March 10, 2024, Message by P. Kevin Clancey

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 earth has nothing I desire besides you. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:25-26, NIV)

You’re all I want. you’re all I need. For a great salvation, we give you thanks. Lord, open your word to us tonight that we may discover wondrous things and that we might see Jesus. We ask for Bible transformation, not just Bible information, that we would be formed into the likeness of Christ. His name we pray, Amen.

All right, we’re going through the Bible, people. We are in Numbers, and so Numbers is the story of the generation in the desert.

Numbers sets out with, we’re in Numbers 21:4-9 tonight, but Numbers sets out with, begins with a census, and it’s a census of all the fighting men, of all the men available to Israel who left Egypt, and they take a census, and they divide it under the 12 tribes, and three tribes on this side of the tabernacle, three on this side, three on this side, three on this side.

They get all organized. We’re going to go, and we’re going to march into the land flowing with milk and honey. We’re going to chase out the Canaanites, all the Ites, the Amalekites, the Hittites, the Jebusites, the Edomites, we’re going to chase them all out, and God is going to give you that land.

And then they get to that land, and they chicken out. I don’t know how many of you remember the cult classic, all my movie illustrations are old, people. I haven’t seen a new movie in 20 years.

But Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” anybody remember “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”? It was the definition of a movie whose parts were better than the movie. And anyway, there was this one knight of the roundtable called Brave Sir Robin, and he had these minstrels. And they’d sing, “Brave, brave Sir Robin, brave, brave Sir Robin.”

And then, of course, there came this time where brave Sir Robin actually had a conflict and he ran away. And so the minstrels began singing, “When danger showed its ugly head, he turned his little tail and fled. Brave, brave.

And he said, ‘No, I didn’t.’ ‘Yes, you did.’ ‘No, I didn’t.’ Monty Python humor. And so they reached the promised land, and they all turned into brave Sir Robin, except for Joshua and Caleb. And they rebel against Moses. And this was one of the rebellions against Moses.

And what happens then is they spend 40 years in the wilderness rebelling against God and Moses. Just rebellion after rebellion after rebellion. Grumbling after grumbling after grumbling.

And we are going to read the seventh grumble in chapter 21. This is the seventh grumble against God and Moses.

And so, Chapter 21:4-9, one of the most bizarre and interesting passages in the Bible. And it goes like this:

Then the people of Israel set out from Mount Hor, taking the road to the Red Sea to go around the land of Eden. But the people grew impatient with the long journey, and they began to speak against God and Moses. “Why have you brought us out of Egypt to die here in the wilderness?” They complained. “There’s nothing to eat here and nothing to drink, and we hate this horrible manna.” So, the Lord sent poisonous snakes among the people, and many were bitten and died. Then the people came to Moses and cried out, “We have sinned by speaking against the Lord and against you. We pray that the Lord will take away the snakes.” So, Moses prayed for the people. Then the Lord told him, “Make a replica of a poisonous snake and attach it to a pole. All who are bitten will live if they simply look at it.” So, Moses made a snake out of bronze and attached it to a pole. Then, anyone who was bitten by a snake could look at the bronze snake and be healed.

4 Then the people of Israel set out from Mount Hor, taking the road to the Red Sea to go around the land of Edom. But the people grew impatient with the long journey, 5 and they began to speak against God and Moses. “Why have you brought us out of Egypt to die here in the wilderness?” they complained. “There is nothing to eat here and nothing to drink. And we hate this horrible manna!” 6 So the Lord sent poisonous snakes among the people, and many were bitten and died. 7 Then the people came to Moses and cried out, “We have sinned by speaking against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take away the snakes.” So Moses prayed for the people. 8 Then the Lord told him, “Make a replica of a poisonous snake and attach it to a pole. All who are bitten will live if they simply look at it!” 9 So Moses made a snake out of bronze and attached it to a pole. Then anyone who was bitten by a snake could look at the bronze snake and be healed! (Numbers 21:4-8, NLT)

And God, may the words of my mouth and the meditation of our hearts be acceptable in your sight. O Lord, our rock, our strength, and our redeemer.

14 May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord , my rock and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:14, NLT)

So, this is the seventh time that they grumbled against God and Moses. They were living in the desert. God was providing for them food every day. They didn’t have to hunt. They didn’t have to harvest. The food would just come down from heaven and land on the ground. It wasn’t bad tasting.

The original description is, “It tasted like honey. It was like graham crackers falling from heaven every day. Just honey grahams.” I don’t know if they had milk to dip them in, but still, it was good. So, they would eat every day.

The Lord protected them from their enemies, but he told them because they wouldn’t enter the promised land that they couldn’t go back and they were going to die. That generation was going to die in the desert, but he was going to take care of them until they died.

He was going to feed them and take care of them. The fire at night, the cloud by day, the cloud would lift and move, and they would have to move with it. They got tired of moving and they got tired of camping. So, they complained. The Lord sent snakes among them. This is a case where the punishment fit the crime because grumbling is poisonous. Grumbling, complaining, whining is poisonous. I remember my oldest daughter, Megan, when she was four or five years old. She just had this voice on her, “Dad, when’s dinner?”

I said, ‘Megan, stop whining.’ ‘I’m not whining.’ I go, ‘you’re right. You talk like that all the time. And now I’m whining. Wife, we have a whiny daughter.’ And this, I’ll tell you what, man, I grumble. I got to get better at this. I’m a grumbly old man. I’m a grumpy old man sometimes. I don’t like traffic. And I get caught in traffic. I was like, ‘What are all you people doing? Go home. Leave the road to me. This is my road. I want this road. What are all you people doing out here?’

And then, I came upon this youTube of this guy. He was making fun of grumblers. And he said, “I have this new mint. I’m selling this new mint. It’s called entitlements.” And he just started going off. He started saying, “you know what people grumble about traffic? People who have cars. You know what kind of people grumble about things in their house breaking? People who can afford a home, who aren’t living homeless.”

In other words, a lot, I realized a lot of what I grumble and complain about are actually great blessings that just aren’t working out perfectly for me. In fact, just tonight, just this week, I went back to Grace Covenant Conference and had a good time and was with all my peeps. My wife’s car broke while I was gone, and she was stuck out at Coppachuck Middle School with two grandsons having to wait for a tow truck. I was in Kansas City; I wasn’t there to help my wife.

I was like, “Oh, but you know what? The tow truck came, it’s fine. We gotta take the car in tomorrow. It’s gonna cost us money to get the car fixed.” you know what kind of money, you know what kind of people have to pay for car repairs? People who can afford cars.

And then we’ve bought a second home and we just got our renters just moved into our second home. It’s about three miles from where we live.

And the garage door came off its tracks, fell on top of the guy’s van, didn’t hurt the van, thank goodness. But you know, I went over there, I can’t fix anything. And you know, we tried to put the garage door back on the tracks, we couldn’t do it.

You know, so tomorrow morning, I’m taking my car in to get fixed. I’m calling the garage door guy to come out and fix my rental. You know what kind of people call garage door guys to come out and fix their rentals?

People who could afford to have a rental. Thank you, Lord. I was in another Bible study recently. And in this Bible study, we were studying through Philippians. Philippians 4:1. You know what it says? Rejoice in the Lord when? Always, again, I say rejoice.

4 Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! (Philippians 4:4, NLT)

Dear ones, life is hard. Stuff happens. And yet our salvation is great. Our promise is great. Our hope is great. And God calls us to be thankful, not to grumble. Grumbling is poison. It’s poison in a household. It’s poison in a church.

Any of you ever been in a part of a church where they grumble? You know, “Oh, the sermon was too long. Oh, they didn’t sing my favorite songs. Oh, the pastor doesn’t like me. Oh, I don’t like this missionary. Oh, he preaches that doctrine. I like this doctrine.” Oh, you know, and it’s been said that church people go out after church on Sunday and have roast pastor for lunch.

And I know you guys don’t do that, but people grumble and it’s poison. They grumble about, they gossip and grumble about other people in the church.

And so, God sends actually snakes. It’s a great picture. It’s a great image of what grumbling does to a community. It brings death, it brings pain, it’s poisonous.

And so, the people repent. Pain is a good motivator for repentance, right? God will always, I love the passage in the New Testament. It says, “It’s your kindness that leads to repentance, oh Lord.” I love it when the Bible says it’s God’s kindness that leads us to repentance. And it’s great when we reach a place in our lives where it’s God’s kindness that leads us to repentance.

I don’t want to do this anymore because you’re just so good, God, and I love you so much. I just don’t want to do this. But if we persist in our sin, if we persist in going the wrong way, pretty soon, because of God’s love, we’re gonna bump up against him. And it’s not gonna feel very kind. It’ll be kind because the goal is to make you repent. But sometimes, as C. S. Lewis said, pain is God’s megaphone to get our attention.

Doesn’t mean all pain is God telling you you have to repent of something, but sometimes it is. Sometimes it’s our stupidity. It’s our sin that has led to this pain, and then we repent.

When my kids were little, all right. All right? I would always try to motivate them with kindness. ‘Hey, let’s do this. It’ll be great. I don’t want anything. Or clean your room, and then we’ll get to go do this. I don’t want to clean my room. Come on, clean your room.’

And I just swore I would never do this when I was a kid. Because I would argue. I would argue with my parents. I wasn’t a brat in the sense that I was really defiant, and I’d snuck around behind my parents’ back. But I was very logical, and I was very lazy. And so I always tried to get my logic, use my logic to promote my laziness.

“Make your bed.”

Well, mom, if I make my bed, I simply have to unmake it again tonight to get back in it. That seems inefficient. Don’t you agree?

Close your drawers. Well, if I close my drawers, I have to reopen them to get my clothes out. Why not just leave them open all the time? Put the clothes in? Or why not even have drawers? Why not just put clean clothes and dirty clothes on the floor, and not just pick through the piles?

Well, those are perfectly logical things. And when I was a bachelor, I lived that way. And then I got married. And again, I had somebody saying, “Close your drawers,” and whatnot.

And my mom would finally reach a point of exasperation, because I had an argument for everything. In fact, I remember my young life leader trying to lead me to Christ was exasperated. I remember him talking to another young life leader, and I remember him saying, “That kid has an argument for everything.” He did not use my name, but I knew who he was talking about. I was proud that I did.

And so, my mother would resort, finally, to not arguing. And she would say, “Why should I do this?”

And she would say, “Because I said the same.” And I swore I’d never do that to my kids. I would give them an explanation, and they would follow the explanation. And then I had children. And I didn’t sell them, “Because I said so.” I told them this, “Because I’m bigger. you’re going to do it.” But, no, no.

And my wife would try to explain things to the kids. I would explain once. I mean, I was so inconsistent. You know, the guy who would argue on Indy.

Now that I have my kids, and they want to argue on Indy, it’s like, no, we ain’t playing that game. I know that tactic. I would explain once. Here’s why we’re going to do it. But, but, but. Yeah, your but, but, but’s going to feel something here if you don’t do it. And my wife would be like explaining to them.

And then finally, after about the 10th explanation, I would just stop it. I’d just step in and say, ‘Dad’s here. This is going to happen, right?’

It’s so fun to be bigger than everybody in the house. So, Israel, I got blessings for you. I got abundance for you. I got my presence for you. I got my protection for you. I got a land flowing with milk and honey for you. Yeah, the food’s no good. Moses is a big meanie. The people are too big. We don’t want to go in. All right, get bit by a few snakes, see what happens. Hey, God, God, hey, hey, Moses, pray for us. Repent.

Listen, if you’re getting bit by snakes, like, “Oh, where’d I miss the early repentance warning there, God?” And here’s, God is faithful. What does Moses do? Moses intercedes for them. They say, “Moses, pray for us.” Moses prays for them.

And here’s how intercession works, people. you’ve all heard of intercessory prayer. The word intercession, not all prayer is intercessory prayer. Intercession means to mediate. It means to be a priest, a bridge builder, a go-between. The Bible talks about standing in the gap, all right? So intercession, we stand in the gap.

I need a job or somebody needs a job. Lord, we intercede for so-and-so to get a job. Somebody’s sick. Lord, we intercede for so-and-so healing. And we begin to pray, we begin to intercede. And what we do is we pray from Earth to Heaven. What do I mean by that? We tell God what we want. Cast your cares upon Him. He cares for you. God, I want a job. God, I want a wife. God, I want a husband. God, I want to be well. God, I want my loved one to be well.

God, I want the rain to stop. God, I want the Cubs to win the World Series. You know, whatever it is. And if you pray long enough, pretty soon, in sports, you get your answers. The Patriots no longer win the Super Bowl. I mean, you get your answers.

But we intercede. Earth to Heaven. That’s half the job. We listen for Heaven’s voice. And then when we get Heaven’s voice, we obey. When we get Heaven’s voice, we obey. We declare. This is what the Lord has said.

We prophesy, or we do something. That’s exactly what happens.

Moses goes to God and says, ‘God, the people don’t want to be getting bit by snakes anymore. They ask me to pray.’ And God gives Moses an answer. He says, ‘Here, make an image of a snake and stick it on the pole.’ This is the weirdest thing God ever did in the Bible, just about. Because what’s God’s big thing with Israel about images? Don’t make them. It’s the last thing you want to do is make an image. And now he’s saying, ‘make an image of a snake.’ Okay, what’s the biblical reference to snake? The garden.

Bad. Snake, bad. Serpent, bad. Serpent, biting people. Serpent, killing people. Serpents aren’t good. Make an image of a snake. What? Yeah. And here’s what God’s doing.

Well, first of all, before I get that, let me just say, the prayers of a righteous man accomplish much. Alright, dear ones, you’re not going to get all your prayers answered, not the way you want them answered, I realize that. But the Bible also says, Eliza was a man just like us.

And he interceded for rain, and God said, ‘Tell Ahab there’s going to be rain,’ and he did, and it rained. God uses the prayers of people to impact earth. In fact, I think that’s why the spiritual world, both the satanic and the heavenly, invade earth through the intercession and agreement of humans, because God gave the planet to us.

We’re the ones who invite ‘thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’ And we’re the ones who invite the devilish stuff to happen.

It’s through our invitation and our agreement with those principalities that good and bad happen on earth. And so, a man, Eliza, and I love this, Eliza, we tend to think of biblical heroes as somehow superhumans, but it says Eliza, and then it makes a point, a man just like us. Alright? The heroes in heaven are probably not going to be the Billy Grahams and the John Wesleys. They’re probably going to be the people that we never knew who prayed for the Billy Grahams and the John Wesleys. The Patty Sheldons are the heroes.

The people who cried out to God, ‘Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’ And God says, ‘Okay, make a snake. Make a snake.’ What is God doing? He’s saying this, ‘Israel, look at your sin.’ The first thing He lifts up is sin. Look at what you’ve called down upon yourself. Dear ones, life never gets better for anybody until they take responsibility.

There’s two things that are true about all of us. Well, let me start with this. There’s one thing that’s true about all of us. We all suffer.

There are two things that are true about our suffering. Some of it wasn’t our fault. Driving down the street, a guy T-bones you because he’s drunk and runs a red light. It wasn’t your fault. You know, it wasn’t your fault. However, if you get drunk, drive down the street and T-bone somebody, that’s your fault. And you know what? Both those things are true of all of us, right?

Some of my pain isn’t my fault. It’s just not. I didn’t ask to be born into an alcoholic family. I just was. All right? Other parts of my pain were my fault.

Nobody forced me to use drugs when I was a young person. I just did. That was my fault. And the suffering that accumulated in my life because of that was my responsibility.

But here’s the point. Whether it’s your fault or not, we never get any better until we take responsibility for our lives. You understand that? It’s like whatever hand you were dealt and however you contributed to that hand, now, right now, this minute, you got to play that hand. It’s your hand.

If you’ve been sinned against, forgive. If you’ve sinned, repent.

But you got to play that hand. And as long as we play the victim and don’t admit our part of it, and don’t take responsibility for our lives, things never get better, right? Because if you’re the victim, what is a victim? Powerless. If every bad thing that’s happened to me is somebody else’s fault, then poor me. Poor me.

Israel, you don’t like the snake bites? Look at your sin. You have grumbled and complained against God and His anointed leader time after time after time. you’re making yourself miserable, you’re making me miserable, you’re making everybody miserable.

Take responsibility. There it is. Lift up and then what? And then He says, it’s actually your healing. Look at your salvation. Isn’t this, twice in the Gospels, this image is used for Jesus and the cross.

John 12: If I be lifted up like the snake in the wilderness, I will draw all men to myself. Once we look at our sin, we also find God’s mercy. And that is, this snake lifted up in the wilderness is a picture of the cross.

What is the cross? The cross is a picture of human evil.

I watched Ben-Hur last night. Again, older than Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The 1959 version of Ben-Hur. If you haven’t seen it, you have not yet lived. It’s a great movie. And I watched it as a kid. I watched it as like an 11 or 12 year old because I heard that there was this awesome chariot race. And there is. It is an awesome chariot race. It’s a great race, man. And like all old movies, you’re not used to it. It moves really slow for young people. Things don’t blow up every five minutes.

There’s dialogue, and there’s drama. But it’s a great movie. The original story of Ben-Hur is a book. The book is “Ben-Hur, A Story of the Christ.” It’s about this man, Charlton Heston, I mean Judah Ben-Hur, who meets Christ in this story.

And I’ll give you a little bit of it because here’s the deal. He was a rich Jew, and his best friend growing up was a boy, a Roman boy, who grew up in Jerusalem. And they were best friends.

This Roman boy becomes a Roman official, and he wants to squelch any Jewish rebellion. He comes to Ben-Hur and asks him to, you know, snitch on his people. Ben-Hur won’t do it, and so he destroys him. He destroys his life, his wealth, his family, and sends him into slavery. As he’s going out as a slave to the gallows to serve in a Roman ship, he’s almost dead in the desert. He falls in the desert, and they show a man in a white robe come and give him a drink of water. He looks and makes eye contact with this man and says that man, for some reason, gave him the will to keep living. The rest of the story plays out, and he gets redeemed and the whole thing. He gets revenge on his Roman guy, but it’s not enough. His mother and sister get leprosy in a Roman prison, and he’s filled with hatred for the Romans. He’s just filled with hatred for the Romans, and all he wants to do is be a zealot. He wants to take a sword and start lopping off the heads of Romans. He just hates them with a passion. He wants to kill them.

Then he sees Christ again, this time at the crucifixion. He’s walking the Via Dolorosa, and Christ falls. Ben-Hur tries to give him a cup of water, and the Romans won’t let him. He stares at him in the face, and then he watches him die on the cross. He looks, and I was watching that last night as Jesus goes up on the cross. I just looked at that. I said, “Human beings are evil. The best man who ever lived, that we do that to any human being, nail him to a piece of wood to kill him slowly and torturously. But that we would do it to the best man who ever lived, that is… that’s the snake. That’s just evil. That’s just evil.”

And yet, Ben-Hur watches Christ die, and he goes back to his home. When Christ dies, his blood flows past his mother and sister, and they’re healed of their leprosy.

And he goes back to his love interest, and she’s met Christ.

She just wants Judah to meet Christ; she wants to get that hate out of him. And he looks at her and he says, right before he died, he said these words, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”

34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing. (Luke 23:34, NLT)

And then, this is the greatest line of the whole book or movie, he says, “And I felt his voice take the sword out of my hand.” Isn’t that a great line?

The greatest evil, the snake, lifted up and when it does, when he’s lifted up, it’s transformed into the mercy of God. What Satan meant for the worst thing, “I’ve killed the Son of God, I got him. This planet is mine, this kingdom is mine, I’m gonna win this war.” And instead, he descends and snatches the keys and then Sunday morning, when all of hell is saying, “Keep him here, keep him here, don’t let him get out,” he got out. He got out.

And ever since then, of the increase of his kingdom and his peace, there has been no end. And his mercy catches people like us. As we look upon our sin and say, “Is there any hope for someone like me?” And he says, “Yeah, there’s hope. Jesus Christ took it.” He took that snake, he took those bites, he swallowed it all, and he rose again with new life.

And it is abundant, and it is clean, and it is fresh, and the steadfast love of the Lord. And the steadfast love of the Lord, what, how does it go? His faith, never ends, his faith, the steadfast love of the Lord is never, his mercies are new every morning. Great is thy faithfulness, O God. I should have that, I have that memorized, anyway. His mercies never end. They’re new every morning.

22 The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. 23 Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. (Lamentations 3:22-23, NLT)

Our healing is in his mercy. And so, what do we do? I’ll tell you what we do. We repent quickly.

We stop our grumbling, and we become thankful. There’s lots of things to grumble about, small and big. I’m a strange man. I expected amens there. I’m a strange man. I tend to handle life’s big crises pretty well. It’s like, well, you know, that’s life. We gotta deal with this.

It’s traffic. Garage door’s breaking. Car’s breaking down, you know? The wrong team winning a sports game gets me mad. My wife doing some small thing that’s just a little thing that just annoys me.

So, she takes my stuff and she moves it to a place of her preference. It’s my stuff. That’s exactly what she did. That is exactly what she did. I came home from Kansas City. I couldn’t find my brush. I couldn’t find the toothpaste.

“Where is my brush and toothpaste? I just wanna brush my hair and brush my teeth. Where’s my stuff?”

It’s on this countertop where I left it. It was in a drawer that was closed. It took me five minutes. I went around looking for my stuff.

It’s like, I just wanna brush my teeth. And that kind of stuff is like, what is going on here? You know, if somebody has cancer, it’s like, well, you know, people get cancer, let’s pray. I’m strange. But you know what? Repent quickly. Stop grumbling. Be thankful.

I love the story of the Harbaugh brothers, John and Jim Harbaugh, both NFL coaches, highly successful. One’s won a Super Bowl. One just won the national championship in college football, and is now back in the pros. But what I love is they grew up and their dad was a coach.

And their dad was not a high, I mean, he became a highly successful coach at lower levels. He was a very good coach. But he was a high school coach at the time. They were little boys, just a high school coach. Not making a lot of money.

And I remember a story about, you know, their car was broken, and they had to walk down to the mechanic’s shop to get it, instead of the dad walking down to the mechanic’s shop, because he’s a coach. And coaches always do this. Boys, we’re going for a walk.

We’re all going. You know? And the boys are like, ‘We don’t want to go for a walk. Come on, we’re going to go get the car.’ And they’re walking, and it’s raining, and they’re walking down to get the car, and the boys are all mopey. And he’s like, ‘Boys, they fixed our car. We’re going to get our car back. Who has it better than us?’ And he kept saying that, and pretty soon the boys were like, ‘Yeah, who has it better than us?’ And now these guys are like successful coaches.

They’re making millions and millions of dollars, and they get all sorts of fame. And you know what they both tell their teams? They both get in with their teams and say, ‘We’re playing football for a living. We’re playing a boys game, and they’re paying us a million dollars to do this. Who has it better than us?’

Well, that other team’s big, and they’re strong, and they’re going to pound on us. ‘Oh, but we’re going to win. Who has it better?’ And they just inherited this optimism, this hope from their father as a coach.

And it’s made them very successful in what they do. Listen, I’m not into being ridiculously optimistic about sports. I mean, I’m a Cubs fan. I know better. But here’s my deal.

When it comes to life, who has it better than us? The God of the galaxies became a baby just to seek and save somebody like me, just to forgive my sins, and to fill me with His life, and to offer me eternal life.

And yeah, there are bumps and bruises and hardships in this world, but who has it better than us?

Really, we’re playing a game we’ve already won. Yeah, it might be hard at this quarter in the game, at this time in the game. We might be down, we might be feeling like, “Man, you know, I got garage doors that are falling off their hinges, and cars that aren’t running, and my wife’s hiding stuff on me in the house. I mean, for crying out loud, I can’t even brush my teeth.”

But you know what? I actually have a pantry, because I shop at Costco. I actually have enough toothpaste for life now.

Just one trip to Costco, and I’ve got like four tubes in there that have been there for two or three years. I’m trying to get through this tube so I can break out another one. I got enough. Listen, if you’re just one person, it’s a trap buying soap and stuff. You have it forever. It’s just like, yeah, I got… Who has it? There are people in the world who don’t have toothpaste. Oh, I have toothpaste, and my wife plays a game with me of hide and seek with it. How fun is that?

Who has it better than us? Nobody. We’ve got Jesus. We look at our sin, and we go, “Yep, Lord, that’s me. I grumble, I complain, I don’t believe.” you know what? To not hope is a sin. We tend to think hope is just something we have or don’t have. But hope is exactly like love and faith.

The Bible instructs us, “Love your neighbor, have faith in God, and hold on to your hope.” Hold on to your hope. How?

Look at the cross, and then look at the empty tomb. Then come here, get together, and go, “Yeah, I’m not alone in this. I’m not alone in this.” Some of you are carrying bigger loads than I am carrying right now. And you know what? I’m here for you. I’ll help you carry the load. I can’t carry, you know, I’m not going to be, I’ll help you carry it. I’ll encourage you. I’ll love you. I’ll take out the ones. What do you need?

And there’s going to come a time where I’m going to be carrying a bigger load than you. And you’re going to go, got your back. That’s what church is. We got Jesus. We got each other. All right. And I’m looking around this room, looking at the quality of people in this room. I’m going, who’s got it better than me? Who’s got it better than me? Some of you people in here actually pray for me. Who’s got it better than me?

On the night he was betrayed, he took bread, and he broke it, and he gave it to his disciples. And he said, “This is my body, which is given for you.” Who has a better than us that the son of God would sacrifice his body in the same way? After supper, he took the cup, gave thanks to his father in heaven. And he said, “This is, this is the cup of my blood shed for the forgiveness of sins. It’s the blood of the new covenant.”

You’ve been invited into a new covenant by the blood of Christ. And the entry point into that covenant is: all your sins are forgiven. But even, yeah, that one. But what about, yeah, but, but, but… I knew it. I knew better. And I did. Yeah. That one. Yeah.

Now, I want you to come to my table, and I want you to use this meal as a picture and a symbol of just receiving me and feeding on me and letting my life nourish you. So that when you walk out that door, you will have hope.

You will have hope. And you’ll be more like me than you were when you walked into the building. And you will have the hope that in all eternity, forever, ever and ever, that’s a long time. You will be like me. So come and eat and be thankful.

Don’t grumble. Don’t grumble if the bread’s chewy or you dip it in the wine and you wanted the grape juice. Don’t grumble because last week you had cran grape and this week it’s straight grape. People grumble, people grumble, oh it’s not gluten-free communion or oh it is gluten-free.

I don’t like the wafers; they don’t taste good. Don’t grumble at communion. If at any place you risk getting smitten dead, it would be grumbling at the communion table. It’s not going to happen, but don’t do it.

Just come and be thankful and ask the Lord to fill you with hope, to fill you with hope because of his great mercy. Thank you, Jesus.