In the 40 days after the resurrection, as Jesus tarried with His disciples, He foretold of the Holy Ghost giving them power to be witnesses (Act 1:8). Those were among the last few words that the Lord spoke before He ascended into Heaven from the Mount of Olives. Those words echoed in their minds as they made their way to Jerusalem to“wait for the promise of the Father.” They were going to receive power to be witnesses. And when the Holy Ghost fell and they were filled with the Spirit, evidenced by speaking in other tongues (Acts2:1-4), they became witnesses to Jerusalem and throughout the whole known world. The Holy Ghost gave them power to proclaim the mighty works of God. The reason for such power was to spread the message of salvation. Hanging in the balance were the destinies of thousands and millions. Everyone had to know about the Gospel: His death, burial and resurrection. Everyone needed a chance to be saved from death and hell. This Holy Ghost power helped them change the course of eternity for the souls of everyone they met.
Paul would later write that only through the Gospel could a person be saved. It was the driving force of the Church. The Gospel: repentance, baptism in Jesus’ name, and the infilling of the Holy Ghost made known through stammering lips and another tongue (I Cor.15, Acts 2:38) – only through the Gospel could the lost be saved. That was the message of the early church. It was the Apostles’ Doctrine first given to Peter by Jesus in what He called, the “keys to the kingdom of Heaven.” There is no other message. There is no other Truth. Even confessing Christ was only the beginning and not the totality. Jesus said, “Except a man be born again of water and Spirit he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.” We have the power today and we must use it to be witnesses to reach our world. It is our calling.
Pastor Jeffrey Harpole
Recent discovery depicts a long list of challenges facing the 21st century church. It’s not uncommon to find opposition from governments or laws at the forefront. Maintaining doctrines, complex family issues, and the moral morass, which has become our lot, also climbs into those top spots. Yet I see something greater afflicting our times. Notwithstanding the aforementioned, Complacent Christianity leaps to the front of the pew (or to the back). Being a Christian has never been easier. We have become very adaptive to our sinful world. We can relate to our society much better than our apostolic fore-fathers could relate to theirs. Preachers and parishioners alike seek new ways to blend in with the culture. From language to clothing, we are mostly adverse to standing out. Given this assumption it is clear that definitions have changed. ‘Sacrifice’ doesn’t mean what it once did. Worship is a song set while witnessing is waiting for someone to ask you where you attend church. It’s easy to come to a building and view the attractions. It’s something different altogether to BE the sacrifice!
I submit that conforming to the world, which Paul taught against, rages in our Pentecostal circles. Presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice was not meant to be unique. Paul called it our “reasonable service.” The psalmist set the tone when he wrote: Psalms. 69:9 “the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up!” The disciples remembered those words as they watched Jesus in action. They knew that He was all about the House of God and it provoked them toward extreme dedication. They were consumed with the mission; burning for the Cause of the Gospel. It was all or nothing and it became the mantra for every major revival since. Not all will hear this word, but I’m calling for someone to break out of complacency and do something you’ve never done before.
Pastor Jeffrey Harpole
Much to the consternation of Jesus, the disciples abruptly dismissed the approaching children and their parents. They thought it inappropriate for the children to take up the Master’s time. Little did they know that the opposite was true: He wanted to touch them. The Kingdom demands for us all to become as children. In that moment it was about their age, but it was also about their disposition and the conditions of the Kingdom. Children exhibit untarnished faith and trust. They come in the most innocent way, without skepticism or suspicion. They see the Lord for Who He is: Loving and faithful. They believe without the tethers of so-called maturity.
Mark 10:13 And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them.
Mark 10:16 And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.
I would gladly denounce the disciples for their arrogance and oblivious nature except that I fear we haven’t moved too far from their rebuke. Many still feel that children are less consequential than adults because of their level of understanding. Some even think it a waste of time to teach children or to be involved in children’s ministries. On the other hand I am not given to that false notion that “it’s all about the children.” There are balances in ministry, but it is true that some of life’s great lessons can only be learned by viewing the way the younger age approach the Lord. They come without contempt or scorn; without the convoluted conditions that our days bring. In response, Jesus declared: “Don’t push these children away. Don’t ever get between them and me. Children are at the very center of life in the kingdom. Mark this: Unless you accept God’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in.” The Message
Pastor Jeffrey Harpole
In the same passage that describes Jesus cleansing the Temple, it also depicts Him performing notable miracles. Jesus begins by casting out merchants that bought and sold in the Temple. He overthrows tables of money, spilling their wears on the floor. The scene is chaotic as men scramble to salvage their enterprise. Their manipulation of people combined with the absence of prayer provokes the Lord to wrath. The Bible says that “he drove them out.” He called them thieves and made an open display of their sinful activity. He was putting the House in order. He was restoring the intent and purpose of the Temple by removing their ill-conceived activities.
Yet, I’m most interested in the next line. Matthew 21:14 And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them. After the cleansing came the healing. After order and purpose was restored, the blind and the lame were healed. The chronological events began with a house cleaning followed by an open display of the healing power of the Lord.
Consider the healing of the daughter of Jarius. Those present laughed at Jesus when He said she was sleeping. They knew she was dead, but the Lord gave a different answer. The Word says that He put them all out and allowed only Peter, James and John with the parents to enter the room. Only then, after He had put the house in order did He heal her and raise her up. Jesus first cast out doubt, sin, and corruption before He showed His power. His first act was to clean up the atmosphere; His second was to the perform the miracle. When He saw a man being lowered through a roof in Mark 2, the Lord first forgave him of his sins. Afterward He said, “Take up thy bed and walk.” All of it and more makes me know that the miracle comes after the cleansing. Both now and then, Order precedes the Miracle.
Pastor Jeffrey Harpole