Follow By Faith

Consider God’s declaration in the Bible’s first book. Genesis 18:18 Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him. The blessing of the Jewish people came via the obedience of one man. Israel’s wealth, land, and future began the day that Abraham took God at His word and followed by faith. It makes me know that one person can make all the difference. The Bible says that sin came by way of Adam and righteousness by way of Jesus Christ. Romans 5:19 “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.”

The Word offers declaratives about the power of obedience, sin, and faith. Through the ages, both men and women have set forth a domino effect for blessings and curses in their families and among their children. Jonathan was a faithful friend to David, which resulted in Mephibosheth’s blessing. Hannah prayed a desperate prayer and gave her son to the work of the temple which led Samuel to become the most unique spiritual leader in the nation’s history. Obededom opened his house to Ark of the Covenant and it changed the course of his life, family, and sons.

We have the power to set things in motion that will add joy or bring sorrow. Seeds that are buried may not be known for many years to come, but in time, all seeds come to life. All seeds bring fruit after their kind. Jesus said, Matthew 7:17 “Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.”

Praise sets in motion the habitation of God and obedience to the Word sets in motion the favor of the Lord. Submission sets in motion the authority of God. A word fitly spoken opens up doors of goodwill and friendship while a negative word binds up faith. Doubt sets fear into motion and so much more…

Whether Abraham knew it or not, his blind obedience to God was the entrance to blessings that reached far beyond his own lifespan. All the nations of the earth are blessed through him. With this in mind, I have come to set in motion something that will outlive me and will work on my behalf. I’ve come to Worship Him with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. I’ve come to give Him Glory from Whom all blessings flow.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Faith by Hearing

Consider the moment when a Syrian king made private plans to overthrow Israel.  Each time he issued a command, the armies of Israel countered with an alternate plan.  It must have been frustrating for the Syrian generals to move an entire army only to return home without having fought.  There were no wins or losses to point to their trouble.  The scripture tells us that Elisha knew the plans of the enemy even though the king made those plans in secret.  The king of Syria began to think that one of his own men was a traitor so he asked, “Who is for the King of Israel?”  The answer came, “None my king.  It’s that prophet in Dothan.  He hears everything you say in your bedchamber.”
The next scene is somewhat puzzling to me as Syria journeys to capture the very man who knows their every move.  The morning of that meeting pictured a frightened servant who saw the Syrian army advancing against them.  He rushed to say as much to Elisha.  The prophet’s next words entailed a proclamation and a prayer.  Elisha said, “There are more that be with us than they which be with them.”  Then Elisha prayed that God would open up the eyes of his servant so that he could see.  The scripture says that the servant saw the mountain full of horses and chariots of fire.  He saw the angelic army of the Lord of Hosts!
Sight can be so restrictive, especially when it comes to the things of God.  The human nature takes confidence in what can be seen.  However, the spiritual man takes confidence in what can be heard.  In fact, the hearing of the Word produces a spiritual sight.  What we see with our natural eyes often produces fear, inhibition, and doubt.  Our natural sight betrays our true position in Jesus Christ.  It is limited and misleading.  Paul wrote that:  Romans 10:17  “…faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”  Faith doesn’t come via the physical realm.  It never has.  Faith is the movement I make knowing that my natural vision cannot be trusted.
The servant of Elisha isn’t so far from any one of us.  It just so happens that his words were recorded.  Nevertheless, there is another word given and I offer it to whosoever will receive it:  They that be with us are more than they which be with them!  I pray that God will open your eyes.  You are surrounded by the Heavenly host; full of fire and power!
Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

The Home…

Acts 5:42 “And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.”

Two critical moments occurred in the history of the early church. The first came at the end of Pentecost when 3000 people were baptized in Jesus’ name and were filled with the Holy Ghost speaking with other tongues. The second occurred as Luke writes, Acts 2:42 “…they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” Acts 2:46 “And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart”

Notice that the early church exercised worship and the Word in both the Temple and in their homes. Seeing that they did not have physical buildings as we have, it was their mission to expand and expound the Gospel in as many places as possible. While tradition ordered their steps into the Temple, the expansion of the first church happened primarily in their homes.

The home is a wonderful place. It is the place where we retreat and find refuge. Of course, there are exceptions to this narrative, but for the most part the home is the place where we relax. The modern day view of Christianity is one of compartmentalization: The home is our personal habitat and the church is the house of the Lord. We worship on Sundays at church and live normal lives at home. This was not the model of the book of Acts church. Homes were the locations of teaching, singing, and worship. The Temple was an overspill of the activities that occurred inside of their homes.

We must ignite prayer and the Word in our homes. Our personal living space cannot be off limits to God. If the Church is to be a place of overspill, then there must be another place where we are filled.

We are on a journey for a mighty revival and I believe it will come when we realize that our homes and daily living entail making friends and making disciples. Everyone must find someone and lead them to Christ. I am promoting bringing friends to our homes and then to the church. There is a revival waiting and it can be found in our homes.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Political

Politics have become one of the most divisive things in our world today. There is little debate over the raging differences that exist in our nation’s capital. From local governmental bodies to the halls of Congress we are seeing a polarization of immense proportions. While many are keenly aware of these divisions, history speaks to such factions. Europe has been overran numerous times. Africa has seen bloodshed. America was divided in the 1800’s as fathers took up arms against sons; brother against brothers in the Civil War. I am not submitting that our day is the only time of conflict. The difference is a great departure from biblical foundations.

As judges are appointed to fill empty seats, the Senate is given the task to interview each occupant. In an exchange with a conservative judge, Senator Cory Booker asked if Judge Neomi Rao believed gay relationships are a sin. The point of the inquiry was to point out that Judge Rao would be unqualified to sit on the bench if she thought that the LBGTQ community was sinful in practice. Senator Booker has been joined by a host of other congress people who also decry the idea that sex outside of marriage (a man and a woman) should be considered a sin. In fact, in his opinion, anyone who describes gay relationships as sinful should be removed from public office and government jobs.

You see, the next great division is about the Holy Scriptures. Political leaders are denouncing these biblical teachings. Sin with all of its definitions has been approved and the Bible is being outlawed. The political world is stepping into the church and removing the very foundation of our beliefs. So while there have been many wars and conflicts in world history, these days boast of a war between holiness and the works of the flesh.

The matter is not whether worldly men and women will demand the removal of biblical truths; the matter is whether Christians will stand up and be counted. Are we ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Are we hiding in the shadows, hoping not to be noticed that we are a set apart people, a holy nation, a royal priesthood? Hear me… we are The Church – The Bride that will be presented to Him without spot or wrinkle.

Let me answer the senator’s question. Yes. Sexual activity outside of marriage which features one man and one woman is a sin. Yes. All adulterers and fornicators are engaging in sinful practices and are acting in opposition to the Truth found in the Bible. Finally, “Yes” the precious Blood of Jesus Christ has been given to forgive and pay the price for the sin of the whole world.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

He loved us …

Ephesians 2:4-5 “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)”

American ingenuity and freedom have become interesting bedfellows. We are both creators while enjoying the benefits of self-expressions. Our constitutional platform is unlike anything in the world. W. Cleon Skousen wrote how Americans have leaped over thousands of years of struggle to come to this moment. However, with all of our self-will and open-door opinions, there seems to be a deficit in our thinking. Societal benefits have caused spiritual hindrances to the Church. In short, we are saved by Grace; not by ingenuity or intelligence.

Paul wrote that our salvation came by way of God’s love. He loved us when we did not know Him. He loved us when we were unlovable and had nothing to offer. No one came by way of their own knowledge or goodness. The Bible says that none are good and all have sinned. We did not come to the knowledge of Jesus Christ by our own initiative. It was not our ambition that brought us into this great salvation. We came by way of His Love.

The modern day believer doesn’t always recognize this fact. They think that they have earned their way into the church. They think that their opinions, responses, and feelings should account for something of significance. Some even think that spiritual lineage has allowed them access into the Body of Jesus Christ.

Paul said that we were all “dead in sins.” Paul submitted that our salvation came via a love that we cannot fully grasp. Paul writes about our limited comprehension of the Cross and our human sight. We look through a cloudy mix of understanding. Our eyes and spirit cannot fathom the depth of God’s love for us. The Cross itself was a perfect love. God robed Himself in flesh to die as a sacrifice for our sins. It was the pivot point of the whole world.

So tell me why we deserve to feel the Love of God. Somebody tell me what we have done to garnish the grace of this Holy God. I’m curious why we enter His house and wait for someone to prod us to praise a Savior Who gave Himself for our sins? Is it the music that provokes us to worship? Are we waiting for our favorite song or the right rhythm to rejoice?

I would rather just say, “I’m here to worship Him because of what He has done for me before I ever knew Him.” While we were dead, He died. He died so we can live. So… “Here I am to worship. Here I am to bow down. Here I am to say that you are God.”

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

I must decrease …

Before John the Baptist appeared on the scene, there was an obvious absence of Spiritual authority. The prophets had faded into the shadows of that older time even though the Temple work prevailed. John became an instant hit. His preaching was without a filter. His message was unique. Most of all, he did not mince words when it came to the deeds of his counterparts: the pharisees. However, the greatest statement of John’s ministry concerned himself and Jesus Christ. He said, “I must decrease and He (Jesus) must increase.”

John’s statement is better seen as a weighing scale of importance. God’s presence prevails when there is less of me, i.e., He can only increase if I am willing to decrease.

The greatest opposition that has the power to confine the work of the Spirit is the flesh. His glory is always proportionate to my pride. His authority is limited by my acknowledgment of my weakness. The greater my person, the smaller His Presence. The more profound my view, the less clear His Word.

God’s competition is not the devil. His competition is me. Satan has no power to resist God…but I do. God gave us the power to reject His love, favor, and truth. God wants to be great in our midst, but He can only work to the extent that we allow Him. He stands at the door and knocks. He is a knocking Savior, a gentle Redeemer. He is not an abrasive God that kicks down doors and demands us to serve Him.

He will not change my will. He has ordained my will to be an affront to His Authority, if I so choose. Incredibly enough, my will can supersede His divine order. Flesh, arrogance, and haughty spirits are the elements of a carnal man and they are the very things that crowd out the Glory of the Omnipotent Savior.

If we desire His glory, then we must become humble before Him. I must decrease in order for Him to increase. I must become empty of opinions and personal thoughts so that He can be the great God in my life. The ratio is set. Less of me means more of Him. Less of my will means more of His will. Go see Gideon. God does His greatest work when there are no resources left to manage. He does His most magnificent things when all we have is Him to lean upon.

His Glory can be seen, His power known, but all of it is contingent upon our choice. Heed the voice of the one crying in the wilderness.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

… Stones …

The stones of Bolshoi Zayatsky Island are intriguing things. While most people are not overly concerned as to their intent, it is interesting to consider their labyrinths shapes, weaving and spiraling on the ground. The clusters have perplexed tourists for many years. I suppose that they once served some purpose, though no one knows what that might have been.

Some surmise that the stones were used in spiritual rituals while others say they were templates for fishing nets. The stories, however, have all turned into fables. Whatever their purpose, it has long since past. Today they are now just tourist attractions on a lonely island on the outer banks of Arkhangelsk Oblast, Russia.

When Joshua crossed the Jordan River, he commanded the leaders to gather stones from the dry bedrock of the parted water. They gathered those stones on the shore and built them up as a memorial of their crossing. Joshua said, “When your children ask you ‘what meaneth these stones’ you will be able to tell them of this day and of the Lord’s power.

Joshua saw the stones as a reminder of God’s promise. He wanted the people to have something to mark their entrance into the land of promise. A short two generations later, they forgot Joshua and the works that God had done for Israel. Those stones lost their meaning. They were shaped and formed, but no one understood their intent. Gratefully, God sent prophets, judges, and kings to resurrect His truth and keep His voice in their lives.

The knowledge of God may be assisted by the physical realm. I do concede that buildings and land; stones and monuments all serve a purpose. However, Israel kept the Law via oral tradition. In their darkest times, when the scrolls were burned and the nation was bound, God’s people taught their children in their homes. Fathers and mothers spoke of God. They invested conversation in their families so that regardless of the condition of the monument, the Law was planted. David said, Psalms 119:11 “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.”

I hope you will remember the physical blessings of your life. I hope that you will always acknowledge the Lord’s provisions. I pray that you will never forget this Holy Ghost experience. I hope that you will be thankful for things, which you see and hold, but I pray that you will remember the reason why they exist. God did this. God gave this. He brought us out and ordered our steps. These stones speak of His mercy and His grace. They talk of His love and His power. His Truth; the Gospel and His name are the treasures of this life. As for the stones, they must be remembered because they reveal a time when God did the impossible.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Be the Shekel …

In a religious age where the church and the Bible’s doctrines are under-valued, I submit The Temple Shekel.

Without the means to measure proper weight of monies in the market place, merchants would often shave the outer edges from their currency to retain more of the precious metal. In relatively short periods of times, the common shekel might weigh much less than its original form. The only way to measure the market’s money was to weigh it against the Temple shekel.

Inside of the Temple was a chamber that kept and protected the original. All the other pieces were compared against it. The command was to bring the outside shekels and compare them with the inside standard. In short, the Temple became the beacon for what was true and what was false.

While some religions have shifted away from the Bible, the fact remains that the Church must be the standard of what is true. The Church reveals how respect is offered; forgiveness is given; and people should live. If the House of God is kept holy and unblemished, then the world will know what decency and honor looks like.

In a society rife with strife; where tensions seem to flourish and divisions are the order of the hour, it is critical that the church sets the standard on how to live and love in harmony. New Life Fellowship must be a lighthouse; a city set on a hill that cannot be hid. We are commissioned to keep holiness in the fear of God and to display the love of Jesus among one another. Racial tensions and political divisions will persist in this world. However, the proper way must be found in the church.

While many will set aside this day to remember a singular voice, as we have also done so many times, I am compelled to write that the Church is the current sound, which signals the standard of conduct. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. did what he could while he lived. To merely reflect on his accomplishments is to fall short of our responsibility. Paul said that we are an epistle read of all men. We are the current chapter in the book of love. We are the living witnesses of what society should follow.

Therefore, I rise to admonish this body: Be the Church! It is the only standard bearing shekel that can bring order to a world in chaos. Be the Body of Christ and reflect His righteousness. Be a people, not a segmented group that is defined by the outward, but by the Word and the Spirit. Be the Shekel.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Individualism

It’s nothing new. You know, the idea that everyone should be accepted for what they do. Individualism has always been prominent among people full of carnality. Cain was the clear winner when it came to self-justification. He thought that a grain sacrifice was just as good as a blood sacrifice. Even though God had clearly established the way, Cain was enamored with his own offering. And why not? Shouldn’t we all just be accepted? What difference does a sacrifice make? Isn’t it all just about intent? Truth is, offerings to God are useless unless He receives them.

How is it that Christians post half-naked pictures on social media sites and then complain if others are disgusted by them? Or what about comments, thumbs up, and a host of ‘likes’ supporting sinful activities and ideas? How far have we gone when the godly are criticized for not accepting what people do when those actions are against the very Word of God?

To be sure, personalized salvation is not a biblical thought. No one gets to decide what is good or evil. The Bible alone is the sole provider of Truth. In this era of self and the selfie, we are led to believe that God accepts people just as they are. While this idea is the beginning step, Jesus calls us to be a new creature in Him. In other words, He never leaves us the way He finds us. We are commanded to be Born Again. Old things must pass away.

The reason for our transformation is simple: Our God is a holy God.

Leviticus 20:7 “Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God.”
1 Peter 1:15 “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;”
1 Peter 1:16 “Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”

Holiness is a command not an option. Holiness is not a man-made venture. It is a God-initiative and not subjective or open for debate. No unclean thing can enter the realm of a holy and righteous God. Hebrews 12:14 “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:” Paul wrote; 2 Corinthians 6:17 “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.”

I’m seeking to make a sacrifice that He will accept. I’m seeking to lead a church that is more concerned about pleasing God that justifying individual intent. 1 Thessalonians 4:7 “For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.”

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Heart of Worship

I’m writing in hopes of building a heart of worship. I’m working on my own heart. I’ve peered over the edge of time and found my days moving too fast to waste. Whether we see it or not, truth is, we all have a small window to live this life.

The Bible’s oldest book is Job. However, his life’s work and accomplishments are not listed there. The pages are filled with unimaginable trials and afflictions. Perhaps the greatest moment in the book is Job’s words of praise and worship. In spite of his turmoil, Job refused to curse God. Rather, he blessed the Lord. I wonder what we would do if it had been us? What if praise was inconvenient? Would we still offer God the same? Would we lose our heart of worship if the conditions of life were set against us?

When Malachi called Israel back to sincerity and sacrifice, the people responded, “What a weariness this is…” (Malachi 1:13). They considered worship as a constricting obligation. Pleasing the Lord had vanished from their minds. Their hearts were far from worship. Purity had been replaced with pleasure. Obedience had been exchanged for subjectivism. Convenience looked so much more inviting than sacrifice. They did not realize that a heart of worship can only be develop through purity, obedience, and sacrifice. God’s response to Israel was four centuries of silence.

The American Pentecostal church is showing signs of the same. Conferences now boast of profound orators and relevant worship bands. Buildings need to be warm and inviting. Even the service time is measured because of the waning attention spans and schedules of the attendees. I’m praying that we would shed these fleshly requirements and dive deep into worship and praise.

Both individually and corporately, Jesus is the Center of all those who have a heart of Worship. Situations and circumstances; even turmoil will not halt a person whose heart is focused on worship. Whether in trial or triumph, the Lord is worthy of our praise. If He is not the center; if He is a secondary and if His house is an option, then we will struggle to worship Him. This is the demand of our lives. We must seek Him and create an atmosphere where He can dwell. It begins with a heart of worship.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole