Climate change

Climate change, I cannot think a more divisive debate in our world today. While the subject weighs on world economies, political positions seem to be impacted the most. In brief, the theory is that human activity causes an increase in carbon emissions, thus creating an increase in the earth’s atmospheric temperatures through a series of ozone failures. In layman’s terms, humanity’s proceedings is causing the earth to warm. California’s smog has been used as an example. When the winds are silent, carbon dioxide and other pollutions hover in the noonday sky. Beijing, China is dealing with the same issue. Too many people in a small space has caused an increase in air quality. So while the overall global, man-made change in weather has been debated, there is no doubt that people have a bearing on the environment around them.

The truth is people always affect the climate, but the climate I’m talking about is not physical. I’m promoting a spiritual change. Our activity in praise and worship creates an atmosphere where the Lord operates. In fact, He inhabits the praises of His people. Liberty is the result of the Lord’s presence. Our endeavors through worship, and singing can change the atmosphere. Paul and Silas proved the point when they were thrown into an inner prison. The Scripture tells us that they were bound hand and foot. They were trapped in stocks and bonds. However, the Bible also declares that Acts 16:25 “…at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. It was a change in the climate. Songs of praise changed the atmosphere. An inner prison cell was no match for the songs of Zion. Imprisonment had to give way to praise at midnight. Their activity; their human expression altered the place where they were bound. No one told them to sing and there is no indication that they knew what would happen if they did. It appears that Paul and Silas were less concerned with the outcome and more focused on changing the atmosphere around them. The climate changed and the other prisoners heard them.

Praise at midnight is so powerful that it changes the climate of everyone. People who praise in the middle of their dilemma cause a disruption in the dispositions of the bound, weary, and afflicted. The next verse is a display of how the human effort effects the spiritual realm. Suddenly, there was an earthquake and it shook the foundations of the prison and everyone was set free. I’m ready for a climate change!

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

The heart

Consider King Amaziah, who reigned in Jerusalem some 29 years. Though there are many commentaries pertaining to his administration and leadership, none are more telling than the words found in 2 Chronicles 25:2 “And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, but not with a perfect heart.”

It’s such a strange commentary that a man can do what is right, but not with a perfect heart. It could be read that he did “right things”, but his heart was not in it. Amaziah’s heart was divided; never truly submissive to the Voice of God. The most glaring instance of his tenure came when he hired mercenaries to fight for Israel. Amaziah thought that the end would justify the means, but God rejected his ill-conceived plan. Amaziah struggled with the odds and then eventually became bitter over the loss of 100 talents of silver (@ 120,000 oz.), which he had already paid for his army-for-hire scheme. Amaziah had “heart” problems.

The heart is described throughout the scripture in various forms.
Jeremiah called it deceitful. Solomon told us to keep our heart with all… Proverbs 4:23 “…diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”

Jesus said, Matthew 12:34 “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”

The heart is the center point of a person’s consciousness. It is the hub of all passions, desires, and philosophies. Its worth is far beyond the muscular, hollow organ that pumps blood throughout our circulatory system. It is the core of a person’s life where all intent and thought emanates.

Through the Word we know that God did accept indifference to His command, even if it was obeyed. God wanted obedience with wholeheartedness. To execute the commandment of God was insufficient if the heart was not in it. Even Jesus said, “Isaiah was right about you in that you serve me with your lips, but your heart is far from me.” The Lord knew the difference, because it is He Who measured the deeds of mankind. His Word is described as a sharp two-edged sword capable of discerning the thoughts and intents of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).

God is interested in our actions, but even more so that we love to do what He has called us to do. Begrudging obedience is not the attribute of a servant of the Lord. He wants us to obey and believe what we are obeying. The first of all commandments is to Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, and strength. This is our plight; to do what is right with a perfect heart.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Queen’s Crown

No one really knows the worth of the Queen’s Coronation Crown. Originally it was called St. Edward’s Crown and was worn briefly by the new British monarch. The entire worth of the royal family’s collection of crowns, robes, scepters, and other ceremonial items housed in the Tower of London for the last many centuries is estimated at about $3.5 billion.

However, the Queen’s Coronation Crown is premier above all. Weighing nearly five pounds, the opulent headgear comprises gold, velvet, ermine, and a plethora of glittering gemstones. The stones were made permanent by King George V, Elizabeth II’s grandfather. However, if you pulled it apart and broke it down by individual pieces, the cost would be much lower than its present value. Based on current calculations of materials, to duplicate the crown would cost a respectable $4.5 million. Most of the cost would involve the 7 sapphires, followed by 26 tourmaline stones. The lush purple velvet, as regal and royal as it is, would only set you back $3.

It’s not the individual components that make the Queen’s Crown so valuable. Alone, a replica is far less expensive than the original. The value is found in its connection to the kings and queens who wore it. In fact, it is the uniqueness of the monarchs connected to the entirety of the royal jewels and artifacts that give the collection its worth. Without that connection, the pieces are merely measured against the going rate of their replacements.

The worth of the Church was never based on the individual lives of the people who were apart of it. Nor did the Church find its value in its collective talent or ability, regardless of their giftedness. Each person began in iniquity and was far from God. Each individual had their roots in lust and corruption; all were conceived in sin, as David so aptly wrote.

The value of the Church is its connection to the King of Glory and the precious Blood of the Lamb of God. We are made worthy by He Who sits on the throne of Heaven. Jesus, the Lord of Hosts, is the Creator of all things and because of Him we are the sons and daughters of the Most High God; joint-heirs with Jesus Christ.

Pull this apart, if you will, but the worth of the Church plummets. Remove the name of Jesus out of baptism and our worth is gone. Diminish the necessity of Holy Ghost baptism and you have nothing, but a country club with menial endeavors. Our value is tied to something higher than us. We have value and identity because of Him Who sits on High. We have purpose because of His loving kindness. All that we are and hope to be is by virtue of His grace and mercy. In Him, our value is beyond this world.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Importunity

Importunity is not a common word in our modern vernacular. So when we read the parable of a Friend at Midnight, it might be difficult to understand the word that so described the main character. The end of the story rests on this statement: Luke 11:8 “…yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.” The parable speaks of need: A man needs bread, but the hour is late. He’s knocking on a door at the wrong time. The man inside considers him a friend, but it’s midnight. Besides, there are children to consider. The father must wake the children to supply the need. The father says, “Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are asleep. I can’t get up and give you anything.” Three reasons are given: The door is locked. The children will be disturbed. The hour is late. The father has spoken and the answer is “no.” “Go away. Can’t you see that it’s too late?” However, the father will change his mind because of his friend’s importunity. We call it, Persistence. He is Relentless. He just won’t go away.

I wish it were deeper than persistence. I know that many are looking for some theological revelation to answer their most difficult conflict. Jesus said, Matthew 7:8 “For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” The ‘eth” on the end of each word actually means “continually.” Jesus presented the plural to ask, seek, and knock. Jesus did not end this thought with one parable or a single statement. Jesus was emphatic! Jesus said, Luke 18:3-5 And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.

The widow received what she asked for because of her importunity. Constant coming. Continual asking. Repeated seeking. It was her insistence that brought about justice. There was no special gifting needed to receive her heart’s desire. It was just her request in repeat mode. I wonder how many have given up praying because they feel like they sound like a broken record. Maybe you are weary in well doing. I say, let your importunity be your resolve and never quit seeking for the thing that you long for. The answer may rest on your importunity.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole