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Blessed is the Nation Whose God is the Lord

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord…Psalms 33:12a

The nation who honors God as their God – God of that nation – is a blessed and happy nation. Conversely, the nation who will not recognize God and who dishonors Him is a nation who has a curse on it and its people. People tend to blame the leadership of their nation for all the problems of their nation – and indeed the leadership is responsible before God – but it is the people who choose the leadership! If the people are submitted to God, they will choose leadership who honor God. However, if they are rebellious against God and they elect those who are just like them, then all the people will suffer.

When a land transgresses, it has many rulers, but when the ruler is a man of discernment, understanding, and knowledge, its stability will long continue. Proverbs 28:2 AMP

When the people sin against God their nation will be very unstable. We can see that in all the nations of the world. Every one of them is being rocked to the foundations. There are wars and rumors of wars, there is economic collapse, immorality is the order of the day, people openly worship their pagan gods, the family has broken down, children are abused and neglected, covetousness and greed are tolerated and even encouraged, crime is rampant, slavery is increasing, peoples’ safety is threatened, and – worst of all – the Church is lukewarm and compromised and even ice cold in some instances. However, when the people repent and turn to God, they will not tolerate an evil ruler, but they will install a wise and godly leader who honors God – then he will bring peace and stability to the entire nation.

When the [uncompromisingly] righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when the wicked man rules, the people groan and sigh. Proverbs 29:2 AMP

When the wicked are in authority, transgression increases, but the [uncompromisingly] righteous shall see the fall of the wicked. Proverbs 29:16 AMP

The only way to change a nation is to have a revival in the Church that leads to a Great Awakening in the nation. 1 Peter 4:17 says, “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” If the Church is not fully submitted to God and His Word, then how can they expect the world to do what is right?

The Church spends too much time telling the world what they should be doing, instead of doing it themselves. We must lead by example. Many Christians think that they will win the favor of the sinners if they compromise, but it never works out that way. The sinners despise compromised Christians. Sure, they’ll encourage a Christian to sin, but they will secretly despise his weakness in their hearts. Christians compromise for two reasons – either to avoid persecution or to win the world’s favor – but they will accomplish neither. It would be better to be on fire for God and persecuted, than compromise and lose your credibility.

Isaiah 9:6 says, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder.” The responsibility of leadership has been put onto the Church – the Body of Christ – who are to be completely submitted to the will of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The reason that the Christians are not in leadership is because they’ve believed the devil’s lie that they are to allow the worldly to rule. However, this is contrary to the Word of God. God says that when the wicked man rules, the people groan and sigh, but when the [uncompromisingly] righteous are in authority, the people rejoice!

Notice that it says that things go well when the uncompromisingly righteous rule. Notice that it doesn’t say the compromising, sometimes righteous person will be a great leader – it says that the uncompromised person is what the nation needs. One of the most difficult jobs in the world is to be a godly leader. It seems as if all hell is let loose on you, but you can’t afford to give in or give up. If you stand strong on your godly principles and if you do right, you can expect God to come through for you and to promote you.

By justice a king gives a country stability, but one who is greedy for bribes tears it down. Proverbs 29:4 NIV

Covetousness will destroy an individual, a family, a business, a church and a nation! When someone makes decisions based on the money, when someone can be bribed, they are already under the sway of the enemy and it’s only a matter of time before the whole thing collapses and is destroyed. 1 Timothy 6:10 says that, “The love of money is the root of all evil.”

Like a roaring lion or a ravenous and charging bear is a wicked ruler over a poor people. 16 A ruler who lacks understanding is [like a wicked one] a great oppressor, but he who hates covetousness and unjust gain shall prolong his days. Proverbs 28:15-16 AMP

A ruler who hates covetousness and refuses to be bought seems to be a rare commodity these days. Way too many of those in leadership allow themselves to be bought by the highest bidder. Their job is to be fair to ALL the people and not to show special favor to those who line their pockets. Once you accept a bribe, you lose your freedom and your independence; you no longer have any autonomy. You can no longer judge fairly or impartially and the people are the ones who will suffer. God will judge all those who take bribes and who allow evil men to prosper and oppress the poor and the weak – those who cannot defend themselves.

It’s time for the Church to submit to God and resist the devil. It’s time for the Church to take responsibility to lead in the nation! That is the only way to bring back the blessing of God to the nation.

The king who faithfully judges the poor, his throne shall be established continuously. Proverbs 29:14 AMP

The Tithe

Abraham brought the tithe to Melchizedek, priest of the Most High God:

Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. 19 And he blessed him and said: “Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; 20 And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.” And he gave him a tithe of all. Genesis 14:18-20 NKJV

The word “tithe” literally means “a tenth”. Abraham brought his tithe to God through Melchizedek long before the Law was instituted. Through the ages, paying tithes is not a matter of Law, but a matter of FAITH and COVENANT!

For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, 2 to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all, first being translated “king of righteousness,” and then also king of Salem, meaning “king of peace,” 3 without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, remains a priest continually. 4 Now consider how great this man was, to whom even the patriarch Abraham gave a tenth of the spoils. 5 And indeed those who are of the sons of Levi, who receive the priesthood, have a commandment to receive tithes from the people according to the law, that is, from their brethren, though they have come from the loins of Abraham; 6 but he whose genealogy is not derived from them received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. 7 Now beyond all contradiction the lesser is blessed by the better. 8 Here mortal men receive tithes, but there he receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives. 9 Even Levi, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, so to speak, 10 for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him. Hebrews 7:1-10 NKJV

Jesus is our High Priest after the order of Melchizedek:

Where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. Hebrews 6:20 NKJV

Abraham brought tithes to God through Melchizedek – a type and shadow of Jesus, our High Priest. When we bring our tithe in faith and obedience, we are bringing it – not to man – but to Jesus, Himself.

Jacob considered the tithe a just return for all of God’s blessings:

Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, 21 so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God. 22 And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.” Genesis 28:20-22 NKJV

Before the Law was given, Jacob promised God that he would give Him a tenth of all that with which God would bless him. The order is this: first we receive the blessing of God, and then we give back to Him the tenth that is due Him of ALL He has given to us.

The Tithe belongs (is holy) to the Lord:

And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord’s. It is holy to the Lord. Leviticus 27:30 NKJV

And concerning the tithe of the herd or the flock, of whatever passes under the rod, the tenth one shall be holy to the Lord. Leviticus 27:32 NKJV

If the tithe belongs to God, then we have no business keeping it one day longer than we ought. If you have any respect for God and His word, then the moment your harvest (income) comes in, you will set it aside to bring to the Lord the very next time you go to church. When the Israelites brought the tithe to the temple, they were to speak a confession over it – that it was truly the tithe of their income and that it had been handled, according to God’s word, like a holy thing.

Tithe on ALL that God has given you:

You shall surely tithe all the yield of your seed produced by your field each year. Deuteronomy 14:22 AMP

Then there will be the place where the Lord your God chooses to make His name abide. There you shall bring all that I command you: your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, the heave offerings of your hand, and all your choice offerings which you vow to the Lord. Deuteronomy 12:11 NKJV

Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this,” Says the Lord of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it. Malachi 3:10 NKJV

Since tithe means tenth – we are to bring the whole tenth of our income to God. We don’t tithe off of our leftovers, but off of the top. God knows when we bring Him the tithe or if we bring Him less. He is the source of our blessing and the one to whom we are accountable. Why would we even want to cheat God, when we know that we will be the only ones cheated (of a blessing). We bring our whole tithe because we love and honor our Father God and because we are both grateful for all He has provided and expectant for all that He will do to provide for and bless us in the future.

Recent Student Testimonies

Sunday, December 13, 2009 was a life changing day for me. It was my second time to be apart of the bus ministry that morning, and it was awesome. I saw so many people get on that bus ready and excited about the opportunity to go to church and receive what God had for them that morning. The children mostly were the ones that touched my heart. After we got off the bus I took the kids to Kids Church and stayed there in the 6-12’s class help out.

That morning God used those kids to minister to me in such a profound way. I knew that the heart of God was for souls, and I knew that He wanted to touch and change peoples lives with the power of the Gospel. But after seeing the Gospel given to those kids, after seeing them go up on the stage to receive Jesus Christ in their hearts for the first time, it did something in me that I cannot describe…especially when I saw the very same kids that were on my bus that morning go on that stage to commit their hearts to God. I felt so humbled, and so honored to be apart of this ministry. I had come from Pastor Bob Nichols church in Fort Worth, Tx and it was there that I had first learned about Gods heart for souls, and now after coming to the River Bible Institute and being apart of the River Church here, the Holy Spirit has burned my heart even more with this passion of His. I was able to serve and see others lives changed for all eternity, and I will be forever grateful for this opportunity to be apart of history. I want every one of those kids to walk away with the fire of the Holy Spirit and passionate love of God burning inside of them. And I know with every seed planted, and the Word of God that’s being instilled into them every single Sunday, this is exactly what is going to happen. We are touching generations, and we are truly effecting eternity.

Sarah M

Matters of the Heart | Scotty Griffin Testimony

Worship Soundtracks from RMIRiverSong on Vimeo.

Last week God opened my eyes to many things that I have had misconceptions about and/or had been doing wrong. From things concerning submitting to authority to issues dealing with marriage for the future, I learned many things to carry on with me.

Matters of the Heart dealt with many things, among them, and for me being one of the biggest and hardest hitters, was submitting to authority. By this I mean being able to accept all correction when given. Through it all I learned that if I’m too weak to accept discipline for an issue, then that issue will be a problem for the rest of my life. To go along with this the Bible says that those that don’t listen to correction are foolish or stupid. Also, any fears of being embarrassed by correction can be dispelled because if we have a humble heart already, then there isn’t anything to be embarrassed about.

When we die, we will face the judgment seat of Christ. When we’re there, if we accepted correction from the Holy Spirit on the earth, then we will be able to enter into Heaven. I have two points to make by saying this statement: 1. we will all give an account for what we’ve done on the earth, and 2. we can have correction either here on earth, or later on judgment day.

In dealing with marriages, the first and most important relationship in our life is with Jesus Christ. If we keep it this way, then the spouse would come next, with children following after that. When we keep Jesus first in our lives, there is no chance of us ever abusing or doing something to our families or friends that could hurt them. Another important thing is to marry someone who compliments who you are in Christ and who loves who you are in Christ. If each person in the marriage gives one hundred percent of themselves to Jesus and into the marriage, then it will work, no matter what storms you go through.

Lastly, the Holy Spirit always speaks the truth, no matter what. He speaks to the heart, not the head. Emotions come to the head, thoughts come to the head, they’re all part of the soulish part of us. To truly understand spiritual things, we need to have a revelation of who God is. We must allow our hearts and minds to be changed to line up with the Word of God. If our hearts aren’t line up with the Word, then any preaching or ministering we do won’t be either.

Matters of the Heart opened my eyes to many things I had not known. From authority to marriage to learning more of the Holy Spirit and how He works, I learned many things.

Twenty-One Proofs of Physical Resurrection – Part II

See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself! Feel and handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones, as you see that I have. Luke 24:39 AMP

14. Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them (Luke 24:36; John 20:19). They thought it was a spirit (Luke 24:37), but Jesus assured them that it was not a spirit. It was His own body – the same one that had been with them for years (Luke 24:39-43).

15. It was necessary for Christ to be crucified and to rise from the dead (Luke 24:46). The same body that was crucified was raised from the dead.

Luke 24:46 AMP – And said to them, Thus it is written that the Christ (the Messiah) should suffer and on the third day rise from (among) the dead

16. Jesus – His body, not just His spirit – was taken up into heaven (Luke 24:50-51). He lifted His (physical) hands. If He was not merely a spirit, as He had said (Luke 24:37-43), then it was His body that went up.

Luke 24:50-51 AMP – Then He conducted them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up His hands, He invoked a blessing on them. 51 And it occurred that while He was blessing them, He parted from them and was taken up into heaven.

17. They thought that someone took the Lord out of the sepulcher, because they did not yet know the Scripture, that He must rise from the dead (John 20:2; 9).

John 20:2 AMP – So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, whom Jesus [tenderly] loved, and said to them, They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him!

John 20:8-9 AMP – Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, went in too; and he saw and was convinced and believed. 9 For as yet they did not know (understand) the statement of Scripture that He must rise again from the dead.

His “missing” body made no less than twelve appearances to hundreds of witnesses (John 21:14).

John 21:14 AMP – This was now the third time that Jesus revealed Himself (appeared, was manifest) to the disciples after He had risen from the dead.

It was not taken away. It was resurrected and is alive today at the right hand of God (Mark 16:19; Acts 2:33; Romans 8:34; Hebrews 1:3; Hebrews 12:2).

Hebrews 1:3 AMP – He is the sole expression of the glory of God [the Light-being, the out-raying or radiance of the divine], and He is the perfect imprint and very image of [God’s] nature, upholding and maintaining and guiding and propelling the universe by His mighty word of power. When He had by offering Himself accomplished our cleansing of sins and riddance of guilt, He sat down at the right hand of the divine Majesty on high

Hebrews 12:2 NKJV – Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

18. Thomas said: Except I shall see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into His side, I will not believe. Eight days later, Thomas had the opportunity, proving His body was literally resurrected (John 20:25-29; Luke 24:37-43).

John 20:25-29 NKJV – The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” 26 And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!” 27 Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.” 28 And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

19. In all previous resurrections the bodies were made alive again, not the souls. Elijah raised from the dead the son of the widow from Zarephath (1 Kings 17:17-24). Elisha raised from the dead the son of the Shunammite woman (2 Kings 4:18-37). A dead man was resurrected when his body was placed in Elisha’s tomb and touched his bones (2 Kings 13:21). Jesus raised Lazarus bodily from the dead (John 11:1-44).

To argue that Christ’s body is the only one never to be resurrected is extreme rebellion, for so many scriptures say it was raised (Acts 2:31; Acts 4:33; Romans 1:4; 1 Peter 3:21; etc.).

Acts 2:31 NKJV – He, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption.

Acts 4:33 NKJV – And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all.

Romans 1:3-4 NKJV – Concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, 4 and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.

20. Jesus will bear the wounds in His body in eternity.

Zechariah 13:6 NKJV – And one will say to him, ‘What are these wounds between your arms?’ Then he will answer, ‘Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.’

21. He was buried and He arose again (1 Cor. 15:1-58). In this passage it is clear that anyone who does not believe in the physical resurrection of Christ will be lost.

1 Corinthians 15:3-4 NKJV – For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures

1 Corinthians 15:20 NKJV – But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

Sound Instruction for a Blessed Life – Part One

But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine. Titus 2:1 NKJV

But [as for] you, teach what is fitting and becoming to sound (wholesome) doctrine [the character and right living that identify true Christians]. Titus 2:1 AMP

The Lord, through Paul, commanded Titus to preach sound doctrine to all people – the aged men, the aged women, the young women, and the young men. The Gospel has a message for all.

1. Six Commands to Aged Men:

That the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience. Titus 2:2 NKJV

a. Be sober. Be circumspect: watchful; discreet; cautious; prudent; well-considered. After a few years, you have learned a few things in life. Use that wisdom for yourself as well as others. It is not a good thing to preach to others, and yet not follow your own advice, and end up shipwrecked.

b. Be grave. Be serious, honest, reverent and sincere. You can be serious about the things of God, and still have a sense of humor. After all, the fruit of the spirit is joy.

c. Be temperate. Be of a sound mind; prudent; moderate; self-controlled; even tempered. Control your temper, impatience, etc.

d. Be sound in faith. Be uncorrupt – true in doctrine.

e. Be sound in love. Walk in Agape – the God-kind of love. Show others love, and show them by your godly example of love, how they should live.

f. Be sound in patience. Have cheerful and hopeful endurance. Be patient with others, especially with the young. They need your godly instruction.

2. Five Commands to Aged Women:

The older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things — 4 that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children.

