THOSE WHO WORK WILL EAT

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

Better is he who is lightly esteemed but works for his own support than he who assumes honor for himself and lacks bread. Proverbs 12:9 AMP

There are people who place a higher value on appearance than on reality. They are both arrogant and ignorant. God says that it is better to have a job, and to work, and be able to support yourself and your family, even though people may not think much of you, than to act more important than you are and be hungry. There are people who don’t work, but they give themselves titles and act super-spiritual and demandingly expect others to meet their needs. This is unscriptural and ungodly and just plain wrong! All through God’s word, He places an emphasis on attending to your own responsibilities. Stay out of other people’s business and mind your own business.

For while we were yet with you, we gave you this rule and charge: If anyone will not work, neither let him eat. 11 Indeed, we hear that some among you are disorderly [that they are passing their lives in idleness, neglectful of duty], being busy with other people’s affairs instead of their own and doing no work. 12 Now we charge and exhort such persons [as ministers in Him exhorting those] in the Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah) that they work in quietness and earn their own food and other necessities. 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12 AMP

God tells us to be willing to help those who really need it, but He does not expect us to enable moochers! If people are in a difficult position because of circumstances beyond their control, we can and should help them as we are able, but if someone is lacking because they are too proud or too lazy to work, then they need to go hungry until they get up and work! Don’t feel that it is your responsibility to help a lazy moocher. They need to learn the lesson that you reap what you sow and if you won’t work, you won’t eat either. Encourage them to work and earn their own food and necessities.

He who tills his land shall be satisfied with bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits is lacking in sense and is without understanding. Proverbs 12:11 AMP

He who cultivates his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless people and pursuits will have poverty enough. 20 A faithful man shall abound with blessings, but he who makes haste to be rich [at any cost] shall not go unpunished. Proverbs 28:19-20 AMP

Your work will be rewarded by your needs being met, but you are not very smart if you put all your efforts into things that do not produce. If you waste your time and efforts on the pie in the sky, you will be poor.

Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider her ways and be wise!–7 Which, having no chief, overseer, or ruler, 8 Provides her food in the summer and gathers her supplies in the harvest. 9 How long will you sleep, O sluggard? When will you arise out of your sleep? 10 Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to lie down and sleep–11 So will your poverty come like a robber or one who travels [with slowly but surely approaching steps] and your want like an armed man [making you helpless]. Proverbs 6:6-11 AMP

Slothfulness casts one into a deep sleep, and the idle person shall suffer hunger. Proverbs 19:15 AMP

Love not sleep, lest you come to poverty; open your eyes and you will be satisfied with bread. Proverbs 20:13 AMP

It is not hard to be poor – all you need to do is……..nothing!

He becomes poor who works with a slack and idle hand, but the hand of the diligent makes rich. 5 He who gathers in summer is a wise son, but he who sleeps in harvest is a son who causes shame. Proverbs 10:4-5 AMP

The desire of the slothful kills him, for his hands refuse to labor. 26 He covets greedily all the day long, but the [uncompromisingly] righteous gives and does not withhold. Proverbs 21:25-26 AMP

Let the thief steal no more, but rather let him be industrious, making an honest living with his own hands, so that he may be able to give to those in need. Ephesians 4:28 AMP

Lazy people, and people who do a sloppy job, will definitely be poor. Lazy people and thieves covet what others have, but righteous people work, earn a living, and have enough to give to others.

Be diligent to know the state of your flocks, and look well to your herds; 24 For riches are not forever; does a crown endure to all generations? 25 When the hay is gone, the tender grass shows itself, and herbs of the mountain are gathered in, 26 The lambs will be for your clothing, and the goats [will furnish you] the price of a field. 27 And there will be goats’ milk enough for your food, for the food of your household, and for the maintenance of your maids. Proverbs 27:23-27 AMP

Even when you have worked and experienced some prosperity, don’t get lazy. Be diligent and pay attention to your affairs so that you may continue to prosper.

Depend on the Holy Spirit Alone

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

When we were living in the flesh (mere physical lives), the sinful passions that were awakened and aroused up by [what] the Law [makes sin] were constantly operating in our natural powers (in our bodily organs, in the sensitive appetites and wills of the flesh), so that we bore fruit for death. 6 But now we are discharged from the Law and have terminated all intercourse with it, having died to what once restrained and held us captive. So now we serve not under [obedience to] the old code of written regulations, but [under obedience to the promptings] of the Spirit in newness [of life]. Romans 7:5-6 AMP

Every person lives in a body of flesh that they have to deal with on a daily basis. People are not necessarily born either good or bad, but they are all born with sin in their flesh – a sin nature (Psalms 51:5). Before Jesus, God gave us the Law to govern our actions, not only to make us aware of His standards, but also to make us aware of our inability to keep the Law and therefore our need for a Savior. Thank God, through Jesus, we are delivered from mere rules and regulations. Instead we are to yield ourselves to the Spirit, for Him to regulate our lives in joy and freedom. We serve Him because we love Him not just because we have to!

If then you have died with Christ to material ways of looking at things and have escaped from the world’s crude and elemental notions and teachings of externalism, why do you live as if you still belong to the world? [Why do you submit to rules and regulations?–such as] 21 Do not handle [this], Do not taste [that], Do not even touch [them], 22 Referring to things all of which perish with being used. To do this is to follow human precepts and doctrines. 23 Such [practices] have indeed the outward appearance [that popularly passes] for wisdom, in promoting self-imposed rigor of devotion and delight in self-humiliation and severity of discipline of the body, but they are of no value in checking the indulgence of the flesh (the lower nature). [Instead, they do not honor God but serve only to indulge the flesh.] Colossians 2:20-23 AMP

People, without the Holy Spirit, judge things by outward appearance and they try to control behavior without requiring a heart change. That’s like trying to take a pill to squash a symptom without curing the disease. The disease is still there and it will manifest itself again. There must be a heart change and only God can change your heart.

In Jesus, the Law is no longer your schoolmaster – the Holy Spirit has been given as your guide. Because the world has no Holy Spirit, they rely on external things to control the flesh. Indeed, when you were a child, foolishness was bound in your heart, so you needed a rod to correct you, which was applied to your flesh. As you grew up with discipline, you began to learn the difference between right and wrong and the center of control shifted. As an adult, you should have learned to take control of your fleshly impulses from within, with no more need for the rod. In the world, jails and punishments are for those people who have never learned to control their carnal instincts and fleshly impulses.

Christians, who try to punish, starve, deprive, injure, and humiliate their own bodies in order to become more spiritual, are thinking and operating like the world. Many of them would much rather torture their bodies than offer themselves as a living sacrifice to the Lord and allow Him to change their hearts! They act humble but it is really false humility – pride masquerading as humility! The Bible says that these practices have an outward appearance of wisdom – they seem really “holy” and “spiritual” to man, but in reality they are completely ineffective in checking the indulgence of the flesh. If you could do it without Jesus, then why do you need Him at all? Trying to deal with the flesh without God, without the Holy Spirit, is both prideful and useless and it in no way honors God. It’s not about stopping bad behavior, thoughts, words, and actions – it’s about starting to do what is good and right in God’s eyes.

Being a Christian means that you have died to material ways of looking at things. Under the New Covenant, the Spirit of God sets your boundaries. He will convict you of sin you have committed, so that repentance can come and fellowship with the Father can be restored. He will stop you from committing sin by alerting you to a wrong choice you are about to make. He will also lead and guide you to do the right thing. Your control comes not from without, but from within: from the Holy Spirit Who lives in you, from your own spirit, and from your own senses and mental faculties that have been trained by the Word and the Holy Spirit to discern between good and evil (Hebrews 5:14).

Rules and regulations could not save you from hell and they certainly will not make you more spiritual after you are saved. Only the blood of Jesus can save and sanctify you. You must depend on Him and not the flesh! We are to glory in nothing, but GOD and what HE has done, giving all honor and glory to Him!

The Peaceable Fruit of Righteousness

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

And have you [completely] forgotten the divine word of appeal and encouragement in which you are reasoned with and addressed as sons? My son, do not think lightly or scorn to submit to the correction and discipline of the Lord, nor lose courage and give up and faint when you are reproved or corrected by Him; 6 For the Lord corrects and disciplines everyone whom He loves, and He punishes, even scourges, every son whom He accepts and welcomes to His heart and cherishes. 7 You must submit to and endure [correction] for discipline; God is dealing with you as with sons. For what son is there whom his father does not [thus] train and correct and discipline? 8 Now if you are exempt from correction and left without discipline in which all [of God’s children] share, then you are illegitimate offspring and not true sons [at all]. 9 Moreover, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we yielded [to them] and respected [them for training us]. Shall we not much more cheerfully submit to the Father of spirits and so [truly] live? 10 For [our earthly fathers] disciplined us for only a short period of time and chastised us as seemed proper and good to them; but He disciplines us for our certain good, that we may become sharers in His own holiness. 11 For the time being no discipline brings joy, but seems grievous and painful; but afterwards it yields a peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it [a harvest of fruit which consists in righteousness–in conformity to God’s will in purpose, thought, and action, resulting in right living and right standing with God].  Hebrews 12:5-11 AMP

Verse 11 says that God’s discipline yields a peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Discipline:
The word “discipline” means instruct, train, correct. God’s discipline is administered to us by His Word and His Spirit. God does not force it on us – we must submit to it (verse 9). The fruit produced in us is fed and watered by God’s Word and His Holy Spirit.

Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, [and] for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action), 17 So that the man of God may be complete and proficient, well fitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.  2 Timothy 3:16-17 AMP

Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. 8 And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 of sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; 11 of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. 12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.  John 16:7-14 NKJV

Fruit:
Discipline yields fruit. Righteousness is a fruit – the fruit of obedience. Fruit grows naturally only in the right conditions. You can’t force or fake fruit – you can’t make or manufacture fruit in a factory – you can only grow it. Natural growth and production of fruit, occurs on a tree or a bush that has food, light, soil, and water. Fruit trees also need to be pruned and cut back or the fruit will be weak and unhealthy. Some plants or vines need to have a frame to grow on or be attached to a straight piece of wood to make them grow straight. They are “trained” in a certain direction. We are God’s branches; attached to His vine; producing His fruit. Unless we receive the Word of God and submit ourselves to it; unless we allow the working and training of the Holy Spirit in us, we will bear no good fruit. Receiving the Father’s discipline and correction in your life will produce the fruit of righteousness in you.

Righteousness:
The fruit or result of discipline is righteousness. The fruit of righteousness is produced in those who are trained by God’s discipline – not in those who resist God’s discipline and correction.

Peace:
If you are rebellious, you will have no peace and no rest. When you submit to God’s discipline and allow Him to correct you and train you, the peaceable fruit of righteousness is the result. Discipline produces righteousness; righteousness produces peace.

The Whole Family-In Heaven And Earth

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

 

MY FAMILY

Foundation Scriptures: Ephesians 3:14-15

For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named.  Ephesians 3:14-15 KJV

1. For the Believer there are two kinds of family: the Natural family – the one you are born into in the flesh – and the Spiritual – the one you are born into in the Spirit.

  • The Natural – with a father and a mother. We all had our beginning with the union of a male and a female, coming together in intimacy, producing life.
  • This was – and still is – God’s plan.
  • The Spiritual – the new birth. A sinner comes to Jesus, and by confession of his/her need of a Savior, he/she acknowledges the Cross, the Blood and his/her need for redemption. By the seed of the Word of God and intimacy with God, through the Holy Spirit, he/she is born again into the family of God! They are now sons and daughters of the Father.
  • Christian life and family guidelines – Colossians 3:5-25

2. They say that blood is thicker than water – but natural families often have many problems.

  • Families – joined by blood – are often divided. Many won’t even talk to each other and it may be for very petty reasons.
  • Eg. Cain and Abel; Jacob and Esau
  • People who pledged to commit – get divorced. They cannot or will not get along and so they claim incompatibility.
  • This division spills over into other relationships outside of blood families – even into the family of God.

3. The number one reason for the breakdown of relationships is that people have no understanding of covenant.

  • What does covenant mean?
  • It is a commitment not based on feelings or circumstances, but on a conscious decision.
  • This covenant springs out of the agape love of God.
  • Covenant is this: while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us – that’s commitment!
  • John 3:16-17 NKJV – For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

4. There are 5 kinds of love:

  • Agape – self-sacrificial love
  • Storge – affection
  • Phileo – friendship
  • Eros – romance; sexual intimacy
  • Epithumia – desire; attraction; lust

5. A covenant based on anything other than agape – unselfish love – cannot stand

  • Affections fail – friendships fail – romance fails – physical love fails – attraction fails
  • The agape love of God never fails!

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. 4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. 13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.  1 Corinthians 13:1-8 NKJV

Encourage Yourself in the Lord

 

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

Foundation Scriptures: 1 Samuel 30:6

David was greatly distressed, for the men spoke of stoning him because the souls of them all were bitterly grieved, each man for his sons and daughters. But David encouraged and strengthened himself in the Lord his God.  1 Samuel 30:6 AMP

While Saul was still after David, David found an ally in Achish, king of Gath. Achish gave David the town of Ziklag. While David and his men were away fighting their battles, the Amalekites had made a raid on the Negeb and taken everything they owned and held dear, including all of their wives and children. They were left with nothing! David and his men were devastated. They all wept till they could weep no more, then some of them started blaming David and threatened his life. Not only did David suffer the same loss as his men, but now his own men wanted to turn on him! In the midst of his grieving and stress, David turned to the Lord and encouraged and strengthened himself in the Lord. He began to remind himself of how good God is and how God is always on his side!

Once he had reminded himself of God’s faithfulness, David did not just get up and pursue the Amalekites – he sought God for what to do next. This was the strength of David. David did not lean on or rely on his own strength or ability. He looked to and trusted always in his God for direction and strength. The Lord told him to go up after them and that they would be successful in rescuing their families and possessions, which he did. David was successful because he always trusted firmly in God and His word. David chose to worship God in the middle of the worst circumstances, when all he could see was destruction and devastation. He did not worship only when everything was going his way. He did not allow life to beat him down and keep him down. He always looked to the Lord, picked himself up and won the battle.

You can win your battles too, but only if you worship the Lord and trust in Him and His word, and not your own strength and abilities, just like David did. Here are some scriptures you can meditate on and speak over your life as you encourage yourself in the Lord. You can cry out like David: “Out of my distress I called upon the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free and in a large place. 6 The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Psalms 118:5-6 AMP)

Then shall my enemies turn back in the day that I cry out; this I know, for God is for me. In God, Whose word I praise, in the Lord, Whose word I praise, In God have I put my trust and confident reliance; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?  Psalms 56:9-11 AMP

What then shall we say to [all] this? If God is for us, who [can be] against us? [Who can be our foe, if God is on our side?] Romans 8:31 AMP

The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. 3 I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies. Psalms 18:2-3 KJV

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. Psalms 23:1 KJV

The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid? 2 When the wicked came against me To eat up my flesh, My enemies and foes, They stumbled and fell. 3 Though an army may encamp against me, My heart shall not fear; Though war may rise against me, In this I will be confident. 4 One thing I have desired of the Lord, That will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord All the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the Lord, And to inquire in His temple. 5 For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; In the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock. 6 And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me; Therefore I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord. Psalms 27:1-6 NKJV

The Lord is my strength and my shield; My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped;
Therefore my heart greatly rejoices, And with my song I will praise Him. 8 The Lord is their strength, And He is the saving refuge of His anointed. Psalms 28:7-8 NKJV

But the Lord is my defence; and my God is the rock of my refuge. Psalms 94:22 KJV

The Lord is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation. 15 The voice of rejoicing and salvation Is in the tents of the righteous; The right hand of the Lord does valiantly. 16 The right hand of the Lord is exalted; The right hand of the Lord does valiantly. 17 I shall not die, but live, And declare the works of the Lord. Psalms 118:14-17 NKJV

“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!” 25 The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, To the soul who seeks Him. 26 It is good that one should hope and wait quietly For the salvation of the Lord. Lamentations 3:24-26 NKJV

Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  6 So we may boldly say: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” Hebrews 13:5-6 NKJV

You may have some scriptures that the Lord has given you to stand on. Continue to look to God and His promises and not your adverse circumstances and you will come through on the other side in victory!

THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD

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

THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD

“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. 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. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.” Psalms 23:1-6 NKJV

David’s first calling was as a shepherd boy and he had first hand experience of what makes a good shepherd. David knew that he was fully responsible for his sheep. They were completely dependent on him. Without him they were helpless, vulnerable and exposed and he could not afford to let them down. David knew how committed he was to his sheep. He killed a lion and a bear for them! He had confidence in the Lord as his own Good Shepherd. He knew that everything he needed, God would provide. Jesus is our Good Shepherd (John 10:11). He is our Great Shepherd (Hebrews 13:20) and our Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:4). We are completely dependent on Him for our guidance, provision and protection. We are not likened to sheep because we are fearful or unable to lead ourselves, but because we obediently follow Him.

Verse 1: The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

• Psalms 34:9-10 NKJV, “Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints! There is no want to those who fear Him. The young lions lack and suffer hunger; But those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing.”
• Psalms 84:11 NKJV, “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold From those who walk uprightly.”

Verse 2: He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.

The only true peace and contentment comes from obediently following the Lord. If we rebel and disobey Him, we are just hurting ourselves and depriving
ourselves of our own blessings.

• John 4:14 NKJV, “But whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”
• John 7:37b-38 NKJV, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”

Verse 3: He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.

The Lord promises healing, restoration and peace to our souls. When we follow the Lord in righteousness and
holiness, we choose to walk a path of blessing. If we walk in His paths, we will avoid the pitfalls of life.

• 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 NKJV, “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.”
• 3 John 1:2 NKJV, “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.”
• Hebrews 12:14 NKJV, “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.”

Verse 4: 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.

Only the Lord can deliver from death. When death threatens our life, He is there to escort us safely through to the other side, just like Daniel in the lion’s den and the three Hebrew boys in the fiery furnace. We need have no fear. The rod was for the sheep’s enemies and the staff was for the sheep’s protection.

Verse 5: You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.

Before ancient feasts in the Middle Eastern culture, it was customary to anoint heads with perfumed oil. Hosts were also expected to protect their guests at all costs. The Lord, like a good Host, offers His protection to us even when enemies surround us. Not only does He promise us food and drink, but He promises us plenty of it – cups overflowing!

• Psalms 104:15 NKJV, “And wine that makes glad the heart of man, Oil to make his face shine, and bread which strengthens man’s heart.”

Verse 6: Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.

As God’s sheep and children, we can have confidence that God’s goodness and mercy will follow us to the end of our life and we can have faith that in the next life we will dwell in God’s house forever.

When you recognize the good shepherd, follow him!

Persecution May Come – But Don’t Give Up and Don’t Give In

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

But you know all about me. You know what I teach and the way I live. You know my goal in life. You know my faith, my patience, and my love. You know that I never stop trying. 11 You know about my persecutions and my sufferings. You know all the things that happened to me in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra –the persecution I suffered in those places. But the Lord saved me from all of it. 12 Everyone who wants to live showing true devotion to God in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.  2 Timothy 3:10-12 ERV

Everyone who wants to live showing true devotion to God in Christ Jesus will be persecuted and go through hard times, but never forget that God is on your side! If you are a lukewarm, compromising Christian, the devil isn’t worried about you, but if you are a Book of Acts Christian – hot, on-fire, living a godly life, submitted to the Word and the Holy Spirit, a doer of the Word, preaching the Gospel, and obeying the Great Commission – then he will be very afraid of you. The devil will always come to try to hinder and to stop the doers of the Word – those who are obeying God – with persecution. You might as well make up your mind now to not get upset or discouraged when it happens. In fact, you should rejoice for it is a sign that you are doing the will of God!

Persecution and hardship is intended to limit your influence. Persecution can come in the form of verbal disapproval or attacks, physical attacks from people or circumstances, and/or spiritual resistance from devils and demons. The devil will try to get you to be discouraged and quit. If you are a touchy person and you take everything personally, then you won’t be able to endure to the end. Paul was just such a one who was bold for the Gospel’s sake and went through tremendous persecutions and hardships as he boldly preached and demonstrated the Word of God. Ungodly people stirred up strife against him; fellow Jews attacked him; other “Christians” questioned his integrity and lied about him; he was arrested and thrown in jail and eventually martyred for his faith – and yet he never gave up; he never quit. Persecution will never succeed if you will just never quit!

Remember Jesus Christ. He is from the family of David. After Jesus died, he was raised from death. This is the Good News that I tell people. 9 And because I tell that message, I am suffering. I am even bound with chains like someone who has really done wrong. But God’s message is not bound. 10 So I patiently accept all these troubles. I do this to help the people God has chosen so that they can have the salvation that is in Christ Jesus. With this salvation comes glory that never ends. 11 Here is a true statement: If we died with him, we will also live with him. 12 If we remain faithful even in suffering, we will also rule with him. If we refuse to say we know him, he will refuse to say he knows us. 13 If we are not faithful, he will still be faithful, because he cannot be false to himself.  2 Timothy 2:8-13 ERV

Paul was persecuted for the Gospel’s sake, not because he had done wrong. He was bound by chains, but God’s Word was not bound – he continued to preach, write letters full of God’s Word and minister to everyone he met and the Lord continued to use him. How did Paul endure all this suffering? What Jesus did for him – and all men – was so real to him; eternity was so real to him; the promise of God was so real to him; that he was willing rather to suffer anything than deny the Lord Jesus Christ!

He was standing on the promise of God that:

1.  If we be dead with Him, we shall live with Him.

– Romans 6:8 KJV – Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him.

– 2 Corinthians 5:15 KJV – And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.

2.  If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him.

– Romans 8:17-18 KJV – And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

3.  If we deny Him, He also will deny us.

– Mark 8:38 KJV – Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.

4.   If we won’t believe, He remains faithful: He cannot deny Himself.

–  Jesus is faithful. He will still be with us even when we have endured so much that it seems we have no faith left to stand. We may even give up and be faithless at times, but Jesus is still faithful to His promise to be with us “to the very end of the world/age” (Matthew 28:20). If we deny the Lord or walk away and break fellowship with Him, still He will never turn His back on us, but be ready to receive us back, should we come to our senses and turn back to Him.

And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41 And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. 42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ. 
Acts 5:40-42 KJV

Persecution did not stop the Early Church from serving God and preaching the Gospel. They counted it an honor to receive persecution for His Name sake!

Continue to Preach the Gospel Despite Persecution

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

The days of visitation and punishment have come; the days of recompense have come; Israel shall know it. The prophet is [considered] a crazed fool and the man who is inspired is [treated as if] mad or a fanatic, because of the abundance of your iniquity and because the enmity, hostility, and persecution are great. 8 Ephraim was [intended to be] a watchman with my God [and a prophet to the surrounding nations]; but he, that prophet, has become a fowler’s snare in all his ways. There is enmity, hostility, and persecution in the house of his God.  Hosea 9:7-8 AMP

The prophets of God, the true people of God who speak and live God’s Word, will inevitably suffer persecution when their nation is full of sin and rebellion against God and the Truth of His Word, however, the Gospel must continue to be boldly preached.

The Christian who believes in the power of the Word of God, who is filled with the power of God, who is wholly submitted to the Word and the Spirit, who has clean hands and a pure heart, who is not ashamed of the Gospel, who preaches the truth and lives a godly life, is the devil’s worst nightmare! If the devil cannot stop you from obeying the Great Commission, then he will stir up persecution against you to try to hinder you, discourage you, and/or prevent you from continuing.

For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
  1 Corinthians 1:21-24 NKJV

The Gospel is the same to all, but not all receive it the same way. Sincere people, who sin because they don’t know any other way, still have a conscience that convicts them, especially when the truth is preached. However, a person who has silenced their own conscience so that they can continue to sin, does not welcome, but rather rejects, the Truth. The generation which has embraced evil will be stubborn and rebellious toward God; therefore, they will claim that God’s righteous messengers, who speak His Word, are merely “crazed fools”, rather than God’s watchmen, so that they can have an excuse for their own sinfulness. Unwarranted enmity, hostility, and persecution, directed toward the messenger, are the results.

If you are a child of God, then you have been given the ministry of reconciliation – to introduce people to Jesus Christ and see them reconciled to the Father. Sometimes you are welcomed; sometimes ignored; sometimes attacked. You cannot quit because you are not welcomed – the word must be preached and the seed sown regardless of the reception.
Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.
  2 Timothy 4:2-5 NIV

The Amplified Bible says we must be ready to preach the Word of God anytime and every time, “…whether the opportunity seems to be favorable or unfavorable; whether it is convenient or inconvenient, whether it is welcome or unwelcome.” We are not responsible for the response TO the message, just the delivery OF the message. We cannot preach merely what people WANT to hear – we are to preach the Truth – we are to preach what they NEED to hear, whether they like it or not. We must correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction.

But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. 3 But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. 5 For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.  2 Corinthians 4:2-6 NKJV

The devil will try to blind men so they can’t see the Light or hear the Truth and so they don’t receive Jesus as Lord and Savior, but as you preach the Truth, God’s light shines into their hearts and they are converted. If you preach your opinion, you will get nowhere, however, the Gospel is full of the power of God and when you preach Jesus Christ, and Him crucified, then the power of the Gospel is released into men’s hearts and the Holy Spirit goes to work to touch and change their hearts.

You don’t know, you cannot tell beforehand, who will receive the Truth and who will not. Saul (renamed Paul) persecuted the Church terribly – he captured them, jailed them and even killed them – but Jesus met with him on the Damascus road and he became a bold proclaimer of the Gospel, himself. That is why you must be prepared to preach the Gospel and continue to preach the Gospel, through persecution and opposition if needs be, until all have heard and God’s will is done!

Seeing Jesus in those who serve Him.