ANSWERED PRAYER – PART FIVE

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

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

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

20 For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.  2 Corinthians 1:20-21 NIV

God does not make promises that He does not plan to keep. If He made a promise then He will keep it. If you come to Him to ask Him for the thing He promised, then He will give it to you. He guarantees His Word.

7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. 9 “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!   Matthew 7:7-11 NIV

Jesus said that if you ask for something that God has promised, it will be given to you. If you seek God’s will, you will find the thing you seek. Knock on God’s door and it will be opened to you. Even human parents, who are imperfect, give their children the things they asked for. How much more will a perfect God bless you with the answer to your prayer and give you good gifts – not bad gifts. Your Father in heaven gives good gifts to those who ask Him.

12 I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. 15 “If you love me, you will obey what I command.”  John 14:12-15 NIV

When you have faith in Jesus, you will do what He did. If you love Him, you will obey what He commands. And then when you ask Him for anything, He will do it for you, so that He can bring glory to the Father.

7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.  John 15:7-8 NIV

If you remain in Jesus and His words remain in you, then you will bear much fruit and He will give you whatever you ask.

13 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit-fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.  John 15:13-16 NIV

When you do what Jesus has commanded you to do, then He considers you to be His friend and He calls you His friend. He chose you and appointed you to go and bear lasting fruit. When you bear much fruit, the Father will give you whatever you ask in Jesus name.

22 So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. 23 In that day you will no longer ask me anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.  John 16:21-24 NIV

If you have not asked the Father for anything, then you need to ask in Jesus’ name. If you ask in the name of Jesus, then you will receive from the Father the thing you asked for and your joy will be full.

GODLY WISDOM FOR YOUR LOVE LIFE

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

My son, be attentive to my Wisdom [godly Wisdom learned by actual and costly experience], and incline your ear to my understanding [of what is becoming and prudent for you], 2 That you may exercise proper discrimination and discretion and your lips may guard and keep knowledge and the wise answer [to temptation].  Proverbs 5:1-2 AMP

King David was a man after God’s own heart. He chose to honor God in his life and to always seek His counsel and follow His leading. Even though he made some mistakes, David was a prosperous and blessed man because he gave God this place in his life. David and his wife, Bathsheba gave godly instruction and wise direction to their son, Solomon, and encouraged him to seek godly wisdom and counsel, so that he could also make wise choices for his life. Solomon recorded this advice in the book of Proverbs, together with the wisdom he, himself, received from the Holy Spirit and his own life experience.

I call heaven and earth to witness this day against you that I have set before you life and death, the blessings and the curses; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live 20 And may love the Lord your God, obey His voice, and cling to Him. For He is your life and the length of your days, that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to give to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  Deuteronomy 30:19-20 AMP

Wise choices are choices that line up with God’s Word. Wise choices are choices that are pleasing to God. Just choose to obey God and His Word and you will make the wise choice every time. God made us – He knows who you are and what you need to be happy and satisfied and blessed. Obeying His wisdom will bring you life, whereas succumbing to the temptations of the devil and your carnal, fleshly desires will bring death and destruction to your spirit, your mind and your body (Galatians 6:8). Currently, the world’s wisdom is no more profound than, “if it feels good – do it!” However, this counsel will result in nothing, but pain and heartache in your life. David counseled Solomon:

For the lips of a loose woman drip honey as a honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil; 4 But in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged and devouring sword. 5 Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold of Sheol (Hades, the place of the dead). 6 She loses sight of and walks not in the path of life; her ways wind about aimlessly, and you cannot know them. 7 Now therefore, my sons, listen to me, and depart not from the words of my mouth. 8 Let your way in life be far from her, and come not near the door of her house [avoid the very scenes of temptation], 9 Lest you give your honor to others and your years to those without mercy, 10 Lest strangers [and false teachings] take their fill of your strength and wealth and your labors go to the house of an alien [from God]–11 And you groan and mourn when your end comes, when your flesh and body are consumed, 12 And you say, How I hated instruction and discipline, and my heart despised reproof! 13 I have not obeyed the voice of my teachers nor submitted and consented to those who instructed me. 14[The extent and boldness of] my sin involved almost all evil [in the estimation] of the congregation and the community.  Proverbs 5:3-14 AMP

God’s Word has been around for eternity and its advice is always relevant and up-to-date and is never “old-fashioned.”

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. 19 Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant doe [tender, gentle, attractive]–let her bosom satisfy you at all times, and always be transported with delight in her love.

20 Why should you, my son, be infatuated with a loose woman, embrace the bosom of an outsider, and go astray? 21 For the ways of man are directly before the eyes of the Lord, and He [Who would have us live soberly, chastely, and godly] carefully weighs all man’s goings. 22 His own iniquities shall ensnare the wicked man, and he shall be held with the cords of his sin.

23 He will die for lack of discipline and instruction, and in the greatness of his folly he will go astray and be lost.  Proverbs 5:15-23 AMP

This is godly advice that could save your life. Be faithful to your wife/husband before you meet and marry them and you will most likely be faithful to them after you marry them as well. And you will enjoy the blessings of obedience to God’s Word! It is a wise man or woman who chooses to follow after wisdom! Every day of your life, there are decisions and choices that must be made, and temptations that come to trip you up. If you are armed with godly wisdom, it is easier to resist temptation and to make good choices and sound decisions, which set the course of your life in a direction of life and blessing.

TO THE ANGEL OF THE CHURCH IN THYATIRA

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

“To the angel of the church in Thyatira write:

These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. 19 I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first. 20 Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. 21 I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. 22 So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. 23 I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds. 24 Now I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, to you who do not hold to her teaching and have not learned Satan’s so-called deep secrets (I will not impose any other burden on you): 25 Only hold on to what you have until I come. 26 To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations- 27’He will rule them with an iron scepter;

he will dash them to pieces like pottery’- just as I have received authority from my Father. 28 I will also give him the morning star. 29 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.  Revelation 2:18-29 NIV

Thyatira was possibly the least important of the seven cities, located about forty miles southeast of Pergamum, halfway between it and Sardis. It was under the command of Rome from 190 B.C., and prospered under the Roman Emperor Vespasian. It was an industrial center, one of the main industries being that of dyeing and manufacturing woolen goods, and containing a number of corporate (trade) guilds: potters, tanners, weavers, robe-makers, and dyers. Paul’s first European convert, Lydia the purple-seller of Philippi, came from Thyatira. The principal deity of the city was Apollo, worshipped as the Sun-god under the surname Tyrimnas, and a shrine outside the walls was dedicated to Sambatha, a sibyl. It was a center of activity by the Nicolaitans with their idolatry and licentiousness under a false “prophetess.”

The Lord Jesus Christ makes an honorable mention to the church of Thyatira of their love, their faith, their service and their patience (perseverance). They practiced the word of God by walking in the love of God. Walking in love requires obedience to the word and the Spirit of God, so they were genuinely committed to Him. Jesus commends them for their growing fruitfulness and says that their last works were better than their first. Some people start off hot and end up cold, but these Christians were doing more than ever before. All Christians should be this way – doing better and doing more for the Lord than they did previously – so that their last works may be their best works.

After the praise comes the rebuke. Jesus rebukes them for their tolerance of the woman “Jezebel.” The problem was that they tolerated – they allowed, and did not prevent – this evil spirit represented by the name “Jezebel.” The term Jezebel is used symbolically, referring to the notorious historic Jezebel. She was the daughter of Ethbaal, king of Sidon, formerly a priest of Astarte, and who had made his way to the throne by murdering his predecessor Pheles. Ahab’s marriage with her was the first instance of a marriage with a pagan princess of a king of the northern kingdom of Israel and this alliance was a turning-point in the moral history of the kingdom. Jezebel stands out in Israel’s history as the person who lead them the furtherest away from the God Who loved and protected them.

Until Jezebel, the ten tribes had yielded to idolatry in the worship of the calves, however, the true God was still worshipped and the Law of Moses was acknowledged. Jezebel changed all of that. She was a powerful woman and her husband, Ahab, was weak, allowing her to dominate him, his throne and his kingdom. She was ruthless in her ungodliness – she was completely sold out to the devil in her worship of Baal and Astarte or Ashtaroth (the Phoenician Venus). She had no conscience – her ambition was to kill all the priests of Jehovah and institute her priests and her beliefs as the official beliefs of Israel. She had no fear of God and she did not tolerate Israel’s relationship with the Most High God either. A “Jezebel spirit” is a spirit that calls good evil and evil good. It does not allow good in others, but forces evil on them.

“Jezebel” of Thyatira calls herself a prophetess claiming that her teaching was an authentic message from God, but it was not – she is lying. This spirit is beguiling – seducing, misleading, deceiving, and leading the Thyatiran Christians astray – leading them away from the true path. She is immoral and impure – seducing Israel to depart from the truth, to commit fornication and to eat things sacrificed to idols – sins of the historical Jezebel. She refuses to repent or to abandon her evil ways and so the Lord will cast her on a bed of suffering, He will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways, and He will strike her children dead (those who yield to her and follow her) – not just a death of the body, but an eternal death.

