May 12, 2024, Message by P. Kevin Clancey

All right. Psalm 27. We’re in the Psalms going through our year Bible. I love the Psalms. There’s no section of Scripture that has enriched my life, I would say, more than the Psalms.

All the Bible is inspired by God. We believe that it all is there for a purpose. But can I just be honest with you? There are just some parts that just, you know, I’m sorry. The begats, the four chapters of begats in 1 Chronicles do not get to my soul nearly as quickly as the Psalms, except for the prayer of Jabez. There you go. That’s a good one.

All right. And so the psalms are really important to me. A lot of the verses that I’ve memorized in the Bible come from the Psalms. Certainly, you’ve heard me say time and time again from Psalm 73:25-26.

25 Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You. 26 My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:25-26, NKJV)

That’s probably my most quoted psalm.

My second most quoted psalm is from the psalm we’re going to use tonight. And it’s Psalm 27:13.

13 I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! (Psalm 27:13, ESV)

That I’m going to see some revival. All right. We’re going to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

We saw a couple of weeks ago that Julie Harris came and gave her testimony here.

And we saw what we saw, testimony of the goodness of the Lord and the land of the living. Heaven broke into earth, into that little room where she was perishing from cancer. It filled up even the darkest corners with light and peace and joy, and healing came into that room. And so that’s the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

When somebody takes your hands and says a prayer, and they ask Jesus to come into their heart and their life, and they commit themselves to following Jesus and become a disciple of Jesus and are baptized, that’s the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

My wife is in Denver as I speak tonight because Friday, my 7th grandchild was born, James Robert. And when I get pictures of James Robert and my daughter smiling, and his big sister Caroline reaching out and touching his nose, then pointing to her mom’s nose, it’s like, hey, he’s got one of these. You got one of those. How about that? That’s the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

All right. And when you walk in the doors of this place and I get to see your face week after week, my heart leaps with joy. All right? And it does for each one of you. Every time I see Mark, I think, wow, I am so happy to see Mark. And he doesn’t even have a Lego gun, and I’m still happy to see him. That’s the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. And every time I see Isaiah. Oh, yesterday. Isaiah, Curtis, and Elise, I did their wedding. The goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Another one of the boys’ discipleship group finally figured out girls and got married. Took them a while. They’re a little slower than the rest, but they got there all right.

That was a great bunch of guys. That was a great bunch of guys. How many do we have in that group? Isaiah? A zillion. All right. That’s an inside joke.

All right, dear ones`. Psalm 27. The goodness of the Lord and the land of the living.

But here’s how it starts:

1 The Lord is my light and my salvationso why should I be afraid? The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble? 2 When evil people come to devour me, when my enemies and foes attack me, they will stumble and fall. 3 Though a mighty army surrounds me, my heart will not be afraid. Even if I am attacked, I will remain confident. 4 The one thing I ask of the Lord the thing I seek mostis to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord ‘s perfections and meditating in his Temple. 5 For he will conceal me there when troubles come; he will hide me in his sanctuary. He will place me out of reach on a high rock.6 Then I will hold my head high above my enemies who surround me. At his sanctuary I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy, singing and praising the Lord with music. 7 Hear me as I pray, O Lord. Be merciful and answer me! 8 My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, ” Lord, I am coming.” 9 Do not turn your back on me. Do not reject your servant in anger. You have always been my helper. Don’t leave me now; don’t abandon me, O God of my salvation! 10 Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close. 11 Teach me how to live, O Lord. Lead me along the right path, for my enemies are waiting for me. 12 Do not let me fall into their hands. For they accuse me of things I’ve never done; with every breath they threaten me with violence.13 Yet I am confident I will see the Lord ‘s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. 14 Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord. (Psalm 27, NLT)

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

14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:14, NKJV)

So why does David have to write a psalm about, hey, I don’t want to be afraid? Why should I be afraid? Well, there’s a reason. David had enemies. There were the Philistines. There was intrigue. Later in life, it was Absalom. Earlier in life, it was Goliath. Then it was Saul chasing him all over from pillar to post for his young life. So a king in Israel does not live without enemies. His son rebelled against him and chased him out of the capital. And so, life is dangerous. It was dangerous for King David.

One of the things every time I read through the Bible, I’m impressed by something else. And actually, as I’ve been reading through the Bible this time, what I’m impressed by, or maybe depressed by, is the fallenness of humanity and the sheer barbarism of the ancient world.

You know, I think we just, we read old, ancient Bible characters and we translate them into the 21st century. But if you’ve seen the movie Braveheart, right? Anybody seen that movie? Yeah, you seen Braveheart? Aiko, you’ve seen Braveheart, but you haven’t seen Tombstone. Tombstone’s an easier watch than Braveheart. It’s not as violent as Braveheart, but David’s like William Wallace, you know, he’s like got heads in baskets, all right, and yet he’s also this poet, this psalmist.

And so David is in constant threat of surrounding armies and enemies. And it’s in that light that David has to write the psalm that says, why should I be afraid? And dear ones, we live in a world where we still have enemies.

There’s still reason for fear. The media certainly tries to stir it up in us. Whatever news source you watch, whether it be liberal or conservative, though, the spin on the events will be radically different. The goal, the outcome, will be exactly the same. They both are targeting the same emotional response in you, and it’s actually a two-part emotional response: fear and anger. They’re going after fear and anger now.

You don’t have to. You can watch the news all you want, and you don’t have to succumb to fear and anger. Just know that that’s what they’re trying to elicit in you, because fearful, angry people can be manipulated. I remember I was watching the news with my wife and my father-in-law, and this hypothesis was in my head. It’s all about fear and anger. The first story came on, and as the story finished, my father-in-law said these words: that’s scary. Then the second story came on, and when that story finished, my wife said these words: that makes me mad. I’m thinking, I’m on to something. I’m on to something here that’s scary, that makes me mad. Well, and some of that is because of the spin they put on it and how it’s twisted. But there, in fact, are things out there that are scary and worthy of our righteous anger.

And David knows that and we know that life, dear ones, is a struggle. The Old Testament, as I said, there’s a lot in there that is barbaric. A lot of it is about war. And you know, well, Jesus is the prince of peace.

Why isn’t the Bible all about, you know, unicorns and rainbows and peppermint drops and peace? Why? You know what? You want my daughter? You want my daughter. David as your wife? Yeah, Saul, I like Michal. She’s kind of cute. Can I have Michal as my wife? I’ll give you Michael as your wife. Give me 100 Philistine foreskins. You know, how about a gift card to Applebee’s?

Well, I’ll tell you why the Old Testament and why God includes the Old Testament and so much of it is about war. He’s not telling us to be barbaric and start chopping off the heads of our enemies. What he is telling us, though, is life is war. And Jesus comes, and he doesn’t take that away. What Jesus does, and Paul does after Jesus, is they move from the human enemy to the source behind the human enemy: the spiritual forces of wickedness, the dark powers in the heavenly places, the principalities, the demons, the devil and his hosts. And we’re at war.

And basically, the enemy has two objectives, as best I can tell. In the New Testament, the enemy has two objectives. In the Old Testament, the enemy’s objective was to wipe Israel off the map. Have you noticed that? The enemy still likes to do that.

But in the New Testament, the enemy has two other objectives that are much more important to him. And the one objective is to keep your neighbors from becoming Christians. Keep your relatives, keep your neighbors from becoming Christians. He darkens and clouds their minds so that they don’t see the light of Jesus Christ. And he wants to keep them from becoming Christians.

He wanted to keep you from becoming a Christian. But he failed. Hallelujah.

If you’ve ever read Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, it’s a great story about how the demon tries to keep this man from becoming a Christian. And then when the man becomes a Christian, now he’s desperate. And here’s plan two. And here’s where you’re at. Here’s where your warfare is at.

The devil wants you to be discouraged and defeated, so you’re not a reproducing Christian. He wants you to be discouraged and defeated, so you’re not a reproducing Christian. And that is the war we’re at. John Wimber says the church is at war. Eighty percent of the church doesn’t know it, and the other twenty percent are trying as hard as they can to remain civilians. But we’re at war.

That’s why life is a struggle. That’s why we need to talk about what are our defenses against fear. What are our defenses against discouragement? Let me tell you how this warfare works. First of all, the primary thing that the devil uses is not demonization or, you know, terrible, scary things in the news.

The primary thing he uses is our own sinfulness. You got problems in your life, and your problems don’t all come from just one source. But let me tell you something. If you’re like me, a lot of your problems, maybe most of your problems, are your own fault. It’s me. It’s me, it’s me. Oh, Lord, standing in the need of prayer. Most of you aren’t old enough to remember Flip Wilson, but Flip Wilson was a comedian and he used to have a line: the devil made me do it. The devil made me do it. That’s not true.

That is theologically incorrect. The devil tempted you to do it. Even Adam knew it wasn’t the devil’s fault.

All right, Adam, did you eat the fruit that I told you not to eat? He didn’t say, well, it was the snake. The woman said it was the snake. Adam knew it wasn’t the snake. He said it’s the woman. And do you notice who else he blames besides the woman? God. He says it’s the woman you gave me.

Eve actually was more accurate than Adam, but in both cases, they were both wrong.

The devil didn’t shove the kiwi down Eve’s throat, and Eve didn’t shove the kiwi down Adam’s throat. Don’t you be telling me it’s an apple. There’s nowhere in the Bible that says it’s an apple.

Have you ever seen a kiwi? That is one ugly fruit. Why is it ugly? Because Adam and Eve ate it, and God cursed it. That’s not in the Bible either, but that’s my theory, and that’s what I’m running with.

Everybody’s like, oh, Eve ate the apple. No, she ate the kiwi. All right. Sin started in Australia.

All right, so your own sinfulness. You want your life to get better? Repent, repent. Listen, God wants to give you victory over those areas of sinfulness in your life. Don’t be discouraged. It doesn’t happen overnight.

I was with a group of pastor friends of mine, and we would confess our sins to one another. One of the things we said is, you know what, ten years from now, I don’t want to be confessing the same sins to you guys. And you know what? Ten years from then, I wasn’t.

I still had other sins to confess, but God had given me ground over some of those sins. Listen, greater is he who is in you than he who is in the world.

4 Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. (1 John 4:4, ESV)

Don’t be defeated just because you’ve been defeated before.

Lord, I can’t get over this. Lord, I’m never going to stop doing this. Lord, this is a, this is a. This is an unrelenting sin. This will hold on to me the rest of my life. No, it won’t. God gives you victory over the consequences of sin and over the power of sin.

Now, it may take a while because God may be wanting to do some other things in your life. And I’m not even saying that you’re going to die sinless, though. Have you noticed how popular that doctrine has become? Oh, you won’t be perfect till you die. Nobody’s perfect till they die.

Where does it say that in the Bible? Does it? Anybody got that? Does it say that anywhere? I don’t think it does. I’m actually hopeful enough to believe that before you die, something like entire sanctification can happen. Wouldn’t that be great?

Just to have no more sin in your life, just for a day, be like, awesome? But until that time, you’re at war. Don’t quit. You cannot lose if you do not quit. You cannot lose if you do not quit.

All right, well, then there’s the sins of others against us. We live in a victim culture. And here’s one of my struggles in dealing with people is both these things are true. It’s not just one or the other. Sometimes people are victims.

One of the things that drives me crazy is in our culture, the number of people who attack the church and say, oh, the church wasn’t right. The church did this. We’re deconstructing our faith because of the church. Yada, yada, yada. And pastors are corrupt and all.

I take that personally. It’s like, come on, man, some of us a break anyway. We’re not perfect, but my goodness, we have to put up with people like you. So cut us some slack.

So here’s the deal. It bugs me the amount of complaining and moaning and groaning about the church that’s on social media and how churches are abusive and manipulative. But here’s the truth. Some are, and none of them are perfect. And by the way, if you don’t like the church and you’re looking for the perfect church, if you find it, don’t go. You’ll ruin it. All right? Did you hear that, Facebook complainer? Not that I have a pet peeve or a sore spot about that, all right? But here’s the other truth. There are abusive leaders, and sadly, too many.

There are pastors who groom people and then use them sexually. And there are far more who simply have their own egos and their own agendas. They use people for their own egos and their own agendas. They are either controlling in a manipulative, passive-aggressive way, or they’re controlling in an overtly but poorly, not truly biblical leadership, authoritative way. And it’s true.

So I never know where to land on that, except I don’t want to be one of those kinds of leaders. But I do know people have experienced those kinds of leaders.

And I also know we live in a culture of whiners. So where do you land on that? I don’t know. I think I start with, okay, I’m going to believe you. I’m going to be merciful to you and believe that you’ve really been hurt.

But, you know, I am a little bit up to here with, well, they didn’t sing our three favorite songs, so we’re going down the street. It’s like, don’t tear community apart because you had a bad week.

Our own sin, the sins of others, other people have hurt us where we didn’t ask for it. We didn’t expose ourselves to it. We’re at war. And finally, the powers of darkness, they conspire against us.

Have you ever noticed when you try to do good, you’re really there and you’re really making an effort, you’re really making progress, and then all the wheels come off and you just feel like, wait a minute, that just doesn’t seem fair. I was doing the right thing. Why didn’t I get blessed? Why didn’t heaven just smile on me and everything and pennies fall from heaven? Why, when I tried my best and I was doing my best, did things get worse, not better? Because you’re at war.

Listen, we need deeper and more passionate love of God, and sometimes I think we need deeper and more passionate hatred of Satan. Wait. It’s wrong to hate in the New Testament. Well, it’s wrong to hate fellow human beings. I don’t think it’s wrong to hate the powers of darkness, the powers of wickedness.

I think we got to have a little bit of an attitude, like, devil, you’re not going to win. Oh, the devil’s going after my kids. What should I do? Kick him in the teeth? Fight back? Pray more? I’ll tell you what.

I think it’s great, people. I think the homeschool debate. All right. Homeschool debate. I got no dog in that fight. I know. I got a church full of homeschoolers here. I got no dog in that fight. Here’s my issue.

It’s parents’ responsibility to educate their children, and however they think best to do it, I think they should have the power, not the state.

That’s the dog I have in the fight. Parents’ rights, parents’ authority. If you want to homeschool your kids, you should have the opportunity to homeschool your kids. I know we raised our kids in the public schools. Good teachers, good school. It was great. It was fine. It was fine. No problem.

But one of my concerns, not with the homeschool parents here. One of my concerns is there was, at least in the nineties, when the debate was in my church that I was pastoring, there was this idea. We’ve got to protect our kids from the secular humanists out there in the world.

And I thought, well, I get that while your kids are young, you want to protect their minds, and you definitely want to instill your worldview in them. But ultimately, we don’t want to raise kids that are sheltered from the world and the devil. We want to raise kids that the world and the devil need shelter from. Amen? That’s who we want to raise. Whether that works best homeschooling them, private schooling them, or public schooling them, parents are the best people to decide what’s best for their kids. I got your back 100%.

IListen, I tell parents this all the time. They’ll give me some strategy. They say, this is our strategy for raising our kids. What do you think, pastor? And I tell them this. I think the fact that you have a strategy means your kids are going to win. If you are prayerfully strategizing how to raise your kids, and you’re not just passively throwing them out there to the wolves, then your kids have got a great chance, no matter which option you choose for them.

But we’re at war with the powers and principalities of darkness, and they’ll try to beat you down. You know what you do when they try to beat you down? You lift up your head and you praise God. You throw some punches.

That’s how you punch the devil. By the way, praising Jesus in adversity.

Here’s another way to punch the devil. Forgive your enemies.

Here’s another way to punch the devil. Don’t gossip, fast, and pray. Fight back. Don’t quit. Go love a poor person.

Life is a struggle.

There’s reason to fear. What does Psalm 27 say? I don’t have to, because the Lord is my light, my salvation, and my stronghold. Greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world.

We’re playing a game we’ve already won. All right?

I don’t watch the NBA during the regular season, but I watch the NBA playoffs. I’m a sports fan. All my analogies are about sports, all right? They are either sports or movies that were in the eighties. I am either one track sports. I’m current on sports. I’m completely ancient on media. Live with it.

Here you go. NBA playoffs. I like to watch the NBA playoffs, and I root for teams, but I’m so passionate that sometimes it’s hard for me to root because I just get so wrapped up in the game. I get so anxious.

And when my team loses, I’m so discouraged. I’m a real fan. And so, on Sunday, I’m just too worn out to do it. I don’t have the energy to watch my team lose on Sunday.

And so I tape the games and I get the final score. And if my team wins, I watch. And if my team loses, it’s like, ain’t watching that.

And my wife says, that’s stupid. That takes all the fun out of it. I say, not on Sunday, honey. I need a sure thing.

I come home from Poulsbo, I’m so tired. I need a victory. I need a victory. And then if my team won, you know how I watch the game? I’m completely relaxed. We’re down by 13. What does that mean? Cool comeback’s gonna happen. This is gonna be awesome. This is gonna be awesome.

Mick and I have the same major league baseball network, and he watches, and they have condensed games so you don’t have to watch 3 hours. You can watch a game in like eight or nine minutes. And he watches the games late at night. And I watch the games late at night.

But Mick is a better fan. He has an app that doesn’t let you know the score, so he’s got the suspense during the game. Not me. Cubs win. I’m going to watch them. They lost. It’s like, ah, heck with that.

Well, there’s something about that, right? We’re playing a game we’ve already won as Christians. The battle. Jesus rose from the dead. Satan is defeated. The war has been won. We’re in the mop-up action. There’s still casualties, there’s still violence, there’s still fighting, but we’ve already won.

If you feel like, man, I’m way behind, all that means is you got a great comeback coming. You got a great comeback coming.

Well, what if I’ve sinned so much that God has forsaken me? Psalm 27: Even if my father and mother forsake me, Lord, you will not forsake me, dear ones.

Kevinism 110: You cannot lose if you do not quit. 109. No, I used one nine last week. Mark, we can debate about it after the service, but. Yeah, but I’m glad you’re paying attention.

All right. The Lord is my light.

That means he gives guidance, truth, illumination. Jesus is the way, the life, and the truth. God will guide you.

Psalm 25, which we read to start the service, is all about how the Lord will teach you and guide you.

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6, NKJV)

Jesus says, I am the light of the world. What’s the light of the world for? So you can find your way in the dark. It’s hard to find your way. You need light.

Light eliminates fear. Right? When you were a little kid and you knew, you knew that thing was under your bed, but if somebody came in and turned the lights on, somehow that thing disappeared.

I’ll never forget, I was 18 years old and I was house sitting. I was house sitting in the Saratoga foothills, a beautiful, rich Bay Area neighborhood. We had neighbors who had a lovely house, and they would go on vacation. This guy, at 18 years old, he’d give me the keys to this beautiful house and the keys to his BMW. It was awesome.

And I would sit in that house. I’d come home after work, I’d sit in that house, turn on the TV. They had a dog named Fred, a Dalmatian named Fred that I took care of.

Well, one night, three things happened simultaneously. I came home, all the lights were off. I turned on the TV. The door from the garage to the house I thought I had closed completely, but I hadn’t. It hadn’t clicked. It just kind of, you know, nestled up there.

This guy who owned the house was a collector of grandfather clocks.

And at midnight, in the dark house with the TV on, a commercial came on for a movie. That again, old movie reference. The Exorcist. Reagan was a normal girl until… then, I see this demonic head spinning around and this girl hissing.

It happened exactly at midnight. The commercial came on, and as Reagan’s head was spinning around and looking at me, all the grandfather clocks started going dong, dong, dong, dong. And the vibration from the grandfather clocks was enough to take that door that was partially closed. And it goes, eek.

I did two things.

Fred, get over here, boy. Get over here. And I went through that house. What did I do? Lights flicking on, lights flicking on. Why? Because the light chases out the darkness.

Jesus, the Lord is my light and my salvation. Whom shall I fear?

1 The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1, ESV)

When you’re afraid, turn on the light. Light of the world, come and illuminate the darkness. He’ll bring truth. He’ll bring revelation. He’ll bring guidance. He is my salvation. There is forgiveness in him.

There is restoration in him. There is wholeness in him. I don’t need to fear death. I don’t need to fear disease. Why? The Lord is my salvation. He is my wholeness. I don’t need to fear God’s wrath. He is my forgiveness. He is my stronghold. He’s where I run for refuge and protection.

He’s where I run for refuge and protection. Another scary, scared kid. I had the Wizard of Oz. Another old movie reference. Wizard of Oz terrorized me as a child. Anybody else terrorized by the Wizard of Oz? All right. It wasn’t the monkeys.

It was the witch. Some people, it was the monkeys. Most people, it was the monkeys. They said, oh, the monkey, those flying monkeys, not me. It was the witch. I had witch nightmares from three till ten. Three years old till ten years old.

I saw the wizard of Oz at three years old. And witch nightmares started in my life, and I would have them regularly as a little boy, and it was terrifying. And what I would do is, if I had enough courage, I would run down the hall. But I knew the witch.

Right, was behind the bathroom door, and she was going to jump out at me. She wasn’t under my bed, but she was behind those doors. So I’d run past those doors really fast, and I would fly. I would jump into my parents’ bed between them, and my mother would comfort me.

And my dad, I assumed he would pray because he would use the Lord’s name. And so I assumed he must have been praying as I flew into bed and landed between my parents. And actually, I was delivered from that by a dream.

I was having witch nightmares, and I dreamt that there was a bank. I don’t know why it was a bank. There was a bank on fire, and the witch was chasing me and trying to get me and talk about a spiritual dream.

My father appeared in the dream, took the witch, and cast the witch into the fire. And that night the dreams ended. I think I had one more afterwards and it was like, oh, you burned in the fire. You’re not real. Isn’t that great?

But the Lord is your refuge.

I was looking for that refuge in my parents’ bed. But whenever you are terrified, whenever you are afraid, whenever you are lost, whenever you are walking on the water, and the winds and the waves get too big and you start to sink, Lord, help. And he will come. He will come. Help always comes. He is your refuge.

The Lord is my light and my salvation. Whom shall I be afraid? The Lord is the stronghold of my life. Of whom shall I fear?

1 The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1, ESV)

We move from fear to hope. And this hope is accessed through intimacy.

One thing I’ve asked, to dwell in the house of the Lord. Lord, I want to see your face. I want to behold your beauty.

This fear, this hope is accessed through intimacy. God invites us into relationship. He doesn’t invite us into ritual. He doesn’t invite us into struggle. He invites us into relationship.

And we always know we’re on the right track. When our Christianity is relational, when it becomes ritualistic and formula, we’re off the track. Then it’s gnosticism, then it’s what you know, not who you know. But Christianity is all about who you know.

And so intimacy is what brings us into this hope. We can hear his voice when we’re intimate with him. God wants to talk to us, and people tell me all the time, well, God doesn’t talk to me. Yes, he does. Uh uh. He told me the other day that he doesn’t talk to me. Okay, gotcha.

Listen, I know people. They say God doesn’t talk to me, and they know their bibles inside and out. God talks to you, brother. He’s been talking to you your whole life.

If you don’t have these other kinds of experiences, of prophecy and dreams and visions, but you just know the Bible, and you know God’s voice in the Bible, well, good for you. That’s enough. That’s his primary way. Those other ways are extraordinary.

This is it. It is the voice of the Lord. And you can hear the voice of the Lord. God wrote a book. You can read it. You can understand it. You can hear his voice. You can follow him. He speaks comfort to you.

I almost preached Psalm 23 tonight. The psalm of comfort.

1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. 3 He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (Psalm 23, ESV)

You hear his voice. The sheep know his voice.

27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. (John 10:27, NIV)

If you’re a follower of Jesus, you’ve heard his voice. You’ve heard his voice.

And then we worship him. We bow down to him. We bow down. We bow down, and we lift him up.

It’s not about me. Most of my problems are because I make life about me. Why isn’t this happening for me? Why aren’t these good things happening for me?

And I don’t even notice that a million good things happen for me. But when I take my eyes off me and I lift them to God and I begin to worship him, what happens? That old praise song, right? The things of this world go strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.

All of a sudden, I get the big picture. All of a sudden, it’s okay. That’s one of the reasons you come Sunday after Sunday. To take the focus off you and to put it back on God. We’ve never come here.

I love Ats. Ats is a great guy. I just love aught. But we never sing a song about ah. Not one. We’ve never sang all to Ats. I surrender. We don’t do it. We don’t do it. How great the name of Ats. We just don’t do it.

He’s like, he’s a wonderful guy. You know, on his birthday, we should sing some songs to him but don’t worship him. You know, don’t worship him. And by the way, worshiping is not just singing your four favorite songs. Oh pet peeve, pet peeve, pet peeve.

Anybody ready for another pet peeve? Ready for another pet peeve out there in streaming land? Pet peeve: Worship is singing in church. That’s what worship is. When the worship is done, the pastor is going to get up and preach. Stop it. It’s all worship. Anytime you’re humbling yourself before God, it’s worship. Singing is a tool for worship. You can sing and not worship, and you can worship without singing. Worship means I bow down and I humble myself.

When you’re going through your daily chores and you just remember God is smarter than you and you say God thank you that you’re smarter than me and you’ve got this under control, what did you just do? You worshiped.

And so we worship him and we access our hope through worship. We seek his face. Lord, I want to see your beauty. I want to see your face.

We have a prayer life. We have a prayer life.

And dear ones, listen, you don’t need to have this amazing spontaneous where you just go into your prayer closet and have this great conversation with God for 3 hours to have a prayer life.

Don’t beat yourself up that that’s not your prayer life. That is not my prayer life. I know people who have prayer lives like that. Good for them. That’s great.

While you’re spending those 3 hours, give me a few minutes in there, mention me a few times. I’ll take it.

But I start to pray spontaneously, and I pray for about 30 seconds, and then my mind starts to wander. Anybody else like that? All right. Does that mean I’m a bad Christian? No. There are several other reasons that you could find that I’m a bad Christian. That’s not even one of them.

Here’s what it means. I’m normal. What do I do about it? I go to the Psalms. I start praying the Psalms. David was a good prayer. I’ll jump on his prayers. And what happens when I pray the Psalms?

I discovered that I can pray for the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living, and I can have my hope restored.

And I can pray the 23rd Psalm and find that I have comfort.

And I can pray the 25th Psalm and find out that God will not let me be disgraced but will guide me in His paths of truth and teach me.

And I can pray the 27th Psalm again and realize that even if I feel forsaken by others, God will not forsake me.

And I can come out of those prayers with hope. Because I prayed a prayer that got recorded in the Bible. So it must have been a pretty good prayer. Or I can take the Lord’s prayer. My goodness. Why don’t we pray that more often? The disciples said to Jesus, the son of God, how should we pray? He said, like this. And we go, well, yeah, but, you know, my prayers should be spontaneous. Why don’t you pray the Lord’s prayer every day? That won’t hurt you none. But don’t do it by rote.

Don’t just think by saying, our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. No, no. Pray it slow.

Our Father. Hey, thank you that you’re my Father. You’re in heaven. You’re great. You’re awesome. You’re powerful. You’re wonderful.

I pray that your kingdom come on earth, not just mine. This isn’t about me. This is about you. Sign me up for that. You’re praying the Lord’s prayer. Pray the prayer of Jabez. Our men’s prayer Bible study. We just started praying the prayer of Jabez. Just a few simple supplements. Lord, Jabez was an honorable man.

Lord, make me an honorable man. He asked the Lord to bless him. Okay, Lord, bless me. He asked that his territory would increase. Lord, I pray that my sphere of influence for your kingdom would increase. Let my territory increase.

He prayed that God’s hand would be upon him. God, empower me with your holy spirit and put your hand upon me. Then he prayed that he wouldn’t cause harm or pain. Lord, I don’t want to hurt people. I don’t want to cause pain. Protect me from causing pain.

The prayer may be interpreted, Lord, don’t let me experience harm or pain. That’s a good one. I like that one. Protect me from pain. I don’t want to get beat up unnecessarily.

What am I saying? There’s all sorts of help to pray. I pray in tongues. You know why? See, some people make this mistake. They treat, like playing in tongues. Like, they’re the spiritual Green Berets. We’re the elite. We’ve got tongues. We’re more spiritual than other people. No, it doesn’t work that way.

Here’s why I pray in tongues.

I know I got an idea of what the conversation went like in heaven. My guardian angel looked at me and went to God and said, you know, I’m glad you gave me him, God. I like that boy, but he can’t pray a lick. Every time he tries to pray, his mind wanders. He’s a left-brain rationalist. He’s always asking theological questions and never getting down to praying. That boy just, he can’t pray at all. He’s useless.

And God says, I know, I know, let’s do this.

Let’s take a girl because he’ll do what a girl says, and she’ll take him to a house with my Pentecostal friends. They’ll lay their hands on him, and he’ll start praying in a language that he’s never heard. So he’ll get his brain out of his way.

These Pentecostals, they got ahold of me, and they said, here’s a list of things you need to renounce. They gave me a list of things I need to renounce. I did not obey their rules. I did not agree that I needed to renounce all those things again.

I argue with everybody, so I didn’t tell them, but they’re like, you have to renounce this to receive tongues. And I thought, well, let’s try, let’s try it. If I don’t, I never renounced those things.

They laid hands on me and they started praying. They were not like my evangelical friends. When my evangelical friends prayed, my evangelical friends had a way of praying that I call the just prayers. They were the just prayers. You know what I mean by the just prayers: Lord, just touch Kevin, we just bless you, Lord. We just love you.

We just ask for your presence. I mean, they used just in every word, every sentence, they were the just prayers, not these Pentecostals. They put their hands on me and they said, son, praise Jesus in English till you run out of words.

And they were just, their hands were on my head. Their hands were hot. Hallelujah, Jesus. Praise you, Jesus. God. God’s name came out in seven syllables. In the name of Jesus, holy spirit, come and fill him. Fill him, fill him. Get him, Lord. Get him. Pray, Lord. Give him that language, Lord.

And I’m just down there, I’m just saying, well, Lord, I just don’t know what’s happening here, but just if you would just want to do something, you just go ahead.

I was just doing my just prayers and they said to praise you, Lord. Well, you’re pretty awesome, God, I love you, God. Father, you’re great. Jesus, I love you. And all of a sudden I’m just going, God, you’re great.

24 hours I couldn’t stop. 24 hours, I couldn’t stop. All right, that doesn’t need to be your experience. It’s my experience.

But I’m just saying that to say God gave me the gift not because I’m more spiritual than people, because I’m less spiritual. I needed the help. I needed the help.

So God will help you to pray? If you ask him.

And then finally, we live with hope. We live with hope. Dear ones, you can’t think enough about eternity. I used to hear the criticism. Oh, those Christians are so pie in the sky, they’re no earthly good. It’s a lie.

My mentor, CS Lewis, taught me that those who think most about heaven are the ones who accomplish the most on earth.

You can’t think enough about the new heavens and the new earth and the glory that awaits you. The New Testament keeps throwing it in our face. It doesn’t hide it from us. Paul keeps bringing it up. We will be like him. Eye has not seen. Ear has not heard what the Lord has prepared for those who love him.

9 But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”(1 Corinthians 2:9, ESV)

The sufferings of this world cannot be compared to the glory that is to be revealed to us and in us and through us all. Creation yearns for that day.

When we see him face to face, we will be transformed. Glory to glory. Well, what does that give us? That gives us hope. What does hope give us? Hope gives us the feet to keep moving on.

Listen, the devil wants to stop you with discouragement. One of my deals. I’ll tell you what else gives you hope. One another. We ought to give each other hope.

I tell you what, I hope this is true of me. I hope if I die, one of you will be able to say at my funeral, you know what biblical character Kevin reminds me of the most? Don’t say Balaam’s donkey, though. There’s truth to that. You know what biblical character Kevin reminds me of the most? Not Paul. I mean, Jesus would be nice, but not Paul.

I want to be Barnabas. His Barnabas was not his birth name. It was given to him by the disciples. And here’s what the name means. Son of encouragement.

I want, when you have an encounter with me, I want the Holy Spirit to so work through me that you leave that encounter less discouraged than when you came in.

I want you to leave this building Sunday night after Sunday night less discouraged than you came in and more encouraged. Why? Because hope matters. It’s one of the three biggies, you know, these three remain: faith, hope, and love.

What does that mean about hope? It’s not just something that happens to us. We know that we have to nurture faith and love. We have to practice faith and love.

You’ve got to practice hope. How do you practice hope? Dwell on eternity. Look to the glory, and then ask the Lord to give you eyes to see God in action.

I would have lost hope. Here’s my verse. I would have lost hope except for this. I would see the Lord’s goodness. The goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Lord, I need to see heaven invade earth. I need to see heaven invade earth to give me hope.

Dear ones, when you have an answer to prayer and a God story, for goodness sakes, tell me. Say, Kevin, you’ll never believe what happened. You never believe. I had this vision of Jesus. You’ll never believe what happened.

I remember my dear grandmother, and my grandfather was passing away. And it’s hard. You’ve been married to a person for a long time, and they’re slowly dying. He had emphysema, and that’s a slow death. That’s not a quick death.

It’s like you’ve got to be a caregiver when your body is wearing out and you’re least able to do it. My parents were helping, you know. She wasn’t alone in that, but she still. It was exhausting.

She’s living with my grandfather, who wasn’t an easy man to live with. And now he’s dying. And I was away at college, and she knew I loved Jesus. She was a little perplexed that I wasn’t a Catholic anymore, but she was okay, that I loved Jesus. In fact, she knew.

She knew that she could tell me this story and not other people. And she came to me, and she was beaming. I’ll never forget this. She was beaming. And she said, Kevin, I saw him.

I said, who?

She goes, you know who. She said I was having a dream, and she was. I said, I was in a graveyard, and it was dark, and it was dingy, and it was ugly and scary, and it was nighttime. And she said, all of a sudden, the sky lit up, and there he was, his face.

And her name was Floribel. And she said all he said were these words: Floribel, it’s going to be all right. And you know what? It was. It was. That was not quite 50 years ago, but getting there—45 years ago. She told me that story, and I still remember it.

That story gives me hope. My grandma needed help, and Jesus came and helped her. He gave her the strength to do what she needed to do. That’s a God story. You got God’s stories. You got God stories. Even if it’s just your conversion.

We ought to have a night where we all just tell our conversion stories. We’d walk out of here on cloud nine. That’s hope testimony, all right.

I love Julie’s testimony. I love other testimonies. I love healing testimonies. I love conversion testimonies. I love testimonies of answered prayer. I love testimonies of fulfilled prophecy. I just love stories of God’s goodness.

Tell your stories. Tell testimonies. They give us hope. And then we wait on the Lord. And waiting is not passive. Waiting requires strength and courage.

We wait on the Lord, not on our porch swing, waiting to get raptured. Man, is that my third pet peeve in one sermon? There it is. Not on our porch swing, waiting to get raptured. Oh, Jesus, take me away from the troubles of this world. That’ll happen soon enough, dear ones. But keep game. But game on right now. Game on right now.

Lord, I want to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. So I am waiting, but not passively, but actively. I’m waiting on my knees. I’m waiting in my prayers.

I’m waiting in my service. I’m waiting and raising my kids to be revivalists. I’m waiting and praying for my grandchildren to change the world, that my ceiling will be their floor.

Lord, I am not waiting passively. I’m waiting actively. I am preparing. I am praying. I am looking forward to. And I’m moving forward, and I’m not going to be defeated. And the beast of Bremerton or any other beast, any other principality or power, isn’t going to make me quit.

Because greater is he that is in me than he who is in the world.

4 Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. (1 John 4:4, ESV)

And we’re going to keep going. We got a right foot, and we’re going to put it in front of the left, and we’ve got a left foot, and we’re going to put it in front of the right, and we’re going to keep moving forward, and we’re going to march all the way to the victory.

We’re not going to stop. And we’re waiting. And it takes courage. That’s why we encourage one another with hope. With hope.

And, dear ones, Psalm 27 is all about how we move from fear to hope. So if you’re feeling hopeless, open your Bible. Say, Lord, I don’t know how to pray. I’m feeling hopeless. Now you do.

1 The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1, ESV)

There is hope in the name of Jesus.

Hey, rumor has it, dear ones, get this, He got up from the dead. He got up from the dead.

I had a guy, I was arguing with a guy the other day, and he was basically arguing, why do you say your religion is true? The Buddhist has just as good an argument that their religion is true. The Muslim has just as good an argument that their religion is true. The Jewish man has just as good an argument their religion is true.

And I said, no, it’s not true. All arguments aren’t equal. Just because someone believes something religiously doesn’t mean it’s equal to other beliefs.

He says, well, why do you believe your Christian religion is true above those others?

And I said this because Jesus rose from the dead.

He said, well, that’s just a belief.

I said, it is a historically reliable argument. There’s evidence for that belief.

Well, that’s just your dogma. I couldn’t get him off that. It’s like, no. Why do you believe that more than the Muhammad ascended to heaven?

Well, because there’s more historical evidence for it. That’s why. That’s why I believe this. It’s true. It’s true. It’s not just dogma I was taught as a kid.

I rejected the dogma I was taught as a kid. But then I met him, the resurrected lord. And now I got hope.

And right now one of your hopes is going to come true. I’m done.

On the night that he was betrayed, he took bread and he broke it. He gave it to his disciples and he said, this is my body given for you.

In the same way, after supper he took the cup, gave thanks to his father in heaven, and said, this is my blood which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.

It’s the blood of the new covenant.

And now for all the world forevermore in my name there is hope. So come and take the meal of hope tonight. Let your hope be reinvigorated. What Christ has done in history, all the powers of hell cannot undo. He said, it is finished. It can’t get unfinished. The devil can’t wind that back.

Just like you can’t. Have you ever wanted like a mulligan in life? You know what a mulligan is? It’s a golf term. You hit a bad shot and you just cheat and get another one. I’m taking a mulligan.

Man, I wish life came with like three mulligans. There are times in life I could just say, you know what? Let’s get a do over there. I didn’t want to do that. Anybody else need a few mulligans? Yeah, well, you know what? You know who doesn’t have a mulligan? The devil.

He put Jesus on the cross, and now for all eternity, he regrets it because he got up. And, dear ones, you and I have hope.

This is the meal of hope. So come and eat. Come and eat.