November 26, 2023 by P. Kevin Clancey

1 Vindicate me, O God, And plead my cause against an ungodly nation; Oh, deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man! 2 For you are the God of my strength; Why do you cast me off? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? 3 Oh, send out your light and your truth! Let them lead me; Let them bring me to your holy hill And to your tabernacle. 4 Then I will go to the altar of God, To God my exceeding joy; And on the harp I will praise you, O God, my God. 5 Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God. (Psalms 43:1-5, NKJV)

So dear ones, let’s worship God in the midst of our troubles, in the midst of our enemies. You have prepared a table before me. Psalm 23 says what? In the presence of my enemies. When I used to play sports, I used to like to trash talk. That’s not admirable. You should be humble. But nonetheless, I used to like the, you know, I showed you kind of thing. And it’s not a good thing, except the psalmist does it to the devils. And I do it in the psalms to the devils.

David does it to his enemies all the time in the psalms. Elijah does it to the prophets of Baal. And so it kind of gladdens my heart that biblically, at least, there’s some place for trash-talking. All right? And so you have set a table, and I’ll tell you, the best way to trash talk is not to talk down to the devil. I don’t think that’s a good idea. But the best way to do that is to give God praise in the midst of your struggles this week.

And so you have an opportunity to do that tonight. You have an opportunity to rejoice and to exalt heaven, and just as you’re doing that, let hell know that they don’t get the final word. Amen? All right. Let’s praise God, then.

So communion means Christ is the victor. The book of Revelation in the Bible. I don’t think it’s a book giving you a bunch of very obscure symbols about the end times. I think it’s giving you a bunch of Old Testament symbols and vivid word pictures. And I think those vivid word pictures and symbols are telling us time and time again, over and over again, that all the powers of hell and human wickedness and all the human governments and all the wars and machines of wars, bow to the name of Jesus, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.

I’ll never forget the story from Corrie ten Boom’s The Hiding Place, where the last words she heard her father say before they were being separated by Nazis.

And her father, talk about a legacy, talk about being a good father, turns to his daughters who are crying because they’re being taken off to a prison camp and their father’s being taken off to a different prison camp, and the Nazi guards have just hit their father and knocked him to the ground, and these daughters see this dear old man hit the ground. He gets up, he turns and smiles at his daughters in that setting, and they’d been studying the book of Revelation as a family together.

He smiles at his daughters, the last words she heard her father say on this earth, Christ is the victor, right in the face of Nazi Germany. How good is that? That’s the book of Revelation, and that’s communion. Christ is the victor. His body and blood took all evil, buried it, and he rose victorious.

And dear ones, for a little while we struggle on this planet, but we will share in that resurrection. For a while we share in his sufferings, for all eternity we share in the resurrection. So dear ones, come and take and eat, and proclaim Christ is the victor. Christ you’re the victor.

12 Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed. 14 Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: 15 looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; 16 lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. 17 For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears. (Hebrews 12:12-17, NKJV)

God, may the words of my mouth and the meditation of our hearts be acceptable in your sight. 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)

All right, so talking about the great cloud of witnesses and this race of faith that we’re running, and so this is just encouragement. Again, Kathleen, to put your left foot in front of the right, and right foot in front of the left, to not quit. And he starts by saying, strengthen yourself. All right, strengthen yourself in the Lord. Don’t let your hands hang down, don’t let your head hang low, don’t let your feeble knees stop you, don’t let, don’t become lame in your walk with Christ.

There’s a great story about King David. In his darkest moment, the enemy had raided their camp, had gone off with their wives and children and livestock and plunder, and David’s mighty men, his loyal fighting men, were now turning on him. And they wanted to kill him because they had lost their wives and children and their riches and their livestock, all to the enemy.

And David had nothing, he didn’t have his loyal men to lean on. They were turning on him, and the Bible says he went and he strengthened himself in the Lord. And he came back and he got the word of the Lord to pursue those who had kidnapped his family and the families of his men, and they pursued them, they conquered them, they got everything back, plus, more plunder that those enemies had taken from other places and so he strengthened himself in the Lord.

And you know I wanted to say we’ve talked about this a lot the church is a place where we get encouraged when life is hard and we don’t want people to have to go through those traumatic things in life alone whether it be sickness or depression or the loss of a loved one or a financial crisis or marriage problems and those things those big things that hit us and so we gather together and we encourage one another and sometimes you’re the person in need of encouragement and other times you’re one of the encouragers you’re one of the people who gathers around and that’s that’s a big part of what church is for that we don’t have to go through these things alone we bear one another’s burdens.

But there’s another aspect to it and that is this suck it up buttercup grow up take responsibility my kids will quote me now there are certain things that I said I guess a lot not always proud of the things I said a lot but like they say I said a lot go play on the freeway I don’t think I said that a lot I just think I said it a handful of times just go play on the freeway but they say oh yeah you tell us to do that all the time well you never did so but anyway one of the things you know they’ll say is oh yeah life isn’t fair get used to it right anybody hear that from their parents anybody share that with their kids.

So you know my kids like every kid right the other kid gets a smidgen more ice cream and you know in the whiniest voice they can muster life ain’t fair get used to it all right but there’s something about that there’s something about you know we live in a culture where you know every kid gets a participation trophy and and we and and actually people are unhappy as unhappy as they’ve ever been and part of that is we don’t know how to face hardship.

My generation had it easier than my parents generation my kids had it easier than me and less something terrible happened, their kids are going to have it easier than them. We want that, we don’t want hardship, but there is something about we need to learn to strengthen ourselves.

We need to learn because people, we lean on people and they’re great, but they’re not always reliable. Your wife or your husband, they’re not batting 1,000 when it comes to supporting you in the way you want to be supported. Guess what? You’re not batting 1,000 either.

I always tell people, you didn’t marry a perfect person. They always go, man, you’re right, I didn’t. Then I go, they didn’t either. They’re like, what? What are you saying? What? What? What do you mean? Yeah, both are true.

So we need to learn at times, yes, and please don’t take this the wrong way. I’m not saying don’t come for help. When I speak this way, sometimes people say, well, I’m not going to call him for help. He’s going to tell me to quit crying, you little wuss. No, I will be kind. I will listen to you. I will counsel you. I’ll pray with you. I’ll do inner healing. I’ll do deliverance. Just call me when you need help.

I don’t want you to be out there alone struggling, but I also want, but this is part of the help I’m going to give you tonight. Strengthen yourself in the Lord. You need to learn how to stand.

And it’s just, listen, I love what we just did. I love praying for people to get filled with the Holy Spirit. I love the physical, you know, people say, well, you know, that falling, what’s all that? That doesn’t do any good. I think it’s just a sign of God’s presence. I think it’s encouraging when we see the power of God, you know, touch somebody’s life.

But there’s two mistakes people make about that. One is people say, oh, that’s fake, and they pushed and all that kind of stuff. That’s not true. You know, that’s, listen, I can’t tell you how many people I’ve had who have gone down under the power of God who right before they go down say, you know, I never fall. And I pray for them. It’s like, well, until now. So they’re not predisposed to it. They’re not acting. They’re not faking. I didn’t push. I couldn’t push somebody down anyway if they didn’t want to go down. I’m not that strong.

People say, oh, they pushed. It’s like, really? You’ve got to push awful hard to knock somebody down with one hand. No, it’s real. And it’s a sign, an encouraging sign of the presence of God. But it’s an invitation into discipleship.

And when people take it as an end-all, be-all, like, oh, I’ve arrived, no, it’s empty. I like what Eleanor Mumford, I think it was Eleanor Mumford, said, she says, it’s one thing for people to go down. She goes, what I’m interested in is how they get up. And it’s an invitation into discipleship for all of us. For all of us, God is saying, I’m here.

Now, what are you going to do with it? We had a group of kids in Oakdale. And we had this kind of revival break out. And a lot of physical manifestations were happening, a lot of falling, and shaking, and crying, and laughing.

And I noticed something as I went through that process. It was exciting. It was fun. But I noticed some of the kids who had those encounters didn’t change. And I realized that what happened was they had a legitimate encounter with God. But they didn’t take him up on the invitation to enter into deeper intimacy with him. They just thought, look what happened to me. Now I should be fixed.

No. All God is doing there, he’s saying, hey, I’m real. I’m here. Now, tomorrow morning, will you get up, open up your Bible, say your prayers, have a quiet time, and go deeper with me? It’s not either or. It’s not like we live by experience or we live by discipleship. The experience is meant to move us into deeper discipleship.

I love baseball. And in the late 1990s and early 2000s, baseball had what they called the steroid era, where players were using performance enhancing. steroids and human growth hormones and the statistics went way up. More and more home runs were hit and bodies changed. You had these behemoths getting up and hitting balls 500 feet and baseball finally cracked down on it.

So I want to use this example and get out of your mind steroids are bad thing for this example because basically what I liken discipleship to, reading your Bible, saying your prayers, going to church, serving the poor, doing the stuff that Christians do. I liken it to an athlete lifting weights, working on their skills, and training. When you do that, you get better.

What happens is when people have an encounter with God and his spirit, what happens is I liken that to like doing all that discipleship, and then adding to it Holy Spirit steroids. Adding to it something dynamic that accelerates the process. Now, if you just do discipleship, if you just do the disciplines, you’ll grow. If you do the disciplines with encounter, you’ll grow faster, bigger, stronger, quicker.