The Lord wants us to be aware of evil people and evil doctrine. He wants us to HATE evil, not to tolerate it or allow it to co-exist with the truth. You cannot control or stop all the evil that is in the world, but you CAN and you MUST keep it out of YOUR LIFE, YOUR FAMILY and YOUR CHURCH. Hold onto the truth until you see Jesus face-to-face.

TO THE ANGEL OF THE CHURCH IN SARDIS

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

“To the angel of the church in Sardis write:

These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. 3 Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you. 4 Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. 5 He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels. 6 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.   Revelation 3:1-6 NIV

Sardis was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Lydia, some thirty miles south-east of Thyatira, the old capital of Lydia. It was situated at the crossing of Roman roads, in a plain watered by the river Pactolus. The city was of very ancient origin and was seized and conquered by different kings many times over. In its early history, it was ruled by King Meles and after him, by a series of princes, the last of whom was Croesus, who was celebrated for his wealth and his misfortunes. Sardis was conquered by Cyrus and then by Alexander the Great and in 214 B.C. by Antiochus the Great. The kings of Pergamus ruled after that and from them it passed into the hands of the Romans. In the time of Tiberius, Sardis and eleven or twelve other important cities of Asia were desolated by an earthquake. The calamity was increased by a pestilence.

In very early times, Sardis was an important commercial city. According to Pliny, they invented the art of dyeing wool. The flocks of Phrygia furnished Sardis with the raw material for the manufacture of all kinds of woolen goods, including carpets. Sardis was also the place where the metal “electrum” was procured, Gold was found in the bed of the Pactolus and silver and gold coins are said to have been first minted there. It was also, at one time, known as a slave-market. The impure worship of the goddess, Cybele, was celebrated there, and the massive ruins of her temple can still be seen. It was a city of softness and luxury and of apathy and immorality. The city is now a heap of ruins. Along with Laodicea it was rebuked most of all the seven churches.

Jesus speaks to the church of Sardis and reminds them, “I know your deeds.” People look at the outside, but God looks on the heart. Don’t forget that the Lord sees it all – everything you do, everything you think, the secret things of your heart – so don’t be tempted to impress people by living a life that looks good only on the outside, when in reality, your life is in a mess and you are very far from God – He is the only One Who matters! The church at Sardis was supposed to be alive and on fire for God – everyone thought that they were alive – but in reality they were dead on the inside. Jesus is saying to them, “Wake up and smell the coffee! I know that you seem to be faithful believers in me; but in reality you do not follow me anymore. You look alive, but inside you are dead and what little life that remains is about to be snuffed out. Stir up yourselves to rescue what little righteousness remains in you.”

Jesus provokes them to remember and to call to mind the lessons they have received and heard. In Proverbs 4:20-23, the Lord God impresses upon us the importance of keeping the Word of God in your eyes and your heart – that means taking time to study it and making it your own – being both a hearer and a doer: “My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings. 21 Do not let them depart from your eyes; Keep them in the midst of your heart; 22 For they are life to those who find them, And health to all their flesh. 23 Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.” (NKJV) You must continually, without stopping or giving up, or pulling back, lay the Word of God to heart. If God’s Word is firmly established in your heart as the standard you live by, then everything else becomes easier.

Jesus also urges them to obey the Word, and repent. The Word and the Spirit will convict you and bring you to a place where you know that you must repent. After that, you must make the choice to obey Him every day, in everything. Obviously, the church at Sardis had wandered very far from the truth of the Word of God, or they would not be in this position of having the last little bit of fire in them about to be snuffed out. If you are backslidden from God, then you will not be expecting and anticipating Jesus to return for you anytime soon at all. You will be thoroughly surprised and totally caught off guard when He does, unlike those who are submitted to Him and who eagerly anticipate and watch for His return.

Jesus says that there were just a few people left in Sardis who had not soiled their clothes. When you bow your knee to Jesus, your Savior, Jesus saves you and washes you clean – your sins are wiped away, He takes your old tattered garments and exchanges them for garments of pure white – robes of righteousness. You can’t buy this righteousness and you can’t earn it, but you can honor Him by walking in purity and keeping your garments clean. Sin soils your robe of righteousness, but repentance restores their purity.

LORD – GRANT ME A SPIRIT OF WISDOM AND REVELATION

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

I pray to the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, that He may grant me a spirit of wisdom and revelation, of insight into mysteries and secrets, in the deep and intimate knowledge of Him,

I pray that I would have the eyes of my heart flooded with light, so that I

can know and understand the hope to which He has called me, and how rich is His glorious inheritance in the saints, His set-apart ones,

And so that I can know and understand what is the immeasurable and unlimited and surpassing greatness of His power in and for us who believe, as demonstrated in the working of His mighty strength,

Which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places,

Far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and every name that is named – above every title that can be conferred – not only in this age and in this world, but also in the age and the world which are to come.

And He has put all things under His feet and has appointed Him the universal and supreme Head of the church – a headship exercised throughout the church,

Which is His body, the fullness of Him Who fills all in all – for in that body lives the full measure of Him Who makes everything complete, and Who fills everything everywhere with Himself.

Paraphrased from Ephesians 1:17-23 AMP

Because of my faith in Him, I dare to have the boldness, courage and confidence of free access

Because of my faith in Him, I can unreservedly approach God with freedom and without fear.

So I will not lose heart, I will not faint, or become despondent through fear,

Because of the greatness of this plan by which we are built together in Christ, I bow my knees before the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

For Whom every family in heaven and on earth is named

I pray that He would grant me out of the rich treasury of His glory to be strengthened and reinforced with mighty power in my inner man by the Holy Spirit, Himself indwelling my innermost being and personality.

I pray that Christ, through my faith, may actually dwell, settle down, abide, and make His permanent home in my heart!

I pray that I may be rooted deep in love and founded securely on love,

That I may have the power and be strong to apprehend and grasp with all the saints, God’s devoted people, the experience of that love – what is the breadth and length and height and depth of it;

That I may really come to know, practically, through experience for myself, the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge without experience; that I may be filled through all my being unto all the fullness of God.

That I may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself!

Now to Him Who, by and in consequence of the action of His power that is at work within us, is able to carry out His purpose and do superabundantly, far over and above all that we dare ask or think, infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams–

To Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen – so be it.

Paraphrased from Ephesians 3:12-21 AMP

These are two powerful, spiritual prayers that Paul prayed for the Ephesians and they apply to every Christian. These prayers reveal the will of God for His children. In Hosea 4:6 God says that His people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. This is not because God’s will is hidden – it is in plain sight, openly revealed in His Word – but because His people do not take time to read and study His Word and then take it personally.

Confessing (speaking out) God’s Word will personalize it for you and make it a reality, first in your mind and heart and then in every aspect of your life. Don’t just do it as a religious ritual, but as you pray these prayers, listen to what you are praying and make them yours. If you will pray these two personalized prayers on a regular basis, then you will begin to walk it out in your everyday life and reap the wonderful benefits of the life, blessing, and power of the awesome Word of God, that is more precious than silver and more costly than gold!

 

True Friends

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

The man of many friends [a friend of all the world] will prove himself a bad friend, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24 AMP

It is great to be friendly and have many acquaintances, but in order to be a loyal friend you cannot spread yourself too thin. Some people are friendly with everyone, but when you need them they are nowhere to be found. When you find yourself in a difficult situation, your true friends are the ones who stick with you – they stay with you; they walk with you; they help you through; they don’t judge you, but they tell you the truth.

Wealth makes many friends, but the poor man is avoided by his neighbor. Proverbs 19:4 AMP

A true friend is not one who comes around you when you have something they want, and then disappears when you fall on hard times. A true friend loves you for yourself. It is often very hard to know who your true friends are when you are wealthy and popular!

A friend loves at all times, and is born, as is a brother, for adversity. Proverbs 17:17 AMP

A true friend loves you no matter what. A true friend is one who is loyal. A true friend will face adversity and go through it with you. A true friend does not turn and run when the going gets tough. Jesus is such a friend.

This is My commandment: that you love one another [just] as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love [no one has shown stronger affection] than to lay down (give up) his own life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you keep on doing the things which I command you to do. John 15:12-14 AMP

Jesus said, “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Jesus loved us so much that He laid down His life for us before we were His friends. He laid down His life for His enemies – to make them his friends! Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords and yet He loves us and makes Himself our friend and makes us His friends! What an honor and a privilege we have to be called friends of Jesus! We should not take it lightly. We should prove ourselves worthy of the title by our loyal commitment to Him.

Your own friend and your father’s friend, forsake them not; neither go to your brother’s house in the day of your calamity. Better is a neighbor who is near [in spirit] than a brother who is far off [in heart]. Proverbs 27:10 AMP

They say that blood is thicker than water, in other words, family ties are stronger than friendships. However, sometimes a good friend is more faithful and committed to you than a family member, particularly when you receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior. If your family does not believe in Jesus and you do, it can bring a wedge in your relationship. The body of Christ is a family and you can ask God to bring people into your life who will be just like family to you – people who love God as much as you do and who will speak the truth in love.

Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are lavish and deceitful. Proverbs 27:6 AMP

Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend [to show rage or worthy purpose]. Proverbs 27:17 AMP

A good friend will tell you the truth even if it offends you. They will call you on your junk; they will challenge you; they will not allow you to have any bad habits or bad attitudes. Of course, they will tell you the truth in love, because they care about you. They tell you truth, not because they want to hurt you, but because they want to help you; to make you a better person. A true friend not only knows what to say to you, but also when and how so that you will hear what they are saying and receive it from them. It is better to have a friend who tells you the truth than an enemy who lies to you with flattery. Unfortunately, some people have been too prideful to receive sound advice from a true friend and have rejected their friend and his/her advice to go after a person who tells them what they want to hear, but who does not mean a word of it. Don’t be that kind of fickle, foolish person. If you know that you have believed flattery over the truth, it is not too late to humble yourself and go back to your true friends and apologize for your foolishness. Jesus and the Holy Spirit are true friends who will always tell you the truth.

He who rebukes a man shall afterward find more favor than he who flatters with the tongue. Proverbs 28:23 AMP

Oil and perfume rejoice the heart; so does the sweetness of a friend’s counsel that comes from the heart. Proverbs 27:9 AMP

When a good friend speaks the truth, from their heart, into your life and you receive it, it is sweet like perfume. When you are a good friend to your friends and you speak the truth in love to them, they will appreciate it – maybe not immediately, but eventually. Don’t be intimidated by an initial negative response. Stay calm and hold your ground and continue to love and respect them. If you have a judgmental attitude, no one will be able to receive what you are saying, because your motives are suspect, but if you do not judge your friends and you love them unconditionally, they will welcome your input, opinion, and advice!

DON’T BE IGNORANT OF THE DEVIL’S DEVICES

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

And I wrote the same to you so that when I came, I might not be myself pained by those who are the [very] ones who ought to make me glad, for I trusted in you all and felt confident that my joy would be shared by all of you. 4 For I wrote you out of great sorrow and deep distress [with mental torture and anxiety] of heart, [yes, and] with many tears, not to cause you pain but in order to make you realize the overflowing love that I continue increasingly to have for you. 5 But if someone [the one among you who committed incest] has caused [all this] grief and pain, he has caused it not to me, but in some measure, not to put it too severely, [he has distressed] all of you. 6 For such a one this censure by the majority [which he has received is] sufficient [punishment]. 7 So [instead of further rebuke, now] you should rather turn and [graciously] forgive and comfort and encourage [him], to keep him from being overwhelmed by excessive sorrow and despair. 8 I therefore beg you to reinstate him in your affections and assure you, to test your attitude and see if you would stand the test, whether you are obedient and altogether agreeable [to following my orders] in everything. 10 If you forgive anyone anything, I too forgive that one; and what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sakes in the presence [and with the approval] of Christ (the Messiah), 11 To keep Satan from getting the advantage over us; for we are not ignorant of his wiles and intentions. 2 Corinthians 2:3-11 AMP

When we started The River at Tampa Bay, we asked the Lord how we should handle situations where people had sinned and needed discipline and correction. He told us this, “If I have forgiven them – you forgive them.” So that is what we do. We bring the word to them in a non-judgmental way. If they are repentant and ask God to forgive them, then forgive them as well and work with them on restoration. If they will not repent, we work with them and speak the truth in love to them until they do. After all that, if they will still not repent, we recommend they find another church to attend, since they do not respect the authority in this house. It is very important that we do not continue to have fellowship with those who are stubbornly rebellious against God’s word and who sow strife amongst the brethren, because it has a corrupting influence on the Body of Christ.

On the other hand, we do have a problem in the Body of Christ when someone has repented and yet they find no grace or forgiveness from their brethren. This ought not to be so. We must do two things for each other – speak the truth in love and, at the same time, show mercy and grace toward each other. In this way we will all grow up spiritually. We should not expect perfection from ourselves and others, but we should expect righteousness! Paul tells us that we must forgive so that we keep Satan from getting the advantage over us. We must not be ignorant of his wiles and intentions. The devil uses strife to divide us and destroy us – individually and as a body.

Brethren, if any person is overtaken in misconduct or sin of any sort, you who are spiritual [who are responsive to and controlled by the Spirit] should set him right and restore and reinstate him, without any sense of superiority and with all gentleness, keeping an attentive eye on yourself, lest you should be tempted also.  Galatians 6:1 AMP

It is very important not to judge someone else, because if you do, you give the devil place in your life and you open yourself up to be tempted with the same sin. Do not judge them in your heart, even if it doesn’t come out of your mouth.  Discipline in the Church – the Body of Christ – should come from those who are spiritual. Sadly, there are not enough spiritual people in the Church who are qualified to deal with these kinds of situations. A spiritual person is one who is submitted to the word of God in all things. They walk in love toward others; they correct them, but they do not judge them. An immature Christian is one who is judgmental toward others and who is envious of others. They are happy when someone else messes up – it gives them an opportunity to feel superior – but they are playing into the devil’s hands. We are all on the same team – let’s act like it!

Rejoice not when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles or is overthrown, 18 Lest the Lord see it and it be evil in His eyes and displease Him, and He turn away His wrath from him [to expend it upon you, the worse offender].  Proverbs 24:17-18 AMP

If we shouldn’t be happy when our enemy falls, how much more should we definitely not be glad when our fellow Christian falls? We should weep for them, pray for them and help them back to their feet. God needs every one of us that He can get! He does not need anyone of us to fall and fail and if we are all going to make it and stand strong then we are going to need each other. We are a Body! What happens to the individual, affects the whole Body. Let us not be ignorant; let us not be used by the devil to work his purposes, but let us be submitted to God in this and let us be used by Him to bring peace, restoration and harmony wherever WE go!

Because of God’s Favor On Your Life, You Will Never Go Empty-Handed

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

Thoughts on Stewardship

Lessons from Exodus

Because of God’s Favor On Your Life, You Will Never Go Empty-Handed

Foundation Scriptures: Exodus 3 verses 19 – 22

And I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go [unless forced to do so], no, not by a mighty hand. 20 So I will stretch out My hand and smite Egypt with all My wonders which I will do in it; and after that he will let you go. 21 And I will give this people favor and respect in the sight of the Egyptians; and it shall be that when you go, you shall not go empty-handed. 22 But every woman shall [insistently] solicit of her neighbor and of her that may be residing at her house jewels and articles of silver and gold, and garments, which you shall put on your sons and daughters; and you shall strip the Egyptians [of belongings due to you]. Exodus 3:19-22 AMP

  1. When God stretches out His hand, extending His favor toward you, amazing things begin to happen.
  2. The Lord’s favor was on Israel, when He delivered them from Egypt. He told the children of Israel that when they left Egypt, they would not go empty-handed. God is not a robber neither does He condone taking what is not yours. He does however believe that you should receive that which is owed to you. God says that the laborer is worthy of his hire (1 Timothy 5:18) and He also told the Israelites that if their brother is sold to them as a slave, they should work for six years and be freed, with compensation, in the seventh year. “And when you send him out free from you, you shall not let him go away empty-handed. You shall furnish him liberally out of your flock, your threshing floor, and your winepress; of what the Lord your God has blessed you, you shall give to him.” Deuteronomy 15:13-14 AMP
  3. God told the Israelites to spoil the Egyptians.
  4. The Israelites did not leave with the Egyptian’s junk —the stuff you would usually find at a yard sale—they walked away with their very best clothing, jewels of silver, and jewels of gold. This was their payment for the years they were enslaved and abused.
  5. Remember that Israel had been afflicted; they had been misused and abused; they had been in captivity and slavery for 270 years.
  6. God heard the cries of the Israelites. God told them that He knew that the king of Egypt would not let them go unless he was forced to do so by a mighty hand.
  7. He told them that He would stretch out His hand and smite Egypt with signs and wonders so that pharaoh would let them go.
  8. The Lord told the Israelites:
  9. I will give you respect and favor in their sight.
  10. You will not go empty-handed.
  11. You shall spoil the Egyptians.

N.B. God’s favor, and His favor alone, will cause you to spoil the “Egyptians”.

Pastor Adonica’s Thoughts:

God has great plans for your life. He does not play favorites—God shows no partiality and is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34). You can have the same favor on your life as Moses and the children of Israel, if you will submit your life and heart to the Lord, unreservedly. Don’t miss out on all the blessings of God’s favor and anointing that could be on your life, because you won’t obey God when He speaks. The Lord told Israel, “Do not say in your [mind and] heart, after the Lord your God has thrust them out from before you, It is because of my righteousness that the Lord has brought me in to possess this land–whereas it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is dispossessing them before you.” (Deuteronomy 9:4 AMP) Obedience brings favor—rebellion brings disaster.

