Summer baseball. Fresh cut grass. Picnics with colorful paper products. The warm sun feels good. The economy is stable, at least for the moment. It should set me at ease, but I awoke with the words of Jesus ringing in my ear: Luke 12:40 Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not. Four words keep playing over in my mind like a skipping record: “when ye think not.” Jesus told His disciples, Matt. 26:41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” When things seem comfortable that is the time of sudden destruction.
When you think not – that is the time it’s going to happen. When our plans are finalized and our spiritual intensity calls for a little R-n-R – that’s when the enemy creeps in and takes root in our lives.
Jesus made that proclamation because He knew that the nature of man is to think that He is not returning. Our actions say, “He’s not coming back now. I don’t think that it will happen at this moment” or “There’s too much of life left.” That’s why the disciples were sleeping in the garden while Jesus was preparing to face His death and the one who would betray Him. They thought, “it won’t happen, we have plenty of time.” Jesus prayed, sweating as it were great drops of blood while Peter, James, and John rested. Their passion was on hiatus. Their attention diverted.. “when ye think not.”
The Lord’s words ought to make us more aware than ever before. We should be looking and watching. If we fail now we will be like those unwise virgins who spent their lives preparing for the marriage, but in the end were not ready for the bridegroom. They were empty of the necessary oil. I’m looking. I’m watching. When He returns, I want to be about my Father’s business.
Pastor Jeffrey Harpole
How often are we trapped by the temporal things of this life? I cannot say in full. I do know, however, that we are not living this life without reason. There is a Heaven where the Lamb is the Light. There is a life after this one. Heaven will reveal the splendor of the Almighty God. It will host eternal joy; everlasting peace; and a myriad of wonders unseen by the mortal eye, but there will also be an absence of things too. In fact, some of the greatest things about Heaven will be what is not there.
Consider the Apostle John who is banished to an island prison called Patmos. He is trapped by the crashing waves which speak of the relentless judgement against him. We know that of the twelve disciples that began with Jesus so many years prior, he is the only one left. At the time he wrote the book of Revelation, John is about 90 years old. He has outlived, and in some cases, outlasted his beloved brethren and family, but loneliness has taken a secondary role to his inability to preach the Gospel. It’s no wonder why he was so willing to write and be used of God.
John is moved by the Spirit to relay the great message of Heaven’s wonder. He sees a new heaven and a new earth. The world is made new: A new Jerusalem, which he describes as “the holy city.” Yet of all the things that will exist, there’s one thing in his own life that will not be there. John wrote, “and there was no more sea.” No more imprisonment: no more isolation. There will be no more relentless days of judgement. Because Heaven is not just a place where Joy exists; it’s also a place of the absence of sorrow, shame, pain, and death. Heaven is not just a place of Light, but it’s also a place void of darkness, evil, and sin. I keep dreaming of a place called Glory, so bright and so fair…
Pastor Jeffrey Harpole
Acts 14:21 And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch,
Hidden in the list of these locations lies a truth about the driving force of the Soul-winner. Paul had been both welcomed and reviled in Iconium. In verse 5 “when there was an assault made both of the Gentiles, and of the Jews with their rulers” to stone Paul, he left. Paul went to Lystra and laid hands on a crippled man who was healed, but men from Iconium came and stirred up the people of Lystra so that they stoned Paul and left him for dead. Even the disciples stood around the lifeless body of this powerful apostle assuming the same. Yet in verse 20 the Bible says that Paul rose up and recovered. Now we’ve reached verse 21. Three words are leaping from the page of this holy writ: “they returned again.”
Paul went back to the very place of false accusations. He preached again to the people who carried ill-intent against him. Paul was so driven by the need to reach them that he risked his own life to bring to them this great Gospel. He was obsessed with saving the lost. Souls were his all consuming motive. Iconium couldn’t keep him away and it makes me wonder what would happen if we held that same fervency. Jude knew how critical it was to save a soul. Jude 1:22-23 And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.
The drive of the End-time Church must be the saving of the lost. It is our Sole-Purpose… our Soul-Purpose. If we believe that Jesus is coming back, then our lives must be given for the Cause of the Kingdom. Iconium is waiting for someone to return again.
Pastor Jeffrey Harpole
The contrasting elements of quality versus the inexpensive has become part of our American culture. Paper plates and disposal cups are common among us. Things readily accessible have taken center-stage while patiently waiting on the better, longer lasting item is rejected. The drama of this life has been rewritten to include fleeting pleasures and quick fixes. Hollywood tells us that problems are resolved within a two hour window while television programs take less time, but the truth is that things of value take time and sacrifice. The things which are the most precious and have the greatest worth entails a cost of substance.
The Cross; His death, burial, and resurrection, is of the greatest substance because it cost the most. Our sins were carried there; Our debt was paid for there; His life became the ransom for ours there. It took Him time and it cost Him everything. He died and then He rose again. He gave up all so that He could gain all. It was a position of pain and sorrow followed by an empty tomb and the birth of His Church. His story cries out this truth that nothing of value comes without giving up something of substance. One writer said it like this:
There’s not a victory without a fight.
There’s not a sunrise without a night.
There’s not a purchase without a cost.
There’s not a Crown without a Cross.
He died, but he rose again. He was buried, but the grave could not keep Him. Jesus was crucified, but He conquered death. His sacrifice paid the price, and His resurrection gave us life.
Pastor Jeffrey Harpole