Exodus 33:7 And Moses took the tabernacle, and pitched it without the camp, afar off from the camp, and called it the Tabernacle of the congregation. And it came to pass, that every one which sought the LORD went out unto the tabernacle of the congregation, which was without the camp.
In the text we know that the first tabernacle was not placed in the middle of the people; it was “afar off from the camp.” To seek God, they had to leave their dwelling and make the journey. Though everyone was invited, Moses did not make it convenient. Prayer, supplication, and intercession was all a part of that first tabernacle which was also called the Tent of Meeting. It predated the Tabernacle of Moses which held the Table of Shewbread; the Golden Candlestick, and the Ark of the Covenant. This was a common place of prayer where everyone could make a conscious effort to come and pray.
I suppose that if there is a single thing that most separates us from every other generation, it is this matter of convenience. Jeroboam’s words echo in my ear, 1 Kings 12:28 “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem.” Prayer and sacrifice; time and money; consecration and fasting have all been measured out like grain on a scale. On the other side lies the heavy weight of convenience and options. All of us enjoy the pleasures of technology. All of us look for ways to make life a little easier. Yet there are some things that must be pursued with fervency and will not come with comfort. Seeking the face of God; fasting food; an hour of prayer are all resisted by the flesh. The carnal nature will reject them and seek for something else, but if we are to find Him in the depth of His Spirit, we will have to humble ourselves and follow that well-worn path laid out by Moses; “everyone which sought the Lord went out…”
Pastor Jeffrey Harpole
1 Pet 4:12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: To be sure, the enemy of your soul will do whatever he can to bring destruction to your life. We know that The Battlefield is the mind and there are no limits to which the enemy will go to replace our faith with doubt. Jesus said, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy:” John 10:10
Every step we make toward God is a step away from the grip of the enemy and in return there is resistance in the spirit world. Every godly commitment will be met by a challenge of will. Every move of holiness will be treated with contempt by the enemy of your life. This tug-a-war exists in the realm of our thoughts and contemplations. To this end, we pray a hedge of protection around our minds and thoughts.
This is not new as people of all ages have fought through this battle. In 1965, Donald Barnhouse wrote more thoroughly about it in his book, “The Invisible War.” The author called this war intense, saying that Satan never plays fair and the battle is unrelenting. Barnhouse wrote that the reason this war is so fierce is that your mind is your greatest asset. It’s no wonder then why Paul penned “…whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, just, pure, lovely; are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Phil 4:8
We control the input. We are compelled to guard our eyes, mind, and heart. And the reason for this biblical admonition is this: The Invisible War is raging.
Prayer and fasting; reading the scripture and good communication build the hedges and fences that protect our mind. The enemy will enter through any avenue we give him. That is why we are commanded to “take every thought into captivity” 2 Cor 10:5.
Pastor Jeffrey Harpole
When Jesus said in Matt. 7, “Judge not that ye be not judged,” He was talking about condemning others. In this case, “Judge” comes from the Greek word “krino” which means to condemn, punish, or avenge. The Bible also uses the word “Judge” when it speaks of making a determination. This “Judge” comes from the Greek word “diakrino” which means to separate thoroughly; to withdraw from, or discern and make a determination. In respect to these two definitions, we are commanded first not to condemn one another, lest we be condemned. However, we are to judge or decide on the matters of life, spirits and philosophies. We are to decide, or judge, on the positions that people take.
Dr. King did not ask people not to judge him. Nor did he ask people to avoid an opinion about him. Rather, King said, “Judge me…” He wanted to be judged. He wanted the writers of the present and future to judge him, but there were requirements imposed on this judgement. Dr. King said, “Don’t Judge me by the color of my skin, but by the content of my character.” He knew that there would be judgements, decisions, and positions taken. He knew that feelings would arise out of perceptions, but he wanted to be judged by the measurements of character and actions.
This is a common flaw among mankind: to determine people by appearance. Even Samuel, that great prophet of God, stumbled at the outward appearance. Samuel was to anoint a new king and he chose the eldest son of Jesse, but God rejected Eliab. Samuel was looking at his age and height. Eliab looked the part, but God was not looking at the outward appearance. God was looking for the heart of a Shepherd to lead the people. God was and is looking for character, conviction, and a worshiper. I’m preaching today, go ahead, Judge Me.
Pastor Jeffrey Harpole
In regards to Vision….Out-Reach is certainly part of the mission that makes up the purpose of the Church. To see the lost saved and to teach the Gospel is a Primary, but Reaching in or “In-Reach” must also be present within the church. We have been brought together as brothers and sisters by the Blood of Jesus Christ. We are suppose to be the Family of God and to that end there are particular measures that we are expected to take. The Lord sees this church as His body and He is extremely concerned about how we treat each other.
Consider the Pharisee who sought to test Jesus concerning the Law. He said to the Lord, “Which is the greatest commandment?” It was a question designed to trap the Lord in a no-win maze. So many laws and to pick the wrong one would start a never ending argument, but the answer that Jesus gave was an open display of the very heart of God.
Mat 22:37-40 “Jesus said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
Jesus said that everything written hinges on these two commands. Nothing stands if these are not the foundation. There are no laws, principles or truths outside of Loving the Lord and Loving each other. Even our desire to see new souls saved will fail if there is no love among the Body. The world will not believe that the church is for them if we are absent of the very thing they need most: Inclusion, Kindness, Acceptance. Our life’s story will one day be seen through the lenses of our compassion.
Pastor Jeffrey Harpole
For those of you still preparing for Y2K, Twitter is a way to express a thought through a smartphone or another device. Twitter claims 974 million accounts: 247 million are active. Facebook boasts of 1.23 billion active accounts. This says nothing of the billions of emails, Snapchat, and other forms of communication. In short, a lot of people are talking. We’ve always been talking; it’s what we do, only now we have a forum to express our every thought. The danger, of course, is that there are no filters.
While there is some variance, Pew Research shows that people check their social media accounts numerous times per day and some have it on constantly through sound alerts. This means that they are “talking” continuously. Statistics also show an increase in contracts with counselors, life-coaches, psychiatrists, and other listening helpers. People are talking.
All this is probably reasonable. We are relational beings and it does follow suit that we would express ourselves; our feelings; triumphs and anxieties. Communication is part and parcel of the human experience. What I’m troubled about is the last report: Fewer Christians in all denominations say they pray less often than they did in prior years. While statistical sampling often concerns me, I will say that consecrated prayer has faded since 9/11.
My hope is that this year will be one of concentration on healthy marriages and homes; devotion to the church in attendance; and a revival of new souls. And knowing that this is God’s direction for our lives, it will only come when we seek God through prayer. So since we are all talking, why don’t we use some of that time and effort to speak to God through prayer. Start out your day and year the way David did when he wrote: Psalm 63:1 “O God, thou art my God; early will I seek…”
Pastor Jeffrey Harpole