October 8, 2023 by P. Kevin Clancey

1 Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous! For praise from the upright is beautiful. 2 Praise the Lord with the harp; Make melody to Him with an instrument of ten strings. 3 Sing to Him a new song; Play skillfully with a shout of joy. 4 For the word of the Lord is right, And all His work is done in truth. 5 He loves righteousness and justice; The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord. 6 By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, And all the host of them by the breath of His mouth. 7 He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap; He lays up the deep in storehouses. 8 Let all the earth fear the Lord; Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him. 9 For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast. 10 The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect. 11 The counsel of the Lord stands forever, The plans of His heart to all generations. 12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, The people He has chosen as His own inheritance. 13 The Lord looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men. 14 From the place of His dwelling He looks On all the inhabitants of the earth; 15 He fashions their hearts individually; He considers all their works. 16 No king is saved by the multitude of an army; A mighty man is not delivered by great strength. 17 A horse is a vain hope for safety; Neither shall it deliver any by its great strength. 18 Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, On those who hope in His mercy, 19 To deliver their soul from death, And to keep them alive in famine. 20 Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. 21 For our heart shall rejoice in Him, Because we have trusted in His holy name. 22 Let Your mercy, O Lord, be upon us, Just as we hope in You. (Psalm 33, NKJV)

Lord, let your mercy be upon us. This little church, Lord, put your hand on us. We ask it not because we’ve deserved it. We ask it because of your mercy and because of your salvation. And tonight, we want to worship you in spirit and in truth. Holy Spirit, come, you are welcome here. Communicate to us the presence of the triune God as we humbly bow our hearts before you in worship. Through Jesus Christ we pray, amen.

So dear ones, a great tool for worship is music. So why don’t you stand and sing and use it as worship.

Thank you for your blood. Thank you for your willing sacrifice to bring us to the Father. Thank you for this perpetual reminder and this meal of heavenly nourishment where you feed us with the bread of life. You bring us once again into remembrance and into encounter with the new covenant. So Holy Spirit, we ask you to make this simple meal for us tonight in obedience to Jesus, the food of heaven for the people of God. Dear ones, your sins are forgiven. You are born again. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and His great mercy. He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, (1 Peter 1:3, NKJV)

Tonight, we take this meal and we celebrate that. We’re grateful for it. We’re humbled by it. And we ask that we would leave this building fed and nourished by Christ and more like Him than when we came in. In Jesus’ name we pray.

Dear ones, we’re all going there. We’re all going to be with Jesus and it’ll be good. Life is hard. All right. Anybody want to argue with that with me? Life is hard. We got the hard, but God is good and forever is a long time, man. So one of the reasons we meet on Sunday nights is to encourage one another to do one of the most important things in life. Hang in there. Hang in there. All right. Don’t quit. When you feel like quitting, when life… We are to bear one another’s burdens. It’s very interesting in Galatians 6, Paul says each one should carry his own load. And then in the very next verse, he says, bear one another’s burdens.

2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. 5 For each one shall bear his own load. (Galatians 6:2-5, NKJV)

What does that mean? Well, that means as life goes on, be a grown-up, carry your own, go to work, pay your bills. Don’t be needy. Don’t be sucking off other people to live your life for you. All right. My wife and I often talk, we say, man, in our culture, it seems like so many people have a problem adulting. Just get up, slam down that coffee, go to work, be a grown-up. However, even for grown-ups who are responsible, life hits you. There are tragedies, there are catastrophes, there are circumstances that happen. And during those times, then we as the family of God do what? We bear one another’s burdens.

Last Sunday in Bremerton, Josh D’Antonio Santo, he always brings his four kids to church faithfully. His dad and his wife works at 911, and so when her schedule allows her, she’s there, and so the whole family comes. But oftentimes, Josh will just bring the kids himself. So I remember how hard it was to get four kids ready, four small children ready, and out the door. And he just, the van rolls up, and the kids come marching in, and they love to flag, and they love Miss Jill’s Sunday School and the whole thing. And last Sunday, he came to church, and he was in extreme pain, but he came because his kids wanted him to come. He was in extreme stomach pain, and it intensified when he got to church. He thought, “Oh my gosh, I think I’m dying.” So, he went to Adam Balstad and said, “Man, I’m really hurting, I think I need to go to the hospital.” In this small church in Bremerton, Adam took Josh to the hospital. He wasn’t dying, he had kidney stones, which are very painful. Celia Grice, our nursery worker, took care of the little daughter throughout the morning while the other kids were in Sunday School. My wife cared for them, prayed for their daddy, and they weren’t afraid. Then Brandy was able to get off work, she came down to church, and thought it would be best if she could go to the hospital with her husband. Jill took the kids, and they ended up having, as Josh put it, what could have been a very scary afternoon, they ended up having a fun afternoon. She took them to see our grandkids play football, and then for ice cream. The kids had a little holiday with Miss Jill.

I’m so appreciative of Josh, he posted on social media, “Thank God for church family.” That’s what it means, we bear one another’s burdens. When you have four kids in church, and you have kidney stones and have to go to the hospital, thank God for people who will love on your kids, make sure they’re safe, have a good time, and get you to the hospital and care for you. We do both. We carry our own load, we are not like every day you don’t come knocking on my house saying “Kevin, make me lunch.” “Well, why am I making lunch? Have you fallen on hard times?” “No I just don’t like to cook or clean.” If you do that, I’ll just tell you to go home and make your own lunch. I will give you great pastoral advice that a marine friend of mine gives when they don’t carry their own load. I will tell you “In the name of the Lord, suck it up buttercup. Go take care of things.” But if tragedy strikes, if hard times come, we want to be there for one another.

We are the church. Life is hard, but we’re here for one another. We are in Hebrews, and we’re going to be in Hebrews 9 tonight. I’m going to read all 28 verses. Back in the old days, if somebody would have read 28 verses from the Bible, nobody would have been buffaloed. Nowadays, it’s like 28 whole verses. “I don’t know, how can I do that without checking my fantasy football scores in the process.” So unless you’re using your phone as your Bible, keep it in your pocket and open up to Hebrews 9.

“Then indeed, even the first covenant had an ordinance of divine service and the earthly sanctuary. For the tabernacle was prepared, the first part, in which was the lampstand, the table, and the showbread, which is called the sanctuary, and behind the second veil, the part of the tabernacle, which is called the holiest of all, which had the golden censer and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which were the golden pot, which had the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant. And above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail.”

1 Then indeed, even the first covenant had ordinances of divine service and the earthly sanctuary. 2 For a tabernacle was prepared: the first part, in which was the lampstand, the table, and the showbread, which is called the sanctuary; 3 and behind the second veil, the part of the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of All, 4 which had the golden censer and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which were the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant; 5 and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail. (Hebrews 9:1-5, NKJV)

I just want to warn you, I will speak in detail about those things. The author of Hebrews goes on, “Now when these things had been thus prepared, the priest always went into the first part of the tabernacle performing the services. But into the second part, the high priest went only once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the people’s sins committed in ignorance. The Holy Spirit indicating this, that the way into the holiest of all, was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing. It was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices were offered, which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience. Offered only with foods and drinks, various washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of reformation.”

6 Now when these things had been thus prepared, the priests always went into the first part of the tabernacle, performing the services. 7 But into the second part the high priest went alone once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the people’s sins committed in ignorance; 8 the Holy Spirit indicating this, that the way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing. 9 It was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience— 10 concerned only with foods and drinks, various washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of reformation. (Hebrews 9:6-10, NKJV)

In other words, it was symbolic, it was for the people of Israel, but it really couldn’t do the whole job. However, Christ came as high priest of the good things to come with the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is, not of this creation, a heavenly tabernacle, not with the blood of goats and cows, but with His own blood He entered the most holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.

“For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling the unclean sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”

11 But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. 12 Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, 14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Hebrews 9:11-14, NKJV)

God. And for this reason, He is the mediator of the new covenant by means of death for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of eternal inheritance. For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For the testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all when the testator lives. Therefore, not even the first covenant was dedicated without blood.

For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and goats and water, scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which God has commanded you.” Then likewise, he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry. According to the law, almost all things are purified with blood, for without the shedding of blood there is no remission. Therefore, it was necessary that the copies of the things in the heavens should be purified with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.

For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us. Not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the most holy place every year with the blood of another. He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world, but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him, He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation. (Hebrews 9:15-28, NKJV)

And God, may the words of my mouth and the meditation of our hearts be acceptable in your sight. Amen. Our Lord, our Rock, our Strength, and our Redeemer.