But if you just do the experience without the discipleship, your head gets big and you get pimples. That’s what happens with steroids if you don’t marry it with weightlifting. In other words, it doesn’t do you any good. So we need to strengthen ourselves in the Lord. Start with his word.

People say, well, pastor, I’m not prophetic. I never hear the word of God. Well, read your Bible, lots of words of God in there. That’s the best way to hear the word of God. I love dreams and visions, prophetic words that are accurate. I love all that stuff, and I believe all that stuff. But here’s what I believe, this. This book is God’s word.

If I didn’t have any of that other stuff. this book would be enough. Now, the reason I believe in that other stuff is that this book tells me about all that other stuff. It tells me there’s dreams and visions and prophecies. And so I look for those things, but it’s based on what God has revealed in the Bible.

And I’ve been a Christian for some 40-some years, and I can’t count the number of days, probably I can count the number of days on one hand, maybe two, where I have not read a portion of this book. My early mentors taught me well. They said, read the Bible every day. I read the Bible every day. Might just be a verse out of my Bible app.

But lately, I’ve been reading at least three psalms, I’ve been reading and praying through three psalms a day. I’ve been going through the psalms. Next year, along with you, I’m gonna read through the whole Bible, chronologically, in a year. Just wanna let you know, I’ve cheated, I’ve gotten a head start. You know. Yeah, you can have a head start, go ahead. There’s no grade on this, you all get an A. The grade is by grace, you all get an A. If you don’t read the Bible at all next year, you get an A, all right? You’re going to heaven, you’re good.

All right, so, but yeah, read the Bible, study the Bible, let God speak to you with the Bible, have an encounter with God through the Bible, and then worship him. Not just on Sunday, but worship him Monday through Saturday. And that doesn’t necessarily mean singing, though singing is a great tool for worship. Worship means to have a bowed-down life. It means to honor God as God and to humbly submit yourself to him.

It means to say, God, you’re God, I’m not, you’re smarter than me, you’re the creator, I’m the creation, you’re the savior, I’m the saved, you’re the lover, I’m the beloved. You’re the middle of the universe, I orbit around you, you don’t orbit around me. Other people don’t orbit around me. And you live a life of worship. You strengthen yourself when you acknowledge and worship God, and I’ve said this 100 times, I’m going to say it 101, when you acknowledge and worship God in the midst of your trials. When your body hurts.

And you don’t have all the answers and you still say oh Lord how majestic is your name and all the earth. I don’t understand but I praise you and I worship you and I and I think and I thank you even though this thing that’s happening is bad there’s hundreds of good things and I thank you for all these good things and I trust you in the midst of this. You strengthen yourself in the Lord when you do that. You strengthen yourself when you pray.

And I find most people really struggle with prayer. We say in church all the time pray, pray, pray, pray, pray and we go okay I prayed and we think all our prayers have to be spontaneous and from the heart and so we pray for two minutes these spontaneous from the heart prayers and we just basically barf out the main issues in our life before God and then we think oh I should probably start praying for other people and we start to do that and then our mind wanders. Is that anybody else’s experience or is that just mine? That’s everybody’s experience right?

All right so here’s what that means. It means you’re not saved and you’re going to hell. No, that’s not what it means. Here’s what it means: you’re normal. You’re normal. So here’s what you do. Realize that’s not the only way to pray. This book is a great way to pray. Read a section of this book and pray about what that section said. Pray the Bible. Pray. Go through, go through a book of the Bible. Pray through the book of the Bible.

That’s what I’m doing with the Psalms right now. I went through a pretty tough period a couple of months ago. I was pretty down about some things and and I started reading the Psalms until I found myself and I found myself at Psalm 25. That’s my Psalm and I camped out on 25, 26 and 27 for about a month and a half. Every day I just went back and I prayed those Psalms out loud and then I thought you know what this is pretty good praying three Psalms a day so I went back to Psalm 1 and I just started praying three Psalms a day and now I’m just praying three Psalms a day.

All right, I’m getting the word and I’m getting prayer in. And it’s amazing how many times those Psalms are like, yep, yep, yep. Now, I’ll give you a little hint. I’m praying with the Psalms. A lot of times David and others pray, God, smite my enemies, destroy them. All right, what does Jesus say about that? No, don’t smite your enemies, don’t destroy them. He says, love your enemies. Here’s my way out, I got a way out. The Bible says, never pray for those devils. So I always demonize, I would say, smite my enemies.

You know those ones who whisper those terrible things in my head? You know those ones who incite people to war? You know those ones who tempt people to hurt children? Yeah, and so when Psalm 137 says, smash their baby’s heads against the rocks, the Israelites were talking about Babylonians. I don’t think Jesus allows me to pray that way about my earthly enemies. But you know what, if there’s such a thing as baby demons, he can smash their heads against the rocks all he wants.

So that’s how I deal with it. You can deal with it your own way. But you can’t deal with it this way, you can’t pray that God beat up your enemies. But you can pray God beat up the enemy of your enemies and the enemy of your soul, I think.

So when the Bible says, vindicate me, I don’t mean God make me look good and make them look bad in terms of people that have hurt me in some way. I say, God, make you look good through my life and make those devils look bad. And then I pray without any problem, vindicate me. A lot of people have a hard time praying that. It’s in there, it’s all over the Psalms. David’s always saying, vindicate me, God. Show my wife that I was right. No, that’s the one I can’t do, okay.

No, vindicate me before the liars who attack my soul lift me high. All right, pray the Psalms, pray the Lord’s Prayer. And here’s what I mean, don’t pray it by rote. Don’t pray it like when I was a kid, you know, just getting through this quickly. Pray it slowly. Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be your name. Stop. God, your name is great. And before I pray anything else, I worship you and I bow down before you. You are the great God in heaven. See what I’m saying?

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

9 In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be your name. 10 your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:9-10, NKJV)

You know, God, there’s a list of things I want you to do for me. But before I get to that list, I want to submit that you would use my life to advance your kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. And here are some things in my life where I don’t see heaven in operation. I’ve got a sick friend. I’ve got this going on. I’ve got that. I pray your kingdom manifest in each of those areas. And heaven invade earth through me, your humble servant. I enlist.

Give us this day our daily bread. Okay, now I can go through my list, right? God, I pray for my kids. I pray for my wife. I pray for my church. I pray for this person. I pray for that person. I pray for this need to be met, etc., etc. Forgive us our sins. Be specific.

I don’t think it works to say, God, I probably sinned last week. Forgive me. No, I dare you to say this prayer. God, I’m sure I sinned last week. And show me exactly how. Psalm 139. Search me, O God. Expose my thoughts. And see if there is any wicked way in me. And lead me in the way everlasting.

Forgive those who sinned against you. And by the way, here’s the key on that one. Do it and keep doing it till you no longer feel the resentment, anger, hurt, grudge, and bitterness. Some people, it just goes away the first time. I forgive them. You’re free. Other people, it’s like six or seven years. But keep doing it till you don’t say, Lord, forgive them. But you know those Vindicate Me Psalms? Put a little of that on them. You know? Forgive them. But keep burning coals on their head while I’m forgiving them. No, just until all…

Anger and bitterness is gone. Just do it until it’s gone. You don’t wanna carry that stuff with you. Et cetera, et cetera. Take five minutes, 10 minutes going through the Lord’s Prayer. All right, I’m just trying to give you some handles on how to strengthen yourself in the Lord, how to do this stuff.

Take action. Actually do the stuff that Christians do. I don’t care where you serve, but serve somewhere. Right, I don’t care if you go to a soup kitchen and serve the poor. I don’t care if you teach a Bible study. I don’t care if you go on trips with Marines out into the wilderness, right? But somewhere, find a place to serve, to use your gifts in a way that serves the community, that serves Jesus, and it serves the broader population.

Take action. And in that way, you strengthen yourself in the Lord. You won’t get knocked off your horse as much. I’m not saying that life isn’t gonna come and knock you down, and again, we’re here for that. We’re here for that.

Listen, most of you, you aren’t whiners and complainers. Thank you, Jesus, I appreciate that so much. I’ve had people in churches, you know, it’s like, I remember, this was just a dramatic story about this mother and daughter, and God just touched them in a wonderful way, and I loved it, but for years, they would come up for prayer, and they just, their life were hard, man, and they would just, they would whine. They would just like, you know, every time they came up, I felt like it was just a bad country western song, you know, it’s like, da-na, my husband’s a creep, da-na-na-na-na, nobody likes me, da-na-na-na-na.

You know, they’d come up and say, you know, what can I pray for you? And they’d say, oh, the list is so long, and I could just feel the faith soaking out of me. It’s like, oh.

And so I’d tell them, give me the top, give me the top one on the list. We’ll take on that one, all right? We’ll get to the rest of those later. Come in on Tuesday, you can talk about the whole list. But the Lord touched them both dramatically and turned them both into women of joy and victory. It was just awesome to see, and it was great. They learned, right? They learned in the midst of that to strengthen themselves in the Lord. So, it’s not either or, it’s both end.

All right, pursue peace with one another. I already said it, I’ll say it again, forgive quickly. Forgive quickly. If you find yourself in a position where there’s somebody and it’s like, you’re like, and you want some vengeance and you want to show them and you just, then just take that before God and say, God, in the name of the Lord Jesus, with 100% of my will, I let them off the hook, bless them, and change my heart, I forgive them. I don’t want vengeance, I just put them into your hands, and if you’re gonna show them nothing but blessing and mercy, I will rejoice.

And then apologize quickly. In other words, don’t let relationships sit and go sour for a long time. Forgive quickly, apologize quickly. Get right with people as best you can. Paul said this, as much as I am able, I live at peace with all people. Now notice, he’s not codependent here. He’s not saying, I will do anything. I will sacrifice integrity, I will sacrifice the truth. I’ll do anything to have peace. No, there are some people you can’t have peace with. Fair enough, but don’t let it be on your side. As much as you are able, live at peace. with all people.

If somebody wants to hate you, they can hate you, but you don’t have to hate them back. If somebody wants to use and abuse you, you don’t have to let them, but you don’t have to hate them in the process. There are people that you might have to distance yourself from, but as much as you are able, have reconciliation in every relationship where it’s possible. Does that make sense? Live at peace, and in the body of Christ, live at peace.

Talk to, not about. Talk to, not about. If you’ve got a problem with X, don’t talk to Y, talk to X. Don’t go to Y and say, hey, we need to pray for X. X is a terrible gossip. Are you seeing my point here? You’re gossiping. We need to pray, yeah. You know, here’s the thing. When somebody comes to me and talks trash about another person, you know the first thing that comes to my mind? I wonder how they talk about me when I’m not there, right?

Because now they’re just buddying up with me because they want agreement about, they want vindication from me about that other person. And I always have the same line with people. They come, oh, I’ve got to tell you about so and so. I said, have you talked to them? Well, no, but I just need your counsel. Okay, here’s my counsel. Go talk to them. There’s my, you got it. That’s free. You can go to a counselor and pay 80 bucks for that, but I just gave it to you free. All right, just go talk to them.

If somebody came to me and said, I really want to get into forgiveness, but I need to process that, I would listen to them. But if I started feeling that it was going off into, I am justifying myself and blaming them for everything, I would stop it. Sometimes in the process, you need to connect with them. Right. But they would have to lead with some. In other words, I just do not like when people come. Let me tell you what is wrong with so-and-so.

I mean, people do that all the, not all the time, but people just come to me and they’ll say, my marriage is in trouble and I know I’m not perfect, but, and then they tell me about the but. You know, they tell me about, but let me tell you about my husband. He does this and this and this and this and this and this. I say, well, okay, let me talk to your husband. I talk to the husband, he’s like, he seems like a nice guy. I don’t think he does all that stuff.

Then he starts telling me about his wife and I go, well, I just talked to her last week. She doesn’t seem like that. Then after about 10 years of that, I realized, oh, there’s three sides to every marriage story. There’s his side, there’s her side, and there’s the truth. And both of them are telling a bit of the truth and both of them are honestly expressing their feelings, but their interpretation on those feelings is not always accurate.

And I will say this, this goes along with it. Don’t judge. And here’s what I mean by that. I’m gonna clear up the judgment issue for you once and for all. All right, don’t judge unless you be judged. And Christians will go out in the world and say, you know, that’s a sin. Oh, you’re being judgmental. And the person who says that is doing what? They’re being judgmental. And they’re being judgmental in the way they’re not allowed to be judgmental. And you are actually judging in the way you’re allowed to judge. We are absolutely 100% never forbidding from calling balls and strings. We’re calling balls and strikes. That’s right, that’s wrong.

Now we might not be right on all that, but we are never forbidden from making those kinds of judgments. And neither is the world. That’s what every law is about, one of those kind of judgments. Hey, you can’t murder people. We’ve decided as a society that’s wrong. All right? Can’t have sex with minors if you’re an adult. We’ve decided that’s wrong. Well, what is that? That’s judgment. That’s judging something to be right and something to be wrong.

Here’s what, here’s what we can’t do. I know why they did that. I know why you said that. I know what’s going on in you. No, you don’t. That’s the kind of judgment that we’re forbidden.

A couple came to us, started coming to our church. They were getting some help, but they were going two steps forward, three steps back, and all of a sudden she started showing up at church with injuries, strange injuries. Broken collarbone, fell playing ping-pong, and then, you know, just other sprained wrists, this, that. Husband, sweetest guy, nicest guy, soft-spoken, just a sweet guy. Then she tries to kill herself. What the heck? You have Jesus in your life. What are you doing trying to kill yourself? Oh, I’m just so depressed.

Well, it finally comes out. They’re dancing this real dysfunctional dance because they’re just broken people, right? And whenever they, she was a good-looking lady, and whenever they got in a fight, she’d get all dressed up, go down to the bar, and try to get some male attention. He’d get mad, get all liquored up, go down to the bar, pick her up, drag her home, and beat her up. Nice, sweet, soft-spoken guy who would just beat the heck out of this woman. Oh my gosh.

Finally, it comes to the light, right? And so she wants to get better, and she realizes she’s got to go. She’s got to leave the environment. And so I help her. I go down with the sheriff. The sheriff, you know, will go down and let you pack some things. But she didn’t want to just do that with the sheriff. She wanted me to go down there. So I went down there. She got her clothes out. She left.

And, you know, I went and talked to her husband. And I said, man, this is the kind of judgment you can make. You can’t beat your wife. That’s wrong. And then that’s when he told me what she did that precipitated the beating. Well, she got all dressed up and went down to the bar and was flirting with these guys. OK, that’s wrong, too. You can’t beat your wife.

In fact, I knew he wasn’t ready to get better when he said these words. It sent chills down my spine. Here’s what she did to get herself beat. So not taking any responsibility there, is he?

I just looked at him and said, man, I said, no, you got to take responsibility. And he’s like, well, you know, she’s doing this and she’s doing that. So that’s why I helped her leave. It’s like, this guy’s, you know, he could swear up and down. He’s not going to beat you anymore, but he’s going to beat you still.

Anyway, but in the process of that conversation, he said, my dad used to take a shovel to me. Now, that did not justify him beating his wife. But that sure gave me perspective, didn’t it? I’ve known people who have been pedophiles, and I know people who are tempted, but don’t act on it to have relations with children. And the people who are tempted that don’t act on it, who have had the courage to share that with me, by the way, lest you could be concerned, I never put them in children’s ministry.

But people have shared that with me. And every one of them, without exception, was what? Molested as a child. Now, that doesn’t make them ever acting out on that, right. But it sure does help me understand their temptation. And it sure does help me pray in a more effective way in bringing deliverance.

We can’t judge people’s motives. We have not walked in their shoes. We do not know where they’ve been. We can judge behavior. So the next time somebody tells you don’t judge, you give them that lecture. Here’s what I can judge, and here’s what I can’t judge, and by the way, here’s what you judge, and here’s what you can’t judge. That’s what it means. All right?

All right. He says pursue holiness, because without holiness, no one will see God. What does that mean? You can’t love God in the world. Love for the world is hatred of the Father, and you think, oh my gosh, I’m lost. No, you’re not. God’s got a hold on you.

For years, my life first. You know it. I’ve quoted it. Psalm 73, 25, and 26. 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’re 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)

you know what that is? That’s a prayer for holiness. That’s a prayer to pursue and love one thing, and every time I say that prayer, I tell God honestly, you know, God, there are things in this world I desire besides you.

So I have not arrived, but the fact that I realize it and honestly confess it before God, and I tell God I want that to be true of me, I’m on the road. So are you. So are you. Holiness does not mean to be a self-righteous prig. It does not mean to be holier than thou. It does not mean to be judgmental, as I already said, in the wrong way of others.

Holiness means that we are to be different, and it’s a good thing, and most of you feel this way, if not all of you. You feel uncomfortable in this world. You feel uncomfortable in this culture. You feel like, hey, things are going, there are things that are going the wrong way, and you recognize that. That’s good. You’re not supposed to feel comfortable. You are strangers and aliens. Your discomfort is a good sign.

Now, most of us are confused about what to do with it. I gotcha. Follow Jesus. He’ll lead us. But it’s okay to be uncomfortable. But here’s how we’re to be different. We’re not to be different in that we click our tongues and wag our, you know, I would never. That’s not, that’s not, that’s the picture the world has of the church. Now, I don’t think the church is like that, but I think there’s enough people, like every stereotype, you can always find somebody who fits it.

There are people out there who fit that stereotype, but here’s how we’re to be different. We’re to be so loving that we’re different. Because that’s what it means to be holy, to be different. Jesus was holy. And he wasn’t self-righteous, but he also had no problem calling out sin. He had no problem calling balls and strikes. Got him killed. Got him killed.

So we have to be brave. We have to be loving. And I promise you, you will be slandered for that. You’ll be called names for that. Just happens. Goes with the territory. Holiness will cost you. But you know what unholiness will cost you? You won’t see God. You know the reward for holiness? You see God.

Kevin, are you preaching salvation by works? No, I’m preaching salvation by becoming like Jesus, and you become like Jesus by faith. God’ll make, God’ll get you there. But pursue it. And don’t be afraid of it. Don’t be afraid. Don’t be a worldly Christian. Just to fit in, Lord, I got to relate. You do, but you don’t have to compromise. You don’t have to join in all the water cooler conversations. Understand what I’m saying?

On the other hand, you don’t have to be so self-righteous that you don’t have any relationship with your neighbors and other people in the world. You got to enter in where you can enter in. It’s great when you have kids, by the way, because kids put you in the world. They’re in Little League and other things, but you got to enter in. You got to be a part of the neighborhood, the community, because where else is the light coming from?

And you got to love so powerfully that people will either hate you for it or be attracted to it. Why are you… This is a question that every one of us in one form or another needs to get asked in our lifetime. Why are you different?

Why are you different? All right? That’s what holiness is. Recognize God’s grace and join with it. Join it with faith. Don’t see to it that you don’t fall short or miss the grace of God. The power of God is available. His grace is available. His resources are available.

How do we access those resources? How do we activate those resources? How do we walk in those resources? By faith. By faith, we become like Jesus. The grace of God is available for us to grow into the likeness of Christ. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. It’s fruit. make it grow.

There’s nothing in us that makes that fruit grow, but we have a responsibility. We’ll skip over from Galatians to John. I am the vine, you are the branches. If you abide in me, you bear much fruit. What’s our responsibility there? To bring all the nutrients, all the water, all the resources to grow the fruit? No. We can’t do that.

Turn to somebody next to you and say, you can’t become a plump grape. But you can abide in the vine and you’re going to find that there’s plump grapes all over the place. By the way, I just want to tell you, if you’re a young woman and you want to get a tattoo, here’s my recommendation. Right there on the small of your back, you know where they do, get a nice picture of a bunch of grapes tattooed on your back. Because when you’re an old woman, there’ll be raisins. So that’ll be great. Yeah. Yeah. See if she’s got any grapes that have turned to raisins.

All right. So God’s power is available to be like Jesus in character. God’s power is available to be like Jesus in ministry. Character is called fruit, the fruit of the Spirit. Ministry is called gifts, the gifts of the Spirit. And so we can operate in the gifts of the Spirit. God’s grace is there. There’s no power in us to heal the sick.

What did Jesus tell your friend? The prayers of many righteous have come before me, so I’m healing you. The power is in Jesus. The prayers of the righteous are us. That’s us joining the power of God with faith. And it brings, activates that grace of God to do the ministry of Jesus and to demonstrate his kingdom on earth.

So join God’s grace and faith is acting in trust. Faith is not believing the right doctrines. We’ve talked about before, that’s the faith. Yes, we are to hold to the faith, but that’s not faith. There’s a sect in the church, a group in the church, and if you believe them, it’s like if you don’t believe in justification by faith alone, according to Martin Luther, not even according to Romans, according to Martin Luther. I’m not picking on Lutheran share, I’m picking on a broader branch.

You’re not saved unless you believe all the correct theology. No, it is good to believe correct theology. It will help you to believe correct theology. It will give you a strong skeletal structure to live in Christ likeness. But here’s what you got to do. You got to trust in the living resurrected person of Jesus. That’s what faith is.

There are people who don’t have great theology, and who actually walk more in the grace and power of God than people with flawless theology because they actually have more faith, more faith.

Finally, avoid defilement. Avoid bringing defilement in the church. Avoid bringing it into your life. He uses the example of Esau. Esau is the Old Testament picture of defilement. What did Esau do that was so bad? Here’s what he did that was so bad. He sold his birthright for a cup of soup.

Now, why is that so bad? Because the birthright is something enormously precious. It is your legacy. It is your destiny. It is who you are in God and in the eyes of your parents. And Esau thought so little of that, he took his immediate hunger. He told his brother Jacob, I’m starving to death! you know how long it would have taken him to get another cup of soup from some other place? Ten minutes. Could have been in his mother’s house and said, Mommy, make me some soup.

But he gave in to his physical senses. He gave in to his bodily cravings and sold out something so much greater. And that is defilement. And the devil will use our body to bring defilement to our destiny.

Now, let me tell you, there’s two mistakes people make about our flesh, our physical flesh, our body, our hungers, our desires, our wants. The first mistake that they make, that the vast majority of the world makes, that we’re all tempted to make and probably do from time to time, is we indulge our flesh. We just do what it tells us to do.

Anybody overeat Thursday, Friday? I suffered for it Friday night. I suffer now for overeating like I never have before. I don’t have a gallbladder anymore. I’m older. You know, I used to be able to stuff myself and I’d be fine. Now I stuff myself and I’m miserable. And I learned again. Friday night, I’m like, Oh, honey, I can’t go to bed. I can’t lay down. I might never get up again. I suffered.

And I indulged my flesh. I, you know what, the food, there was plenty of food. I could have eaten more of it Saturday. I could have eaten more of it today. But I just ate too much of it Thursday and Friday. Now what happens when we indulge our flesh is we take a good thing out of proportion, and it becomes a bad thing.

So here’s the other error that we make with those natural desires.

One is we overindulge them past the boundaries that God has established for them, and then they become destructive. I got many a friend my age, who has children and grandchildren not from their wives, and they paid 30 years of child support, or 20 years of child support, for some kid that they helped bring into being, and that kid grew up mostly fatherless.

I mean, some of them tried, some of them couldn’t try because of circumstances. Either their present wife, nor the mother of that child wanted them there. There’s a lot of men who, you know, we call them deadbeat dads, and they are in the sense that they weren’t there for their kid, but there are reasons they weren’t. Again, can’t judge, right?

I know guys who had kids outside of marriage, they wanted to be a father to that kid, and their wife that they later married said, you have nothing to do with that woman and that child. And to honor their wives, that child then grew up fatherless. I know women who have said, yeah, you fathered this child, but you ran away, and the guy says, yeah, I repent, I come back, I want to be a dad. And I know women who say, you have nothing to do with me and that child.

It’s not always their fault, sometimes it is, a lot of times it is. A lot of times men just don’t want to take responsibility for their sex lives. All that being said, what did they do? They indulged in a pleasure outside of the boundaries that God had established, and for a 10-minute romp, 25 years of child payments and a fatherless child. That’s what Esau did. That’s what happens when we indulge in a pleasure outside of the boundaries that God had established, and for a 10-minute romp, we indulge our senses.

The other error is the error of asceticism where we think all those earthly pleasures are bad, and so we completely avoid them. Sometimes in the early church, that was considered the highest form of holiness, was to go out in the desert and fast and abstain and just live in a cave, isolated with God. Now I’m not saying there aren’t people who are called to do that. God may call people to that, but I think the life of the monastery had its value, but it also had a huge detrimental side, and what does it do?

It took people out of the world, and it demonized things that in creation, God called good. Let me tell you about food. Food is good, all right? Those things that you enjoy, sports is good. Sex is good. Those things that our bodies, God gave us those pleasures, and there are purposes for all of them. He made the things necessary to live pleasurable. How good of a God is that? I want you to populate the planet.

Great, I’m gonna make it fun, better. Then I’m gonna give you kids, and before the fall, they would have been great. Now they’re little original sinners. The wages of sin is death. The wages of sex is children. Deal with it.

Food is good, but you could kill yourself with it. It’s like a river. The good things of God is that precious water. If you look at a map of the United States, before irrigation, all the major cities. or what? They’re by rivers. Kansas City, St. Louis, I mean you can’t find a major city in the United States until you got irrigation and then people started thinking, hey Phoenix would be a good place to have a city. L. A. would be a good place to have a city.

You know the Colorado River is going, no leave me alone. Quit taking all my water. You know, Las Vegas. Then we started building cities in the desert, but nobody built it. Nobody built a city in the desert 200 years ago. What kind of idiot would do that? You need water. You build a city by a river. Because rivers, waters bring life and there’s two problems.

One problem is when the water goes over the bank and then it becomes destructive. Then it’s a flood and that’s bad. That’s when we indulge the things that God has given us outside of the boundaries he has given us. We get a mess, we get a flood, it’s destructive. But when we deny those things and just dam up the river, then we get drought. There’s no life there.

And so dear ones, both of those are errors. The error of over indulging our sensuality and the error of denying the goodness of God’s creation, but just learning to enjoy the goodness in the boundaries he’s given us. And that’s how we don’t bring defilement. Esau sold his birthright because he couldn’t wait 10 minutes. I’m dying, I’m starving.

You ever have kids say that? Feed me now, I’m starving. It’s like, no, I saw you eat seven waffles for breakfast, all right? You’re not starving. You will, you know, I always know, you know, right? I’m starving. Good, I’ll make you up a bowl of vegetables. No, I don’t want that. You’re not starving then, are you?

Oh grandpa, oh my grandpa. I even do that to my grandkids because their mom told me I couldn’t give them sugar all the time. Mean lady that she is. I love my wife. Grandma, can I have an ice cream sandwich? Honey, dinner’s almost ready, so only one. She says she didn’t say that. I think she did.

In any case, don’t live for your body, live for God. But realize that a good God made your body good. And there’s, enjoy it. Enjoy it. Brian, get on that bike and ride, brother. Enjoy nature, enjoy that, you know, just enjoy, enjoy it. That is great. That is great.

All right. Enjoy your Thanksgiving meal.

Just put the brakes on, Kevin. Put the brakes on. Don’t flood the valley. All right. I’m not going to say more about that. I think I’ve made my point.

So here’s what I’m going to say. 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 your peace to love and serve the Lord. Be a grown up. Be a mature Christian. All right.

And when you need help, don’t be macho. Come and get help. Both of those things can be true at the same time.

God bless.