May 26, 2024, Message by P. Kevin Clancey

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness, o God.

And all God’s people said amen.

God is good, dear ones, and we’re going to read about his goodness tonight in 2 Chronicles 7, as we’re going through the Bible.

Hey, welcome, Sean. Good to see you. Yeah. And so we’ve been going through the Bible in a year and reading it chronologically, and now we’re done with King David, and we’re into the reign of King Solomon.

And the story we’re going to read tonight is set during the time Solomon had the task of building the temple.

Remember, David wanted to build the Lord a temple. And the Lord said, you’re a man of blood. You’re not going to do it. Your son’s going to do it. David tried to get all the supplies he could, try to get it all arranged, and Solomon was tasked with building the temple.

It took him seven years to build the temple. And then they brought the ark into the temple.

And Solomon prayed this long prayer of dedication, and at the end of the prayer is in chapter seven. And here is what happened in chapter seven.

So if you got your bibles or your phones, I’m going to read the whole chapter. I’m going to read all of chapter seven. We’re talking about it all tonight.

1 When Solomon finished praying, fire flashed down from heaven and burned up the burnt offerings and sacrifices, and the glorious presence of the Lord filled the Temple. 2 The priests could not enter the Temple of the Lord because the glorious presence of the Lord filled it. 3 When all the people of Israel saw the fire coming down and the glorious presence of the Lord filling the Temple, they fell face down on the ground and worshiped and praised the Lord, saying, “He is good! His faithful love endures forever!” 4 Then the king and all the people offered sacrifices to the Lord. 5 King Solomon offered a sacrifice of 22,000 cattle and 120,000 sheep and goats. And so the king and all the people dedicated the Temple of God.6 The priests took their assigned positions, and so did the Levites who were singing, “His faithful love endures forever!” They accompanied the singing with music from the instruments King David had made for praising the Lord. Across from the Levites, the priests blew the trumpets, while all Israel stood. 7 Solomon then consecrated the central area of the courtyard in front of the Lord ‘s Temple. He offered burnt offerings and the fat of peace offerings there, because the bronze altar he had built could not hold all the burnt offerings, grain offerings, and sacrificial fat. 8 For the next seven days Solomon and all Israel celebrated the Festival of Shelters. A large congregation had gathered from as far away as Lebo-hamath in the north and the Brook of Egypt in the south. 9 On the eighth day they had a closing ceremony, for they had celebrated the dedication of the altar for seven days and the Festival of Shelters for seven days. 10 Then at the end of the celebration, Solomon sent the people home. They were all joyful and glad because the Lord had been so good to David and to Solomon and to his people Israel. 11 So Solomon finished the Temple of the Lord, as well as the royal palace. He completed everything he had planned to do in the construction of the Temple and the palace. 12 Then one night the Lord appeared to Solomon and said, “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this Temple as the place for making sacrifices. 13 At times I might shut up the heavens so that no rain falls, or command grasshoppers to devour your crops, or send plagues among you. 14 Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. 15 My eyes will be open and my ears attentive to every prayer made in this place. 16 For I have chosen this Temple and set it apart to be holy—a place where my name will be honored forever. I will always watch over it, for it is dear to my heart. 17 “As for you, if you faithfully follow me as David your father did, obeying all my commands, decrees, and regulations, 18 then I will establish the throne of your dynasty. For I made this covenant with your father, David, when I said, ‘One of your descendants will always rule over Israel.’ 19 “But if you or your descendants abandon me and disobey the decrees and commands I have given you, and if you serve and worship other gods, 20 then I will uproot the people from this land that I have given them. I will reject this Temple that I have made holy to honor my name. I will make it an object of mockery and ridicule among the nations. 21 And though this Temple is impressive now, all who pass by will be appalled. They will ask, ‘Why did the Lord do such terrible things to this land and to this Temple?’ 22 “And the answer will be, ‘Because his people abandoned the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who brought them out of Egypt, and they worshiped other gods instead and bowed down to them. That is why he has brought all these disasters on them.’”(2 Chronicles 7:1-22, NLT)

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

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)


All right. The glory of God. The glory of the Lord filled the temple. In chapter seven, Solomon brings the ark of the covenant into the temple, brings it into the holy place, sets it down in the holy place. And something theologians have called the Shekinah glory, the visible, manifest glory of God, descended on the temple, and it was so powerful that everybody just kind of fell to the ground.

They all fell down, and they couldn’t perform their mighty works. They couldn’t perform their priestly works. Fire came down from heaven and consumed the first offerings that were made. God just whoosh.

And these things happen at other places in the Bible. The glory of the Lord came down, if you remember, not when the temple is completed, but when the Tabernacle was completed. When Moses completed the Tabernacle, in Exodus 40, it said, the glory of the Lord came down so powerfully that Moses couldn’t enter the Tabernacle.

Fire fell from heaven, at least on two other occasions that I can think of off the top of my head. When Gideon offers a sacrifice, fire comes from heaven and consumes the sacrifice. And then Elijah and the prophets of Baal, when Elijah offers the sacrifice to Yahweh, fire comes down from heaven and consumes the sacrifice.

These are powerful manifestations of the glory of God. These are when the veil between heaven and earth becomes so thin that God, who is always with us, is omnipresent. But when the veil becomes so thin that we get what we call his manifest presence, we get what happens when all of a sudden, we can feel him. We can sense him. He’s in the room.

John, who walked with Jesus, remember, Jesus walks on the earth. He’s the presence of God. But he’s veiled. He’s veiled in his humanity. But when John sees him in the book of Revelation, remember, John’s his best buddy. He’s very familiar with Jesus. When John sees Jesus in the book of Revelation, what happens?

He says, I fell at his feet as one dead. That’s the glory of God. God is glorious. The Bible talks about him as unapproachable light.

When Julie spoke here, she said that the whole room lit up and there was no darkness, not even the corners, that God’s glory showed up. And I’ve been in places, and I’ve had times and experiences, and you probably have, too, where what you believed, that God is always present. All of a sudden, you experienced. You experienced. I’ve been on the ground. I’ve had people pray for me, and I went down on the ground. I couldn’t get up. And I’ve prayed for people, and I felt God’s presence come upon me, and I feel it come upon them. And sometimes they fall to the ground.

People will say the Pentecostal name for that is slain in the spirit. It’s not my favorite language, but it’s the name the church adopted. When people get slain in the spirit, people will say to me, they’ll say, why did those people fall? And I have an answer.

I went to three years of seminary and spent thousands and thousands of dollars so that I could come up with this answer. And here it is. Because they can’t stand. That’s why they fell. The presence of God they experienced in such a way that they lost the ability to remain standing.

Now, not everybody has that experience. That doesn’t mean that they’re less spiritual. That doesn’t mean that they’re not experiencing the presence of God in some other way. That’s just different people react in different ways. Sometimes people cry. I pastored a church in California.

A lady cried every Sunday for three years. She’d come to church and she’d cry, and she’d come to me after service, and she said, why am I crying, pastor? Why am I crying?

I said, well, because I think you’re experiencing the presence of God. Some people laugh. You’ve heard holy laughter. Maybe you’ve heard where people. Yeah, there’s a surprise. Kathleen laughs yes, yes. No, it’s good laughter. In fact, I’ll tell you a story about that, Kathleen. I’ll tell you a story about that.

I have a physical healing happened with a friend of mine named Faye Hodges. He was a good brother in the Lord, and he had had. And Faye was very an optimistic guy. He’s a very upbeat guy, very friendly, happy guy, and he had open heart surgery.

And here’s one of the things I’ve experienced now with, just as I’ve looked at people who have had bypass surgery after bypass surgery, I don’t know if it’s true with women, but the men I’ve noticed who have had bypass surgery, they go into a depression.

Even the most optimistic and cheerful ones. My father-in-law, who was a very optimistic guy, went into depression. Faye, who was a very optimistic guy, went into a depression. And it just wasn’t like Faye to be depressed. And he was kind of down.

We went to a conference, and it was a healing conference. We’re at this conference, and late the second night of the conference, Faye waited to get prayed for. I was already in my room. I had already left. Faye got prayed for at 10:00 at night.

And he began to laugh as the presence of the Lord, the glory of God, descended upon him. And Faye laughed for 3 hours. He laughed till 01:00 in the morning.

The next morning he got up and he said, Kevin, the fog is lifted. The cloud is. And he was healed of that depression. It left. It was gone. It was gone for good.

And so that’s a story about that. But there’s different ways that happen. There’s different manifestations that happen.

When the fire from heaven comes, when the smoke or fog-like presence comes, the weight of God, God’s glory disables the priest. The weight of God’s glory can disable you.

In the book of Acts, what they looked at, the crowd looked at the disciples in the book of Acts, and it was 09:00 in the morning. And what was their conclusion about the disciples as they looked at them? They’re drunk. They look drunk. And they said, they can’t be drunk. It’s only 09:00 in the morning.

Obviously, God did not perform Pentecost in Ireland, so you can pick on your own people, all right? It’s not racist if they’re your people, all right?

So anyway, it’s only 09:00 in the morning. So God’s presence will do something to you, and it may just give you a conviction here. The conviction was it made them aware of God’s love and mercy. They became aware of God’s great love and God’s great mercy, and they began to spontaneously worship.

There’s another instance in the Bible where Elijah and Nehemiah are, the exiles have returned from Babylon, and they’re reading God’s law to them. They become aware of God’s presence. God’s presence falls on that assembly, and they cry. They begin to weep because of their sin, and they weep in repentance.

You might say, well, what’s the right response to God’s presence? Joyful singing and exuberance and praise or weeping and repentance? And my answer is yes. Yes. But I’ll tell you this. When you experience the glory of the Lord, it’ll change you. Something’s going to happen.

Something’s going to happen. And so these people began to experience God’s presence. As the glory, the manifest glory of the Lord, filled the temple, they did the right thing. They did the right thing. They began to worship. They began to worship.

In the Old Testament, worship wasn’t about coming to church, lifting your hands, and singing four songs. Worship was about killing some animals, bringing some animals to the altars, thanksgiving offerings, and sin offerings. So, 22,000 cattle and 120,000 sheep and goats.

Let me tell you something about worship. Worship is sacrifice.

Worship is sacrifice. We have dumbed down worship somewhat in our culture, our church culture, to mean worship is singing my three favorite songs until I get the goosebumps. That’s not worship. The goosebumps could be a responsive word. We just talked about that. You could experience the presence of God as you’re singing your three favorite songs.

But worship is, in fact, a sacrifice, and you already made one. You’re here. Okay? Most of the culture isn’t here. 92% of Kitsap County does not attend worship services. All right? Only 8%. I’ve heard six. Six or 8%, maybe seven.

But most of Kitsap County won’t make the sacrifice to go to a public gathering where people worship. So you’re. I’m preaching to the choir. All right? You are. You are worshipers in the sense that you made a sacrifice of your time.

If you are in the least bit paying attention to what I’m saying and applying it and saying, yeah, that’s what the Bible is saying. Listening to the Bible and listening to the guy preach about the Bible, you’re actually. That’s an act of worship. You are giving of your attention. Worship is always about sacrifice.

It’s always about giving. If you put an offering in that box tonight, that is not a collection to keep the institution alive. I know churches treat it that way, and I know we use it that way. We pay bills with that money and all that sort of thing, but that’s not the purpose of it.

God doesn’t need your money. And I’ll tell you this. As much as I think the firehouse church needs your money, it’s not true. God doesn’t need your money. The firehouse church doesn’t need your money.

But giving of your money is an act of worship. It’s a sacrifice, right? You can spend that money on something else instead. You say, God, I trust you with the resources you have given me, and so I honor you in this act of sacrifice. This act of worship, all of that is an act of worship.

Giving God the fruit of your lips. When you sing praise songs, what we did, when we sing songs, that’s an act of worship. I’ve been going to church. I’ve told you this. I’ve been going to church for years.

My whole life, I’ve been going to church. We’ve never sang a song about me, right? We’ve never sang a song about Brian. Brian’s a wonderful guy, but we’ve never, you know, Brian walks in the door. We don’t all say, all hail the name of Brian. He’s such a wonderful guy. He rides his bike miles and miles. The hours go flying by. You know, we never say anything about Brian.

That’s a yeah. Yeah. I could write a song about all of you. All right, so we’ve never sing a song about Brian.

We never sing a song about Kevin. It’s all about Jesus. And what are we sacrificing there? We’re sacrificing. We’re humbling ourselves. We’re sacrificing my ego, my importance.

We’re reminding ourselves, hey, I’m not the center of the universe. It’s not about me. It’s not about me. God is in the center. I’m the peripheral. He’s the creator. I’m the creation. He’s the savior. I’m the saved. He’s the lover. I’m the beloved. He’s the provider. I’m the grateful recipient. He’s smarter than me.

Turn to somebody next to you and say, God is smarter than you.

God is smarter than you. All right. He’s smarter than you. All right. Sophia turned to Sean and said, Sean, God is smarter than you and so am I. That’s what she thought anyway.

All right, so worship is the response. It involves sacrifice. It’s extravagant. It goes above and beyond. If somebody came in off the street and saw our hands lifted up singing these songs and knew nothing of Jesus, they said, what are those fools doing? They’re singing songs to an invisible God with their hands lifted. One of them is crying and it’s extravagant. It’s foolish.

It’s foolishness. To those who don’t know, love is extravagant. Love is foolish, right?

Listen, I got lots of friends. I only bought one. A gold ring with a diamond. You know, I got lots of friends, but I only bought one. There was only one that I got that extravagant about.

You know, we’re called to love everybody and we do love everybody, but there’s a priority to our loves. All right? You love your family. You know, you do extravagant things for your family. You send them to college.

You pay a lot of money to send them to college. That is either extravagant love or you’re just spending a lot of money to get them out of the house. Either way, it’s extravagant.

Leave. I don’t want to. Here’s $100,000. Go. Go to that place.

And love is joy. Our worship is joyful. Worship is joyful. Listen, we live in a broken world. We live in a painful world. As I told you, my mother-in-law passed away this last week. It went quick.

She got sick May 15, and ten days later, May 25, she passed away. She died. And we loved my mother-in-law. I loved my mother-in-law. She was good to me, and her grandkids loved her, and they came up and saw her and all that.

But it was very interesting to me as she was dying and as the family was gathering and talking. And this has probably happened with you, too, as a loved one is dying. You’re crying and you’re sad, and there’s mourning. There’s grief, and also there are stories.

And in the midst of the stories, what happens? There’s laughter. There’s laughter. My mother-in-law was a Fox News addict and a staunch Republican. Oh, my gosh. She grew up as an Irish Catholic Democrat. But, man, they left her, and she left them for sure.

For years, for years, she’d drive us all crazy, except me. I would trigger her, too, just because it was fun. Everybody was like, don’t get mom talking about politics. And then at Thanksgiving dinner, I just say, hey, mom, what do you think about what Obama just did?

Everybody look at me with these eyes. And she would just launch. She would just take the bait. She would launch. And yes, I am a jerk. I’m sorry. That’s my sin, I confess.

But the other day, my wife, she checked her at 3:00 in the afternoon, and she was still breathing that kind of agitated, near-death breathing. And we went out in the family room doing some other things, and then she went back in at 3:30, and she said, Kevin. Kevin, you got to come in here.

I don’t want to check, but I think my mom’s gone. I think she’s dead.

And so I went in, and I’m not a medical, you know, I didn’t. But I put my hand up by her mouth. I couldn’t feel any breath. Tried to figure out where. Couldn’t find a pulse anywhere.

I did old school. I took my glasses off, put them in front of her face to see if, you know, any condensation. I said, I think she’s dead.

But then, listen, this is at the point of death. And my wife appreciated this.

I said, I’m going to do one more test. And I leaned down and I said, mom, because we know she’s a Christian. She’s going to heaven, mom. I’ve changed my mind. In November, I’m voting for Biden. And she didn’t stir.

I turned to Jill. I said, she’s dead. She’s gone. You may think, well, how morbid. No, what am I doing there? I am celebrating joyfully. We know who my mother-in-law is. We know who Peggy is. Doggone it. Everybody knows. And we also know that she is going to heaven.

And so there was a sense of sadness, and at the same time, joy. And, yes, we live in a broken world. And, yes, every one of you in this room has problems and sadness and heartbreak, and I certainly have mine today.

And yet, still, we’re playing a game. We’ve already won. King Jesus rose from the dead. God is sovereign. He’s our God. And so we worship with joy.

I remember I became a born again Christian through Young Life, and I was a cool, hippie Christian. And so we would sing songs like Kumbaya. Anybody remember Kumbaya?

We’d sing Kumbaya. But if you were a cool, hippie Christian, you’d do it with your hands in your pocket, and you’d sway. Kumbaya, my lord. Kumbaya. Yeah, dude. Jesus is cool. Right on.

My sister, she came to the Lord in a Pentecostal church. Not a modern Pentecostal church, a 1980s Pentecostal church, okay? That means men in three-piece suits, lots of product in their hair, women in real puffy dresses with shoulder pads. And I’m talking about big hair. I’m talking about big, big hair.

I mean, if the ceiling fans were low, there were problems, and these people would just dress to the nines. And I went to their church, and they’re all dressed up, but they didn’t behave like dressed up people. They didn’t behave dignified, right?

They were dressed to the nines, but they were falling and flopping and running and shouting hallelujah. And their hands were in the air. And I’m just going, wow, this is weird. I don’t know this man. And I started judging them. I started judging them. Oh, they’re just doing that to show.

They’re just showing off. They’re just showing off how spiritual they are.

And I love when you start judging other people and God kind of puts his finger on you. By the way, I’ll tell you this. This is true of me. It probably is true of you. Whenever I find myself judging somebody about something, typically, that’s a problem I have, right?

Like, I do not like long-winded, know-it-all preachers. Huh? No, couldn’t be. Couldn’t be moi.

So I’m judging these people for their worship, and this little voice goes off in my head, Kev, Kevin, why not stop worrying about their worship and why don’t you just worship me? I’m like, oh, yeah, okay, God. In fact, Kevin, why don’t you lift your hands to me?

And I did what every first-time hand lifter does, right? Tim Hawkins. What does Tim Hawkins call this? Carry the TV. It’s carry the TV, Kathleen. It’s carry the TV. So he has all the names for all the different postures. Carry the TV. How big is my fish?

How big is my fish? Touchdown, Jesus. Wash the window. All of them. So. But you know what? There ought to be something of joy, and I don’t. Your spirituality is not judged by how high you raise your hands during worship. Everybody’s got different personalities. Everybody’s different.

But there ought to be something joyful and extravagant in your relationship with God. And it went on to feasting. They ate together. Christians eat together every week. We come to the table of Jesus and we eat together.

And in Bremerton, we do the first Sunday of the month, we have a potluck. We should probably start doing that here. We should probably start eating together. We should probably figure out a way to eat together here.

All right, so pizza. Pizza. That’s what we’re doing in Bremerton next Sunday. Next Sunday is our potluck. Lunch is pizza lunch. Everybody’s bringing pizza. So if you guys all want to bring pizza at 05:00 next week, you can. We can bring pizza. You still going to be here, Sean? Great. We’ll get to eat some then.

Has he toned down? No. All right, God. Every. Every. I’ll tell you what the Bible says. There’ll be a wedding feast with the lamb. When Christians gather together around holy days, we feast.

There’s a time to fast. There’s a time to abstain from food and to fast and to pray and to mourn and to weep. But there’s also a time to feast joyfully. And that’s what they did.

If you read the Old Testament festivals, the Old Testament holidays, they’re all about feasting. They’re all about coming before God and having a meal together.

And so there’s joy in this God’s presence. Come, and they worship, and then they leave. And then Solomon gets alone with the Lord. And the Lord appears to Solomon for a second time.

Anybody remember the first time God appeared to Solomon? All right. Anybody? Bueller? Anyone? All right, Solomon’s praying to God as a, he’s a young king and he prays to God. He goes to God and he says, God, how do I govern these people? And God says, ask me anything you want and I’ll give it to you.

God appears to Solomon and says, whatever you want, I’ll give to you. And here’s what Solomon, at a young age, asked God for. He said, God, this job is too overwhelming for me. Give me wisdom.

And God is so pleased with that, he says, I will give you wisdom. And not only will I give you wisdom, but because you didn’t ask for it, I’ll give you riches, I’ll give you honor, I’ll give you glory, I’ll give you fame, but I will give you wisdom.

Do you know that that’s a New Testament promise, by the way, that God will give wisdom to those who ask?

And do you know what the Bible says, how valuable wisdom is? According to the Bible, it is more valuable than silver and gold.

Can you imagine if we handed out silver and gold bars at the front door for people who came to the firehouse church on Sunday night? There would be more than 16 people here. There would be a line.

Paul’s bow would be a buzz. They’re handing out silver and gold bars at the church.

People would just come. And yet people are fools because they would line up for silver and gold. And God says in James, if anyone lacks wisdom, let them ask God who gives generously and without reproach. And wisdom is more valuable than silver and gold.

Wisdom is really what to do with the knowledge and information you have in your life, to live life well. Ask God for wisdom. So God appeared to Solomon and gave him wisdom. God appears to Solomon a second time, and he gives him a great promise. He says, I’ve heard your prayers.

I’ve heard your prayers about this temple. He says, I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. I’ll hang out in the temple. He asked me to hang out in the temple. I’ll hang out in the temple, and I will answer the prayers you utter. And others cry out to me in that temple. I will hear you from heaven, and I will answer those prayers.

This is a great promise. This is also a promise. In the New Testament, Jesus says to his disciples, ask anything in my name and the Father will give it to you.

Whatever you ask in my name, the Father will give to you. The Father will always hear you. And so Jesus gives this promise too. God’s up in heaven and saying, hey, just ask me. I’ll give you everything.

We go, well, I’ve tried God, and you didn’t answer this. You didn’t answer that, and you didn’t do it this way or that way. I understand that, but I still believe that God answers prayer. He doesn’t always answer it in the way or the timing we want, but he answers prayer. But there’s also.

He gives Solomon a promise about prayer, and then he gives him the conditions about prayer. In other words, God says, I’ll answer prayer, but there are conditions.

Here’s the promise. God will hear. He’s not deaf. You don’t have to shout. You don’t have to shout to him. He’s not deaf. He hears us. He hears your whisper. He hears the prayers you pray when you’re crying alone in your bedroom and nobody else knows what you cried about and what you asked him about. He hears all that and he says, I’ll do this.

I will forgive your sins and I will heal your land. I’ll answer your prayer. I’ll heal your crisis. I’ll step into the situation. I will bring my kingdom, my goodness, my blessing, my forgiveness into the situation, into the condition that you’re calling out to me about.

And that’s an amazing promise. But he says, I have some conditions on that. If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves, turn from their wicked ways, and seek my face, three conditions. I’ll start with, turn from their wicked ways. You know what?

Christianity is still a religion about repentance. In some corners, we’ve turned it into a total feel-good religion, a self-esteem affirming religion. God loves you exactly the way you are. His grace is sufficient, and all that is true.

But there is an aspect of cheap grace, at least in some areas of our theology. There’s an aspect of cheap grace that doesn’t call for us to live a holy life, that doesn’t call for us to turn from the things that aren’t of God and turn back to God. And that’s what repentance is.

Listen, I’ve come to God and asked him some things, and God has said, yeah, that’s fine, Kevin. We’ll get to that. But let’s deal with this first.

It’s like, I don’t want to deal with that. I’ll tell you, here’s why people don’t believe in God. Because he’s hard to believe in. I don’t mean intellectually hard to believe in. I don’t mean, oh, where’s the proof? I mean, I don’t want to mess with a holy God, because I got a feeling there’s some things in my life he’s going to mess with. And you know what?

You’re right. Now, I got great news for you. If you let him, your life will get better, both now and forever. But we don’t want to let him.

When I first became a Christian, there were two areas that were very clear to me that I did not want to surrender over to God. One was my habit of smoking marijuana. I really felt like if I got too close to God, he’d want to have something to say about that. And I liked my weed.

I liked Jesus, but I liked my weed. And the other was, I was an 18-year-old boy, and I wanted to chase girls with nefarious purpose, all right?

I had a sense that the Bible taught things like marital monogamy and faithfulness and find yourself a good girl and settle down. I was down with that. I was fine with that at about 27. But between 18 and 27, I wanted to explore my options. And I didn’t think God was going to be good with that.

But you know what?

I loved him, and I was in a good. And so I would pray and talk about irony, talk about denial. My dad’s an alcoholic. He was an alcoholic at the time. He spent the last 35 years of his life in AA and sober, praise the Lord.

But this was before he was sober. And as a young Christian, I was praying, Lord, deliver my. You’ll hear from heaven. Lord, deliver my father from alcoholism.

Now, the problem with that prayer at that time is I was at Cal State University, Chico, and I was praying that prayer with my bong in front of me, loading up a bowl of marijuana, praying, God, deliver my father from alcohol.

Repent, and I’ll hear from heaven. And here’s what I hear. How can I deliver your dad when I can’t deliver you? And I looked, I go, oh, you mean this? Oh, I’m not addicted. I just do this to relax. And then I hear this, oh, I’m glad you’re not addicted. Throw it away.

And then I said a bad word in my prayer, because I didn’t want to throw it away. But the Lord began to show me. He said, look, Kevin, if you’re serious about following me, this can’t be a part of your life.

On the one hand, you have me, you have Jill, who you’re dating. You have your young life friends, and on the other hand, you have your dope, your pot friends, and that life, and you can’t ride two horses with one fanny any longer.

You can’t ride two horses with one fanny, can you, Steven?

You can’t ride Willie and Chester at the same time. You end up hurt. And so the Lord kind of drew a line in the sand that night. He said, which is it going to be, Kevin? Which is it going to be?

I had to repent to follow Jesus. I had to throw the dope away. And I did.

Now talk about conditions to answered prayer. A year after I threw that dope away, almost to the day, my father went to his first AA meeting and got sober. I think there was some connection there.

I think there was some connection there. And so repent. Turn from your wicked ways. You want to say, well, how did you get better about the other one? That’ll be a story for another time. But I repented of that, too. In fact, you’ve heard the story, so I don’t even have to tell you.

Repent and then humble yourself. Worship. And we just talked about Israel’s response to God’s presence is worship. Our first response to God in our lives is always worship. It’s always to bow down. It’s always to humble ourselves.

It’s always to realize that he is great and worthy of worship. Listen, God is not up there. He doesn’t have a self-esteem problem. God is not up there going, man, it’s hard being God. I’m feeling bad. It’s rough, man. It’s rough.

And then, oh, Mick just went to church and he sang a song about how good I was. I feel better about myself. Thanks for the pep talk, Mick. No, God doesn’t need your pep talk. He’s real secure. He’s real secure.

You need, and I need to worship him because what does that do?

That puts life back into order. That puts everything into perspective.

Remember the song we used to sing years ago in church? Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full on his wonderful face, and the things of this world will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.

You got problems. You brought them in here, you sang praise songs to Jesus. Your problems didn’t go away, but they got smaller. Why? Because he got bigger. And your perspective changed. Your perspective changed.

And so you humble yourself in worship. You bow down.

That’s what the word literally means. You take yourself out of the center of the universe and allow God back into the center of the universe.

I had a friend in high school, and he had a bumper sticker that said, Jesus is my co-pilot. And I thought, that ain’t right. That’s bad theology. That’s bad theology? Jesus, take the wheel, that’s better theology. Jesus is my pilot.

What do they call the guy who sits behind the pilot? The one who dies in the movies. All right, yeah, but he ain’t the pilot, right?

No, you’re flying a plane. Jesus is the pilot. All right, yeah. The guy who flies behind the pilot in the movies is like the guy in Star Trek with the red shirt. It’s not going to end well for him.

All right, and then seek his face. We seek his face. What does that mean? God is not a magic genie who comes out of a bottle and answers our prayers. God is our savior, the lover of our soul who desires to have a relationship with us. Jesus uses relational words.

He says, when you pray to God, pray to your father. He is a relational God.

The pagan gods were all about magic. If you make the right sacrifice, if you say the right words, if you appease the gods correctly, they will do what you want. But the God of the Bible is always this God. I want to be with my people.

Read the book of Revelation. I will be with them. They will be my people and I will be their God.

Our God became a man and walked on the earth and made friends with twelve fishermen. Well, half of them were fishermen. They were assorted guys, made friends with blue collar, salt of the earth guys, made friends with women, ex-prostitutes, and sibling rivalry sisters.

And he hung out with people. And now he wants to hang out with you. Seek his face. Not because he’s hard to find, but that’s how the circle of love is completed. He’s already sought you. We never sought God. God sought us. But return the favor. He’s chased us, now chase him.

I remember these two girls in high school, and we were freshman boys. Freshman boys are perhaps the stupidest people on the planet.

We’re sitting on our little cool guy steps, and these two cute girls came by. We’re freshman boys. We have no confidence. We don’t know what to say to girls or anything. We’re just like, you know, just.

One of them turned back. I’ll never forget. She turned back and she looked at us and she says, don’t just stare, chase. We’re like, oh, no, we’re not going to do that.

We don’t know how to do that. We’re not going to do that, chase. What’s God say? I sought you, I loved you, I saved you, I found you.

Get up in the morning and meet with me and say your prayers and read your Bible. Not because you have to, not because of some religious duty that God’s going to whack you down if you don’t do, but because you get to.

There is a good and loving, saving, gracious God, and he desires to have a relationship with us and we can know him and so seek his face.

And those are the conditions of what God hearing, God forgiving, and God healing.

And finally, he tells Solomon, here’s the deal. I want to give you an everlasting kingdom, and I want to dwell in this temple forever to be with my people. Here’s what you guys have to do. Don’t worship other gods. Don’t be a spiritual adulterer, all right? Don’t worship other gods. Don’t do it. Be faithful.

And the kings of Israel couldn’t do it. They failed, and the people of Israel couldn’t do it, and they failed.

So God threw up his hands and gave up. Nope. God sent Jesus. God sent Jesus.

And what does God have in Jesus? A faithful king. He has a faithful king. Jesus is the fulfillment of the kingdom of God, a descendant of David sitting on the throne forever. And when he ascended to heaven, he sat down at the right hand of the Father. He is king of kings and lord of lords, and he is the faithful king.

He is the one where Israel failed, where Israel’s kings failed. Where Judah’s kings failed, God succeeded in Jesus.

Where Adam failed, God succeeded in Jesus. Where the kings failed, God succeeded in Jesus. Where the religious leaders failed, God succeeded in Jesus.

I’ve heard people say, I want to live in Old Testament times. No, you don’t. No indoor plumbing, but no faithful king. You got a bad king, and it’s not good having a bad king. Bad kings are bad. The country is bad. We complain about our leaders, our elected leaders. We pick them and we still complain about them.

And then he says, I will dwell with you forever in my temple.

If you don’t worship other gods, they failed. But God again succeeds. How does he succeed? He makes a new temple.

What’s the new temple? He makes you. You become the new temple. He says, when you put your faith in my son Jesus, I will put his life in you. My spirit will come and live with you. God will come and live inside of you, and you will become the temple, the place of God’s dwelling.

Read the promises God makes about the temple. I will hear you from this place.

When you call out to me, I’ll be attentive. I will dwell here forever. I’ll be here for you always.

And now God says, well, where is that? And Christians throughout the ages have made the mistake. They thought it’s been the church building. Right? Oh, let’s go to the church building. That’s the holy place. Look at the church building.

Here’s what makes the church building the holy place. You, you bring the holiness in with you. And when lots of us are here, that’s why the church building is the holy place.

Without you, the church building is not the holy place. The church building is architecture. It’s a building. My grandkids get this right. My grandkids used to talk; they wouldn’t say, we’re going to church. They would say, we’re going to the building. Why? Because that’s church. We have church at the building.

You’re the temple. You’re the place where God answers prayer. You’re the place where God dwells. Listen, you want to live in this time? You want. Jesus even said that. He said, of all the Old Testament heroes, John the Baptist is the greatest.

He’s the best example of what it means to be somebody living under that covenant. But I got to tell you something. Even the least in my kingdom is greater than John the Baptist. Why? Because in the old covenant, the spirit of God would come upon a person at a particular time for a particular task. But in the New Testament, the spirit of God comes and makes his dwelling in us and with us, and we become the temple.

By our faith in Jesus, God lives in us. He tabernacles with us. That’s why he says, what?

Your body’s a temple of the Holy Spirit. By the way, that doesn’t mean to work out. That’s not what he’s talking about there. Look in the context. What he’s talking about is, don’t commit sexual immorality. Why? Because you’re holy and therefore let your relationships be holy.

Everything you do is sacred. You carry God.

Now the new age philosophy of the world is, oh, everybody’s a child of God and everybody cares. No, it’s not true. Everybody’s created by God. Everybody has the potential.

But the Bible says this: it’s to those who believe in the name of His Son Jesus that He gives the right to become children of God.

12 But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. (John 1:12, NLT)

And He says, you were born naturally. Right? You were born naturally. But when you put your faith in His Son Jesus, you’re reborn spiritually and you become the temple of God, a child of God, and a friend of God.

And you will be like His Son Jesus, and you inherit eternal life, and your sins are forgiven. This is a great deal. People, this gospel is wonderful.

It’s not easy. Why? Remember when I talked about that repentance stuff? Yeah, there’s some stuff God’s going to want to get off the boat. He’s going to want to throw some stuff overboard. You’re going to be like, not that.

My wife and I have reached the age where we want to deaccumulate. Anybody else reach that age? It’s like we look at our garage and go, where do we get all this stuff? And we think, oh, it’ll be so easy to deaccumulate. We’ll just throw it in the.

But you know, as I’m de-accumulating, I’ll grab something and be like, I’m gonna get rid of it. And it’s like, well, but you know, my daughter gave me that. And there’s kind of like this attachment to it.

Do I ever use it? No. Does it have any value to anybody? No, but there’s this attachment, and it takes something. I’ve got, it takes an act of my will to say I’m throwing it out.

You know what’s made it easier? My wife taught me this. She said, take a picture of it.

You can save it here, and then throw it out. Throw it out.

I got a bunch of artwork people have given me down through the years, and I’m a pastor, so it’s religious artwork. All right, I just want to tell you something. You don’t have. You do not. If you want to give me a gift, I appreciate it. Don’t give me religious artwork, all right? Please don’t give me a plaque of footprints. I have one for every room in the house. I even got. Yeah, yeah, I know. I’m setting myself up.

I even got baby Jesus soap on a rope once. I got baby Jesus soap on a rope. So what do you do with that? You can’t wash with it. You can’t scrub Jesus in your armpits. It’s like, can’t do it no more.

Listen, you guys do great on pastoral appreciation. You guys do great. I’m gonna get you over to paint my deck real soon here.

All right, so, all right, so what was my, oh, we want to deaccumulate.

Yeah, you come, you come to Christ, and he’s gonna, he’s gonna, he’s gonna call on you to de-accumulate. That’ll be the hard part of it. But the good part of it, people, far outweighs that. Far outweighs that.

You know what I, you know what I lost when I gave up smoking drugs, smoking dope? I gave up addiction. I gave up slavery.

You know what I lost when I gave up chasing girls that I wasn’t catching anyway? A beautiful wife of 43 years.

I’ve never given something up to God where it hasn’t come back to me, 30, 60, 100 fold. Because he’s good and I’m done. And now you’re saying he is good, and his love endures forever.

So dear ones, joyfully feast tonight. It’s a simple meal of bread and juice, bread and wine, but take it with joy, because in this meal, Jesus himself feeds us. He says this is my body. This is my blood. And I don’t take that literally in the sense that we’re cannibalizing in some way, but I take it more than spiritually.

There’s something about this, just like when you open up your Bible and read, just like when you get to your knees and pray. There’s something about this meal where heaven meets earth in a very earthly thing, bread and wine.

God comes and he says, I will tabernacle with you. I will dwell with you. I’ll be your God, and you can be my people. And that’s a good thing.

So come and eat. You can, because your sins are forgiven. He’s a good and gracious God, and his love endures forever.