Pastor Rodney’s Thoughts:

God had great plans for His people, Israel. He had made promises to them, through their fathers, and God always keeps His promises. His plan for them did not include slavery in Egypt, but for them to live as free people in the land He had promised to them. God does not keep His promises because of us, but because of Him, but unless we obey Him when He tells us to do something, we will not see the promise fulfilled. If we do not obey, we will not receive the promise, just as the same people, who were brought out of Egypt, disqualified themselves from entering the Promised Land because of rebellious disobedience. God planned to bring His people out of captivity and into the Promised Land. This land was a good land—a land that overflowed with milk and honey. This land had enemies in it, but God had already given them the victory. First He had to deliver them from Egypt.

Because of God’s favor on Israel, He moved to deliver them through His signs and wonders (His anointing and power). When you walk with God in obedience—no matter what you may be facing—know that the Lord will deliver you. He will give you favor and deliver you by the anointing—through signs and wonders. There is nothing like Divine Favor. This favor can take you where money cannot take you. In our life and ministry, I have seen the hand of God deliver us many, many times out of impossible situations and give us great favor. People often notice and comment on the extreme favor that is on our lives. This favor does not come without a price—the price is absolute obedience! Get in line with God’s will for your life today—obey the Lord, and let the Lord deliver you and grant you His divine grace and favor.

Prayer and Confession:

Father I thank you, in Jesus Name, for delivering me out of my current circumstances and for granting me supernatural, divine favor. I commit to obey You in all things and I expect to receive Your blessings on my life.

If God Hears Your Prayer He Will Answer It

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

And this is the confidence (the assurance, the privilege of boldness) which we have in Him: [we are sure] that if we ask anything (make any request) according to His will (in agreement with His own plan), He listens to and hears us. 15 And if (since) we [positively] know that He listens to us in whatever we ask, we also know [with settled and absolute knowledge] that we have [granted us as our present possessions] the requests made of Him.
1 John 5:14-15 AMP

The Bible tells us that if God hears our prayers that He also answers them. How can you have confidence that He will hear your prayers and therefore answer them?

For we do not have a High Priest Who is unable to understand and sympathize and have a shared feeling with our weaknesses and infirmities and liability to the assaults of temptation, but one Who has been tempted in every respect as we are, yet without sinning. 16 Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God’s unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it].  Hebrews 4:15-16 AMP

Only the righteous can come into God’s presence to ask for help and be heard. If you are washed in the blood of Jesus and if He is your High Priest, you can have confidence to come into God’s presence to ask boldly for what you need. The guilty are not bold to come into God’s presence, but God expects the righteous to be bold! Boldness is a manifestation of faith —faith in God’s grace and His promises—and God always honors faith.

You are jealous and covet [what others have] and your desires go unfulfilled; [so] you become murderers. [To hate is to murder as far as your hearts are concerned.] You burn with envy and anger and are not able to obtain [the gratification, the contentment, and the happiness that you seek], so you fight and war. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3[Or] you do ask [God for them] and yet fail to receive, because you ask with wrong purpose and evil, selfish motives. Your intention is [when you get what you desire] to spend it in sensual pleasures.  James 4:2-3 AMP

If you want an answer, you need to first ask. If you don’t ask God for what you need, how can He give it to you? Also, if you ask with wrong purpose and evil, selfish motives, with the intention of satisfying your carnal desires, then God will not answer you then either.

If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.  Psalms 66:18 AMP

Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened at all, that it cannot save, nor His ear dull with deafness, that it cannot hear. 2 But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.  Isaiah 59:1-2 AMP

God is not powerless or unwilling to help you, neither is He deaf so that He cannot hear, but if you are disobedient and if you sin willfully, then He will not hear your prayers, because your sin has separated you from Him and His presence.

What man is he who desires life and longs for many days, that he may see good? 13 Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. 14 Depart from evil and do good; seek, inquire for, and crave peace and pursue (go after) it! 15 The eyes of the Lord are toward the [uncompromisingly] righteous and His ears are open to their cry. 16 The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth. 17 When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their distress and troubles. 18 The Lord is close to those who are of a broken heart and saves such as are crushed with sorrow for sin and are humbly and thoroughly penitent.  Psalms 34:12-18 AMP

The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, but the eyes of the Lord see the uncompromisingly righteous and His ears are open to their cry. The righteous are those who have humbly received the grace of God and who know that they are made righteous only by the grace and mercy of God. They work daily to keep their heart right with God. When the righteous cry for help, the Lord pays attention to them, and delivers them out of all their distress and troubles.

