Friday, December 11, 2015

Preparing for the New Year - by Jim Tharp

We are completing the Advent season in celebrating the coming of our Savior into the world. And now it is time to consider what lies ahead in the coming new year of 2016 -- What priorities should we consider?

No doubt many will be thinking of finances. Some will be thinking of how to improve their health. Others will consider relationships.

But I believe we should all consider the values Jesus sought to bring to our attention when he asked, For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? (Luke 9:25)

But emphasizing eternal values, Jesus also commands us, But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you (Matthew 6:33). It seems that the more important material things become, the less secure one feels in pursuit of them.

Jesus knew that anxiety deceives. Earthly treasures are subject to moths, rust, and thieves. They can be destroyed or stolen. Banks can fail. Governments can collapse. Property can be confiscated. We need a security that transcends material things.

Jesus also knew that anxiety enslaves. Human beings seem to need a master; so often it is either God or mammon (Matthew 6:24). Blessed is the man or woman who discovers that in Christ we have true freedom, releasing us to achieve the purpose for which we were created. We can by making Christ Lord escape the idolatry and slavery that would force us into a false role in life.

Finally, Jesus also knows that anxiety paganizes. He knows that worry over the material, the present, the here-and-now can drive the human mind and heart to abnormal and dangerous obsessions.

Let each of us prepare for a new year by taking time to quiet our hearts before the Lord and ask for His guidance and grace for all that we will face throughout 2016. He knows our needs for the essentials of life. As we read in Matthew 6:33, if we put His will ahead of our own selfish interests, we’ll be amazed at how adequately He’ll meet our needs and release us from worry and fear in the process.

Let’s take time to pray, worship, study the Bible, and enjoy family and friends. Let us lay up treasures in Heaven this year by investing in Kingdom interests, sharing our Christian testimony, and fellowshipping with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Most important, let us spend time with family – praying together, worshiping together, and eating and laughing together.

Let’s ask God to help us walk each day in fellowship with His ungrieved Holy Spirit! And what a HAPPY NEW YEAR we’ll surely enjoy!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Revival Praying - Sermon For Sydney, MT - By James Tharp

Believing that as we move more deeply into the twenty-first century, that as Satanic forces intensify the program of the antichrist, we Christians must take Jesus’ warning of the times: He said, Because iniquity abounds, the love of many will wax cold!

I want to read two passages of Scripture: one from Genesis chapter six, where God looked down on the evil of the antediluvian world of Noah’s time and saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart (Gen. 6:5-6, NKJV).

Now I shall read from Isaiah 59, vv. 9-15, The Message, where God looks down on His Old Testament apostate people, decrying their condition, and the prophet is speaking for Jehovah: We long for light but sink into darkness, … we look for justice--not a sign of it. … Our wrongdoings pile up before you, God; … mocking and denying God, … Justice is beaten back, righteousness is banished to the sidelines, truth staggers down the street, honesty is nowhere to be found. Good is missing in action… 

But listen to God’s response from the NKJV to what He sees with the imploding society under evil influence: Here’s God’s Word through the prophet Isaiah: Then the Lord saw it, and it displeased Him that there was no justice. He saw that there was no man (to intervene), and wondered that there was no intercessor (Isaiah 59:15-16, NKJV). Then we read in the NRSV that when He saw there was no one to intervene... He was APPALLED!

Ladies and gentlemen, a global fire is raging. The times that Jesus, the apostles, and the prophets foretold are upon us! The influence of the antichrist is building momentum. Nations are rising against nations. Earthquakes are in divers places. Famines, pestilences, tsunamis, and hurricanes are upon us. Fearful signs of violence, massacres, riots, anarchy, and rebellion are daily news reports right here in what was once a Christian, civilized nation!

Millions of American evangelicals are caught up in shocking fear, wondering what happened to their faith. Too many have ignored our Savior’s instructions as to His orders for our last days before His return. It must grieve God that in these times our family altars are broken down, our church’s prayer rooms are nearly empty, and few or no solemn assemblies are being called!

Surely, just as in Isaiah’s day, God must be looking down upon our twenty-first century America DISAPPOINTED, GRIEVED, and APPALLED that there are so few prayer warriors, so few intercessors, almost no one intervening with God for a tidal wave of spiritual power to push back the darkness.

