As often as I rehearse this word I tend to but scratch the surface of its great worth: Love. The Lord silenced the Sadducees in Matthew 22. Having seen an open display of His authority, a Pharisee, a lawyer, decided to try his hand at trapping the Lord. He asked, Matthew 22:36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Without hesitation the Lord replied: “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” This would have been sufficient in itself, but Jesus went further: Matthew 22:38-40 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.
Everything hinged on those two commandments. 1) Love God. 2) Love others. Paul wrote
(I Corinthians 13) of the worth of Faith and Hope which are powerful concepts in their own right. In the end Paul said that the greatest is Love. Love supersedes the rest. All spiritual matters; all prophetic terms; all gifts and callings rest on Loving God and Loving people. 1 John 4:20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?
Programs are good, but without love all programs are empty. Some hang their hat on insights, but without love these things are failing mechanisms. The bedrock of our faith and our church is Love. Loving God and loving people. Love is the foundation of all growth internally and emotionally. It is both the launching pad and the necessary energy that sustains the church. Even in disagreement, Love is the bridge that holds us together. I hope you hear this. Talent; spiritual insights; biblical understanding are all empty without love. Add some smart people. Throw in some intellectuals. None of it matters if there is no love. If love is missing, talent won’t make up the difference. If love is left out, we cease to be the church of Jesus Christ. We are a dysfunctional social club.
I’m a little weary hearing people talking about how much they love people, but talk about them behind their back. That’s not love. Love would never speak against a brother. Love is more than an emotion. It’s a decision. You don’t just feel it in your heart, you make the conscious choice in your mind. I’m not impressed with talent or intelligence. I’m impressed with those who love people. All gifts fail without the choice of Love.
Love never needs an explanation. Love transforms lives. It allows people room to grow, even make mistakes. Love picks people up when they fall and doesn’t condemn them or remind them of their failure. Love covers the infractions of others. It considers the greater picture in all things. I present the great hinge of the revival to come. I submit the way for prodigals to return to the Father’s house and all sinners to be saved. Let Love rule and take preeminence in this house. The Greatest of these…
Pastor Jeffrey Harpole
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Matthew and Mark both record a father’s plea whose son was possessed with a foul spirit. To no avail the disciples tried to cast out the spirit. In bewilderment, they spoke to Jesus about their lack of authority. Jesus performed the miracle and then gave instruction: Mark 9:29 This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.
While the miracle is powerful in itself, I’m more gripped by what has been left out in modern versions of the Bible. Of the 5 top Bible versions, only the King James retains the word “fasting.” All the others simply say that prayer alone should be used. Even though the Greek texts uses the derivative word for fasting, nesteia, nace-ti’-ah: abstinence (from food), the modern biblical view has removed fasting from its text.
Several new articles and books depict the reasons why Christians do not fast. One even asks in its title, “Should Christians Fast?” I’m appalled. Are we really asking the question whether we should engage in this biblical and spiritual act? Has self-indulgence overtaken us insomuch that we are gluttons and cannot remove food from our presence? Could this be the reason why so many biblical translations have left out the necessity of fasting?
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Jo Swinney wrote that “prayer, financial giving, worship, hospitality, Bible reading and service are all recognized forms of Christianity, but fasting appears to have fallen out of favor.” We have moved toward things that we are comfortable with and have abandoned things that crucify the flesh. Richard Foster states the absence of fasting comes because people believe, “…it is just too costly.” He asked, “Have we become so accustomed to ‘cheap grace’ that we instinctively shy away from more demanding calls to obedience?”
The miracle of Jesus required constraining the flesh. The disciples employed prayer, but some things required fasting also. It was prayer, plus putting the body under subjection to the Spirit that produced authority over the enemy. We are launching a fast this week, because we must take dominion over the enemy called sickness. It is imperative that we leave nothing out. It will take both prayer and fasting. Regardless of the modern day versions of the Bible, the text declares that these two things are key to overcoming certain things that cannot be undone. This kind…only by prayer and fasting.
Pastor Jeffrey Harpole
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1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
I’ve never been opposed to the people of God being called “peculiar.” We are different from the world and we are not ashamed. We are “set apart” and “called out” from the nations. So if you would like to refer to Peter’s writing in this way, then there are ample scriptures to assist you. However, the word “peculiar” actually refers to something belonging to someone, as someone’s property. It’s referring to ownership. It is “peculiar” in ownership. Yet, there is a double meaning in that this ownership (God) makes demands on His subjects to be different than the rest. Thus, peculiar retains its meaning in the light of the wishes of the owner.
New versions of the Bible have removed the word “peculiar.” Mostly because the English language has suffered the fate of a vacuous crowd. They are missing the broader point that we are not of this world because God has chosen us. To that end, yes, we are strange, much like Moses when he named his son Gershom, “I am a stranger in a strange land.”
Think of it: Our country now normalizes perversions. What was once called evil is now applauded. Men becoming women is called courage, while the name of Jesus is offensive. Outward holiness is mocked by even so-called Bible believers. Surely we are peculiar. To be a virgin before marriage is an anomaly. To be faithful to your spouse is called rejecting your “natural instincts.” The nuclear family itself has been redefined because of its insolence. Can you imagine! Isaiah said, Isaiah 5:20 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
My word is this: We belong to Him. We are the called out ones. Chosen by God. He purchased us with His own Blood. He retains possession and that makes us peculiar. 1 John 4:6 “We are of God” we are not of this world. Therefore, we cannot look, act, or conduct ourselves by the standards of this world. I’m following after holiness without which no man shall see the Lord!
Pastor Jeffrey Harpole