Titus 2:3-4 NKJV

a. Live a holy life. Be reverent. Fear God. Respectfully obey God, knowing that He cares deeply for you. Your dependence should be on God, first, before any man.

b. Do not be slanderers. Do not accuse falsely. Do not be a gossip. The law of kindness should be on your lips.

c. Do not be given to wine. Do not be a drunkard. Do not depend on anything above your dependence on God.

d. Be teachers of good things. Teach the younger what is right. Teach them God’s ways. Negativity should not come out of your mouth – only life and hope and positive things. You teach more through your attitude than your words, have a good attitude.

e. Teach the young women. The Greek word here means to teach, discipline, or correct.

3. Seven Commands to Young Women:

That they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.

Titus 2:4-5 NKJV

Teach the young women:

a. To love their husbands. Be fond of and affectionate toward your husband.

Put him first.

b. To love their children. Love your children with motherly love. Be kind, patient, giving, and caring. Serve them with grace. Never be controlling or manipulative. Be there for them when they need you. Whatever you do for them – do it as unto the Lord. When you are tempted to feel unappreciated, do not allow the devil to lie to you. Know that your labor of love does not go unnoticed by Father God, and he will reward you.

c. To be discreet. Be of sound mind; prudent; moderate; self-controlled; temperate. Do not be a gossip. Do not share private family things with all your friends, particularly things related to your intimate relationship with your husband. Do not allow your feelings, or your hormones, to control you and bring you down. Cast down any vain imaginations – you have the mind of Christ!

d. To be chaste. Be clean: innocent, modest, perfect, chaste, pure. Stay pure after marriage just as you were expected to be before. Be fully faithful to your husband, in heart, mind and deeds. Remember, your children are watching your example.

e. To be a keeper at home. This means you are not merely a homemaker, but you are the keeper, or guard, over your home and family – not in your own strength, but through prayer, dependence on God, and obedience to His Word. Women have a tremendous influence in the family. You have to decide if your influence will be positive or negative. God has given you the ability to make your home a safe haven for your husband and children, not a constant rolling storm!

f. To be good. Be beneficial.

g. To be obedient to their husbands. Be submitted to your own husband out of respect for your Father God. (God does not ask every woman to submit to every man. God calls us to show respect toward each other, both men and women, but submission is to your own husband.) The reputation of the Word of God, out there in the world, depends on us obeying God’s word even though our flesh desires to go in the opposite direction. It is a wise woman who knows how to conduct herself, in her home, according to God’s word. Women have a God-given ability to be a team player. Every team needs a leader, and every reader needs a team. In the case of the family, the husband is the head, or leader, and his wife is his right hand. God commands the husband to love his wife, and treat her respectfully, and He commands the wife to work with her husband and treat him with respect as well. When a husband and wife have a godly, respectful, balanced relationship, the entire family prospers.

What You Give Up – You Gain

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

Mark 10:17-31  (KJV)
17 And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what   shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?
18 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good?  there is none good but one, that is, God.

Jesus was not just a good man – He was God in the flesh.  He held the secret of eternal life – yield every area of your life to the Father and obey Him.

19 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not,   Honor thy father and mother.
20 And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth.
21 Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and   give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.
22 And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.

The man kept the law and obeyed God as much as he was able, but his possessions meant more to him than God.  He was a good man; but when it came to the bottom line, he trusted in his riches more than he trusted in God.  He could not imagine his life without his possessions.  He could not see what God could have done with his life because he could not see beyond the things that he had in his hand. He could not see eternity because he was blinded by earthly things.

23 And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of   God!
24 And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for   them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!
25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

The “eye of a needle” was a small, after-hours gate in the city wall that a camel could squeeze through only if its load was removed. Jesus did not say that rich people could not go to heaven, as some people would have us believe.  He said that it would be hard – or difficult – for them to enter the kingdom of God, because they trusted in their riches too much.  Riches came between them and their salvation.  God did not have their whole heart.  If you want what God has for you, you must give Him your whole heart and let nothing else disturb or distract you.

26 And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved?
27 And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.

The disciples wondered “Who then can be saved?”  Everybody has a certain amount of possessions – some more, some less.  It is not your possessions, or lack of them, that determines your spirituality, but it is who has your heart.  Does your Father God have your total allegiance today, does He have your whole heart?

28 Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee.
29 And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or   mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s,
30 but he shall receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands,   with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.
31 But many that are first shall be last; and the last first.

The disciples had given up all that they had to follow Jesus, but even then, they could not take the credit for it or be proud of it like it was some great earth-shaking sacrifice.  Some people act like they did God some great favor and honor by giving up things for Him.  Yes, you sure sacrificed a whole lot by giving up that alcohol and those drugs, by giving up your rotten lifestyle and your bad attitude so that you could have His peace, His joy, His abundance, and His blessing!  There is nothing that you gave up for Jesus that was not worth the sacrifice and the return on your giving.
Jesus promised up to a hundred fold blessing in return in this life and the next!  Whatever you gave up is headed back your way and it’s exceeding abundantly above all you could ask or think!  God does not deprive you of anything because He wants you deprived.  He asks you to give to Him so that He can give to you.  He asks you to give Him everything that is important to you, the things that mean everything to you, so that He can truly be Lord of every area of your life!

Sure you may have to endure some hard things to serve God.  The world won’t like you as much as they used to.  But who cares about a few difficulties down here, when you can see eternity stretched out before you and the promise of wonderful, glorious eternal life in the presence of Jesus, our Lord and King?

FORGIVENESS FOR THE WORST SINNER

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

Luke 7:36-50  (NKJ)

36Then one of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with him. And He went to the Pharisee’s house, and sat   down to eat.

37And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil,

38and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil.

39Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he spoke to himself, saying, “This man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner.”

40And Jesus answered and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he said, “Teacher, say it.”

41″There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.

42″And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?”

43Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And He said to him, “You have rightly judged.”

44Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head.

45″You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in.

46″You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil.

47″Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”

48And He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

49And those who sat at the table with Him began to say to themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”

50Then He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”

The character of God is wonderfully revealed in this passage as we see Jesus’ response to this “notorious” sinner woman, “a social outcast, devoted to sin” (Amplified Bible). He is eating at the house of a Pharisee called Simon, when this woman of bad reputation walks in with an alabaster box of precious ointment. The last place a sinner woman would willingly go would be to a Pharisees’ house, because it was very likely that she would be stoned! But, she was so desperate for God’s forgiveness, that she was willing to risk censure and even death.

Romans 2:4 (NKJ) says, “Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” Many sinners long for forgiveness and release from the bondage of their sin, but they are told by the religious leaders that God hates them and that He rejects them. When they find out the true nature and character of God and that He loves, accepts and forgives them, they come running to bathe His feet with their tears!

The Pharisee began to doubt that Jesus was actually a prophet because he thought that Jesus had not discerned what type of woman she was. In his mind, Jesus, the prophet, should have rejected this woman, but he had the wrong idea about God as many people do. But it is a lie of the devil! Romans 5:8 (NKJ) says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” God loves sinners—He loves them right into His arms. Jesus Christ did not die for His friends, but for His enemies. He died for the unlovable and the unlovely.

The Pharisee, Jesus’ host, did not wash His feet, did not greet Him with a kiss, or even anoint His head with cheap, ordinary oil. But, this sinner woman wet Jesus’ feet with her tears, wiped them with the hair of her head, kissed His feet and anointed them with the rare, costly ointment. The woman had faith in the love and forgiveness of Jesus, the Son of God, and she received His mercy and forgiveness. Thank God—He loves us with an everlasting love that has nothing to do with our worthiness, but with His grace and His mercy extended toward us.

THE COMFORTER – PART FOUR

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

BOLDNESS TO BE A WITNESS

On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leaveJerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”  Acts 1:4-5 NIV

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses inJerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  Acts 1:8 NIV

Jesus instructed the disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit –- the gift, the promise — that the Father had promised them. They had no idea what they were waiting for exactly or how it would come, but they knew that the Holy Spirit would baptize them in God’s power. The Holy Spirit would come upon them and fill them and change them — turning them into bold witnesses who would preach the Gospel unto the uttermost parts of the earth with signs and wonders following! They did as Jesus said and on the day of Pentecost the wind of the Holy Spirit blew on them and changed the course of history. The Spirit of God changed them into new creatures that had never existed before (1 Corinthians 5:17) and filled them with the power to change the eternal destiniesof billions of people.

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.  Acts 2:1-4 NIV

When the power of God fell on the disciples, they spoke in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. The fire of God was seen on them and they were so loud that people outside the room heard them. People heard them speak in their own languages, telling of the mighty and wonderful works of God! Some people were amazed and some mocked them, calling them drunks, but Peter, who had only weeks before denied the Lord, stood up boldly and proclaimed the Gospel to all the people resulting in three thousand conversions that first day!

Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: “‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’  Acts 2:14-21 NIV

 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off– for all whom the Lord our God will call.”  Acts 2:36-39 NIV

When you get filled with the Spirit of God, you will be filled with boldness to preach the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to all men – those who want to hear and those who don’t. Stephen, who was full of the Holy Spirit, wisdom, faith and power, boldly proclaimed the Gospel in Acts 7 to a hostile audience and was martyred in the process. He was so filled with the power of God that he did not care what they did to him as long as he did what the Lord required of him. When we get filled with the power of God, we will not even be afraid of death, because we are so conscious of God’s presence that we choose to please Him and not man. We do not need to fear man, who can only kill our body — we need to have respect for God, who is in charge of our eternal destiny (Matthew 10:28)! The Holy Spirit gives you the power to please God, not man, and to do great things for God.

GOD’S WILL IS HEALING — SUBMIT TO GOD’S WILL

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

A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured.  Mark 1:40-42 NIV

If you ask most people, they will say that they know that God CAN heal – even those people who know little or nothing about Him. However, the argument really gets heated when you start to discuss whether or not He WILL heal. We believe that He is omnipotent, that He is ABLE to heal, but we are not sure if He is WILLING to heal. Even some of us who believe that God is willing to heal are not sure if He is willing to heal US. People think that God only heals SOME people, because that is our experience – we have only seen a few people receive their healing. However, our experience is not the measuring stick of God’s will – His Word is His will. Jesus is the Word made flesh, dwelling among us!

And when they had crossed over, they came to the land, unto Gennesaret.

And when the men of that place knew him, they sent into all that region round about, and brought unto him all that were sick, and they besought him that they might only touch the border of his garment:and as many as touched were made whole.  Matthew 14:34-36 ASV

Jesus was the manifest will of God – He did only that which He saw His Father do. God’s will was Jesus’ will. He declared that it was His will to heal and He healed everyone. Even though He died, rose again and then ascended to the right hand of the Father, He has not changed His mind. Jesus left the Holy Spirit here on earth with us to help us and the Holy Spirit is still carrying out the will of God today.

Now it happened on a certain day, as He was teaching, that there were Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting by, who had come out of every town of Galilee, Judea, and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was present to heal them.  Luke 5:17 NKJV

The power of God may be present to heal us, but if we are too deaf, dumb, blind or dishonest to see what God is doing or hear what He is saying then we will not comprehend what His will is and we will not receive what He has already provided for us.

So when they did not agree among themselves, they departed after Paul had said one word: “The Holy Spirit spoke rightly through Isaiah the prophet to our fathers, saying, ‘Go to this people and say: “Hearing you will hear, and shall not understand; and seeing you will see, and not perceive; for the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.” ‘ “Therefore let it be known to you that the salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear it!” And when he had said these words, the Jews departed and had a great dispute among themselves.  Acts 28:25-29 NKJV

The enemy always opposes God’s plan and will. You can believe his lies or you can believe the truth of God’s word. God’s will is that we live in divine health – He has already signed, sealed and delivered it to us. All that is left is for us to come into agreement with God and His word and His will. Our faith in God’s word and His will is built up and strengthened as we spend our time hearing His word and meditating on it.

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:17 NKJV

God’s will is an established fact. It will never change because God will never change. We need to realize that it is His will to heal us, we need to renew our minds to that fact and we need to submit to His will and go ahead and receive His healing power in our bodies.