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!

Paid In Full – How to Get Out of Debt

 

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

PAID IN FULL – How To Get Out Of Debt

“In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has.” Prov 21:20 NIV

Debt – Debt robs from the future to pay for the present.

  • Debt is a spirit.
  • Debt is a product.
  • Debt is a habit.

I. Why do people get in debt?

  • Ignorance – “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge…” Hosea 4:6. Most people were not trained on how to properly handle money. The media’s job is to sell, sell, sell and we buy, buy, buy. If you don’t have the money, no problem, just charge it. When you do this, it will lead you into indulgence.
  • Indulgence – “That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” Hebrews 6:12. We live in a ‘now’ society. We are a fast food society. We say, “I will not wait; I cannot wait; I will find out how to get it now.” Most young couples acquire within three years everything that it took their parents to acquire in a life time. (For example: house, two cars, furniture, big screen TV, computers, etc..) The difference is that their parents waited till they had the cash to pay for it but young couples mortgaged, borrowed, leased, and charged everything. This is the result of…
  • Poor Planning – A person that does not plan their income VS expenditures actually plans to fail without even knowing it. “The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenteousness; but of every one that is hasty only to want.” Proverbs 21:5.

II. How to get out of debt:

  • For the next thirty days, keep record of every penny that you spend.  If you are married, both of you keep records individually to establish an  accurate budget.
  • You must establish a budget! Complete the Paid In Full Budget Sheet in full.
  • Stop all forms of borrowing including credit cards. Perform plastic surgery on them. The sooner that you stop the borrowing, the sooner you will be out of debt.
  • Complete the Paid In Full Debt Calculation Sheet. Record debts in order from the smallest debt to the greatest debt.
  • Save money by using the methods taught by Pastor Eric Gonyon that you feel comfortable with:       insurance, credit cards, banking & ATM, envelope system, cash, etc… This will help you apply a Paid In Full accelerator to attack debt–one bill at a time. Soon, bills will be marked PAID IN FULL and eliminated and you will see that there is a way of escape from a mountain of debt. You are on your way to true   financial freedom.
  • It’s time for you to be the lender and not the borrower. “The LORD shall open unto thee his good treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto thy land in his season, and to bless all the work of thine hand: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow.” Deuteronomy 28:12.
  • Fund the END-TIME HARVEST!

“Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath  fulfilled the law.” Romans 13:8.

THE GOODNESS OF GOD – PART 3

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

THE GOODNESS OF GOD AS REVEALED BY HIS LOVE

“Yes, God’s riches are very great! His wisdom and knowledge have no end! No one can explain what God decides. No one can understand his ways. 34 As the Scriptures say, “Who can know what is on the Lord’s mind? Who is able to give him advice?” 35 “Who has ever given God anything? God owes nothing to anyone.” 36 Yes, God made all things. And everything continues through him and for him. To God be the glory forever! Amen.” Romans 11:33-36 ERV

All of creation originated with God. He made it – every intricate, complicated, exquisite atom of it. We are such a small particle in the great universe and our finite minds are totally inadequate to even try to begin to understand even a little bit of God’s great handiwork! There is no way we can ever know or understand everything there is to know about God – we know only a very, very little and understand even less. We cannot say that we know what He is thinking and we certainly cannot begin to think that we could ever advise Him. There is nothing that we could give back to Him that He did not personally make and that He does not already own.

The things that God wants us to know about Him are revealed by the Holy Spirit and recorded in His mighty word. Above all else, He wants us to know just how much He loves us. He tells us in Genesis how He created the entire earth and the universe just for us. He made everything, saw that it was good, formed man in His image and likeness and then gave it all to man to take care of and enjoy. Man was God’s crowning creation!

In the Garden, Adam and Eve respected God, but were not afraid of Him. They did not need to be afraid. He was their creator – they knew Him personally and therefore they knew only His goodness and His complete love and acceptance. They had never experienced sin, fear, guilt, pain or death – therefore they had nothing to hide and no one to hide from – they were naked and unafraid.

“If anyone imagines that he has come to know and understand much [of divine things, without love], he does not yet perceive and recognize and understand as strongly and clearly, nor has he become as intimately acquainted with anything as he ought or as is necessary.” 1 Corinthians 8:2 AMP

“He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, 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 for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” 1 John 4:8-11 NKJV

“So we know the love that God has for us, and we trust that love. God is love. Everyone who lives in love lives in God, and God lives in them. 17 If God’s love is made perfect in us, we can be without fear on the day when God judges the world. We will be without fear, because in this world we are like Jesus. 18 Where God’s love is, there is no fear, because God’s perfect love takes away fear. It is his punishment that makes a person fear. So his love is not made perfect in the one who has fear.” 1 John 4:16-18 ERV

God does not just love – He IS love. All He knows is love. All that motivates Him is love. His goodness is revealed in His acts of love. Even if you have memorized the entire Bible, if you do not understand this fact – that God is love – you will not understand the Word of God. God has placed great importance on these facts – that He is love, He loved us first and He sacrificed everything to restore us back into His love. Because we know He loves us, we trust His love for us and therefore we do not fear Him. The person who is afraid of God does not know God’s love. He/she is either a sinner, or a Christian who has not come to know God or His nature and character very well yet. He/she fears the punishment reserved for the sinner. There is no fear of death and punishment for the believer. As we are perfected in God’s love – being made complete in His love – we lose all fear. We learn to trust God and His love completely.

This is how much God loves us: Zephaniah 3:17 KJV says, “The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.” And in the ERV it says, “The Lord your God is with you. He is like a powerful soldier. He will save you. He will show how much he loves you and how happy he is with you. He will laugh and be happy about you, like people at a party.” The Father rejoices over you – yes you!

God is good. God is good to His people. God is kind and good toward even sinners. God is good to ALL.

THE CHURCH – PREACHING, TEACHING AND MAKING DISCIPLES

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

The mission of the local church is: Preaching and teaching; Making disciples; Fellowship; Worship; Missions and evangelism; Maturity of the believer; Ministry in the home; Ministry to material needs.

Preaching and teaching:

In Mark 16:15, Mark records that Jesus commanded the Church to preach the Gospel and in Matthew’s account, He emphasizes the teaching mission of the church (Matthew 28:19-20).

We can see in the book of Acts that the Church did what Jesus told them to do – to both preach and teach:
• Acts 5:42 NKJV – And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.
• Acts 2:42 Kenneth S. Wuest – And they were giving constant attention to the teaching of the apostles and to that which they held in common with them, and to the breaking of the bread and to the gatherings where prayers to God were offered.
• Acts 11:25-26 NKJV – Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul. 26 And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.
• Acts 15:35 NKJV – Paul and Barnabas also remained in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also.
• Acts 18:11 NKJV – And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.
• Acts 20:20-21 NKJV – How I kept back nothing that was helpful, buts proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house, 21 testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
• Acts 28:30-31 NKJV – Then Paul dwelt two whole years in his own rented house, and received all who came to him, 31 preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him.

Preach means to herald; to proclaim; to publish. Preaching serves to both recruit and motivate the hearer. Through preaching, new babes are born into the family of God. Teach means to disciple, to instruct; to impart skill, knowledge or comprehension to. Teaching is the maturing ministry of the Church. Through teaching, the babes grow up and are matured from drinking milk to eating strong meat.

And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; 3 for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?  1 Corinthians 3:1-3 NKJV

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
Hebrews 5:12-14 NKJV

Making disciples:

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.  Matthew 28:19-20 KJV

The Greek word translated “teach” is matheteuo, from mathetes, which means “disciple.” The Church is commanded by Jesus to teach – or disciple – all nations. Discipling involves teaching, but is more than just teaching – it is setting and leading by example. You can tell someone how to do it, but showing them is so much more effective. People learn a little by what you say, more by what you do and the most by who you are! Those who merely teach, have pupils, but those who disciple, make followers.

For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake. 6 And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit, 7 so that you became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe. 8 For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything.  1 Thessalonians 1:5-8 NKJV

The Church must teach God’s word, live God’s word and demonstrate God’s word. This requires that they personally submit themselves to the Word and the Spirit and allow God to do a work in them and through them. Always point people to God and His word, not to yourself; lift Jesus up; glorify the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.

Disciple by word and deed:
• 1 Timothy 4:12 AMP – Let no one despise or think less of you because of your youth, but be an example (pattern) for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.
• 1 Corinthians 11:1 AMP – Pattern yourselves after me [follow my example], as I imitate and follow Christ (the Messiah).  
• Ephesians 5:1 AMP – Therefore be imitators of God [copy Him and follow His example], as well-beloved children [imitate their father].  
• Philippians 3:17 AMP – Brethren, together follow my example and observe those who live after the pattern we have set for you.  

The local church will be strong when its members – under a Spirit-filled ministry – learn from one another, grow together and strengthen one another.

The Church – A Fellowship of Believers

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

The mission of the local church is: Preaching and teaching; Making disciples; Fellowship; Worship; Missions and evangelism; Maturity of the believer; Ministry in the home; Ministry to material needs.

Fellowship:

God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.  1 Corinthians 1:9 KJV

Jesus Christ, by His sacrifice, has made it possible for man to be restored back into relationship and fellowship with God, the Father. When a man or woman accepts the free gift of salvation, he or she is now both a child, and a friend, of God. They are family. This fellowship with Jesus, Paul calls a “mystery” (Ephesians 3:8-12), but it gives us special privileges – in Jesus Christ we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him – we have the right to freely come into the presence of God Himself!

The cup of blessing [of wine at the Lord’s Supper] upon which we ask [God’s] blessing, does it not mean [that in drinking it] we participate in and share a fellowship (a communion) in the blood of Christ (the Messiah)? The bread which we break, does it not mean [that in eating it] we participate in and share a fellowship (a communion) in the body of Christ?  17 For we [no matter how] numerous we are, are one body, because we all partake of the one Bread [the One Whom the communion bread represents].  
1 Corinthians 10:16-17 AMP

We believers, though many, are all one body – the Body of Christ. One of the functions of the Church is to facilitate, sustain and maintain fellowship between believers. The word translated “fellowship” is “koinonia”, which means partnership; participation; communicate or communication; communion. We have been brought into communion with Jesus Christ and we have also been brought into communion with each other as the Body of Christ. Romans 12:5 AMP says, “So we, numerous as we are, are one body in Christ (the Messiah) and individually we are parts one of another [mutually dependent on one another].” Whether we like it or not, we are dependent on each other – we need each other.

And they were giving constant attention to the teaching of the apostles and to that which they held in common with them, and to the breaking of the bread and to the gatherings where prayers to God were offered. And a reverential fear came upon every soul. And many miracles that excited amazement and attesting miracles were performed by the apostles. And all those who believed were gathered together as a unit and were holding all things in joint-participation, and were selling their houses and lands and other possessions and kept on distributing them to all, according as anyone was having a need. And daily they continued to remain in the temple, in perfect unanimity, breaking bread at home, partaking of food together in gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having the good will of the people. And the Lord kept on adding to them daily those who were being saved.
  Acts 2:42-47 Kenneth S. Wuest

Often when people use the word “fellowship” they relate it to games, dining, and social interaction. There is nothing wrong with such fellowship, when they conform to biblical ethics, but the word “koinonia” is so much more powerful than that. The Early Church met together for fellowship – for instruction in the Word of God, for prayer, to eat together, to partake of communion, and to worship God (Acts 2:42) – to fellowship in the Gospel and grow together in the Lord (Philippians 1:3-6). Paul testifies that even though James, Peter and John were called to preach to the Jews, and he and Barnabas were called to preach to the Gentiles, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Paul and Barnabas. They offered them all their friendship and support – out of respect for God and His will for all of them (Galatians 2:7-9). The Early Church were united together and had all things in common – they shared ungrudgingly whatever they had – food, clothing, shelter – with each other. Even the persecuted Macedonians, although not wealthy, begged Paul to be able to fellowship with the saints in Jerusalem through their giving (2 Corinthians 8:3-4).

These believers all chose to fellowship with one another because of their covenant with God and each other as the Body. A covenant relationship is one where you commit to fellowship with someone and to love them and bless them based on submission and obedience to God’s Word and not just because you feel like it or not. We are all going to be in heaven together and that means overlooking our differences. We can even agree to disagree, but we don’t have to be disagreeable!

Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2 fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.  Philippians 2:1-4 NKJV

Where people are touched by the power of God and truly filled with the Holy Spirit, there will be harmony and fellowship. When we have unbroken fellowship with God then we will have harmony and fellowship in the Body of Christ. When our fellowship with God is lacking then there will be discord and strife. Discord and strife arises when people behave like the devil – when they are worldly, carnal, selfish and arrogant.

If we have genuine fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ, we will walk in the truth and we will walk in the love of God toward each other. If we do not walk in love, we show ourselves to be liars – we are not in fellowship with God at all (1 John 1:1-7). Thank God for His blood that washes us clean and gives us another chance to do right. Thank God for His forgiveness. When we realize that we are nothing without Him and we humble ourselves to accept His love and mercy for ourselves, then it is not so difficult to love and show grace to a neighbor. God’s love makes it possible for His precious Church to fellowship with Him and fellowship with each other.

THE IMPORTANCE OF FAITH – Part II

Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.  1 John 5:14-15 NKJV

You cannot attach your faith to anything that God hasn’t already promised you. When you do attach your faith to God’s promise and you pray in faith, then you will receive all the blessings of His will and His promise.

If any of you is deficient in wisdom, let him ask of the giving God [Who gives] to everyone liberally and ungrudgingly, without reproaching or faultfinding, and it will be given him. 6 Only it must be in faith that he asks with no wavering (no hesitating, no doubting). For the one who wavers (hesitates, doubts) is like the billowing surge out at sea that is blown hither and thither and tossed by the wind. 7 For truly, let not such a person imagine that he will receive anything [he asks for] from the Lord, 8 [For being as he is] a man of two minds (hesitating, dubious, irresolute), [he is] unstable and unreliable and uncertain about everything [he thinks, feels, decides].
  James 1:5-8 AMP

If God is a giving God, who gives to everyone liberally and ungrudgingly, then why don’t people have all that they need from Him? Obviously God is not our problem!  God gives to everyone liberally and ungrudgingly! The key that opens the door to God’s blessing of wisdom, or anything we ask God for, is to ask in faith. If you are wavering, hesitating, and doubting – you are double-minded. When you are double-minded, you are not operating in faith. Faith is single-minded and laser-focused! Faith is resolute – faith’s mind is made up. If you ask in faith – you’ll receive from God what you ask Him for, but if you do not ask in faith, then you will not receive what you’ve asked for. The key is FAITH!

And Jesus answered them, Truly I say to you, if you have faith (a firm relying trust) and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, Be taken up and cast into the sea, it will be done. 22 And whatever you ask for in prayer, having faith and [really] believing, you will receive.  Matthew 21:21-22 AMP

Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”  Mark 9:23 NKJV

So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God.  23 For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.  24 Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. 
Mark 11:22-24 NKJV

These scriptures clearly show how important faith is. They promise that you can have WHATEVER you have the faith for. Scripture puts no limits or qualifications on the known needs of this life – so do not limit them! These scriptures show us that whatever you desire in life – faith is absolutely necessary to get it. You should not expect to get anything from God, if you refuse to have faith. Jesus commanded us to, “Have faith in God”; therefore, we should have faith in God. It’s not impossible to have faith; it’s not God’s responsibility to give you faith; you can’t pray for faith. Operating in faith is your choice and responsibility!

It is all-important to have faith, because:
No prayer will be answered without faith
You cannot please God without faith
You will not get anything from God without faith
And – without faith you will be disobedient to God.

If God commands us to have faith, then to break the commandment, with doubt and unbelief, must be sin. Romans 14:22b (K.S. Wuest) says, “Moreover, everything which is not of faith is sin.” The Amplified says, “For whatever does not originate and proceed from faith is sin [whatever is done without a conviction of its approval by God is sinful].”  Believers should be as concerned about not breaking this law as they are about breaking any other of God’s laws! If believers realized that it’s a sin to have unbelief and to doubt God and His word, it would motivate them to change and to do something about it! The problem is, that people just think that doubt and unbelief are “normal” and to be expected and part of the human experience. Most people – even believers – are just indifferent about it. If you don’t think there’s a problem, or if you don’t think it can be helped, then you don’t look for an answer or a solution.

When people pray, if they’ve believed the devil’s lies that not all people can believe God and have faith, then they’ll think that it’s perfectly alright to live in doubt and unbelief and that it’s normal to waver in your believing and asking. And when prayer isn’t answered, they take it for granted that it must not be God’s will. Some people even pray prayers that begin with, “If it be Thy will”! We know what God’s will is! His will is His word! So their defeat is all blamed on God, and considered His will, without question. The truth is that believers are surrendering to the devil and his cohorts who are opposing the answer to their prayers! Defeat becomes such a habit to the average believer that they don’t even think about it. In fact, they are way more surprised when a prayer does get answered than if it doesn’t!

If God does not answer a prayer, it doesn’t mean that it was not His will, or that He is unfaithful – it simply means that the prayer was prayed in doubt and unbelief. What does the Bible say? If it says that God always answers faith then the lack of an answer simply shows our unbelief. When the disciples asked Jesus why they couldn’t cast a demon out, Jesus’ answer was, “Because of your unbelief” (Matthew 17:14-21). There is not one scripture that says that prayer remains unanswered for any other reason. If we excuse our unbelief and blame the failure on God, then we are sinning against Him. Doubting God is a sin! If no one would doubt God, there would be no failure to get answers to prayer every time we prayed for anything that is already covered by the promises of God.

Rodney Howard Browne brings good news to Minneapolis