Stedfast …

The word “stedfast” is mentioned 11 times in the Bible. In each case, the origin of the word is congruent with the next so that each retains the same basic root meaning. The Greek word in I Cor. 15:58 is hedraios, which simply means “settled.” Hebrews speaks of stedfast as stability when it says, Heb 3:14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end.

Consider the average family in America today. They are described as bored, unsettled; seeking for entertainment and often aloof. The average person will move 11 times in their lifetime. I find the irony of the number of moves and the number of times the word “stedfast” is found in the scripture. Today, both jobs and relationships are interchangeable. Friendships reflect this unsettled state. A friend that lasts 5-7 years is a rarity, while most friendships last less than 36 months. Church affiliations, marriages, jobs, and a host of other things reflect similar movement. Doctrines are being revised even as I write. Paul wrote that the opposite of a child of God is one that is tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine…” James spoke about James 1:6 For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. Then added, James 1:8 A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

To find someone who can weather the storms, stay true to the doctrine, stay planted in the church, retain a positive attitude, and respond consistently with faith is nothing less than a treasure. Paul encouraged the Corinthians: 1 Cor 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord. He did not commend them that they had managed such a thing. Being stedfast is critical to the efforts of the Kingdom.

The cause might be complex, but I believe, one root is lost focus. We have shifted to pleasure instead of duty. Paul wrote that in the last days people would be lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God. The desires of the flesh have become the lead cause of our disjointed world and the division of the church. For this reason, we must remove the things of the world from our view and build a firm foundation in the holy things of God and in this house of Worship. I’m after a stedfast relationship with God and with you.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Dual Action

Acts 14:8 And there sat a certain man at Lystra, impotent in his feet, being a cripple from his mother’s womb, who never had walked

Acts 14:9 The same heard Paul speak: who stedfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed,

Acts 14:10 Said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked.

The historical account of the Acts of the Apostles was never more powerful than Paul’s experience in Acts chapter fourteen. A lame man, born crippled, “who never had walked”, heard Paul’s sermon. Something about the preached Word enlightened the lame man’s eyes. The spoken Word sparked belief in this man, who carried a life-long issue. Acts 14:9-10 declares two keys to the healing of the lame man. Paul perceived that he had faith to be healed and Paul spoke the Word of healing, “Stand upright on thy feet.” It was the spoken Word combined with faith that resulted in the healing. The Word provoked Faith insomuch that Paul could see it emanating from the lame man. The profundity of the moment cannot be overstated.

This dual action is found throughout the scripture. The convergence of the preached Word and a response of Faith manifests itself in healing and power time and again. Paul wrote to the church at Rome and offered this exact duality: Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. The Word and Faith are forever linked in the annals of time and in the scripture. What we hear leads us into the realm of faith and belief.

Consider Jesus Who is the embodied Word, the Logos, the Living Truth. Mark chapter 9 depicts the scene of a tormented son brought by a desperate father. Jesus, the Word, responded to the man whose son was afflicted: Mark 9:23 “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. The Word was delivered and the father responded… “Lord I believe.” There is little doubt that when we hear the Word and respond with faith, something powerful and life-changing is going to happen. Our miracle, healing, and deliverance could be waiting on the Word and our response.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Freedom costs …

The latter part of the Book of Acts depicts Paul about to be flogged for an obscure offense. The people hated his doctrine. They considered his preaching as hate speech because his was an exclusive message. Jesus and His story caused a riot to break out. The Roman guards decided to imprison Paul and scourge him over the matter, but right before they were to punish him, Paul declared his Roman citizenship. The revelation of itself made the guard nervous because the law dictated a trial for all Roman citizens. Thus the guard quickly went to his commander who in turn questioned Paul, Acts 22:27 “Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?” to which Paul replied, “Yes, I am.”

Historians think that Paul’s parents earned their citizenship when he was born. Paul probably never knew what it was like to be anything, but a citizen of Rome.