But I do want to go back to Isaiah 59 once more for a powerful promise from God. Even after listing the evils of the day, here is God’s promise to His backslidden people -- but remember there is one condition, that of repentance and intercession. But here is the promise if His people would meet the condition: When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him (Isa. 59:19, NKJV).

God’s people! Called by His Name. Humble ourselves. Pray. Seek God’s face. Turn from our wicked ways -- cold hearts, carnal attitudes, gossip, disobedience, cheap worship, indifference, spiritual laziness, spiritual pride, division, sins of omission.

God will hear! God will forgive! God will heal our land -- our hearts, our marriages, our homes, our churches, our nation!

As Americans, we need to representatively beg God’s forgiveness for our national sins -- the desecration of marriage, the murder of millions of unborn babies, our materialistic idolatry, our cheap worship, our bondage to the world. We need what Presidents John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Abraham Lincoln, and Ronald Reagan used to call for -- seasons of repentance and fasting!

I’ve been urging our pastors in Southwest Montana to call for days and nights of “Solemn Assemblies.” Not too much response. It isn’t personally convenient. Nor is it politically correct. Nor is it congregationally pleasing. Nor do the invisible evil forces plan to allow it to happen. It will take a moving of God of deep conviction on people who have an ear to hear what God is saying in these confused times!

But I pray we’ll have an ear to hear what God is wanting to say to us here this week in Sydney, Montana.

I must be up front with you about the main essential of effectual, fervent prayer: I’m here this week to teach on Spirit-anointed prayer. But no one, and I mean NO ONE, can pray effectually, fervently, and successfully unless they are filled with the Spirit.

I meet too many Christians who know almost nothing about the Holy Spirit, even people who are members of Pentecostal and Holiness churches. They seem to think that if they ask God to sanctify them that they are automatically filled with the Spirit. Well, even if you’ve had a fulfilling experience of sanctification, but did not ask God to fill you with the Spirit, you will lack in power for prevailing prayer. But even getting filled with the Spirit is not enough. We often need fresh fillings of the Spirit, times of rekindling the fires of the Spirit. Why? Because most of us leak a lot! And too many Christians don’t repent. They think repenting when they got saved is all the repentance they need. So the sins pile up and unconfessed sin is not forgiven.

And another thing, God doesn’t fill a sinful heart with His Holy Spirit. First, there must be repentance and cleansing, and then we can ask God to fill us with the Holy Spirit.

The apostle Paul ordered the Corinthian Church to Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith (II Cor. 13:5, NIV). But this week I’m going to ask my brothers and sisters in Christ to search your hearts and see if you are Spirit-filled!

We go to Ephesians 5:18, NIV, which reads: Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. This command is in the imperative mood -- meaning that it is a divine command, not a mere human suggestion. (Billy Graham on drunkenness).

This command is in the passive voice -- meaning it is not a human achievement, but a divine work of grace. 

This command is in the progressive perfect tense -- meaning that it is not a once-and-for-all experience; it is to be repeated time and time again. Keep on being filled with the Spirit.

Paul wrote Timothy in his second letter, Chap. 1:6-7, NIV: into flame (rekindle) the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.

The greatest sin across the evangelical movement today is the sin of grieving, quenching, or ignoring the Holy Spirit.

We grow careless, busy, preoccupied, and spring a leak. We can neglect the Word, talk too much, lighten up on prayer, grow too cheap and shallow in worship, and become insensitive to the Holy Spirit without repenting and recharging our spiritual batteries. And yet we think we can go on and cover it up.

No, as Paul said to Timothy, “My Son, it’s time to rekindle the fires of the Spirit in your heart. Get back to the power and confidence and joy and love and glory of God in your life that you once knew. Get back to prayer, and get back to enjoying answers to your prayers. Get back to love, joy, and peace in your soul.

I’m speaking to Christians here tonight who need to become honest with God and confess your coldness of heart, your lack of real joy and power to overcome the temptation to speak unkindly. You allow too many things to cheapen your public and private worship. You’ve run out of gas, fire, hope, joy, and peace.

Don’t continue in this coldness-of-heart state! Don’t go deeper into lukewarmness. Get a rekindling of fire! Go for the fullness of the Holy Spirit, and learn how to have times of refilling of the Spirit.

Pray in power! Worship in power! Give in power! Jesus promised, You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.

What do you think would happen this week if three-fourths of us here tonight came before the Lord in the close of this service and confessed honestly before the Lord what the Spirit has been convicting us of over the last few weeks … what do you think will happen, if after our telling God we are repenting of these sins, we ask Him to fill us … You see, He will not fill an unclean vessel! We need to repent before we get the rekindling of the Spirit!

Christians need to repent!

Monday, April 20, 2015

The God of Elijah - by James Tharp

The God of Elijah

Elijah was without doubt one of the most impressive of the Hebrew prophets. As a praying prophet, he was known for his miraculous answers. He boldly took on King Ahab and his idolatrous wife Jezebel. Elijah called for a showdown on Mount Carmel with the false prophets of Baal. He challenged in the contest that "the God who answers by fire, he is God." (I Kings 18:24).
The Baalites agreed, and the contest began. When the prolonged frenzy finally ended, Elijah ordered the disheveled altars and insisted that the offerings be soaked in water!
Then Elijah prayed, "O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known that day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that thou, O Lord, art God, and that thou has turned their hearts back." (I Kings 18:36-37)
"Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt offering, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, The Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is God." (verse 39).

God decided to take Elijah home to Heaven via spectacular translation rather than by death. When it was time, Elijah and his successor, Elisha began their journey to Elijah’s point of departure. Elijah performed his final miracle as they came to the Jordon: the prophet  allowed the sleeve of his mantle to touch the surface of the river, and they went across on dry land! Elisha the younger prophet was impressed.

As they walked on together, Elijah asked Elisha, "Ask what I shall do for you, before I am taken from you. And Elisha said, I pray you, let me inherit a double share of your spirit. And he said, You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it shall be so for you; but if you do not see me, it shall not be so." (II Kings 2:9-10).

Then as the two prophets walked on and talked, "behold a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elijah saw it and cried, My father, my father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen! And he saw him no more." (verses 11 and 12).

When Elisha could catch his breath and realize he must return, he looked down and saw the old mantle of Elijah" that had fallen from him, and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan." (verse 13).
We can only imagine the thoughts stirring in the mind of Elisha as he stepped with excitement back to his first obstacle. How would he deal with the opposition his master had taken authority over? Ahab was dead, but Jezebel was still very much alive and active in leading idolatry over the land. Could he possibly face the odds without Elijah?
But now, he had to pass his first test: he unfolded the old mantel of his master that had been left to him. He led the sleeve drop to the surface of the water, crying out Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah? (verse 14).
He soon found the answer: "And when he had struck the water, the water was parted to the one side and to the other; and Elisha went over."
Elijah’s God of power was present with his successor! The Spirit of Elijah was still at work in Israel, just as had been promised.
Let’s consider that Elijah is a type of Jesus Christ, and Elisha is a type of the followers of Christ who will carry on His work when their Master has ascended to Heaven. Jesus had commanded them, "And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city, until you are clothed with power from on high." (Luke 24:49, RSV).
Like Elisha, we must honor our Master, our Lord Jesus Christ and go to prayer until we are cleansed, filled and anointed with the Holy Spirit. In the second chapter of the book of Acts, we learn that 120 obeyed Jesus’ call to go back into the city and begin the prayer meeting, believing Christ and the Father would give the Holy Spirit. Jesus had promised them a final time: "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth." (Acts 1:8, RSV).
Remembering that John the Baptist had promised that Jesus would baptize His followers with the "Holy Spirit and with fire" (Matthew 3:18), those in the Upper Room should not have been surprised when "suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." (Acts 2:2-4, RSV).
The same Spirit that had rested upon and empowered Jesus was now upon His followers to work with the same power as their Master had. He had spent time teaching on the nature and works of the Holy Spirit through them, and now it had come to pass.
Did it work for them? The rushing wind was the breath of God bringing them alive! The tongues of fire represented their refinement of the Spirit’s sanctifying, cleansing power! And the other tongues would allow them to speak to the thousands down below in the city, multitudes who had come to Jerusalem from all over the Mediterranean basin to observe the feast. In obedience to Christ’s command to go and tell, the Spirit-filled believers filed out of the Upper Room down to street level and began speaking in the languages that would be understood by the crowds.
The crowds were amazed: How could these Galileans speak their languages? When someone sneered that “they must be drunk!” Peter the apostle explained, "This is that which the prophet spoke, that in the last days God will pour out His Spirit on all flesh." (Joel 2:28). Then the apostle went on to explain that the Lord Jesus whom they had crucified, God had raised from the dead. He explained that it was meant by God that His Son should die for the sins of all -- both Jews and Gentiles. Luke reported that many of the hearers were cut to the heart by the message they heard. They asked, "What shall we do?" Peter answered, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off, every one whom the Lord our God calls to him." (Acts 2:37-39, RSV).
Just as the promised power of God worked for Elijah, so it worked for Elisha. And just as surely as the power of the Holy Spirit was present in Christ to do His mighty works, so the same proved true in the lives of His followers across the centuries of church history.
What genuine Christian believers must remember with deep conviction in these times is that Pentecostal power came and it remains! It did not come and then go!
But Pentecostal power is for those who pray, those who ask, seek and knock; those who obey.
It is believed that over 500 believers were present on the Mount of Olives on the morning Jesus ascended back to the Father. They heard the orders to head back to the city and start praying for the Holy Spirit. Luke records that 120 obeyed (Acts 1:15).
What happened to the 380 who did not return to pray? We’ll never know. In fact, we shouldn’t dwell on the indifference, disobedient majority; we must be grateful for the obedient, passionate minority. Don’t we realize from the outcome that if there is an obedient, passionate minority, the disobedient, indifferent minority cannot prevent the outpouring of the Holy Spirit!
Where are the hungry, obedient, passionate prayer warriors who will pray the price for the fresh outpourings of the Holy Spirit? This I believe to be the only thing that will turn the tide of our present spiritual depression.
There is no doubt in my mind that our Heavenly Elijah (Jesus) is wondering when His earthly Elishas (believers) are going to ask Where is our double portion of the Holy Spirit that has been promised!

May God help us to wake up before it’s too late! 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Truths about Prayer - by James Tharp

  • No Christian is greater than his/her prayer life.
  • God does not pour out His Spirit on a prayerless heart; nor does He pour out His Spirit on a prayerless church.
  • If Satan can defeat a Christian in prayer, he can defeat that Christian in many areas of life.
  • Intercessory prayer for others is a deep mystery and the crowning glory of prayer.
  • None of us knows how to pray apart from the leadership and inspiration of the Holy Spirit. 
  • The worshiper of Jesus Christ must be uplifted by the glorious fact that Jesus, our great high priest is praying for us while at the same time the Holy Spirit is praying through us.
  • “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous person avails much.”
  • Jesus teaches us that getting alone in prayer -- “Go into your room and shut the door” -- assures us of our Heavenly Father’s presence.
  • Jesus also assures us of victory in prayer when “two (or more) of you agree” about the will of God.
  • Spirit-anointed prayer leads to the discovery of “The keys of the Kingdom” -- a Word-based promise, an inspired faith, and a bold persistence.
  • Men and women of prayer across the ages have learned the need to pray at four levels during their main prayer period of the day: adoration, introspection, petition, and intercession.
  • Delayed answers in prayer are not due to God’s reluctance. Often we learn that we are asking selfishly. Sometimes the devil is hindering the answer. At other times the Lord is testing our faith. He also knows when the answer will bear the best fruit and bring Him more glory.
  • The mysteries of prayer are unsearchable, invaluable, and immeasurable.
  • There is absolutely nothing about which we may not pray.
  • Apostles and ministers are commanded to “give themselves to the Word of God and prayer,” but all Christian believers are commanded to “pray continually” -- meaning let there be no lapse in your prayer ministry.
  • At the Judgment seat of Christ, where all believers will be graded for their rewards, it is believed that most of the tears shed will be due to the belated discovery of the disobedience, neglect, and ignorance concerning the power of prayer during their earthly pilgrimage. 
  • How much it would please our Heavenly Father if all of us would spend more time praying earnestly -- confessing, repenting, obeying, and practicing -- about our prayer life!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Praying in the Spirit - James Tharp

...Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplica-tions for all the saints... (Ephesians 6:18). But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit (Jude 20).

When an unbeliever repents of sin and trusts in Jesus Christ as Savior, he or she is born again and given the gift of the Holy Spirit. The new Christian is to rely upon the Holy Spirit for power to live the Christian life.

The new believer will soon learn the need for more grace, more strength to resist temptations, and greater inspiration for worship and prayer. The sense of need should cause him/her to ask for the fullness of the Spirit (Luke 11:13). Unless a believer is filled with the Spirit, they will never be able to pray with the power and wisdom available for prayer.

Praying in the Spirit is needed in every life, every church, and every community. How desperately we need Spirit-filled prayer warriors in our nation at this period in our history.

Allow me to describe what it means to pray in the power of the Holy Spirit:

Praying in the Spirit is when the Christian intercessor is clothed with the might of God in holy intense intercession.

Praying in the Spirit is the highest and holiest and most powerful effort a child of God is capable of.

Praying in the Spirit is when we have been entrusted with Jesus’ burden to pray and weep over lost souls and carnal saints.

Praying in the Spirit is God’s plan to bring heaven’s power and heaven’s resources and heaven’s angels into action on earth.

Praying in the Spirit is when the Holy Spirit’s intercession in us here on earth agrees with Jesus’ intercession in heaven to bring the will of the Father to pass.

Praying in the Spirit is effectual, fervent praying by sanctified hearts that gets YES answers.

Praying in the Spirit is a holy partnership of intercession with Christ and the Holy Spirit for the extension of the Kingdom of God.

Praying in the Spirit is immersing oneself in a Spirit-assigned burden that sacrificially continues until heaven’s power is released and God’s will is done on earth.

Praying in the Spirit is the conduit through which the power of heaven is brought to earth.

Praying in the Spirit is the glorious ministry that unites us with the heartbeat and passion of our Lord Jesus.

Praying in the Spirit is the privilege, the responsibility, and the glory of prevailing prayer.

Praying in the Spirit is the most demanding, challenging, and spiritually opposed kind of praying, yet still the most anointed and rewarded kind.

May God forgive churches and Christian leaders for not training more believers for Spirit-anointed prayer.

Our only hope for revival in the church and the salvation of the masses is Spirit-anointed intercessors.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Spirit of Jesus - James Tharp

                             Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the
                        Lord is there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled
                        faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed
                        into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes
                        from the Lord, who is the Spirit (II Corinthians 3:17-18).

            When the Son of God became the son of man, He gave up all the privileges of deity. In emptying Himself of His former exalted state, He became the God-man. Now as God in the flesh, He trusted the Father’s plan for the success of His redemptive mission to earth.

            John the Baptist was the prophet God called to introduce Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29) and the One who would baptize His followers with the Holy Spirit and with fire (Matthew 3:12). John also testified of Jesus, For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit (John 3:34). Since the Father could trust Jesus, He gave Him an unlimited measure of the Holy Spirit. We need to remember that our Lord was fully dependent on the Spirit for all His worship of the Father, His many miracles, and even His endurance of the traumatic suffering He experienced in His crucifixionwho through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God (Hebrews  9:14).

            We need to realize that from the time of our Lord’s baptism by John the Baptist in the Jordon River when the Holy Spirit descended on Him, He relied completely on the Spirit for all that He said and did. He answered the questions in the minds of His hearers as to the power by which He ministered by saying, The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor (Luke 4:18-19).

            Jesus sought to prepare His disciples for receiving the same Holy Spirit to carry out His orders to them to take His gospel to the ends of earth. He wanted them to rely upon the same Holy Spirit who had worked faithfully in His own life and ministry. He spoke to them, saying of the Spirit: He will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you (John  16:13-14).

            The promise of Jesus to send the Holy Spirit to His disciples was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost, as recorded in Acts 2:1-4: When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

            The same Spirit that had filled Jesus, empowering Him for His ministry, now filled His messengers for living the Christian life and for proclaiming His gospel to the world. Even the enemies of Christ who had crucified Jesus noticed that the apostles of Jesus reminded them of what they had seen and heard from Jesus. When they (members of the Sanhedrin who had condemned Jesus) saw the courage of Peter and John and realized they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say (Acts 4:13-14).

            The good news is that any Christian believer who hungers for the fullness of the Holy Spirit may ask, believe, and receive this same Spirit of Jesus. No Christian life is complete without His power to love, pray, worship, obey the Scriptures, and walk in holiness and power. Living in the power of the Spirit is a joyful life, something which too many Christians do not experience.

            Isn’t it time for us to trade in our weaknesses for the power of the Spirit of Jesus in our lives. When Christ called us to follow Him, He never intended that we live merely by our own strength. He intended that we trust His promise and live by His Spirit.