So this passage is about the better covenant. Remember, again, the book of Hebrews is about better things. Christ is better than the angels. Christ is better than Moses. Christ is better than the Old Testament priesthood, the Levitical priesthood. He’s a priest in the order of Melchizedek. Christ’s sacrifice is better than the sacrifices of the old covenant. Christ gives us now a better covenant.

You can talk about the new covenant, which we often use the phrase the new covenant. Another phrase that is equally appropriate is the better covenant, the heavenly covenant. He enters into that which the earthly tabernacle is a copy of, He enters into that place in heaven and offers once and for all the perfect sacrifice of Himself for the remission of sins that which the blood of calves and goats and sheep and bulls could not do. What it could not do, but what it was pointing to, Christ fulfills.

And so you have here this earthly tabernacle which God very explicitly commands Moses to build and when you read it in Exodus, it’s incredibly detailed, it all kind of points back to Eden, but it also points the way for a sinful humanity to have access into the holy place, into the place of God. And so it’s about access, it’s about forgiveness, it’s about being purified. And so there’s this ritual to kind of remind the Israelites that God wants to be your God, He wants to be among you, He wants to live with you, but your sin kind of creates that barrier.

And so you have this regular ritual to bring a cleansing and once a year the high priest would go into the Holy of Holies, the place of the symbolic presence of God, the cherubim on top of the Ark of the Covenant, and no idol there, right? In other ancient religions if you had a picture of kind of angelic beings you would also have a picture or an image, a golden image of the deity. But there’s no image of God because you can’t make an image of God. He is no idol, He is Spirit, He is truth.

But you have the cherubim and there’s the mercy seat where God is present, where the blood is sprinkled, where the high priest makes intercession for the forgiveness, the atonement of the people. And then Hebrews comes along and says, yeah but it didn’t work. The Old Testament comes along and says, yeah but it didn’t really accomplish the cleansing of the conscience and the forgiveness of sins. Because it’s pointing to Christ and I want to talk tonight about how everything in that tabernacle points to Christ and points to the Gospel.

You have the tabernacle furnishings that are mentioned here, you have the lampstand, you have the showbread on the table with the twelve loaves, you have the altar of incense, you have the Ark of the Covenant, you have the manna inside the Ark, Aaron’s staff and the commandments, and you have the mercy seat. And with this tabernacle, it would travel with Israel and then later in Israel’s history King David, he had the tabernacle but he wanted to build a permanent structure and so he told. God, I want to build you a temple modeled after the tabernacle. And God said, “you won’t do it, but your son will do it,” and Solomon builds this temple. By the way, God agreed to the temple when David asked Him if he could build one or if his son could build one. Ultimately, God agreed to it. He never commanded it. God never commanded the building of a temple. He did command the building of a tabernacle. He did command that the tabernacle would be built and then later when Israel wanted to build a second temple, God said, “Yeah, go ahead and do that as a place.”

The temple kind of, if you get into the ministry of Jesus, was very, very central in the idea of Jewish religion and the Jewish faith at the time of Jesus. The second temple was very central to that. And so you have this and you have all these furnishings that are prescribed and in the temple you have the lampstand. I already talked about this but, and these things all point to Christ and so the new covenant, all this is foreshadowed by the old, and in it you have the lampstand and the oil and this represents the Holy Spirit. The necessity of the Spirit of God and it’s all about having access to God and the necessity of the Spirit of God to bring revelation and power that we can have relationship with God. Without the Spirit of God it’s impossible. Christianity is impossible without revelation. Christianity is impossible without spiritual power from God.

Nobody comes to Christ on their own. Nobody comes to Christ through their own reasonings. Nobody comes to Christ because they figured it all out. There was revelation. There’s a lampstand. There’s light. And dear ones, what does light enable us to do? See. In fact, the truth is, all we see is light. We don’t see anything else but light. All right? I’m not looking at aughts right now. I mean, you could say I’m looking at aughts, but if you want to be literal, I’m looking at light reflected off of aughts. That’s what I’m seeing. Light is reflecting off that wonderful man back there, all right? And you know, Ico, sometimes he radiates light. I mean, he’s just, you know, I’m sure you recognize that. Yeah. But I’m looking at aughts. I’m looking at the light.