The next verse shines light on the condition of the commander who did not share Paul’s birthright privilege. Acts 22:28 And the chief captain answered, With a great sum obtained I this freedom.

Think of it, the commander had to pay to be free. He wasn’t always a Roman citizen. It didn’t come natural, but rather there was a price, and a hefty one at that. He said, “with a great sum” which indicates that freedom in those days came with a cost. It was a moment of self-reflection for this Roman commander; he knew what it took to be free. He remembered the extraordinary effort that citizenship imposed upon his life. He said that it took a great price to obtain his freedom.

I submit that nothing has changed. Freedom costs. A nation that is free has a price attached to it. A people who are free stand on the shoulders of others who paid for their liberty. Likewise, to be free from sin came at the cost of the Cross of Calvary. Without the Cross we would all be bound by the ruler of this world. Like the Roman commander, no one was born free. David said that we all were born into sin. The apostle wrote that all have sinned and come short of God’s glory. In our day, Freedom is often used as a byword without understanding of its depth. Through the extraordinary effort of the death and suffering of Jesus Christ, we have been set free. True freedom is found in the Blood of Jesus. Real liberty is located in places where the Spirit resides. “For where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” We are free because of His sacrifice.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Hope …

Paul ended his beautiful exhortation about love in I Cor 13 with a declaration of life’s most precious things. He listed the three great remaining attributes of life: Faith, Hope, and Love. Love was the greatest among the three as the apostle gave a descriptive discourse, but I offer this word today: Don’t discount hope.

Job saw his life as a tree cut down, and yet, he said that there is hope of a tree, that if it is cut down, it can grow again. The patriarchs of old hoped for something and it drove them to pursue the Lord. Peter wrote in

1 Peter 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear. Peter said, “When they ask, be ready to tell them of the reason you have hope.” The ability to witness comes from the expectation of something beyond this world.

Even in regards to believing, Hebrews declared that hope is one of the necessary ingredients of Faith: Heb 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

While the world invests in things that rust and fade, our hope is in the Lord and in His coming. John said as much: 1 John 3:2-3 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.

The hope in the rapture keeps us from an impure world. It drives the believer to live according to the scripture and abandon the world.

We are looking forward to seeing Him as He is! Our expectation does not rest in government, education, health, or money. Our hope is that there is a Heaven and in our Father’s House are many mansions. We are seeking for a city whose builder and maker is God; a city where the Lamb is the light. Our hope is literally out of this world. Love? Yes. Faith? It is a must; but I’m still holding on to hope.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Who’s In Charge?

Prov 20:7 The just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him.

Among the myriad of complexities that attend our times, there has been a detrimental role reversal among fathers and children. As one author asked, “Who’s In Charge?” The glaring issue is the increased gap between fathers and their children. Instead of the father, children are now leading the family in thought and ideology; a place that the father once occupied. Adding to the problem has been the rapid technological advances that seem to separate the family, especially in communication. The core problem has been the dismantling and “giving away” of the father’s authority. He has been diminished in the public square; belittled in the entertainment sector; and warred against in the spirit world for his spiritual role in the family structure. Surely these are perilous times, but these issues also reveal the coming of the Lord. Malachi raised his voice to say, Mal 4:5-6 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse. Luke reiterated the prophetic word in his opening address:

Luke 1:17 And he (Jesus) shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

The last days will feature both a departure of respect and a reunion of the same. The Lord is going to turn the hearts of the children back to their fathers. The mother is not mentioned here for a specific reason. Fathers were commissioned to be the priest and leader of the family. Though they have been separated, Jesus is going to mend what has been broken. I am thankful for physical healings and miracles, but there is nothing like a mended family where a father finds honor and children see his integrity. The result of this spiritually and emotionally healthy relationship is a blessing on the lives of his children, “…his children are blessed after him.” His children find strength in that he is the leader in prayer, giving, worship, and work. His family is whole in that he speaks wisdom and correction in love.

Father’s Day must be more than a yearly recognition of Dad. We need to lift him up and offer him the place that God desired him to hold. Dad, you’re the head of the family. You are the leader and you are pivotal to the blessings of your sons and daughters. We honor you today because God has ordered it so. We honor you because we love you.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

God knows where I am …

Job 23:8-10 Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him: On the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold him: he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him: But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.

The above text leads to a myriad of questions. Could it be that God purposely hides His plan from our eyes in order to develop our necessary trust in Him? Could it be that our trials and difficulties of life are created by Him for the benefit of our eternal future? I submit that while we cannot see the path, the Lord always knows the way and He is in control.

It took some time before Job came to this reality. He looked for the Lord, but could not find Him. God and His purpose was hidden to this great man. Yet Job knew enough about the Lord that he boldly proclaimed, “But He knoweth the way that I take…” Who could say such a thing? Perhaps there was no greater trial than what Job faced. He lost everything in a single day. His life’s work was wiped out. His family was gone and his wife offered a bitter reply, “why don’t you just curse God and die?” Job’s friends turned out to be judge and jury, without a single ounce of wisdom or compassion in their collective voice. However, Job said, “God knows where I am. God hasn’t left me. He knows right where I am and when I get through this, I will come forth as gold.”

This is the word that whatever issues you might face in this life, God still knows where you are. Even if you cannot find Him; even if He “hideth himself” from you, God is working a perfect plan in your life. You might be deterred but that does not mean you have been denied. You will experience loss and suffering but that does not mean that the Lord has left you. There is an end to the thing and Job gave the answer: He knows the way that I take and when this is over I will come forth as gold.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Three months…

Summer is finally upon us for which I am thankful.  In relation to the school season and the many vacations that are planned, I offer this word to you.  Three months is the traditional time between the school season which often dictates our year.  It’s also just enough time to change the course of your life.  Three months out of church can leave lasting scars from which many never recover.  However, three months of devotion is the right amount of time to birth a powerful, life-long change for the good.  It only takes a small time heading in the right direction for you to rewrite your destiny.  To this end, I offer the Word:   2 Sam 6:11  And the ark of the LORD continued in the house of Obededom the Gittite three months: and the LORD blessed Obededom, and all his household.

The resident Ark of the Covenant in the home of Obededom not only changed him, but it also changed his family.  In fact, everything was blessed.  His fields and family were changed.  Even those around him were blessed by the Ark of the Covenant. The Bible simple says, “…and all his household.”  Throughout the scripture, “household” literally meant all things associated with or having to do with the principle person.  A Jewish man/father desired the blessing on his household, meaning all things that he touched or were associated with him.  Cornelius was baptized and his household which included his servants and all those who were connected with him.  Judgment came to Pharaoh and all his household which referred to the entirety of Egypt.  Obededom had three months with the Ark and it changed the generations that came after him.  Everyone was blessed, even those he had not yet met.  

I submit that this summer:  three months of intense prayer and Bible reading, mixed with fasting and faithful church attendance will change your life.  If you can retain the Spirit of God in your home it will spill out in the worship service.  When you allow the Lord access to your living room and you turn off the media devices that often clouds the mind, I promise that something powerful will change. Three months… it’s a challenge that will last a lifetime. 

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Selfless Directive

JFK’s best quote has been debated for a few decades. I tend to lean toward this one: “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” While Kennedy probably took the quote from a private school professor where he attended, the truth behind the words are profound. The statement is a selfless directive. It rebuts the consumer mentality which has afflicted our age. Jesus lived the life that embodied the idea of selflessness. The disciples’ deaths, found in Fox’s Book of Martyrs, describe the same. They were not self-seeking or egocentric. They were constantly thinking about the Body, the Church, and the Kingdom. The early church itself had this mentality. They were men and women who did not come to consume or take, but rather came to give. They gave of themselves in every way and mostly in time and in prayer.

Our nation was founded on the same concept. The cost of our freedom was laid on the backs of people who made the ultimate sacrifice. Most of their names lay hidden beneath the plethora of conveniences which we now enjoy. Even today, as we come together to worship, we are standing in a place of liberty, borne out by spiritual men and women. The church exists because of the labor of love wrought by the hands of families and ministries concealed by time and distance.

My great desire is to offer God something that comes at a cost. I hope that you might find the satisfaction in the same. As odd as it might sound to the carnal mind, the more I give of my life to the things of the church, the more thankful I am to be a part of the church. The investment of prayers and fastings, the time and energy given away has only embedded my desire for the things of God. This is our mantra, that the commission of Jesus Christ guides our ambitions. This is our heritage that people died to provide us this great Gospel. This is our desire to be wholly centered on the Lord and let the world go its way.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

No Room for “Common”

Num 11:29 And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the LORD’S people were prophets, and that the LORD would put his spirit upon them!

It was a moment of correction when Moses spoke the above text to a young and perhaps naive Joshua. God was about to anoint 70 leaders with the spirit of Moses, but two of the men were not present. In short, Joshua thought that the two men should not qualify because they had not made it into the Tabernacle, but instead, were outside among the people in the camp. Moses spoke a word that transcended time when he wished that the entire congregation would become prophets and spiritual leaders, not just the 70 men.

By the time John the Baptist entered the scene, a clear separation had occurred. It was etched in their mind that only a few would be “prophets” or spiritual leaders while the rest would become common. Interestingly enough, the term “laity” actually means “common.” By the 15th century most of the church world bought into the false notion that clergy and laity were separated by God. The idea of “laity” comes from the Greek “laos” meaning distinct from any priestly class. Later, the French word “laite,” taken from the Latin “laicus” solidified this idea that there should be no cross over. You were either a minister or you were common.

Moses prayed for the whole congregation to be prophets. Moses wanted the entire nation to seek after God, but they had grown accustom to a high priest and a veil. This separation removed them from their need to minister. It was not until the death of Jesus Christ that the veil was torn and the line was removed. Jesus became our Mediator and High Priest. The apostle made it clear when he wrote Heb 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. The early church believed this truth and it caused all of them to embrace spiritual endeavors and the preaching/teaching of the Gospel. Everyone became a disciple. Everyone taught the New Birth Experience spelled out in Acts 2:38. The heartbeat of Moses had come to fruition and today we must heed those same words to become preachers and teachers. There is no room for “common”. We are all responsible to share the Truth and the name of Jesus! I say, “Would God that all the Lord’s people preached the Gospel!”

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Darkness and Light

John 14:27  Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

Moses stood before Pharaoh and threw down his rod.  The scripture tell us that it miraculously became a serpent.  Not to be outdone, Pharaoh’s magicians used a trick of the hand to do the same; only Moses’ serpent devoured theirs.  Moses turned water into blood, which provoked the magicians to duplicate the same. Time and again the forces of darkness attempted to mirror the things of God.  Darkness always attempts to counter the Light.  Paul and Silas experienced this when they encountered a girl with the spirit of divination.  The evil spirit desired to boast of itself in the same light as the Apostle’s through revelation.

To be clear the world has things to offer.  Though it is filled with darkness, there are pleasures to be had.  Hebrews tell us that Moses chose to suffer than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.  On the surface the things of the world can even come close to the things of the church:  family, fellowship, friendships, etc.  When we read the words of Jesus in John 14:27, it is clear that Jesus knew what the world had to offer.  He didn’t say that the world offers nothing.  Jesus said, “I give not as the world gives” meaning that substance can be obtained.  The world gives security in money and finances.  The world can offer a form of peace and tranquility.  The replicas are wide and varied.  Only Jesus said that His peace was not like the world’s version.  His peace calms storms and makes raging waters tranquil.  His peace lifts us over confusion.  It is the peace that surpasses all understanding.  His security is not wrapped up in temporal things that rust or fade.  This is Lord’s Day and He has come to offer you peace and there is no parallel.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole