Balance

In respect to the time, it is apparent that our western culture has seen its most violent shifts in the last few years. Governments, debt, divorce, crime, and a host of other factors make our generation a stark contrast to those before us. The American way of life has become disheveled. While there is a difference between the saint and the sinner, I have found that what exists in everyday life often makes its way into the mindset of the Church Body.

One of the issues is that of Balance – I am not speaking of a steady equilibrium. I speak of the equal scale of encouragement and correction; of giving and saving; of faith and works; of church involvement and family time. Our spiritual lives are often out of sync with the Spirit, because our natural lives have no room to hear Him. The early church balanced their gatherings by being present in the Temple and from house to house. They believed both were necessary as disciples of Jesus Christ.

Consider the critical substance of water. Oddly enough, drinking too much water can be deadly. Over-hydration occurs when a person drinks too much water. It’s called water intoxication or hyponatremia. In 2002, Boston Marathon runner, Cynthia Lucero died from drinking too much water as she threw her body out of balance thus losing the necessary chemicals to live.

Overindulgence of fun, entertainment, and media affects our spiritual health. Nonstop work with no Bible reading or prayer time might garnish more money, but it removes us from The Bread of Life. All of these things, if they are out of balance, cause the spiritual body to suffer. Time spent can never be recovered and when those hours are gone, they tell the story of our priorities and passion.

Jesus saw it in Israel – their striving for land, goods, and gain. He told them to seek first the Kingdom. He addressed the out-of-balanced religious sects concerning their indulgences. He said, Matthew 23:23 “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe… and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.”

Jesus presented Balance.

I urge you today to take note of your life. How do the scales read at the end of your day? And finally, what shall you answer when God asks you about the way you spent your life?

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

The Passover

By the time Moses had retreated and Pharaoh had dug in, the land of Egypt was wasted. Nine plagues had ravished both water and land; crops and livestock. The residue of God’s judgment could be seen in every corner of the nation. God made His intent clear when He said, Exodus 14:18 “And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD…”

Of the ten plagues only one was able to afflict both Hebrew and Egyptian. The tenth plague would know no boundary. The ninth was that of Darkness, and yet, there was light in the land of the Lord’s people. However, the final one would offer no reprieve. Everyone was required to cover their homes with the blood of an innocent lamb. Both Egypt and Israel had the opportunity to save their sons if the blood was applied. If not, judgment was certain to come.

God sent an angel at midnight. It was the commencement of something far beyond the moment in which they lived. Each home which had the sign of the blood on their doorposts were saved. The angel would “pass over” when he saw the blood, thus the day was called The Passover.

While we have adopted the term “Easter” (having multiple meanings in American culture), the root of it was always The Passover. It was the moment when the curse of death could not enter by virtue of the applied blood. The difference between the Passover of Moses and the day in which Jesus died was that Jesus was The Lamb of God. His blood was precious, atoning, and perfect. His death was the sacrifice made once and for all. The whole of humanity would now have the ability to be covered by the saving Blood of the sinless sacrifice.

His death gives reason for forgiveness and His burial gives promise of removal. Howbeit, His resurrection gives Hope of a New Life. Today, we are thankful for His sacrifice and His burial; and we rejoice at His assurance of His empty tomb. Paul wrote it this way:

Romans 6:4-5 “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:”

It came by way of The Passover…

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

“Seed”

November 11, 1918, marked the beginning of the end of World War I. An armistice was signed shortly after 5 a.m., but the cease fire would not be in effect until 11 a.m. Those six hours were said to feel like an eternity. Even afterward, some of our soldiers which were entrenched did not want to celebrate or come out of their bunkers. War develops heroes, but it also produces profound fear. The news of the war’s end was not readily received by all. A few even thought of digging in a little deeper. They heard the report, but did not fully embrace it.

The struggle can cripple our acceptance of the victory. Long standing conflicts or battles make it difficult to accept God’s promises and peace. Those few soldiers who heard the good report reverted back to the battle at hand.

Truth heard is not always truth received. The Message may be believed, but what happens next is most important. The Word which we have heard has the ability to set us free and yet, if that Word is not protected, it can be stolen or become blurred in the cloudy mix of our own dilemma. Messages of freedom, victory, blessing, and more have all been questioned by the people of God. We are made free by the Blood of the Lamb. However, some are still living in the bunker, struggling to accept their own deliverance.

Jesus told the parable of the Sower who sowed the seed, but afterward: Mark 4:15 “…when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts.” Our joy and confidence in the Lord must be guarded lest we lose what we have found. Our confidence in Jesus and in the Doctrine must be secured lest the enemy of our soul steals it from our hearts.

We have felt the unction of the Holy Spirit in our midst and the Lord has guided our steps. Yet, if the “seed” is to prevail; if it has a chance to grow and multiply, we must guard it with our lives. Jesus has won the victory and His Word is alive in this house of worship and now we must act on what we have heard! The Greater Victory is waiting for us to rise with boldness and lay hold of the promises of God.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

… Treasure …

For the better part of 4,000 years, treasures have been difficult to keep. Of the many discovered and lost items of worth is the Florentine Diamond. Boasting of 133 carats, the Florentine is reported to be the largest pink gem of its type in the world.

Historian Gordon Brook-Shepherd wrote about its origins and its loss. It was the Hadsburg royal family which once held it in their possession. When the royals found themselves on the losing side of World War I, they entrusted its keeping to a lawyer named Bruno Steiner. The diamond was suppose to be kept in a secure bank vault in Switzerland, but it disappeared and Steiner was arrested and charged with fraud. To date, no one knows the whereabouts of the 133 carat gem of rarity. Treasures are hard to keep.

Throughout all time, people have spent their life’s blood chasing money, land, and material assets. The story is old, but sobering. Even though we know this world is not our home, the church often becomes entangled with ambitions far beyond the Kingdom of God. People covet what they do not have; grasp what they cannot hold: and work for what they cannot keep.

Jesus spoke of the man whose crops yielded a good crop. The man built more barns to store more of what he already had. By society’s standards, he was successful. Luke 12:20-21 But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.

I can always tell the motive of a man when I look to see where they put their money. Jesus gave us the test: Matthew 6:20-21 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

These truths are not new, but they are settled. The Kingdom is all that matters. Our treasure is the location of our heart. While this is not the American way, which demands the pursuit of material things, it is the way of the Cross. Souls, the Gospel, and the salvation of people is all that really matters. Our investments in ministry tools and in Kingdom endeavors are the only things that will last. The song writer once penned these words, “Only What You Do For Christ Will Last.”

If you are unsure of your heart status, I urge you to check the location of your treasure. You might say that you have no treasure, but the fact is everyone has a treasure. To that end, the destiny of many lives may very well hinge on the heart of the church.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

“Before & After”

Consider the 8th largest country in the world: Bangladesh. Poverty and abuse are the norms inside its own red-light district. Generations have lived and died without ever knowing the most basic comforts afforded to the American life.

An award-winning photographer by the name of GMB Akash was burdened by the lives of his own marginalized people, boasting over 163,000 in population. The needs of the people are so profound, most consider any assistance to be futile. Four million Bangladesh children have been forced into hard labor in factories and brick fields with almost no rebuttal by the international community. The scenes are gripping; I cannot relay the whole.

Akash decided to take “Before & After” pictures while helping one child at a time. His camera became his passport. It is noted that the “After Picture” sparked a call for change. No one realized how pitiful the conditions, until they saw what could be, after help was given. One writer said, that the “before and after pictures of Akash has prompted a call for change. We never saw ourselves in that kind of light.”

The prophet Hosea foretold of the inclusion of the Gentile when he wrote: Hosea 2:23 “And I will sow her unto me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God.”

Until we see what could be “after” there is no realization of the beauty of salvation. It could be concluded that the result of one is the hope for many. One life changed by the Spirit; restored and given peace and love is enough to reach the masses. Jesus proved as much in John 4.

1 Peter 2:10 “Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.”

Romans 9:25 “…I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved.”

Our change is the catalyst of a mighty revival of people. The Born Again individual is the “After Picture” seen for the benefit of those trapped in the snare of sin.

Matthew 5:16 “Let your light so shine before men…”

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Burn the Ships

There is a mystery surrounding the acceptance and rejection of salvation. I cannot say why some would find Christ and then turn from Him. Perhaps the Lust of the flesh exceeded the purity of Word. Yet, for those who once obeyed the Gospel and then rejected it; renegotiating their walk with God, my prayer is that they might return before they are consumed by vain philosophies and the darkness of this age. In my years of ministry, I have found that most never make it back. It is hard to recover after having trampled on the Blood that once redeemed you.

For us, there is a lesson we must learn that was taught long ago. Hernán Cortés arrived in the New World in 1519. Upon his arrival, he burned his ships. Cortés sent a clear signal to his 600 men that there was no turning back. They destroyed their means of travel and were commissioned to move forward. The sight of those flames sent an unmistakable message of resolve. However, it took two years before Cortés succeeded in his conquest of the Aztec empire. While history does not give us a detailed look, I often wonder about hard times and set backs. I wonder if the men would have turned around had their ships been available.

We’re long past the days of conquistadors, but the story of those burning ships reflects the scene found in 1 Kings 19. Elijah, the older prophet, wrapped his mantle around Elisha the younger. The younger requested time to rejoin his family for what looked to be a going away celebration. He said, “Let me, I pray thee, kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow thee.” For Elisha, there were things behind him that drew him; even family.

When Elijah pressed Elisha, the decision was made: Elisha burned his instruments of trade, slew his oxen, gave the meat to the people and went after Elijah. It was a seamless motion borne of desire. Elisha had nothing to go back to…he burned the ships. There was a finality that occurred that day. The smoke rising from the field. A wise prophet standing off in the distance. Elisha could not have moved forward with a divided heart. The mantle, the anointing, and the calling were too great and much more valuable than all the treasures of this life.

The lesson is clear: if you are to follow Christ, you will have to leave everything behind. Only a whole heart that pursues the Lord will make it to the end.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

“The Walk”

Consider the birth of a child; the anticipation and preparation which accompanies the moment. It is an exciting time. Tami and I did not have a gender reveal party, however, we were excited to share the news. Rooms were repainted; beds and closets refitted; and a host of other things shifted in our home during the time of expectancy.

The New Birth experience is a pivot point in every person’s life. Jesus called it being Born Again. It is the plan of Salvation. There is an excitement in that moment and rightly so. Much like the birth of a newborn, we rejoice at the experience of the Gospel in the life of every believer. The Bible states that the angels rejoice over one sinner that repents. Our church body rejoices over the baptisms of Water and the Spirit. This is an exciting time!

However, after the New Birth comes what I call “The Walk.” This is the growing process of the believer. We were never meant to live as a “new born.” We were meant to learn and grow. Peter will press the reader to give 2 Pet 1:5 “…all diligence,” adding to your faith seven key elements for growth: virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, kindness, brotherly kindness and love.

2 Peter 1:8-9 “For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.”

Growth is found in the adding to our faith. Peter submitted that both sight and memory are connected to these necessary additions. After our Born Again experience, the “adding” invokes thankfulness for our new life and the pursuit for our future. Furthermore, when we add to our faith, we become established in The Faith. The Walk matters! New Birth happens once, but growth is found in the daily walk.

Failure to “add” results in a lack of vision and legalism. Forgetting where we have come from causes us to falsely judge one another. Likewise, the failure to add to our faith limits our sight about Kingdom. I urge you, give all diligence and add to your faith. Those seven things are paramount for your life! The Walk is waiting.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

“Counterculture”

To rehearse, “Counterculture” is simply any idea that opposes the culture. This concept has been widely panned by those who demand conformity to the philosophies of mass consciousness. However, the “resistance” has multiple sides. John wrote against embracing a worldly point of view: 1 John 2:15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. The church is commanded not to conform to this world or the precepts of godless mandates. In every respect, the Apostolic Pentecostal Church is Counterculture!

However, there is another issue to address: Modern Church Culture. This particular idea is rooted in cultural relativism with tenets of subjectivism and human experiences. Modern Church Cultural-ism embraces lessons of grace, but rejects messages of holiness, i.e., worship without boundaries. It speaks of inclusion, while ignoring the words of Jesus: Mat 7:14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. The modern church parcels out the scripture to fit into a selective view. Yet, this type of theology is contrary to living a set apart life. Moreover, it leaves out the entirety of the Truth which leads to a fleshly lifestyle.

To this end, I submit Modern Church Counterculture. I rise against the modern church thought, which is secular in nature. The Bible is the inherent Word of God. Real Christianity is rooted in the exclusive Doctrine of Jesus Christ, which the Bible calls “The Apostle’s Doctrine.” It is neither validated by popularity or disqualified by the opinions of the majority. When Christians bow to secular beliefs, they are left with a diluted religion that appeals to the vain sensibilities of the American life and not to the scripture.

The Bible promotes self-sacrifice; self-denial; daily dying to the flesh; and being hid in Christ. All of these are contrary to the modern church. Furthermore, the apostles and prophets set the precedent for spiritual living, which was never measured by societal approval. Right and wrong; holy and corrupt… these are not subject to personal opinion.

Peter and John rebuffed the religious council, Acts 4:19-20 Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. Paul wrote: Galatians 1:10 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.

We embrace a Holy God and the purity of the Scripture. It is the only thing that will lead to Eternal Life.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Unity

2 Thessalonians 2:1-3 “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;”

Consider the two major subjects in 2 Thessalonians chapter 2. Paul writes of the antichrist; “the son of perdition.” The Lord shall consume the Wicked one with the spirit of His mouth.” The imagery is profound. The day of this moment is quickly approaching. Everything that exalts itself against God shall be torn down. There will be deception in the world with (vs 9) “signs and lying wonders.” It will be a cloudy mix, mirroring the wonders of God.

The subjects are clear: the antichrist and the saints. We see the antichrist from afar but soon he, the man of sin, will be revealed. While the first image is unsettling, the second is far more troubling to my spirit. Paul wrote of believers… (vs 3) “for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first.” Deception, sin, gossip, divisions, false doctrines, angst, and so much more are rising. The day of the Lord’s return is imminent! There will be a falling away and it will happen first.

In the most simplistic terms, people who believed themselves to be Christians will depart from the truth. There will be a dismantling through a “shakening.” Paul told us not to be shaken in mind, or be troubled by things we feel or words we read. His warning reveals that some will be shaken. They will be confused, disenchanted, and altogether separated from the Body; the church.

They will declare themselves saved, all the while living lost. They will justify themselves by their works, past, or internal feelings about God, but they will not be obedient to the written or preached Word or their God given authority. They will be consumed with political positions, offenses, and personal ambitions, while the Great Commission collects dust in their hearts.

The spirit of this age brings confusion and diversions. It speaks to the necessity of UNITY among the Body. The greatest priority is before us: Salvation for ourselves and for the lost. Everything else is immaterial. It is a waste, laid on the heap of human thinking. To be saved or lost is the only thing that matters or will matter. Not your friends or family. Not your job or money. Success or failures; offenses and afflictions; all these things will pale in the light of “the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him.”

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Endure

The Bible’s own description of our final salvation is often overlooked for more lofty things. While Jesus was not dismissing His message of the Born Again experience found in John 3, Jesus made this overarching statement: Matthew 24:13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

Endurance is perseverance. It is keeping your head when chaos surrounds you. It is battling through hardships and bewilderment, all of which are now common to our walk of faith. While I hesitate to offer such words, knowing that some would find them adverse, it should be known that our nation has turned her back on God. Secularism and humanism now rule the day. Media, governments, and public educational systems aggressively attach the Church and the name of Jesus. This confrontation will not stop until the Lord returns. So if you are going to make it, you will have to ENDURE.

Perseverance is much more than tolerating something. Jesus was not submitting that we should “hang on” or scrape by until the end. Jesus was telling us to have resolve, determination, and “staying power.”

When I consider the words of the Lord, I am reminded of Paul’s admonition to Timothy: 2 Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;

Paul was not talking about the sinner who never knew this Way called Holy. He was writing about believers who reject the boundaries of the scripture; of the exclusivity of the name of Jesus; and of righteous living. Paul wrote that people who were once saved will hire teachers who tell them what they want to hear and not what brings conviction. To that end, conviction is almost extinct. The modern Christian calls all things they do not agree with condemnation so as to remove themselves from the message.

Yet, those who believe in the infallible Word of God know that we must embrace strong preaching that convicts our flesh and brings us to an altar of repentance. In the end, only those who are embracing the unfettered Word will be able to stand. In the last days, our days, we must seek to crucify our flesh and run the race set before us, clinging to “faithful words” (Titus 1:9) so we may be able to reach the world with the

Gospel of Jesus Christ. I submit, Endure.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole