August 27, 2023 by P. Kevin Clancey

Alright, dear ones, let’s worship Jesus together. Psalm 27 says, “The Lord is my light and my salvation. Whom should I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life. Whom should I dread? When evildoers came against me to devour my flesh, my foes and my enemies stumbled and fell. Though an army deploys against me, my heart will not be afraid. Though a war breaks out against me, I will still be confident. I have asked one thing from the Lord. It’s what I desire. To dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, gazing on the beauty of the Lord and seeking Him in His temple. For He will conceal me in His shelter in the day of adversity. He will hide me under the cover of His tent. He will set me high on a rock. And then my head will be high above my enemies around me. And I will offer sacrifices in His tent with shouts of joy. I will sing and make music to the Lord. Lord, hear my voice when I call. Be gracious to me and answer me. My heart says this about you. Seek His face. And Lord, I will seek your face. Do not hide your face from me. Do not turn your servant away in anger. For you have been my helper. Do not leave me or abandon me. God of my salvation. Even my father and mother abandoned me. The Lord cares for me. Because of my adversary, show me your way, Lord, and lead me on a level path. Do not give me over to the will of my foes. For false witnesses rise up against me, breathing violence. And I am certain that I will see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord. Be strong. And let your heart be courageous. Wait for the Lord.”

1 The Lord is my light and my salvation. Whom should I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life. Whom should I dread?2 When evildoers came against me to devour my flesh, my foes and my enemies stumbled and fell.3 Though an army deploys against me, my heart will not be afraid. Though a war breaks out against me, I will still be confident.4 I have asked one thing from the Lord. It’s what I desire. To dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, gazing on the beauty of the Lord and seeking Him in His temple.5 For He will conceal me in His shelter in the day of adversity. He will hide me under the cover of His tent. He will set me high on a rock.6 And then my head will be high above my enemies around me. And I will offer sacrifices in His tent with shouts of joy. I will sing and make music to the Lord.7 Lord, hear my voice when I call. Be gracious to me and answer me.8 My heart says this about you. Seek His face. And Lord, I will seek your face.9 Do not hide your face from me. Do not turn your servant away in anger. For you have been my helper. Do not leave me or abandon me. God of my salvation.10 Even my father and mother abandoned me. The Lord cares for me.11 Because of my adversary, show me your way, Lord, and lead me on a level path.12 Do not give me over to the will of my foes. For false witnesses rise up against me, breathing violence.13 And I am certain that I will see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living.14 Wait for the Lord. Be strong. And let your heart be courageous. Wait for the Lord (Psalm 27:1-14)

Lord, we are looking for your goodness in the land of the living. And thank you for all the different times we see it and encounter it. And tonight we worship you for your goodness to us in our whole life. You created us. You knit us together in our mother’s womb. Through your Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ, you saved us. You forgave our sins. By the renewing power of your Spirit, you have made us new. And you have made us into your eternal sons and daughters. And Lord, we are growing into that. And we are grateful that you are with us. So Lord, tonight we worship you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Nine years ago my father passed away. And it actually happened this time of year. I was, I just got back from Grace Covenant’s conference. I was at the Grace Covenant conference. And I got a phone call from Duluth, Minnesota, from the hospital there, saying that he had had a full on cardiac arrest. And all their efforts at heroic measures were not bringing him back. And the doctor just wanted to say, how long do you want us to do this? And I didn’t know what his, I didn’t know what his wishes were. And they couldn’t get a hold of his wife. Thinking back, I probably should have called my sisters or somebody. But I just said, are you saving his life or prolonging his death? And she said, oh, that’s a good question. And she said, at this point I think we’re prolonging his death. And I said, well, he knows who Jesus is. And so thank you for your efforts. And we’re just going to release him to the Lord. And I made that decision. And I haven’t gotten in trouble for it. My sister’s never chewed me out for it. His wife didn’t chew me out for it. Anyway, but he died later that night. And my father grew up a Catholic, was an alcoholic, was really saved. His life was really saved through Alcoholics Anonymous. He went to Alcoholics Anonymous. And it was there that he really, he was a devout Catholic, but he was a very fear based Catholic and developed a real relationship with God and a loving relationship with God. But as he was getting older, he would go back and forth between the old Ron, not the alcoholic Ron, but the old fearful Ron and God loves me Ron. And he lived with us for a few months before he had passed away. And he constantly was watching Catholic TV. And he would just say, Kevin, I’ve made a lot of mistakes. You know, I haven’t been a great man. Am I going to go to heaven? And I said, “Yeah, you know, you’re going to.” And I would just quote to him, you know, you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord. I said, “Dad, is Jesus your Lord?” He says, “Oh, He’s my Lord, Kevin.” I said, “Do you believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead?” He says, “I know God raised Him from the dead.” And I said, “Dad, you’re good.” And then he’d say, “Oh, I’m just going to get to heaven on your coattails.” And I said, “No, you’re going to heaven on Jesus’ coattails. Mine aren’t long enough for you.” And anyway, he’d go back and forth. And as he’s growing older, that was a bit that could be torturous because you realize that day is impending.

So long, you know, whenever anybody says long story short, it’s already too late. So long story long. He died that night and I hadn’t cried yet. And I was actually teaching a class with Grace Covenant. I taught my class. My sister was there. My niece was there. It was kind of an emotionally awkward class. And I got home that night to my mother’s house, actually. And I was listening to my music and I played this song by Chris Tomlin. And the the the bridge where he’s where Chris Tomlin inserts, “my chains are gone. I’ve been set free.” I got a picture of my dad no longer bound by those chains that held him in fear. And I wept. I wept. So I don’t know. I don’t even know why I told you that story, but it’s a good story, right? All right. “My chains are gone. I’ve been set free.” That’s what this says. That’s what this says. So, yeah, the food of God for the people of God. Come and eat.

Amen. Hear our humble cry, Lord Jesus, do not pass us by. Be present tonight as we open your word. May the words of my mouth and meditation of our hearts be acceptable in your sight. Oh, Lord, our rock, our strength and our Redeemer. Amen.

All right. We’re in Hebrews 6:9-20. Let me just give a little announcement. Next Sunday, we’ll have church in Poulsbo. But I just want to tell you in Bremerton at eleven o’clock, we’re meeting with Discovery Fellowship down at Evergreen Park for a combined service that will also include baptisms in the sound. If there’s anybody here who hasn’t been baptized, desires to be baptized or your kids are ready to be baptized, that’s a chance that we can do that. And so that’ll be at Evergreen Park at eleven o’clock, combined service, baptisms and potluck. So if you want to make the long haul down to Bremerton, you’re more than welcome. But we’ll still be we’ll still be here as well next Sunday night. So I wanted to let you know that.

All right. Last time I spoke. In ages long, long ago, before you had the excellent and deep biblical preaching and instruction, the profound edification that came through Stevinn Johnson and Ats Kagawa. Last time I spoke, we were we were in Hebrews 6. You know, we spoke in that difficult passage, right? Hebrews 6:4, for it is impossible for God to renew once again. Well, let me read it is impossible for God. Or it’s impossible to renew to repentance those who were once enlightened, who tasted the heavenly gift, who shared in the Holy Spirit, tasted God’s good word and the powers of the coming age who have fallen away. This is because to their own harm, they are recrucifying the Son of God and holding up to contempt.

4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame. (Hebrews 6:4-6)

And so it says, you know, that that that it kind of kind of calls into question the sin that the church has historically called apostasy. It’s not the sin of backsliding. It’s not the it’s not the sin of committing a sin after you become a Christian. That’s not what the passage is saying that, you know, if you if you sin, once you become a Christian, it’s impossible to bring you back to repentance. What it is trying to indicate, I think we talked about it a couple of weeks ago, was that there can be. That there can be. And it’s very scary. There can be kind of a point of no return when you sin as a Christian. You don’t lose your salvation, but it does harden your heart. And if you don’t repent and you continually do that, there can it appears to be a place where your heart becomes so hard that you’re not only sinning, but now you are consciously and and verbally rejecting God. You’re saying, “Jesus, I wanted you in my life, and now I want you out of my life. I don’t want you anymore.” And and there is and I don’t know who reaches this point. It seems to me that this is not hypothetical, though, that there that the possibility exists for people to reach that point of no return.

And so that was a hard message. That’s a hard message to hear. And I just wanted to let you know tonight. Better news. It even starts out that way. So Hebrews 6:9, even though we are speaking this way about apostasy, dearly loved friends. In your case, we are confident of things that are better that pertain to salvation.

9 Even though we are speaking this way, dearly loved friends, in your case we are confident of things that are better and that pertain to salvation. (Hebrews 6:9)

Thank you. All right. So there’s no apostates here. So you don’t have to worry. All right. Many people worry needlessly whether or not they’ve committed apostasy. If you’re worried about it, you haven’t. It’s a design. It’s a sign that you still want Jesus in your life. It’s like people who say, “I don’t know if I ever blasphemed against the Holy Spirit.” If you’re worried about it, you haven’t. Your heart is still tender. Your heart is not hard. And so he says, there are better things for you that pertain to salvation. And listen to this.

God is not unjust. He will not forget your work and the love you demonstrated for His name by serving the saints and by continuing to serve them. Now, we desire each of you to demonstrate the same diligence for the full assurance of the hope of your hope until the end so that you will not become lazy. But you will be imitators of those who inherit the promises through faith and perseverance. For when God made a promise to Abraham, since He had no one greater to swear by, He swore by Himself, “I will indeed bless you and I will greatly multiply you.” And so after waiting patiently, Abraham obtained the promise for people swear by something greater than themselves. And for them, a confirming oath ends every dispute because God wanted to show His unchangeable purpose even more clearly to the heirs of the promise. He guaranteed it with an oath so that through two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to seize the hope set before us. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure, and it enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain. Jesus has entered there on our behalf as a forerunner because He has become a high priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek. (Hebrews 6:10-20)

All right. And so here we go. God will reward faithfulness.

The last passage we talked about is that God will not cannot even. How can God not? God cannot turn somebody who will not have Him. God won’t force you to love Him. And so it is possible to apostatize. But here it says, I have greater hope for you because God will reward faithfulness. If you as you turn your heart in faith to God, you are saved. You are saved not by your works, but by your faith. And then just you just you keep going. You persevere in that.

And God not only will reward faithfulness with the salvation of your souls, God will reward every single act that you do on behalf of Him and in His name. He says God is not in just. He has seen the love and the service you have given to the saints. Now, I believe that you that you you get to heaven. You’re saved eternally by faith through God’s grace and you don’t earn it. However, I also believe that there are rewards there once you get there. There are rewards. There are even rewards in this life.

And Jesus said, not even a cup of cold water given in my name will lose its reward. It’s eternal. It lasts forever. Every time you advance the kingdom of God, every time you share your faith with somebody, every time you lovingly lay your hands on the sick and pray for their healing, every time you cast a demon out of somebody, every time you feed the hungry, clothe the naked, every time you love and pay attention to a child, every time you visit a lonely senior, a lonely elder, a lonely mother, a lonely mother. Every time you visit a lonely senior, a lonely elderly person and you care for them every time, every act, every smallest deed of us in the service of Jesus, God will not forget. God will not forget.

Oftentimes, when we talk about God’s justice, we talk about, you know, God is just and He’ll punish the wicked. But let me tell you something. God is just and He’ll reward righteousness. He’ll reward mercy. He’ll reward kindness. He’ll reward love. He’ll reward generosity. God is good and He is faithful. Your salvation is sure. Continue until the end. That is the message of the first half of the book of Hebrews. Don’t quit. Continue until the end. I love how he says, your salvation is sure through faith. Sounds like the Apostle Paul. And then he adds perseverance. That was the argument before. Apostasy is the lack of perseverance. You quit. And here’s why people quit. Because life is hard. Sixty-four years old, I have never had a day without hard. Some of the hards have been big hards. Some have been little hards. But I’ve never had a, have you ever had a day that just went perfectly? The perfect day. Have you ever just had that day where somebody wasn’t sick, there wasn’t a phone call, there wasn’t a this, there wasn’t a that. Have you ever had a day where everybody felt fine, you had all the money you needed, your kids behaved perfectly, your husband didn’t say anything stupid, your wife didn’t say anything annoying, the weather in Washington was perfect. You’ve never had that day. You have never had that day. And I got news for you. This side of eternity you will not have that day.

People come to church, man. I raised my kids in church and I was a pastor. And I’ll tell you what, there’s a devil. How did I know there was a devil? My kids behave worse Sunday morning than the other day during the week. “He touched me. He’s breathing my air.” I felt so, I was so glad I was a pastor actually because I knew my kids were behaving rotten but I had to get down there early. “Bye, hon. Good luck.” She’d come into church hair, you know. “How you doing? Fine.”

First thing people do when they come to church is they lie. They ask you, how you doing? And you say, “fine.” We weren’t doing this to the kids in the back seat of the car. My son-in-law, his mother got a fly swatter. Yeah. “Doing fine.” No, it’s hard. There isn’t a person in this room that doesn’t have an issue that if we really pressed in and said, man, this really needs, I really need prayer for this in my life. Whether it’s a loved one who’s sick, a neighbor who’s sick, whether it’s your own struggles, whether it’s decisions you’re making.

