You Fool! What then?

Luke 12 recites the parable of a wealthy man who did not understand the priority of life.  In his accumulation he built bigger barns to store more things.  In the end, God said to him, “Thou fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own all the things you have prepared?” In a related biblical version the words are, “You Fool! What then?”  

The prodigal spent all that he had, but he never considered the question, “What then?”  His inheritance was going to run out, but he lived for the moment never considering what might happen next.  In a rage, Judas betrayed the Lord, but he never considered what would happen afterward; what would they do with Jesus?  I wonder how many have lived life without ever asking, “What then?”  Okay, so you won the argument.  What then?  Okay, you’ve shared your grievance.  What then?  Many have raced to the finish line only to discover that there was something beyond the checkered flag.  Accomplishments are all brief and then comes the next day.  Moments of bitterness might also be brief and then comes the next day.  

Both success and failure; blessing and sufferings are not forever.  As I have often taught, words are like bullets, once they are spoken they can never be retrieved.  So before I speak I must ask, What then?  Our human existence is temporal and then comes Eternity.  What then?  Where will we spend Eternity? 

The rich man squandered his opportunities to do good to Lazarus.  He passed by him without ever considering how his present neglect might affect his future existence.  The one-talent servant buried his gift, but never thought about the response of the master.  These are momentary decisions without any consideration to the consequences they bring.  It’s the flagrancy of youth to do without thinking and not consider the effect.  God said, “Thou fool. You’ve done all this but what then?  You’ve spent your life doing what pleased you, but you’ve given no thought for the next day.”  

I say we must Worship, Serve and Pray as seed offerings, knowing that they will be harvested in the future.  We must work in the Kingdom knowing that this world is not our home and that we must do whatever we can to make it to heaven.  I’m working on building the Kingdom; seeking for revival; and searching for God’s wisdom and truth.  These things matter to my today and my tomorrow. 

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Jesus wants the fragments…

John 6:12 When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.

As you may know, the Feeding of the 5,000 was the number of men only. In reality the actual number of people hearing was about four times that amount. The deep and long wilderness place overlooking the Sea of Tiberias was what many called the perfect place for an echoing voice to drift from the bottom to the top. Jesus stood on the shoreline which made it a natural chamber to house His voice. Hours of teaching will pass as the crowd becomes restless and hungry. The disciples will consider their lack of resources without ever considering the Creator that stands with them.

Andrew finds a solution, howbeit small, and brings it to Jesus. It’s a lunch made for one boy. Even the smallest thing in the Hands of the Master is more than enough to bring about a great thing. These are lessons that must sink deep into our hearts: The failure of self-sufficiency; the obedience factor; the consideration of the Who we stand with; the power of the insignificant in the Hands of the Omnipotent. I write of the depth of these truths. Among the many lessons given to us in this scene is the lesson that comes in the aftermath. The fish and loaves have been given. The blessings have been passed out and everyone has eaten. The last lesson of the day comes in the final command found in John 6:12: “Gather the fragments so that nothing is lost.” It is the critical point of the Lord which displays His heartbeat. He contends for the fragments. Paul wrote of Him, 1 Timothy 2:4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

Jesus wants the fragments. He is concerned about fragmented lives and the broken pieces just as much as He is about those who are whole. While we normally discard the broken things, Jesus was teaching His disciples, and us, that in His Kingdom everything is valuable and fragments are just as important as all the rest. Jesus doesn’t belong to a throw-away society. He came for the sick. He came to rescue and restore. It is His nature.

I submit that the greatest revival to come will be those who are imperfect; stained by personal failures and wounded by life. The masses are broken. So many are fragmented with no hope and no help. In this house there is healing. We care about the broken and wounded. We are after the fragments because nothing and no one should be lost.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

The Moon …

Ironically enough it seems that Hurricane Harvey has eclipsed the eclipse. The tragedy of the current has pushed last weeks news off the front page. August 21, however, was an incredible event when America experienced a total eclipse. The moon covered the sun. Flowers closed their petals and animals responded negatively. A host of things occurred that disrupted the flow of the creatures and plants of the earth which are too numerous for me to mention. I suppose that I can find a spiritual application for everything, but this I cannot pass up.

Think of the audacity the moon must have to totally block earth’s most needful aspect for life. The moon gives no light in and of itself. It offers almost nothing of significance to the earth. Without the sun we wouldn’t even know it exists. The sun provides light, heat, and the necessary ingredients for photosynthesis. The sun is the constant in measuring our times, years and days, not the moon. The moon only reflects what the sun allows. It’s not even that unique. Planets of all sizes have moons, but no planet has a sun like ours.

The “moon” is everything (or anything) that blocks our view of Jesus, the Son. The “moon” is the care of this life; the ambitions of the flesh; the fads and trends of our society. Jesus is speaking and things are getting in His way. The Lord is shining and something is blocking His message of Truth. He said, John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth, and the life:” By His own admission, He is exclusive. The Shema of Dueteronomy 6:4 reads exactly like Paul’s writing in Ephesians 4:5: “There is One Lord,” i.e., nothing is and should be before Him.

The challenge of our days is to keep things out of the way. This endeavor is never accomplished in a moment; meaning it is never completed. Keeping our hearts clean and our minds uncluttered is a daily task. Crucifying our flesh is a constant thing. Paul died daily because something, even his own attitude and spirit was standing ready to eclipse the mission. Job took control of his mind when he determined to “take into captivity every thought” because our minds can hinder His voice.

I submit that somebody or something will try to block you from what the Spirit is saying and the vision of the church. Someone or something will always be standing in the way of the Light. There is a wedge designed to deter you from worship and the Word. We must endeavor to clear the path and remove every obstacle that would eclipse His light.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Unity …

Genesis 11:6 And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.

The first time the word “nothing” is found in the scripture occurs the moment God saw the construction of the Tower of Babel and said, “..nothing will be restrained from them.” He viewed humanity united under a single cause to build a tower to reach into the heavenlies. They thought to invade God’s throne room and become gods in their own sight. It was an awesome display of cohesiveness with the wrong motive. It was the height of mankind’s ability to work together motivated by sin. To that scene God said that nothing would be withheld from them. He said that they could do whatever they put their minds to because they were unified.

Perhaps the greatest challenge among any people, nation, or church is to achieve unity. The word is almost conceptual in nature because of its rarity. Unity makes demands of individualists. In order for amalgamation to be conceived, there must be an absence of opinionated people. There must be a single vision; a single purpose and a cause that is embraced. Sacrifice of self becomes the foundational principle and harmony is the flourishing attitude.

In my experience, unity in the church creates a mighty move of God. It literally removes the barriers of the flesh so that the Lord can do what He has already willed to do. When a church becomes unified, it acts as a school of fish moving in sync and in faith. To attain such a thing means we must govern our words and control our tongues. It means that we must submit to one another and to the vision that the Lord has given. Unity can only be executed and witnessed when the flesh is fully submitted and personal ambitions are set aside for this solitary cause. To be sure, God does not impose this most precious gift on His people, i.e., He will not make us unified. Only we can chose to seek for it and work to realize it.

I pray for this moment in all of my prayers, because I know the power it would bring if only we would set aside pride and the will of our flesh. What would God do if we decided to unite around revival, the Word, and work of the Kingdom? I say that the sky is the limit and we would be able to reach higher to sit in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

The Greatest of These is Love…

As often as I rehearse this word I tend to but scratch the surface of its great worth: Love. The Lord silenced the Sadducees in Matthew 22. Having seen an open display of His authority, a Pharisee, a lawyer, decided to try his hand at trapping the Lord. He asked, Matthew 22:36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Without hesitation the Lord replied: “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” This would have been sufficient in itself, but Jesus went further: Matthew 22:38-40 This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Everything hinged on those two commandments. 1) Love God. 2) Love others. Paul wrote
(I Corinthians 13) of the worth of Faith and Hope which are powerful concepts in their own right. In the end Paul said that the greatest is Love. Love supersedes the rest. All spiritual matters; all prophetic terms; all gifts and callings rest on Loving God and Loving people. 1 John 4:20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?

Programs are good, but without love all programs are empty. Some hang their hat on insights, but without love these things are failing mechanisms. The bedrock of our faith and our church is Love. Loving God and loving people. Love is the foundation of all growth internally and emotionally. It is both the launching pad and the necessary energy that sustains the church. Even in disagreement, Love is the bridge that holds us together. I hope you hear this. Talent; spiritual insights; biblical understanding are all empty without love. Add some smart people. Throw in some intellectuals. None of it matters if there is no love. If love is missing, talent won’t make up the difference. If love is left out, we cease to be the church of Jesus Christ. We are a dysfunctional social club.

I’m a little weary hearing people talking about how much they love people, but talk about them behind their back. That’s not love. Love would never speak against a brother. Love is more than an emotion. It’s a decision. You don’t just feel it in your heart, you make the conscious choice in your mind. I’m not impressed with talent or intelligence. I’m impressed with those who love people. All gifts fail without the choice of Love.

Love never needs an explanation. Love transforms lives. It allows people room to grow, even make mistakes. Love picks people up when they fall and doesn’t condemn them or remind them of their failure. Love covers the infractions of others. It considers the greater picture in all things. I present the great hinge of the revival to come. I submit the way for prodigals to return to the Father’s house and all sinners to be saved. Let Love rule and take preeminence in this house. The Greatest of these…

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

This kind…

Matthew and Mark both record a father’s plea whose son was possessed with a foul spirit. To no avail the disciples tried to cast out the spirit. In bewilderment, they spoke to Jesus about their lack of authority. Jesus performed the miracle and then gave instruction: Mark 9:29 This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.

While the miracle is powerful in itself, I’m more gripped by what has been left out in modern versions of the Bible. Of the 5 top Bible versions, only the King James retains the word “fasting.” All the others simply say that prayer alone should be used. Even though the Greek texts uses the derivative word for fasting, nesteia, nace-ti’-ah: abstinence (from food), the modern biblical view has removed fasting from its text.

Several new articles and books depict the reasons why Christians do not fast. One even asks in its title, “Should Christians Fast?” I’m appalled. Are we really asking the question whether we should engage in this biblical and spiritual act? Has self-indulgence overtaken us insomuch that we are gluttons and cannot remove food from our presence? Could this be the reason why so many biblical translations have left out the necessity of fasting?

Jo Swinney wrote that “prayer, financial giving, worship, hospitality, Bible reading and service are all recognized forms of Christianity, but fasting appears to have fallen out of favor.” We have moved toward things that we are comfortable with and have abandoned things that crucify the flesh. Richard Foster states the absence of fasting comes because people believe, “…it is just too costly.” He asked, “Have we become so accustomed to ‘cheap grace’ that we instinctively shy away from more demanding calls to obedience?”

The miracle of Jesus required constraining the flesh. The disciples employed prayer, but some things required fasting also. It was prayer, plus putting the body under subjection to the Spirit that produced authority over the enemy. We are launching a fast this week, because we must take dominion over the enemy called sickness. It is imperative that we leave nothing out. It will take both prayer and fasting. Regardless of the modern day versions of the Bible, the text declares that these two things are key to overcoming certain things that cannot be undone. This kind…only by prayer and fasting.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

“Peculiar People”

 

1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

I’ve never been opposed to the people of God being called “peculiar.” We are different from the world and we are not ashamed. We are “set apart” and “called out” from the nations. So if you would like to refer to Peter’s writing in this way, then there are ample scriptures to assist you. However, the word “peculiar” actually refers to something belonging to someone, as someone’s property. It’s referring to ownership. It is “peculiar” in ownership. Yet, there is a double meaning in that this ownership (God) makes demands on His subjects to be different than the rest. Thus, peculiar retains its meaning in the light of the wishes of the owner.

New versions of the Bible have removed the word “peculiar.” Mostly because the English language has suffered the fate of a vacuous crowd. They are missing the broader point that we are not of this world because God has chosen us. To that end, yes, we are strange, much like Moses when he named his son Gershom, “I am a stranger in a strange land.”

Think of it: Our country now normalizes perversions. What was once called evil is now applauded. Men becoming women is called courage, while the name of Jesus is offensive. Outward holiness is mocked by even so-called Bible believers. Surely we are peculiar. To be a virgin before marriage is an anomaly. To be faithful to your spouse is called rejecting your “natural instincts.” The nuclear family itself has been redefined because of its insolence. Can you imagine! Isaiah said, Isaiah 5:20 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

My word is this: We belong to Him. We are the called out ones. Chosen by God. He purchased us with His own Blood. He retains possession and that makes us peculiar. 1 John 4:6 “We are of God” we are not of this world. Therefore, we cannot look, act, or conduct ourselves by the standards of this world. I’m following after holiness without which no man shall see the Lord!

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

The Who …

1 Timothy 2:3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;

1 Timothy 2:4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

I Timothy 2:3 reveals the proper pronoun for the “Who” found in the prior verse. Simply put, God desires for all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. Jesus died so that we might live. He made the ultimate sacrifice for us to be saved. This is the nature of the Lord in that His great desire is to seek and to save that which is lost. He is tender in mercy; long-suffering in disposition; and forgiving in action. Jesus is the Savior Who will have all men to be saved. His intention is clear. The question is not whether Jesus will allow the sinner to be saved. The question is whether we will have all to be saved. God will, but will we?

I’ve lost a little apprehension in my older years so I’ll just say it with clarity: What are we willing to give up so that someone can be reached, saved, and restored? Where is our sacrifice and how can we claim to believe in the Cross and not lead people to it? It is not enough to learn about Jesus; we must teach others about Him. It is insufficient to know the truth and not share the truth.

Calvary demands a witness. Someone must teach them the words of Jesus in John 3, “You must be born again of the water and the Spirit.” Someone must disciple and cultivate a relationship with those who do not understand this great Gospel. It’s more than just inviting people to church. Reaching people means time spent and effort exerted. It means prayer and breaking through the forces of darkness until they see the light. The world is filled with layers of guilt, shame, confusion, and false concepts and we must be His witnesses. Jesus said pray for laborers, not the harvest.

I’m calling out to the Body of Christ to push away from personal pursuits. We must reach the lost with the name of Jesus. God will. Will we?

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

 

Apostolic Doctrine

Consider the words of the Apostle Paul:

2 Tim 4:14 Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works:

2 Tim 4:15 Of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words.

2 Tim 4:16 At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge.

Paul reflected on those who opposed him, which reveals his troubling times. In the prior verse he spoke of Demas, a backslidden brother. The losses of Paul’s life had mounted toward the end. Yes, there were successes and miracles, but resistance also accompanied his ministry. Paul had to deal with false brothers who sought to destroy revival and discredit his ministry. Opposition was his constant companion. Alexander was an evil man who hated Paul and sought to dismantle the message. Paul said, “The Lord will repay him for what he has done.”

I write today to say that not everyone will embrace this Apostolic Doctrine. Not all will love us. Some will even try to do us evil. Accusations will come regardless of our good intentions. There will be conflict. Jesus said: John 16:33 “In this world you will have trouble.” However, our plight must be greater than our personality. We strive to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ in that He died; was buried in a borrowed tomb; and rose again on the third day. Offenses will attend to our mission, but they should never stop our witness. Family, friends, and co-workers might even oppose us, but the New Birth experience must be told.

If you are resisted, then you are in good company. The pharisees fought against the Lord Himself. The religious council rebuked and beat Peter and John for healing the lame man. Paul was stoned and left for dead for the sake of the Gospel. The religious sects opposed the early church in every way possible. Even members of the first church turned against one another and caused confusion. There will be hostility when the Truth is involved. We press on because what we are doing is greater than our person. To that end, I offer you this word of determination which I often place as the center of my thought:

Phil 3:14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

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