Tug-of-War

In the dark hours of prayer among the olive trees, Jesus roused His disciples and said, “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Jesus knew that their battle, even His own, would be between the human will and the Father’s Will. After His own all night prayer meeting struggling with the sacrifice that lay ahead, Jesus Himself said, “Nevertheless, thy Will be done.” It was and is Flesh versus Spirit: Humanity opposing Divinity. It’s a tug-of-war; pulling and grappling for position.

The word “flesh” doesn’t resonate with our generation. It is an odd term, perhaps old in nature. Greater still, the concept of fleshly desires is just as foreign. Modern vernacular does not include these terms. However, the human will is full of lust and pride. Flesh is everything that opposes the Holy Spirit and no one is exempt from this battle. Consider Paul’s powerful life and ministry. Yet, Paul wrote: 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.

Our spirits want to do right, but our flesh is waging a war. There is a war raging inside of our members. Romans 7:23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. We are in the fight of our lives and it is greater than this forum can explain. Maybe this is why the Lord instituted the structure of worship and a sacrificial offering. Both are spiritual tools that put the flesh under subjection.

I have discovered that a scattered, unfocused, and undisciplined life is a haven for the flesh. Seeing that God is a God of order, the opposite can be said of humanity. God instituted feasts and festivals for the Jewish people to give them an order to their year. These were to remind the people of their past and of God’s goodness. They worshipped and made sacrifices to the Lord. Even the Sabbath was to provide structure on a weekly basis. It has been said that while the Jews kept the Sabbath, in reality, the Sabbath kept them.

I submit that Sunday worship is the pivot point of defeating the flesh. I submit that as we keep our Sunday, it will keep us. We are giving rise to the Spirit with worship and sacrifice. We have come to offer Praise and say, “Thy Will be done in my life.”

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Undeniables

Only the Gospel of John records the miracle of Lazarus. Luke will speak of a different Lazarus who is described as a poor man begging for food. John, however, writes of a resurrected Lazarus as he declares the Lord’s deity. John said that Jesus was the Word in flesh, the Light that lights every man. He said that Jesus made everything that was ever made.

It was John that gave us Mary and Martha’s dying brother Lazarus. Jesus will arrive four days late to find a sealed tomb and a family in mourning. We are probably familiar with this biblical narrative, but I wish to expose a not so well known portion of scripture. In fact, few even take the time to discover the other part of Lazarus’ story after he rose from the dead.

John 12:9-11 Much people of the Jews therefore knew that he was there: and they came not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead. But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death; Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus.

Lazarus was a problem for the chief priests. His mere presence; breathing, living body was a major issue. They hated Lazarus because he validated the preaching of Jesus Christ. They hated Jesus because He was taking their followers. Jesus was talking about a new Kingdom and a new covenant. His parables mesmerized the people and His teaching captivated their hearts. Jesus understood the Law and He brought it to life among the people. He came to set the captive free.

The chief priests tried to stop Him and would have defamed Him had it not been for a living Lazarus. Dead Men Walking always pose a problem for the Unbeliever. You can mock the Bible; call it “old fashion” or not relevant, but you can’t dismiss the miracle. Lazarus needed to die by the hands of the unbeliever because he boosted the prominence of the Lord’s Gospel and posed a threat to their kingdom.

You see, the enemy has a kingdom also and the greatest threats to his kingdom are the walking miracles among us. People can deny speaking in other tongues, but they can’t deny the blind being able to see. They can deny holiness and righteous living, but they have a difficult time belittling cancer healed and the deaf talking and the lame walking. I’m praying for those “Undeniables” this year.

Because for that reason, verse 11, many will come to hear the saving message of Acts 2:38.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Private Places

Genesis is a noun that literally means origin. It means creation or to create. The Old English expression was used in the sense of “form out of nothing.” When God created the worlds, He spoke them into existence; literally out of nothing. We are made in His image and in His likeness, which implies that we too have the power to create. We do so when we speak. The spoken word is powerful. The spoken word is the covering of blessing and the proclamation of promise. However, it is also the wedge that divides and destroys.

There is nothing more powerful than the tongue. James 3:8 But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.

Solomon wrote these profound truths:
Proverbs 23:6-8
“Eat thou not the bread of him that hath an evil eye, neither desire thou his dainty meats: For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee. The morsel which thou hast eaten shalt thou vomit up, and lose thy sweet words.”

Solomon was talking about a relationship in conversation. He was not referring to actual food. Consider verse 6, “his dainty meats.” If you consume the conversation of the bitter man and eat his “meats”, you will lose your “sweet words.” Vain and bitter conversations are poison to the heart and mind. The things we hear have great bearing on the condition of our heart. When James submitted that the tongue can be full of deadly poison, he was referring to a process of time. Over time, vain conversations infect the spirit. Paul wrote, 1 Corinthians 15:33 Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.

What we say really does matter. Of course, some erroneously believe that they can say whatever they want as long as it is in the privacy of their own homes. However, God addressed that matter when He said, Deuteronomy 1:27 And ye murmured in your tents, and said, Because the LORD hated us, he hath brought us forth out of the land of Egypt, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us.

There are no private places apart from God. All commentaries matter. Jesus said, Matthew 12:36-37 “…every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.”

Finally, though I have not exhausted this most pivotal subject,

Proverbs 4:23 – 26
“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee. Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee. Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established.”

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

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