Living Sacrifice

On a weekly basis I write within these narrow margins hoping to inspire something virtuous or encouraging within this body of believers.  The scripture itself provides a plethora of subjects from faith to sacrifice and everything in between for our benefit, but today I write a warning and a truth.  May I simply say:  The Devil is a liar.  He is incapable of telling the truth.  Jesus called him the father of lies.  He is the Deceiver of mortal man and to that end we must walk uprightly and sober.  What the enemy wants more than anything is to snare the Blood-Bought Children of God.  Sure, he is after the sinner, but there is no greater trophy than those who have been Born Again of the Water and the Spirit. The enemy, your adversary, will do anything he can to steal your joy and change your focus.  It is his only mission on this earth.

While I hesitate, not wanting to give the devil credit, it is true that you and I are in the fight of our lives.  There is a battle raging even now.  Marriages are under serious attack.  Homes and children; teens and young adults are facing decisions that will determine their very destiny.  And to be sure, no one is exempt.

The Bible declares this moment will come:  Everything that can be shaken will be shaken.  This refers to the Elect of God.  Can you imagine someone filled with the Holy Ghost standing at the White Throne Judgement trying to explain their faithlessness?  The witness against them might be people who never heard the truth.  The apostle wrote that it would have been better that they had never known than to have known and turned away from it.  I hope you are catching this.  The enemy will lie to you and make you believe that your present condition is good enough to be saved.  His plot is to numb you to the conviction that once tempered your life.  His plight is to destroy every level of commitment from your walk so that you are merely lukewarm.

I know these are not comforting words, but they might just be the seed worthy enough to grow into something useful.  I feel the Holy Spirit calling out to the church today to turn back toward total commitment; total praise.  Nothing less than a Living Sacrifice will suffice in this hour.  So I call on you to pray like you’ve never prayed.  Take a day and fast.  Turn off the mass media and social media for a day or two and then open up your Bible and meditate on what you have read.  Finally, turn back to the day in which you were the most involved in the activities of the church.  Don’t let summer dictate your attendance.  Comeon Sunday night.  You need an evening sacrifice to further strengthen your life.  Hebrews 10:25 commands the assembling of the saints “so much the more as ye see the day approaching.”  The Lord is calling and I am burdened that our resolve is being strained by the cares of this life.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

The Potter’s House

An insight into the Mind of the Omniscient One….

Paul writes in Romans 9 that God has the authority to show mercy upon whom He will have mercy.  The apostle asks, “Who is man that he should talk back to God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?”  Paul declared that God is the Potter and we are the clay. The psalmist said, “It is He that hath made us and not we ourselves.”

The question then is ‘Can God do with us as He pleases?’  Paul asked the church if God had the authority to make something noble out of something common.  He writes, “What if God withholds His judgment against the people that are destined to be destroyed? Or What if God shows mercy on those who should be punished?”

We are filled with finality.  We see in black and white, but God is the Judge of all mankind.  He is like a potter who holds the discarded clay that is good for nothing, but decides to recreate something worthy out of it.  Everyone knows the condition of the clay. The onlooker, the other ‘pottery’ determines the clay to be unusable and worthless, but the pottery is only a creation of the potter.  Can you see it now?  How is it that we decide who is worthy of God’s promotion and who is not?  Isaiah said,  Isaiah 64:8  But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.  The prophet confessed that whatever we might become, it is the work of the Hand of the Lord. We are not our own creation.  We are only blessed to have been in His Hand.  Jeremiah’s vision revealed it so…

Jeremiah 18:4 And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Crown of Thorns

Often lost in the mix of the Passover story and the wonder of an empty tomb is the process of the Lord’s sacrifice.  Before He walked up the Hill of Skulls,

Jesus was given a tightly woven crown of thorns.  Every aspect of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection speaks to both prophecy and our salvation.  Nothing happened in those 72 hours without great weight of redemption hanging in the balance.

Consider with me the multiple curses levied against Adam and Eve and upon mankind.  From pain in childbirth to headship, their departure from Eden was layered with strife.  Sin came with a price and it is never more clear than when God cursed the ground saying that it would produce thorns and thistles (Genseis. 3:18). The most basic aspect of life, food, would be difficult to obtain.  Instead of fruit and vegetables, the earth would bring forth thorns and thistles.  Thorns were always considered a curse; both on people and on the earth.

I submit for your consideration the infallible Word of God:

Hebrews 6:7  For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God:   Hebrews 6:8  But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.

Thorns remove peace.  Thorns have no nourishment.  Thorns cut and pierce. Thus pressing of the Crown of Thorns into His brow was the emblem of our mental and emotional anguish.  He paid for our peace when He wore the Crown of Thorns.  Isaiah prophesied that “the chastisement of our peace” was upon Him. (Isaiah 53)  Isaiah was writing about the pressing of the Lord’s Crown of Thorns.  Not only did the prophet speak of the Lord’s bruised, wounded, and beaten body, but he spoke about the Lord’s head covered with thorns.  Each part of the Lord’s suffering spoke to the needs of people. Thorns deal with our minds: the great battlefield of our lives. Matthew, Mark, and John wrote, “they twisted together a crown of thorns and pressed it on Him.” The scripture is replete with this image. Abraham is walking up Mount Moriah as he obeys God’s commission to sacrifice his son, Isaac.  It was the Type of Christ being sacrificed on Calvary, but on that trek, Abraham had to walk through a sea of low hanging thorns, cutting his feet and ankles.  In the end, Isaac is spared because a lamb is caught in the thistles. Thorns and Thistles. The curse and it’s redemption has come to light on the mountain of sacrifice.

Hebrews speaks to the Lord’s suffering and subsequent glory:  Hebrews 2:9  But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.

Jesus was first crowned with Thorns.  He took the pain of our lives upon His brow.  When He walked out of the tomb, He brought with Him the victory of every pain, disease, emotional issue, anxiety, and anguish we would ever suffer.  He is the Victor.  He is the Conqueror.  He purchased our salvation and our deliverance. He also became the Prince of our Peace because He wore the chaos of our minds upon His head. He is our King Eternal, and today He wears a Crown of Honor.   Jesus is the Lord of All.  He is the Resurrection and the Life.  He is the Peace that surpasses all understanding.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

We lay down our lives

Today we remember the beginning of the ending of the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ. This was His triumphant entry into Jerusalem as the people shouted“Hosanna, Blessed is he who cometh in the name of the Lord.”  They tore branches from trees and laid their coats before Him.  Little did they know that He was a mere seven days from the Cross of Calvary.  Praise would soon turn to scorn; worship to slander.  The Pharisees had plotted for years and this was the final straw.  They could not afford to allow this Jesus of Nazareth any more fame.  They were losing their footing among the people and His death was the only answer.  Lost in their rage was the fact that Jesus came to die for their sins as well.  They could not see His purpose for the anger that filled their eyes.  He was a ransom for many.  He came as the Lamb of God and gave Himself on the day they called Pesach, i.e., Passover.  For centuries they had remembered the night in which God spared them.  They had eaten the lamb and recalled their salvation from Egypt, but after years of remembering the event, they missed the moment of their present Messiah.

My message revolves around the purpose of our gathering.  Worship and the Word must be more than a ritual and ceremony.  The service itself, while needful, is but a forum where the revelation of Who He is and Why He came is witnessed.  He came to save us.  He came to redeem us.  Jesus is here to pour out His Spirit upon all who seek for Him.  He is here to receive our praise, but we must not forget the meaning of the same. He brought us out of darkness into His marvelous light.  And for it, we do not lay down our garments or branches before him; we lay down our lives.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

I Surrender Some

A challenge is set before us.  Malachi recorded the matter succinctly when he wrote about the people of God who lived as if worship was too tiresome.  Of course the word “worship” was not referring to clapping and singing, but sacrifice, duty, and time.  God spoke against them in Malachi as they treated their relationship with Him in the most casual way.  It seems that not only did Israel bring lame and crippled lambs for sacrifice, but they also came when they wanted to and left in the same manner.  Over time, their worship became a haphazard affair.  Today we call it, “Casual Christianity.”

Casual service was far from David’s mind when he spoke about being a Doorkeeper in the house of the Lord.  The Doorkeeper was to be attentive, on time, and watchful.  There was nothing flippant about his service to the House of his God.  It was a purposeful, pointed, and altogether anticipated service. The Porter also cared for both the congregation and the holy things of God. His was no trivial matter. The Doorkeeper, the Porter, singers, and musicians believed in wholehearted worship.

The challenge today is that many have dumbed-down their church going experience.  Today we promote “come as you are” instead of coming with reverence. While I understand that everyone is welcomed regardless of how they come, there is an underlying thought that we are absolved of our responsibility to give God our best.  Remember that Moses had to take off his shoes as he approached the burning bush.  God said the ground was “holy ground.”  I say that Casual Christianity has minimized our faithfulness and flattened our expectation to see the wonders of His power.  Casual Christianity might fit into the social realm but, we come with intent before our God; giving Him our best.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole