

God Loves Children – Part Two

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

Drink waters out of your own cistern [of a pure marriage relationship], and fresh running waters out of your own well. 16 Should your offspring be dispersed abroad as water brooks in the streets? 17[Confine yourself to your own wife] let your children be for you alone, and not the children of strangers with you. 18 Let your fountain [of human life] be blessed [with the rewards of fidelity], and rejoice in the wife of your youth.  Proverbs 5:15-18 AMP

In this portion of scripture, God tells men to “drink waters out of your own cistern,” which means they should enjoy a loving, refreshing, fulfilling sexual union with their own wife. He says, “Confine yourself to your wife.” Don’t have sex with other women, so that you do not end up with unwanted children all over the place, who are running wild, with no father to properly raise them and care for them. Stick with your wife – keep yourself only for her before you marry her and after you marry her, so that you will be blessed with the rewards of fidelity and your children will be blessed with a secure environment and a stable, loving family. Children desperately need good, decent fathers, who love and accept them and who provide for them. They need this for their emotional health as much as for their physical health. The absolute best environment for children to grow up in is where there is a father and a mother who are fully committed to one another and their offspring.

The way children are produced is through the sexual union, therefore, for the benefit of children the sexual union should be confined to marriage, and preferably committed marriages. To the world sex is “dirty.” In fact, the more impure and illicit it is, the more “exciting” it is to people and the more entrapped they become. The problem is that impure sex is like taking drugs – you need more and more and you never, ever are satisfied. The devil is in control of this arena of sexual perversion and he will lead you, like a foolish donkey, straight into a hellish life with his “carrots” of lust and temptation. The only pure sexual relationship is inside marriage.  Sex is not dirty if it is practiced God’s way – inside a loving, committed marriage. God told Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply. God gave us His laws to live by and He does not give His laws arbitrarily. God’s laws work for us; they work in our favor; they are there for our protection and blessing. When God’s laws are violated, that’s when people are hurt and damaged. Little people – children – are the most vulnerable in a godless, selfish society.

The current liberal, cultural climate in the world is very detrimental to children and families. Unfortunately, today society is moving more and more toward extreme selfishness. People are encouraged to do whatever feels good, not what is good. People are not encouraged to put anyone else first. These days, because people are so sexually promiscuous, even when they eventually marry someone, they find it extremely difficult to remain either faithful or committed to their marriage partner. Faithfulness and commitment to your marriage partner begins before marriage. Faithfulness and commitment to your marriage partner is also a commitment to your children!

We are not animals – we are people, created in the image of God. We are thinking, feeling, emotional, and spiritual beings. Sex is not just a bodily function that you practice with anyone who happens to be available. You need to think about the consequences to your mind and your spirit as a result of your sexual activities. Brain scientists tell us that when we have sex with someone, a chemical reaction occurs in our brain, which bonds us to the other person. This is really good inside a marriage, but really bad in an uncommitted relationship. You also need to think about the consequences to any children who could come along as a result of your sexual activities. The children, who are not thrown away through abortion, more often than not suffer great rejection in their lives as a result of their parent’s unrestrained sexual activities. You have an obligation to the next generation; you have an obligation to your own children – future and present – to conduct yourself with integrity in this area of your life!

Researchers will tell you that teenagers who respect their parents and who have a close, loving relationship with their parents are far less likely to drink, smoke, do drugs, sleep around, commit crimes or commit suicide than kids who have no healthy, positive parental influence in their lives. Parents have the biggest influence over their children – more than teachers, peers, or TV – and the greatest responsibility for their children. If you have fallen short in your parenting, if you have made choices that have been bad for your children, then today is the day to change. Today is the day to repent, turn around, and start living life God’s way. No matter what has happened in your past; no matter what mistakes you have made; make a commitment to God and His word, to purify your heart and to discipline yourself and your flesh. Do this for yourself; do this for your spouse (past, current or future); and do this for your children and your grandchildren. The choices you make – good or bad – affect future generations of people. Let the past be the past and let a new day dawn in your life. Your children are depending on you!

A good man leaves an inheritance [of moral stability and goodness] to his children’s children.  Proverbs 13:22a AMP

The righteous man walks in his integrity; blessed (happy, fortunate, enviable) are his children after him.  Proverbs 20:7 AMP

 

Don’t Forget Where You Came From

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

Thoughts on Stewardship – Lesson 22 from Deuteronomy

Don’t forget where you came from
Foundation scriptures: Deuteronomy 8 verses 10 – 20

When you have eaten and are full, then you shall bless the Lord your God for all the good land which He has given you. 11 Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments, His precepts, and His statutes which I command you today, 12 Lest when you have eaten and are full, and have built goodly houses and live in them, 13 And when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all you have is multiplied, 14 Then your [minds and] hearts be lifted up and you forget the Lord your God, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage, 15 Who led you through the great and terrible wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water, but Who brought you forth water out of the flinty rock, 16 Who fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and test you, to do you good in the end. 17 And beware lest you say in your [mind and] heart, My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth. 18 But you shall [earnestly] remember the Lord your God, for it is He Who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day. 19 And if you forget the Lord your God and walk after other gods and serve them and worship them, I testify against you this day that you shall surely perish. 20 Like the nations which the Lord makes to perish before you, so shall you perish, because you would not obey the voice of the Lord your God. Deuteronomy 8:10-20 AMP

1.  People have a tendency to forget where they have come from very quickly.

a.    They get their eyes off of the Lord and onto their circumstances.
b.    This is not only when they are in peril, but also when they are blessed.
c.    If it was important for the children of Israel to not forget from whence the Lord had brought them, how much more is it very important for us today?
d.    The Word warns us to be careful and not to be deceived by the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.
e.    We have to be anchored firmly in the Lord, and His Word, and not in possessions or people.
f.    We must remind ourselves, on a daily basis, where the Lord has brought us from, and where we could have been. We must keep a humble and a pure heart before the Lord.

2.  In this passage, God was warning His people not to forget Him, but to continue to gratefully remember Him.

a.    Some people turn to the Lord only in a time of extreme trouble, but when it all turns around, they quickly forget their deliverer.
b.    God says you must remember Him. It is HE who gives you the power to create wealth.
c.    Don’t ever be lifted up in pride, where you think it’s you, your talents, your abilities, and how great you are.
d.    It’s ALL Jesus and NOT us.

Pastor Adonica’s Thoughts:
The Lord provided for the Israelites in the desert, where there was no natural provision for them. Without God, they were as good as dead. But He also provided for them in the Land of Milk and Honey. ALL of it was from God. Just because you are in a good place and you seem to be able to provide well for yourself, don’t forget that it is God who has given you, not only the things you have, but also the very ability to provide for yourself. Nobody enjoys being taken for granted – especially the Lord. Never take the blessings of God for granted. Don’t treat Him only as your last resort. If you want to maintain the blessings of God in your life, you would be wise to always remember to thank the Lord for all that you have and thank Him and trust Him also for all you need – now and in the future. Look to Him as your source and supply and honor Him as such.

Pastor Rodney’s Thoughts:
I have had the privilege of observing many different people over the years and have noticed that modern day people are no different from the Old Testament saints. Many times, businessmen who become successful, forget Who got them there. Preachers are the same way. The Word plainly states that one of the things God hates above all others is pride. God tells us over and over that He resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. So take time today to reflect on where you’ve come from and give the Lord all the glory.

Prayer and Confession:
Father, I thank You that You are my source and supply. Without You – I am lost. I remember that You are the one who gives me the ability to make a living and to create wealth. I humble myself before You today and I continue to keep my eyes fixed firmly on you.

My Worship-In Spirit and In Truth

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

Foundation Scriptures: John 4:19-24

The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”  John 4:19-24 NKJV

1. You worship you know not what.

a.    This sounds like the modern-day church.
b.    As we have traveled around the world, it has been interesting – and in some cases, disturbing – to see what goes on in the “Church” under the guise of “worship”.
c.    Jesus said, in verse 23, that the Father is seeking TRUE worshipers. The Father is seeking people who will worship Him from their mouth AND their heart.
d.    You worship in vain if your mouth worships, but your heart is not submitted to God. Matthew 15:8-9 NKJV – These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.
e.    It is unprofitable to offer a sacrifice of worship from a disobedient heart. 1 Samuel 15:22 AMP – Samuel said, Has the Lord as great a delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.

2. Being a true worshiper.

a.    Worship is from the heart.
b.    Worship is not a religious act of posture, stance, or tone. It is the heart crying out. Psalms 42:7 – Deep calls unto deep.
c.    10 lepers were healed – only one came back to say thanks. Nine were cleansed, but only one was made whole. Luke 17:15-19 KJV – And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.
d.    True worship does not spring forth only in “good times”, it springs forth out of and in the middle of the darkest seasons of life.
–    Jonah in the fish’s belly
–    The three Hebrew children in the fire
–    Daniel in the lion’s den
–    David tending sheep
–    Paul and Silas in prison
–    Jesus in Gethsemane
–    All circumstances don’t have to be the best for worship to be true worship. True worship originates from a heart; whose trust, hope and faith are in the Lord and not in a temporary situation.

3. True worship comes from a pure heart.

a.    A heart that is pure and holy.
b.    A heart that is ablaze – on fire.
c.    A heart full of passion.
d.    A heart full of faith.

4. True worshippers worship the Father in Spirit and in truth.

a.    There is a difference between Old Testament worship and New Testament worship.
b.    OT – God inhabits the praise of His people.
c.    NT – God inhabits His people of praise!
d.    Rejoice and give thanks – always – for all things! Ephesians 5:18-20 KJV – And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
e.    Worship will never stop – for all eternity we will joyfully worship Him!

5. Let this month be a month of worship.

a.    Every day – thank Him and give Him praise for His goodness, mercy, and grace!

 

THE WORD THAT PREVAILS

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

Foundation Scriptures: Acts 19:20, Acts 12:24

So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed.
Acts 19:20 NKJV

But the word of God grew and multiplied. Acts 12:24 NKJV

The Power of God is in and on the Word.

Romans 1:16 NKJV – For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.
God’s Word is full of power to change a person; a city; a nation; the world.
The Word of God will prevail over sin, sickness, disease and death.

Faith Makes the Word Prevail.

Faith comes when the Word prevails over the thinking processes.
Matthew 8:23-27
The Word prevailed in Jesus’ lips over the laws of nature.
Matthew 8:5-13
Jesus’ Word prevailed over disease.
Matthew 14:14-21
Jesus’ Word prevailed over lack.
1 Thessalonians 2:13 NKJV – For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.

The Word Prevails Over the Senses.

Romans 4:16-22
Faith prevailed over fear and hope and sense knowledge in the mind and heart of Abraham.
Hope is always in the future—it’s a dream—it’s never real.
Faith reaches out and grabs hope and brings it into the present.
Hebrews 11:1 NKJV – Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Faith gives substance to hope.
Faith is the evidence that you have it even when you still haven’t seen it.
Abraham’s faith in God’s Word to him brought God’s promise to pass.

The Power of the Word on Our Lips.

Acts 6:7 NKJV – Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.
As they preached and practiced what they had learned from the Master’s lips, the Word of God increased.
The Word of God is eternal. Like God, it is ever young and ever new. The Word of God is not only a part of Him—it’s who He is!
Matthew 24:35 NKJV – Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.
Jesus, the Father and the Word are one.
John 14:9b NKJV – He who has seen Me has seen the Father.
John 12:49-50
Jesus was fearless in the presence of disease and demons. He spoke the Father’s words and He knew they could not fail.
2 Timothy 4:2 NKJV – Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.
“Be ready” means: “be urgent” or “keep your sense of urgency”.
Jesus preached the Word and it healed the sick; it broke the power of demons over men.
The apostles preached the Word and the sick were healed, the dead were raised and multitudes received new life.
To preach the Word means to preach Christ, because He is the Word. To preach the Gospel means to preach the Word, the good news.

The Word Makes Us Love.

John 13:34-35 The Message – Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. 35 This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.
Love was the unseen power that governed the early church.
1 John 4:7-8 NKJV – Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
1 John 3:14 NKJV – We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death.
When you walk in the love of God, you prove that you are born again and have passed from death into life.
1 John 2:10 AMP – Whoever loves his brother [believer] abides (lives) in the Light, and in It or in him there is no occasion for stumbling or cause for error or sin.
The love of God in your heart takes you out of the realm of weakness and failure. No longer will your words cause offence or your actions lead others to do wrong.

The Word Makes Us Conquer.

If you hate your brother, you are living in darkness. The Word has not prevailed in your life. You are walking as a common, unchanged man.
1 Corinthians 3:3 AMP – For you are still [unspiritual, having the nature] of the flesh [under the control of ordinary impulses]. For as long as [there are] envying and jealousy and wrangling and factions among you, are you not unspiritual and of the flesh, behaving yourselves after a human standard and like mere (unchanged) men?
Many believers, because the Word has not prevailed over them, live in defeat in every area of their life.
As long as you only mentally assent to the word, but don’t act on it, you will struggle with sickness, disease and lack.
Philippians 4:19 AMP – And my God will liberally supply (fill to the full) your every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
When the Word prevails in your life, you have plenty for yourself and to share with others.
Psalms 27:1 AMP – The Lord is my Light and my Salvation—whom shall I fear or dread? The Lord is the Refuge and Stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?
2 Corinthians 3:5 AMP – Not that we are fit (qualified and sufficient in ability) of ourselves to form personal judgments or to claim or count anything as coming from us, but our power and ability and sufficiency are from God.

HONOR THE LORD WITH FIRSTFRUITS

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

All the firstling males that are born of your herd and flock you shall set apart for the Lord your God; you shall do no work with the firstling of your herd, nor shear the firstling of your flock. 20 You shall eat it before the Lord your God annually in the place [for worship] which the Lord shall choose, you and your household. 21 But if it has any blemish, if it is lame, blind, or has any bad blemish whatsoever, you shall not sacrifice it to the Lord your God.  Deuteronomy 15:19-21 AMP

Many Christians have a way too casual attitude toward the things of God – starting with their tithes and offerings, their worship, their witness – that filters down to every area of their lives. It’s time for God’s people to get serious about the things of God, their life, and eternity. We are not living for ourselves, we are living for Him – to bring Him glory and pleasure – this is why we are created! Let’s look at what the Lord instructed His people to do.

It is very important to God that His people set aside and bring the firstborn of their flocks and herds to Him. They had to be firstlings – the firstborn of the flock – to show that God’s people trusted Him as their provider. It took faith to bring the firstling – you brought it in faith trusting God to provide and bless your “secondling”, “thirdling”, and “fourthling”, etc. This firstling was to be set aside ahead of time and then brought to the place of worship. It was sacrificed to the Lord at the place of worship and then eaten in His presence. The firstling could not be lame or blind – it had to have no blemish or imperfection whatsoever. It would need to be carefully inspected. If something is inspected, it means that it has to be considered and carefully looked at – with much contemplation and thought – rather than something brought haphazardly or as a mere afterthought.

And [we obligate ourselves] to bring the firstfruits of our ground and the first of all the fruit of all trees year by year to the house of the Lord, 36 As well as the firstborn of our sons and of our cattle, as is written in the Law, and the firstlings of our herds and flocks, to bring to the house of our God, to the priests who minister in [His] house. 37 And we shall bring the first and best of our coarse meal, our contributions, the fruit of all kinds of trees, of new wine, and of oil to the priests, to the chambers of the house of our God. And we shall bring the tithes from our ground to the Levites, for they, the Levites, collect the tithes in all our rural towns.  Nehemiah 10:35-37 AMP

Even though this firstling/firstfruit command was given under the Old Covenant, why would we – under the New and Better Covenant – assume that we are free to dishonor God by giving to Him any other way? Maybe we don’t raise animals – but we do earn a living – we must bring the Lord the “firstling” – right off the top. We honor God by putting Him first, rather than last in our priorities. We should set aside our offering with much thought, contemplation and inspection – and then bring it to His house as an act of worship – to honor Him for His goodness, His mercy, His grace, His loving kindness, and all of His bountiful blessings.

If we really respect a person – a man or woman – and we really want to bless them, we will do something to honor them, such as bringing a gift that reflects our gratitude and appreciation. It is very appropriate – and in some cases, expected – that you bring a gift when you are meeting someone very important. Your gift sends a message. For instance, we give gifts to our husband, wife, family, or friends, on birthdays, or anniversaries, or other special occasions, that reflect how much we think of them. They would be offended if we forgot to bring something or if we gave an inferior gift. What about our Heavenly Father? Is He not more important – is He not more precious to us – than any mortal man? We expect His generous, abundant, timely blessings on us and so we should also honor Him in kind.

