Tag Archives: Rodney Howard-Browne 2015

Jesus is the Good Shepherd Who Leads and Protects His Sheep

Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.  2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.  3 To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.  4 And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.  5 Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.”  6 Jesus used this illustration, but they did not understand the things which He spoke to them. 7 Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.  8 All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them.  9 I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.  10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. 11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.  12 But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them.  13 The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep.  14 I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.  15 As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.  16 And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.  John 10:1-16 NKJV

Eastern shepherds spent a lot of time with their sheep. They gave their sheep names and the sheep came when they were called – they knew and responded to their shepherd’s voice. Even when two or more flocks were mixed together, the sheep could be called out by their own shepherd. The shepherd knew his sheep and the sheep knew their shepherd. The sheep would always follow their own shepherd, and would pay no attention to strangers. Jesus is our Good Shepherd – if we are His sheep then we should hear and know His voice. Jesus is called the Word of God. The more we come to know the Word of God, the more we come to know Jesus and His voice. We will not follow the voice of the stranger – the voice of the devil.

Then [Jacob] blessed Joseph and said, God [Himself ], before Whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac lived and walked habitually, God [Himself ], Who has [been my Shepherd and has led and] fed me from the time I came into being until this day.  Genesis 48:15 AMP

Eastern shepherds did not drive their sheep – they led them – they went before their flocks to lead them to the good grass and water. Psalms 23:1-3 says, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.” Jesus is our shepherd – leading us and providing for us.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.  Psalms 23:4 NKJV

But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you.  27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.  28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.  29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.  30 I and My Father are one.  John 10:26-30 NKJV

Jesus is our Chief Shepherd and we are His sheep. In order to receive eternal life, we must believe, we must hear His voice, and we must follow His voice. When we choose to follow Him in obedience, we are covered by His hand – His protection is on our lives and no one can snatch us out of His hand – or the Father’s hand. Both of them watch over us and hold us in their hands. We can trust in the Lord – we need have no fear – no matter what we have to walk through, we can know that He is with us and His hand of protection is upon us – to see us through anything and everything.

Joseph is a fruitful bough, a fruitful bough by a well (spring or fountain), whose branches run over the wall.  23 Skilled archers have bitterly attacked and sorely worried him; they have shot at him and persecuted him.  24 But his bow remained strong and steady and rested in the Strength that does not fail him, for the arms of his hands were made strong and active by the hands of the Mighty God of Jacob, by the name of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel.  Genesis 49:22-24 AMP

Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, You who lead Joseph like a flock; You who dwell between the cherubim, shine forth!  Psalms 80:1 NKJV

He will feed His flock like a shepherd: He will gather the lambs in His arm, He will carry them in His bosom and will gently lead those that have their young.  Isaiah 40:11 AMP

For the Lamb Who is in the midst of the throne will be their Shepherd, and He will guide them to the springs of the waters of life; and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.  Revelation 7:17 AMP

Confess this today: Jesus is the Good Shepherd. I hear the voice of the Good Shepherd and I follow His voice. The voice of a stranger I will not follow.

Matters of the Heart

Worship Soundtracks from RMIRiverSong on Vimeo.

The human heart is a fascinating muscle. Every time I hear about how everything works physically in the body, I get so amazed. But the most fascinating this is still not the physical heart, but the heart in which God can put dreams and visions.Proverbs 4:23 tell us to “Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life”. This means that what we have in our hearts affects our whole lives. You can try to be someone else or try to come across as a better person than you really are, but at some point, your heart will reveal the real you. In Matt 16:27 it says that you’ll have to give an account to God (for your life, your attitude, your thoughts, your words, your deeds…). And how you handle these things in your life depends on what you have in your heart.

No one has the perfect heart – we all need to check what we actually have in our hearts and deal with things all the time. If there are things you have in your heart that you know you should deal with, but don’t, it’ll be a hinder for God to talk to you or do what he wants to do in and through you. For it is not about the word that goes out, but the heart that receives it. This means that God can talk to you, but you might not be able to receive it because your heart is filled with other stuff that’s in the way for God.

Psalms 24 tells us that the one that can come in to Gods presence is the one with clean hands and a pure heart. God wants us to surrender everything and let him clean us white as snow. He wants to have access to all of my heart.

JESUS RULES OVER PRINCIPALITIES – BOTH GOOD AND EVIL

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

Foundation Scripture: 1 Peter 3:22  (NKJ)
22who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him.

All angels, authorities and powers are completely subject, subservient and subordinate to Jesus Christ. There are levels of authority under God – in this natural realm and also in the spiritual realm. In the Bible, the words “principalities”, “powers”, “authorities”, “dominions”, “rulers”, “thrones”, “angels”, and “might” are used to describe these levels of authorities. Some of them are holy (or good), under God’s command, and some of them are evil, under the devil’s command.  But all of them are subject to God and are under His authority.

Colossians 1:16  (NKJ)
16For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.

All thrones, dominions, principalities and powers were created for Jesus, through Him and by Him – to serve Him and His purposes.

Colossians 2:14-15  (NKJ)
14having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.

The enemy is disarmed – he is helpless and defeated. Jesus removed all and any authority that he ever had, including the keys to death, hell and the grave – in the sight of Heaven and hell – so that there could be no questions and no arguments. The Lord Jesus Christ has stripped him of his power.

Ephesians 1:23  (NKJ)
19and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power 20which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.

22And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, 23which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

Everything is under Jesus feet. He is the head of the body – the church – and as His body, the devil and his demons, the evil powers and authorities – are under our feet. They will not be under our feet at some future date, in some other dispensation, but they are under our feet right now and right here! It does not matter what the devil tries to do – you have the power, you have the authority given to you by Jesus. You are not trying to defeat him or bring him down in the earth. He is already defeated – he has already been brought down. You just remind him of his status, enforce his defeat and walk in the victory that is already purchased with the blood of Jesus.

Ephesians 6:12  (NKJ)
12For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

We enforce our authority over the enemy by our submission to God and His righteousness. The enemy is a liar and thief. He will attempt to take authority where he has none. We do not have to fight the battle to subdue him – we have to fight the battle to stand firm in the victory already accomplished in Christ. We overcome the wicked one by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony. What is our testimony? Jesus is Lord, the devil is defeated and the blood of Jesus has washed us clean!

THE ANGELS LONG FOR WHAT YOU HAVE IN CHRIST

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

1 Peter 1:3-12  (NIV)

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade–kept in heaven for you,
5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.
7 These have come so that your faith– of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,
9 for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care,
11 trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.
12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.

The prophets, who prophesied about the grace that was intended for us, prophesied about Jesus and His sacrifice. They prophesied about the glories that would follow His birth, life, death and resurrection. They prophesied about salvation, redemption, forgiveness from sin, clean hands, a new heart, God being our Father, us being God’s children, restoration of fellowship with God, and all nations worshipping Him. They longed for the relationship with God, which has now been offered to us. They longed to experience peace with God. They could only look forward to the coming Messiah. Jesus has already fulfilled those things that were prophesied. They were only counted righteous by their faith, but we are righteous by our faith.

We need to realize exactly what we have in and through Jesus Christ. Because of the lies of religion and the devil, we have been led to believe that God’s people of the Old Covenant had it better than we do. We think that they had some special relationship and position with God that we don’t have. But we are the privileged ones. Because Jesus was the firstborn from the dead — Old Covenant saints could not be born-again we can.

We have been told that miracles, signs and wonders were only for those who lived before us, but we have been given the Name of Jesus and He has commissioned us to do just what He did. We have more and can do more than those who went before us. Let’s face it — serving God with a brand-new heart is a lot easier than serving Him with an unrenewed heart.

We have been led to believe that the angels are better than we are, but they were created to be servants, not sons. We were created to be family of God the Father. What a privilege we have  to experience redemption.

We are the redeemed of the Lord! Even angels long to look into the things that we can look into. They long to experience the intimate relationship with God that we have. We have not yet experienced the complete salvation of our minds and bodies. We will when we see Jesus, face to face, but we still have more than the Old Covenant saints and the angels. How blessed we are!

Never, ever take your salvation for granted. Be thankful always. Appreciate what God has done for you and be faithful to do the works of Jesus.

THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT IS LOVE

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

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23 KJV

When we are born again and we receive Jesus Christ of Nazareth as our Lord and Savior, the Spirit of God transforms our heart and makes us a brand new creature. We no longer have the same sinful desires or motivation. If we allow the Holy Spirit to continue the work in us that He has begun, we will find that we are changed from glory to glory. Instead of the works of the flesh being manifested in our lives, the fruit of the Spirit is manifested. We become blessed and a blessing. The Agape love of God is a fruit of the Spirit.

And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.  Romans 5:5 KJV

The Holy Spirit is the one who deposits the Agape love of God in our hearts and the one who works in us to strengthen us in the love of God. If we don’t have the love of God flowing through us then we have nothing. Without love, even all the wonderful gifts and talents that God has given us, are nothing but hollow and noisy.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.  1 Corinthians 13:1-8 NIV

Some things, like the gifts of the Spirit, are only useful to us here on the earth. We will no longer have any need of them when we get to heaven. But the love of God will always endure. We will always need the love of God and we will always walk in the love of God, in heaven and throughout eternity. When the Holy Spirit lives big on the inside of us, He guides us into all the truth and we choose to walk in love instead of the way the world walks.

“But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ lend to ‘sinners,’ expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.  Luke 6:27-36 NIV

We demonstrate the true love of God, not when we love those who love us, but when we love those who hate us, despise us, use us, abuse us and who try to take advantage of us. The manner in which we conduct ourselves under these difficult circumstances is the measure of the fruit of the love of God that is developed and manifested in our lives.

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

When the fruit of the love of God is manifested in your life by the way you love others, then people will know that you are a child of God and a follower of Jesus. It is not what you say that counts as much as what you live and what you do!

PRESSURE PRODUCES PERSEVERANCE

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.  Romans 5:1-5 NIV

We have been justified through faith and we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Him we have gained access, by faith, into this grace in which we now stand and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Because of all that He has done for us, we can rejoice even in the midst of pressure, persecution, trouble and anguish. The word in verse 3 rendered “tribulations” in the KJV and “sufferings” in the NIV actually means “pressure” – literally or figuratively. The KJV translates this word in various scriptures as “afflicted/affliction, anguish, burdened, persecution, tribulation, and trouble.”

When people see the word “suffering” one of the first things they think of is sickness. There is a fallacy in religious circles that sickness and disease and calamities are good things and that they are good for us. The fallacy is that they are sent from God to teach us and to punish us. I wish they would make up their mind on which one it is! Teaching and punishing are opposites. One assumes that there is hope, the other that there is none. In reality, this opinion and all this “suffering” come straight from the gates of hell. You must be either brain-damaged or religiously brainwashed to think that bad things are good. Good is good and bad is bad. We need to wake up and realize that bad gifts are bad – not good – and that they do not come from God.

We believe that God is in control and He can do anything He wants to, but He has made it very plain, in His word, that He does not give us bad gifts and that He has given us the authority in the earth. He allows what we allow. He does not override or violate the choices we make.

We live in this earth full of sin and death – stuff happens to us – we encounter bad people and bad situations. People like to use Paul as an example of someone who endured sickness for God’s glory. In 2 Corinthians 11:23-28 Paul mentions all his problems. He does not mention sickness or disease one time. The suffering he endured, the thorn in his side (mentioned in 2 Cor 12:7) was sent from the devil not God. It consisted of persecution, beatings, imprisonments, shipwrecks, hunger, cold, heat, lack and betrayals among other things, and yet God was with him and He was on his side and He brought him out every time. We don’t have control over the external influences that come to try to destroy us, but we can choose how we deal with them – we can choose life and blessing (Deut 30:19).

If hard things alone made you a better person then every body would be in a great place in their life and attitude, but we know that this is not the case. Many times, the hard things people have gone through have made them angry, bitter and resentful toward God and others. Many times, even people who claim that God made them suffer for their own good are actually angry with Him underneath their martyr façade. They have a victim mentality – which is very counter-productive.

We all go through hard things. This is not necessarily the end of your world. The hard things you go through can – in the end – teach you perseverance. You can learn and grow – and be better off – or you can whine and give up and end up full of bitterness and resentments. The hard things you go through don’t make you a better person – you (with God’s help) make yourself a better person, even in the middle of the hard things, by your own choices. Choose to endure, choose to win and not give up, and choose to have a positive attitude. Jesus is your only example – follow Him.

So how do you come through hard things – with a good attitude – having learned perseverance?

  1. Know that God is on your side – pull in closer to Him – submit to Him in all things.
  2. Know that the devil is your problem – resist him at all times.
  3. Realize that you have the choice.
  4. Maintain a humble, teachable spirit.
  5. Find out what God’s word says about your situation.
  6. Do exactly what it says.

The Lord makes the way of escape – He is the way out of every situation (1 Corinthians 10:13).

IT PLEASED THE LORD TO BRUISE HIM

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

Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? 2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. 3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. 8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. 9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. 10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. 11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. Isaiah 53:1-12 KJV

The Lord God, Creator of the Universe, sent His one and only Son to earth in the form of man, born of a virgin, to live, and to die for His enemies – in order to make them His friends. He came to save us from Hell and give us a way into Heaven. He did not have to do anything for us – He could have just left us in our sin and rebellion. But He chose to come down to our level to reach out to us and help us. The Father sent Jesus to cut an unbreakable covenant between God and man so that we could live in His presence forever.

Jesus was sent to His own people – but they did not receive Him (John 1:11). Instead, it was them who had Him put to death. He was despised and rejected, acquainted with grief, wounded, bruised, chastised for our peace, oppressed and afflicted. Those who took His life thought that He was smitten and afflicted of God. They thought that they were doing God a favor by destroying His life, but they did not know that it was all part of God’s great plan. Jesus was cut off out of the land of the living, He was stricken for the transgression of His people and He made His grave with the wicked. He died the death of a sinner.

But the Bible says that it pleased the LORD to bruise Him. It says that He put Him to grief – that He made His soul an offering for sin. It also says that He would see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied. Why would it please God to see his own Son, Jesus suffer and die? Because there was a method in the “madness.” God sent Jesus to die and to go right into Hell in order to destroy the power of the enemy. The devil thought he had the Son of God in his control. He thought that he had neutralized the Seed that was sent to bruise his head (Genesis 3:15). But Satan fell into God’s perfect trap. God tricked the devil, stripped him of his authority and control, the keys of death, Hell and the grave, and his claim to us – God’s creation. We were created and originally intended to serve God and bring honor to Him – not to bow our knee to a fallen angel! If Satan and his minions had known what was waiting for them they would not have crucified Jesus (1 Corinthians 2:8).

Hell could not hold Jesus, because He had committed no sin. Hell cannot hold a righteous man! The Bible says that by His knowledge shall the Lord’s righteous servant justify many, for He would bear their iniquities. Because of His obedience and the things He unselfishly suffered, the Lord said that He would divide Him a portion with the great, and He would divide the spoil with the strong – because He had poured out His soul unto death, He was numbered with the transgressors, He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

It pleased the Lord to bruise Jesus, to see Him suffer under the burden of our sin and to see Him die the death of a sinner – not because the Lord is a sadist, but because Jesus was made a sin offering for you and me. He was bruised in our place. His life and His blood were poured out on the altar to purchase your and my salvation. As painful as it was to watch His Son suffer, such was the joy of the Father, knowing that soon He would welcome millions of us into His eternal presence because we chose to receive the gracious gift of His sacrificed Lamb!

ETERNAL PRIORITIES

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

6 So then we are always full of good and hopeful and confident courage; we know that while we are at home in the body, we are abroad from the home with the Lord [that is promised us]. 7 For we walk by faith [we regulate our lives and conduct ourselves by our conviction or belief respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, with trust and holy fervor; thus we walk] not by sight or appearance. 8 [Yes] we have confident and hopeful courage and are pleased rather to be away from home out of the body and be at home with the Lord. 9 Therefore, whether we are at home [on earth away from Him], we are constantly ambitious and strive earnestly to be pleasing to Him. 10 For we must all appear and be revealed as we are before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive [his pay] according to what he has done in the body, whether good or evil [considering what his purpose and motive have been, and what he has achieved, been busy with, and given himself and his attention to accomplishing]. 11 Therefore, being conscious of fearing the Lord with respect and reverence, we seek to win people over [to persuade them]. But what sort of persons we are is plainly recognized and thoroughly understood by God, and I hope that it is plainly recognized and thoroughly understood also by your consciences (your inborn discernment). 12 We are not commending ourselves to you again, but we are providing you with an occasion and incentive to be [rightfully] proud of us, so that you may have a reply for those who pride themselves on surface appearances [on the virtues they only appear to have], although their heart is devoid of them.  2 Corinthians 5:6-13 AMP

There are those who pride themselves on surface appearances – they pride themselves on virtues they only appear to have – although their heart is devoid of them. If you present yourself as something other than what you really are- you make yourself a liar. We all want people to like us and think good things about us, but in the end it really doesn’t matter what other people think of us – it only matters what God thinks of us! God plainly recognizes and thoroughly understands what sort of person we are. Can He find something in us that He likes and that is pleasing to Him?

There will come a day that we will all stand alone before the judgment seat of Christ and all that we have done and said – both privately and publicly, good and bad – will be revealed and judged. We will be judged according to what our purpose and motive have been, what we have achieved, been busy with, and what we have given ourselves, and our attention, to accomplishing. Even our priorities will be scrutinized. We will receive our pay according to these things. God is fair and just and He judges impartially. We are the ones who make our choices, whether good or bad, and we are the ones who receive the pay we deserve.

The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.  1 Samuel 16:7b NIV

The only chance we have to redeem ourselves and change for the good is while we are alive here on earth. A wise man or woman would make sure that he or she lived their lives in such a way that is pleasing to the Lord, who looks on the heart not just on outward appearances.

3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. 4 Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.  1 Peter 3:3-5 NIV

Your true worth and beauty does not lie in your outward appearance – your clothes, your jewelry, your make-up and your “mask”. Your mask is the face you put on to impress people, to make them like you and to make them think of you the way you want them to think about yourself. Your true worth and beauty comes from inside, from your heart. It is alright to look good on the outside, but it is not the only area you should work on – you should rather work on cultivating a heart attitude that pleases God and is of great worth in His sight.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.  Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV

God has placed eternity in our hearts. Let us live for eternity. Let us make eternal things – not earthly things – our priority.

RECOGNIZE THE SAVIOR

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

25 And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. 26 And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, 28 Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, 29 Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: 30 For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, 31 Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; 32 A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. 33 And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him. 34 And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; 35 (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. 36 And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; 37 And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. 38 And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem. 39 And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own cityNazareth. 40 And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.   Luke 2:25-40 KJV

It is easy for most people to look back today at the life of Jesus Christ of Nazareth and recognize and worship Him for who He is – the spotless Lamb of God – but when He was just a baby it was not so easy. When He grew up and walked and talked among them – it was not so easy. He looked like them and they thought that He was one of them. It is true that He was a man – but He was definitely not just a man! He was God in the body of a man, come to heal all those who were oppressed of the devil and sent to die for all men, to reconcile them to the Father.

People have a tendency to form set opinions and ideas of how things are and how they should be and then get stuck in a rut of ignorance and arrogance – they are not open to anything that is different from the way that they have decided that it is. We must realize that we are not perfect, we don’t know everything and we have a lot to learn. We should keep our heart open and humble, and then perhaps we will actually be able to receive from the Spirit of God and we will be able to adapt ourselves to Him, instead of expecting Him to change to suit us!

The Pharisees, at the time of Jesus, were arrogant, opinionated, and loved having the respect and admiration of the people. They thought that their knowledge and position made them better than anyone else. They refused to accept Jesus or to listen to Him even though they could not deny the anointing of God on His life and the power of God that flowed through His life. It was the ordinary, humble people, who did not think more highly of themselves than they ought, who recognized Jesus as a Man of God. Even then, many of them, who worshipped Him and looked to Him to heal them and provide for them, turned their back on Him in His hour of persecution.

Even though God had revealed to his people that the Messiah was coming, they all had their own opinion on Who He was and what He would do and many of them weren’t open to receive the One whom God had sent. Thank God for men and women like Simeon and Anna, who were wise enough and humble enough to recognize the Messiah when He arrived. Thank God for the shepherds who believed the angel, and the wise men who followed the star, looking for the One who had been born to save the world.

We must open our eyes and see that God is moving in the earth today and Jesus is still doing miracles today. We must be wise enough to recognize His hand and to receive His work in our life. The first thing we must do is to recognize Him as the Savior of all mankind and accept Him as our personal Lord and Savior. Then we must recognize and receive Him as our Healer, our Deliverer, and our Provider. We must expect miracles and the supernatural. We must keep a humble heart and be open to all that He has for us. Let us recognize Him this Christmas season and let us honor Him by inviting Him to have His way in our hearts and our lives.

THE WAY TO A BETTER AND CLEARER KNOWLEDGE OF GOD

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

Now about food offered to idols: of course we know that all of us possess knowledge [concerning these matters. Yet mere] knowledge causes people to be puffed up (to bear themselves loftily and be proud), but love (affection and goodwill and benevolence) edifies and builds up and encourages one to grow [to his full stature]. 2 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. 3 But if one loves God truly [with affectionate reverence, prompt obedience, and grateful recognition of His blessing], he is known by God [recognized as worthy of His intimacy and love, and he is owned by Him].

1 Corinthians 8:1-3 AMP

It is not enough to know the Word of God off by heart, back-to-front, and inside out, you must allow it to change your heart. A great deal of knowledge does not make you great – on its own, it could puff you up and make you feel important and lead to pride and arrogance. However, God sets Himself against the proud and haughty – who trust in themselves and their own power or goodness – and gives grace to the lowly – those who are humble enough to receive it (James 4:6). You may have knowledge, but without understanding, you will be unable to walk it out in your day-to-day life. For many people, God and His Word are just a theory and not a reality in their lives. The purpose of the Word of God is to bring you into a place where you do know God, where you come tolove Him and accept His Lordship in your life. The love of God builds you up. Everything God does for you and speaks to you is designed to bring you into that place of where you know Him and love Him and trust Him and become like Him.

The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and plenteous in mercy and loving-kindness. 9 He will not always chide or be contending, neither will He keep His anger forever or hold a grudge. 10 He has not dealt with us after our sins nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. 11 For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great are His mercy and loving-kindness toward those who reverently and worshipfully fear Him. 12 As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.  Psalms 103:8-12 AMP

God is love and He deals with us in love and with love. He gives all of us an example to follow. He does not deal with us according to our weakness, but according to His love and grace.

There is no fear in love [dread does not exist], but full-grown (complete, perfect) love turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror! For fear brings with it the thought of punishment, and [so] he who is afraid has not reached the full maturity of love [is not yet grown into love’s complete perfection]. 19 We love Him, because He first loved us.   1 John 4:18-19 AMP

Perfect love casts out all fear. When you understand how much God loves you, you have no fear. No fear of coming into his presence boldly (Heb 4:16), no fear of the enemy, no fear period!

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control.  

2 Timothy 1:7 AMP

When you grow in love, you grow in the knowledge of God and in the knowledge that God is on your side. You can be calm because He watches over you. With the help of the Holy Spirit, you are in control of your emotions, your thoughts and your feelings. You manifest the fruit of the Spirit at all times.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is (springs) from God; and he who loves [his fellowmen] is begotten (born) of God and is coming [progressively] to know and understand God [to perceive and recognize and get a better and clearer knowledge of Him]. 8 He who does not love has not become acquainted with God [does not and never did know Him], for God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest (displayed) where we are concerned: in that God sent His Son, the only begotten or unique [Son], into the world so that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation (the atoning sacrifice) for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God loved us so [very much], we also ought to love one another. 12 No man has at any time [yet] seen God. But if we love one another, God abides (lives and remains) in us and His love (that love which is essentially His) is brought to completion (to its full maturity, runs its full course, is perfected) in us!   1 John 4:7-12 AMP

Love springs from God – God is love. The way you learn about God is by walking in the love of God. If you are born of God, you are a child of love – you show forth His love everywhere you go. The more you make the choice to walk in the love of God, the more you come to know God and know His character. The more you walk in the love of God, the more His love is perfected in you and the more other people see the character of God demonstrated as His nature is manifested through you.