Measuring Judgment

Mat 7:2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
gavel
Maybe we have forgotten. Maybe the words of Jesus have lost their power, because among the Christian community is a most damaging view. Some believe that opinions, criticisms, gossip, and all manner of grievances can be uttered without consequence. It is striking that born again believers are so free with their judgments. Jesus’ words, however, are not clouded in mystery. We do not need the original Greek of Matthew 7:2 to understand the Lord’s message.

Jesus was clear: Whatever you give out, it shall be given back to you. There are no exceptions. He did not make an allowance for any particular case. Jesus did not say that those who have been misused, abused, or wounded can retain the right to dispense the same. Paul wrote of the law of harvest which describes the reaping of every seed that is planted. Seeds of love produce fruit of its kind. Seeds of bitterness produces bitter fruit. Seeds of giving produce blessings in return. It is God’s Law.

Even still, there are many who attempt to embrace the blood-stained Cross while condemning those who have offended them. It is the most glaring contradiction and hypocrisy among those who have been forgiven of their sins. To think that anyone believes they can retain the power to condemn while rejoicing that Jesus did not condemn them. It is delusional. This conflict has existed for the duration of humanity, but it is still a disgrace. And to that end, anyone who withholds grace becomes a disgrace. Jesus said, Mat 10:8 “freely ye have received, freely give.

The whole of this subject is much larger and deeper than this moment, but we must subscribe to the scripture. If not, we will become religious in word, but not in nature. We will reserve for ourselves rights, which Jesus did not give. In doing so, we will find a certain fate.

Jesus said that the merciful shall obtain mercy-Mat 5:7. Jesus told the scribes and Pharisees that weightier matters pertained to Mercy and Faith -Mat 23:23. It might be time for everyone to pause before speaking; guard before hearing; and pray before assuming.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

As They Were Increased

Michael Brown asked in the Townhall, “Can the Church regain its Prophetic Voice.” His inquiry implies a loss of unspeakable proportions. If you are reading this, then know that your responsibility as a believer and disciple of Jesus Christ has never been more critical. Jesus called us to be the salt of the earth, Mt 5:13, but if that salt loses its “saltiness” it loses its preserving power.

The steps are simple: The path well worn. It begins with faithful worship. The assembling of ourselves together (Heb 10:25) is a command. However, in recent years churches have seen a slow, but steady, decline in consistent attendance. One church leader asked, “How many Sundays will you miss this year?” His research found that the average member will miss about 8 out of 52 Sundays. A slight majority will miss roughly 14 out of 52.

Wednesday Bible studies are even more meager. Less than 30% of church members now attend any midweek function. While Covid bears some weight to the matter, and there are pockets where the numbers are better, the fact remains that Pentecostal churches have seen a dramatic, downward shift in faithful, consistent church attendance.

Prayer and the Word have also suffered in this arena. Hosea 4:6 “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge…” The reason is found in the next line, Hosea 4:7 “As they were increased…” The priorities of Bible reading, prayer, and fasting are in competition with our busy schedules. With “increase” comes added responsibilities, which further erodes devotion to prayer and the Word. Added to this conflict is time wasted on phones, media, television, movies, and entertainment. It is a recipe made to cloud the Voice of the Lord – a constant barrage against our sensitivity to the Holy Spirit.

The prophetic voice is also wrapped around the preached Word; the pulpit. Weak preachers have been developed over the years. The cause is varied. While some are anointed and led by the Holy Ghost, others ministers seek to please the congregation. Likewise, while some members invite a strong, doctrinal message, others reject it and seek out a more palatable pulpits which appeases their lifestyles. The battle to retain a biblically centered message has always been in play, but never more so than today.

The questions are many. Will we obey the Word? Will we abandon or embrace prayer? Is the preached and taught Word important enough to rearrange our lifestyles? Is sound doctrine, direct preaching, and anointed messages, which invade our personal space, still welcomed? And finally, can our church survive and thrive in these final days of time?

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Stagnant Waters

In the withering heat of Africa’s summer lies Lake Natron. The unmoved water features large volumes of sodium bicarbonate which calcifies any animal that might venture there. It means that they die and become like hardened statues. Birds floating on the surface are almost mummified and other animals which drink from those waters are frozen in time. The lake looks red in color, which has its own inviting allure. However, the chemical levels are deceiving and deadly.

Lake Natron

Lake Natron’s features stand in stark contrast to the words of Jesus. John 7:38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.

The flowing river of living water was a clear message of life. Living waters imply the bursting forth of hope and strength. They are ever moving; ever strengthening; forever producing. Jesus offered His water knowing there would always be a counterfeit.

Stagnate waters have their own distinction. They are captivating to the eye pulling in the unsuspecting soul. Philosophies and pursuits are attractive. The appeal of gain or influence has its own appeal, but upon consumption, they corrupt the spirit. I suppose that we know the difference, at least in our minds. Yet when the opportunity to drink from the “unmoved” water is presented, it becomes difficult to resist. Moses refused it. Joseph ran from it. However, many have fallen victim to its draw.

Lot’s wife, with the Covenant in her past, could not resist. She turned back one more time. She was led out of the fallen city by the hand of the angel, and yet, no amount of supernatural intercession could save her. I believe that her heart had turned to stone long before her body became a pillar of salt. The murky water leads me to the words of the psalmist.

Psalm one begins by telling us where not to walk, where not to stand, and where not to sit. The opening scene is a description of how not to live. Everyone wants the blessing, but first we must reject what damages our lives. Only then can we claim the Word: Psa 1:3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

The Drift

The final scene of King Saul found him alone and in defeat. He died on a hill surrounded by his lifeless sons; the enemy had exacted their strength against him. When David heard the news, he tore his clothes, fell to the ground and wept. Saul had desired to kill David, but he still considered Saul to be “the Lord’s anointed.” David would not touch Saul, because he knew that some things should never be held in the hands of a man.

It is interesting how far the church has drifted from scripture. Many see the Bible like a buffet, picking and choosing what they like and discarding the rest. The Bible says, 1 Chr 16:22 “Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.” The Bible is often cast aside as criticisms and conversations ensue.

Consider God’s stand on who we are to marry. 2 Cor 6:14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? This verse has been widely ignored by Christians who seek relationships outside of the faith. From young to old, God’s Word has been rejected. Even though the Bible is clear, many choose not to obey. The old adage says, “It’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission.” Thus, disobedience reigns.

God spoke through Malachi about returning tithes and offerings. This Bible doctrine has been taught for thousands of years. Yet, there are “believers” who do not follow the scripture. God even called them “thieves and robbers.” However, these words have not provoked a change in their habits. Instead, the voice from the Pentecostal pews is that the preacher talks too much about money.

Adherence in lifestyle, modesty, language, and church attendance have all been diluted. The Bible is still the same, but “The Drift” has set a host off-course. It doesn’t take much. Just dismiss one sermon or even one part that does not feel good and the drift is on. While rejection is common in this modern era, it is still incumbent upon the pulpit to preach the Word. Regardless of who receives it, the Word must be preached. Even this communique must be written, even though it might be tossed aside or dismissed by the reader.

We are called to adjust our lives to the Word. So if need be, let conviction reign and let us return to the scripture which will make us “wise unto salvation.”

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Sacrificial Giving

Mark 12:41 And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much.
Mark 12:42 And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.
Mark 12:43 And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury:
Mark 12:44 For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.

Of all the Biblical subjects in sermons and lessons, few topics invoke such feelings like that of money. From Hophni and Phineas until now, money mismanagement has always been present. There are ample examples of hypocrites, liars, and unethical leaders to go around, though none can remove the scriptural command of giving.

Consider the text. Jesus sits in a curious place. I dare say that most congregations would not take kindly if their pastor stared at them as they gave their offerings, but Jesus had no problem watching. Mark 12:41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury.

Jesus took note of who was giving and how much. After all had passed by, He made a statement about the nature of their giving. Jesus was not concerned with the amount. Rather He was speaking about the sacrifice. Jesus said, “most gave from their resources; but the widow gave all.” The amount was inconsequential to the conversation, and that is where most stumble. Some reply, “I have so little, it probably won’t matter.” Let me just say, “It matters to the Master.”

While some have felt satisfied with the amount, and i.e., the numerical value, the Lord is looking at the depth of the sacrifice. Giving from the pool of abundance means that it was given at no cost.

I am aware that this communique will be discarded by the majority of readers. Money, tithes, offerings, and the whole of sacrificial giving is not a welcomed subject. I am the least of pastors, and yet I know that even the great leading pastors have been tuned out when it comes to money. Even still, I am compelled to wage war against the carnal mind which rebuts the Word. Jesus is still watching. He is looking for our commitments and the length we will go for the sake of His Kingdom.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Emoji Prayer

With access to world news, the compounding tragedies have provoked civic and world leaders to respond to almost every event. Social media platforms allow quick replies or “call outs” to those matters which affect the lives of people beyond their borders. The current and most common statement is “Thoughts and Prayers.” However, the shallowness of the reply has been noted, even by the unbeliever. “Thoughts” declare human concern, but prayer has no attachment. In this anti-god world, rife with secularism, God has no place. The result is the statement itself so that there is neither real thought nor prayer.

Juxtapose the modern church and the book of Acts church. The contrast is staggering. The most common reply among “believers” is an emoji with praying hands. The Christian world has reduced an actual prayer meeting with an emoji! Or worse yet, with thoughts. This was not the pattern of the first century church. When they prayed, they stayed. When there was trouble, they gave their voice, energy, and heart to the matter. The result was a physical manifestation of their location.Emoji with praying hands

Acts 4:31 And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.

When Peter was supernaturally released from prison, the Bible says that he considered where he might find the church. Peter thought, “what would the saints be doing right now, at midnight?” It came to him that they were obviously at a prayer meeting. Acts 12:12 And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying.

As you might assume, I am not into “thoughts and prayers.” There is an angst against the trivialization of prayer in my spirit. “Thoughts” mean nothing. They are whimsical in nature, which are meant to express concern, but do nothing for the need. They are humanistic in their most basic form and “prayers” are the same if they come with digital images or stop at the statement.

Jesus commanded us to Mark 16:18 “…lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” The baptism of the Holy Ghost came through the same in Acts 8:17, “Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.” These were not mere expressions. They were what we need today: Fervent prayer and the evidence that follows.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Evidence Of Belief

Is it possible to be a faithful church member, believer, giver and still be lost? Is it possible to preach, sing in choirs, teach Sunday school class and miss the rapture? Paul faced the possibility of this matter with great sobriety. 1 Corinthians 9:27  But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

In the end, Jesus revealed that many will say to Him, Matthew 7:22  “Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?” Matthew 7:23  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

The answer to the aforementioned questions is “yes.” The functions of “doing ministry” must be borne from a faithful heart. We must BE disciples of Jesus Christ, not just members of a local congregation. We must DO the works of Him that sent us while it is day. We are CALLED to spread the Gospel and live apart from the world. Anything less is a half-hearted approach to the call that God has placed upon our lives.

The issue at hand has plagued a million congregations over, as they supplant complete consecration to the Kingdom for church attendance. Our minds and bodies must be brought into subjection. It is not enough to simply believe the doctrine, we must live it. Our value systems speak louder than our intentions. A declaration of belief is menial if there is no evidence of it in our lives.

The tragedy that lays before the masses is that many will find out too late that they have been rejected by the Lord Himself. We cannot afford to have known this holy way and then abandon the word that brought us into this marvelous light. Hebrews 2:3  How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;

Therefore, let us serve the Lord with ALL of our hearts and minds. Let our words reflect the Spirit of the Lord and let our ambition be for the sake of the Kingdom of God.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Magnifying Glass

Decoration Day

The honoring of a life given in war was first known as Decoration Day. It originated following the bloody conflict that was America’s Civil War. Americans fought for the freedom of all people and it cost 646,392 souls, the most in American history.

In 1971, the federal government declared it an official holiday, calling it Memorial Day. This commemorated all those who died for the sake of our country in every conflict. From the American Revolution War to the Raid on Yemen, including our ill-timed departure from Afghanistan, our forces have lost almost three million lives.

Today we pause to consider the sacrifices made for our freedom. We hope that this new generation will understand that all liberties and freedoms are bought with the price of blood. Life as we know it did not come cheap. While our current government is trying to dismantle our freedom of speech, the graves, forgotten or remembered, speak to the cost to maintain those rights.

American men and women have not only fought to preserve our own freedom, but countless lives have been given for the peoples of the world. What made America great was not its wealth, ingenuity, inventions, government, or military might. It was our willingness to lay down our lives for the sake of another. This was the conviction of our collective thought and Memorial Day is a small moment to recognize the virtue that brought the world hope.

My prayer is that these graves, where wreaths and flowers are laid, will speak again and remind us to continue the good fight for religious freedom, human rights, godly principles, and moral virtues. The day we forget is the day we lose what cost so much. We honor those who gave all and we pray for God’s keeping in the years to come.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

“disinformation”

It may be my age, but when I was young there was no such thing as “disinformation.” We called it a lie.

The term we use today is a broad stroke of ambiguousness. I suppose that in all, it relies upon subjectivism, meaning an opinion leading away from conventional wisdom or fact. The whole subject boggles my mind. However, this “disinformation” thought has been around for centuries. Jeremiah addressed the most egregious matter when he called out the prophets of Jerusalem.

Jeremiah 23:16 This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD.

Jeremiah 23:25-26 I have heard what the prophets say who prophesy lies in my name. They say, ‘I had a dream! I had a dream!’ How long will this continue in the hearts of these lying prophets, who prophesy the delusions of their own minds?

Perhaps one of the greatest offenses happens when self-proclaimed prophets or prophetesses speak things which do not come from God. They relay visions, dreams, or give “words” from their own minds. These are nothing more than control tactics borne from pride and self-will. While real visions and dreams exist, the opposite is also true. The information given does not come from God and it dilutes real authority and the operation of the body of Christ.

Jeremiah wrote, “among the prophets of Jerusalem…” meaning “among the people who should know better.” They knew the ways of the Lord and how the Word functioned among the people. They were familiar with God’s order of revelation and knew how to deliver the false word. They prophesied things which did not come to pass; things which were not of God.

Short of false christs comes people who subvert the anointing overseer. I’ve heard these voices most of my life. Faces change, but the “disinformation” persists. They seek position all the while thwarting any spiritual authority in their own life. I write of these things because we can not afford to be weak-minded or unaware. Do not believe a person who is self-promoted. Be aware to the voice which has no covering. The prophetic word, preached word, and spiritual gifts are here, but so too is the false, and self-serving word.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Yesterday is forgotten

At some point believers must realize that the spirit of the age, which is both demonic and corrupt, is moving against God’s Word. We are living in the last days of time. Governments, political parties, celebrities, and media have joined to dismantle the scripture’s established truth. The Bible has guided us for centuries, but now it is deemed offensive. If you are reading this, then know that life will not return to some former time. Even yesterday is forgotten. We are in a spiritual fight and it will last until the Lord’s return.

Consider the Bible’s own declaration and then compare it to the world’s shifting narrative. God made man and woman. He separated them by gender. Genesis 1:27 “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”

He made the Heavens and the earth in six days and rested on the seventh. He spoke it into existence. The earth did not evolve.

He established the husband as the head of the home. God ordered man to work by the sweat of his brow. Marriage was ordained by God and all fornication and adultery was declared sinful.

God’s breathed book declares the origin and beginning of every unborn child. Psalm 139:13-16 “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

The Bible is replete with the pre-birth recognition. God formed you. God made you. God knew you even before you were born. The living soul was established in your mother’s womb.

These thoughts are not political fodder for argumentation. They come from the Voice of the Omniscient Creator. They are without rebuttal or rebuke. For Christians to espouse any other thought is an anti-god approach. Psalm 119:89 “For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven. We serve the God of the Bible, not society’s thought of who they want God to be. He is the Lord of all and He is our coming King!”

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole