to struggle or fight …

Jude 1:3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

In context, the word contend means “to struggle or fight.” It is both a defensive and offensive position. Contend means to grapple, or to argue on behalf of something. Jude is using all of the above when he commands us to “contend for the faith.” Nevertheless, Jude’s command is not merely subjective. We are to contend for the faith “which was once delivered to the saints,” implying to fight for the already established Word.

To keep the faith often requires a struggle. Standing up for the Bible’s commands necessitates action: some defensive, some offensive. The name of Jesus itself will make a demand on us as Jesus said we would be hated of all nations for His name’s sake. The Bible might in fact cost you friendships. It might alienate you from others in ways you cannot imagine. Standing for what is right, whether it be His name, the Gospel, or any other part of the Bible, will come at a cost! Defending what is wholesome will not garnish a reception from those who oppose it.

I wonder how many have walked away from a conversation they knew was wrong? How many have stood up and said “No” to accusations against the brethren; wrong conduct; or carnality even at the risk of losing a relationship? How many have refused to watch something because it was sinful?

My concern is that contenders are few and compromisers are many. Compromising is simply diluting truth for the sake of acceptance. Compromisers will not speak up or stand up because they don’t want to stir up the ire of the backbiter or the falsehood. Some will not defend holiness because they don’t want to be shunned or shut out. Others even invite poisonous concepts into their thinking rather than making a wave and losing a friend.

However, I submit that we must become Contenders: aggressive, bold, and courageous. We must stand up for each other and for the doctrine of Jesus Christ. We must defend and promote the church and the tenets of our faith. It is time for us to use our voice and to pronounce ourselves. Standing for truth today is not complicated; it’s just rare. Standing for what is right has never been popular, but it is the only thing that matters. The Scripture is the basis of our faith, because it comes from the Author and Finisher of our Faith. And to that end I ask you; Are you contending?

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Business As Usual

The economy seems to be doing well these days. In the world of real estate they say it is a seller’s market. Precious metals are holding steady. People are building, buying, partying, playing, and the list goes on. Regarding religions and worldliness, there are both perversions and purities depending on which side you live. I suppose that it’s Business As Usual.

Business as usual is the interpretation that most give to the words of Jesus found in Luke 17:28, “Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded.”

People were going about the daily duties of life. They were living from paycheck to paycheck; vacation to vacation; putting in time and enjoying the accumulation of things. Sin, of course, was the order of the day as they followed the whims of their carnal nature. It was all typical until the day that Lot left Sodom. Jesus made a comparison in verse 30: “the world will be going about their lives. It will be business as usual right up until the day, the moment, when the Messiah returns.”

Jesus said that right before His coming there will be an unawareness. Few will be watching for His return. Many will be engrossed in their daily grind and chores; filled up with personal ambitions and goals. Politics and entertainment will fill every empty moment of the day. Making money and paying bills will dominate the thoughts of people. Getting over the next hurdle; a birthday party; a deadline to make; an interview to prepare for… life will consume the mind of believers and sinners alike.

It will all be the same as the day before UNTIL the Trumpet sounds and Jesus is revealed. Then everything will stop. The change that is coming will be so profound that nothing else will matter. The entire world will shift in a single second of time. It will be so extreme and overwhelming that no one will be able to explain it or dismiss it. All that is typical will be transformed into abnormal. The Righteous will be gone and their preserving power will be removed. Like a rotting meat, society will instantly begin to decay. The Church is the Salt of the Earth and when that preserving salt is taken away, the world will abruptly devolve into chaos and confusion.

I write to say: Be sober, be vigilant. Don’t allow the cares of this world or Business As Usual cloud the soon coming of the Lord. Flee the lusts of the flesh. Find friends that love truth and reject anyone who leads you away from commitment and consecration. Stay faithful to the House of the Lord. Finally, give away what you cannot keep to gain what you cannot lose.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

What Did Jesus Do

There may not be much conflict among the greater Christian population, but I’ve never personally been interested with the WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?) Campaign. Having watched the devaluation of holy things and holiness in our society, it seems odd to superimpose the Savior onto automobiles, foods, and houses. The WWJD crowd went from asking about His nature to His preferences, e.g., “what would Jesus drive?” or “what would Jesus eat (meat? dolphin?)” or “what would Jesus wear?”

These speculations have clouded our intent to be like Him. I would rather ask, “What Did Jesus Do?” and “What Did Jesus Say?” The beautiful part of these questions is that they don’t call for opinion or hypothesis. They don’t depend on cultural settings or the outcome of a religious focus group. The Bible tells us exactly what He did and exactly what He said. Matthew 9:35 And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.

Jesus went about doing good. He loved people; rebuked the self-righteous; and commanded us to be born again of the water and the Spirit (John 3). Jesus fellowshipped with the low class and the high class. He was a friend to the friendless and was the self-proclaimed Door of Heaven. He made bold statements to repent or perish. He prophesied of the end of the world and ordained a Church that the gates of Hell could not penetrate. Jesus loved people from every walk of life and He promoted His Kingdom above all other things.

The amount of scripture devoted to Him in both testaments is so rich there is no need to reinterpret Him. He needs no explanation, just an introduction. A few Greek men revealed this in John 12. They came to a festival and approached Philip saying, “Sir, we would see Jesus.” John 12:21, i.e., “Don’t tell us what you think about Him. Just lead us to Him.”

They were not there for a social event. They were not interested in a commentary or opinion about what He might do. They simply wanted to see the Master, Teacher, and Healer for themselves. In doing so, they removed speculation and found out Who He was.

I cannot tell you what kind of car He might drive if He lived on earth today. Who knows what His recycling habits might be or what type of food He might eat. What I do know is what He did. He came to build a church. He came to set the captives free. He gave liberty to them, which were bound. He was the Perfect Lamb of God sent to take away the sins of the world. I’m after His nature, not a presumption.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Protect the Promise

The first chapter of Exodus seems so far away. The world was in chaos. Spiritual leadership had been drowned out by the plethora of lifeless gods. Egypt was both a powerful economy and a hedonistic civilization. The leaders of Egypt had forgotten the blessing of Joseph and were now firmly set against anything that might include Yahweh. The people of God had been marginalized and then enslaved. There was all-out oppression toward anyone who might confess their beliefs in the God of Israel. In light of all of it, I suppose that maybe the commencement of Exodus is not so far removed from us.

The second chapter, however, features the heart of Jochebed, the mother of Moses. If for a moment, I wish we could forget about the Red Sea-parting Moses or the Rock-striking Moses. He was none of those things when Jochebed decided to save him. He was a baby with an unknown future, born into a whirlwind of confusion and death. The Nile had already boasted of a human graveyard to thousands. Pharaoh was moved by fear and hate, resulting in the murder of the Hebrew male offspring. It was a dangerous time to have a son.

Nevertheless, Jochebed decided that Moses was worth the cost of her own life, even though she had no knowledge of his future. Moses would become Israel’s greatest leader. He would communicate with God in a way unknown to common man. Even God would one day say, “I speak to others in visions, but to Moses I speak face to face.” Yet Jochebed knew none of it. She wasn’t saving the future leader of Israel. She was just saving his potential. She wasn’t preserving a prophet; she was preserving the possibility of the anointing.

We cannot always predict what the future may hold, but we can preserve the potential. The Church is the mother of us all and it is incumbent upon us to protect the future of each other. God is not finished with us yet and that is enough for each of us to show mercy and grace upon one another. Our potential is the thing held in the balance. The possibility of a great revival; tangible miracles; blessings of every kind are all held in that realm of potential.

The heart of a mother knows what I speak of when I say, “We must Protect the Promise.” Who knows that what we build through mercy, grace, kindness, and love might actually save the one who will lead us into a mighty promise land.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Power of the Tongue

Joshua’s battle at Jericho is perhaps one of the Bible’s great military victories of all time. In historical reflection it was Israel’s first conquest after they crossed the Jordan and the city was its era’s most fortified city. Israel’s defeat of Jericho would set the tone for every other battle that lay ahead of them, of which there were many. All they had to do was obey the voice of the Lord and follow the leading of Joshua. Seems simple, right?

Curiously, the scripture gives two orders in Joshua 6. God told them to march around the city; when and for how long. God told them to blow the trumpets and have the people shout. However, when Joshua repeated God’s command, he added one more thing: Josh 6:10 “Ye shall not shout, nor make any noise with your voice, neither shall any word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I bid you shout; then shall ye shout.”

Joshua added, “don’t speak.” I submit the reason Joshua forbade them to speak was that he had firsthand knowledge of the power of a negative word. Joshua had walked aimlessly in the desert for 40 years by virtue of the negative words used by the ten leaders of Israel, which also spied out the land of Canaan. He was acutely aware of the damage a negative report could bring and he was not willing to risk losing his first battle on the chance of a loose tongue.

James wrote of the deadly power of the tongue. NIV James 3:5-6 “Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” New Life is marching onward toward a great revival. However, God’s purpose in our lives and church can be foiled by foolish conversation and negative language. Prov 18:21 “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.”

What a tragedy to think that the harvest could be unreached; the battle forfeited; the lost remain hopeless all because the wrong thing was said at the wrong time. I believe that our revival is contingent upon what we say as we march forward. Walls are about to come down if we obey, pray, seek, and become a unified body! Yes, we are on the verge of a powerful move of God, but it is not contingent upon His power. It is resting in our hands and maybe, on our tongue.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

“Leave the Corners”

In consideration of world conditions, American life is exceptional. By comparison, there are no food shortages; no imminent crises of disease; no energy failures, blackouts or currency devaluation. Other countries are not so fortunate: Venezuela, Pakistan, the nations of Central America, Congo and a host of other African nations; the Middle East, the northern regions of the Slovaks and more. It is astounding how good we really have it. We are blessed in ways we cannot measure.

Our problem is that we are constant consumers. Americanism, with all of its profundity, consumes the whole. Christianity has bought into that thought even though the scripture presents a different approach. The Bible makes a demand on us to live spiritually and separately from the world. To that end, I submit that we must “Leave the Corners” untouched, i.e., leave something unconsumed.

Leviticus 23:22 And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not make clean riddance of the corners of thy field when thou reapest, neither shalt thou gather any gleaning of thy harvest: thou shalt leave them unto the poor, and to the stranger: I am the LORD your God. It was God’s command not to consume everything.

Incredibly enough, centuries later Boaz obeyed this word. He did not harvest all the grain that his fields produced. He did not take all that belonged to him. His obedience to the Law became evident when he left sheaves of grain for the woman he was soon to marry, Ruth. In time, Boaz and Ruth would produce a lineage from which the greatest king in Israel would come. Ruth and Boaz were the great grandparents of King David; the warrior, psalmist, victory, giant-slayer, poet, and man after God’s own heart. Boaz made a way for Ruth by leaving the corners. Ruth’s life was so profound that her story was written in the holy write. Ultimately she was mentioned by Matthew in the genealogy of Jesus Christ.

Boaz didn’t consume everything. He left the corners. He didn’t reap every part of the field, but rather he left enough to secure the future of a nation. His future bride was sustained by the things he gave away. I pray that we save the “corners” of our time, money, energy, and passion. We must work to conserve the margins where prayer has room to work, worship has space to be experienced, and offerings can be given to support missions around the world. I’m echoing the voice of Boaz, “leave the corners.”

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Raising Up Stones

If truth be told, John the Baptist was a renegade among his generation. His clothing, bold and harsh approach, and presentation in a wilderness were unique. No one had ever seen such a thing. He did not stand in front of plaster-coated columns as the Romans. He did not grace the steps of the Jewish Temple. His clothing was not that of rabbi or priest. Nevertheless, people came out to see him. Some came to see the “show”: The wild man in the wilderness. In Luke 3, John begins his sermon with these words: “You brood of vipers, who warned you of the coming wrath?” I’m not sure, but I think this would not go over very well in our era. Even at my best, I’m still somewhat offen- sive and still people can’t always take my presentation. However, I know they would have choked on John the Baptist’s preaching. He was raw. He was ruthless. John was so abrasive that you either loved him or hated him, and most hated him.

In his Luke 3 sermon, John makes a pivotal statement. He told them to repent. Then he states that they should not have confidence in the fact that they are from the genealogy of Abraham, e.g., “just because you are in the family of Abraham does not mean you are saved.” John preached that God can raise up children out of stones. If you’ve ever seen Israel, you would know that the whole country is filled with millions of stones. John addressed their confidence in their flesh; their lineage; their heritage.

Jesus will visit this subject on numerous occasions. Jesus said that He did not come for the healthy, but for the sick. In other words, Jesus did not come for a specific group of people, but for all that are lost and blind. While we are grateful for the knowledge of the Gospel, we also know that God will have a church. I believe that He wants us to be His church, but if not, He can raise up the most unlikely to become His children, or as John preached, Luke 3:8 “God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.”

A Pentecostal heritage is a blessing, but it won’t get you one foot through those pearly gates. A lineage of Apostolic truth is a priceless gift, but it won’t add up to much when we stand before the White Throne Judgment. Jesus is looking for Worshipers that will Worship in spirit and in truth. He’s looking for a bride that is faithful in every area of life. I believe that God can and will raise up a great people in these last days that come with no lineage or prior connection. They will be stones and they will be powerful.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Power of the Enemy

ESV – I Corinthians 3:1-3 “But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?”

Paul once wrote that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against spiritual wickedness in high places. He was not contradicting himself when he penned the above text. Rather, he was merely pointing out the conflict in both the natural and the spiritual world.

We have power “over all the power of the enemy” Luke 10:19. We have authority over principalities and powers. However, the issue here concerns carnality. The problem in our day rarely involves the devil. It’s more about our own human actions. Jealousy and strife are products of a carnal nature. Pride and a haughty spirit are the responses of the natural side. I know that many have tried to speak the name of Jesus over such things, but they do so to no avail. That’s because the human spirit cannot be cast out like a demonic spirit.

The Prophet Billy Cole once said that if a person has an evil spirit, “we can cast it out in 30 seconds. But if its flesh, it might take 30 years.”

Paul said, “I could not speak unto you as I did unto spiritual people.” He said, ‘I wanted to teach you, but you were too carnal to receive my word. I wanted to direct you in the deeper things of God, but you were so full of jealousy and strife that I could not.’

While this is not the first or last time I submit these thoughts, they are pertinent in this hour of great carnality and fleshly desires. Obedience and submission have fallen on hard times, of this I am sure. Unity is constantly under attack, even in the church. Seeds of doubt are being planted all around us in order to disrupt and thwart the work of the Kingdom in our time. I know that it would be easy for us to attribute such things to the work of Satan, but to do that we would have to ignore the deeds of fleshly people.

I rise to say, keep your bodies, minds, and words under subjection. Or as the Word says, Proverbs 13:3 He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction.

Paul will reiterate this sentiment: 1 Corinthians 9:27 “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Faith …

In reflection of the many times I have preached the Word, I realize how the subject of faith so often seems like an intangible thing. In some circles, it is met with disdain as it hinges on the supernatural and not on “reality.” To have faith in something you cannot see has been discredited by the humanistic mind. Sometimes even believers shrug off the word because of its illusive nature. The Bible, however, is clear that it takes faith to believe in God and faith to be saved. Healing is said to be “according to your faith.”

Faith can be lost and found again. It can elude us in times of drought or pain. When things don’t work out for us, even though we pray, faith looks like a figment of our imagination; some pulpit grammar without any real proof. I know how difficult it is to believe the rain will come when there is no cloud in the sky. I’ve been there time and again thinking God will feed the entire congregation with a full meal when all I’m holding is an insufficient lunch.

Nevertheless, the book of Hebrews says that faith is substance. The 11th chapter declares that there was so much substance it became the “credentials” of the Old Testament elders. By faith, they stepped out and suddenly God stepped in. By faith, they saw the result even though there was no logical reason to believe anything would take place. Faith moved Abraham to a place with no address. It caused Noah to build an ark with no historical precedent of a flood.

Faith is the great line that separates the heart. It makes demands on us that cuts against the grain of reason and common sense. Faith to believe God or the preached Word divides those who grow in God and those who are stagnate. The devil himself is after our faith. He wanted to steal it from Job and from a host of other patriarchs. Doubt is the easy way out. Skepticism is the way of the flesh. Faith is our connection to God. Perhaps, until we see Jesus face to face, faith is the only connection we have. When Jesus returns, the Bible ponders this matter: Will He find faith on the earth?

When I cannot figure things out; when I cannot see my way for the cloud of chaos that consumes me…I’m looking to Jesus Who is the Author and Finisher of my Faith!

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Crown of Thorns

Peel away the outer layer of today’s modernized event and you’ll find the Passover. Israel remembered this day when God saved them from death through the blood of an innocent lamb. The fulfillment of their Passover occurred when Jesus, The Lamb of God, died on the cross. The work done on Golgotha paid the ransom for our sin. Nevertheless, while our sin was atoned at Calvary, the power to live an abundant life came on the third day when Jesus rose from the grave! Jesus paid it all as He conquered the grave. O death where is your sting; grave where is your victory?

The scripture is filled with Types concerning this momentous occasion. All of it stands as a witness to the wonder of His divine plan. Yet I am consumed by a small word found in the narrative of Abraham. God commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac on Mt. Moriah. This is the same mountain where the Temple would be built and the same region where Jesus was later crucified. Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son until the angel of the Lord stayed his hand. Then God provided Himself a lamb (ram) caught in a thicket. The sacrifice was held in place by thorns.

The Hebrew word for thicket or thistles is çebâk, derived from the Hebrew word çâbak, which depicts interwoven branches with thorns and thistles. Thorns trapped the sacrifice so that Abraham could make the sacrifice. The curse levied against Adam was thorns: Genesis 3:1 “Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; Genesis 3:19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread…” Jesus was The Lamb crowned with thorns. He took the curse on His head to set us free. Incredibly enough, Moriah was the early habitation of a small tree or shrub called acacia. It was the same wood used to make the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark where God rested, or where they “arrested” God, produced the thorns that held the ram for Abraham and were later woven to create the Crown of Thorns that adorned The Lamb!

Jesus wore a crown of thorns…but that was before the empty tomb. Today He is crowned with Glory and Honor (Hebrews 2:9). He is the King of all kings and the Lord of lords. He is the Resurrection and the Life.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole