It was David, the ultimate worship leader, who wrote that God inhabits the praises of His people. David presented this idea that praise is a form of construction in which the Lord Almighty dwells. Most Christians of any length of time have heard this truth. Yet I wonder if we have considered the cost of our praise. Hebrews 13 speaks of the “Sacrifice of Praise” given to God through the fruit of our lips. It implies that we must praise even when our emotional hearts are not fully engaged. It means that praising God is a sacrifice in the same vein as a lamb being slain on an altar of fire.
The modern day Christian doesn’t always see it this way. In fact, according to some worship forums and religious articles, praise should be an enlightening and enjoyable experience. Some submit that it should leave the person light-hearted or energized. Others have redefined praise as a function with minimal effort, but if this is the case, where does the sacrifice of praise occur? The Bible points to praise as the making of a building — a habitation. David said that through praise we make God a place to live. No prerequisites required. No conditions considered. Just Praise. In the good times or bad, we are to obey the Word, “I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.” Isaiah commissioned us to praise when we walk through waters, rivers, fires, and flames. Just Praise! Sometimes praise is easy and sometimes it’s work, but it’s always in order. Sometimes we praise out of Joy and sometimes we Praise through grief, but we must Praise! And finally, sometimes we praise for the wonders He has done, and sometimes we praise just to build a place for Him to dwell. The last words of all the psalms says it like this: Psalm 150:6 Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD.
Pastor Jeffrey Harpole
When Joseph refused the advances of Potiphar’s wife he said, “how can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” Not only did Joseph believe that adultery was sinful, “great wickedness”, he also believed that God was watching him even if Potiphar was not, but it was more than just being caught that held Joseph in check. It was his conviction that kept him from committing this horrible sin and ruining his life. Joseph’s conviction was greater than any momentary pleasure that might have occurred and it protected him from falling victim to his own flesh. No one was there to guide him; just Joseph and his belief of what was right and holy.
When David cut the garment of King Saul as proof of his ability to return retribution, he lamented to his men about his inappropriate action. David had it in his hand to kill King Saul as he slept, but David walked away with a sinking feeling of regret. David said, “Who can touch the Lord’s anointed and be found guiltless?” David’s conviction kept him from taking vengeance upon his unsuspecting pursuer. While he had the opportunity to end Saul’s life, David was convicted in his own heart and it kept him clean.
Conviction is defined as a firmly held belief, but you won’t hear it used very often. The entire concept of such a thing has waned in the last many years. People are mostly adverse to self-imposed barriers. We like the free, open range that opinions, pleasures, and emotions offer. It feels so much better to do what you want without those nagging voices reminding you about your infractions. We don’t want to be constrained by the boundaries that convictions impose. It is clear that our generation has abandoned Righteousness and taken up pleasures.
Yet a person without conviction is usually someone who is susceptible to temptations. They lean into moral decline, pulled by the attraction of lustful things. They drift into fields filled with fleshly desires because there are no fences to keep them guarded. Ultimately, in every case, a conviction-less life will lose out with God and turn away from truth. In every case, those who have no customized boundaries will also dismiss holiness.
The scripture commands us to “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.” It means that we must be sober and careful to live a life pleasing unto the Lord. It means that we must guard our hearts and minds, even making a covenant with our eyes as Job once wrote. It is my experience that convictions come from time spent in prayer. As we see our Holy God more clearly, it provokes us to live differently. We stop asking if what we’re doing is a ‘Heaven or Hell issue’ because we want to stay as far away from the world as we can.
I’m calling on all those who have ears to hear: We must restore our Convictions that keep us and guard us. Where did they go? Did modernism or hypocritical people cause us to nullify the very things that brought us to this point? I pray that we will go back to those old landmarks and restore the fences that kept us from following the world. We must make our Calling and Election sure!
Pastor Jeffrey Harpole
Psalm 19:14 Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer. Upon review, it is clear that David prayed about what he would say when he concluded praying. He wanted his words to be acceptable in the sight of the Lord and for good reason. David knew that God was listening to his spoken words.
Jesus said: Mathew 12:36-37 “…every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” The Lord implied that there is a record of things we say that will be reviewed by God. We will have to answer for our commentaries. James 3:5-6 Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.
This is no trivial matter. What we say about other people not only defines our living, but also determines our destinies. If we think that we can speak against other blood-bought saints and our words will go unnoticed, then we are fooling ourselves. Maybe we should pray for words that please the Lord.
James 3:10-11 Out of the same mouth proceeds blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things must not be. A fountain does not offer both sweet and bitter water!
Pastor Jeffrey Harpole
Moses was born in a very chaotic time. Pharaoh was on a war path, killing every young male child he could find. In a bold move, Moses’ mother, Jochebed, hid him from the Egyptian’s wrath. But after three months there was no safe place left to hide. It was then that she weaved a basket; placed the young Moses inside, and pushed him into the slow, winding waters of the Nile River. Some distance away, Pharaoh’s daughter found him and drew him out, thus his name became Moses “for he was drawn out.” Incredibly, pharaoh’s daughter called for a helper to both nurse and care for the infant child and Jochebed was chosen. Jochebed became mother and teacher; employee and keeper to her own son. It was a miracle ordained by God.
It is here that we see the many roles of motherhood. Moses’ mother was the “everything mom.” But she knew that her time was limited. Jochebed knew that if Moses was to learn about the one true God of Israel, he had to learn it in quick fashion. She did not have the luxury of time to teach him about the ways of the Lord. Hers was an immediate engagement. There was a demand on her to root him in the ways of Jehovah before she released him into the world of the Egyptians. Whatever she taught him in those opening moments had to keep him for a lifetime.
While I submit that it’s never too late to start, the fact is that we all have but a little time to impart the things of God to others. And while we celebrate Mother’s Day, we also know that there is a divine purpose given to every mother regardless of how young or old their children may be. The purpose is to declare the ways of God and the Word of God so that they will not error in life. God’s way is the only path toward salvation. So, speak the truth, Mom. All your children need to hear your voice.
Pastor Jeffrey Harpole
It was a simple error when the disciples forgot to bring bread for their journey across the sea. They had other food supplies, but someone left the bread. Jesus took the opportunity to launch a life-lesson that resonates yet today. He said, Mark 8:15 “…beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod.” It was a double-edged warning. First, He warned of the religious who guide without humility or servant-hood. They talk about their spiritual insights, but are not submissive to authority or to the Holy Spirit. They do not pray or fast, but always have a “word from the Lord” to all who might listen. They criticized the church while pretending to care about the Body. They occupy pews and wait for opportunities to impugn leadership. Jesus said that even a little of that leaven is destructive to the whole.
The second leaven comes from Herod who represents secularism and worldliness. These seek possessions, money, status, and worldly pursuits. They mix God with their religious experience, but ultimately they are fully corrupted. They love the things of this world more than the things of God. Church is not the first thing on their mind. Worship revolves around their schedule as they seek out fun times, personal gain, or educational plateaus. This leaven causes carnality to rise while diminishing self-sacrifice. Sports might consume them. Careers take center stage. Even their physical appearance demands their attention and time.
Paul said a little destroys the entirety. Galatians 5:9 A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. A little judgementalism will cause all of it to be so. A little worldliness will affect the rest. A carnal spirit doesn’t overwhelm the Christian. It moves in incrementally. “Beware” Jesus said. “Take heed, and guard against the smallest of portions that destroy your faith and purity.”
Pastor Jeffrey Harpole