The Potter’s House

An insight into the Mind of the Omniscient One….

Paul writes in Romans 9 that God has the authority to show mercy upon whom He will have mercy.  The apostle asks, “Who is man that he should talk back to God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?”  Paul declared that God is the Potter and we are the clay. The psalmist said, “It is He that hath made us and not we ourselves.”

The question then is ‘Can God do with us as He pleases?’  Paul asked the church if God had the authority to make something noble out of something common.  He writes, “What if God withholds His judgment against the people that are destined to be destroyed? Or What if God shows mercy on those who should be punished?”

We are filled with finality.  We see in black and white, but God is the Judge of all mankind.  He is like a potter who holds the discarded clay that is good for nothing, but decides to recreate something worthy out of it.  Everyone knows the condition of the clay. The onlooker, the other ‘pottery’ determines the clay to be unusable and worthless, but the pottery is only a creation of the potter.  Can you see it now?  How is it that we decide who is worthy of God’s promotion and who is not?  Isaiah said,  Isaiah 64:8  But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.  The prophet confessed that whatever we might become, it is the work of the Hand of the Lord. We are not our own creation.  We are only blessed to have been in His Hand.  Jeremiah’s vision revealed it so…

Jeremiah 18:4 And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Crown of Thorns

Often lost in the mix of the Passover story and the wonder of an empty tomb is the process of the Lord’s sacrifice.  Before He walked up the Hill of Skulls,

Jesus was given a tightly woven crown of thorns.  Every aspect of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection speaks to both prophecy and our salvation.  Nothing happened in those 72 hours without great weight of redemption hanging in the balance.

Consider with me the multiple curses levied against Adam and Eve and upon mankind.  From pain in childbirth to headship, their departure from Eden was layered with strife.  Sin came with a price and it is never more clear than when God cursed the ground saying that it would produce thorns and thistles (Genseis. 3:18). The most basic aspect of life, food, would be difficult to obtain.  Instead of fruit and vegetables, the earth would bring forth thorns and thistles.  Thorns were always considered a curse; both on people and on the earth.

I submit for your consideration the infallible Word of God:

Hebrews 6:7  For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God:   Hebrews 6:8  But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.

Thorns remove peace.  Thorns have no nourishment.  Thorns cut and pierce. Thus pressing of the Crown of Thorns into His brow was the emblem of our mental and emotional anguish.  He paid for our peace when He wore the Crown of Thorns.  Isaiah prophesied that “the chastisement of our peace” was upon Him. (Isaiah 53)  Isaiah was writing about the pressing of the Lord’s Crown of Thorns.  Not only did the prophet speak of the Lord’s bruised, wounded, and beaten body, but he spoke about the Lord’s head covered with thorns.  Each part of the Lord’s suffering spoke to the needs of people. Thorns deal with our minds: the great battlefield of our lives. Matthew, Mark, and John wrote, “they twisted together a crown of thorns and pressed it on Him.” The scripture is replete with this image. Abraham is walking up Mount Moriah as he obeys God’s commission to sacrifice his son, Isaac.  It was the Type of Christ being sacrificed on Calvary, but on that trek, Abraham had to walk through a sea of low hanging thorns, cutting his feet and ankles.  In the end, Isaac is spared because a lamb is caught in the thistles. Thorns and Thistles. The curse and it’s redemption has come to light on the mountain of sacrifice.

Hebrews speaks to the Lord’s suffering and subsequent glory:  Hebrews 2:9  But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.

Jesus was first crowned with Thorns.  He took the pain of our lives upon His brow.  When He walked out of the tomb, He brought with Him the victory of every pain, disease, emotional issue, anxiety, and anguish we would ever suffer.  He is the Victor.  He is the Conqueror.  He purchased our salvation and our deliverance. He also became the Prince of our Peace because He wore the chaos of our minds upon His head. He is our King Eternal, and today He wears a Crown of Honor.   Jesus is the Lord of All.  He is the Resurrection and the Life.  He is the Peace that surpasses all understanding.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

We lay down our lives

Today we remember the beginning of the ending of the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ. This was His triumphant entry into Jerusalem as the people shouted“Hosanna, Blessed is he who cometh in the name of the Lord.”  They tore branches from trees and laid their coats before Him.  Little did they know that He was a mere seven days from the Cross of Calvary.  Praise would soon turn to scorn; worship to slander.  The Pharisees had plotted for years and this was the final straw.  They could not afford to allow this Jesus of Nazareth any more fame.  They were losing their footing among the people and His death was the only answer.  Lost in their rage was the fact that Jesus came to die for their sins as well.  They could not see His purpose for the anger that filled their eyes.  He was a ransom for many.  He came as the Lamb of God and gave Himself on the day they called Pesach, i.e., Passover.  For centuries they had remembered the night in which God spared them.  They had eaten the lamb and recalled their salvation from Egypt, but after years of remembering the event, they missed the moment of their present Messiah.

My message revolves around the purpose of our gathering.  Worship and the Word must be more than a ritual and ceremony.  The service itself, while needful, is but a forum where the revelation of Who He is and Why He came is witnessed.  He came to save us.  He came to redeem us.  Jesus is here to pour out His Spirit upon all who seek for Him.  He is here to receive our praise, but we must not forget the meaning of the same. He brought us out of darkness into His marvelous light.  And for it, we do not lay down our garments or branches before him; we lay down our lives.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

I Surrender Some

A challenge is set before us.  Malachi recorded the matter succinctly when he wrote about the people of God who lived as if worship was too tiresome.  Of course the word “worship” was not referring to clapping and singing, but sacrifice, duty, and time.  God spoke against them in Malachi as they treated their relationship with Him in the most casual way.  It seems that not only did Israel bring lame and crippled lambs for sacrifice, but they also came when they wanted to and left in the same manner.  Over time, their worship became a haphazard affair.  Today we call it, “Casual Christianity.”

Casual service was far from David’s mind when he spoke about being a Doorkeeper in the house of the Lord.  The Doorkeeper was to be attentive, on time, and watchful.  There was nothing flippant about his service to the House of his God.  It was a purposeful, pointed, and altogether anticipated service. The Porter also cared for both the congregation and the holy things of God. His was no trivial matter. The Doorkeeper, the Porter, singers, and musicians believed in wholehearted worship.

The challenge today is that many have dumbed-down their church going experience.  Today we promote “come as you are” instead of coming with reverence. While I understand that everyone is welcomed regardless of how they come, there is an underlying thought that we are absolved of our responsibility to give God our best.  Remember that Moses had to take off his shoes as he approached the burning bush.  God said the ground was “holy ground.”  I say that Casual Christianity has minimized our faithfulness and flattened our expectation to see the wonders of His power.  Casual Christianity might fit into the social realm but, we come with intent before our God; giving Him our best.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

A view of compassion

Cast in the frame was a picture of a little girl sitting on the edge of a sidewalk holding her favorite doll.  Her black hair ruffled against the light red coat she wore.  A small scarf dangled from the end of her sleeve as she sat with narrowed eyes and an indiscriminate smile.  I would have passed by the photo without a thought until I saw the next frame. The photographer opened his lens to reveal the wider picture.  No longer did I see a single girl aimlessly sitting on the edge of some random sidewalk.  My mind no longer made the typical assumptions of family and home.  The picture’s broadening view showed a rubbled, war-torn city.  A bloodied soldier was walking by with a bandage wrapped around his neck.  The lifeless remains of the aftermath could be seen just beyond her right shoulder, under which the half-fallen building could not hide.  Her smile no longer looked like it had in the first frame.  I wondered if it was a smile at all.  The lens pointed toward bewilderment and abandonment.

Safety was no longer part of the picture and a winter war was more certain than her casual approach to a chilly spring.

Had I only seen the first photo there would have been no stirring in my heart.   Had the photographer simply narrowed his focus and left it as such, no one would have known the real story behind this isolated child, but he gave us more and it invoked the heart and not just the head.

One of my favorite verses in the Bible speaks of the nature of Jesus Christ.  Mark 6:34  And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things.

The fallacy of mankind is our judgement based upon our narrow view.  We often see so little of the picture that it makes us bypass the real story, but lives aren’t always captured in a small frame.  The casting of an entire life with all it’s entanglements, fears, losses, and pains cannot be seen in the smaller scene.  We tend to look minimally when seeing other people which keeps the mind appeased, but the heart cold.

It was the Lord’s sight and the actuality of their lives which moved Him.  He responded because He saw them through a wider lens. Jesus ministered, not based upon a passing glance or a whimsical view, but through the knowledge of their reality – they were sheep without a shepherd.  In consideration of His people who often failed Him, the psalmist wrote:  Psalm 78:38-39  But he,  being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not: yea, many a time turned he his anger away, and did not stir up all his wrath. For he remembered that they were but flesh; a wind that passeth away, and cometh not again.  God saw us in the wider frame of our true self and it provoked His mercy.

I am convinced that God loves us because of His complete view.   What I’m concerned about is the way we see one another.  Our struggle is not spiritual.  It’s a physical, natural, and common issue. We must look broader, wider; more intently to see the wider view of the lives of people.  People need our compassion which only comes with what Paul Harvey once called, The Rest of the Story. The lost need to be found; the saints need to feel wanted; the prodigal needs to feel welcomed back home.  It all comes with our view.  It is the look of compassion that comes from our look of love.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Be of Good Cheer …

Jesus prepared a young group of disciples for the Gospel mission. They were to be His voice; His hands; His feet. He spent 3 1/2 years preparing them to face the world; demonic forces; and the religious sects. And among His many lessons He said, “it is impossible, but that offenses will come!”  Jesus said that no one will bypass being offended.  No one has ever worked in the Kingdom and not been offended. Peter wrote:  1 Peter 4:12  “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:”  There will be issues regardless of where you are in life.  An offense is not strange or rare.  They are common. They come to every person in every place.

My concern is not if you are offended in life. We have all felt that sting from  inside and outside the church.  Some will say something off-color or insulting.  My concern is our response to what has been done or said.  I rise to say that it’s time for the Body of Christ to realize that wounds are common to the Walk.   No one will avoid rejection, neglect, gossip, or hurt.

Jesus was wounded, bruised, despised, rejected, alone, abandoned by His men, scorned and mocked.  Paul said, 1 Corinthians 10:13  “There hath no temptation taken you, but such as is common to man…”  The word “temptation” here comes from the Greek word that means adversity.  The word adversity is synonymous with distress, crisis, and trial.  So before we believe that offenses are enough to cancel our commitment, let it be known that offenses are part and parcel of this life.  Jesus said that in this life we will have issues to face, but then He said, “be of good cheer, I have overcome them” meaning, “you can too.”

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Poured Out …

Jeremiah prophesied (Jeremiah 48:11) about the destruction of Moab.  He said the people had “settled on their lees” and had not been emptied out.  He was referring to the process of making wine which in those days demanded the continual pouring from one container to another in order maintain the flavor.  By not being poured from flask to flask, the wine becomes stagnate and loses its own constitution.  The prophet said that there was no stirring among the people and it caused them to become complacent in their approach to both God and the enemy.  He said that God had rejected them and the enemy would prevail against them.

Zephaniah stood to speak the similar words to the children of Israel.  They too had grown stagnate and lethargic before the Lord.  The prophet wrote Zephaniah 1:12  And it shall come to pass at that time, that I will search Jerusalem with candles, and punish the men that are settled on their lees: that say in their heart, The LORD will not do good, neither will he do evil.  They believed God was apathetic to their lives; that He did not care what they did or did not do.  In reality the Lord was looking for a people centered on Him and His Law.   David knew this to be true when he wrote: Psalm 139:1 O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me.  God always searches His people with the candle of truth.

Today, the Lord is seeking for a people who refuse to be settled:  He wants us to be sharing the Gospel and living a separated life.  We must never reach a point in which we decide that our growth in God is over.  Nor should we believe the lie that God is apathetic to the way we live.  He is looking for a Bride and a People called by His name: Jesus!  We must be stirred and poured out from vessel to vessel.  This is the Word of God for our lives and it will lead us into this great Holy Ghost revival!

