King of King

The Civil Rights Movement was and is an important part of the fabric of America. By all accounts, it’s premise is based on the Bible’s own declarations of love, brotherhood, and unity. Paul was clear when he wrote, Romans 12:5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. The body of Jesus Christ has no divisions or segregations.

While we pause to give honor to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we know that there were many others who suffered and stood strong in the face of racism and segregation. Leaders, known and unknown, sought for equality and acceptance. Even still, Dr. King rose above the rest and paid the ultimate sacrifice to preach his message.

It is important that we know that Dr. King was a preacher because modernism and some humanists would like us to think differently. I present this fact, because I believe that Dr. King was good as The King made him to be. His passion, voice, sound, and conviction rose from the depths afforded to him by the King of all Kings. The times in which he lived needed more than just a public speaker. They needed a voice that echoed the Throne of God. Maybe Dr. King would have been revered and admired without the call that lay beneath him. Maybe he would have still been a notable figure in society and history. I believe it was the King of Glory that ushered him into the realm of authority, to speak to the nation and to generations to come. I submit to you, The King of King.

The Psalmist asked,
Psalms 24:8 – 10 Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting
doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory.

John identified him when he saw Him:
Revelation 19:12 – 13 His eyes were as a flame of fire – on his head were many crowns… And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is
called The Word of God.
Revelation 19:15 – 16 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword…And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Prayer and Fasting

Isaiah 58 “Is not this the fast that I have chosen?”

God’s message through Isaiah about fasting is often lost in the absence of context. So to be true to the larger picture, God used fasting as a means to change the hearts of His people. He had chosen this time, but their day of fasting had not altered their behavior. In context, the poor remained hungry; fighting and arguing were still prevalent; and the less fortunate were being mishandled. God desired a fast in order to subdue greed and pride. He was looking for a change in their actions, but ultimately they went through the motions without allowing the sacrifice to do its intended work. God said, “Is this fast only for a day? No change of spirit? No humility; no heart?” They fasted, but still exploited their workers. They fasted, but were still bitter towards one another. It was ritual without relationship. Isaiah wrote that the fast was to break chains and tear down strongholds, but the routine had become ceremonial and ultimately lost its purpose.

Fasting is not just about giving up food. It is certainly not a weight-loss program. Fasting is about crucifying the most natural desires of the flesh. It’s about an introspective look into the recesses of the heart and mind to change the disposition of the person who makes the sacrifice.

I submit that worship, giving, and prayer can become a ritual. Any repeated action can develop into a function of the body. Just because someone declares that they go to church every Sunday, does not mean that they have a heart for sacrifice. Without the heart, singing is nothing more than a function and prayer only a recital. God desires for our hearts to be changed and our actions to follow in like manner. Chains must be broken and anointing must flow.

Therefore, in this time of prayer and fasting, I submit that we seek for a change of heart. It is imperative that we use the time wisely and consider the condition of our lives. David said it this way…

Psalms 139:23-24 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Finisher …

Hebrews 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith…

We are at the bookend of the year and it seems to have come and gone so very fast. The scripture is not silent about days like this. The scripture calls the Lord, The Author and the Finisher of our faith. God did not just start a work in you, but He will also finish it. He is a God of completion and He is calling His people to be likewise. Jesus once said that no one begins to build without considering the cost. He was emphatic that we look ahead in order to finish what we began. Finishing is what I’m concerned about in this day of the uncommitted spirit. Many commence, but few complete.

Jesus prophesied about the last days in which the Church would be persecuted. He foretold of a time to come: Matthew 10:22 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. He said, “you will have trouble; my name will invoke a rage against you… but get to the end and you’ll be saved.” Completion. I submit that finishing is critical to our faith.

Yet, there is another element that cannot be overlooked. It’s not just that you finish, but it’s how you finish. Paul wrote it this way: Acts 20:24 “But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.”

Our lives are too short to be in angst. I pray for Joy today and in the coming year. It is better when we give cheerfully; worship with adoration; greet with a smile; and walk by faith. Both our individual and collective witness is greater when we exhibit the Joy of the Lord. By virtue of it, the Joy of the Lord will be our strength.

I’m looking to Jesus because He always finishes what He begins. Even on the Cross, He said, “It is finished.” He’s a God that completes the work. I’m thankful for this year and I’m ready to see the next move of God in our lives and in our church. It’s going to be a great year and here it comes… 2018!

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

The Prince of Peace

Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Is there any wonder that His name would be called “The Prince of Peace”? Since the exiting of Eden, the world has seen chaos and strife. Yet, Jesus is the Royalty above it all. The conception of Mary was issued through the Holy Ghost, which Jesus called “The Comforter.” His invitation included a yoke that was easy and a burden that was light. His nature is that of being slow to anger and of great kindness. His actions included calming the raging Sea of Galilee and setting the tormented Gadarene free insomuch that he was found sitting, clothed, and in his right mind. Calm.

Christmas is celebration of God’s own visitation in the form of a man. More specifically, He was known as “The Lamb of God.” Yes, He is the Lion of Judah, but He came as a lamb; innocent and tender. The prophet of old said, “Behold, thy King cometh unto thee meek.” Which Jesus echoed when He said of Himself, “for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.”

In light of His nature, what a thought to know that He is our peace. The rat-race, which no one has ever won, is constantly pressing. Struggles abound in all of our lives. Mounting losses and continual conflict remain despite our best efforts to resolve such things. Confusion and bewilderment accompanies the best of faithful hearts. Jesus is our refuge from the storm. He speaks and placid waters emerge. His touch brings assurance. Even His name is called a High Tower where the righteous run and are safe.

I wish this season to be filled with Jesus, The Prince of Peace. He is the Lord strong and mighty. His voice is the quiet confidence in the midst of life’s cacophony of voices. As Paul concluded a portion of his inspired writing, so too I write, Romans 15:33 Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

The Rock

Romans 9:33 As it is written, Behold, I lay in Zion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

Perhaps in the carnal mind, the only thing more difficult to believe than the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the virgin birth by which He came. His entry is more perplexing to the skeptic than His exit. To those on the outside it might seem more likely that an empty tomb is plausible if Mary was truly found with child of the Holy Ghost. Yet His entire story is a difficult narrative for the unbeliever.

Peter writes that Jesus is the Stone; the Rock of offense that causes men to stumble. Paul quotes the prophetic word that His presence alone would be a rock of offense that makes the doubter trip and fall. Moreover, to think that the life and subsequent resurrection of Jesus Christ hinged on the faith of a young, teenage girl who replied to the angel, “Be it unto me according to thy word” is beyond the telling.

The Messiah came through the faith and acceptance of one and would be called the Mighty God and the Everlasting Father. The Bible states that All of the fulness of God dwells in Jesus bodily. Jesus became the image of the invisible God, so says the Bible.

He is the Righteous Judge and the Mediator at the same time. His Gospel was not hid, but it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes. Yet to those who do not believe, Jesus is the world’s greatest hindrance. We either fall on the Rock and are saved or we trip over Him in unbelief and are lost. There is no middle ground with Jesus. His very existence demands an answer. His name is the ultimate source of separation for He said, “Ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.” I see a Stone laid in Zion and it causes men to stumble. Born of a virgin. Emmanuel. God manifested in the flesh.

The aging priest, Simeon, who was waiting for the consolation of Israel said: “For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.” Luke 2:30-32. The Rock saved him, as it has saved all those who believe that Jesus is Lord of All.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

“Faith-It”

Historically speaking, the first 2,000 years of humankind fill the pages of the first eleven chapters of the Bible. Then the brakes come on and for the better portion of the next 15 chapters, we are privy to the life of Abraham. The focus is significant because it was through Abraham that the nation of Israel would be established and the Messiah would be born. Christiandom as a whole will rejoice to witness the Tribe of Judah from which He came. We excel in the recital of the life of David and all those who find their place in the Lord’s lineage. However, it was Abraham that began this mission of faith.

Abraham was called out and followed God when there was no lineage. He believed in God when there was no evidence to support his belief. He pursued God and made a major sacrifice to leave his homeland on nothing more than blind obedience. At least the kings of Israel had the stories of God’s power over the enemy when they obeyed God. When the children of Israel found themselves in a straight, at least they had the deeds of Moses and Joshua to their record. Everyone after Elijah had his story of the God who answers by fire. Peter and John had been witness to the miracles of Jesus before they called for the lame man to leap. Nevertheless, Abraham had nothing but faith.

Sometimes you can rely on the testimonies aforetime and sometimes you just have to “Faith-It.” Sometimes there are witnesses that surround you and tell of the Lord’s answer that is transferable to your need. However, there are moments when you must become the first. You are pressed to believe, because to date no one in your family has walked by faith. When you have no history and there are no witnesses to boast of His past wonderful works, that’s the time when your faith must rise and triumph. You have to look into the eyes of the enemy and take authority even though you’ve never seen it before.

I submit that the strongest among us are those who walk by faith on a daily basis. There is a deep and widening root for those who trust in God and not in their own resources. Yes, it would be nice if you could see the outcome before you took that leap of faith. If you saw it, you would not have to Faith-It.

Paul wrote it for our admonition: Walk by faith and not by sight.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Proof of Jesus

Proof: Evidence that establishes a fact or a truth; a particular aspect that maintains the validity of something presented.

Proof. It’s what the high priests, pharisees, and Caiaphas feared the most after the burial of Jesus Christ. They remembered His words, how He would rise from the grave, and they could not risk such a thing. So they sealed the tomb and put armed guards around it, lest their second mistake would be greater than their first. Yet, when the day came and they found the stone rolled away, the unbelievers proposed various reasons for the Lord’s missing body. They submitted that maybe His disciples stole His body or maybe He wasn’t buried there; even that Jesus was never killed and that’s why He never rose again.

Nevertheless, seeing that argument failed, the doubting crowd concocted a better lie: Jesus was never born. If the denier can maintain that Jesus was not born and that His birth place was never found or located, and then maybe He never died. Only a dying Jesus could rise from the grave and only a living Jesus could die. Therefore, they proposed that no one can find the place where He was born thus He never came. While this contention might sound new, the fact is that the naysayers have been arguing the birth and resurrection of Jesus Christ for centuries.

In response, the world Christian community has presented possible places of the Lord’s birth. They believe that if His birthplace can be found then there would be sufficient proof of His life. They think it imperative to at least negotiate a birthplace for the Messiah, as if Jesus needed a physical placard to prop up His existence. The endeavor continues as they make every human attempt to establish Him in the eyes of the critic.

I submit that Jesus does not need a rock or some edifice in Bethlehem to maintain His existence. The evidence of Jesus needs no stone because He said, John 14:18 “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” Moreover, when He came, He came through the Holy Ghost, which is called the Comforter (John 14:26) and He returned the same way. Therefore, the proof of Jesus is in us. We are the temples of the Spirit, which is Jesus. He occupies the people who are filled with His Spirit, which we often term the Holy Ghost.

The proof of Jesus is found in lives changed; marriages restored, addictions broken, healed bodies, and a myriad of things of the which these pages cannot contain. So while the media will once again vie for proof in stone, we are His proof in body that He came, He lived, He died, and He rose.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

New Normal …

In response to a recent terrorist act, a person close by said, “Well, life goes on.” I wouldn’t consider their statement part of the normalcy bias theory, but more of the new disposition that our country has accepted. Many consider this part of the “New normal.” This thought says that what was once abnormal has become common and because of its prevalence and frequency, it then becomes the norm. “New normals” mean definitions of terms, lifestyles, ideas, terrorism, social behaviors, apparel, and education are changed to reflect the preferences of the current culture. In essence, mass consciousness is now dictating what we should think, say, and how we behave. We see this happening in real time as careers are altered and people are hired or fired based upon their acceptance of the new norms.

Nevertheless, there is a problem. New norms do not reflect God’s law. New norms do not follow the path of holiness or righteousness. There’s a problem with allowing the “mass” to decide what is right and what is wrong when the scripture has already declared it so. For instance, the rainbow was given as a sign of God’s covenant with mankind that He would not flood the entire earth again. However, a perverse group has stolen the rainbow and used it as a sign to reflect tolerance of homosexual lifestyles. Christmas songs once used the word gay (happy), e.g., “don we now our gay apparel,” but today the new norm uses it to declare a sexual preference.

Normalizing sin is at the root of these concepts. The worldly mind thinks that as long as ideas are common, prevalent, and frequent then those ideas are not sinful. The prophet Isaiah foretold of this hour: 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!”

Consider apparel that appeals to the sensual desires of the flesh. Recently a research group detailed the list of so-called “soft-porn” television programs. Can you believe it? (insert sarcasm) Dancing With the Stars, DWS, is not about dancing. It’s a showcase of sexuality. Reality shows of all kinds have exploited and normalized the debauchery of the flesh.

I’m just one voice, but I rise to say The Church must be The Church. The people of God must stand for Biblical Truth and not for the validation of a corrupt world. The new norms are a certain path to destruction. I’m just preaching a little of Paul’s sermon… …2 Corinthians 6:17 “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.” He’s coming back for a bride without spot or wrinkle or any such thing!

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

In every thing give thanks

1 Thessalonians 5:18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

1 Thessalonians 5 looks like a bullet list of instruction to the church. Quench not the Spirit. Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. Receive prophesies and more. Then comes the above instruction in verse 18. I’ve often been asked about the “Will of God” and what it means to the individual. Often people want the Will of God to be subjective and relevant. We like specifics in order to unmask the murky generalities of loving the Lord and loving people. The scripture speaks in clear terms and here it is: 1 Thessalonians 5:18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

 

According to the scripture, there are no conditions where we are absolved from giving thanks. There is no sickness, crisis, valley, or trial that can remove us from obligation of giving thanks. I understand the season of Thanksgiving. I’m concerned that if we don’t understand the Will of God for our lives, we will become nothing more than just seasonal saints. “We are not of this world; we are of God,” so writes the Apostle John. This means that January through December we are giving thanks. It means that we are neither conditioned nor directed by the calendar of our secular society.

Enter Job. News of his loss has culminated with the death of his children. Every material possession has been stolen or burned. It’s all gone. Job arises and in sorrow he tears his clothes and falls to the ground. Reality is a daunting scene. The cumulative tragedies could not be covered, but the next line says this: “he worshiped and said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. Job 1:21-22 In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.

Giving thanks and blessing the Lord is easy when things are going well. Saying ‘Thank You’ is a pleasantry shared at the event of gain, but try to be thankful when you are shrouded in pain and confusion. It will take effort. When life is not so agreeable, the task will demand a mental focus and a disciplined heart. Paul said, “In everything give thanks.” This is the Will of God for our lives. In everything, we should give thanks, which includes every high and low. Everything is the totality of life, not just the intersection of blessing. When it’s not so easy to give thanks, remember that sometimes praise and thanks is a sacrifice.

Hebrew 13:15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Prepare Our Lives

Hebrews 11:7 By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.

It must have been a lonely scene when Noah took to the stage to preach his message of world destruction. If he were alive today, we would call him a fanatic. I’m certain that Twitter would have a field day mocking a madman building a boat in his backyard. To that was the fact that it had never rained before. No one even knew what Noah was talking about. The skies opening up was both an unknown and ridiculous proposition, but there stands Noah on his heap of discarded gopher wood scraps preaching the end of the world and calling them to repent and find a place in the ark. He has no followers besides his own family, which doesn’t make for a very attractive group. He’s telling them to prepare… …and by the way, you’ll have to share space with the animals. It’ll be mostly dark and filled with an oder of the worst kind, but you’ll be saved.

 

Noah builds the ark and then fills the open crevices with tar inside and out. He secures the boat as best he can seeing there is no reference to the longevity of his stay. All he knows is that God said build an ark and get inside. He’s moved with fear of all things. The entire idea is so foreign to our modern Christianity with all of it’s feel-good sermons and prosperity doctrines.

Crazy Noah! All that preaching about things that have never happened. He’s redundant. Peter said that he preached for 120 years while the ark was being prepared. That’s a long time not to have some other thought. You’d think Noah would get some new material. Why should we bring our families back, if we hear the same thing we heard last week? We need some innovation around here. How about current events or life applications? Don’t you think those subjects would benefit us more than the same old, worn out “God is coming soon” message?

I hope you are getting this: It’s foolish until it starts raining. Paul wrote: 1 Corinthians 1:21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. The message of New Birth might sound nonsensical until the Trumpet sounds and the dead in Christ rise first. Being devoted to the church, worshiping, giving, sacrificing, prayer meetings, and obedience all sounds constricting until that Great and Terrible Day of the Lord come. As Noah believed in something not yet seen, so too we are moved to prepare our lives and families for the coming of the Lord.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole