March 3, 2024, Message by P. Kevin Clancey

Thank you, Lord Jesus. Thank you for your word that is life to us. Thank you for your spirit who applies your word to our lives and our hearts, who transforms us into the image of your Son, Father, our Savior, Jesus Christ. We pray tonight that we would walk out those doors more like Jesus than we walked in. We thank you for your blood that forgives us. We thank you for your resurrection that feeds us with resurrection life and new hope. you’re great, God. you’re the God of miracles.

Every one of us in this room today who has given their lives to Jesus Christ is a walking miracle. We have all moved from death to life. We’ve all had our sins forgiven. We have all become, by your grace, everlasting children of our heavenly Father, brothers and sisters with Christ, co-heirs with Christ. And we will be like him one day.

You are good. We worship you and we praise you, oh mighty King. In Jesus’ precious name we pray, Amen. Amen.

We’re going through the Bible. We’re in the book of Numbers.

And I thought, you know, for 17 years, I have been speaking these words over the Firehouse Church. We started in our little home in Bremmerdale, you know, right there between Bremerton and Silverdale. Our first Sunday was the first Sunday in July 2007.

My wife and I were both praying separately for that worship service. And as all church planters were praying, we were praying, “Lord, send people, send people.” And we both heard these words independently. We didn’t, later we shared this and we were both kind of amazed.

And what we basically heard was this: “Do you want me to be there?” We said, “Well, yeah.” And so, I can tell you with honesty that for 17 years, nearly every Sunday, maybe I’ve missed a few, I can’t remember missing one, I have prayed that prayer that the Lord would be present with us as we gather.

And that is what the Old Covenant, that is what Leviticus, Exodus, and Numbers is about. It’s about God wanting to dwell with His people.

In Exodus, God brings His people out of Egypt, promises to take them into the promised land, and leads them and says, “I’ll be with you.” And in fact, “I’m going to have you build a tabernacle, and I’m going to design that tabernacle very specifically to give you access to me, access to the forgiveness of sins, access to my presence and my leadership. And then I’m going to give you some instructions on how to walk and how to live in such a way that you won’t violate that presence. You won’t make me mad at you.”

You won’t chase me away so that I can be with you. I want to be your God, and I want you to be my people. The book of Exodus is about the building of that tabernacle. The book of Leviticus is about the instructions that God gives to the priests, to the people, and the tabernacle, and the feasts and the offerings, and all the things that ritually and morally make that presence work, make that covenant work.

And then, the book of Numbers is about the children of Israel in the desert for 40 years. First of all, it tells us why they were in the desert for 40 years. And then they’re in the desert for 40 years, and it’s one rebellion after another rebellion after another rebellion after another rebellion.

And it starts a long history of Israel and God having this back and forth where God’s saying, “Really? Really? I really want to bless you. I really want to be among you. I really want a people unto myself.”

And Israel’s saying, “Hey, that’s great. We love the blessings. And Baal’s got some good blessings too. And Molech and Asteroid got some good blessings. We’ll take all the blessings from all the gods.” No, don’t do it that way. Don’t do it that way. I’m not polygamous. I want to be your only god. I want to be your husband. I don’t want a wife chasing after other gods. And so, that’s the story.

But every week, I read to you, or I actually don’t read to you, I recite to you as we leave this passage from Numbers.

And basically, it’s God telling Israel, “If you will let me abide in your presence, here’s what happens. Here is who I am, and here is what is going to happen to you.” And here it is. It’s in Numbers 6. Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron and his sons to bless the people of Israel with this special blessing. May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.”

22 Then the Lord said to Moses, 23 “Tell Aaron and his sons to bless the people of Israel with this special blessing: 24 ‘May the Lord bless you and protect you. 25 May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. 26 May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.’ 27When Aaron and his sons bless the people of Israel in my name, I myself will bless them. (Numbers 6:22-27, NLT)

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. Thank you, Lord.

Jill’s dad passed away a few years ago. He was a wonderful man, and he was a wonderful father, and he really was a terrific grandfather. And he was like my parents’ generation, he was a depression baby.

He grew up in the depression, World War II, you know, we call him the greatest generation. I think that’s an exaggeration. They went through some hard times. People have gone through hard times throughout history.

They had some wonderful qualities. They also had some qualities that maybe weren’t so great. But anyway, he was a wonderful man.

And he wasn’t rich, but he had made a decent living, certainly a better living than, as many in that generation did, who kind of experienced the huge economic boom post-World War II. He made a much better living than his parents made, and he ended up being extremely generous with his family. He was a generous man. He was generous to Jill and I, but he was really generous to the grandkids, and especially generous to the grandkids at Christmastime. He loved Christmas. In fact, my mother-in-law, my father-in-law, they loved Christmas.

Has anybody ever been to Leavenworth here in Washington? Okay, and they have that Christmas store. You ever been in the Christmas store? It’s just filled, it’s just filled to the brim with both religious and secular, both the Santa Claus and the Jesus story, ornaments and knickknacks, and just, you know, just overflows with, it’s a Christmas store, and so it’s just, it’s Hallmark at Christmastime on steroids. Just everything you can imagine. That was my in-laws’ living room every year, and it was no, there was no distinction.

Nativity scene, Santa Claus, and eight reindeer, and just everywhere you went, they just loved Christmas. My father-in-law loved giving gifts to his grandchildren. There was a joke in our family because every year he’d say, ‘Oh, I’m gonna cut back a little next year,’ and of course, he never did. By September or October, he would have a little, you know, legal pad, folded up piece of paper in his front pocket. It was the list, and he would tell the grandkids whenever he saw them, ‘I got my list.’

What do you want? I’ll put it down. I got my list. My kids, growing up, believed very much that Christmas morning at our house was the appetizer, that the real meal was Christmas at grandpa’s house. That’s where the good stuff came. At one point, I wanted to pull him aside and say, ‘Hey, too much. Too much. you’re, you know, you’re spoiling my kids. Too much.’ But I decided against it. I think I was right. I think I had wisdom in that because I realized this.

I realized that everything about his gift giving, it wasn’t, there was, there was no bad motive in it. And what, here’s what I mean. Some people give gifts to try to buy people off, right? Daddy’s never there, but he’s rich. And so he gives you good gifts. And it’s like, “Yeah, dad, great. You know, you give me flowers on my birthday, but you know what I really want? you.”

But he was, he was more than available to the kids. And he didn’t give gifts to show off. It wasn’t like, “Look how much money I have.”

It just, it, I think it a hundred percent flowed from his heart. And that’s what made it okay. Because it was really a genuine expression of his delight and love in his grandkids. In other words, the gifts represented his nature.

We talk about God and the hands of God that give the gifts and people say, ‘Don’t seek his hands, seek his face.’ Guess what? They’re connected. If you’re looking at his hands and you want to see his face, it’s not that hard. Look up, look up. That’s what this passage and God’s blessings are about.

God’s blessings aren’t some way to try to trick us into behaving. “If you’re good, I’ll do this for you.” They’re not some way of trying to pay us off. They’re not some way like the pagans believed. “If you can, if you can shake the gods just right and please them with all the right sacrifices, then maybe they will grudgingly pour out their blessings. If you sacrifice enough of your children to them, maybe they will grudgingly pour out their…” No. What God’s blessings are, are an exact representation of His nature. They’re who He is.

And what God is telling Israel through this blessing is this: I want to be in your presence, and I want my priest to pray over you and bless you in this way because it’s my desire that you would be my children and I would be good to you. If you’ve ever had a rebellious child, you get God’s dilemma, right? I want to be good to this child. I want this child to be happy. I would tell my kids, “Listen, don’t fight me on this. We’ll both be happier. you’ll be happier.”

If you don’t rebel, you’ll be happier and I’ll be happier. It’s when you insist on doing it your own stupid, selfish way, then I can’t bless you like I want to and I’ve got to take the other posture, right?

It’s like, all right, I wanted to be nice to you today, but you’re not letting me. Here’s what I’ve got to do. I’ve got to draw the boundaries.

God’s desire was to bless Israel. Now this is Old Covenant. This is all preliminary. Remember that all that stuff in Leviticus is a precursor of Christ.

All the purification rites talk about our cleanliness in Christ. All the offerings and feasts talk about the sacrifices and the thankfulness that God provides access to us, the high priest, the priesthood. That talks about Jesus, who’s our perfect priest.

Remember, in the Levitical code, in the tabernacle, only the high priest could go into the Holy of Holies and really get near the presence of God. But in the New Covenant, with Jesus as our high priest, the book of Hebrews says that he actually takes us.

Go in the Holy of Holies and sprinkle His blood on the mercy seat. His blood is so powerful. He brings us in there, and we stand before the Almighty, the burning glory, the blaze of holiness that created the universe.

And Jesus says, “Hey, Dad, here’s Kev. Kev has some requests.”

And the Father says, “Oh, son, I’m dying to bless Kev with grace and mercy because you died so Kev can have grace and mercy.”

And so, if these blessings that I’m going to detail in just a minute are true of Old Covenant, the point I want to make is: how much more for us? How much more is this reality, God’s heart always for His people, but how much more access do we have to the presence and the heart of God than even Moses did?

You know, the Bible says Moses, Abraham, David, Daniel, Deborah, all the Old Testament heroes. You know what it says? Well, we’ve read it. We just went through it last year in Hebrews.

They long for our day. You know what Jesus says? The least of you has more access and more privilege than the greatest John the Baptist in the Old Covenant. So, how much more for us?

So, when I go through these blessings for Israel, just realize it applies to you and it’s easier to get there. Here’s what it says. The Lord bless you. First blessing. The Lord bless you. You know what it means? To make you happy. Guess what? God wants you to be happy.

There’s this view of Christianity that we’re supposed to be sad, miserable, and suffer in this world so we can be happy in the next. It’s not true. Yes, there is suffering in this world. Fir everybody. And for Christians, there’s a specific suffering.

We are opposed to the world, the evil one, the wicked systems in this world. So they rise up against us and they push back against us. So there’s not only the normal suffering that comes with being a human on a falling planet, but there is the suffering that comes from fighting spiritual warfare.

Got it? Got it. Guess what? In the middle of that, Paul says to the Philippians, “Rejoice always. Again, I say, rejoice.” Rejoice when? When things are good, when I get good news, when I wake up without any aches and pains? Yes. Rejoice.

Rejoice when the doctor says what? Rejoice when my kids are doing what? Rejoice when I just got fired. Rejoice when I realized, boy, did I make a big mistake when I got married.

“Rejoice always, again, I say, rejoice.” God desires us to be happy.

This is simple, people, and I’m preaching to myself because I don’t do this either. But it’s not that hard to be happy. All you have to do is, instead of looking here, look here. Instead of looking at, “Oh, it’s rainy in Washington. Oh, nobody likes me. Oh, my back hurts. Oh, I’m this. I came from a dysfunctional family. Oh, I don’t make enough money. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Oh, the doctor gave me a terrible prognosis.”

It’s all you got to do is go, ‘Oh, the creator of everything loves me so much that he sent his son into the world that I might be his child forever. My daddy’s rich. My daddy’s powerful. Oh, all my sins. Even the one I committed last night? All my sins are covered under the blood of Jesus and I’m forgiven?’

Oh, wait. He planted His life, His God life, His Holy Spirit life, came and planted itself in me. He is progressively, day by day, month by month, year by year, making me more like Him so that in eternity I will be like Him, and I will be a co-heir?

Oh, I have inherited a great salvation. For a short time, there is suffering, struggle, and trial, but for all eternity, there will be no more pain, no more crying, no more death, no more suffering. I will live in the new heavens and the new earth in glorious freedom, as life was always intended, in the presence of this God who loves me abundantly and desires for all eternity to pour out His kindness and riches on me. And even now, He’s starting to do it. By the way, I’m feeling better than I was five seconds ago when I was looking over there. It’s not that hard!

I’ll bet any one of you could be happier in ten seconds just by doing that. Just by rejoicing in the Lord, always. Again, I say, rejoice! God desires us to be happy. The Lord bless you!

Listen, child, I want you to be happy. My wife, her birthday is coming this week, we just celebrated it because I’m going to be out of town next week and I realized, take note, Peter, Isaiah, take note. Get married and you’re going to be out of town on your wife’s birthday, Valentine’s Day, or anniversary. Do something really nice to her before, not when you get home.

I don’t know how they think. I have three sisters, a mother, two daughters, a wife. My life, I’ve swam in a sea of estrogen. I still don’t know how they think. I’ve learned some things.

Here’s what I’ve learned. If you do it before, and then the day arrives, they reflect back and say, “Wasn’t that a nice night? And didn’t I get a nice gift? And he’s such a good man. And he made sure to take care of me before I left town. What a great fella.”

If you do it after, when the day hits, it’s like this: “Oh yeah, I’m just an afterthought with that guy. What the heck? He goes off and does his business and it’s Valentine’s Day or our anniversary.”

And he’s like, he probably didn’t even remember until the day before, so he didn’t have time to plan anything. A stinker. Am I on to something here, or am I completely off, ladies? I don’t want to know. I don’t know. I don’t know how it works. I just know it works better for me to do it before.

So, I took her out and did it before. But here, I have a deep commitment with my wife. I really do. I was thinking about it today.

If I die before her, on my deathbed, I want her to think, ‘This man loved me every day of my life that we were together.’ And if she dies before me, on her deathbed, I want her to think the exact same thing. ‘This man loved me every day of my life that we were together.’ Not that we didn’t have fights or anything, but I never doubted that God loved me. And I try really hard with that. I try to be very intentional that my wife would feel loved. And I’m a guy. I’m stupid.

I don’t do it great all the time. But I really try. I really do. And she notices that I try. I think she appreciates that I try. I want her to be happy. I want my kids to be happy, right? I want you all to be happy. I don’t like grumbling, mad, angry church members. I want you to go out to eat after church and say, we’re so happy with that church, and we’re so happy with that pastor, and we like the people there.

I want you to go, that sermon sucked, and he went way too long. And you know? I want you to be happy. God wants you to be happy.

And dear ones, I’ll get in trouble now. Oh my gosh, he wants you to be happy. He wants you to prosper.

Well, are you a prosperity preacher? What, you want me to want people to be in poverty and sickness? Of course, I believe that health and wealth are good things. Don’t you? Don’t you?

Don’t you believe people, you know, all these people are like, ‘We don’t like prosperity preachers,’ and they’re listening to Dave Ramsey. What’s Dave Ramsey saying? He’s telling you how to be rich. The only difference is he has a different strategy. The prosperity people say, ‘Tithe and God will make you rich.’ Dave Ramsey says, ‘Spend less than you make and don’t get into debt, and you’ll be rich.’ They’re both telling you how to be rich. I actually think both are appropriate strategies.

Where I’m not a prosperity teacher is, I don’t believe there’s an automatic thing that says if you tithe, God will bless you and make you rich. That does not work unless you tithe to this church. This is the only place that works. No, and I’m not baptizing greed. I’m not saying that God wants you to prosper so you can be selfish and greedy and show off how many Rolls Royces you have.

In fact, freely you have received, therefore do what? Freely give. God blesses so that we can be a blessing.

‘John 3’, or ‘John’, the book of ‘John’, the third letter of ‘John’. John says what? “I pray that you all prosper and are in good health.” If prosperity wasn’t a good thing, why do we try to alleviate it among the poor? Why do we try to alleviate poverty among the poor? Poverty is a bad thing. Sickness is a bad thing.

Why do we send people to doctors? Why do we pray for their health? “Oh, but I learned so much in my poverty and my sickness.”

Yes, God teaches us wonderful lessons in hardship, and one of the lessons he teaches us in hardship is how not to be stuck in hardship your whole life. Now, I get it. Some people suffer for the cause of Christ, and they’re neither rich, and they’re persecuted. I get that. In fact, we all suffer in some ways for the cause of Christ.

But, “thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

10 May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10, NLT)

How many of you think you’re going to be poor and sick in heaven? I don’t.

I don’t want to be poor and sick in heaven. I don’t want to be poor and sick on the new earth. Why is it that Christians were the first people to really establish around the world hospitals? Because health, not sickness, is God’s ideal. Why did Jesus heal the sick? you’ll see Jesus going around and saying, ‘you know, the Father wants to teach you many lessons by sickness.’ So, wham, leprosy on you. He never does it. He just meets lepers and says, ‘Leprosy off you.’ Oh, look at that lame crippled guy.

Man, your right leg is completely lame. Bammo, there, now you can’t walk on either. The left one’s lame too. Now learn the lessons God wants to teach you. Well, wait, who’s Jesus? He’s God. Who does he represent? His Father. So, the Lord bless you.

Dear ones, the Lord bless you financially. The Lord bless you in your health. The Lord bless you in your marriage. The Lord bless you in your family relationships. The Lord bless you in your work relationships and your neighborhood relationships. The Lord bless you with a deeper intimacy with you, with Him.

In every area of your life, the Lord prospers that area in your life and blesses you. He’s a good God. He desires our happiness. The Lord blesses you. The Lord keeps you. Keep you from what? Keep you from all evil. Keep you from harm. Protection. Psalm 91. The Lord is on my right. The Lord is on my left. God behind, St. Patrick, God behind me, God before me, God around me, God above me, God underneath me.

I’ve prayed, how many of you have prayed that God would give you a guardian angel to protect you?

Or, how many of you believe in a guardian angel? It’s not necessarily in the Bible, but angels are in the Bible, and they are sent to help us. So, I ask God for seven guardian angels. One on my right, one on my left, one in front of me, one behind me, one above me, one below me. That’s six, and then a rover angel, just to catch anything else that those six don’t get. And seven’s the number of completions. So, I want seven guardian angels. I pray seven guardian angels around each of you.

I pray, what is it? Again, go back to the Lord’s Prayer. “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

10 May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10, NLT)

Lead us not into temptation and deliver us from what? Evil.” The Lord protect us from evil.

Guess what? Demons are real. Martin Luther taught us the saying, “Though this world with devils filled, threaten to undo us.” They’re clawing and scratching and attacking and talking into our brains and trying to pollute our minds, trying to indwell our lives.

Lord, protect me. Protect my family.

Hands off my kids, in the name of Jesus. Hands off my home, in the name of Jesus. Hands off me, in the name of Jesus. Lord, keep me. Protect my salvation.

Some people think that eternal salvation is guaranteed, that once saved, always saved. Other people believe that there’s a way that you can walk away from it. Well, if there is, don’t do it.

And here’s what I’ve come down to. You cannot lose if you do not quit. When it comes to the perseverance of the saints, saints persevere. How do you persevere?

By trying really, really hard not to quit? No, by just turning to Jesus every day and saying, “Take my hand.” If you don’t quit on Jesus, you’re good. In fact, I believe you cannot lose if you do not quit. The devil is not powerful enough to make you lose.

The Bible says that neither height nor depth, angels or demons, right? Neither the present nor the future, nor anything in all creation can separate us from the love of God that is ours in Christ Jesus our Lord.

38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39, NLT)

Lord, preserve us. Lord, bless you and keep you.

24 ‘May the Lord bless you and protect you. (Numbers 6:24, NLT)

Blessing number three: The Lord make His face shine upon you. The Lord make His face shine upon you. Be my father. Bring me provision and comfort. All right? Daddy’s faces, they shine upon their children.

When my kids were little, next week I’m going to a Grace Covenant conference. I’ll be away for five days. I used to do that when my kids were little. Twice a year, I’d go to these conferences. I’d go to other conferences. I’d go out of town. And when I’d come back, my kids would run up to me.

When I’d get home with hands in the air, ‘Daddy, Daddy, Daddy.’ I’m talking when they’re three and four. When they’re 16, you know, it’s more like, ‘Did you buy me anything?’ But even then, my face would shine upon them when I would see them after I was gone for a while.

And when a little child comes running up to you with their hands in the air, what is the absolute natural, normal, loving reaction? Right? It’s not like, ‘Daddy, Daddy. Get out of my way.’ It’s not what you do. It’s not what you do. If you do that, we’re going to work on some things. you’ve got wounds that need to be healed. All right? Daddy, daddy. We come and we worship, daddy, daddy, what does he do? Come here, come here. I just pick up my kids and I’d hug them and we’d roll around on the floor and tickles and hugs and slobber-dobbers. It was so depressing when my kids got to the age of like, ‘yeah, I don’t do the slobber-dobber anymore dad, that’s just not good.’ It’s like, really? I think it’s awesome.

They’re in their 30s and they don’t want slobber-dobbers anymore. I don’t get it. But the grandkids were still there. We used to play a game called attack daddy on the floor, which basically meant I laid on the floor and they attacked daddy. It was always near like a couch or a beanbag chair because they’d come jump on me, and I would pick them up and launch them on the couch. My grandsons would come over and they would just jump on me for about an hour straight.

I’d just be sitting on the couch and they would just jump on me. When they were little, they’d jump on me, I’d catch them, I’d throw them to the side on the couch and tickle them a little bit and then they’d go do it again. Then they got a little older and after a few very ill-placed knees and elbows, I started stacking pillows on top of me. It’s like, all right, jump on me. They didn’t even come over. It’s time to jump on grandpa. They’d bring over the pillows.

Now, they’re 10 and 8; they don’t do it as much anymore. The younger ones do it now when I go to Denver. But it was fun the other day, my older grandchildren were there, my 10 and 8-year-old, and Theo, the 8-year-old, came over carrying a pillow. It’s like, oh, we want to do this again? Okay, man, bring it on, hop on grandpa.

Let your face shine upon me. What does a father do? A father provides, a father comforts, a father instills values. God’s face, his nature, his character. He wants us to catch that.

He wants us to be like him. I was on an airplane years and years ago. My kids were still younger, but they’d all made commitments to Christ. They were probably in their early teenage years or late 10s, 11s, maybe the youngest, but they’d all made commitments to Christ.

And I’m on this airplane and I don’t know what you call it. What do you call the dashboard on an airplane? The flight panel or whatever? I don’t know. Whatever that is with all those numbers and dials and digits.

And the pilot got on the intercom, and he said, “Our flight panel is indicating that our landing gear is not working. That is a little more unsettling than we’re coming into a little turbulence and your free Coke’s going to be 15 minutes delayed. The flight gear is not working. And so, we need to prepare for a landing without flight gear. All right?” I later found out that’s not just a death sentence. They can do that, but it is, of course, extremely more risky. And so, they began to prepare us.

And all of a sudden, I saw all those glorified waiters and waitresses on an airplane actually step into their training, what they hope they never have to do, but they did a great job. They stepped into their training and said, “Okay, we need to do this, this, this.” And they were taking stuff down and locking stuff up. And they were actually, they did a great job. I mean, they weren’t screaming and panicking. They were doing their jobs and nobody else was screaming or panicking.

I looked around a plane, and I was especially touched when I saw families with children. I thought, “Oh, how scary that must be for a mother and father to be in this situation with their child,” and prayed for them. But I was there by myself. My kids were at home, and I realized, I told God, “Hey, I don’t want to die right now. I’m in my forties. I don’t want to die yet.” But I also had this peace, and here’s what it was. Probably the most important job in my life has been done.

My kids have adopted my values. They believe in Jesus. Okay, Lord.

And then I said this. I really had a sense that I wasn’t going to die. But I said this. I said, “But if I do, here’s my request. I’d rather be squashed than burnt. I’m just saying. I’d rather be an ink spot on the Minneapolis runway than be trying to unbuckle my seatbelt with a ball of fire coming down. Just put in your request, right? I’d rather be squashed than burnt.”

And then I looked at these ladies next to me.

And they had kind of wide eyes. And I turned to them and I said, “Hey, I’m a pastor. Would you ladies like to pray?” you never saw such two eager head nods. And they didn’t know that they weren’t praying people. You could tell. They didn’t know to assume the position and all that. But we prayed. We prayed for our safety and prayed for God’s glory and all that. Then they gave us the instructions. You know the instructions, right?

Put your head between your knees, like anybody over six is going to be able to do that in those little tight spaces. I call it the “put your head between your knees and kiss your you-know-what goodbye” position. But anyway, they said if you can’t do that, do this. I said, “Yeah, that’s me. I’m doing this.” And then we’re heading for the Minneapolis runway. And then we hear, you know, this is all, you know, a half an hour or an hour. We’re wondering if a flight gear is coming down. And then we hear this sound.

And you’ve all heard it. You don’t really notice it because you’re just on the flight. But you’ve all heard it. You hear the wheels come down and lock into place. And when that happened, one of the flight attendants looked at somebody in the first row and said, “That was a good noise.” They flew a couple jets up to make sure that the landing gear had come down. And when we landed, it was all there, man. All the red lights, the fire engines, the ambulances, everything was on the runway. They hadn’t foamed the runway yet.

I guess they foamed the runway with some kind of anti-inflammatory so the plane doesn’t explode or something. But they hadn’t foamed the runway yet. We made it. We were fine.

But, all that long story to tell you, I had peace because my job as a father, a lot of it I felt like had been done, and God fathered me in that moment. He said, “Hey, you’ve done a big piece of what I put you on the earth to do.”

God wants His face to shine upon you to give you comfort, to give you peace.

He wants to father you. The Lord be gracious to you. Blessing number four. The Lord be gracious to you.

What does grace mean? We mistake what grace means in our evangelical culture all the time. We equate grace with mercy. Right? If somebody’s sinned against you, we say, “give them grace.” No, give them mercy. Mercy is, “I forgive you.” Grace is, “I give you power. I empower you.”

That’s why when Paul blesses the churches at the beginning of his letter, he says, “the grace and mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ be upon you.”

Those are the two great gifts of the cross. Mercy is, your sins are forgiven. Grace is, I now give you power to sin no more, to become like Jesus in character, and to do the ministry of Jesus. Undeserved, unmerited, free gift, the power of Jesus, the Holy Spirit. That’s what grace is. Grace is the Holy Spirit.

The Lord be gracious to you. The Lord give you power. Let his power come upon you. In the Old Testament, let his power come upon you to be my people, Israel, and to honor my covenant.

In the New Testament, to be sons and daughters of God, and to represent Jesus on the earth. Power to do the ministry of Jesus, and to walk in the character of Jesus. That’s grace. It’s amazing, and it’s free, and our access to it comes

through faith. It’s not by trying really, really hard to be powerful. That doesn’t work. It’s simply trusting in Him, relying upon Him, and believing His grace is available to us in every situation to do the Jesus thing, to behave like Jesus and to minister like Jesus. That’s grace.

The Lord pour out His grace on you. Then, the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, smile upon you with His favor, give you affection and pleasure. It is much easier to be a Christian when you believe God delights in you. It is much easier to be a Christian.

Most of us, one of our biggest lies that we believe from the evil one, because of our sin, because of our failures, we believe the lie that God doesn’t truly love us, He just tolerates us. He doesn’t delight in us.

One of the greatest things that you realize as a parent is you can love something that doesn’t behave all the time, deeply and passionately. I can honestly say I love my kids and my grandkids so much, and you’ve heard me say it before, my wife says I say it too much, but they were stinkers. At times, right? Right? I mean, I’m sure Jacob more than Isaiah, but nonetheless, they were. It’s a true word, isn’t it, Isaiah? I’m sure your sister more than you, Peter, but still.

I had three sisters, and I was the biggest stinker of the four of us, for sure. Though, they were all crazy, so I got to say that. I was the only sane one, but I was also the biggest stinker. I hope you’re watching, sisters, in that case.

So anyway, I love you. Actually, I hope they’re not watching. Anyway, let me just say this. The Lord lifts up His countenance upon you. What does that mean? He knows you’re a stinker sometimes.

He still is madly and deeply in love with you, just like every good parent deeply and passionately would do anything for their children. And they love their children. And they love their grandchildren. Just love them. And God taught me more about His nature, being a dad and a grandpa, than I ever learned before. Because I just realized, oh my gosh, I love these kids so much. I delight in them.

My wife and I, we get together and we go see the grandkids and we just tell, we’re sitting there at night and we just tell stories about our grandkids. Oh, they did this, and remember when they did that? And now we got FaceTime. Oh my goodness. FaceTime. I don’t have to wait for the post office to deliver a letter with a few Polaroids, like back in the dark ages. I get this thing FaceTime. Hi, Grandpa. Watch, I’m making baskets. Awesome.

The other day, my wife and I went to the store.

Kids, FaceTime right before they got to the store, so my wife got to talk to them on FaceTime. I went into the store, did like several, did like about 20 half an hour minute shopping, and she needed to shop for some stuff too. I didn’t get the list. I came back out to the car. She’s still like giggling and laughing and smiling, talking to these grandkids. It’s like, we’re never leaving this parking lot. I said, ‘Well, give me the list.’ She says, ‘I can’t. It’s on my phone.’

I can’t, you know, cut out FaceTime and get the list. It’s on my phone. I said, ‘I have to wait here forever. Great. I’d rather do that than shop.’ God delights in you. The Bible says He sings over you. ‘God, what? So loved the world.’ God saved you because He loves you. He desires you. When you meet Jesus, when you pass from this life and meet Jesus, I can guarantee this. If I’m wrong in heaven, you can say, ‘Pastor, you were wrong,’ but I’m right.

The thing that will most impress you about that initial meeting with Jesus is not the overwhelming guilt you feel because you aren’t worthy, but the overwhelming love and acceptance you feel though you’re not worthy. His countenance is upon you. He delights in you.

One of the things that bugged me about mass during COVID is with small children, facial communication is huge. Smiles go for miles. And one of the things that really feeds love to small children is the look of delight in elders’ eyes when they look at them.

You know, that’s why God makes them so cute, right? Because we just giggle at them, we laugh, we delight in them. A little girl in Bremerton this morning just walked up to me, “Pastor Kevin, what Danielle? I wanna give you a hug.” Darling, bring it on, bring it on. Pastor will hug you.

I delight in you, your parents delight in you. God delights in you. I’ve recently been praying, “God, I wanna be better at receiving love and giving love.”

I really, at the end of the day, that’s kinda, I got, you know, I’m getting older, I got no bucket list. Here’s my bucket list: that for the rest of my life, I would love well. I just, I hope when you encounter me, I really do, I’m not trying to beg for compliments here. You don’t have to come up and tell me afterwards, but I hope when you encounter me, at least, that you feel loved, that you feel like this guy actually has a delight, because I really do.

I can say this very honestly: when you, this great multitude of people, walk through those doors, every single face of yours I see and all your children, I get a sense of delight. And it’s not just because I’m desperate for people to come to church. I like you, not just that you’re a number. God delights, and God, I’ve come to this conclusion, is better than me. So if I delight in you, how much more Him, right? How much more Him?

Don’t believe the lie when the devil says, “How can God love you because you are this or that?” It’s not hard for Him at all. He saved you for the joy. He endured the cross for the joy that was set before Him.

And the joy that was set before Him was eternity with you. That’s why He endured the cross, His countenance. And finally, the Lord give you peace. Deep contentment with the life He gives you in this world and the next.

It is wholeness that the Lord wants to give us.

The Lord give you peace. This last week, I got some medical misinformation. I was given a test, but it was the wrong test, so it gave me a score that was deceiving. This made me think that I might have some serious problems.

In fact, I was given a retest with the right test, and I don’t have serious problems. But communication was down between the lab and my doctor’s office, and people at my doctor’s office in the reception area to my doctor.

So, when I called with concerns… about the results of this test, because it came back to me. And I got all the results of the test, and they’re like alarming. It’s like, ‘Oh, that’s not good.’ And then, of course, the internet’s your best friend at times like that. No, it isn’t. I started looking stuff up, and it’s like, ‘Ooh, that’s not good. Ooh, nothing on the internet sounded good with the results of that test.’ So, I called my doctor. But here’s the thing, I was not panicked.

I was like, OK, this could mean A, B, or C. And you know what? I’ll deal with A, B, or C. I have Jesus. I got Jill. I’ll deal with A, B, and C. Now, it turned out they gave me the right test. And if A is the worst outcome, B is the, eh, maybe, maybe not. And C is, oh, everything’s fine. It turned out to be a C. Now, did I feel good when it was a C, when I found out it was a C? You bet. It was like, hey, guess what?

I’m healthy as a 65-year-old fat man could be, which is actually true. My doctor basically says, “you know, for the shape you’re in, you’re in really good shape.” Great, great. Means I don’t have to jog. Great.

All right, but either way, if it had been an A, I’d be standing before you today saying, “Hey, pray for me. I got this going on.” But you know what? I can say with St. Paul, “To live is Christ, to die is gain.”

It even got my wife and I having conversations about, hey, at what age do we say, ‘you know, I’m not going to get surgery, or I’m not going to take those treatments?’ I think at 65, my kids and my wife would say, ‘oh, no. Do what’s necessary to hang in longer.’ I’m thinking if I’m 75. I don’t know. It all depends. When I get there, I’ll know, right? But at some age, they’re going to say, ‘you know, we can give you five more years if you’ll do this horrific treatment.’ And I’ll go, ‘what?’

No, that’s all right. I’m good. Put my teeth in. I’m going out for a burger, because I don’t care anymore.

All right, dear ones, the Lord give you a deep contentment. Where does that deep contentment come from? Him. We’re playing a game we cannot lose. We are loved by the creator of the universe. Our sins are forgiven. And God is for us, not against us.

This is his nature, people. These aren’t goodies he promises us if we’ll behave ourselves.

This is the heart of the God we serve: a God who blesses, a God who keeps, a God who makes his face shine upon us, a God who graciously gives us power, a God whose delight and pleasure is upon us, and the God of peace who surpasses all understanding and even in the most difficult situations will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. It’s his nature. It’s who he is. And so, for 17 years, I have been speaking this over you. And I say, and it is a ritual.

Don’t think of ritual and tradition as evil. Rituals and traditions become bad when the meaning gets sucked out of them, and we treat them like magic. You understand what I’m saying?

You know, if you think showing up your body, showing up in church will somehow make your life blessed, that’s a worthless tradition. But if you think engaging in a relationship with Jesus that includes community worship is a way to live in the presence of this good God, you’re spot-on.

So every week, ritualistically, as our tradition, but not empty, full of meaning, I say these words, and I say them from the authority that God has given me to speak His Word into your lives. I’m not better than you, but I’m standing in a place, and God said, in this place, over these children of mine that I dearly love, I want you to put with your words, with my word coming out of your mouth, I want you to place upon them this blessing of my nature.

And so, dear ones, with all my heart, I want to say, let this get you wet. Let this baptize you. Let these words anoint you. The Lord, the Creator of heaven and earth, King Jesus, the mighty Father, bless you. The Lord keep you. Make His face shine upon you. Be gracious to you. The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you deep, whole peace in this troubled world. Dear ones, dear Jesus, these people are precious. Put it in their hearts. Put it in their hearts.

I ask you, wonderful Father, in the name of your Son, our ritual communion has changed tonight. Steven and Jamie aren’t here. You just got grape juice. In fact, I’m sorry, it’s even worse than that. It’s cran grape. It’s cran grape.

But you know what? The same Jesus who has the two little cups with Steven and Jamie and the bread already cut up, He invites you to this table as well. And so, come and take the food of God. Remember His nature. Experience His smile. Picture Him if you have the imagination to do it.

This is not a vain imagination or idolatry. This is true. Picture the Lord Jesus standing right behind that table and just welcoming you to His table and feeding you with His life. Holy Spirit, fill these elements that as we partake of them, we partake of the life, death and resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ and we live our lives as true sons and daughters of our Father in Heaven. The food of God for the people of God. Come and eat.

So, I’m going to read you another blessing because I just already said the priestly blessing that I say every week.

Then, I saw the new heaven and the new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared, and the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look, God’s home is now among His people. He will live with them, and they will be His God.” God Himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever. And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I’m making everything new.” Then he said, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” And he also said, “It’s finished. I’m the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To all who are thirsty, I will give freely from the springs of the water of life.” All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God. They will be my children.

1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. 2 And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” 5 And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” 6 And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. 7 All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children. (Revelation 21:1-7, NLT)

So, take that with you. God bless.