December 17, 2023 by P. Kevin Clancey
1 Oh come, let us sing to the Lord ! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. 2 Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. 3 For the Lord is the great God, And the great King above all gods. 4 In His hand are the deep places of the earth; The heights of the hills are His also. 5 The sea is His, for He made it; And His hands formed the dry land. 6 Oh come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. 7 For He is our God, And we are the people of His pasture, And the sheep of His hand. Today, if you will hear His voice: 8 “Do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion, As in the day of trial in the wilderness, 9 When your fathers tested Me; They tried Me, though they saw My work. 10 For forty years I was grieved with that generation, And said, ‘It is a people who go astray in their hearts, And they do not know My ways.’ 11 So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest.’ ” (Psalms 95:1-11, NKJV)
So it’s a very interesting psalm, and it fits kind of as we’re getting toward the end of Hebrews. It starts with this great psalm of praise, but then it gives this warning, ‘Don’t harden your hearts.’
And as I read it this week, I just thought, ‘Man, that’s Hebrews.’ Hebrews just tells us of this great work of God, the new covenant, Jesus superior, the new covenant superior, everything superior. Everything in the old covenant is not useless, but it’s pointing to the new.
It’s a shadow, it’s a type, it’s pointing us to the new, and then Jesus comes, and he initiates the new covenant, and all things are fulfilled.
And people say, “Oh, I wish I lived in the good old days.” No, you don’t, you want to live now. These are the good days. These are the days of the new covenant. These are the days where sins are truly forgiven, not by the blood of bulls and goats, but by the blood of the son.
These are the days where we can have fellowship with God, and the curtain in the temple is torn down, and we now are the temple and the living stones of God. And God is alive and well on planet Earth, and he’s moving through us, and we have purpose in…
and destiny in our life. It is a great salvation that we have inherited. Therefore, don’t be a knucklehead and harden your hearts. All right? So turn to somebody next to you before we begin to sing and worship and say, don’t be a knucklehead. Don’t be a knucklehead.
Thank you. Thank you, Kathleen. If you ever see me being a knucklehead, you come get in my face and you tell me that, all right? You tell me too. All right, all right. All right, so let’s rise up and let’s celebrate the incarnation of our Lord with some historic songs that people traditionally sing around this time of year. Shall we?
5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. 9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5-11, NKJV)
Who, although he existed in all eternity in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be grasped. But he humbled himself and became one of us.
One of the early church fathers, I’m not sure who it was, Irenaeus maybe, said, “The Son of God became a man so that men and women might become—I’m inclusivizing the language—the Son of God became a man so that men and women might become sons and daughters of God.”
And so, dear ones, you are participants in the new covenant, you are participants in the life of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who became a man, so that we could forever be his children. We could be the forever family of God.
New covenant, great forgiveness, great life, great hope. Come and take communion and be thankful. Amen?
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. (Psalms 73:25-26, NKJV)
Lord, cast out every idol among us, everything that we lean on that is not of you, even if the world calls it a good thing. If we put it first, Lord, then cast it out, that we might have Christ, Christ alone as our Lord and King.
We thank you that you came to the world to seek and save that which was lost, and that would be us. And you got us. What joy. What joy. Amen. Amen.
All right, dear ones, next week if you come here at 5 o’clock, 4:45, there are different times people arrive, 4:45, 5, 5:15, 6, 6:15, 6:01, 6:10, there will be no one here for you. There will be no one here for you.
However, if you go to 646 5th Street in downtown Bremerton at 5 p.m., we will be having a combined Christmas Eve service with Discovery Fellowship. And so it is good when the churches, different clubhouses of Christ’s one church, get together and worship together. And we love, Discovery Fellowship has been meeting in that building with us now for several years. We love them, they love us, and so we’ll just be joining together to do that.
And some of you be traveling, so we pray in the name of Jesus, travel mercies, all the mercies of travel, not just that you get there safely, that your luggage gets there safely, that your flights are on time, that the people who come and pick you up get there safely, and get you, that everything happens in order and decency until you’re back here where you belong. All right?
So that’s what we pray in Jesus’ name. All right, good. We are gonna finish with the book of Hebrews by New Year’s Eve, by December 31st.
And so, we’re in chapter 13, two more weeks. We’re starting at verse 9 through verse 19 tonight with final exhortations. It’s interesting, the book of Hebrews is this deep theological work comparing, as we’ve talked about, the old and the new, starting with angels and Jesus, Moses and Jesus, the new temple, the old temple, the new temple, the old priesthood, the new priesthood, the old covenant, the new covenant, all these things where the old is contrasted with the new, and the new is better.
And then, time and time again, as the old is contrasted with the new, the author of Hebrews says, “Now listen, pay attention to this, don’t ignore this. Life and death hinge on this. All right, this is not small news. This is important news. So pay heed, walk in this. Don’t take this lightly, invest in this. Give your life to this. This is where life is found.” And so, it’s just constant warnings.
And then, finally in Hebrews 13, just a whole list of pastoral exhortations. A whole list of, “Well, here’s what you ought to do.”
Well, how do we do that? You know, kind of how ought we to live? And just, it’s kind of like the Proverbs. It’s just a bunch of good advice.
And so, last week we touched on some of the points, and tonight we’re gonna touch on some more of those points of what is the good advice. But the foundation of all of it, just always remember, the Bible is not primarily a book of moral instruction.
It’s not primarily a book of do’s and don’ts, and you make a mistake when you approach the Bible as a book of do’s and don’ts. What the Bible is primarily about is what God has done. Therefore, got it? We’re the therefore.
But we have to know what God has done before we do the therefore. One of two things will happen. If this is not our response to amazing grace, one of two things will happen. We will find it so hard to live this out that we’ll get discouraged and quit.
Without amazing grace, we’ll get discouraged. If this is just a bunch of rules, you won’t be able to keep them, okay? And you’ll just go, “Well, I quit. Eat, drink, and be merry, tomorrow I die. Just quit.” Or worse than that, you will slowly but surely find the few rules that you’re good at following, pat yourself on the back continually for how good you follow them, and condemn everybody else as a mean religious, religious, religious, that’s a religious legalist, a religious, that’s a religious legalist. It might not be a word, but it is after tonight.
Listen, if it’s not amazing grace, it’s failure or self-righteous Pharisees. So as I give you this list, don’t get discouraged and quit, and don’t pat yourself on the back and say, I keep two out of three of these really good, and man those other people are sure worse than me. All right? Got it? But these are spirit-empowered things that we can do, that we can live out our lives, to live in covenant relationship with God, so that we are fruitful and we live our lives well as we move toward our heavenly home.
So, first thing, well, let me read the Bible to you, and then we’ll talk about the first thing. Verse 9, “Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines, for it is good that the heart be established by grace, not with foods which have not profited those who have been occupied with them. For we have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat. For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp.”
9 Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines. For it is good that the heart be established by grace, not with foods which have not profited those who have been occupied with them. 10 We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat. 11 For the bodies of those animals, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp. (Hebrews 13:9-11, NKJV)
Therefore, Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come.
12 Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. 13 Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach. 14 For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come. (Hebrews 13:12-14, NKJV)
Therefore, by him, let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to his name. But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices, God is well pleased.
15 Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. 16 But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. (Hebrews 13:15-16, NKJV)
Obey those who rule over you and be submissive, for they watch over your souls as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you. Pray for us, for we are confident that we have a good conscience in all things, desiring to live honorably. But I especially urge you to this, that I may be restored to you the sooner.
17Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you. 18Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly. 19But I especially urge you to do this, that I may be restored to you the sooner. (Hebrews 13:17-19, NKJV)
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. Amen.
All right, so here’s the list. Avoid strange teachings. Avoid esoteric teachings. Avoid new knowledge and hidden secrets not in Scripture. And the church is oftentimes chock full of these. Bookstores are chock full of these. The seven secrets to casting out demons.
I’ll tell you the one secret to casting out demons. Know who you are in Christ and your authority in Christ and tell the demons.
Well, what about, you need to know the strategies of hell and the diamond-shaped cone, and I’ve been involved in those kinds of ministries. And let me tell you something, the first century had a name for that, and church history has a name for that. It’s called Gnosticism. It’s called secret knowledge.
All right, here’s how to get your prayers open. Here’s how to get your prayers answered. Don’t pray the simple Lord’s Prayer. Don’t pray in simple faith to Jesus. You must understand all about the courts of heaven and how the court system in heaven operates.
And you must get into the right system, and you must say the right words. It becomes magic, it becomes gnostic. No, there’s one secret to prayer. Know the Father, know the Son, and come to Him in humility and simplicity like a little child.
You know how I know that? It’s in the Bible. It’s not in some book. Now, I’m not saying that books don’t expound upon the Bible.
I’ve read books on deliverance that were, in fact, very helpful. They look deeply at the human personality and how the human personality works, and help us understand how demons kind of integrate with that. But still, the point is, what? Repentance, renunciation, authority. Those are all scriptural things.
There was a guest preacher who came to town, and I guess he gave a whole seminar. You know, Philip is transposed physically. Philip goes from the Ethiopian eunuch to, where’d he go? Antioch or somewhere? Anyway, you know, he just was in one place and another place.
Okay, it appears once in the Bible. It doesn’t say how to do it. It doesn’t say what the purpose of it is, and this guy came and gave a whole weekend seminar on how to experience that, on how to, you know, be able to get from one place to the other place.
I have people who talk about doing new age things, like, what’s the word for it? Where you travel, your soul travels out of your body and goes to different places in the world and that sort of thing. There’s a word for that.
I forget what it is. And they talk about how to do that. Now, if God wants to, in a dream or trance, as you’re seeking him in humility, lift you and give you a vision of some other land and some other place that you might intercede for it, yay God. But then, that’s a far different thing.
The person who receives that receives that as a surprise, not because they took a seminar on how to make that happen and become some kind of super spiritual saint. Avoid, listen, God can do weird stuff. Avoid pursuing weird stuff.
Pursue God, and if God wants to do weird stuff, go yay God. Thank you, Kathleen. The world should be an encourager like you. Don’t chase after esoteric teachings. Chase after the main and the plane of scripture.
Don’t chase after new secret knowledge. Listen, there’s no new secret knowledge that you’re gonna know that’s gonna make you any better until you get the old knowledge. Don’t chase after hidden secrets, not in scriptures.
I don’t know what the strange teaching was. It was something about food, but you get that in the church, right?
You get that in the church. Oh, you know, people are telling you, you need to eat like Daniel ate, or you need to eat like the Old Testament laws told you to eat. And we have a whole group of Christians running back to the old covenant and believing you’ve got to obey all the Levitical sacrifices and systems and all that to get the full blessing of God.
And that completely denies Christ, who is the fulfillment of, that’s the whole point of the book of Hebrews, hello? He’s the fulfillment of those things.
Listen, you can have a Seder meal. It’s a great teaching opportunity to teach about how all of those things do what? Point to Christ. But for all the elaborateness of a Seder meal, this simple meal is a million times more powerful. Infinitely more powerful.
Don’t think that 2,000 years later, somebody’s going to invent a new and better way to Jesus. New and improved. Repentance, faith, discipleship, hello?
Now, I’m not talking about being anti-experience. Man, I love experiences. And, man, there are a lot of experiences in the book, all right?
There are dreams, there are visions, there’s prophecies, there’s power, there’s healings, there’s miraculous things, there’s strange things. But those strange things don’t come because we seek strange things. They come because we seek Him. And they’re given in His wisdom and His pleasure and His time and in His way.
You can be a weirdo. Just don’t pursue it. If God makes you a weirdo, great. I’m not a weirdo. I mean, that’s a derogatory term. I mean, I’m saying that to make fun of myself because I am one.
I used to make fun of people who do stuff now that I do regularly or that happen to me regularly. I used to watch TV and make fun of them, and now it’s like I am one. Good.
You know how I got there? Hungry for God. Not hungry for the stuff. The stuff comes. All right.
We are outsiders. Here’s the rub. We’re meant to love this world, and we live in this world. And we have to make a living in this world. Okay. We have to, we have to get jobs. We raise our children.
We interact with people all the time. But dear ones, we’re different. We’re different. I love The Chosen. I’ve loved that show. I just think it’s done so well. And I love the little opening, the love, the simple little opening when that, when they, you know, after they do the opening piece and then they play the song and show the credits and it’s just a simple picture of these gray fish swimming one direction and then what happens? One comes to life and he turns green, right? Am I getting this right?
And then flips and what does he do? Swims the other way. It’s us. Jesus came and now we’re swimming the other way.
You know what happens when you swim upstream? You get the snot beat out of you. Those salmon got a rough, rough gig, man. That’s a rough gig. You’re swimming against the tide.
It’s supposed to be hard. Don’t think there’s something wrong because it’s hard. It’s supposed to be hard. Don’t think it’s something wrong because the culture doesn’t understand you.
Listen, I get tired of Christians bashing Christians, saying that we’re all mean Pharisees because the world isn’t attracted to Jesus through us. Now, here’s the nuance of it. Here’s the difficulty of it. That is true of some people. There are some really mean, Pharisaical, hypocritical, angry, legalistic people who take on the name of Jesus. But we all get painted with that brush. We all get painted with that brush.
And I see some Christians trying so hard to, to say, ‘no, that’s not me, no, that’s not us, no, no, no, no, we’re really nice, we’re really nice, no, no, no.’ They just try so hard to do that, and in doing that, they end up bashing all the others. ‘No, I know most of them are like that, but not us. We’re really loving,’ and I just, it ain’t worth the effort. If somebody hasn’t figured out that I’m not Westboro Baptist Church, then they haven’t figured out I’m not Westboro Baptist Church.
If you don’t know who Westboro Baptist Church is, good on you, you don’t need to know. They just fit the stereotypes in really ugly ways. All I can do is live my life in him authentically. I remember, and this is proof of it, right? This is what happened to you.
I heard somebody, somebody I knew, non-Christian, that was friends of mine, and they were bashing Christians, say, “Oh, all those Christians are like that.” And I just looked at him, I said, “Am I like that?”
“Oh, not you, Kevin.”
“Okay, how many Christians do you know?”
Well, not a lot, I didn’t mean I know you. So the one you know is not like all those Christians. No, but I read the news, and I watch things, like yeah. Okay, so your experience of Christians is not that. Your experience of Christians is me, and I’m far less than perfect, but you know I’m not like that. Yeah, that’s my experience, but you still come to the conclusion that all Christians. In other words, live your life in such a way that you give a person with stereotypes a problem. And that’s all you can do.
That’s all you can do. Peter says, “you’re gonna suffer in this world. You might as well suffer for doing good instead of doing bad. Just live your life for Jesus, and let the chips fall.”
And here’s what’s gonna happen. I know this, because it happened to Jesus. If we live our lives faithfully for Jesus, empowered by his spirit, in this world, swimming upstream. They’re going to be fish along the way, you go, “I’m going with them.”
And you know what the rest of them are going to do?
Throw rocks at us and nail us to cruel pieces of wood. That’s what they do. I’m not, you know, prophesying you’re going to die a horrible martyr’s death. I’m just saying don’t exhaust yourself trying to please everybody. Please God.
Oh, that simplifies life, doesn’t it? Oh my goodness. That simplifies life.
I had a youth pastor and he was so worried about what the parents were thinking. I was like, “Well, kid, I don’t know what these, this parent said this and what did that mean? And this parent said this and what did that mean?”
And he was just trying to, you know, figure out, you know, if all the parents were happy with what he was doing with their kids. And I just stopped him. I said, ‘Newbie,’ his name is Steve Newbill, new bomb, newbie, call him newbie. I said, ‘Newbie, I said, look at, as youth pastor of this church, you only have to please two people, me and God. And I’m happy. You can check and see how God is. I think you’re doing a great job. But what about the parents?’ I said, ‘you know what?’
I’m a parent of kids in the youth group, and I love you. Most of them love you, but they’re not all going to love you. They’re not all going to love you. All right.
I’ve been pastoring churches for a long time, and I now have this huge kind of paranoia. I probably need to get delivered from it.
People will come in and say, ‘Oh, pastor, I’ve been looking for a church like this and I’ve been looking for a pastor like you,’ and you’re just, and it’s like, and you know, when I was young, I thought this is awesome. This feels so good. This is great. But I realized that what was happening, especially if these people have been like to six churches in six years, I realized now. I realize it’s like, ‘Oh no, no, no, no. Duck.’ Right? Because there’s this thing called transference, right?
That, you know, daddy wasn’t the right guy for them, and they’re so desperately looking for daddy, and so they just transfer all that, “I want you to be my daddy,” onto you, and they’re so happy. And then there are landmines that you never see. You know, you say a word from their Christmas when they were two years old, and in an instant, you go from, you know, the fourth member of the Trinity to, you know, second in charge to Satan himself.
It’s like, I just tell people all the time, and, you know, you know this, I’m not as good as Jesus. Right? Do I have an amen? Amen. And I’m not as bad as the devil. Can I get another amen? All right. And nobody is.
All right. We bear the reproach, don’t be surprised by it, and then, dear ones, the world’s not our home. Oh, my goodness, my wife and I have gone through the process now of selling a home in California, buying a home in Washington.
We own two homes, so every problem we have with this process of selling a home and buying a home, and we’ve had problems, and we just, we’ve got one that’s kind of a difficult one at the time, and we just look at each other and we say, okay, we live in America and we own two homes. These are champagne problems. These are first-world problems. Oh, my gosh, it was so bad I was in Greece when they put the fountain in the backyard. I missed it. Sorry. Yeah. I mean, first-world problems, right?
But it’s tempting, whenever you’re making decisions like that, you know, retirement and retirement plans and the purchase of homes, and when you’re younger, who you’re going to marry, who you’re going to, you know, who you’re going to be with, and what kind of life are you going to build. And it’s always tempting, and there’s always this draw, because we have to live in this world and we want to live in this world responsibly. There is always this draw to get too firmly planted in this world. And here’s the word: you’re gonna die and nobody’s gonna care about your cabin in the woods except your kids. And if they’re good kids, they’ll enjoy it. If they’re bad kids, they’ll fight over it.
The world is not our home and life is short and eternity is long. Live for the latter. Jim Elliott, the famous missionary who was martyred in Ecuador, before he was martyred, probably prophesying, had this wonderful quote: “The man is no fool who gives what he cannot keep in order to gain what he cannot lose.” He gave his life to gain eternity, and not only for himself but for a whole nation of natives in the land of Ecuador. Life is short, just short. It goes quick, right? How many of us are thinking, “What, another Christmas?”
When I was four, the time between December 1st and December 25th seemed like an eternity. And now, the time between 1980 and 2023 seems like it went like that. It’s like that. Yeah, I saw, I saw, I saw they came out with a remake for Beverly Hills Cop number four, and I remember seeing that when Jill was pregnant with our second child. And I’m looking at the remake and they’re bringing back all these characters. I’m gonna man, those people are old. I don’t remember those people being old. For those people old? Oh, they weren’t old.
You go to your high school reunion, right?
It’s like, who are all these fat, bald people? I didn’t go to high school with fat, bald people. Who are all these people? They are you. Life is short. Eternity is long.
Listen, our destination, our eternity, are the new heavens and the new earth. This is how I think it works. This is how I think it works. We die, we depart, we be with Christ, and we go to intermediate or, you know, in-between heaven, paradise. And it’s glorious, and it’s great.
But then, Jesus returns to earth, and the dead are raised, and all are judged, and we get these resurrection bodies, and then the new heavens and the new earth are joined together, and we live forever on the new heavens and the new earth. And it’s not going to be floating on clouds playing harps. It’s going to be civilization. It’s going to be buildings. It’s going to be cities. It’s going to be art. It’s going to be culture. It may even be, you know, it may be sports. Hallelujah.
There’ll be horses, Stevan, and you can ride them. Sidney, you and Stevan can ride horses, and Sophia and Jamie, you don’t have to. There’ll be books, Sophia. There’ll be libraries, endless libraries. You may sit down and have a face-to-face conversation with witty Jane Austen herself. It’ll be wonderful.
There’ll be engineers, Peter. And they’ll be developing things. It’ll be awesome. It’s all going to be there. I think the only useless profession that there’ll be no need for up there will be preachers. Lawyers? No lawyers, yeah. Yeah, there’ll be a lot.
Doctors, dentists, all the medical professionals will be out. I just had a terrible thought.
Just, I just had… I just had a terrible thought. Will any Dennis be there? Of course, they will. I know Dennis are wonderful. There will even be… there’ll be lawyers there. They’ll be… there’ll be… there’ll all be there. The animal kingdom will be represented, except for… there you go. All right, so that’s our destination, that’s our hope. Do not, do not plant yourself so firmly in this earth that you lose out on that.
Now, what is the purpose then of this earth? What do you do in this earth when you buy, when you sell, when you plan, when you retire, when you go to work, when you have babies, when you get married, when you graduate? What is your purpose on earth? Your purpose on earth is simply to be the instrument to answered prayer. ‘Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’
10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10, NKJV)
Do you know when you pray that, you’re enlisting? When you say ‘thy kingdom come, thy will be done, God, on earth as it is in heaven,’ you’re not praying that God will magically bring his kingdom to earth. What you’re actually saying is, ‘Lord, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’
And as you have filled me with your spirit, I am now an instrument to the answer of that prayer.
That’s your job description. You’re an engineer? You’re an engineer for Jesus. You’re a teacher? You’re a teacher for Jesus. You’re in the military? You’re in the military for Jesus. You’re a homemaker? You’re a homemaker for Jesus. Whatever it is that you’re doing, you’re at school? You’re at school for Jesus. And you do those things to the best of your ability as if you’re doing them for Jesus. You know why? Y’all are… y’all are doing them for Jesus. And you’re representing Jesus. And you have a king, and you have a country, and you’re in foreign land, and you’re in enemy occupied territory.
And you’re boldly going into that, shining as bright lights in the world. And as I said before, some will be attracted to that, others will be appalled by it.
And your job is to be faithful in it. And as you live for heaven, here’s what happens. Heaven loves that so much that it rushes back to earth to meet you there.
I was talking with a group of pastors and talking about a certain church and one of the pastors, and one of my problems with that church, and I don’t talk about other churches and their problems, but in this case, one of my problems was this thing I first talked about, esoteric teaching.
It seemed like there was a lot of esoteric teaching going on in this church. You know, about seventh heavens and, you know, just stuff that seemed like a lot. But another guy had the problem. He said, “I think that this church struggles from,” he used the phrase, “over-realized eschatology.” And what he meant is “kingdom now, not yet,” they preach too much “kingdom now,” that they insist everybody gets healed, this and that and that.
And I just said, you know, I think they may do that, but I think that’s a balance to the Western church that for centuries has taught under-realized eschatology. And so this is a Kevinism, right? You know, the longer you come, the more Kevinisms you get. And you don’t want to drill these in your head.
I left a church one time; they had top ten Kevinisms. I thought, ‘I’ve done my job.’ It’s like a parent, right? You put stuff in your kid’s head that will not… Mothers put things in their kid’s head that never leave.
Good for you, moms. I mean, I am 65 years old, and when I leave the house, I’m wondering, do I have clean underwear in case I get in an accident? My dad didn’t teach me that. I never understood that because if you get in an accident, your underwear’s not going to be clean anyway. Never mind. So, just like, but there you go. My kid.
To this day, right, somebody will say, ‘Well, that’s not fair,’ and one of my kids will just perk up, ‘Life’s not fair, get used to it,’ and I just smile with delight. Alright, so here’s the Kevin-ism. I don’t know how much heaven on earth we can get, but I bet we can get more. And you know, one of my songs, I already said one of them, but another one, ‘I would have lost hope but for this, that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Heaven invade earth.’ I don’t think we can hope for enough over-realized eschatology. We need more over-realized eschatology. Churches that don’t have an over-realized eschatology hardly see any eschatology. So, I like a little over-realized eschatology. Bring heaven to earth, that’s our job description. We offer sacrifices of praise, that’s one of the ways we bring heaven to earth. When we adore the King, the King likes it.
I love this story. This is an addition to the story, but you know, Paul and Silas got arrested in Philippi for casting a demon out of a girl, right? For doing a good thing, setting a girl free, casting the demon out of her. They hurt the town’s economy, or they hurt these crooked slavers’ economy, so they got slandered against. They got beaten and thrown in jail. What do they do when they’re beaten and thrown in jail? ‘Let’s call a lawyer, we’re gonna sue.’ No, that’s not what they did. They began to sing praises to God. You know what happened, right? They sang praises to God, and that melody, that song, that lit as they lifted up their praise and thanksgiving to God in the midst of suffering, that lifted up through the jail cell and through the atmosphere. And what are the other spheres? Anybody know, Peter? You know the other spheres, the ionosphere, the… but yeah. Give us the spheres.
There you go. They went up through all the spheres. Man, we got beautiful nerds in this church. Went up through the spheres. They went all the, I know, I love this. They went up through all the spheres and they reached heaven. And God is listening to Paul and Silas sing as they went through all those spheres. And you know what happened? God was so touched by that tune and so moved by that tune, he began to tap his foot and there was an earthquake and the jail cells flew open. That’s how it worked, Kathleen.
When you praise God in heaven, the same thing happens, right? King Jesus, King Jesus, and King Jesus. Oh, I like that, that Firehouse Church is singing about my glory and about how I’m the king and I love how they’re submitting to me and I just want to get close to them. I just want to be among them.
I’ll tell you, every time we turn our attention to heaven, heaven turns its attention to earth. And so, we give our thanks and praise. I was grumbling about some of my problems. I do that.
And then, you know, I began to think about, count your blessings, right? I began to go into the thanksgiving, and I just realized that in the light of eternity, my problems are a pimple compared to the Mount Everest of God’s goodness. And so, we give God our praise.
The next two are difficult for me to speak about because I just don’t want to be that guy. I don’t want to be the guy who’s hitting the church up for money. But you know what? The Bible says give. The Bible says give.
You can give without loving, but you can’t love without giving. That’s the definition of love. You give love away. All right? So give. Give your money away.
Part of the deal we’re in with this house, I won’t get into the details, but some people overlooked some things that are going to end up costing my wife and I. We’re part of the people who overlook things, but we were paying people to look into these things, and they didn’t look into those things, and it’s going to cost us some money now. But here’s the deal.
I realize, if you have enough, you don’t need more. Right? If you have enough, you don’t need more. What it’s going to cost us is inconvenient. It’s upsetting. It’s more than we wanted it to cost us, but you know what it’s not going to cost us? One meal. One night outside. One car repair not being able to be made. It’s not going to cost us any of those things. It won’t even cost us one of our streaming services, so I can watch all the sports I want to watch.
It’s not going to cost our kids a Christmas present. It might cost us a trip to Europe that we were never planning on taking. When you have enough, I may need to go to Israel. Okay. I may. I’m not sure why, but I may. I think Paul’s going to need me. All right.
So here’s the deal. And you know what else it’s not gonna cost us? It’s not gonna cost us one penny we’re gonna give to the church and other ministries. How much do you give? Probably more than you want to. It’s usually the answer.
I mean, the kind of the biblical legal answer is, give a 10th. How do you figure out a 10th? Listen, move the decimal point. It’s not that hard. It’s one of the easiest math problems you can ever solve. Just take the period, there you go, you got it. It’s easy.
All right, if you think I’m after your money, I say this all the time, this is my disclaimer, all right? So you think, “Oh, all the church wants is your money.”
If you think I’m after your money, give it to some other ministry. I don’t care, just give it. You need to give it more than we need to have it, all right? You need, well, you know, after this real estate deal, I might need, nevermind. You need to give it. You need to give it more than I need to have, more than the church needs to have it. Now, I’m not telling you not to give here, you’re more than welcome to, yay. But I’m just saying, this is not a hit up for money.
This is called discipleship. What does it say? “Do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices, God is well pleased.”
16 But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. (Hebrews 13:16, NKJV)
There you go, it’s in the book, it’s in the book. Give to the poor, give to the expansion of the gospel, just give.
All right, finally, the last one. Oh, and this is the other one that’s tough for me. Obey your leaders, obey your spiritual leaders. They have to give an account, all right? Listen, people, I’m serious about this. Be good Christians, I get graded on it.
I get graded on it, it’s part of my report card. Help me out here. Give me a solid, all right? This crowd, I’ll do fine by it, but God will probably look at me and say, ‘Well, Kev, they were a lot more help to you than you were to them.’ Okay, so be it. So be it. All right.
Give honor and respect to leaders. They will have some accountability for you. Make their task a joy, not a burden. And I’m happy to say that week after week, month after month, year after year, you do.
There’s not, and this is not flattery, this is the truth. There’s not a person here who does not make my life a joy to see you walk through those doors. So, God bless you. Thank you for being such wonderful people and being so good to me and my family. Thank you.
All right, so you do a good job of that. And if you don’t, I’m gonna crack the whip, baby. I don’t want to be a cult leader, you know. Do this, this is how you do it, you know. I just was telling a story earlier.
I tried that with one couple because they were really messing up, and I just, I was so desperate. I said, “Listen, just do what I say and I can teach you how to be married,” and they refused. They didn’t do it. They made a shipwreck of their lives, of their faith, of their family, of the church. It was, they’d have done good to take my advice and do what I said. But they didn’t.
I found that bossing people around, listen, I know no better analogy than to being a pastor of the church.
I mean, the Bible uses herding sheep, but I think it’s herding cats. I just think it’s herding cats. After all the bad things I’ve said about cats, too. It’s like, you know, here kitty, kitty. Yeah, what?
All right, finally, be a person of prayer. Why? Prayer works. Listen, just because God doesn’t answer all your prayers on your timetable, in the exact way you want him to, doesn’t mean the prayer doesn’t work. I believe this theology.
I believe that God really gave – because we are created in his image and likeness – a level of authority, dominionship, and rulership of this planet to us. And the spiritual world, Michael Heizer’s world of divine counsels and fallen beings and godly messengers and the Son of God himself and the Nakash, Satan himself, that that world operates in this world, not in some way independent of us.
But I think, in a large degree, that world, that kingdom of spirituality, light, and dark operate in this world to a great degree by the invitation and agreement of God’s stewards of this planet, human beings. That’s why prayer works. “God, why didn’t you do that? Child, why didn’t you pray for that?”
I heard an angry atheist on TV. He said, “If there is a God, what would you say to him?” The atheist exalted his morality above God’s and said, “I would say to you, shame on you for childhood cancer.”
But you know what’s going to happen to that guy unless he repents? He’s going to probably hear words like this: “Shame on you, you never asked me to. You just got mad at me and never took the time to try to understand your part in making that curse come to an end on planet Earth. You cursed me before you sought me.”
If God is all good and God is all powerful, why is there evil in the world? The answer to the question of theodicy is us, because we’re evil.
And our biggest evil is we don’t seek God. Prayer is seeking God. Prayer is inviting his kingdom of light and goodness to come and advance in this kingdom of darkness. And Jesus has opened the doors to that and made it so possible.
So pray for your family. Pray for one another. Pray for your leaders. Pray for the lost. Pray. If your prayers aren’t being answered, pray differently.
You will not be heard because of your many words. You will not be heard because of your magic formulas.
You’ll be heard because you’re a friend of God’s, and you know Jesus. And so, if prayer isn’t working, work on your intimacy. Instead of just uttering phrases hoping that God will want to land and God will bring that blessing down to you, spend some time in worship and adoration and spend some time in his presence and get to know him.
And then, you’re asking a beloved friend to move in a situation in your life that he cares about even more than you do.
Five minutes of intimate prayer will do more than a lifetime of words, hoping that they’ll land on some deity somewhere upstairs. Do you understand what I’m saying? If you’re not getting your prayers answered, learn how to pray. I’ll tell you a great place for me, the Psalms.
The Psalms are filled with emotions. I have ways of praying the Psalms that deal spiritually, not necessarily, you know, when I curse my enemies. I’m not, you know, cursing the football team I don’t like. I’m talking about those spiritual powers of wickedness that are oppressing this world and oppressing me.
And man, I pray through the Psalms and I find myself all over the Psalms. I find all my emotions all over the Psalms. And I pray the Psalms.
I’ll tell you another way I pray because I’m not a great prayer, I pray in tongues. Because the Bible says the Spirit then is praying through me with words that I can’t form, that I don’t know.
You know, have you ever struggled with God, I just don’t have the words? God says, I’ll give you the words. I’ll give you a heavenly language of prayer.
So, when you don’t know how to pray, you can pray. I find it interesting that people sometimes who speak in tongues think that that’s some badge of spirituality. No, it’s not a badge of spirituality, it’s a badge that you couldn’t pray and so God gave you help. It’s a badge of your lack of spirituality. I mean, I think the dialogue went like this for me. My guardian angel went to God and said, “Well, Jesus, he gave his life to you.” And Jesus, “I know, I’m so glad, I love that boy.”
And the angel says, “Man, I’ve been working on him too, you know, all these years and I’m glad too. But Lord, that little left brain, rationalist, argumentative kid can’t pray a lick. His head is always getting in the way. He’s always trying to figure things out and put all the pieces together. Lord, he probably wants to be one of the deadliest things a person can be, a systematic theologian. Lord, he needs help.”
Father says, “you’re right, I’ll get him some help.”
Who was working with young Life, who started running into these Pentecostals, and she got all fired up about these Pentecostals. She liked me, and we had this friendship, and she comes to me and says, ‘Kevin, we’ve got to go over to so-and-so’s house to pray tonight.’ I didn’t have anything to do. College kid. You know, you’re in your 20s. You’re down for anything, right? Sure. We’ll go to so-and-so’s house and pray. Let’s go.
So we go. She goes, ‘I don’t know where they live.’ Well, that’s a problem. I know the neighborhood.
I’m driving around the neighborhood, and I’m thinking, this is a waste of time, you know? I could be home watching TV, which would be a much better use of my time. Waste of time. And all of a sudden, she goes, “There’s her car. She worked with us. There’s her car, 9 o’clock at night.” We knock on these strangers’ house. Strangers not to her, but to me. We knock on their door. They’re Pentecostals. They’re holiness Pentecostals. You know what they’re doing at 9 o’clock at night? Sleeping.
They go to bed early because they’ve got to get up at 4 in the morning and pray, you know, because early in the morning. So, they’re Pentecostals. They’re sleeping. They’re in bed. They come in through the door, rubbing their eyes. What kind of people open the door, rubbing their eyes, and have somebody there and say, “you need to pray for my friend,” who are happy about that? These people were. They were ecstatic. You know, I thought they were going to say, “Go away. We’re sleeping. Come back,” you know, at a more reasonable.
We’ll make an appointment, right? No. You’ve got to pray for my friend. Hallelujah. Thank you, Jesus. Open the door. Come on in, brother. Get over here. What do we need to pray for? I didn’t know what my friend was going to say. Kevin needs to speak in tongues. I go, I do? Yeah, you do. All right. Let’s go. They didn’t give me a chance to talk. They brought out this piece of paper. You need to renounce these eight things. They listed off eight things that I needed to renounce.
They didn’t give me time to renounce them, because that would have been a problem. I wouldn’t have renounced them. There were some things on that list that I needed to renounce. They didn’t give me time to renounce them, because that would have been a problem. I wouldn’t have renounced them. They didn’t give me time to renounce them, because that would have been a problem. I wouldn’t have renounced them. They didn’t give me time to renounce them, because that would have been a problem. I wouldn’t have renounced them.
They didn’t give me time to renounce them, because that would have been a problem. I wouldn’t have renounced them.
They didn’t give me time to renounce them, because that would have been a problem. I wouldn’t have renounced them.
They didn’t give me time to renounce them, because that would have been a problem. I wouldn’t have renounced them.
Any truth in other religions, that’s not true. There’s all sorts of truth in other religions, just not that truth. But they didn’t stick around long enough for the debate. They were smart enough to not let you open your mouth. They did not stick around long enough for the debate. They said, ‘you need to renounce these eight things.’ And I’m like, ‘Oh, he’s already speaking in tongues.’ No, I’m just trying to get a word in. ‘Get on your knees.’ Okay. ‘Now begin to thank Jesus in all the words you know in English.’ ‘Thank you, Jesus.’
Thank you, Jesus. I love you, Jesus. You’re great, Jesus.
And they start praying for me in ways that my young life evangelical friends never prayed. If they’d have been my evangelical friends, my good evangelical friends, they would have prayed all the good evangelical just prayers.
You know the just prayers? “Lord, just be here. We just want to speak to you just on behalf of Kevin.” you have to use ‘just’ in every sentence. “you’re just so good, God.”
And it would be one person praying this real sweet prayer, one at a time, and he’d stop. Then the next person would say, ‘Jesus, that was just a good prayer. We’re just so glad that my brother prayed a good prayer. We’re just so glad Kevin’s here, and we know he’s not gonna speak in tongues, in case, unless you really want him to. But just in case he doesn’t, don’t let him feel bad.’ No, that was not the prayers that were being prayed over me that night.
No, no, it was a rattling and a claddling, and they were, all three of them, out at once. They weren’t taking turns. They were just trying to go over top of each other. Oh, something, oh, I can’t tell you about that again. There is something that I love about that. And occasionally, and occasionally, get out of here, devil, there’s a guy talking about it, I can’t tell you about it, I can’t tell you about it, it’s going on me, and I’ll say it, Kevin isn’t, they were on me like what?
Pack of dogs on a three-legged cat, man. They were just all over me, and they’re just going for it, and I’m just going. I’m just going, ‘Thank you, Jesus, I love you, Jesus, you’re great, Jesus,’ about three, four minutes. ‘Thank you, Jesus, you’re awesome, Jesus.’ I saw him, what did he come, what did he, what did he, what did he, what did he, what did he, what did he, 24 hours, I couldn’t stop. Wow. You couldn’t stop. I woke up in the morning praying in tongues.
Went home that night, took a shower, sat down in the shower, and prayed, just praying in tongues. Called my fiancee, Jill, and this was, she has had this experience now many times in our relationship. “Honey, something happened to me. All right, where are we moving, what’s going on?” My poor wife, she just likes a nice… Yeah.
So there you go, that’s my experience. So I don’t know, whatever. However you can pray, pray. And pray as you can, not as you can’t.
I remember when I went to seminary, they used to say, “John Wesley got up three o’clock in the morning and prayed for an hour.” So, we all thought, “Oh, we gotta be like John Wesley, we gotta get up at three o’clock in the morning.”
You know, when John Wesley got up at three o’clock in the morning, he went to bed at seven at night, all right? He wasn’t super holy and lived on three hours of sleep. He just went to bed early, and he got up and he prayed.
And I don’t know if he always prayed for an hour, but heck, they didn’t have TV, the internet, they had nothing going on, why not pray for an hour, you know? Yeah, there you go.
Which, by the way, if you have insomnia, instead of tossing and turning, pray. Use your insomnia, pray. Yeah, yeah, there you go, feed the horses.
Lord, I pray that Kathleen can pray when she wakes up in the middle of the night. All right, be a person of prayer. You don’t have to pray like somebody else.
Find a way that works for you. You do not have to have somebody else’s spirituality. God made you unique. You don’t have to have the same tongues experience that I had, all right? You don’t have to pray in tongues to go to heaven, for goodness sakes.
God made you unique, you are the way you are. If you love to walk and pray, then walk and pray. If you love to kneel and pray, then kneel and pray. I pray to music. At least a large part of my prayer is to music.
And I put the headphones on and I listen to music for 20 minutes.
And I just dive into Jesus, and I pray in tongues. Then, as I’m praying in tongues, things arise to my mind and I begin to articulate those in English. Then I flow back into tongues. Then I flow back into English, and that’s one of the ways I pray. When I’m done with that, I go to three Psalms and I just cry out with the psalmist. That’s kind of what I do nowadays. You can… I got stuck in September.
I got stuck in Psalm 25 for about three weeks. Yeah, and just went to Psalm 25 every day. Whatever, listen. Just meet Jesus. He’s alive. He’s real. He’s resurrected. the Spirit will help you, and you can pray and be a person of prayer.
Or bless you and keep you. Lord, make his face shine upon you, 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 on, that peace to love and serve the Lord. Amen. God bless you.