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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
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.
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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
buy real viagra online cheapHaving 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.
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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
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“The Death of Death” doesn’t sound very promising to me. Even the repetitive words seem somewhat confusing. I concur that it might be a little unclear. So I’ll unpack the statement for us in hopes that we can see it more clearly.
The first “Death” means an end to something. It means that something once lived, but now it is gone. This “Death” is a finality; buried in some nondescript place; lost to the current or present reality. It speaks to a life once held, but now has passed and its memory is all that remains. The second “Death” means a sacrifice. This word indicates the dying to self, the flesh, or surrendering something of value. It means the forfeiture of something valuable.
Putting the words together reveals a time when people gave out of their want; not out of their plenty. It means that believers once gave God an offering that cost them something which they could not replenish. The Death of Death is the conclusion of selflessness and personal, willing abandonment. Real sacrifice has fallen on hard times. It has even disappeared in many churches.
Consider the last book of the Old Testament. The people no longer offered God something of value. Instead, they brought their least to the altar. Malachi 1:8 When you bring blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice crippled or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?” says the LORD Almighty.
As it was then, so it is now…. We give our energy to our jobs and activities, maybe even to entertainment. We would never think about skipping out of work on a regular basis. I’ve seen people more excited about their favorite sports team than they are about morning worship. God said, “You no longer make a real sacrifice.” It was the Death of Death. No more offerings of value. No more forgoing or renunciation.
This is where the American church is right now. We love to feel God and see His power. Many are intoxicated with the sound of their own tweet or posting about their opinions of Him or of their church. Some even like to hear themselves pray and sing. However, few are willing to offer themselves as a living sacrifice. It’s painful to lay yourself down on an altar and give up image and personal ambitions. People are saving themselves and their possessions while the Kingdom searches for laborers, disciple-makers, and an offering. I feel the Spirit calling us to a life of self-denial. God is looking for a people who will give the best of their life, energies, and talents to Him. Our best is the only thing acceptable to a Savior Who gave His all for us.
Pastor Jeffrey Harpole
It happened in a house where Jesus stood to teach. The crowd had become so great that there was no room left to enter as the people spilled out beyond the door. Perhaps the four men carrying their feeble friend showed up too late to get inside. Whatever the case, they were so determined to connect Jesus with their friend that they tore off the roof and lowered him down. It was nothing more than an act of desperation. One single line of scripture describes the issue: Mark 2:4 “And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press…”
It was the press that the woman with the issue of blood trouble encountered. Too many people in too small a place. She was in need, but there was no direct line to Jesus. She had to maneuver her way forward; plot her course just to touch Him. In all, she did not touch His hand or arm…she only reached the hem of His garment. Mark 5 says that she came behind the press to touch Him.
Consider Luke 19:3 And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature. Zacchaeus had a physical limitation which kept him from Jesus. Once again, the press blocked him from the truth which came from the Master. However, his desire to hear the words of life caused him to climb a tree. Who would do that today? What kind of people tear off roofs and crawl on their knees and climb trees just to find the Lord?
I see a generation who wants Jesus to come to them. They think that He owes them healings, miracles, and direction. To many, the press is not worth the effort. If something comes up, worship is negotiable. If the weekend is taxing, Sunday night service becomes optional. Midweek Bible study is not on the chopping block as sports take precedent.
The “press” has not changed. Busy schedules and the cares of this life all stand in opposition to sitting at the feet of Jesus. The “press” is anything that keeps us from connecting to the Healer. It is everything that blocks our entry to reaching Him and hearing Him. Though some would scoff at the thought; the “press” could even be friends and family; jobs and community endeavors. Good things cloud the Best thing.
To find Jesus; touch Him; hear His words of wisdom, we will have to seek Him. We will have to work through the press which might even require desperation on our part. It might mean that we will have to lose our pride and inhibitions. The question is not whether He can be found. The question is, will the press stop us?
Pastor Jeffrey Harpole
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“Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” Philippian 2: 2-4
Times have not necessarily changed. Technology has increased and innovations have made life easier… maybe. Wars and political conflicts are cyclical. Nations still rise and fall. Churches are established and sometimes crumble. The nature of people is also persistent. While there are many different names and faces, similar attitudes and dispositions prevail.
Consider Paul’s appeal to the church in Philippi. He knew that the devil could not destroy them. He understood that worldliness, though a formidable foe, was not their greatest threat. The damage of the body would always come from within the body. Division in the church, which he called “schisms,” would always be the greatest hinderance. Thus, Paul instructed them to be in one accord and in humility toward each other. He did not want them to simply “look out for themselves.” He taught them to consider the interests of each other.
This conduct, if enacted in its Biblical form, leaves very little room for independence and self-preservation. It makes a demand of strong-willed people to be more considerate of those who might struggle. But as we know, being likeminded is a daunting task, especially among the American church. People want recognition not obscurity. They want to state their case and make their claim, not turn the other cheek. Paul wrote of esteeming others better than yourself. That does not sound good to the individualist. It leaves a bad aftertaste to the person who deems themselves more spiritual and more knowledgeable than those around them.
The battle for unity will always revolve around the deeds of the flesh. Demonic spirits have no power against the Holy Ghost filled saint of God. “Greater is He that is within you than he that is in the world.” Sin is a constant opponent against us. However, “where sin abounds grace doth much more abound.” The battle is over the human spirit and the unity of the body. Now and forever we will fight for unity. If the church ever comes into submission and unity, through humility and lowliness of mind, then we will have exceeding power and revival. The Harvest field may very well be contingent on church that is in one accord, with one mind. It was Paul’s desire and it is mine… it is my joy when we are in unity.
Pastor Jeffrey Harpole
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Christmas seems a long way off, but don’t blink. It’s the famed story of the Inn keeper who had no room for Mary and Joseph that led them to a barn, aka, manger. “No room for the Christ-child” has become a seasonal message when in reality it should be the daily subject of a robust economy that features the rat-race. Each hour seems to be pinched. Days run into weeks until a year passes before we pause to consider developing a prayer life or family devotion. There’s just no room left for the Lord to enter our lives outside of the confinements we’ve set on Sunday.
In its conception, pentecostalism was once considered an experience; not a denomination. However, the harried pace of our society demanded that we move the experience indoors so not to interrupt our own very busy lifestyles. The result was “no room” in the Inn. The Inn is clearly painted as our personal ambition. The Christ-child is the Born Again experience that once dominated our conversation.
The early church was not a “faith” as it is defined today. It was a movement that could not be contained by politics, or governments, or even church buildings. Denominations, on the other hand, put boundaries around the experience so that we could manage Him by convenience. Church buildings became the place where we could find God without ever really seeking for Him. Our “experience” became regulated via time frames of the worship services and by organizational rules. The problem is that we lost the power and the sound of a mighty rushing wind. Miracles trailed off also as we developed healing revivals and special meetings designed for the sick. These things once followed the daily lives of the early church. There were no specialists brought in for a miracle service. Sure, we have great programs, but the outpouring of the Holy Ghost is rarely experienced in our homes. Private lives have somehow separated us from the Glory of God.
I submit that we need to return to an in-home revival where prayer, Bible reading, meditation, and devotions occur on a regular basis. Of course, it means that we will have to turn off all the media for a moment. If not, then we will be current on world affairs and have our fill of entertainment, but there will be no moving of the Spirit.
Jesus doesn’t have much room to be Himself outside of our planned song set. Fortunately though, Christmas is coming and we get to talk about Mary and Joseph and that awful Inn keeper who turned them away.
Pastor Jeffrey Harpole