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Liquid Mercy

It was said of a reckless son that he had dodged tragedy on multiple occasions; that he was “living on borrowed time.”  The cliché’ came to mind when I read of the Power of God’s Mercy regarding the Children of Israel. How many times they failed and God recovered them is beyond the telling.  If truth be told, we all are living on Mercy’s Time. Of course not everyone embraces this truth. The religious, self-righteous, pious people who believe themselves above failure; they trust in themselves more than God’s covering. If a man thinks he stands, Take Heed… he will fall. Regardless of our length or tenure in the church, the saint is only made so by the Blood of Calvary.

The Blood is simply the liquid form of the Mercy of God.  

We are all living under the umbrella of the Power of God’s Mercy.  The poet wrote it like this:  Lamentations 3:22  It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.  The Mercy of the Lord is holding back immediate judgement against us. Our minds cannot fathom how often God’s mercy has saved us.  The Word says we should be consumed, but God is faithful and His compassions will not fail.

Hear the psalmist: Psalms 78:38  But (God), being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not: yea, many a time turned he his anger away, and did not stir up all his wrath. Psalms 78:39  For he remembered that they were but flesh; a wind that passeth away, and cometh not again.

God’s Mercy stepped in between us and the law. God was so full of compassion that He turned Himself away from what should have happened because He remembered our fragile state.  It means that what should have happened was held back.  Mercy removed what was coming so that we did not receive what we deserved.  The Blood held it back… mercy was flowing.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

The Valuable Seed

Mark 12:1  And he began to speak unto them by parables. A certain man planted a vineyard, and set an hedge about it, and digged a place for the winefat, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country.

The parable of Jesus is descriptive and shines light on both the Old Testament Temple and Jewish nation as a whole.  In the O.T. the Temple was rebuilt, but still suffered the influence of false gods and idols.  It wasn’t until Nehemiah rebuilt the walls around the Temple that worship regained its integrity.  The Temple (every temple – your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost) needed a wall.

Jesus spoke about the Sower and the Seed.  The Seed was planted, but some of it was stolen.  There was no protection for the precious Seed because there was no wall; no hedge.  The above text describes it plainly:  A certain man planted and set a hedge.  He planted and then protected what was planted. He knew that regardless of the valued seed, it would not last without a hedge. The Seed was worth too much not to build a hedge.

Think of it; how many times have we heard the Word only to have someone speak against it?  How many leading questions have we heard that diluted the message? Not every question is sincere. Some are used to provoke doubt and skepticism.  I rise to say that the Word is too valuable for us to leave unattended.  Too much is on the line, not the least of which is the Revival that God is preparing us for.

We must protect the planted Seed.  Every conviction that God has given is the Seed.  Every message of direction is the planted Seed.  The Bible itself is the Seed that finds its way into the soil of our heart.  If we protect the Seed, there will be a great harvest.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Look unto Jesus

Upon hearing the Gospel, the Ethiopian Eunuch asked Philip the question, “What hinders me from being baptized?”  This was the opening step that led to the New Birth experience for a man of position and authority, but notice that his query came before his conversion and it entailed a “What?”  The answer of course was that nothing was in his way.  There was no reason or thing that kept him from being baptized.  For the seeker and sinner, there are many “things” that get in the way of salvation.  Before we come to obey Acts 2:38, life is in the way.  Time and material things cloud the path toward God and church attendance.  We might even think about the things that we have to give up, but after we are saved the “What” always seems to turn into a “Who.”

Paul asked the church members of Galatia the question:   Galatians 5:7  Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?  The Ethiopian Eunuch talked about the What before he was converted, but Paul addressed the Who to a church already saved.

There may be many things that can keep you from serving God, but I have found that after we see the revelation of the Mighty God in Christ and we are baptized in the name of Jesus, the “Who” is the most prominent hindrance to our walk.  I’ll speak plain:  People, sometimes church people, can hinder us from running the race more than the things that come our way.  Paul opened his questions to the church in Rome the same way.  Romans 8:35  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  He went on to talk about things like tribulation and famine, but his initial question focused on the Who.  For this reason I admonish you to keep your eyes on Jesus.  Don’t allow others to dictate your devotion.  Hebrews 12:2  Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith…”is the only way to stay focused.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole