The Lamb …

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Consider with me:  Jesus is twelve years old when He is found teaching in the Temple.  Joseph and Mary have made their yearly journey to yet another festival as a family.  We won’t see Him again for 18 years and that will happen in Cana at a wedding. Tradition is a powerful thing and it appears that Jesus kept those traditions of Passover, Pentecost, and Sukkoth (Booths). We don’t know how many Passovers the Lord kept through the course of His life. It could be that He was there every year until the day in which He Himself became The Lamb.

Can you imagine a 25 year old Jesus walking through the crowded streets of Jerusalem at Passover time?  Lambs baying; people rushing from merchant to merchant; the streets lined with visitors from the tip of Philippi to North Africa. Jesus is walking among them the whole time.  He’s there, The Lamb, seen and yet unseen.  He’s among them watching the ritual take place.  It’s an empty offering of sorts with no remedy in sight.  Nothing in their lives have changed. but there He is, going about the people as they clamor to offer their lambs, some brought – some bought. How is it that Jesus can be present, but so hidden? How could it be that the Lamb, for which the Passover was made, could be so cloaked?  I suppose the greater question is: Could we have church and not see Him?  He said that He was the Lord of the Sabbath.  It was made for Him; because of Him; by virtue of Him. Passover was to be the day of Atonement.   Pentecost was to be the Day of His Spirit In-filling.  Sukkoth was going to show His sustaining Grace.  And it brings me to this season which should be about Him.  We cannot afford to lose Him in the crowd. Jesus is here among us.  He is the answer we have been looking for.  It’s Jesus Time!

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

the Lord of peace…

John records four chapters of the Lord’s words to His disciples before His betrayal. Unknown to them at the time, these are the words of preparation which commence His suffering.  The disciples are not aware of what is about to take place. They are oblivious to the coming crucifixion as they are but a few days away from being guilty by association with this Jesus of Nazareth.  It’s here that the Lord speaks into their lives. Jesus said, 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.

The Lord’s words were for their near future; for us; or all those who seek Him.  Fear was about to knock at the door of their heart.  Doubt was about to seep into their thoughts:  Maybe the last three and a half years was for naught.  The ruthless beating and scourging of their rabbi would soon lay heavy on their minds and it would invoke a horror that most of us cannot imagine. They were with Him and it was enough to convict them.

Jesus was offering something that would last through every dark time.  His words would not only feed their bewildered souls, but would speak to us in our time of loneliness and confusion.  Jesus said, “I’m giving you My Peace.” He could give it because that was Who He was. His name, according to Isaiah, would be called The Prince of Peace.  Hebrews named Him the King of Peace. Paul wrote about, “the Lord of peace…” and there is so much more.

I see a world in chaos.  People are lost and without hope.  Above all, they are living in angst and much apprehension. Anxieties are rising; confidence is falling, but I give you Jesus:  He’s the peace that surpasses all understanding.  He is the Prince of Peace and He has given His peace to us today.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Thankfulness …

Luke records ten lepers who came to Jesus with their physical need.  Out of options and waiting to die, the lepers had given up all hope except to plead their case to Jesus.  It’s unknown who the ten lepers were, as there are no attributing names, but we do know that the one who came back to Jesus was called a stranger, i.e., a foreigner (NIV). He was a Samaritan; an outcast; somewhere in between Jew and Gentile.

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I’ve looked into the healing of the lepers: I’ve preached the Difference between being Healed and being Whole. It is found here in Luke 17 and the answer is Worship.  Yet there is something else that leaps forward. The leper who returned, came back to say, “Thank You.”  Jesus didn’t have to heal them.  It was not His mission.  He came to die and become the ransom for the world.  He came to save people from their sins, but on that day, ten men were changed from waiting to die to learning to live. We know that the difference between the one and the others was Worship, but it was rooted in thankfulness.  Thankfulness separated him from the crowd. Thankfulness defined him and ultimately brought about his wholeness. Incredibly, the outcast; stranger; the leper was thankful.

If the numbers add up, only 10% of the healed are thankful.  Just a fraction actually come to realize that what has happened to them is beyond the point of salvation.  Healing and God’s provisions; blessings of every kind; a good church family; friends filled with love; the freedom to worship in a country like ours, and so much more are beyond the realm of salvation.  We could be saved without all these blessings, but God has been good to us. Knowing the goodness of the Lord and His healing power, it is imperative that we live a life of Thankfulness. Our worship today is giving Thanks for all He has done.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

“keeps no record of wrongs”

Psalm 130:3-4  “If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness…”  John writes that God is love.  This is not just an attribute borne from the self-will of a deity, but John said that Love is the essence of His nature. God is the definition of love; not just a response.

Paul defined this matter in writing to the church at Corinth.  In that narrative we find the quintessential definition of God toward us. Paul  said (1 Cor. 13:5)that love “keeps no record of wrongs.” A record is evidence of a fact.  It is the written description that dispels opinion and controversy.  A record is that body of proof that something exists which cannot be removed; it cannot be denied.  It lingers in time and never quite leaves the realm of awareness.

wrongwayDavid knew this to be true.  He knew of the nature of God and he sang about it.  David submitted this question to the world that if the Lord kept a record of sins, of wrongs, who could be saved?

 

Who could stand before His Holiness? The answer is “no one!”  But thanks be to God that He keeps no record of wrongs because He is merciful and kind.  He removes our shame andexpunges our failures from His sight.

When we are covered by the Blood, there is no remaining proof of our past.  When we are born again of water and the Spirit, there is no evidence of the infractions levied against the Cross.  He has taken them and they are buried in the waters of baptism because in Him, there is forgiveness.” Micah 7:18-19  Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy. He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

The work is in the field…

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Some time ago a prayer group started among several churches.  The concern centered around lost souls.  When the pastors made the appeal for the meeting they were surprised at the positive response. Attendance was almost triple their original estimates. The program changed due to the increased number and a steering committee formed.  Prayer meetings continued until the lead pastor decided it was time to put their prayers into action.  They even called it “Action.”  He called for people to go out and bring the lost to their respective churches. They all agreed to this directive as arrangements were made to meet in order to canvas their cities, but much to their dismay, almost no one came to the “Action” part of the program.  They loved prayer, but few wanted to witness.  They liked the fellowship of faith, but they did not embrace the work of the field.

In the course of my ministry, I cannot say that anything has changed.  In fact this account is not even new to our generation. Jesus said as much, Matt. 9 “The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest.” 

The issue has never been the field. The problem is not about a depleted harvest. The harvest is Great. There are sinners and backsliders in every location.  There are wounded souls; displaced believers; children and more on every street. The harvest is plentiful.  The problem, according to Jesus, is that there are very few laborers in the field. Prayer? Yes!  But after prayer there must be a witness.  Fellowship of Faith? Yes! But after fellowship among the believers there must be workers in the field reaching souls and bringing them to the house of prayer. Our eyes are on the field, but our hands must be there too. The work is in the field.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Purpose …

Purpose is defined as the reason for something done or created. It is the meaning for all things.  Jesus said  the Holy Ghost would give us power to be witnesses. Acts 1:8.  In John 3 He described that without this born again experience a person could not enter Heaven.  That’s Purpose.  The Bible also declares that Jesus came not to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.  Purpose.

The Book of Esther holds a fascinating story.  Esther is a beautiful young girl chosen to marry the king of Persia. Her natural appearance grants her access to a life of leisure and a royal robe, but her purpose was to save the Jews from the hand of Hamaan.  She had a role to play in the salvation of her people and through her uncle, Mordecai, Esther came to realize the reason for her unique position.  She was not made the queen for her own pleasure.  She was not sitting in the seat of influence by happenstance.  Rather, God had placed her there for a divine reason.

