What if you received everything you prayed for? Be careful before answering too quickly.
Prayer is a powerful tool in the hands of the believer. It is our communication to God, Who is Faithful to answer our needs. It is the process of bringing our petitions to Him as we boldly approach the Throne of Grace. Prayer combined with Faith is the language of the Holy Spirit. The scripture speaks of praying correctly. Jesus offered the pattern of prayer to His disciples, which has been referenced, as The Lord’s Prayer. This pattern features the recognition of God and His Holiness. His Kingdom is included and His divine will is invoked. There is forgiveness offered and forgiveness sought.
The Bible also warns against foolish prayers. Let us not pray “amiss” or use “vain reputations as the heathen do.” All prayers are not the same. Some seek for personal gain or profit. Some think of prayer as an escape mechanism to remove the consequences of poor decisions and carnal living.
Balaam prayed a prayer for permission to travel with unsavory men. God said, Numbers 22:12 “Do not go with them.” Balaam desired to join a group contrary to Israel and God clearly rejected his request. However, Balaam would not take “No” for an answer. So after repeated attempts to get his way, the Lord finally said, Numbers 22:20 “Go with them.” The coming scene was not in Balaam’s favor. He received what he thought he wanted, but God’s judgment was against him. He got what he prayed for, but the result was God’s wrath upon him.
There is a growing chasm between fleshly prayers and spiritual desires. Just because it is a prayer does not mean it is godly. I can only imagine that it is the goodness of God that keeps us from getting everything we pray for. When we filter God’s written Word out of our petitions we become carnal. Seeking for things that are contrary to God’s Word and His Will work against us. It could be that He protects us even from our own human desires, which are designed to lead us away from eternal life.
Paul prayed three times that a “thorn” would be removed from him. Nevertheless, God rejected that prayer and said, “My grace is sufficient for thee for my strength is made perfect in your weakness.” It was the Will of God to keep Paul in check and ultimately, he accepted God’s answer which allowed him to experience profound grace.
I pray today… “Thy Kingdom come in my life and Thy Will be done in me.”
Pastor Jeffrey Harpole
Having gathered the wood himself, Elijah rebuilt the broken down altar left by the false prophets of Baal and of the grove. Mount Carmel had never seen so many people as the moment became an event. The prophet had come with a challenge that the God who answers by fire, “let Him be God.” But first, the altar. First, the sacrifice. God’s “Fire” has always been present. He has been and shall always be. God is from before time and He shall reign when time is no more. The altar is my part. The sacrifice is me. God’s fire has been waiting on someone to offer themselves upon the altar built by their own hands. This means work. Altars demand focus and attention. They take time to construct and energy to maintain. In brief, altars are demanding.
Elijah saw fire fall as it consumed the sacrifice, the water, and the dust. He rejoiced to hear the sound of abundance of rain. He killed 850 false prophets and gave commands to the people and the king. The scripture indicates that he outran Ahab’s chariot down a nine mile stretch. All of it, however, came after the altar. It did not take much searching to find studies on time spent on media devices. The number of hours of cellphone use and surfing is staggering. Surely our age is entrenched with entertainment and communication. The problem is that there is no time left for personal altars. In fact, it’s doubtful that altars are found in individual homes. Most people think of an altar as a fixed location in their local assembly. They think that church is for God and homes are for everything else. We want the “fire” to fall. In times of famine, we seek for rain. Prayers are prayed for God to display His power among His people and the unbeliever. But first, comes the Altar. First comes the building of the place of sacrifice.
You see, when the altar is not present, no one thinks about the sacrifice. We tend to just pray for the miracle. Prayers without sacrifice are often words of convenience. When the altar is absent, there is no need to give up time, money, ambition, or entertainment. Altars are intrusive and taxing. They remind us that we are to present our own bodies as a living sacrifice. They feature the remnants of self-imposed loss and total reliance upon God. We want the miracle and we need it. However, the miracle may very well rest on the presence of the Altar.
Pastor Jeffrey Harpole
Uzzah is an uncommon name in the Bible. His epitaph is among the most egregious ever written. For twenty years, the Ark of the Covenant resided among his family. In the process of moving, Uzzah put forth his hand to keep it from falling. God struck him dead where he stood for touching the sacred box. Casualness and familiarity produced a lack of regard for Israel’s national treasure, and it costs him his life.
Value is often seen through respect. What we find valuable is reverenced, honored, and kept. People who hold such places of acclaim are approached carefully and with caution. One of the fundamental aspects of a healthy culture is found in honoring those to whom honor is due (Romans 13). God instilled this truth in the Ten Commandments: Exodus 20:12 Honor thy father and thy mother.” Israel was told to rise in the presence of the aged and show respect to those who are older (Leviticus 19:32). Paul will follow up on this directive in his letter to the church at Thessalonica; 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13“…know them which labor among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake.”
The Bible is replete with these same commands over and over again. It begins with the fear of the Lord and moves to His written Word. As with all things holy, there is an opposing force. The absence of honor has been the affliction of many societies. Without respect, lawlessness prevails; families become splintered, and the things that should be treasured are treated carelessly. The Gospel also suffers when believers devalue the Church and the Mission. If we consider the preached Word inconsequential, we will invariably dismiss it as optional. Even Jesus’ miracles were thwarted because He found no honor among His own country.
Though respect and honor have fallen on hard times, we should not give up our attempt to restore such things among the believers. While many westernized cultures have diluted the holy scriptures, it seems only reasonable to follow God’s plan for our lives. Casual living is destroying holiness. Complacency and apathy are enemies to the demands of the Cross. However, the call of God is pressing us to restore these virtues that hold us together. Honor. Respect. The Fear of the Lord. The Word and our leaders. We must strive to instill the value of these most precious things in our everyday lives.
Pastor Jeffrey Harpole
Perhaps the most notable commentary about David was Paul’s inclusion of Israel’s king in the New Testament. Paul said, Acts 13:36 “For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers…” David fought many battles and obtained as many victories. He was the nation’s favored king; a worshiper, songwriter, and a man after God’s own heart. However, Paul depicted him simply as one who served his own generation by the Will of God. At the conclusion of it all, the Will of God is premier. His Will supersedes all other accomplishments that may be attributed to this life. Thus, Paul gave credence to the greater accomplishment of King David: he served his own generation by the Will of God.
The time we have is limited, even now. We all have a window of opportunity to reach the lost. These days are God’s allotted time given to us to spread the Gospel and the Apostolic doctrine. It is our single purpose for living. Our mission has been set long ago from which we must not deviate.
The last 20 years have been filled with the blessings of God. While challenges remain, I am convinced that our plight is a collective thought: To reach our city with the only saving message of Acts 2:38. This is no small task as it consumes our thoughts day and night. We are pressing for the Mark for the Prize of the high calling of God which is in Christ Jesus. It is His divine Will for us to reach the Harvest. This exclusive doctrine demands as much.
New Life Fellowship has been a refuge for so many people. Through the years, hundreds of families have found the Lord and so much more. Many have been born again of the water and the Spirit. The name of Jesus has been our constant source of power and authority. What a joy to know the Truth and to share it!
Tami and I honor you as a congregation for your faithfulness and commitment. Our family is indebted to you and to those who have served the Lord and have passed from this life. Our greatest desire is to experience a city-wide revival and to serve our own generation by the will of God.
Pastor Jeffrey Harpole