Everything we have comes from God. Nothing we have comes from ourselves. He loves us – we love Him. He blesses us – we bless Him. It amazes me how many people expect the blessing of the Lord in their lives and yet the Kingdom of God is neither their priority nor their concern. When we make the Kingdom of God our priority – when we put God’s house first and bless and honor Him – then He will bless and honor us. Let’s honor God by bringing our first and our best – not the last or the lame or the blind. If you want God’s Best then give Him your Best always in everything!

God Loved Us First and Most

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

In this the love of God was made manifest (displayed) where we are concerned: in that God sent His Son, the only begotten or unique [Son], into the world so that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation (the atoning sacrifice) for our sins.  1 John 4:9-10 AMP

In giving up His only begotten Son, God proved the infinite love He has for us and that His mercy is available to ALL. God did not send Jesus to die because we loved Him – He sent Him because He loved us! He was not motivated to sacrifice Jesus because of our merits – because we had no redeeming qualities to deserve such love – but He did it because of His own goodness and graciousness. In this is love: not that we loved God first, but that HE loved US first! And He wants to make it abundantly clear – we did not seek Him out – He sought us first – we are simply responding to the love He has shown to us.

Now it is an extraordinary thing for one to give his life even for an upright man, though perhaps for a noble and lovable and generous benefactor someone might even dare to die. 8 But God shows and clearly proves His [own] love for us by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) died for us.
  Romans 5:7-8 AMP

God clearly proved His love for us by sending Jesus to die on that cross for us while we were yet sinners. Never, in the history of the world, has there been such an unselfish sacrifice as this. People might be willing to give their lives for those who love them, but only God’s love gives His life for those who do not yet love Him. Love took a huge risk – love gave it all, holding nothing back – with the confident expectation that men could not resist such a great love, and indeed they could not! Thank God that we can find mercy and forgiveness, wholeness and restoration through His love!

See what [an incredible] quality of love the Father has given (shown, bestowed on) us, that we should [be permitted to] be named and called and counted the children of God! And so we are! 1 John 3:1a AMP

The Wuest translation says: “Behold what exotic [foreign to the human heart] love the Father has permanently bestowed upon us.” This is a love beyond human experience or comprehension. A great love; a marvelous love; an incredible quality of love! Through Jesus, God introduced us to a new kind of love – His agape love. He sees us valuable and precious. We are His precious treasure. His love gives us our value.

Human love is limited, flawed and often selfish. Because of manipulation and control and a lack of demonstrated love in their formative years, many people have grown up to be emotionally unhealthy. They have a negative self-worth. This results in negative and destructive patterns of behavior, which in turn cause more heartache and pain for all concerned. However, as they grow in their knowledge of the Father and the love He has for them, they begin to be restored and made whole. As Christians, our sense of self-worth comes from knowing how much God loves us. He is not just our God – He is our Father, Abba, Daddy – and He calls us his children! The Father loves each and every one of us with the exact same infinite love, but the depth (or shallowness) of our understanding of His love determines the level of our confidence in His love and our responses to Him.

Your concept of yourself affects ALL your relationships. As you grow in your knowledge and understanding of how much the Father loves and accepts you, you will also begin to act and respond in a healthier, more constructive way in your interactions with others, which will have a positive effect on their lives as well. We must have a revelation of the Father’s nature and character. He does not merely show love – He IS love! We must realize and understand how much He loves us. We must learn to see ourselves through His eyes – as valuable and precious. We must learn to love, accept and forgive ourselves. Then we will be able to see others as He sees them and we will be able to love them as He does.

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.  
Ephesians 2:4-10 NKJV

God is SO rich in mercy, and because of His great love, He reached out to us to bring us from our fallen, sinful, alienated state into His Kingdom and into His family. Not only are we adopted as sons and daughters, but we are also given an inheritance together with Jesus. We are seated in heavenly places with Jesus, at the Father’s right hand! None of it is because of our merits, but purely because of the greatness of His love, grace and kindness! We are created by Him and prepared to live and walk in His ways. By accepting His love, through Jesus, we step into this wonderful inheritance that He has prepared for us! How boundless, endless, fathomless, exhaustless and measureless is His love for us and how rich is His mercy!

 

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