March 24, 2024, Message by P. Kevin Clancey

So, I grew up in a liturgical church. The priest would say, “The Lord be with you.” And we would say, “Anybody else? Episcopal. The Lord be with you and also with you and also with you, right? Lift up your hearts. We lift them up to the Lord. It is right to give him thanks and praise.”

We have liturgies though. We’re not as sophisticated, but we have liturgies. Next week, there’s a liturgy. I think every Christian knows and it goes like this. Just to see if you know it, “Christ has risen.”

There you go. You got that one. And here’s the Pentecostal charismatic liturgy. God is good. Oh, well, God is always good. That’s a paraphrase. ‘All the time’ is the liturgy all the time, all the time. God is good. How good is he? All right.

All right. So, next week is Easter. And I know, and I know when you have evening church, it doesn’t quite seem the same on Easter morning, right? You know, we got up in the morning, but we’re going to be here. And since it’s Easter, uh, you have to invite a friend. You have to invite a friend to come to church on Easter because, uh, quite frankly, I call it fishing for twicers, right? Christmas and Easter, the twicers are there. It’s a part, it’s still a part of culture.

Uh, you know, people will go to church on Christmas and Easter. So they’re more susceptible to an invitation to church on Easter than, uh, and Christmas than any other time of the year.

So, call a family member that you’ve been praying for who doesn’t go to church, or a friend, and invite them to church. And if you bring a friend to church next week, um, Mick will bring you a piece of cake because he has a ton of it. It’ll be stale by then, but he has so much cake from yesterday that it won’t all be gone by next week. No, I’m not, I’m not obligating you to that, Mick. Yeah. All right. Why don’t you take it at home, man? Look at me. I’m all right.

So bring a friend next week to Easter. Uh, we’ll go fishing for twicers. All right. So, uh, dear ones, uh, we’re going through the Bible. We’re kind of reading through it in a year.

And so, as you know, I’m just taking a passage from our weeklies read weekly reading last week. We were in Deuteronomy 6, the Shema. Very, very familiar passage right here, “Oh Israel, the Lord your God is one and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart. With all your soul and with all your strength.”

4 “Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. 5 And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. (Deuteronomy 6:4-5, NLT)

And here we’re going to be in Deuteronomy 30 tonight, another fairly familiar passage, Deuteronomy 30:11-19.

11 “This command I am giving you today is not too difficult for you, and it is not beyond your reach. 12 It is not kept in heaven, so distant that you must ask, ‘Who will go up to heaven and bring it down so we can hear it and obey?’ 13 It is not kept beyond the sea, so far away that you must ask, ‘Who will cross the sea to bring it to us so we can hear it and obey?’ 14 No, the message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart so that you can obey it. 15 “Now listen! Today I am giving you a choice between life and death, between prosperity and disaster. 16 For I command you this day to love the Lord your God and to keep his commands, decrees, and regulations by walking in his ways. If you do this, you will live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you and the land you are about to enter and occupy. 17 “But if your heart turns away and you refuse to listen, and if you are drawn away to serve and worship other gods, 18 then I warn you now that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live a long, good life in the land you are crossing the Jordan to occupy. 19 “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! 20 You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life. And if you love and obey the Lord , you will live long in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” (Deuteronomy 30:11-20, NLT)

And may the words of my mouth and the meditation of our hearts be acceptable, Lord, in your sight, you’re 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. (Psalms 19:14, NLT)

All right, Deuteronomy literally means second law. Here’s the story, right?

God gives the law on Mount Sinai, and Moses brings down the tablets, and Israel has the law, and they build the tabernacle, and they go to the promised land, and they get to the borders of the promised land. When they get to the borders of the promised land, the spies go into the promised land. The spies basically come back and say, “Well, God is right, and God is wrong.” Here’s where God is right: God is right in that it is a land flowing with milk and honey.

It is an abundant land, and it is a great land, and we’d love to live here, but does God know how big those guys are? They got some of the Nephilim there, or the Anakites. They’re big, they’re scary, we can’t fight them. We’re like grasshoppers to them, and so they talk the people out of obeying God, out of having faith, and entering the promised land.

God said, ‘Okay, you don’t want to go on the promised land? Die in a desert, 40 years.’

Caleb and Joshua, we can do it. Moses, we can do it.

Who’s alive 40 years later? Caleb, Joshua, and Moses, and all the children of the dead people in the desert. So now, the dead people in the desert are now on the border of the promised land, and they’re gonna go in. They saw what happened to their parents. It’s like, no, we’ll do this. We can die out in the desert. We can occupy the land, or they’ll kill us, but either way, we’re gonna do this, all right?

So, they’re gonna enter the promised land, and now Moses, who’s not gonna enter the promised land because of his own rebellion against God, is giving Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy means second law.

What’s he doing?

I gave the first law to your parents, and now I’m telling you what I told your parents. This is how you keep covenant with Yahweh. This is how you keep covenant with God.

This is the God who delivered you out of Egypt, brought you across the Red Sea, sustained you in the desert, and is now going to give you an abundant land and conquer your enemies. Listen, it’s not like we get the Bible so wrong. We think, you know what, if you just obey God, He’s going to give you all these blessings, which is kind of what this says. But wait, there’s precedent. The blessings have already started.

It’s really God saying, “If you stay in covenant with me, you’ll stay in the stream of my grace, you’ll stay in the stream of my blessings. If you leave the covenant, then you leave that stream, and then these countries around you are going to be bad news to you. You’re going to worship their gods, you’re going to fall, they’re going to occupy you, they’re going to attack you, and in fact, the rest of the Old Testament is really that story.”

So, God says, “Look, this is not impossible for you to do. It’s not too hard.”

What I’ve given you, and really, if you read through the law, I know it’s cumbersome. I know as we’ve been reading through this, my goodness, my wife said, “Oh boy, that description of building the tabernacle, make this many gold rings, this big, and it’s just so detailed.” Well, one of the reasons it’s detailed, the whole law, the moral, the ceremonial, the legal, one of the reasons it’s so detailed, it’s like, you’ll know what to do. You know, if you kill your neighbor’s donkey on purpose, this is what’s going to happen to you.

If you kill your neighbor’s donkey on accident, this is what’s going to happen to you. It’s spelled out. You don’t have to invent this.

And the one thing you really don’t want to do is do what the Canaanites do. They’re doing it all wrong. So listen to this that I’ve given to you in detail, follow it, and when you mess up, we have the ceremonial law, we have the sacrifices to cover for that.

In other words, when God says, you can do this, He’s not talking about moral perfection.

He’s just saying, “Israel, you can live in covenant relationship with me as you follow this, as you follow the moral aspects of this, the Ten Commandments, as you follow the legal aspects of this, the civics, God gives them civics on how to live as a people in governance together, and as you follow the ceremonial acts of this, your feasts, your festivals, your sacrifices, you have the tabernacle to atone for your sins, and you have these feasts to celebrate and remember my goodness,” and he gives it all to them.

Then he says, “Moses says, listen, it’s not too far from you.”

He says, “Rehearse it, speak it, put it in your hearts, and by the way, speaking things is a way to put things in your heart. Speaking is a way to put things in your heart. You repeat something long enough, you believe it in your heart. That’s why the devil is always after you with these kinds of accusations. Oh, you call yourself a Christian? Anybody ever heard that one? A real Christian wouldn’t do that. Anybody ever hear this one? you’re such a loser. you’re a failure. Am I the only person who gets attacked that way? No.”

Everybody’s like, preach, preach. You got the same devil I got. Yes, I do, but I learned a long time ago that God, even if I hear those thoughts in my head, God never wants them to come out of my mouth. And if they ever do slip out of my mouth, I’ve learned to repent immediately because I used to call myself those names all the time. But if you call yourself those names, you start believing the lies. It works in your relationships, alright?

My wife has caught on to this, but I do it, not as a trick or not as a manipulation. I do it to train my heart. When I get annoyed with her, as rare as that is, I usually will say something kind to her. You know, I’m kind of like, she’s bugging me right now, and I’ll just look at her and say, “I love you.” And I guess it’s the way I say it, because she’s kind of caught on now. She says, “you’re upset about something, aren’t you? you’re so pretty. I love you so much.”

We have our little games. Here’s one. I love this one. This cracks me up, right? I can tell something’s wrong. Guys, can you ever tell when something’s wrong? I mean, we don’t catch on as fast as we should. But once the word “fine” comes out of y’all’s mouth, we know.

And so, I can tell something’s wrong, and I go, I’ll just say, “Honey, what’s wrong?” Because we don’t know. We’re stupid. We don’t know what we did wrong. you’re like, “That’s part of the problem. It should be obvious to you.” I know.

I know how you think. I just don’t know how to fix it. So it’s like, “Honey, what’s wrong?” “Nothing.” And then I’ll say this. This is amazing. Like, why can’t she answer the first question? I don’t know.

So then I’ll say this. “If something were wrong, what would it be?” And then I get the answer. “If something were wrong, not that anything’s wrong, but if something were wrong, what would it be?”

All right. So I don’t know where, I don’t know the, oh, saying stuff. Saying stuff.

If you put it in your mouth, it’ll get into your heart. That’s why God is continually telling Israel to do what? Moses in Deuteronomy is continually telling Israel, ‘Repeat this. Repeat this. Repeat this. Tell it to your children. Tell it to your children. Tell it to your children. Tell it to your children.’

I love it when I hear things that I told my kids coming out of their mouths. I had an associate pastor for years. And my son preaches quite a bit. And my associate pastor, and I’ll listen to their sermons.

And they’ll bring forth a Kevinism, man. They will bring forth a Kevinism. You know, my son’s like, you know, he’ll be up there and say, “They were on that like a pack of dogs on a three-legged cat.” So that’s me. That’s me.

And you know what makes me feel great? Makes me feel great. Because what does the Bible say? “Teach your children. Teach your children.”

Here’s another one. My kids will say, “Oh, never say that’s not fair to dad. Never go to dad,” because they know. They know.

I guess they heard this many times because they say, ‘Oh yeah, that’s not fair.’ What do you hear after that? Fair? Life ain’t fair. Get used to it.

I’ll tell you what’s not fair. You were born in America, not Haiti. You get three meals a day. You have a bedroom and a mother. They’re like, ‘Oh, shut up, old man.’

But they got the ‘not fair’ lecture, I guess, more than once because they know it. They know it. Teach your children. Put it in their heads. Put it in their heads.

There’s some things, man, your mother said to you, you can’t get out of your head. I think this is ridiculous. I think it is the stupidest reason in the world to wear clean underwear, because if you get in an accident, you’re going to go to the hospital and you don’t want to have dirty underwear. Listen, if you get in an accident, you’re going to have dirty underwear. But it’s in my head, right? Because my mom didn’t want the people in the hospital who she doesn’t know to think badly of her mothering skills.

It’s in your head. Well, I don’t care if you put the thought of clean underwear in your kids’ heads. I do care that you put the word of God into your kids’ heads. Put it in your mouth, put it in their ears. Put it in your mouth and you will believe it. Speak it.

Last week, I got all up onto you guys about memorizing scripture. I think I was a little hard. I’m sorry. What did I say? If you don’t memorize scripture, you’re lazy. I didn’t mean to accuse you of being lazy.

I want to repent of that, and I simply want to say, if you don’t memorize scripture, you’re slothful. Lazy is such a much harsher of a word. You feel better now? You feel loved? Did you feel the embrace? Almost, right? Almost. All right. Put it in your mouth. Put it in your heart. “Is near to you.” My goodness, people. He gave us a book. He gave us a book.

“Well, it’s hard to understand. Get a New Living Translation. It’s easier.”

“Oh, I don’t like the loose translations. Good. Get an English Standard Version.”

It’s more word for word. I don’t care. Listen, people debate. People ask me, “What’s the best Bible?” I have two answers to that. My answer is this: the one you read. The one you’ll read. That’s the best one for you.

My second answer, I stole from Jack Deere, an author. He said, “The one that tells you to love your neighbor.” No, he says, “The one that tells you to love your enemy.” Read that one.

It’s near to you, people. I don’t have an exact count. I can go home and count again tonight.

It’s either in the mid-30s or I’ve hit 40 Bibles. I’ve confessed to you, I’m a little bit addicted to buying goat skin leather, high quality Bibles. I just love them. I know I don’t need them. I know the words are the powerful thing. Look at this. Right there. Preaching with this kind of Bible makes you more of a Christian. I’m convinced of it. That has got a great preacher flop to it. That’s good. I’m on the verge of buying another one. I gave one away recently.

I gave away a nice goat skin leather Bible to somebody who didn’t have a Bible anymore. I’m entitled to buy another one.

Listen, wives. Husbands can be addicted to many things. If your husband’s addicted to buying Bibles, count yourself blessed. It’s better than some other things.

Why do you put it in your mouth? Why do you put it in your heart? That you may do it. That you may do it. Because the consequences of doing it and not doing it are huge.

Again, when God says it’s near to you and you can do it, do it. But he’s not saying to Israel, “I know you’re going to follow the Ten Commandments perfectly.” He wouldn’t have given them the tabernacle and the sacrificial system if he knew for sure that they weren’t going to sin.

But Israel, what is your intention? Do you want to live in covenant relationship with me? Will you strive to be in covenant relationship with me?

Will you build a society based upon my covenant instead of copying the kingdoms around you, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Philistines, the Amalekites, all the Yites, the Moabites? There we go. What was the tribe of Esau? The Edomites, the Edomites, right? And there was a tribe that was big into the woodcutting industry, the wood process, oh, the termites, yeah, the termites. So they were up north. And so I knew you’d appreciate that, Brian.

All right, all the Yites. Don’t be like them. Dear ones, Israel didn’t do it, but it wasn’t impossible.

There are those theologians who say that God gives this law, knowing Israel won’t believe it because God has written the whole script. God has plan A, and plan A is that humans are going to sin. He’s going to send Jesus. And I believe God has a plan. And I believe whether Israel kept this law or not, there was still going to be a necessity for Jesus.

But the idea that God only works with one plan, that he has scripted from all creation, some people think that makes God’s sovereignty awesome. I think it makes God puny.

I think God is so infinitely great and wise, He can bring His purposes to pass no matter what choices we make. Now, that’s a sovereign God. We can’t mess it up. That’s the story of Genesis, right?

Abraham, I’m going to give you descendants and I’m gonna give you this land through your wife Sarah. Great, but that guy’s kind of looking at her like he kind of likes her and I’m a little afraid of him so I’ll give Sarah to him. No, Abraham you’re not gonna wreck the Covenant by being stupid and cowardly. I’m giving her back to you and I’ll give you a couple hundred sheep and cattle and goats too just to help you out. He does it twice. Have you ever seen a hero–and you know Abraham’s a biblical hero–have you ever seen a hero in the movie say this, “do anything you want to the girl but leave me alone.” You know that’s not what heroes are made of.

He’s a biblical hero, Isaac, like father like son. He does it then Jacob comes along. Oh my gosh, what a mess he is and he raises 12 sons who all get named as the 12 tribes of Israel and they’re a mess. They sell one of their brothers into slavery because they’re jealous of the little brat because Jacob played favorites just like his mom played favorites. Dysfunction, confusion, mess and what does God do through it all? Keeps his covenant, keeps his word, and now God’s telling Israel, do you want things to go well for you? I have given you a recipe and an invitation of how to walk in covenant love with me, so that you will not be like the nations around you. And the consequences are two polar opposites. There’s no middle ground. Life and death, good and evil curses, blessings and inherited land or homeless exiles.

God are the idols there is no middle ground and God says–God is so compassionate–he says to them, “if you do this, surely you’ll be destroyed.” You know he sends prophets to him for about a thousand years before he finally sends him into exile for a thousand years. God says, really, I’m gonna do this. Repent. About five or six of the kings of the southern kingdom Judah were godly kings. None in the northern kingdom Israel were godly kings

The Bible says one generation after Joshua conquered the Promised Land, Israel began to worship idols.

And that’s the whole point, by the way. All the covenant, all the law, but the biggie isn’t if you accidentally kill your neighbor’s goat. That’s not the point.

What’s the biggie that the prophets are always railing on? you’ve committed idolatry. you’ve been a prostitute. you’ve gone after other gods. you’ve been unfaithful to me after all I’ve done for you. you’ve abandoned me.

And so finally, it happens to them. They’re disinherited. The ten northern tribes who committed idolatry continuously are lost to history. They’re gone. They’re gone.

There are people on the earth who probably have the bloodline, who do have the bloodline of Dan, Issachar, Naphtali, Reuben, Manasseh, and Ephraim in their blood, but we don’t know who they are. The only Jews that we know who are today are of the tribe of Judah and the tribe of Benjamin, the two southern tribes, because they were exiled, but actually, they were brought back. They returned from the exile.

But it happened to them. The final point I want to make for Israel is that God is not neutral in this.

He’s on their side. God doesn’t say, “I’ve set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Up to you.” I mean, I wanted my kids to do well, but sometimes I was a bit like that.

“Hey, you know, what do you want? You want to go to bed now or you want to stay up and watch your favorite show for a half an hour?” I would never say, “Choose the good choice.”

Their mother, you could tell, their mother was rooting for them.

I’m just like, ‘you keep talking back, it’s not going to go well for you. You zip it, it’ll be all right.’ And some kids, my kids were actually pretty smart. I remember my son. I remember the time I realized my four-year-old son was smart. And yes, I spanked. And he did something notorious to his sister. I told him to quit doing that, and he would get the blessing. He would get the thing he wanted. He didn’t quit doing it, so I stopped him from doing it.

When I stopped him from doing it, he said, ‘Now, do I get the blessing because I stopped doing it?’ I said, ‘No, you don’t get the blessing. I had to stop you from doing it. You don’t get your treat.’ And so he just threw a fit. And so I said, ‘All right, you’re going to your bedroom.’ I put him in the bedroom, and he was really mad. And it’s the only time he did this. He looked at me and said, ‘I’m going to hit you.’

And my wife, good mother, she would have been mortified by that. I’m like, “Bring it. You want to draw this line in the sand? Bring it.” So I just looked at him, and I said, “If you hit me, I’m going to hit you back.” And his arm came down into motion, and he hit my arm. His arm started going into motion. His arm was coming into motion this way. My arm started coming into motion. So it was one of these. It was bang, bang.

And then the little kid, he’s going to push a little further. He goes, ‘That didn’t hurt.’ So I said, ‘you want one that does?’ And he’s like, ‘No.’ Smart boy. Good. I don’t got a dummy here. Good. Good. I didn’t want it. I didn’t want it. But I am like God in this sense. I didn’t want that to escalate. I didn’t want to give him one that did. Right? I wanted him to choose life. I wanted him to choose the right thing.

Everybody, as a parent, you’re like, “If my kid wasn’t such a stinker, this trip to Disneyland would be a lot more fun for all of us. Right? Stop being a stinker.” God tells Israel, “Choose life. I want you to have life. I want to be in covenant life and relationship with you. I want things to go well with you. I have brought you into this land not so I can exile you thousands of years later just to show everybody I’m right.”

I brought you into this land so that you would be blessed in this land, and you would live in this land, and you would prosper in this land. I’ve given you everything necessary to do that, but here’s the deal: I’m not going to force you to do it. I’m not going to take over in my sovereignty. I’m not going to take over the sovereignty that I have given you to make a choice.

You choose to choose life, and let me tell you something, this passage, he says, ‘Here’s how you do it right: you love the Lord, you obey his voice, you cling to him because he is your life.’ That’s it. I’m a living God, I’m a loving God, be in relationship with me, here’s the covenant, do it and we’re good.

There are a lot of parallels to this passage to the gospel. First of all, the gospel is not too mysterious, it’s near to you, right? It’s near to you.

It will be a shame on Judgment Day when somebody’s standing before Jesus, and he says, “I never knew you,” and they say, “Well, you know, I just… I thought things would work out. I never really pursued it. I never really…” you know, that may be a legitimate argument somewhere in the deepest, darkest jungles, but in Western civilization, there’s a church on every corner.

If you stand before God one day, and you’re obviously, I’m preaching to the choir right, but if someone, if one of your neighbors, stands before God one day and says, “you know, I never asked the questions. Really, the biggest holidays of the year centered around this one person, and you took your college’s English literature professor’s word on whether or not he was a fraud or not, and you never darken the door of a church? You never went and asked anybody? Hey, preacher, why do you think this is true?”

I’ve been doing this for 40 years. I can’t, I don’t know that anybody has ever asked me that question. And I think everybody should be asking me that question. Everybody should be coming into my office or some other and say, “I’m gonna die one day. What’s your take on that?” Instead of just assuming, “I’m a basically good person. I gave five dollars to Salvation Army last year. I mean, that doesn’t buy me a ticket to eternity. You know, I only cheated on my wife three times in 40 years of marriage. I’m pretty faithful.”

That’d be good. You know, do you know what a basically good person is? A person with a poor memory. A person with a poor memory. It’s not too mysterious. There’s a book. There’s a book. This book has shaped Western civilization. Why isn’t it required reading? Because there’s a devil, and he’s afraid of this book. It’s mysterious. It’s not that mysterious. The word is near. It’s on every street corner.

Listen, I promise you, if you come to the Firehouse Church, you’re gonna hear the gospel.

I promise you, if you bring your friends to the Firehouse Church, it might not be a gospel presentation every Sunday, but they’re gonna hear that, you know what? Apart from a relationship with Jesus Christ, you are lost and His death on the cross atones for your sins. His resurrection from the dead is His eternal victory. He is a victorious King. He reigns above it all.

He wants to come and live with you. He wants you to be His person and you to belong to Him. And Him to belong to you.

He wants to take you to the Father. He wants to bring you into a glorious eternity. But dear ones, you have to repent. You have to turn from your way to His way. And you have to believe. You have to put your trust in Him. You have to be a part of the church and be baptized. you’ve got to walk this thing out. That’s how it is. And you can bring your friends to church and they’ll hear that.

And if they don’t hear it, bring them up to me after church and say, you know, Kevin, that thing you said, say it to Him. Listen, you don’t even have to say it to them. I’ll do it. It’s good if you say it to them, but if you don’t, I’ll do it. Right? And you know why. Right? I’ve told you. Kevinism is coming. Right, Steven? I am paid to be good. And you guys are good for nothing. So, that’s how it works.

You know, you get more stars in heaven because you weren’t even paid to be good. That’s what I meant by that, of course. All right. you’ll hear the gospel. The word is near, that they may hear and be saved.

And dear ones, just like in Deuteronomy, there are two polar opposites. There’s eternal life and eternal judgment. The wages of sin is death. The free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23, NLT)

Heaven and hell. The new Jerusalem, the lake of fire.

There’s no purgatory. Well, actually, there is a purgatory. Now you’re shocked.

You believe in purgatory? Yes, we’re in it. We’re in it. This is where we work it out. That’s what purgatory is, where you work out your holiness, where you work out your salvation. This is it, all right?

My mother-in-law, a Catholic, I believe in purgatory. So do I. She goes, really? Yeah, we’re here. We’re here. I wouldn’t be having this conversation with you if I weren’t in purgatory. We’re here. I’m nice to my mother-in-law, Isaiah.

All right. God is on our side. you’re wondering why Christ hasn’t returned.

I’ll tell you why Christ hasn’t returned: because God is patient and he’s desiring that all men repent and be saved. Do I believe in universalism? Do I believe all men and women will repent and be saved? Sadly, no. But I know God’s heart on this. It’s my heart.

I’ve never seen anybody that I wanted to see lost. I’ve never been angry enough at anybody, even the worst criminal, even, you know, international villains, even a Hitler or Osama bin Laden or somebody like that. I’ve never looked at them so bad.

I just hope they go to hell and burn and suffer. And no, it’s like I want them to be saved. Now, I’m not as good as Jesus. There are people that I want to see suffer some before they get saved. Knock them around a little bit. Make their coming to Jesus hard, Jesus. Knock them around a little bit.

But honestly, people say, “Oh, I just want to hasten the second coming of Christ.” Not me. My sister doesn’t know Jesus yet. I don’t want to hasten the second coming of Christ.

I want to hasten Christ’s reign and victory on earth. Here’s what I want to hasten: “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)

I don’t know how much heaven on earth we can get before Jesus returns, but you know what? I’m banking on the fact we can get more.

And I want to spend every day that I’ve got breath in these lungs advancing that cause. He can come back whenever he wants to. He’s smarter than me. He knows the perfect time.

But as far as I’m concerned, it’s like I talk to people, “Oh man, life’s so hard. I wish Jesus would just come and rapture me away.” So the rest of the year, the rest of the earth can be thrown into seven years of terrible turmoil and suffering. That’s what you’re hoping for? Not me. I want the rest of the earth to be as saved as I am. More saved than I am. Deeper love for Jesus. More joy than I have. On their side, we should be too. God is on their side.

And so, dear ones, it’s not that hard. Believe in Jesus. Just like in Deuteronomy, love God. Love God.

What does that mean to love God? We use the word love and we think of romantic affection. Nothing wrong with romantic affection. I love romantic affection. I love those in-love feelings. But that’s not love.

Love is just this wholehearted devotion and commitment to something that you want to give your life to. And that’s God. He is so beautiful. How good is He? He’s so good. He is so merciful.

He has led me to repentance throughout my life, almost exclusively through kindness, not through judgment. I repent often of my sins because God reminds me how good He is, not because He spanked me. He’s so good. He is so worthy. Nothing else is worthy.

So learn to hear and obey His voice. Learn to hear and obey His voice quickly and cling to Him. Don’t let a day go by without saying your prayers. Don’t let a day go by without saying, “Jesus, today’s your day.” Even when you’re feeling lousy. Even when you’re feeling guilty.

Even when you acted like a jerk the other day, don’t punish yourself and go three days without Jesus because you were acting like a jerk. Just go to Him and say, “God, I acted like a jerk.” And God will say, “That’s right. Go apologize to your wife. We’re good.”

All right, I’ll apologize to my wife or somebody else. But, you know, I live with her, so it’s her a lot. She’s my training ground for learning how to give good apologies.

All right. Cling to Him. Why? He is your life. He is your life.

I shared this yesterday at Patty’s service with Mick and David, and I said we’ve kind of, and you’ve heard me say this, but I like to repeat things over and over again so you will get biblical Kevanisms into your head. I don’t want you to get all Kevanisms into your head. Not all Kevanisms are good. You need to discern your Kevanisms.

All right. But I want you to get the biblical Kevanisms in you. Isaiah could testify. Not all Kevanisms are good. Many are funny, but they’re not all good. All right.

So, I want you to get biblical Kevanisms into your head, and here’s a Kevanism. I shared it yesterday. I share it here a lot. I’m going to share it again. That we have this conception that there was a TV show came out recently called The Good Place, and basically, it was a works theology. If you live good, you go to the good place. If you live bad, you go to the bad place.

And it was about how they had made mistakes in the good place, and not everybody in the good place was very good, and this one woman went to the good place by a clerical error, and she was a little stinker, and she’s trying to learn to be good. Anyway, what it is is popular theology.

The good place, you go to heaven. The bad place, you go to hell. You know, the bad life, you go to hell. Good life, you go to heaven. No, no.

Christians have come along, and we’ve taught, “If you repent of your sins and ask Jesus into your heart, you go to heaven, and if you don’t do that, you go to hell.” And so, we’re taught there’s a different path than being good to go to the good place. Say the sinner’s prayer, go to church, sit on your rocking chair, wait for the rapture, and you’ll go to heaven.

I think Christian theology, there’s truth in that, but I think Christian theology runs deeper and more relational. It’s not about the good place and the bad place.

That’s not the story the Bible teaches. The story the Bible teaches is this: “I want you to be my people, and I want to be your God.” When He’s your God, that’s the good place. Jesus is the good place. It’s the relationship, not the stamp-your-ticket, fire insurance. It is the relationship with Jesus.

What’s going to make heaven, heaven? What’s going to make the new heavens and the new earth glorious is exactly that. He will be our God and we will be His people.

And we will be in covenant relationship with Him, and everything in this world that caused us to mess up is going to be gone. Will we have freedom? Technically, I think in heaven you will have freedom. Except, nobody’s going to abuse it. you’re going to reach a point.

How about this? We talk about people reaching a point of no return in terms of their hardness of heart toward God, and I think that’s possible. I think it’s possible in this life. It’s scary. It’s called blaspheming the Holy Spirit. But it’s possible.

But I think in eternity, it’s not only possible, it is inevitable that our hearts are going to be so alive and so in love with Jesus that even though we have complete freedom, sin will be impossible. I mean, you can think, there are certain sins right now that you’re not going to commit. Right?

Like, I have done many funerals for people who have committed suicide. And that, and burying children, are pretty much the hardest parts of the job. And it makes me so mad when somebody does that.

I get so mad at the person who committed suicide because what I see, even though I know, I get it, they didn’t see this. They just thought everybody would be better off without them. Their minds were in a bad place. I have mercy for that and sympathy for that. But what I see is, you just ran away from your pain and barfed it onto everybody else. And now everybody else has got to deal with this. Is that?

And I think, no matter how depressed I ever got, one thought of my grandchildren, or my wife, or you all, I would go, “I’m not gonna do that. I’m not. I’m not gonna do that to those dear people. I’m not gonna make them feel miserable just because I’m having a bad day, or a bad week, or a bad month, or bad years. I’m not gonna do that to the people I love.”

And so, I feel like that sin is out of the realm of possibility for me. Not because I don’t have the choice.

Not because I couldn’t do it. It’s just like, it’s not gonna happen. I kind of feel the same way about cheating on my wife. It’s like, I ain’t gonna do that. I’m not gonna do that. I mean, it’s like, are you kidding me? Why would I throw away 43 years of marriage for a little fling? You know, what’s that about?

I’m not gonna do that. I mean, why would I, why would I do that to God? He’s been so good to me, and gave me such a great wife. And so I think it’s possible, right?

It’s morally possible that I could cheat on my wife, I suppose. Not that there isn’t precedent amongst preachers, sadly. But it’s like, I ain’t doing that. I think that’s what it’s gonna be like. Only the list is gonna be finally the whole thing. You know? Because there are, you know, if you’d have brought that cake tonight, I might have gluttonized, Nick. That’s still a possibility for me. I might have had, especially those pieces with the big frost, all the frosting on the corner. Yeah, those are, those are so good. Those are so good.

All right. Dear ones, He is your life. And so I’m preaching to the choir. I know, you’ve done this. But you know, even though we’ve done it, and even though we’re disciples of Jesus, don’t those situations come around every day where we have to do what? Choose life. Choose life. Somebody, somebody tailgates me. I don’t like tailgaters. Man, I don’t like tailgaters. It’s like, just, you know, I’ll pull over. Just, you don’t have to be right on, right on me. And I’m so tempted. Dear ones, I got to confess, I’m tempted.

When they pass me, I’m tempted to let them… No, I did not appreciate their tailgating. And I’m just passive-aggressive enough that I don’t do the sign, I just scratch my ear with one finger. Just to make me feel better. All right?

But I had a choice at that moment, right? I had a choice. I don’t have to be bitter, I don’t, yeah, just pull over, what do I care? Maybe their child is in the hospital, for goodness sakes. And they, you know, they’re not even thinking about tailgating, they’re just thinking, I gotta get there.

I don’t know their situation. Why do I have to get annoyed at them? I can choose life. I can choose life. When somebody hurts me, intentionally or unintentionally, I can hold onto that, get vindictive, be bitter, resentful, or I can choose to love and forgive and choose life. I mean, it happens every day, right? So tonight, I wanna encourage you with these two words. Choose life. And he is your life. Right there. Life. The body and blood of Christ, the nourishment of heaven, the forgiveness of sins and the new covenant.

I want you to take this meal tonight, and when you do, you can, I know, I know, y’all. you’re a bunch of quiet people. That’s okay. It’s okay to be an introvert. It’s okay. Just pray that as a charismatic church, the Lord would send us more extroverts, just because it helps me. You know, a few hallelujahs, a few praise Jesuses, a few. We had this one get, we got this group. They weren’t there this morning, but there were four of them last week, and they’re all a little bit delayed.

They’re adults who are, not, they’re functional, but they’re functionally delayed. And one of them, one of them is just very verbal when I preach now. She’s come only twice, but she’s very verbal. And sometimes she’s inappropriately verbal. She gives the ‘amen’ at the wrong time. She butts in at the wrong time. I don’t care. It’s so refreshing to me. You know, it’s so good. She’s like, ‘you go girl.’ And so, but anyway, here’s what I want you to do.

You can do it in your head, you can do it silently, or you can do it out loud. But when you take communion tonight and you dip that bread in that cup, I want you to say, “Thank you, Jesus, I choose life.” Amen?

The food of God for the people of God. Come and eat. And thank you, Jesus, I choose life. I choose you.