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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

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buy cheap viagra online uk next day deliveryThe 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.

buy viagra online using paypalJesus 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

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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?

buy cheap viagra online next day deliveryDemas 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

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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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