The Lord is [rigidly] righteous in all His ways and gracious and merciful in all His works. 18 The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him sincerely and in truth. 19 He will fulfill the desires of those who reverently and worshipfully fear Him; He also will hear their cry and will save them.  Psalm.s 145:17-19 AMP

When you reverently and worshipfully fear the Lord and when you call upon Him sincerely and in truth, He will hear your cry and will save you and fulfill not only your needs, but also your desires.

THE BLOOD

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

FOUNDATIONS OF MY FAITH
MY ABSOLUTES–THINGS I CANNOT COMPROMISE

Foundation Scriptures: Matthew 26:28-29

The Blood of Jesus Redeems us from sin.

  1. Redeem—to clear by payment; to buy back or pay off; to recover; to exchange; to save from sins; to restore the honor or worth of; to recover ownership of by paying a specified sum; to obtain the release or restoration of, as from captivity, by paying a ransom; deliverance by payment of a price; to deliver from sin and its consequences by means of a sacrifice offered for the sinner.
  2. In the New Testament, redemption refers to salvation from sin, death, and the wrath of God by Christ’s sacrifice.
  3. We are redeemed from our own works. We are redeemed from religion and tradition and the Curse of the Law.
  4. 1 Peter 1:18-19 AMP – You must know (recognize) that you were redeemed (ransomed) from the useless (fruitless) way of living inherited by tradition from [your] forefathers, not with corruptible things [such as] silver and gold, 19 But [you were purchased] with the precious blood of Christ (the Messiah), like that of a [sacrificial] lamb without blemish or spot.
  5. Our sins are forgiven and no longer held against us.
  6. Ephesians 1:7
  7. We are purchased by the Blood of Jesus.
  8. Acts 20:28

Blood has to be shed or there can be no remission of sins.

  1. Hebrews 9:22 AMP – [In fact] under the Law almost everything is purified by means of blood, and without the shedding of blood there is neither release from sin and its guilt nor the remission of the due and merited punishment for sins.
  2. Under the Old Covenant, blood sacrifices had to continually be made for sin.
  3. Hebrews 10:1-4 Under the old Covenant the blood of animals was shed to atone for sins. The blood of these animals only covered people’s sin. The Father looked at the blood and counted them as righteous. The animals were a type of our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus became our “Sacrificial Lamb” (1 Peter 1:19). The Blood of Jesus cleanses us from sin and cleanses our conscience from dead works.
  4. Hebrews 9:12-15
  5. Under the New Covenant, the Blood of Jesus completely washes away our sin.
  6. Colossians 1:14 AMP – In Whom we have our redemption through His blood, [which means] the forgiveness of our sins.
  7. Isaiah 43:25
  8. Psalms 103:12
  9. Revelation 1:5
  10. Since Jesus shed His Blood, no more blood needs to be shed.
  11. Hebrews 10:18

The Blood of Jesus reconciles us to the Father.

  1. We cannot stand before God on our own merits. Our righteousness is like filthy rags.
  2. Isaiah 64:6
  3. Romans 3:23 NKJV – For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
  4. Through the Blood of the Cross, God has made peace, reconciling all things to Himself, once and for all.
  5. Colossians 1:19-22
  6. We are reconciled back to the Father.
  7. Ephesians 2:13 NKJV – But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

The Blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin.

  1. The Blood of Jesus cleanses us from ALL sin—the sin we committed before and after we were saved. If we make a mistake and repent, His Blood cleanses us every time.
  2. 1 John 1:7 NKJV – But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
  3.  As the old song says, “What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the Blood of Jesus. What can make me whole again? Nothing but the Blood of Jesus.”
  4. The Blood of Jesus gave us a new and better covenant.
  5. Hebrews 8:6

The Blood of Jesus allows us to come boldly before the Father.

  1. When you come to God, you come boldly by the Blood of Jesus. You don’t enter by your own name. You don’t enter by your good works. You are bold because you know that His Blood gives you the right to come into God’s presence to ask for help.
  2. Hebrews 10:19-23
  3. We have a new and living way. We draw nigh unto God boldly, by the blood, with faith and a clean conscience.
  4. Hebrews 4:15-16

The Blood of Jesus gives us the power to overcome.

  1. Revelation 12:11 NKJV – And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.
  2. Talk about what God has done for you. Your testimony is a living thing—when you share it, you relive it.
  3. 1 Corinthians 15:57

The Blood of Jesus is held in honor in heaven.

  1. We reign as kings and priests on the earth through the blood of Jesus.
  2. Revelation 5:9-10 NKJV – And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, 10 And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth.”
  3. No one is left out. The Blood of Jesus paid the price for every man, every woman, every tribe, every tongue, every people, and every nation!

Rodney Howard Browne brings good news to Minneapolis