The I AM …

The scripture records two reactions to the Lord’s Triumphant entry into Jerusalem:

First:
Matthew 21:9-11 “And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest. And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this? And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.”

Second:
Matthew 21:15 “But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple area, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant.”

Besides the obvious differences of acceptance by the people and rejection by the religious sects, there is a more notable message lying within the holy writ. Both the people and the pharisees did not know Who Jesus was. To the people, Jesus was a prophet; a healer Who originated from a city called Nazareth. To the pharisees, Jesus was a troublemaker Who sought to disrupt their ceremonial practices. Both saw Him in a different light, but neither understood that He was The Light. Both saw Him as unique, but none comprehended that He was The I AM.

Maybe it was a step in the right direction to proclaim that Jesus came in the name of the Lord, but it could not end there. He was the Lord. Besides a handful of disciples and the women, which followed, none of them viewed Him as the Resurrection and the Life. The people cried Hosanna, but no one saw Him as the Alpha and Omega, The Almighty (Revelation 1:8). They all shouted praises and laid branches and coats in His path, but Isaiah’s declaration was a blur (Isaiah 9:6) – “The Mighty God, the Everlasting Father.”

The seven days from His entry to His crucifixion is noted as the greatest week in human history. In some ways, I find the words of the Roman soldier as the real capstone of the Lord’s identification. The soldier witnessed the Lord’s death and in that moment, he lifted up his eyes and said, “Surely this was the son of God.”

As we enter this house of worship, there must be recognition of Who He is. It is imperative that we call Him Savior, Master, Redeemer. He did not just come in the name of the Lord. He came as the Lord of all. His name is Jesus and He is the Lord of Glory, the Lord of Lords, and the King of Kings. We cry, “Hosanna,” because He is the Light of the World and the Lord of Glory.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Balance …

Solomon wrote under the same direction of the Author, Who breathed His Word to all the anointed writers of the Bible. In his book, called Ecclesiastes, Solomon promoted a Balanced Life. Perhaps his years of success and failure had carved out a truth that God wanted us to learn. Solomon wrote of seasons and times; designated moments that are polar and yet appropriate. He also wrote: Ecclesiastes 7:16 “Be not righteous over much; neither make thyself over wise: why shouldest thou destroy thyself?”

The verse means that we should not think ourselves too righteous to repent or too ceremonially perfect that we forget what God has done for us. It gives us caution not to be too wise in our eyes lest we destroy ourselves, i.e., “don’t outsmart yourself.”

The concise term is Balance. There is a time for everything, but not everything all of the time. Nature teaches us balance. The human anatomy is an artistic display of balance. The temperature of the earth; gravity and those invisible barriers that allow the sun to penetrate the earth’s crust is kept in check by the same. The stars and galaxies are all held by the poise of God’s order. Balance.

I submit that our actions, thoughts, and ideas must follow in kind. There is a time to speak of the condition of our sinful world. Our culture is corrupt. Carnality is a disease wrought against humanity. Nevertheless, the scripture would offer a balance, or in this sense, a counterbalance. Paul said that where sin abounded “grace did much more abound” Romans 5:20. There is a time to preach against wickedness, of this I’m sure. However, sometimes I wonder if we should stop rebuking the darkness and just turn on the Light.

Jonathan paused to taste the honey and it enlightened his eyes. The honey gave him strength even in the midst of the battle. There will be trouble, but along the way, God has provided encouragement. It is appropriate for us to rejoice in the blessing, instead of continually recalling the trial.

The church struggles from time to time, but it also has victories and benefits. We all experience deep valleys, but a balanced life will produce miracles on the same path as the affliction. It’s only when we are out of balance that we find ourselves out of order. “Out of balance” people are either too proud to admit their failure or too fearful to recognize that “greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world.” They are either full of themselves or wallowing in despair. We are seeking a Balanced Life, which is a life in Jesus Christ.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Preemptive Forgiveness

Romans 5:8 “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

Paul’s writing cannot be overstated as the most pivotal point in human history. Sin separated us from God. All death, disease, and human conflict was a result of sin. David said that we were shaped and made in sin. The scripture states that “all have sinned and fallen short.” None of us even knew our wretched condition. Nevertheless, Paul wrote, “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” It means that before we were aware of the debt we owed, Jesus was paying the price. What a miracle! What a gift!

Not only did Jesus forgive us on Calvary, but He commanded us to forgive one another. His eternal pattern was set, as Romans 5 so aptly declares. I call it “Preemptive Forgiveness.” The Bible teaches us that unless and until we forgive our brother, our Heavenly Father cannot forgive us. Matthew 6:14-15 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

There is no vagueness in the scripture. It is plain: Forgive and you will be forgiven. Without the same and you will retain your sin. However, there is another measure that is tied to the above text. We must forgive one another even before we are asked: Preemptive Forgiveness. Real Christians forgive at the moment of the offense. Not when they are sought after by the offender. Real Christians immediately recall what Jesus did for them and they measure the offense against them by the pain of the Cross suffered on their behalf.

Preemptive forgiveness is an attitude, not just an action. It is a lifestyle predicated by the work done on Calvary. He suffered and died before we knew Him; before we understood how far we were from God. Offenses will come. Denial, rejection, abuse, misuse, and more are sure to find us in this life. However, Jesus forgave us and restored us and we are to follow suit.

I’m not looking for religious people who tout doctrines, sacrifice, or scriptural insight over Mercy. Jesus said that He desires Mercy more than sacrifice. All those other aspects are good, but they are built upon the foundation of Mercy and Forgiveness. We cannot reject the scripture or take things out of context to justify ourselves. I’m preaching here a little: Just because the Bible does not work in your favor does not mean that you can ignore it. We are here because He forgave us of our sins. We are commissioned to forgive every offense in this life – even preemptively.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Religious, but not Spiritual

It seems odd that these two things can be mutually exclusive. I’ve often wondered about the evolution of such a thing: To be ritualistic, but have no relationship. Yet, this tragedy has become prevalent in these modern times.

Religion should help us think beyond ourselves. It is designed to move us toward action. James wrote of it’s true purpose: James 1:27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

The first portion has become a regular aspect of the church. We do care for the fatherless. We are active in comforting and caring for the widows. However, it’s the latter portion of the scripture that many ignore. We are to keep ourselves unspotted from the world. Real religion is spiritual! It is a spiritual endeavor that causes us to refrain from evil; run from sexual perversions; flee fornication; remove ourselves from vain conversation and much more. We are to be spiritual!

I ask:

• When did we think that we could stop praying and still make it to Heaven? Is prayer just for people who need something from God?
• Who decided that minimal church attendance was sufficient?
• Did someone white-out Hebrews 10:25?
• Has tithing become a last century teaching or is Malachi 3 true?
• Is withholding tithes and offerings still stealing from God?
• When did Christians conclude that God wasn’t concerned with their musical choices? Or when did we buy into the lie that watching perverted movies and scenes would not stain our minds?
• Can we consume Hollywood and stay pure?
• It’s okay to gossip, talk about other people, and spread hurtful information? Is it no longer an abomination to God to verbally attack people?
• When did the Bible become obsolete and the scripture become silent when it comes to submission and obedience?
• Did our American citizenship remove us from spiritual authority?
• Should we just erase Hebrews 13:17 “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.”?
• Who has the rule over you? Who is your spiritual umbrella? Who told you that receiving the Holy Ghost negated your spiritual authority?
(Jeremiah 3:15, 2 Timothy 4:2, Acts 20:28, Ephesians 4:11-14)?

I ask because these matters are serious and critical. It is not enough to be “Religious” and still be spotted. We must seek to be spiritual, which comes through Prayer, Fasting, Sacrifice, and a daily diet of the Word.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole