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

Foundation Scriptures: II Corinthians 5:7-10; I Corinthians 4:4-5; II Timothy 4:6-8

For we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. 9 Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
II Corinthians 5:7-10 NKJV

For I know of nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but He who judges me is the Lord. 5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God.
I Corinthians 4:4-5 NKJV

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.  II Timothy 4:6-8 NKJV

I. The Crown of Righteousness

•    The Crown of Righteousness will be handed out to certain believers at the Judgment Seat of Christ, together with the other crowns.
•    The Crown of Righteousness is the Winner’s Crown – also known as the Overcomer’s Crown or the Victor’s Crown.
•    It’s a crown for those who finish their race.
•    This is not a crown just for being saved and made righteous by believing in Jesus.
•    The Crown of Righteousness is given to all those who look forward to His return – those who fight the good fight of faith, who have finished the race and who have kept the faith.

II. Fight the Good Fight

•    I Timothy 1:18-20 ERV – Timothy, you are like a son to me. What I am telling you to do agrees with the prophecies that were told about you in the past. I want you to remember those prophecies and fight the good fight of faith. 19 Continue to trust in God and do what you know is right. Some people have not done this, and their faith is now in ruins.
•    We have to keep God’s Word to us in our eyes and ears and fight the good fight by continuing to trust in God and do what is right. If you don’t, you might end up shipwrecking your faith.
•    I Corinthians 16:13-14 NKJV – Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done with love.
•    This verse in the Message Bible says: Keep your eyes open, hold tight to your convictions, give it all you’ve got, be resolute, 14 and love without stopping.

III. Keep the Faith

•    Don’t get distracted from your end goal
•    I Timothy 6:10-12 AMP – For the love of money is a root of all evils; it is through this craving that some have been led astray and have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves through with many acute [mental] pangs. 11 But as for you, O man of God, flee from all these things; aim at and pursue righteousness (right standing with God and true goodness), godliness (which is the loving fear of God and being Christlike), faith, love, steadfastness (patience), and gentleness of heart. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith; lay hold of the eternal life to which you were summoned and [for which] you confessed the good confession [of faith] before many witnesses.
•    The love of money will cost you your Crown of Righteousness.
•    You have to pursue righteousness.
•    I Timothy 6:20-21 AMP – O Timothy, guard and keep the deposit entrusted [to you]! Turn away from the irreverent babble and godless chatter, with the vain and empty and worldly phrases, and the subtleties and the contradictions in what is falsely called knowledge and spiritual illumination. 21 [For] by making such profession some have erred (missed the mark) as regards the faith. Grace (divine favor and blessing) be with you all! Amen (so be it).
•    Don’t be sucked in by false doctrine and flaky people who compromise the Word of God.
•    James 1:3-4 AMP – Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience. 4 But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing.
•    Trials come to distract, hinder and/or stop you, but they can serve to grow you and grow your faith if you keep your eyes on the Lord and on His word, trust Him with your life and are a doer of the word.
•    Good news! The trials you triumph over all contribute to your reward!

IV. You Can be an Example and an Inspiration

•    I Timothy 4:12 AMP – Let no one despise or think less of you because of your youth, but be an example (pattern) for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.
•    I Thessalonians 1:8-10 NKJV – For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything. 9 For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.

V. Someone is Rooting for You

•    Both those who have gone before you – the great cloud of witnesses – and your fellow believers are rooting for you and cheering you on (Hebrews 12:1).
•    II Corinthians 1:24 Message Bible – We’re not in charge of how you live out the faith, looking over your shoulders, suspiciously critical. We’re partners, working alongside you, joyfully expectant. I know that you stand by your own faith, not by ours.
•    II Corinthians 13:5-9 Message Bible – Test yourselves to make sure you are solid in the faith. Don’t drift along taking everything for granted. Give yourselves regular checkups. You need firsthand evidence, not mere hearsay, that Jesus Christ is in you. Test it out. If you fail the test, do something about it. 6 I hope the test won’t show that we have failed. 7 But if it comes to that, we’d rather the test showed our failure than yours. 8 We’re rooting for the truth to win out in you. 9 We couldn’t possibly do otherwise.
•    I Thessalonians 1:2-3 AMP – We are ever giving thanks to God for all of you, continually mentioning [you when engaged] in our prayers, 3 Recalling unceasingly before our God and Father your work energized by faith and service motivated by love and unwavering hope in [the return of] our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah).

VI. Finish Your Race

•    Run like a winner!
•    I Corinthians 9:24-27 ERV – You know that in a race all the runners run, but only one runner gets the prize. So run like that. Run to win! 25 All who compete in the games use strict training. They do this so that they can win a prize—one that doesn’t last. But our prize is one that will last forever. 26 So I run like someone who has a goal. I fight like a boxer who is hitting something, not just the air. 27 It is my own body I fight to make it do what I want. I do this so that I won’t miss getting the prize myself after telling others about it.

Walk in Union with Christ

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

As you have therefore received Christ, [even] Jesus the Lord, [so] walk (regulate your lives and conduct yourselves) in union with and conformity to Him. 7 Have the roots [of your being] firmly and deeply planted [in Him, fixed and founded in Him], being continually built up in Him, becoming increasingly more confirmed and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and abounding and overflowing in it with thanksgiving. 8 See to it that no one carries you off as spoil or makes you yourselves captive by his so-called philosophy and intellectualism and vain deceit (idle fancies and plain nonsense), following human tradition (men’s ideas of the material rather than the spiritual world), just crude notions following the rudimentary and elemental teachings of the universe and disregarding [the teachings of] Christ (the Messiah). Colossians 2:6-8 AMP

There are many religions in the world; each preaching a doctrine of do’s and don’ts—even some who claim to be Christians. Which voice should you listen to? Because God created us and ordained us to worship Him, man—even fallen, sinful man—has a need to worship something. For thousands of years, man has worshipped various gods and idols and deities and forced others to do the same: bringing offerings, doing acts of service, humiliating themselves, severely disciplining and, in some cases, mutilating their bodies, and even sacrificing their children to appease a god of their own creation. Will all this work and sacrifice ultimately please God? What does God require?

With what shall I come before the Lord and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? 7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? 8 He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, and to love kindness and mercy, and to humble yourself and walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:6-8 AMP

If we want to please God, then we need to look at what Jesus said and did and we need to follow Him and do what He did and what He told us to do. He is our example. Jesus Christ came—not only to show us, by example, the way to serve and please God—but also to die for us. In His death, He not only purchased our freedom from sin, fear, guilt and death, but He demonstrated to us the great love the Father has for us!

Let no one defraud you by acting as an umpire and declaring you unworthy and disqualifying you for the prize, insisting on self-abasement and worship of angels, taking his stand on visions [he claims] he has seen, vainly puffed up by his sensuous notions and inflated by his unspiritual thoughts and fleshly conceit, 19 And not holding fast to the Head, from Whom the entire body, supplied and knit together by means of its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God. 20 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 2:18-23 AMP

The Lord does not want a sacrifice made out of religious duty. Outward acts, such as fasting, depriving yourself, punishing your flesh, or praying so many hours a day, by themselves won’t make you a better person or be pleasing to God. Above all else, God wants our heart and our love. We demonstrate our love by our obedience and submission to Him and to His word. We cannot actually do much to serve God Himself apart from serving one another and being kind and loving toward one another. It’s not about what we do to ourselves and our bodies; it’s about what we do for others. If you are mean to others while you do your religious duties; you obviously missed the point of serving God. True religion cares about others and reaches out to help one another. Do not get lost in the maze of your works program and lose your own way with God in the process.

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 7:6 AMP

For you, brethren, were [indeed] called to freedom; only [do not let your] freedom be an incentive to your flesh and an opportunity or excuse [for selfishness], but through love you should serve one another. Galatians 5:13 AMP

Our new life in Christ is a life that humbly follows and submits to the Word of God and the Holy Spirit on a daily basis—being both restrained and prompted by Him—as we walk in love, grace and mercy toward others.