November 12, 2023, by P. Kevin Clancey
Vindicate me, O Lord, for I have walked in my integrity. I have also trusted in the Lord, I shall not slip. Examine me, O Lord, and prove me. Try my mind and my heart, for your loving kindness is before my eyes, and I have walked in your truth. I have not set with the idolatrous mortals, nor will I go in with the hypocrites. I have hated the assembly of the evildoers, and I will not sit down with the wicked. I will wash my hands in innocence, so I will go about your altar, O Lord, that I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving and tell of all your wondrous works. Lord, I have loved the habitation of your house and the place where your glory dwells. Do not gather my soul with sinners, nor my life with bloodthirsty men, in whose hands is a sinister scheme, and whose right hand is full of bribes. But as for me, I will walk in my integrity. Redeem me and be merciful to me, for my foot stands in an even place. In the congregations, I will bless the Lord.
1 Vindicate me, O Lord , For I have walked in my integrity. I have also trusted in the Lord ; I shall not slip. 2 Examine me, O Lord , and prove me; Try my mind and my heart. 3 For your lovingkindness is before my eyes, And I have walked in your truth. 4 I have not sat with idolatrous mortals, Nor will I go in with hypocrites. 5 I have hated the assembly of evildoers, And will not sit with the wicked. 6 I will wash my hands in innocence; So I will go about your altar, O Lord , 7 That I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving, And tell of all your wondrous works. 8 Lord , I have loved the habitation of your house, And the place where your glory dwells. 9 Do not gather my soul with sinners, Nor my life with bloodthirsty men, 10 In whose hands is a sinister scheme, And whose right hand is full of bribes. 11 But as for me, I will walk in my integrity; Redeem me and be merciful to me. 12 My foot stands in an even place; In the congregations I will bless the Lord . (Psalm 26:1-12, NKJV)
So tonight, let’s bless the Lord in the congregation, shall we?
Holy Spirit, be present with us, be present at the table. Lord Jesus, come and fill us tonight with your spirit as we take this bread and this wine. Lord, let us be filled with the life of Christ. We thank you, and we remember. We’re here tonight to remember because, man, we forget what a great salvation, how much we have to be thankful for. And so we come to this table, Lord, with thanksgiving and gratitude that you went to the cross, that you rose from the dead, that you came in the first place, that we might be your forever family. Knit us together tonight in love with you and in love with one another. We ask it in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Thanks. Who have I in heaven but you, and 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.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides you. 26 My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:25-26, NKJV)
Lord, every one of us came into this room with a bundle of thoughts and concerns and issues and joys and sorrows racing around in our heads. And now we just want the simple purity of experiencing you, knowing you are bigger than all of it, that it’s going to be okay, that as we turn our attention and our affection to you as we repent and turn toward you and we put our real faith in you, that we can sing, it is well with my soul, and we can be open to the Spirit of God bringing into our lives even a greater experience of the character and power of King Jesus so that we can represent him well and be part of the answer to our own prayer, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. That we become missionaries, missionaries from heaven to earth. Not because we’ve been to heaven, but heaven has come and filled us. So we ask it in Jesus’ name, we ask that we would be equipped tonight for that. Thank you, Lord. Amen.
All right, dear ones, how’s it going? Wow, that’s a rousing response. Man, I was just at Trinity Apostolic Church in St. Joe, Missouri, and I would have gotten a better response there. Not better. I don’t want to judge. Right? I would have gotten a more vocal response. I would have gotten some hankies, yeah. Yeah, I love that fellowship, man. We had a great time when I was there.
All right, so we’re going through Hebrews. We’re going to be in chapter 11, the great chapter of faith, verses 17 through 40. I think I counted in this section, I think it says, by faith, 17 times. And so here we go. You can count along with me, maybe. So I’m not going to count them as I read, but if you’re of that… I’m a counter. Anybody else a counter? Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Good. Good. All right. So, by faith, Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promise offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, in Isaac your seed shall be called, concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense. By faith, Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come. By faith, Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph and worshiped leaning on the top of his staff.
By faith, Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel and gave instructions concerning his bones. By faith, Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents because they saw he was a beautiful child and they were not afraid of the king’s command. By faith, Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ’s greater riches than the treasures in Egypt for a look to the reward.
22 By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones. 23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s command. 24 By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, 26 esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward. (Hebrews 11:22-26, NKJV)
By faith, he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king, for he endured as seeing him who was invisible. By faith, he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of bud, lest he who destroyed the first born should touch them. By faith, they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land, whereas the Egyptians attempting to do so were drowned. By faith, the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days. By faith, the Harlap Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe when she had received the spies in peace.
27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, lest he who destroyed the firstborn should touch them. 29 By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land, whereas the Egyptians, attempting to do so, were drowned. 30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days. 31 By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace. (Hebrews 11:27-31, NKJV)
And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets who, through faith, subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance that they might obtain a better resurrection.
32 And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: 33 who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. 35 Women received their dead raised to life again. Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. (Hebrews 11:32-35, NKJV)
Still others had trial of mocking and scourging, yes, and of change and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with a sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented, of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains and dens and caves of the earth. And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.
36 Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— 38 of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. 39 And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, 40 God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us. (Hebrews 11:36-40, NKJV)
And God, may the words of my mouth and the meditation of our hearts be acceptable in your sight. O Lord, our rock, our strength, and our redeemer.
14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in your sight, O Lord , my strength and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:14, NKJV)
Amen. So, I want to just talk about faith again tonight. We talked about it last week in the first half of Hebrews chapter 11. By faith, I don’t know, I didn’t count, I was just reading, 12, okay, you got what? 12? Okay, so I had 13 the other night, but you know, I was sleepy. Alright. Maybe the CSB has one more than the New King James Version, I don’t know. Okay, alright, alright.
So I want to talk first about two things, two mistakes we make about what we define as faith by kind of different camps within the Christian body, or at least people, notthat any of those camps would define faith this way, I don’t think, but that people within those camps sometimes would define faith that way. And one is defining the faith that’s talked about in Hebrews and comparing it to what we would generally call the faith. And there’s a difference between faith and the faith.
By the faith, I mean the faith handed down. The doctrines of the church. The Apostles’ Creed, or we’re a part of Grace Covenant, and we have a statement of what? Faith. And that is the faith. That is the sound doctrine upon which, actually, our faith in Christ can be supported and upheld. But sound doctrine itself is not faith.
And there’s an obvious example of this. The devil would get a hundred probably on a theology exam. But doesn’t have, you know, the devil probably has better theology than you do. Probably knows more about God than you do.
Maybe not, but perhaps. And so there’s a part, or at least people who are a part of the body of Christ who seem to think that salvation is about having correct theology. Now I’m a big proponent of correct theology. I love clear thinking. I was a part of a major mainline denomination that in large part, not in their official statements, but a large part of the clergy and leadership of that denomination, really departed from traditional orthodox sound doctrine. And it creates confusion, havoc, chaos, and ruin. And so I’m all for sound doctrine. But that’s not what moves mountains. That’s not what brought down the walls of Jericho, all right? And it’s not what the author of Hebrews is talking about.
There’s a difference between the faith and faith. Jesus, I think, it’s the difference between what? Knowing about God and knowing God. All right, we talked about C. S. Lewis earlier. There’s a difference between reading C. S. Lewis’ books and reading biographies and being basically a clive-a-holic, knowing all, you know, and being able to quote C. S. Lewis, and being one of the inklings who regularly met with him and threw down a pint and talked for hours upon hours about their latest literature and theology and other subjects. And it would have been wonderful to be a fly on the wall. All right, there’s just a difference. I know a lot about baseball, stats and analytics and history. I’m just a regular baseball nerd. But you know what? There’s guys in the major leagues who don’t have near the knowledge of baseball that I do, but they can hit a 95-mile-an-hour fastball and I can’t come close to it. They know baseball in a way that I’ll never know baseball. So it’s not simply knowing about.
On the other hand, probably on the other end of the spectrum, there are those who make faith a thing of faith in faith. And it’s almost, I was talking with a real new age guy recently and he was talking about quantum physics and talking about, you know, if you just get your thoughts positive and aligned then the universe will line up with you and all these good things will happen quickly, quickly, quickly, quickly, quickly, and he gave me some examples and talked about this professor who dedicated his life to quantum physics and had a dramatic physical healing and attributed that to his positive thinking and getting that bad energy out and all that stuff.
And I thought, well, how do I get the gospel in with this guy? And so I just told him, he said, what do you do? I said, I’m a pastor. And he wasn’t the least bit negative about that. I said, oh, that’s great, man, you know? And so I said two things. I just said two things to him. I said, you know, the difference between what you’re saying and me is my job is I get to tell people about the person who wrote those laws. And then I challenged him because he talked about a lot of books. He said, hey, you should read this book and you should read this book and you should read that book. And I said, okay, you know, that’s cool. And I said, I said, have you read the Gospels? And he said, not for a long time. And I said, man, give it a fresh reading. He said, hey, maybe I’ll do that. Maybe I’ll do that. All right. So that was where I left Daryl.
All right, so, but there are some who kind of take that quantum physic or that new age view and they Christianize it and they basically say, if you think the right thoughts by faith and you declare the right things by faith, those things are going to happen. And it ends upbeing, can be kind of a selfish thing that the derogatory name it’s been given is name it and claim it or claim, yeah, name it and claim it. And you just, you speak realities into being. Now there’s truth to this in real faith.
In real faith, when you speak and believe the, the will and the heart and the nature of God, stuff happens. But it’s not just, you know, God, I really, I claim that Mercedes Benz, that’s not it. That’s not the nature and heart of God that you just indulge yourself with worldliness. And so, and I would say that the people of the faith movement would agree with me. They don’t, they don’t necessarily believe that, but there, but there are practical, but there becomes kind of practices where, where the faith is not in a relationship so much with God and his character and nature, but it’s faith in this mysterious power of faith. And if you somehow can tap into this mysterious power of faith, all these, all these answers are going to come your way.
So two extremes of what faith isn’t. Here’s what faith I think is, and what I think the author of Hebrews is talking about it. Faith is relationally based. It is based on knowing the person, the power and the goodness and the will of that person, aligning yourself with, with that and making life changes and life choices all based on that. And then what happens is because you align yourself with the will of God and the will of heaven and the person of God and the person of heaven revealed in his son, Jesus Christ, you are now aligned with heaven. And what happens is heaven on earth begins to happen through you. And then what you say does happen. I mean, I’m not saying everything you say, but, but I am saying it, it, there are times I’ve used this example before, but a young woman, young mother in our church years and years and years ago, uh, was being evicted from the house.
She was renting, not because she was a bad tenant, not because the owners were bad. The owners just wanted to sell it. It was time to sell the house. And so, you know, they said you had to leave. And she came to me desperate, not because she couldn’t find another house, but she couldn’t find another house. She had a good deal. She couldn’t find another house in the neighborhood where her kids continued, could continue going to the school that she really liked and that her kids friends were at. She was going to have to move out into a, uh, into another neighborhood that would put her and her kids in another school. And there was nothing in that school district that was, that fit her price range.
And so she came to me and she just said, Hey man, I need prayer. I don’t want to move, you know, X, Y, Z, I want to stay ABC. And, uh, and I prayed for her and I prayed the same prayer you would pray, Lord help this dear woman, uh, find a home at the right price at the right place. Week one, week two, she came to me with the same prayer request, said the same prayer. Week three, she came to me with the same prayer request, said the same prayer. Week four, she came to me with the same prayer request, only this time she said I got a week. I got a week.
And I was about to pray the same prayer, that’s all I had to pray, you know, I didn’t. And all of a sudden I had what I would call the gift of faith. In other words, I knew heaven’s will on this. God gave me these words and instead of praying, dear Lord, please give to this woman the right house at the right place at the right price. Instead I looked at her and I said, you are going to get the right house at the right place at the right price this week. Believe it. She stunned at a prayer partner. She kind of looked stunned and she said, all right, and she turned around and walked away. And as quickly as I got that gift of faith, it lifted, right? When she walked away, it lifted. And I turned to my little prayer partner, I said, I hope that was God.
And sure enough, though, next week she came walking into church, big smile on her face, she said, guess what? I knew what? I knew it, right? Let’s not name it and claim it. That is asking, that is from earth, praying to heaven, Lord, we’re asking for this. We’re seeking your will. We want to know what’s going on and then hearing the will of God and pronouncing it.
You can look for an example. A good example of this is all the healings in the book of Acts, but one in particular when Peter raises Dorcas from the, if you have any friends named Tabitha, let them know that the Bible also calls that Dorcas and just start calling them Dorcas, see how they like that.
Hey, Dorcas. So anyway, he raised Dorcas from the dead, but it said Peter went into the room and he prayed. And he didn’t pray that Tabitha slash Dorcas would be raised from the dead. It just says he went in the room and he prayed. I believe he’s praying earth to heaven, God, here’s this good woman. We’re asking Lord, we’re asking, but then he got faith. And when he goes to, when he goes to her, he says, what Tabitha, just like Jesus would do, get up. He speaks that word. Why? Because he has faith. He has faith. He’s aligned himself with the will of heaven, with the will of God.
So what is this kind of faith that is relational, that is based on knowing the other person, knowing their character, knowing their goodness, knowing their power? What kind of things then does this faith do in Hebrews chapter 11, 17-40, where with Abraham, faith believes when it doesn’t understand. Abraham was presented with an impossible situation. I am going to populate this land and I’m going to bless all the nations of the earth through your progeny and I told you your progeny was this boy Isaac that you and Sarah had and so he is going to be the one through whom the promise is fulfilled. He’s going to be the line that I’m going to use and then he says, sacrifice your son, your only son, the one you love.
It’s such a poignant story and you think, oh, God’s so barbaric, no, that was a normal practice to all those small G deities, all those fallen angels in the surrounding Canaanite cultures who desired the worship and then took the blood of the firstborn as an act of worship to them. Now, demons throughout history have liked that kind of thing and so Abraham, though saddened, would not have been surprised in that culture that a deity would ask for that and yet he’s very confused, like, well, how is A going to happen, which you told me, and I got to do B. Now, Hebrews adds something that the Old Testament doesn’t put in there. Hebrews adds that he believed God could raise him from the dead. It never says that in Genesis, it says it in Hebrews, but parallels to Christ, right? Take your son, your only son, he’s sacrificed, raised from the dead, and so faith believes when it doesn’t understand.
Let me tell you something, if you, listen, don’t be a nitwit and go against common sense and your understanding. On the other hand, if you have faith, God will call you at points in your life to go against common sense and your understanding. Nobody, look at the Bible, nobody ever does something great for God because they mastered common sense. They did something great for God because they stepped out in faith. And so Abram, Abraham, does this thing. He acts on what he can’t understand, like Bill Johnson says, trust the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding.
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; (Proverbs 3:5, NKJV)
your head is a great processor, it’s a great analyzer, it will take what you’ve experienced and put thought and reason and figure it out, but it’s a bad leader.
Your heart, when it’s full of Christ, not your wicked heart, but your heart when it’s full of the Holy Spirit and full of Christ and is hungry for God, will take you places spiritually that your head won’t fit. And faith actually requires that of us at times. We go, I don’t know what this is, but I really think this is what I’ve got to do in God. And so, faith believes in the character, nature, power of God that he is able to fulfill his promises, even when it doesn’t look like it, when I can’t figure it out.
Second, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, all plan for the future by faith. There’s no other way to bless people into the future except by faith, because we don’t know what the future holds. And so, we cast our kids out into the Lord by faith. Who was I talking to today, oh, yeah, a man was talking about his daughter who recently was married, and she says, you know, I like the boy, I like the kid she’s married, the guy she’s married, but I just don’t know. I don’t know. I said, yeah, you’re right. There has never been a parent on the planet who felt 100% sure about the person their child married.
Yet Christian parents, what they do is they say, there’s one person loves that child more than I do, and that’s you, Jesus. And whether it’s marriage or just sending them off to college or sending them out of state or sending them as missionaries, right, that’s an act of faith. It’s like, God, I can’t take care of Jacob in Indonesia, in Malaysia, right? Can’t take care of him there. And so, it’s an act of faith. Jesus, watch my boy, you know?
And so, Isaac, Jacob, they bless their children’s future. They speak words of faith, and again, I believe those words came from heaven. Those blessings were prophetic.
Words of faith over their children said, we believe this is your future. This is what’s going to happen to you. Joseph made preparations for an exodus that was going to be 400 years later by faith. I’m not sure Joseph knew the timeframe, but he said, there’s going to come a time. Here we are, settled in Egypt, and we’re doing well. We got a great plot of land, Pharaoh’s on our side, but you know, I know the promises of God that it’s not this land, but it’s that land, and we’re going back to that land one day. Take my bones, write it down. I want my bones in the land of promise, not the land of Egypt. And so, faith plans, prepares for, blesses our progeny into the future.
I used to pray for my kids that spiritually, my ceiling would be their floor. My ceiling would be their floor. Whatever Jill and I achieve in our walk with God, instead of our kids having to start from ground zero and getting to that spot, that they’d start from our shoulders and launch from there. And so, it’s an act of faith. One of my problems with the world’s going to end any minute eschatology, is oftentimes it short circuits that. It turns Christianity, not into a Christianity that’s going to continue to transform the world for another 2, 000 years like it has for the past 2, 000 years, into a Christianity that just gets everybody in the lifeboat, because the ship’s sinking.
We believe, and you know, Jesus come back before this sermon’s over, and you’re thinking, that’s right preacher, get on with it, but he’d come back quick. I’m not saying he won’t. I’m not saying, people say, these are the last days, could be, could be, but I’m not saying they are either. And because of that, I want to so impact the world for Christ, and I want to so train my children and my grandchildren that if this world lasts another 1, 000 years, they will have a greater impact than I’ve had. I want to bless them into that, and I want to do that with the young people in our church. You know, I want somebody to say someday, I don’t know who Sophia Johnson’s parents and pastor were, but man, they did a good job. That girl’s just dynamic. That Peter, he changed the whole state of Alabama. And you know those Miller boys, it’s a good crop right there. And you had a big part in that, a teeny part in that.
All right, faith gives courage to face the powers of this world. Kill your babies, says Pharaoh, throw them in the river. Moses’ mom says, nope, not this one. You can be Pharaoh’s daughter. You can live with all the pleasures, or you can be Pharaoh’s son. You can live with all the pleasures of the palace forever, because my daughter plucked you out of the river. You can just, you can be the prince of Egypt. Nope, nope, I’m an Israelite, so I’m going to run away into the desert for 40 years until a bush talks to me. But then when I come back, oh boy, Pharaoh, you’re in trouble. Faith gives you the courage to confront the powers of this world.
It’s very interesting. I was reading my Bible gateway verse of the day, and a couple days ago, it was that passage from Romans that says, submit yourself to the governing authorities, because they come from God, and God’s given them that law, that rule. And I believe that 100%. I believe Christians should be the best citizens in the country. We should be the best citizens in the country until we can’t be anymore, all right, until we can’t be anymore. You know what? Pay your taxes to Caesar. Gotcha. There you go, Caesar. Pay your taxes. Bow to Caesar and worship him. Now you’re going to have to kill me. Now you’re going to have to kill me. You want more taxes? Can I pay you more taxes?
I’ll give you more taxes. All right? And so faith gives you the courage to face down the powers of this world, because we live for a better one. We live for a better one. Again, Hebrews makes this incredible statement about Moses that’s not in the Old Testament at all. Oh, verse 26, esteeming the reproach of Christ, greater riches than the treasures in Egypt, for he looked to the reward, esteeming, esteeming the reproach of Christ.
26 esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward. (Hebrews 11:26, NKJV)
Moses didn’t know of Christ. And yet, because he had faith, it was credited to him, and his act is an act of service, and it was, on behalf of Christ. He esteemed the reproach of Christ.
You know, it’s okay if we get some reproach from the culture. It’s okay if everybody’s not our friend. I mean, don’t be obnoxious. Don’t go out and earn it, or if you do earn it, earn it by your humble righteousness and service and faith to God, not by being obnoxious. Faith leaves the familiar and experiences God’s protection and leading in the process. And that’s the whole story of the Exodus, right? The people kept wanting to go back to the familiar, even if the familiarity was slavery.
And man, this is so true. We are so addicted with the familiar, and though it’s unpleasant, there’s a comfort in it, and we’re so afraid of the unknown that the pool of Siloam, Jesus sees the man on the mat who’s paralyzed, and he can’t get in the pool, and the angel comes and stirs the water, and Jesus comes, and he asks him, do you want to be well? And we think, what kind of question is that? Being a pastor for 40 years, I think that’s a great question, because I can tell you lots of folks, including myself sometimes, no, I don’t want to be well, I just want to be left alone. I don’t, you know, do you want to get free of fentanyl, do you want to get free of meth, do you want to get free of alcohol? Yeah, yeah, just snap your fingers and make me free, but no, it’ll be uncomfortable. I mean, the reward on the other end, you’re living a life of death, we can offer you a life that will be life, an abundant life, but there’s pain in the process, do you want to be well? And I think the vast majority answer that question, no, I mean, not verbally, but in their hearts.
It’s great in C. S. Lewis’ book, Sophia, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, you read it? There once was a boy named Eustace Clarence Stubbs, and he almost deserved it, all right, great opening line to a book, and Eustace becomes a dragon, and it’s a picture of how he was behaving as a boy, but as a dragon, he’s completely isolated, and he becomes lonely and miserable and sad, and you know, at first, when he becomes a dragon, he’s like, oh, I’m going to get back at all those people who were mean to me, but later, he just yearns for their company again, and he repents in his heart, he’s like, oh my gosh, I don’t want to be a dragon, I want to be a boy again, and I’ll be a better one, you know, and the whole thing, and Aslan, the Jesus figure, comes to him and says, do you want me to take those scales off you and make you a boy again, and he says, yes, yes, I do, and so Aslan takes his claw, and he digs into the scales, and he begins to pull it off, and he’sjust like, ow, it hurts, and I love the next line, he said, I didn’t say it wouldn’t hurt, do you want to be a boy again, yeah, do you want to be alive in Christ, and his forever son and daughter, yes, ow, it hurts, yeah, you’re leaving the familiar, you’re going to the unfamiliar, but you will find in that act of faith where you leave the familiar and go into the unfamiliar, what you meet in the wilderness is God, no more leeks and onions in the desert, no, but it rains bread from heaven, how about that, you didn’t see those kind of miracles in Egypt, you know, unbelievers, why don’t we see miracles, why don’t you follow Jesus, see what happens, why don’t you step out.
I remember, couldn’t get the northwest off my heart and mind, been in California my whole life, was in central California, pastoring a church, planted that church, they liked me, I liked them, it was a big church by comparison to Paul’s Bow, firehouse church, and you know, five, six hundred people at our best Sundays, and big church, and you know what, that feels good, that’s a lot of subtle ego strokes there, you know, but you know, I was pretty humble about it, you know, and you know, just, you know, quietly, not vocally, thought I was better than all the other pastors in town, but you know, very humble, and so, but I couldn’t get the Pacific Northwest off my heart, only been here three or four times on just different trips, could not get it off my heart, so finally, you know, I planned a trip up here, so I’m going to go up there and pray, and with a group of young boys, and we were discipling those young boys, and I thought, you know what, I’m going to send one of those young boys up there who wants to be a pastor, and they’re going to go plant a church up there, and we’ll get behind them with people and money, we’ll do it, right, and I’m driving, I went down to a conference in L. A., and I’m driving back, and the voice of the Lord came in my car, and I’ve told you this story a hundred times, like, you’re going to go, you’re not going to send one of those boys, you’re going to go, and it’s like, ah, man, and like Moses by the burning bush, I gave God all my excuses, I gave him, I think, five excuses of why I couldn’t go, and six months later, I was here, and I moved here at a great time to move to Washington in the middle of January, it wasn’t raining, it was snowing, and I’ll tell you, it has not turned out, at least to this point, like I had anticipated and expected, but I’ll tell you something else, my wife and I have met the comfort, the leading, and the provision of God every step along the way.
I’ll tell you, just the first couple years of provision, we left with no jobs, and no contacts up here, we didn’t come up, we didn’t find a job first and come up here, we came up here and said, we’ll find jobs, and I talked to the church I was pastoring, and said, yeah, we’re going to move to Washington, and they said, okay, and we began the pastoral search, and then, I didn’t ask them for this, they came to me, and they said, well, what do you want, and we want to do something for you, what do you want, and I said, I want $100, 000 for salary and start-up money, you ask, so I told you, they came back to me, they prayed, got together, came back to me and said, we’re going to give you a year’s salary, you’re going to have to find your start-up money somewhere else, I said, okay, good enough, and it was very interesting, at the end of that year, just an individual in the church, a rather successful contractor, gave me a check for $40, 000, so I came pretty close to that number, so for a year, they paid my salary up here, my wife looked for a job, my wife, I’m biased in this, but those of you who know her, is highly employable, oh my gosh, she is hardworking, she’s loyal, she’s bright, you know, she can do anything, you know, so, she could not find a job, it really, you know, was hard on her, it’s like, why didn’t anybody want to hire me, you know, but she really wanted to be a 911 operator in Kitsap County, and there’s reasons behind that, she hadn’t done that before, but, and they weren’t hiring, they weren’t hiring, but we found out she was eligible for unemployment, so here, I’m getting a salary from the church, my wife’s collecting unemployment, we’re eating, and right when her unemployment ran out, 911 Kitsap County started hiring, and she got a job, it’s been there now 16, 17 years, and right when my money ran out from the church, Olympic View Assembly of God, which is now, I forget, the highway, where we worship for a while, their dear pastor of many years died, and I happened to know, I’d happened to made acquaintance with a few people at that church, and I told them anytime they needed, I knew their pastor was sick, and I said, anytime you need pulpit supply, we were meeting in our home, but we, you know, had five, six people, I said, we’ll just, let’s all gather up, go to your church, I’ll preach for you anytime you want, so actually, their pastor died, and they called me and said, hey, can you preach this Sunday, I preached that Sunday, it turned into a year and a half as the interim pastor, and so, what did we meet as we walked out in faith? God’s leading and provision.
People say, man, I want to experience God, get out of the boat, I want to walk on water, get out of the boat, no, I don’t want to walk on water that way, I don’t know that there’s another way, I don’t know that there’s another way, all right, so, they left Egypt, Egypt, and God met them in the desert. Faith experiences the miraculous, victories, and deliverance. There’s this whole list, right, the walls of Jericho came down, people received their dead back, you know, and you look at this list of these miracles in the Old Testament, the sun stood still, for goodness sakes, people were raised from the dead, Elijah and Elisha, you know, incredible miracles, fire came down from heaven and consumed the offering with Elijah, and there’s just miracle, miracle after miracle, and the power of God displayed, and so by faith, there are miracles, and the power of God, and deliverance, and there’s this whole history in the Old Testament that the ten plagues on Egypt, and the parting, my goodness, the parting of the Red Sea, it just never ends. It never ends.
So there are these great victories. We’ve been celebrating this victory of a woman on her deathbed body filled with cancer, and the cancer cell is gone, and she’s feeding her children breakfast like she did before. We’re just, man, God, you’re good and you’re powerful and great victories. Great deliverances. I remember the first time I cast a devil out of somebody here. Now, it wasn’t the first time, but the first time it was, and it’s little girls at this high school camp, and she’s just manifesting demonically, and growling, and hissing, and all that kind of stuff, and we’re after a service, and I’m praying for somebody, and there’s a bunch of people over there praying for her, and she’s just going berserk, and there are all these young college kids, and high school kids trying to cast this demon out, and it was really chaotic, and it was really messy, and I’m over there praying, I get done praying for this person, I look at that and I go, Lord, there needs to be an older, responsible, mature Christian to step in and take control of that situation.
Not knowing what I was, I was 37 years old at the time, so it was a long time ago, but I was at a youth camp, so what do you think 37 made me? The oldest person there, right? Yeah, by a long shot. I was one of the Bible study leaders, and God spoke to me, said, yes, Kevin, there does, and all of a sudden, the finger came down from heaven, and I just said, no, another one, another older, more responsible, more mature Christian, and it was kind of like he said, yeah, you’re all I got, bud. You’re it. So I went off and prayed, and I’d read some books on deliverance, never really done anything at this level, but I went off and prayed, and I just went in there, and you know what, God gave me faith, and I looked at that thing, and I just said, stop it in the name of Jesus, and she settled down, and it took a long time. There were a lot of messy critters in there, but we got that girl, we got a lot done that night in terms of getting that girl free. I mean, I remember one time, and it was interesting. She spoke in two voices. The devil would speak, you can’t have her, she’s mine, you know, that kind of thing, and the other time, she would speak, you know, what’s your name? Christine, okay, Christine, you know, what happened to you? Well, my stepdad molested me, you know, just different stuff, and so one time, the bad voice was talking to me, and it was interesting, when the bad voice would talk to me, the eyes would be open, and these were not human eyes.
They would just look at me with pure hate, and when she would talk, her eyes would be closed until what, we started getting some demons out, and then when we started getting some demons out, one of the indications, one of the physical indications that she was being delivered is her eyes started open, and she would start to look at me. It was really interesting. I remember at one point, the bad voice said, I’m going to hurt you now, and she started to dig her fingernails into my hand, and I just said, pretty calm, I was, just by the grace of God, I said, in the name of Jesus, stop it, and her hand went limp in my hand, and I remember thinking, glad that worked. But by faith, right?
We had no magic wands. We had no great therapy. We just developed, and especially as we prayed for her more and we saw the results, we saw her starting to get clean, we just began to believe that King Jesus was bigger than that which had come upon her life, and a couple years later, I saw this gal at another event, and she came up and said, you remember me? I said, yeah, I do, and she was, she said, thank you for what you guys did that night, and I said, you’re so welcome, and you know, it’s like I’m following Jesus, and I’m, she said, some other stuff manifested at another place down in Mexico, we were on a mission strip, and they did a little more deliverance, and she says, now I feel like I’m clean. So you get these great victories by faith.
These great victories by faith, and it’s amazing that right after that, he goes and he says, faith experiences the approval of God in the midst of horrible persecutions. You raise the dead, mothers get babies back from the dead, the walls of Jericho fall down, this great power of God is released, it’s wonderful, we’re running to the end zone, we’re making a touchdown, and then they come and undercut you and, you know, destroy your Achilles tendon, football injury metaphor. They burn you at the stake, they saw you in two, they ostracize you, they mock you, they slander you, and what is it? I’ll tell you, it’s the prototype of Jesus in a fallen world. You have, by faith, the cross and the crown. You got Friday and Sunday, and they go together. You got Friday and Sunday, and they go together.
And in this fallen world, there is no way to avoid that, but what faith does is faith gives you the ability to endure Friday, and you can enjoy the Sundays. And let me tell you something else. Faith gives you the approval of God. In fact, the New Testament’s pretty clear on this. The greatest honor that any Christian can have in this world, and in fact, for all eternity, is to suffer for the name of Jesus. And you don’t have to look for it, it’ll find you. It’ll find you. But you know what? Make friends with that. Make friends with that. Because even that is good.
I’ve had a lot of Sunday in my life. And as a pastor, you’ve done this, you just did it a couple weeks ago. People have been so good to me, and they compliment me, and they say, that was a great sermon, Kev, and you’ve been so helpful, and you’ve been so nice to my family, and we love you, and all this kind of stuff. People have been good to my family. Every pastor has their horror stories. I got mine, too, of crazy bad people, but by far, far and away, people have been good to me and my family, far and away. But here’s what I realized. You can keep doing that, I won’t stop you. But I will tell you this. It sometimes lasts all the way till I get home. You know what I’m talking about, right? That drink, as good as it tastes, does not get to the core. But with all my heart, I believe this, and I live for this, and this is what God’s calling you to live for, as well. To one day, to stand before those eyes of pure love that pierce you, and after you pick yourself up off the ground, from the first glance of those eyes, that you and I would hear these words. Well done, good and faithful servant.
We sang that song, set a fire, and in the middle of that, in kind of the spontaneous part, he sings, only you will satisfy. That drink, that drink is gonna last for eternity. And that’s what these people, Hebrew says, that’s what they lived for. And they didn’t even have the clear vision, nor the holy, indwelling Holy Spirit that we have. And yet, they were martyred, and persecuted, and accomplished miracles, and stepped out into strange places, and opposed the powers of this world.
Daniel in the lion’s den, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, not bending their knees, even though they served those powers faithfully, when those powers required of them something that was against Yahweh’s expressed will, they were willing to face death. Those kinds of things, going places we don’t understand, all that kind of stuff, that is what God desires. People who believe in him, and trust him, and know his character, know his goodness, know his will, and are willing then to step out in the midst of all that, and God looks down and says, that’s my daughter, that’s my son.
And they are now qualified by the blood of my son to enter the inheritance. I don’t know how long forever is, but I think it’s pretty long. I think it’s pretty long. I don’t know how, I don’t know how good it’s gonna be, and how we’re gonna experience it as good. You know, what’s Mercy Me saying, I can only imagine? It’s like, yeah, my imagination only takes me so far.
But you know what, by faith, right? By knowing King Jesus, knowing the goodness of God, by the experiences I have had of heaven on earth, that’s what I live for, and not perfectly. None of you seem shocked. Not perfectly, right? But you and I, us, together, by faith, in our beautiful Savior, Jesus, we keep going, amen? Amen.
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.
24 “The Lord bless you and keep you; 25 The Lord make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; 26 The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.” ’ (Numbers 6:24-26, NKJV)
Go in at peace to love and serve the Lord. Amen.