We are here according to the Will of God. Our existence is significant to these last days. The enemy would lie to us and make us believe that we are of no account when he knows that God has given us gifts and talents in order to reach a lost and dying world.  Our troubles are even ordered of God for a reason. Paul and Silas were thrown into a Roman jail for preaching Jesus. Their midnightsongfest resulted in an earthquake as God released them from their chains, but their purpose came to light when they witnessed to the chief jailor and baptized him and his household.  What looked like a judgement was really a means for a family conversion.  The Bible is replete with the testimonies of God’s completed will in our lives.   Joseph said it right when he finally found and rescued his lost family.  He said, “you meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.”  Purpose

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

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Total Commitment

At the end of a long conversation my friend replied that he was not ready to make a commitment toward Christ.  He said, “I want just enough of Jesus to get by.”  I was too young to understand the depth of the moment, but I realized it some years later.  My friend liked church.  He enjoyed the music and sermons.  This minimal relationship with God helped him with his guilt and gave him enough satisfaction, but he, like so many others were living in the margins of Pentecost. Eventually he quit altogether. Our conversations had brought him to the brink of total devotion, but each time he made some excuse and retreated into the shadows. He was a marginal man.  He was a person who skirted the primary and tried to live in the secondary.

Paul dealt with similar things in his day. The most notable I suppose was his desperate desire to reach King Agrippa. The unconvinced king replied, Acts 26:28 “Almost thou persuades me to be a Christian.”  He was right there; almost, but not quite.

Jesus challenged the rich young ruler to sell all and follow Him, but when the young ruler realized the cost, the Bible says that he walked away “sorrowful: for he had great possessions.”

You see, no one really can live for the Lord on the edge.  In Jesus, it’s either all or nothing.  “Almost” always leads to nothing at all. “Almost” keeps you just cold enough not to fully understand the moving of the Spirit and lukewarm enough not to know the truth about His sacrifice and what ours must be.

Today I feel the Lord reaching for His church to return to their first love: To make a total and complete commitment. God is calling for people to look toward Him and put their hand to the plow and not look back. The word is Immersion. It’s a baptism of consecration and it is the only way.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Humbled and Whole

witheredhandThe Gospels of Mark and Luke both record the account of a man with a withered hand entering into the Synagogue.  Twelve years ago I preached about this very subject in which this man was healed as he displayed his affliction.  In more recent times, however, I have heard some erroneous conclusions about the scripture. Some report that the man was concealing his hand when he entered the Synagogue. However, the scripture gives no indication that he came in hiding.  In fact, both gospels tell us that those around him knew his condition and watched closely to see if Jesus would heal him. They were wondering what the Lord might do on the Sabbath day with this man who had a withered hand.  They were always looking to trap Jesus in a conflict, but it was Rabbinic tradition, not Old Testament law, which forbade the practicing of medicine on the Sabbath day unless the person was on the verge of death.  This too has been misinterpreted.  It was the rabbis who were angry at the Lord’s actions that day because he violated their law, not the Law of Moses.

In context, and true to the Word, this man did not unravel his hidden hand suddenly.  Rather the man came like in times before with an unconcealed affliction.  Jesus stood up to prove His power and authority over every sickness, even that of a withered hand, but there was more to the matter than the Lord’s power over sickness and disease.  Jesus was displaying that He was greater than their collective thought, even those Rabbinic traditions:  He was showing that He was Lord of the Sabbath.

handelderlywomanwrinklesJesus gave the man with the withered hand two commands: “Stand forth” and “Stretch forth thy hand.”  The first command entailed humility and confession. He had to humble himself in order to stand in the open before them all.  Consequently his action was a sign of confession that indeed he was afflicted. The man had to swallow his pride and allow the Lord to present him among them.  This may have been the most difficult step; to be singled out. The second command was an act of faith, which simply meant that he was responding to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. To stretch out his hand was akin to believing for the miracle.  The Bible says it like this, “And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other.”  

I cannot tell which command was more important only that they acted in concert with one another.  Humility and healing are chronological.  Obedience and faith resulted in deliverance.  In order to be whole might mean that you must be willing to come forward, even though everyone knows your need.  It might mean that you come to the forefront for prayer, or be wiling to be seen among the believers.  Pride often keeps us from presenting our known need.  Even private prayer might be used as a tool to remove ourselves from the open, but to humble yourself means that you are willing to allow others to pray over you.  Humility comes first and that is why it might be the more difficult step.

Humility first… healing second.  God spoke of this ordered transaction through His prophets. “If my people which are called by my name shall humble themselves… then will I hear from heaven and will heal..”.  II Chronicles 7:14.  Israel was instructed by the prophets to do the same in order to be delivered from the enemy.  The scripture is replete with similar commands.  Obedience and humility followed by faith and belief. James 5:16 says it succinctly:  Confess your faults one to another that ye may be healed.  This order is also found in salvation as fruits of repentance is followed by a healed life:  Death and burial followed by the miracle of the infilling of the Holy Ghost.  It is so apparent:  Humbled and Whole.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

My cup runneth over …

Colossians 2:9-10 For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.  Paul described the revelation that in the person of Jesus Christ the Godhead was complete and that we are complete in Him.  We’ve quoted this on numerous occasions to declare His sufficiency of deity.  We are settled that in the Godhead Jesus is enough, but I wonder if we leave the scripture behind when we discuss other subjects about life and ambitions.  Is Jesus enough for other parts of life?  Is His presence enough to fill those other voids that plague our living?

Noted counselors are speaking about the deficits of emotion and how that technologies and monies are cyclical in nature.  The result is that after the high of gain or new, there is a deeper void left behind.  It’s akin to the aftertaste that leaves one bitter and not better. It’s joined to debt left after the purchase fails to satisfy. Only a few days later, the new becomes the old and the things we had hoped would be enough fall short.

I submit that Jesus can fill every deficit in this life.  I believe that He’s the only One who can satisfy.  Everything else is temporal and leaves us worse than before. Nevertheless I ask, Is Jesus enough for you?

glassofwaterDemas didn’t think so as he left the side of Paul and joined himself to this present world. The rich young ruler didn’t think so.  He walked away sorrowful when he considered the choice. He thought it was too much to give up.  Is Jesus enough?  The world will tell you that being a Christian should be compartmentalized so that you can have your church life and your “private” life too.  The spirit of the age leads us further away with vain philosophies. Yet I submit that in Christ our fullness also dwells.  David said it best when he wrote of that Great Shepherd, “my cup runneth over.”

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Jesus is The Door!

Some years ago a few Apostolic brethren were accused of being Exclusivists. Not wanting to become obdurate about our doctrine, they made a feeble attempt to be more inclusive. This resulted in a diluting of holiness standards; a revision of the necessity of Jesus’ name baptism; and the lessening of our emphatic position of speaking in other tongues as the initial sign of the infilling of the Holy Ghost.  In fact, everything that Paul preached was on the chopping block. Even the scripture delivered by the apostles and prophets was diminished in lieu of being included by their accusers.  Sadly those who feared being called Exclusivists left the fundamental doctrines that defined the Apostolic Pentecostal movement. Their churches reflected as much.  Speaking in other tongues became obsolete. Baptism in Jesus’ name was optional and holiness lost its footing.

This matter of Exclusivism did not stop.  The pope has called for a return to Catholicism for all churches even though it was the Acts 2:38 believers which made up the first church.  Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life, has called Muslims his brothers under God even though they do not recognize Jesus and their god is not Jehovah of the Old Testament.  Many Evangelical religious groups have asked for a dismissal of any doctrines that separate.   Naturally this points to a One World Religion as was prophesied.  I submit that Paul, Peter, and Jesus were Exclusivists.  Paul said there is only One Faith and One Baptism.  Peter  baptized exclusively in Jesus’ name. Jesus told Nicodemus that unless a person is born again of water and the Spirit they could not enter Heaven.  Paul wrote of separation that all of the churches followed the same practice, I Corinthians 11:16.

I’m not ashamed to preach this Gospel for it is the power of God unto salvation because Jesus is The Door!

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

 

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