And we could prove that, right? If we had the ability, which we probably don’t in this room, but if we had the ability to eliminate all light from this room, even though aughts, if he remained in the same spot and I remained in the same spot, I couldn’t see him anymore because there wouldn’t be any light reflecting off of him. And so it is light that allows us to see. The Holy Spirit brings light, brings revelation of Jesus. Nobody comes to Christ apart from God’s supernatural work of bringing the revelation of the Holy Spirit.

I love to argue. Yeah. You’re like, “Oh, that surprises me, Kevin.” I love to make my case and I never, I very seldom get offended by arguments. I mean, when people sink down into name calling and win at all costs and that sort of thing, that always bothers me. But the exchange of ideas, you know, the debate, I always find kind of exhilarating and kind of fascinating. I know I’m in the minority in that. Most people don’t like to argue. Most people feel like, you know, when you do that with them, you’re attacking them. You know, and I’ve made that mistake with people. I’ve got to like, well, well, but I don’t, but I think this about your idea, they’re like, “Why are you attacking me?” I’m not attacking you. In fact, what I’m doing is I’m helping you by, you know, relieving you of your ignorance. And I do it so humbly and just, I know, so I just, you know, it’s like, you should thank me for, you know, increasing your IQ. And, uh, but anyway, it doesn’t work. You win the argument, you win the battle and lose the war.

Now I think, I think, you know, studying your faith and having reasons for your faith. But the thing that I’ve discovered is that very seldom leads someone to Christ. What it does is it strengthens those of us who are already in Christ, especially if we have a mind bent in that direction. My good wife, she’s a very intelligent person, but I remember when we first became a Christian, you know, I said, “Oh, you have to read this book. You have to read Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis. The best book written in the 20th century.” And I discovered that opposites attract because she had the audacity to say, “This is a stupid book. What do you mean? Why does this guy go on and on and on trying to convince me of things I already know?” Well, you have a point, dear. She knew those things, not because she, and I knew those things, actually, not because I read C. S. Lewis. We both knew those things through revelation, through light.

When I pray for people to come to Christ, I don’t pray, “Lord, give me a chance to argue them into the faith.” What I pray is, “Lord, bring to them the revelation, the light of Jesus.” The oil is the Spirit, is the power of the Spirit, the fuel of the Spirit that brings revelation to the world. And so when we pray, come… Holy Spirit, we’re not just praying for thrills and chills as the Spirit fills. We’re also praying that light would come upon us and upon others. The lampstand. And then you have the bread, the table with the bread, 12 loaves for the 12 tribes of Israel. 12 loaves now for what? The 12 apostles. What does that represent? Us. Us. The people of God. The 12 tribes were the people of God. The 12 apostles launch out and preach the gospel and form the church, the people of God. We’re the people of God.

Well, what does bread do? Bread keeps people on their feet. It nourishes them. Back in the day before sugar was created, carbs weren’t bad, carbs were good. When people didn’t have a lot of food, they needed energy to keep them on their feet. And bread was the simplest, quickest, most available source of that kind of energy. Today, that would be most of the world still eats that kind of food. It’s not as much now bread. What is it? Coffee. Yeah. No, that’s the Pacific Northwest. Rice and beans. Rice and beans. Everywhere you go in the world. Rice and beans. All right. It’s stay on your feet food. It’s food that keeps people going.

And so the bread is on the table and it’s stay on. And Jesus comes and He says what? He says, I am what? The bread of life. I am your nourishment. I am what you feed on. And dear ones, every week we come to this place and every week we come to this table and we take simple bread and simple juice, and I’m going to talk later about the blood, but that bread is nourishment. It sustains us. In fact, you’ve heard me say this a hundred times, right? You know, when I go, uh, you can, you can make, you can sit around and joke about Kevin isms. All right. And here’s a Kevin ism. Right. The food of God for the, all right. You’ve heard it a time or two, right? That’s what it is. It’s the food of God for the people of God. It’s the bread of life. It nourishes us. We come, we gather as a community and we eat and we eat heavenly bread.

Well, you know, I don’t know if it’s heavenly. I think, uh, Stevan just got it down at, uh, what do they call central, central market now? No, it’s not down there. No, no. When we say our prayers and we come in faith, this then becomes heavenly food. Heavenly food. Let me tell you what else is the bread of life, man. I love leather Bibles. All right. One of my luxuries in life, I show my wife and say, honey, look at this. Look at this goat skin leather, but I said, look at that flop. That preacher’s flop ought to make you repent right there. That’s that, that right there. That’s a, that’s a preacher’s Bible, but you know what? It’s not the goat skin leather that makes this precious. It’s the words. It’s the inspired living bread of God.

you come to church to be fed and dear ones, I just got to tell you, I’m trying as hard as I can. I am trying as hard as I can to take this and get it out there before you. But dear ones, you got to put it in your mouth and eat it. You got to eat it. You got to take this and eat. I love what the prophet Jeremiah says. He says, the word of God came to me and what I ate it. Um, John and Revelation and Ezekiel, uh, both talk about what? The scroll coming and eating it. And there’s a, there’s a job that people like me have, and that is to be the job of a shepherd who brings you to, who helps you bring you to those pastures who helps bring you to that place of food. But dear ones, we can only do so much. All right, we can only do so much. Eventually you got to grow up and eat, feed yourself. David strengthened himself in the Lord.

I’m a buy. Well, we, as a church, we’re going to buy each other. I guess it’s kind of how it works. I’m going to encourage everybody to read through the Bible chronologically in the, in a year. You don’t have to do it. You don’t have to do what I say. I’m not one of those pastoral, like old pastoral authority. It’s like, you know what? Do what you want. You’re grownups. I wouldn’t say that to Peter a year ago, but look at that beard now. Do what you want, but I want to encourage you to read along and community as a community. We kind of do this together and we take the bread of life, the word of God. We eat it. Bible’s good. It’s misunderstood. It’s, there are parts of it that are confusing. There’s parts of it pretty simple, but this is bread.

And so it’s there. Everything there about our life in Christ is in this furniture, in the tabernacle. You have the incense of prayers where the saints bring heaven to earth. That’s what our prayers do. God so designed this universe, all right, He gave, listen, He created it all. And Psalm 24 is very clear. The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. But you know what? God leased the place out. He leased it out to Adam and Eve. Go back in Genesis and read it. He said, see, this is yours. He says, take this place that I have made, not just Eden, but this world that I have made and what? Be fruitful, multiply, subdue it. You have responsibility. You have a job. Go make orchards.

1 The earth is the Lord ’s, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell therein. (Psalm 24:1, NKJV)

There are trees all over the place. Put them in rows so it’s easier to harvest the food. You figure it out. Build cities, raise children, create culture and society. Adam and Eve invited darkness into that. The spiritual world, both demonic and heavenly, operate on planet earth through invitation and agreement. That’s why prayer matters.

What are we doing when we pray? We’re agreeing with heaven and we’re inviting heaven. Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Do you think God wants His kingdom to come, His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven? I think He does. Well, why doesn’t He just do it? Why doesn’t He just surpass us all and just do it? Because that’s not how He made it. He’s not going to break His own rules. He made it that we would be His partners.

I mean, He’s the senior partner. I’m not elevating us to the place of God. He’s the boss. He gives the instructions. It’s His blueprint. It’s His plan. But He says, children, bring the goodness of the Lord into the land of the living. How do we do that? We do that by imitating Jesus. We do that by walking in the power of the Spirit, in the good works that He’s called us before creation, before the foundations of the world to do, according to Ephesians 2:10.

10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10, NKJV)

We do it by prayer. We do it by this incense of our prayers, this holy aroma is what our prayers are. Your struggling, fumbling, bumbling prayers. If you pray like me, that’s kind of how you think of your prayer life. My struggling, bumbling, fumbling prayers, you know, people talk about, well, I just love to get into my prayer closet and just pray to God for three hours. I was like, ah, man, after three minutes, I’m repeating myself. You know, I’m reduced to Tiny Tim’s prayer. God bless everybody.

I pray in tongues. I know exactly why God gave me the gift of praying in tongues, because I was so bad at it in English. It wasn’t because I was spiritually elite, it was because I was spiritually deplete. My guardian angel looked at the Father one day and said, “That boy can’t pray a lick.” He says, “I know his left brain gets in the way all the time. He’s got to analyze everything. We need to help him. Let’s give him a language he doesn’t understand. That ought to work.” He can’t analyze that, and I can’t. I’ve tried.

Oh, Son, what am I saying, God? You’re saying, Hoshoteri alamakintola, that’s what you’re saying? Okay, I’ll say it. It means something somewhere to you. It means something. Who knows? I might be interceding for Isaiah. Maybe. I might be praying for Sophia. I don’t know, but I’m praying for something, somewhere, for somebody, and bringing heaven to earth.

And that incense rises, and the book of Revelation has this picture where the incense, the prayers of the saints are rising, and these angels are holding bowls in heaven, and what they’re holding in these bowls in heaven is mixed with the incense of the saints, and after enough of that incense and those bowls kind of get mixed together, what happens? It says the bowls tip. They pour the bowls out. And when they pour the bowls out, there’s thunder and lightning, and what does that mean? It means things start happening on earth. Things start happening on earth.

What do our prayers do? They bring those bowls to the tipping point. Now, I have no idea how this works. I have no idea why some prayers take 40 years. Those are big bowls that have to get filled up, and other prayers get answered like that. I don’t know. I got no formula. All I know is when that incense rises, heaven responds. You might say, well, you mean we move God? Well, yes, but you know what? God moved first. Who gave us the impulse to pray? Who stirred us to pray? Oh, we’re back to the Holy Spirit.

But that’s what that incense is. There’s the altar where Jesus, where the calves were sacrificed to the sheep, and at the time of Jesus, they said Jerusalem, the blood from Jerusalem was like a river with the continual sacrifices that would come. And then Jesus is sacrificed. And I love what Hebrews says. It talks about there’s no forgiveness without the shedding of blood.

But there’s a couple huge differences between the Old Testament tabernacle and the sacrifices there. It’s repeated time and time again. And then once a year into the holy place goes the high priest, and he sprinkles the blood on the Ark of the Covenant, and blood has to be sprinkled on him for the forgiveness of his sins to enter into the holy place. And it has to be done year after year. Why does it have to be done year after year? Because it doesn’t stick.

But then the book of Hebrews comes and says Jesus has entered into the tabernacle of heaven, and He’s come in with sacrificial blood. Is it the blood of calves? Is it the blood of bulls? No, it’s His. The Lamb of God. And He takes away the sins of the world, and He comes before the mercy seat, and He comes before the Father, and He is the perfect priest with the perfect sacrifice, and it is finished! Hallelujah.

It’s done! Dear ones, hear this. Dear Jesus, by the power of your Holy Spirit, let this be more than words, and let this sink into our hearts. Your sins are forgiven. Your sins are forgiven. The blood of Christ. There is no forgiveness without blood, Hebrews says. Well, guess what? There’s blood.

22 And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission. (Hebrews 9:22, NKJV)

This is a 1959, I think it was 1959, movie of the year, Ben-Hur. I saw it as a child. I was born in 58, almost 59, so I didn’t see it as an infant, but you know, it was making a comeback sometime in the 60s or 70s. I was either an early teenager or pre-teen, and it was showing down at the local theater, dollar matinee. Me and my best buddy heard that it had a gnarly chariot race, so we gotta go see that gnarly chariot race.

And so we went to go see Ben-Hur, and I was stunned. I was a good little Catholic boy, or I don’t know how good I was, a little Catholic boy, and I wasn’t a devout follower of Jesus, hadn’t really given my life to Christ, but I remember being impacted by that movie because I didn’t know. I thought it was just about a chariot race and gladiators and sword fights. But the full title, of course, of the book and the movie is Ben-Hur, A Story of the Christ.

And Judah Ben-Hur, the main character in the story, has great reason, I’m not gonna tell you the whole story. How many of you have seen the 1959 version of Ben-Hur? If you haven’t, it is a great movie. It is a movie worthy of seeing. Stream it. Get it. Watch it. Don’t watch the one that just came out a few years ago. Not as good. But 1959, Charlton Heston. Did you think it was as good? No, it wasn’t as good. It was. Don’t waste your time, Brian. Take a bike ride. Don’t waste your time. It’s not… But, but, 1959, baby. You gotta see that one. In Technicolor.

There’s a scene, there’s a couple, there’s many memorable scenes, but Judah Ben-Hur wants to kill the Romans. He wants to be a zealot because he was unjustly treated, his family was unjustly treated by a childhood Roman friend, who he gets his revenge on at the race, but the revenge doesn’t satisfy. He still has this wrath. And his mother and sister, because of the injustice, had contracted leprosy. He breaks them out of the leper colony because he wants to bring them to this Jesus who he’s encountered a few times and who his love interest says is the real deal, so he wants to get his mother and sister healed by Jesus, but he’s too late, or apparently, because when he gets there, the crucifixion is taking place, and he puts his mother and his sister in a cave because the rain starts to pour down, and they’re lepers, so nobody wants to be around them.

He says, I’ll come back for you, and he watches the crucifixion, and in the middle of the crucifixion, there’s a great piece of cinematography where they show the blood. The rain is pouring down, the world is dark, there’s this storm, and you see the water, which all water does, is it begins to flow, and it’s a trickle, and then it gathers with other water, and it becomes a little stream, and then it becomes a brook, and that’s ultimately the ocean. That’s how water finds the path of least resistance, and so you see the water, and it’s growing, but you see at the cross, one drop of Jesus’ blood falls in that water, and then it traces the water as it connects with other water, and it goes down the hill, down the valley, and as it passes the cave where his mother and sister are, they’re healed, they’re healed, and you know what? One drop of that blood, one drop of that blood, all your sins forgiven, eternally, everlastingly healed, sozo, salvation in its fullest, delivered, healed, forgiven, life everlasting, the perfect sacrifice by the perfect priest, once and for all, the blood of Christ.

And so it’s all there in the furnishings, there’s the Ark of the Covenant, you know what that is? That’s us, right? What does Jeremiah say? I’m going to write my laws, and I’m going to put them inside of you. What’s inside of the Ark of the Covenant? The commandments, the commandments. We are now the carriers of the precious things of God. The commandments of God are inside of us, the Aaron’s rod, which does what? Blossoms, right? You ever guard? Well, Isaiah, you guard, right? You prune things? When you prune something, cut it off, does it blossom? Well, the stuff that’s connected to the root blossoms, the stuff you cut off, six months later, is that blooming? No, that’s dead, but Aaron’s rod blossoms, why? Because what is dead is now alive, and there’s manna in there, what is that? That is the supernatural nourishment and sustenance of God, living inside of us, life, God’s heart, His commandments, God’s life, His resurrection life, God’s sustenance, God’s provision, all living inside of us, and then there’s the mercy seat, we already just talked about that, sprinkled with the blood, where we find mercy and grace.

And dear ones, here it is, here’s the gospel, the blood of Christ was shed on the cross, He rose again, and by faith in Him, we now have mercy and grace. Tell me, what else do you need? What do you need? You’re forgiven, and now you have the power of God to help you in every single situation. What do you want? I mean, the Cubs to win the World Series? They did once in 2016, once in my lifetime, that’s good. What do you want? That’s it! And it’s so good!

Here’s great news: it is accessed by faith, it’s a covenant of relationship. It’s all found at that holy place that Jesus brings us into, that throne of God. He dies on the cross, and again, the earthly representation of the heavenly tabernacle is now the temple in Jerusalem. When Jesus dies on the cross, the veil between the holy place and the outer court is torn down, and so there’s access now into the holy place. What does that mean? Into His presence.

We have a religion, if you will, of relationship and presence, not ritual and law. Now, here’s the irony. We do some of the same things. If you have a ritualistic religion, that’s a very ritualistic thing we do. You come to church, that’s very ritualistic. I read my Bible every day, I hope you do too, that’s ritualistic. I say my prayers every day, that’s a ritual. But here’s the difference, and this difference makes all the difference.

We don’t do those things hoping to get this mysterious deity favorably disposed to us. This deity has revealed Himself as the good and loving Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who is already, right, we sang that song, there’s never been a day, you haven’t been by my side, there’s never been a day you haven’t been good to me. This good, good Father, we do this stuff, why? This is how we access His presence.

We follow what? The lampstand, the revelation of the Holy Spirit. We nourish ourselves on the food of God, the bread of life in Jesus. We avail ourselves of the forgiveness of sins and go into the holy place and meet Him there so that our lives can be transformed.

There’s a difference between ritual religion and the faith that is in the presence of God: you don’t got to, you get to. You don’t got to, you get to.

You know, if I got married to Jill and somebody said, “you gotta love this woman for 42 years.” It’s like “Oh, man.” Now there’s probably some women out there and it would have been a “got to.” Really? But, no, I married this beautiful, bright, incredible woman, even though she doesn’t, I don’t get it, she doesn’t like C.S. Lewis. But you know, it’s like Narnia, so it’s alright. We’re different. But I “get to” hang out with her. I get to come here on Sunday nights, to hang out with y’all, or yousguys, or all y’all. Or to say it in the most proper English, but the most boring and most imprecise, with “you.”

God wrote a book. I get to read it. God says, come into my presence and talk to me about your problems and I’ll give you help. Oh, I don’t know. I gotta pray? So hard to pray. Try this one. Help! Start there. That’s a good one. Oh, and for all the times you’ve helped me in the past, let me not forget. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

We feed on Him. We follow the Spirit’s light. We come to the mercy seat through worship and prayer. We find forgiveness and grace and dear ones, this is it. This is the gospel we preach. This is what we want the world to know. You don’t gotta figure it out. You don’t gotta struggle. You don’t have to do this on your own.

There is a great Father and a great salvation. The door of all eternity and all goodness has been opened to us. We can step in without working really hard on being a good person. We can step in by believing and just desiring to be with Him. And when we’re with Him, that’s heaven. And when we’re not with Him, that’s hell.

And dear ones, again, it’s not about punching a ticket for the good place. It’s about Him. He’s the good place. Everywhere He is, is the good place. Everywhere He is, is the good place.

This is it. That’s the gospel we preach. That’s the life we live. He’s done it all and yet we have to do our part. What do I mean by that? We don’t provide the light. He provides the light. You gotta open your eyes and look. We don’t provide the bread. He provides the bread. You gotta eat it. We don’t provide heaven invading earth. He provides the power of heaven to invade earth. You gotta ask for it.

We don’t provide access into the mercy seat, into the presence of God the Father through the Son, Jesus Christ, where grace and mercy is found for every time of need. But you’ve still got to take Jesus’ hand and go there. That’s how it’s all of God. And that’s how we participate with it. Does that make sense?

Well, dear ones, 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 live this gospel. Do you know what ‘gospel’ means? It means ‘good news’. Isn’t this good news? This is good news. I was excited the other day just thinking about this sermon. This is good news. Live it, preach it, believe it, and find joy in it. I know life is hard, but take some joy tonight, people. Take some joy in the midst of whatever hardship you’re facing, because we’re all facing something. I know that the hard times don’t last, but this good news is forever and ever, and that’s a long time. Amen?

I’m done. Amen. So, here’s the prayer tonight. We’ll do prayer requests, but I have something I want to offer you. I talk a lot about revival, but revival always has to start with me. Right? Draw a circle around yourself. God, revive out there. But what about you, Kevin? The Lord has been impressing this upon me, and I’ve taken it to heart.

The other night, Friday night, I was praying at the church in Bremerton. I put on some music and was having my prayer time. It was good. It wasn’t perfunctory. It wasn’t a ‘have to’ time. It was a ‘get to’ time. I just turned my affection to you, Jesus, and here’s the deal. The omnipresent God revealed His presence, and He does that. That’s not the only time He’s done that. He’s so gracious.

I hear people say, ‘I just want to press into the Lord. I’m just going to spend two or three hours and press into the Lord.’ But for me, it takes about three seconds. The Holy Spirit comes. It worked on Friday. I was singing a song about the Spirit of the Sovereign Lord, out of Isaiah 61, and as I’m singing that song, all of a sudden, that room, my little office, was filled with His presence. I was having a moment with Jesus.

Then on Saturday, I was thinking about that, and thinking about Sunday, and felt like the Lord said, ‘Kevin, why don’t you just call people forward, whoever wants to, and just, if they want a personal revival with God, if they’re hungry for a personal revival with God, just put your hand on them, and pray for that.’ So, if you want a personal revival with God tonight, if you’re feeling, you know, if you’re so revived, you can’t stand anymore, just stay right where you’re at. If God is so powerful on you, and the Holy Spirit is so present, or you’re like, ‘you know what, Kevin, I can get my personal revival with God without you laying hands on me,’ you can. But if you want that touch, if you want help, if you want the Holy Spirit, the impartation, yeah, yeah, alright, alright.”