And so the devil throws the heart at us and here’s why. Okay. Gets you to quit. God allows the devil to throw the heart at us and here’s why. When we surrender it to Him, it makes us more like Jesus. You’re a lump of coal, but the pressure makes you a diamond. You’re an irritant in the mouth of an oyster. But out comes a pearl. God uses the hard. God will deliver on all His promises and endurance is the key.

We live in a fast food culture. That’s well actually 30 years ago. We lived in a fast food culture. Now we live in a micro second culture for information, right? Just we’re always doing this. Don’t do this as much, by the way, fast from this somewhat. All right. Just don’t always be pulling this out of your pocket or your purse. You can live without it. But but, you know, there are many benefits to the age we live in. I love it. I love having information and tech at my fingertip and all that kind of stuff. But dear ones, we have lost patience. We have lost the virtue of patience. And it shows in churches.

It shows because because we have these wonderful promises and we hear the voice of God and we read the Bible and we’ve got these wonderful promises and we receive them on Sunday. And if they don’t come to pass by Tuesday, we get in a funk. Endurance is the key. We are in a long distance race. The Bible gives many examples of endurance. And in this passage, he talks about Abraham.

God goes to Abraham and He says, “This is what I’m going to do for you. I am going to bless you more than anybody on the planet has ever been blessed. That’s pretty big promise. And I’m going to use your life to bless the whole planet. How’s that, bud? Well, what do I have to do? Leave your retirement community and go to a land I will show you.”

The Bible says Abraham left. He did. And twenty five years he waited for that promise. Twenty five years he waited for that promise. He tried to take a shortcut at one point. The world is still fighting because of that shortcut. Twenty five years. But God promised. In fact, God swore He’d do it. He swore on Himself. Have you ever heard anybody say swear to God? OK, personally, I don’t trust people who say swear to God because Jesus says don’t don’t use oaths. Right. Because if you have to say swear to God, what does that say about your character? That your character is not the kind where people would trust you just on your word. That’s why Jesus says, “Let your yes be yes and your no be no.” I feel like if I told you I was going to do something, I wouldn’t have to say “swear to God” or, you know, swear on my mother’s grave or anything like that. It’s just like I tell you, I’m going to do it. You know, then I hope you can trust that I’m going to at least do my best to do it. And you’re the same.

But God swears this promise is so powerful and so profound and so hard. And it’s going to God knows it’s going to be hard to hold on to because God knows it’s going to take. He didn’t tell Abraham it’s going to take twenty five years. He says you’re going to have a baby. You and Sarah, so you have babies yet. Don’t worry. You have a baby. I’ll give you a child. I’ll make you the father of nations. Great.

Abraham probably went to Sarah that night and said, “Hey, tonight’s the night, babe. Let’s go. Let’s make a baby.” Couple weeks later, Sarah’s like, “It ain’t happening, man.” Twenty five years. Sarah didn’t believe it. She laughed when God said by this time next year. She gave Abraham Hagar to to to create a line for him to kind of make God’s promise happen. God said, “Nope, it’s going to happen.”

He told Moses, “You’re going to take a couple million people, you’re going to deliver them from most powerful men in the world. You’re going to walk them across the desert. You’re going to come into the promised land. You’re going to defeat the enemies and you’re going to inherit a land flowing with milk and honey that I promised to your ancestor Abraham.” Forty years. First in the desert of Midian. Next in the desert with the with the children of Israel. Forty years.

And there was a group of and it only took them two weeks to get the promised land, by the way. They got to the promised land in two weeks, but they wouldn’t go in because the people were big. They were the Nephilim. They were the Giants. “We don’t want to go in. They’re too scary. We’re like grasshoppers.” Only Joshua and Caleb believed the promise. And guess what? Only Joshua and Caleb entered the promised land.

Samuel comes and looks at Jesse’s sons. Six strapping boys says, “You got any other ones?” “Well, yeah, there’s that little brat, David. The brothers don’t like him. He’s always slinging rocks at him and stuff.” “Well, bring him in.” “Don’t you like my other six sons?” “Oh, they’re very impressive. Nice boys, strong, handsome. Bring in the short redhead. That’s the one. That’s the one. He smells like sheep.” “Oh, you’re going to be king of Israel. Great. When do I start?” “Oh, Saul’s going to chase you around the desert for a decade or so. Try to kill you. But you’ll be a king. You’ll be a king.”

“Hey, Paul, preach the gospel of the Gentiles.” “Oh, but spend 14 years in obscurity until Barnabas remembers. Oh, yeah, there was that guy I brought to Jerusalem once. I need him to help me share the gospel with the Gentiles.”

And Jesus, the Son of God, 30 years in an obscure carpenters’ house, carpenters’ hut, you know, the town just thinking, “He’s an odd boy.” His brothers resenting Him because I really think He was His mom’s favorite. It happens.

But I’ll tell you something. Everyone who believes God’s promises and endures, there comes a sudden. There comes a moment and all of a sudden it’s on. And the promises are fulfilled. God is faithful. He will keep His promises. He says to Abraham, “Swear to God, God.” That’s the quote. You know, who said that quote? “Swear to God, God.” Abraham, swear to God. Who are you? I’m God. Well, who else are you going to swear by? You can’t find anybody bigger than Himself. But it’s true. So God is dependable. His word is faithful. His word is faithful. These words that He inspired through the Holy Spirit are faithful. You have found these words faithful. As you have applied these words to your life, you have found them faithful. As you have sought first the kingdom of God and all His righteousness, you’ve discovered that lo and behold, He does add all things to you. As you have trusted in the Lord with all your heart and leaned not on your own understanding and in all your ways acknowledged God, you have found out that He does guide your path. You have found that these words are faithful and true. As you have cried out for God for help, He has brought help into your life. You have a litany of finding that these words are true and these words will shape your life in the truth. These words will shape your life in the truth. God’s word, why does it work? Why does this word work? Why is it that Christians created the greatest civilization in the world that the world has ever known? Because at least to a larger extent than ever before, the world that was created after Jesus grew and emerged from these words. It is the logos of God, the reason of God, the mind of God. And as you immerse yourself in these words, as you immerse yourself, there will become a God-shaped worldview in your heart. If you immerse yourself in television, you will get a Hollywood-shaped worldview. If you immerse yourself in the news, you will get a crazed, angry, fearful worldview. If you immerse yourself in the Word of God, you will begin to have a God, it’s like a chip at a time, a piece at a time. And that is the logos, the mind of God. That’s why a year from now, I told the group this morning, I’m going to give you a Christmas present, I’m going to give you a Bible. Actually, I’m not going to give you a Christmas present, you’re going to give yourself a Christmas present. It’s coming from the Firehouse Church, back from the Firehouse Church. We’re going to give you a one-year chronological Bible. And I’m going to challenge you, you don’t have to do this, you don’t have to do what I say. I’m not one of those authoritarian pastors. See, that’s tricky because every rebel in the room just says, oh, okay, I can do it now. If you tell a rebel they have to do it, they’re like, no, I know it because I am one. Somebody says, you have to do this, like I do not. But if somebody says you get to do it, it’s like, okay, I’ll do that. So here’s the deal. Fifteen minutes a day. Oh, pastor, that’s a lot of Bible reading. It is. If you’re not used to it, that’s a lot of Bible reading. Sit down and read the Bible for 15 minutes is a lot. To sit down and binge watch a TV program for three hours is easy. And that shapes your worldview. So I’m going to give you a present. The fire officer is going to give you a present. And we’re going to encourage you to do it, to read through the Bible in a year. And allow the logos to shape your life. But there’s a surprise. There’s a wonderful surprise in the middle of the logos shaping your life. As you’re immersing yourself in the book, there’s the ramah. What’s the ramah? The ramah is the now word. You know what I’m talking about. You’ve read the Bible, right? And I bet everybody in this room has had the experience. You read the Bible, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, and all of a sudden what? Boom. Or it doesn’t work when you try to do it. Very seldom. You know, the plop, the plop open the Bible. Lord, do you have a word for me? And you plop it open, it’s like, you know, and David killed all the Philistines. I don’t think it’s supposed to kill the Philistines. But occasionally it works when you don’t even expect it, right? And all of a sudden the Bible verse that was spoken, the Bible verse you read is exactly what you needed. I remember I was preaching on Hebrews 7, where we’re going to get to next, on Melchizedek. And I had written this sermon and I was preaching in another church. I was the associate pastor at one church and their pastor was sick. And so I was preaching and I was just really struggling with whether or not to preach this sermon. It was a technical, complicated sermon and I was struggling. I said, Lord, should I preach this sermon on Hebrews 7:26-28? And I started my car and my wife, I very seldom listened to, and I never listened to Christian radio, and that’s not a knock on Christian radio, it’s just my own habit. I just don’t listen to it. But my wife had turned into the Christian radio station and I literally just turned on the car and the pastor who was speaking that Sunday morning says, open your Bibles to Hebrews 7:26-28. That’s the ramah. And so I listened, I thought, man, I’m going to preach this sermon. I’m going to see if he, and actually by the time I got there I thought my sermon is better than his. So I could preach it. Humble man that I am. And that’s the ramah. And you’ve heard me. You’ve been in this church for any time. You’ve heard me. Who am I in heaven but you? I desire you as I was in the last song. But does that, earth has nothing I desire besides you. My heart and my flesh will fail. But God, you are the strength of my life and my portion forever.

And I’ve told you the story about how I just walked into, the Bible was open, and that verse came off the page and it branded itself. It went into my mind, but then it went down to my heart and it branded itself on my heart. I wake up half the mornings now that I wake up out of bed, the first words out of my mouth before I even say, oh my back hurts. Or who am I in heaven but you? Besides you I desire nothing on earth. My heart and my flesh may fail. But God, you are the strength of my life and my portion forever.

And if it’s not that, it’s the one I read from the beginning of the service. I would have lost hope for this, that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. And if it’s not that, it’s Proverbs 3:5-6, Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean on your new understanding. I always acknowledge him and he will make your path straight.

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6)

And if it’s not that, it’s Philippians 1:21, for me to live as Christ, to die as gain.

21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21)

And all of those and many more have come off the page and come alive and they’ve seared themselves in my soul. God’s word is faithful. God’s word is true. God’s word is dependable. That’s what this is saying. It’ll help you persevere. And that God’s nature is faithful. God’s nature is faithful. His words and His nature, there is no discrepancy.

I love Genesis 1. God said, let there be light. Guess what? There was light. Husband says, I’ll do that. Guess what? 50% chance. My wife, bless her heart, somebody bought a new mat for the church door. Wednesday she said, you going out for Bible study? Yeah, take the mat. I just looked at her and said, 50% chance? And it’s not that I’m being rebellious. I’m going to walk out the door. And I literally, she put it right by the door to the garage where I got my car. I literally walked by. I got home that night. She say “the mat?,” I said, yeah. This morning. This morning, take the mat now. 50% chance. And I went out the other door this morning, so there’s a good excuse. And as I’m getting in my car, I see my wife, she’s got this bad hip and two shorts coming out of his box. I was like, okay. The mat has arrived.

I was with God. Years ago, I’m in We went to this thing in the 90s called Promise Keepers. And it was about men becoming more like God in their nature so that their words and their behavior lined up. And you need a ministry like Promise Keepers for men because men are liars. And women don’t get too smug because you make up the other 50% of the liars on the planet. But, you know. And so, God doesn’t need to go to a Promise Keepers meeting. 100% consistent.

I remember Richard Ayer, I was down in Oakdale this week. And Richard Ayer was a long time member of the church that we planted down there. And he was there the first Sunday I came to Oakdale. He was new to the Methodist Church. He was a fire captain. And he’s a great guy. His wife’s a lovely lady. And I just love Richard and Jonah, dear people. And they were just by my side for years and years and years and years. But at the very beginning, I’m in the Methodist Church in Oakdale. And like the third or fourth Sunday, or pretty early on, Richard comes to me. And he’s a very serious guy. He gets to my face. And he says, Pastor, we need to talk. Now, just to let you in on something. Pastor, we need to talk. And all the annals of Pastor-dom is hardly ever a good thing. It’s always like, “I’m going to leave the church.” Or, “You know, you really upset me when you did this.” Or, “This is what’s wrong with the music.” I saw this young pastor. He says that on Sunday. My day off is Monday. He completely ruined my day off. He said, “OK, Richard, let’s get together Tuesday morning.” So all day Monday. I said, “OK, what’s this going to be? What’s the talk going to be about?” And he comes into my office Tuesday and just says, “Pastor, very serious, I need to go apologize to you.” I said, “What for? You’re a great guy.” He says, “I have not prayed for you every day. I don’t even know your kids’ names. Give me your kids’ names.” He says, “I’m going to start praying for your kids every day. OK, Megan, Michael, Caitlin. Good. Every day I’m going to pray for your kids.” He says, “Let me tell you something. Anything you need physically done around your house, physically done at this church, who was a handyman, he already knew I was a handyman-capped. So he said, anything you need spiritually, emotionally, financially. It was a short time after that he bought my family and I our first computer. Anything you need, I’m going to do that.” And I was thinking, this turned out differently than I had anticipated. And so I just looked at him and said, “Well, Richard, that’s kind of you and thank you.” And you know, I said, “What process are you?” He said, “Well, me and a group of firefighters, we went down to LA. We went to this thing called Promise Keepers.” I heard about it a little bit. And like I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but as a little pastor, young pastor, I made a little bit of a note, take more minutes to promise keepers. This worked out well.

See, we become like Jesus when our nature is true to our words, true to the word of God. And that’s what the Bible says. God is dependable. God is faithful. Why can we trust for our salvation? Because God is dependable and God is faithful. He’ll not drop you. He’ll not let you down. This is the other side of the coin. Last time we spoke about how we can reject God. But this time he’s saying, “I’ve got better news for you about salvation. God has promised that His work is true. His word is true. His faithfulness is true. All you have to do is believe and not quit. His nature is perfect. His nature is faithful.” And that says Jesus is the demonstration of that faithful nature in that He went behind the curtain to accomplish all this.

What’s the curtain? The curtain is the curtain that guards the holy of holies from the rest of the temple, from the rest of humanity. And it represents the inside of that place is the holiness of God. And outside of that place is the brokenness and sinfulness and the barbarism of humanity. And only once a year, because that holiness is so beautiful and so pure and so bright. And it’s not like God is up there to destroy people, but to get into that light, it’ll undo you. And so only once a year the high priest would go into the holy of holies, purify for his sins, and bringing the perfect sacrifice to purify Israel for their sins and their entire rope around his ankle. Because if he died in there, they’d have to drag him out because nobody wanted to go in and get him. It’s such a powerful place. And it says, Jesus went behind the temple, or behind the curtain. And then it says, as a forerunner. What does that mean? We get to go now. We get to go now.

My favorite verse, another one that has sheared itself on my heart, we’ve been talking about it several weeks here, Hebrews 4, that Jesus takes us into the throne of God, where we find grace and mercy for every time of need. That’s what we find. We don’t find death in the presence of a holy God. We find grace, God’s power to transform us, and mercy, God’s ability and His love to forgive us, to make us like Jesus, because Jesus went in there first. And Jesus accomplished there what we couldn’t accomplish. He was the perfect priest. What the high priest was a picture of, a pure man, a sinless man offering sacrifice to the people of God, Jesus actually was. And what the sacrifice is a picture of, a pure and spotless lamb, as a sacrifice, Jesus actually was. He was the perfect priest and the perfect sacrifice. And now we can say every day, “Father, I come to you in the name of Jesus, and by grace and mercy.” How good is that? Say amen, somebody. Wake up. I know a small church but do something. Amen. How good is that? And best for last. His faithfulness is eternal. The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His mercies never come to an end. They’re new every morning. Raise your faithfulness, O God. His faithfulness, His mercy, His grace is eternal.

Let me tell you something about the hard. I told you the devil throws the hard at you to make you quit. But here’s something that’s true about the hard. Every hard you’ve faced has gone away. You’re facing a hard now, three months from now. Chances are, some of the big hards last longer than three months. But you know, the little mosquito bites of life, the bank statement that’s, you know, cattywampus, you’ve got to go through the half an hour phone tree to finally talk to a representative and get it all sorted out. And it’s so, you know, and yeah, I get it. The hard, that makes me want to lose my salvation.

And Jesus is saying all the while, be kind to this person. And I should be kind. It’s not their fault. They’re not the ones who designed that whole system to aggravate and annoy me. It’s their bosses who are going to hell. No, be kind to their bosses, too. And, but that’s done with. It’s gone.

I was watching a TV show last night, the theme of the theme, one of the themes of the TV show, where these parents who couldn’t get their baby to stop crying at night. All right, if you had children, you’d probably have been there. That’s life. And you just think, I will never sleep again. And you just look at that child and you say, please, for the mercy of God, shut up and go to sleep. Waaaah! But you know what? My kids, ultimately, they fell asleep and I slept through the night. Now they what? Pretty quiet at my house at night. As long as my wife and I got our snoring devices on, it’s pretty quiet. We sleep. The hard comes to an end.

The final hard is death. And that comes to an end. Death has been defeated. The final enemy. But the faithfulness, the goodness, the love, the grace, the mercy of God is everlasting. See, the devil throws the hard at us to make us quit. But God allows the hard to come at us to make us like Jesus forever.

I don’t know if all my movie illustrations are old movie illustrations. I haven’t seen a movie in 10 years, 15 years. I did. No, I didn’t see Oppenheimer. I saw Otto, a man called Otto. Yeah, every once in a while my wife and I will go to a movie. I want to see Oppenheimer. But anyway, but a league of their own. Anybody remember A League of Their Own? The All-American Girls Baseball League.

And there’s great lines in that movie. Of course, the line everybody remembers is, no crying in baseball. No crying in baseball. That’s right. But here’s the line my wife and I live by. It’s when the star athlete, Gina Davis, she’s the star catcher, she’s the star of the team. And she’s going to the World Series. And her younger sister is always competing with her. And they’re fighting, you know, and her sister’s jealous. And Gina’s husband was off in World War II, and he comes back home, and he’s wounded. And she’s just as like, you know what, I don’t want to fight with my sister. I don’t want the pressure. My husband’s back. I’m just going to go back to Oregon and be a wife and make babies and milk cows and live my life, you know.

And the manager, Tom Hanks, he did a great job in that movie as a drunk ex-baseball player. But, you know, he begins to care for these women. He begins to care about their league and about their team. And he goes out and he says, so you’re quitting? She goes, yeah. And she said, it just got too hard. And my wife and I, we lived just one of those lives from movies we lived by. He said, it’s hard, but it makes it great. If it’s easy anybody can do it. Don’t quit because of the hard. Rejoice that God has made you like Jesus. Everything the devil throws against you, God will use. I took a little martial arts when I was a young kid. One of the things, the only thing I remember was that there’s this principle involved where you actually use your opponent’s momentum against tham. So if they’re big and fast and strong, that doesn’t necessarily mean they will overwhelm you. If you get the right leverage, get your body in the right position, you don’t have to lift them up, flip them and throw them over. They’ll do all that if you just get your body in the right position. Their momentum, their energy will defeat them.

The devil will come at you like a big evil monster making your life hard. And this is not a jujitsu move, this is just a smile and kid move. All you’ve got to do is wait until he gets really close, step back and see if you’re good. Down he goes. All his energy, all his effort, and you didn’t have to defeat him, you just had to stick your foot out. You just had to say it in Jesus’ name. And you become more like that. Endurance. Faithful.

Listen, faith, we think faith is one momentary belief in a sinner’s prayer. Faith is perseverance, man. Faith is believing in the goodness of God when life doesn’t look good. And I’m not talking about the big hards now. The doctor gives a report that you didn’t want to hear and uses the c-word or some other word. I have a great friend in California, I’ll finish with this. He’s a wonderful man. This man is full of faith. And he’s my age. And he went in for, we both had prostate cancer, he went in for surgery and when he came out, he was in a fog, he was in a brain fog. And the brain fog never left him.

He’s a great man, he’s a math teacher, you know, smart man. And he just, all of a sudden he couldn’t, he couldn’t balance the checkbooks, he couldn’t write checks, he couldn’t read. And they took him to Stanford and they diagnosed him with Lewy Body Disease, which is worse than Alzheimer’s. And they said that’s what you got. And they basically said, you got four years of decline and then you’re going to die. That was a year ago. He took a cognitive test, he didn’t score that well. But he came back and he said, I’m going to have, I’m going to believe in God. I’m going to have faith.

And he went back this year to Stanford and they diagnosed him and said, yeah, he stood up with the disease. He took a cognitive test, he scored higher a year later, which is unheard of. He scored higher, he scored much higher. A year ago he couldn’t read. Now he’s reading Bosworth’s book on Christ the Healer. And he led a worship of his daughter. And I just thought, am I watching an incredible, incredible miracle happen right before my eyes? And he’s just a man of faith. He’s just like, you know what, I’m a, I’m a believe guy. I’m seeing it. I’m seeing it. He didn’t take the hard and said, that’s the final word. He said, make me more like Jesus.

God has a great word for you in your salvation. He wins. You win. Therefore, don’t quit. Don’t quit.

I want to give you one more word about the hard. That’s what we’re for. Okay? That’s what we’re for. When life gives you the little hards, don’t, don’t be a whiner. Suck it up, product dev. Be a whiner. Don’t call me when the bank makes a mistake on your bank statement, having to go over and fix it for you. I’ll just say, yeah, do that. Don’t call me when, you know, you have 500 buddies. I just said, hold your so. That’s what they do. But, when you get that diagnosis, when your kid, when your kid gets that diagnosis, when, you know, yeah, that’s what we’re here for. We will bear one another’s burdens. We will, we’ll carry, and Galatians says that, he says, every man should carry his own pack. Every man should carry his own weight. All right? That’s, that’s, that’s walking through life with the small eight hearts. You know, carry it. Do it. Deal with it. Get involved. Get up in the morning, go to work. All right? I’ll be the hard guy there. I’ll be the coach. But, you get fired, you got to, we will carry your burdens here. All right? See how that works? That’s what we’re here for. That’s what God gave us. That’s our big reason God gave us the church. All right, I’m done.

The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. Go in that peace to love and serve the Lord. Amen.