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

A Healthy Life

What I write to you is layered with meaning. From the fall in the Garden to this day, we all have been separated from God and from one another.  We’ve also struggled with our internal thoughts.  We began separated from God; one another, and self, meaning that we do not see ourselves correctly. Repentance is the path back to God. The love of Christ then brings us into fellowship with one another, but it is that last portion of self that is the most conflicting.

The struggle of that final separation is revealed in marriage and homes. The inner man/woman must be revealed in order for true healing to occur. Yet the most difficult perception is self-perception.  We just cannot see ourselves very well.  James wrote that it’s like a man who sees himself in a mirror, but later forgets what manner of man he was. Self-perception was destroyed when Adam disobeyed. One might contend that Adam did not know he was naked and that he did not have self-perception before the sin, but that would be an incorrect assumption.  The fact is that sin distorted his view of himself.  Disobedience revealed his nakedness, but it cloaked his heart.  He and all who would follow would wade through the mire of self-awareness.  This is why the Bible says that we must confess our sins.  We must see ourselves as sinners before we can be saved.  Religious people; church people no less struggle in this way also.  It’s hard for us to see our own expressions. While others see us; feel our spirits; hear the inflections in our voices, we have forgotten what manner of person we are. Some with biblical knowledge do not apply the scripture to their lives because they cannot see their own need.  They bypass the scripture which eventually damages the marriage and the home.  For this reason we look to the Lord to both reveal us and then to heal us. The key to all these things is our adherence to the Bible which in turns builds a healthy life.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

A Healthy Marriage and Home

Proverbs 18:22  Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD.

Yesterday, twenty-two years ago I found a good thing.  I’ve blinked my eye and the time raced by.  She is the love of my life and I stand on the foundation that our marriage has built. From the start we were ministering to people; preaching revivals, youth camps, conventions; conducting seminars; leading churches, but the existence of our ministry came from the strength of our marriage.  If we were in dispute, our ministry suffered.  If we were in unity, our message was effective.  The basis of the external always comes from the internal love that is shared by husband and wife.  Joy and pleasure; peace and security is all wrapped up in that union.

Sadly we are living in a world that has denied this fundamental building block.  Many have rejected the truth that Marriage is the first and primary aspect of all societies, nations, and peoples.  Today our culture is focused on self, thus comes selfies, but marriage is about a bond that demands selflessness.  A healthy marriage results in a healthy home.  In turn, a sound and spiritually secure marriage produces God-centered children.  While a host of people are working on bettering their children, they have forsaken the primary aspect of their marriage which is counterintuitive to the goal.  After a thousand books on marriage, it is incredible that the Bible is still the only book that covers the subject completely. God ordained this union as the image of Christ and the Church.  He gave it to mankind for the perpetuation of civilization and to have dominion over the earth.  Our world is far from this truth because they are far from God.  Today we focus on the first part of our vision:  A Healthy Marriage and Home.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

I sought the Lord

Exodus 33:7  And Moses took the tabernacle, and pitched it without the camp, afar off from the camp, and called it the Tabernacle of the congregation. And it came to pass, that every one which sought the LORD went out unto the tabernacle of the congregation, which was without the camp.

In the text we know that the first tabernacle was not placed in the middle of the people; it was “afar off from the camp.”  To seek God, they had to leave their dwelling and make the journey. Though everyone was invited, Moses did not make it convenient.  Prayer, supplication, and intercession was all a part of that first tabernacle which was also called the Tent of Meeting.  It predated the Tabernacle of Moses which held the Table of Shewbread; the Golden Candlestick, and the Ark of the Covenant.  This was a common place of prayer where everyone could make a conscious effort to come and pray.

I suppose that if there is a single thing that most separates us from every other generation, it is this matter of convenience.  Jeroboam’s words echo in my ear, 1 Kings 12:28  “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem.” Prayer and sacrifice; time and money; consecration and fasting have all been measured out like grain on a scale.  On the other side lies the heavy weight of convenience and options.  All of us enjoy the pleasures of technology. All of us look for ways to make life a little easier.  Yet there are some things that must be pursued with fervency and will not come with comfort.  Seeking the face of God; fasting food; an hour of prayer are all resisted by the flesh. The carnal nature will reject them and seek for something else, but if we are to find Him in the depth of His Spirit, we will have to humble ourselves and follow that well-worn path laid out by Moses; “everyone which sought the Lord went out…”

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

The Invisible War

1 Pet 4:12  Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:   To be sure, the enemy of your soul will do whatever he can to bring destruction to your life. We know that The Battlefield is the mind and there are no limits to which the enemy will go to replace our faith with doubt. Jesus said, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy:”  John 10:10

Every step we make toward God is a step away from the grip of the enemy and in return there is resistance in the spirit world.  Every godly commitment will be met by a challenge of will. Every move of holiness will be treated with contempt by the enemy of your life.  This tug-a-war exists in the realm of our thoughts and contemplations.  To this end, we pray a hedge of protection around our minds and thoughts.

This is not new as people of all ages have fought through this battle. In 1965, Donald Barnhouse wrote more thoroughly about it in his book, “The Invisible War.” The author called this war intense, saying that Satan never plays fair and the battle is unrelenting. Barnhouse wrote that the reason this war is so fierce is that your mind is your greatest asset.  It’s no wonder then why Paul penned “…whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, just, pure, lovely; are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.   Phil 4:8

We control the input. We are compelled  to guard our eyes, mind, and heart.  And the reason for this biblical admonition is this: The Invisible War is raging.

Prayer and fasting; reading the scripture and good communication build the hedges and fences that protect our mind.  The enemy will enter through any avenue we give him.  That is why we are commanded to “take every thought into captivity” 2 Cor 10:5.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Judge me…

When Jesus said in Matt. 7, “Judge not that ye be not judged,” He was talking about condemning others. In this case, “Judge” comes from the Greek word “krino” which means to condemn, punish, or avenge.  The Bible also uses the word “Judge” when it speaks of making a determination.  This “Judge” comes from the Greek word “diakrino” which means to separate thoroughly; to withdraw from, or discern and make a determination.  In respect to these two definitions, we are commanded first not to condemn one another, lest we be condemned.  However, we are to judge or decide on the matters of life, spirits and philosophies.  We are to decide, or judge, on the positions that people take.

Dr. King did not ask people not to judge him. Nor did he ask people to avoid an opinion about him.  Rather, King said, “Judge me…”  He wanted to be judged.  He wanted the writers of the present and future to judge him, but there were requirements imposed on this judgement.  Dr. King said, “Don’t Judge me by the color of my skin, but by the content of my character.”  He knew that there would be judgements, decisions, and positions taken. He knew that feelings would arise out of perceptions, but he wanted to be judged by the measurements of character and actions.

This is a common flaw among mankind: to determine people by appearance. Even Samuel, that great prophet of God, stumbled at the outward appearance. Samuel was to anoint a new king and he chose the eldest son of Jesse, but God rejected Eliab. Samuel was looking at his age and height. Eliab looked the part, but God was not looking at the outward appearance.  God was looking for the heart of a Shepherd to lead the people. God was and is looking for character, conviction, and a worshiper.  I’m preaching today, go ahead, Judge Me.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole