Parenting As Ministers of Light

Let us pray. Lord we come this morning in the name of Jesus and as a people we are gathered together by our own strength or wisdom or our own understanding, we cannot bring to bear Lord any spiritual good or power upon ourselves to even seek You or to do Your will. And we are so grateful Lord that You have accomplished for us by the power of Your own hand, that life changing work through the blood of Jesus Christ in the Gospel by which we are a changed people. And we thank You Lord that that change in us is manifest by the evident token of the Holy Spirit working and it is through our gifts in a very personal way in our lives. And we call this morning Lord upon You and we ask for Your mercy in the name of Jesus, that Your Spirit would be at work in each and every heart, that that life that is ours in Christ would be manifest, that there would be edifying ministry. Lord that we as we are built up would also be as it were a sweet smelling fragrance and aroma in Your own nostrils, a very fragrance of Jesus Christ which pleases You and which You have been pleased to share with us in Your mercy. So we ask for a day Lord blessed by Christian fellowship, the communion of the saints which can only be had by the very presence of Your Spirit working in us. We ask for that in Jesus’ name, amen.

To start off with a little bit of perspective, maybe some announcements are in order. I’m sure that you are generally aware that the surgery for David is coming up but in terms of a schedule, this will be the last Sunday, I’m not sure how long actually it will be true, but it will be the last Sunday that I will be able to speak to you for a while. The weeks ahead are uncertain. Next Sunday we are leaving for New York and we are going to be leaving from Baltimore. We have a friend in the school who owns a plane who flies medical missions and other needs for believers and he has encouraged us to use his services and we are going to do that. I will be gone with David for an undetermined amount of time, maybe two or three weeks or maybe more depending on the nature of all the surgeries.

Concerning the things that I want to share, I feel tempted to share all the things I would share if I had the coming weeks to share. But since I cannot I will share it all today. That would be unfair but that is where my heart is. There are just a few things that are on my heart. I guess the first thing I would like to bring up this morning is I was ministered to yesterday by one of the couples of the church and what ministered to me was the very evidence of the life of Christ being lived out in them in the utilization of the spiritual gifts in a genuine service of the Lord fashion and it was just a ministry to me. I needed the ministry. One of the areas that I have a need for ministry in is the area of understanding prayer. There are times that for me, prayer is a very difficult matter because of my background and I can easily see prayer as a human effort where we must stir up some fantastic human energy and muscle and we storm heaven and try to get God to listen to us and if we pray hard enough and good enough, maybe God will hear us. This couple, one of their real gifts that they have is prayer. And they were just sharing some of their experiences and thoughts along the lines of prayer. And the Lord just kind of opened up my understanding and gave me joy in that one little area that I often struggle with. I will share with you, there was actually one word that was used that the Lord just spoke to me, the word was, “I have learned that real prayer is just me being a conduit where God Himself is able to express His heart, His compassions and He shares that compassion with us in prayer and we engage in the very heart of God in the transactions of our affairs.” It struck me as so profound that that is really what prayer is. It is having the heart of God break upon our heart so that we are panting after the things that God pants after. And as we are panting after the things that God pants after, there is this harmony. We just express those things with our words but it is not a human work. It was a great encouragement to me. And then it just struck me, the two key essentials to prayer then must be a vigorous, lively feeding on the Word where my capacity to smell the very fragrance of God in His person, in His work that it touches my heart and I am able to see Him for who He really is and that personal devotion and that personal connection with God is so essential to a lively prayer life. Then the second essential being the very presence of the Holy Spirit in the process that if we are really going to be praying, it is not a human effort at all, it is a work of the Holy Spirit. It is a process by which the Spirit of God Himself is at work, connecting our hearts and our minds to the heart and the mind of God. That just jumped out at me, the two essentials. And as I am thinking about what may be taking place in the weeks ahead, just before this surgery broke out on us back in November, we were in the middle of a series which I have not gotten back to yet. It was a series on the functioning of the local church and how we are to be carrying the burden. The last message I gave on that topic was about men praying. I do not know if you remember that, from Timothy, and just that whole sense of burden. As I am looking forward in the forward sense of the word, I am recognizing that the body of Christ is alive because the Spirit of God is alive and the body of Christ functions because men permit the Spirit of God to function through them. A little insight that I had into myself yesterday was I do struggle with prayer for certain reasons that of my past has made it a chore, but here was a brother and a sister whose life in the Spirit was alive and dynamic in the area of prayer and because of that dynamic life that they were having in that area, I was able to see Jesus and the life of Jesus in that expression. And even the words that they chose to use, they just gave me that direction and that communication, that confirmation of the living vibrance of the work of the Holy Spirit. And it struck me at that moment how important it is that we get together, absolutely how important it is. And here is why: when you walk by a living relationship with God, then you have a personal experience by which the Holy Spirit works the work of God in you but you are one person and as being one there is limitation on you. We are all limited people. If the Holy Spirit has given you a gift and if you are His He has, He probably has only given you one gift. He certainly has given you a limited number of gifts. You do not have all the gifts. We are not all encompassing of all the gifts. We each have a portion. Think about it practically, if we each have a portion but none of us have the whole then there are places that each one of us where we don’t have that portion of a gift, that we sense that lack, we sense that missing dimension and those are the places that we often struggle with our own sense of spiritual perception. So I often take those areas that I do not have and I perceive them through the logic of my mind. And so it is very easy often to make other works of God more foreign to my person because I do not possess it and because I am just trying to think about it logically.

If you have paid attention to the way people make friendships, people tend to find something in common and that draws them together. They share that common bond and that is the nature of their relationship, that thing they have in common. But what things do believers have in common? Well we have Jesus Christ in common and we have Jesus Christ in common manifesting Himself in different ways. So what the Bible calls the communion of the saints as the word “koinonia” has to do with that fellowship of believers one with another. But there is that commonness that we have and that difference that we have all at the same time. I know these are some of the lessons we had weeks and weeks ago, but that difference is to be edifying. It brings to us that mutual encouragement. As I have that which is the Holy Spirit working in me and I begin to see the Holy Spirit working in you, there is that advancement of the greater community of the body of Christ and that greater expression of the life of Christ is advanced as the Spirit is free to work differently together in a harmony and in a unity. So, why did I say all this? I said this to exhort you because if you are a believer then you have the Spirit of God. If you have the Spirit of God then you have all that you need for true ministry to take place both in you and from you. It is all there. What the obligation is is to have a sensitivity one to another so that you are willing to commune, so that you are willing to share. It is a simple principle. It is like the first fundamental of fellowship for believers is get together, “do not forsake the assembling of yourselves as the manner of some is.” Do not forsake the assembling of yourselves. Keep tuned in. Draw together so that work of the Lord can be done in and through and together and with you all. So I trust as the weeks ahead unfold, that we will have a continuing sense of God’s ministry to us all involved and I know that are experience in November was incredible because we sensed your love and your likemindedness, likeheartedness for us and all that we have, and in the days ahead I expect that same encouragement from the Lord. But, it will be a little different. We will not be so close by that you can come visit us so easy. Nevertheless, these days ahead are full of hope because we have the Lord. And if we have the Lord, then our hope is that real ministry can take place. I just remind you that there are real ministry needs that are going on.

I have already been encouraged, I hope you have. But that little thought of what prayer is just reminds me of the whole work of God and the whole nature of the gospel. I would like to go back to 2 Corinthians 4 if you will permit me because there is that living Word that is so pronounced that just is a blessing to us. As you turn to 2 Corinthians chapter 4, I am going to begin at verse 5 and continue on in the discussion we have been having in the last several weeks. As you are turning there, just to make a comment, I believe that I can make a universal statement about the nature of spiritual vitality for every believer as it relates to walking with God and knowing God. You know, I have talked with probably every one of you in some way, shape or form personally and we have gotten to some part of the discussion, no matter what the context was, we got to the discussion of the difference between the work of man and the work of God. And the labor of man always has to rely on the strength of man. And man can desire to do good works. Man can desire to do great things for God. There is nothing lacking in man’s desire to do a work, in man’s wanting to do and to serve. And very very often, actually it is probably a general truth that we all universally struggle with this process that the feelings of desire by which I want to serve God, stir me up and very often especially in our early Christian life, we begin to take on form and structure of service to God and we try to serve God for Him. We try to do it out of our own resources, our own understanding, our own thinking, our own plans and we do not have the time for it but if I could just recount for you some of my own thoughts as a new believer, all of the mighty works I have done for God in my head, all the mighty dreams I have had of service for the Lord. Of those dreamy things, not a one has come to past, nor borne any useful fruit. But in time, I have begun to see a very unusual thing and that is it is not that God wants us to do anything for Him. The Gospel is a message of a different sort. We cannot do a thing for God. God is sufficient and self-contained and He is fully and wholly good all in Himself and it is God who wishes to extend of Himself to us that we might partake of that which He has prepared for us from before the foundations of the earth. And our victory, our joyful Christian life is a life of sharing in that which is God’s and it is receiving that which God has and I just become the conduit of that work of God in me. There are works that God has for us to do but they are works He has set up before the foundation of the world and He wants us to walk in them in Christ Jesus, that is His objective, that is His goal. So as a believer, the single necessity of every saint is to be empty, an empty vessel. “Nothing with my hands do I bring, simply to the cross of Christ I cling,” I have nothing that I can bring. I do not possess something by which I can woo God, by which I can encourage Him and cause Him to say, “Thou art a worthy son, I am pleased with you, I am pleased with your work.” We are simply an unclean thing. We are all an unclean thing and we are undone. We have nothing by which we can bring to God something for His approval. But thanks be to God, His whole work, His whole ministry is this: redemption, to redeem that which is worthless and to impart to it that which is of very God Himself so that that which I do is useful and it gives glory back to God. How do you give glory to God? That is an interesting thought. How do you give glory to God? Men often attempt to give glory to God by doing some great thing for Him and saying, “I did this for God.” But the way a man truly gives glory to God is that He allows the very person and the very Spirit of God to do a work in him and through him according to His purpose whatever that be. Be it small or great in the eyes of men, when we are surrendered so that God does His work in us and through us, it is His work and the contrast is incredible. I love the Ecclesiates 3 contrast. Man, what is man’s view? “God has set eternity in the heart of man that he cannot fathom it.” Men want to do great things. Men want to do eternal things. All men strive for all their lives is significance and greatness, something that I have done that is useful, that will be there, there will be a monument to say, “I did this for the glory of God and I want it to last for all the ages.” But we cannot fathom it how to do eternal things. It is beyond us. And then the contrasting verse, “But I know that whatsoever God does it shall be,” where? “Forever.” “I know that whatsoever God does it shall be forever.” Now think of the contrast. Men, who have this desire to do eternal things, have absolutely no power to do a single thing that lasts forever. For man it is vanity of vanity, all is vanity. There is nothing that we can bring, no matte how great the effort, how great the exertion, that which we bring is vain and temporal and has an end. But with God it is the smallest thing, the smallest thing, whatsoever God does, it lasts forever. Every work of God is an eternal work. So if God will do a work in you and if God will do a work through you, no matter how insignificant it might appear to men and it is likely to very often be insignificant to men, mark that, it will most often be insignificant to men, but no matter that it appears insignificant to men, that work that God is doing in you and through you, that has eternity written all over it and there will be an eternal harvesting from that work. And that is our hope and that is our joy. And why does God do it this way? For a simple reason, that men might fear Him. God wants us to walk in fear of Him. He is the life line, He is the means by which anything of usefulness can be done in my life. I have got to stay connected to God. We can see that practical advice from John 15 when the Lord taught about the vine and the branches. “I am the Vine and you are the branches. Except you abide in the vine, ye can do nothing.” There is no means by which the branch can bring forth of itself a fruit. It is absolutely powerless. It has to be connected to the Vine so that the life from the roots of the Vine feed through the branch and a fruit is produced but it is God’s fruit. That is the call. That is who we are. We are living vessels that have the capacity as a conduit to express the very nature and life of Christ and God through our lives, through our circumstance no matter what it is. So we have to be available and ready to serve.

Let us go back to 2 Corinthians 4 then and pick it up. And if you remember, I am addressing us parents here in a predominate fashion. I am thinking of us parents here as ministers to our children and the nature of that ministry that we have. And we are going to move into a discussion here that relates to the nature of spiritual work being fruitful, the nature of spiritual work being fruitful. I am going to begin at verse 5 because it is a good jumping point to begin. Verse 5 says, “For we preach not ourselves but Christ Jesus the Lord and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.” I love that point of reference to begin because there is the nature, there is the nature of the whole circumstance. If a man is going to do a work, he is going to preach himself. But if a man is alert that only God can do a work, then He is going to preach God, He is going to preach Christ. And we have to understand that there is within us the natural tension to preach ourselves, to preach our agenda, to get our concerns or our interests to be that which is prominent and projected into any circumstance. But as ministers of Christ it is not appropriate and not acceptable and it is unfruitful more than anything, it is unfruitful. We cannot preach ourselves and have fruit. We must preach Christ. And who are we? We are ministers of Christ. What we have here is the means by which we can remain empty. If I am a servant, if I see myself as a servant and I am motivated by servanthood and my whole objective of service is that I might connect you to this Jesus. It is like two ends of a court. You need Jesus. I am just the individual pointing the way. I have this lowly place of insignificance in terms of actual purpose, actual importance. I am not the important one, it is the Lord. He is the One and we preach Christ and ourselves are servants for His sake. So we have this balancing of an understanding of our motive. If I see myself as a servant, then a servant has one need only, whatever means it takes that I can connect someone to Jesus, that is adequate. That is an adequate role for me to play. I do not need additional things to have a sense of satisfaction or purpose being met in my life.

If we are preaching not ourselves but Christ Jesus the Lord and ourselves are servants for Jesus’ sake, verse 6, “for God who commands the light to shine out of darkness hath shined in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” That is a very interesting structure of what takes place with evangelism and in the whole process of ministry and being a servant for Christ. He starts with the first fundamental that it is “God who commandeth light to shine out of darkness.” What is he referring to there? The general knowledge of the six day creation whereby God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And then He separated the light from the darkness. And this God, who is the God of separating and sorting light, this God is a God of light. And this light that gives that sense of understanding and knowing and purpose, this light has, what? He has commanded the light to shine out of darkness, this light has shined in our own hearts. The light of God has shined in our own hearts. That is the first part of the process, the light of God has shined into my heart. There is that sense then of myself being opened to and having received the light of God in me. So the first step of being a servant is that I have received the light. Now notice that the continuance of the verse goes on to “give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” And so with that whole sense of light, the light comes in but as a conduit it comes in to be given out and the whole complete cycle is simply the light of God and the process of that light being manifest. So what we have here in a simple picture is that God is a God of light and He commands light to shine. So light shines by the work of God. Does light shine by the work of man? Light does not shine by the work of man, light shines by the work of God. It is God who commands the light to shine and the light shines. So this God who commands light to shine, what has He done? By the grace of God He has commanded light to shine unto me. And the light of God has come into me and I have been enlightened but I have not been enlightened as if to capture the light and hold it inside and benefit from it exclusively for myself but the whole nature of light is that it is a continuing shining that never ceases. Its shining is what gives life. As soon as you block the light, as soon as you cover the light the shining stops. So the very nature of light is that it has to have a conduit. So light comes in in order that it might go out. The light comes in in order that it might go out. Here is an interesting illustration, now this is probably a very poor illustration but maybe some of the children might enjoy it, what we are seeing here in a picture form is this: God is not a flashlight. You cannot store up some of the light of God and stuff it inside the battery and turn the battery off and then when you desire, turn it on and shine a little light, “There is another little bit of light.” And yet this control mechanism that the battery and the light switch on this flashlight represents, that really reflects the way human beings tend to react with anything that they get from God. They collect it, they store it, reserve it and they dole it out very carefully, “There is a little light there. I do not want to waste my batteries. I do not want to use it up,” as if it is a deposit, a once forever deposit. But the light of God is totally different. What the light of God is, it is like a flashlight made up only of mirrors. It has a receiving mirror and a broadcasting mirror and it has nothing else. So for it to work, it has to first be connected, the light has to be shining. It has to receive already shining light, that is the light of God. Then as it receives that shining light, then it can only do one thing and that is shine. It can only shine while it is receiving light and as soon as it stops receiving light, it stops broadcasting light but it cannot store one bit of light at all. That difference is the difference between a spiritual work of God and a carnal work of man. Men store up light and dole it out in their own good time. But the light and the work of God is that which is ever shining and ever flowing. And we have been called to one purpose, that we might receive the light and broadcast it simultaneously, receive and shine, receive and shine. So when the work of God is in us and on us and through us, it is genuine and real. But if you are saving it up, “one of these days I am going to do a ministry for God and then I am going to let some of this light shine,” that is a work of man. And you might even have a plan, you might even pull your plan off, you might even have an event, but it lack the shining because God is a God of continual existence and He never ceases, He is always available and always ready and the ministry of God through any of His servants must be a demonstration of the continual presence of God who is always there and always shining and always ready to serve and give, always ready to meet our needs. He is an inexhaustible resource, He is a God that gives life to everyone at all times. And so my manifestation of that ministry has to be this continuum of light.

“We have this treasure in earthen vessels that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of us.” “We have this treasure in earthen vessels that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of us.” We spoke about this a little bit last week, that the fact of the matter is it is necessary that the vessel which is a conduit for light, that that vessel is an earthen vessel. Without going into a great deal of history, I know we have had it spoken here on more than one occasion, on more than one individual that explains the nature of these vessels being cracked pots that can no longer be used to hold water, all they can do is shine light because they leak. So it is a great place to put a candle in it and let the light out so they are broken and useful. Without getting into a great deal of that effort, the important thing to understand is that the vessel is not important, it is the vessel’s capacity to conduct light that is important. The vessel is not important, it is its capacity to conduct light that makes the vessel important. And so ministry as servants of God happens not by our own strength, not by our own capacity, not by the good that we can bring to the formula, ministry happens as we are conduits for God and as God flows through us and God is going to be seen as God when that which is man is able to be seen as inferior and insufficient. And so there is this contest of excellency. A man might say to you, “I have these practices in my life by which I conduct my affairs in an orderly fashion and by which I have prospered all my days because of these fine things which I have ordered and brought to past in my life.” That man bringing that message, he is the end, he is the objective and he is preaching himself and not Christ and he is saying, “Here, if you do these things you are going to get the kind of life that I have and don’t I have a good life?” So it is measured in a narrow circle, it is measured in a narrow parameter. But that is not the nature of the Gospel or how the message of the Gospel is to be broadcast. What has to happen in the Gospel is that the weakness of the vessel has to be very pronounced. The weakness of the vessel has to be very pronounced. Now you might say to me, “Well in what way does the weakness have to be pronounced?” Well just in that whatever is not able to be done by the vessel is clearly seen, that you are not able, not able to do this, this is something that is not in me. So I have a need therefore to seek the God who is able and the distinction between the God who is able and the man who is not able is very clear and there is where the manifestation begins to come forth. That will help you understand why Paul taught in 1 Corinthians, the very first couple chapters. In chapter 1 he says, “I would have you know brethren that not many wise, not many noble, not many of good report has God chosen. For God has chosen the foolish things of the world, yea the beggarly things, the things that are not, He has chosen those things to confound the wise.” God is deliberately looking for the most useful vessels on the earth. And who are the most useful vessels on the earth? Ones that have achieved the greatest stature of success among men? No. What has occurred is that God has chosen the weak, the cracked pots, the broken vessels, He has chosen the things that are nothing in order to confound the things that are something. That is the nature of the Gospel. God needs vessels who are weak in order for the light of the Gospel to shine clearly through.

We are going to talk a little bit about the weakness and you say, “Well how does this relate back to parenting? It does not make any sense to me right now. You are talking about light shining and all that and I understand some of that, but how does it relate to parenting?” Well it relates to parenting in this respect, parenting is no different than any other assignment by which my call is to bring the light of the Gospel and influence a life. The difference with parenting however is that it is a longer assignment and I have a greater capacity to influence during that period for the Gospel. So it is a more substantial ministry. And a parental ministry is probably the most significant ministry on earth as it relates to the long term ability to impact and impart. So it is probably the premier and the most significant. What we find in Scripture then is this understanding that the spiritual leaders in our fellowship should be those who have some evidence of spiritual maturity in leading their own family because the role of leading a church is no different than the role of leading a family and the rule is simple. Ministry is learning how to be a conduit of the light of Christ in every circumstance and it starts at home and it is a great place and it is a significant place. If you cannot take care of your own house, how can you take care of the church of Jesus Christ? It is just not possible. You are just not equipped to do that. So with this concept in mind then, looking at the parents, I just want to say a couple things at this point, it is necessary for us to understand that we are simply servants of Jesus Christ and thus we are conduits. Our objective is to get the light of Christ shining in our children’s lives. Since light always is shining and since we are a conduit, that means all we can ever do is receive light and reflect it, what we have is this continuum. Every single day in the life of our home we have this continual opportunity by which this light may shed light through us on all kinds of unique circumstances and situations. And these circumstances and situations are what? Well relatively random and relatively general in their pattern, how children grow up, but the individual circumstances of what a day brings forth varies from family to family and from child to child. But it is these individual situations that are simply opportunities or backdrops as a screen if you please, by which the light of Christ can shine through me at any given moment at any given circumstance. So you and I as ministers of Christ have an opportunity to take a situation and then bring that situation into the light of Christ by our own ministry and by our own counsel to our children. What is important to understand is this: if I have my own ideas about what I am looking for, what am I going to be preaching to my children? I am going to be preaching myself. “I want you to…, It is important for me that you…,” then all the sudden I am interfering in the very ministry that I am called to have to my children because I am putting my desires, my wants and my interests, I am putting them above God’s interests and I am serving my interests in my family and I am trying to get something out of my children for myself. That is a very serious and a very true type of risk that many parents struggle with in raising children, they have their own children. They want to live out their own lives through their children. Maybe they did not get to do this and they want their children to get to do this forever. We can go through all kinds of illustrations but the reality is we are not to have our own agenda, we are to be a conduit of the light of God in every circumstance. So what we are is we are on duty as a servant to help bring every hidden thing to light in the process. You say, “How do you do this?” I have a very unhappy thing to tell you this morning. You do this by being the first object of trouble in your home. You are first an example. In order to raise a godly heritage, you absolutely must first be the example. So it is you that is going to be going through the ringer again and again in circumstance after circumstance. And often, if you pay attention to your children, there is a certain age where they are oblivious to everything. They could not be offended by anybody. They do not have the capacity to have any cares of themselves enough to be offended. How do you get offended? When you are disappointed in what you deserved or whatever. They are just oblivious. All that is going on, they are just watching. And you are the one getting pumbled and pelted and you are going through the process. Now let us look at this a little more closely. Verse 7, he says, “We have this treasure in earthen vessels that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of us.” So what we can say here is this: if I am a vessel of earthen nature and the light of God is shining through me, every time the light of God is shining through me, somebody is going to say, “That is God, that is God.” They are not going to call your name. They are not going to say, “What a great parent you are.” They are going to see God and, “Hey that is God there.” I do not know about you but my favorite things to read are biographies of great men and women of the faith. A great biography always brings me tears. Why does it always bring me to tears? Because I always see this incredible weakness of man and the power of God coming through and the servant was nothing. It was God, He just moves and you just stop and you are awed by God. That is the call. We have this treasure in earthen vessels so that God may get all the glory, “the excellency of the power may be of God and not of man,” not of ourselves. Now move on. Here is the play acting, here is the scene of ministry, “We are troubled on every side yet not distressed, we are perplexed but not in despair, persecuted but not forsaken, cast down but not destroyed,” verse 10, here is the key, “always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.” All the sudden we have moved from this theoretical study of light and God commanding light to shine in us and through us, now we are moving from that to a practical application, how does that work? How does light shine in me and through me? Here is how it shines: we are given circumstances by which we must face our own demise happily and readily because we have the hope of resurrection life. We have absolute confidence in the good purpose and the good intention of God that we face death itself and we receive the hope of eternal life and so we die the death. All of these troubles and distresses, persecutions and forsakings, all of these things are human experiences whereby that which men value on the earth is at risk. The things that are important to men on the earth are in jeopardy. When my riches on the earth are in jeopardy and they are my hope, what do I do? I take action to save them, to preserve them and to protect them, to draw them to me and take some kind of action. But if I am God’s child, I look at the jeopardy and I say, “That is just a temporary thing and I have eternal life and if I die, I die, blessed be the name of the Lord.” All of a sudden right in the context of personal jeopardy, the light of the life of Christ shines in me and my eye is set on resurrection. It shines through me and my behavior reflects resurrection.(tape turned here…) places of difficulty and you watch parents. Parents fall into two categories. The first category is the natural parent and the natural parent wants to extend this big blanket of protection over their children to keep them from any and every harm. Of course there are variations of distortion of that in practice, but that motivation of a parent to protect their children from harm, that motivation is essentially a motivation based upon a very narrow view of life, “Life is only here and now on the earth, it only can be fulfilled, happiness can only be found here and so I have to do everything I can to preserve it because if I lose it I have no chance for hope or happiness.” Do you remember the story I told you some years ago? I think it was like two or three years ago on January. I told a little story and I forget now where I heard it. I heard it on the radio somewhere. There was a mother who gave birth to two children and in the course of time she lost both of them and she had another child or two that was living. But the first child was born with a severe type of retardation and there was like an 18 month period where the child lived with this very severe retardation. And as the child’s life was ending, this mother had become pregnant again and she was expecting and as the one child was getting ready to do the other child was discovered to have an extremely rare genetic failure and the child would not live when it was born. It was discovered that it was created without any lungs and so there was no chance that this child would live. But she found out about it long before it was born. So somehow in the course of time, the two babies converged on the same point, one baby died and the other baby was born and died. And right in this short period of time, the mother had the trauma of losing both. She was in turmoil and struggle. I heard this story before we lost our first one so it has probably been three years since we heard this story. She was just in great turmoil. There was a question in her mind, “What was the value, what was the purpose of this life? It didn’t even have a chance to take a breath of life. It’s created purpose was to die before it could even enjoy one breath.” And this other child, “Why did you let it languish? All these months in an infantile state,” and it never got past the newborn stage as far as function, “Why languish it? These are two cases God where You have meaningless life and I don’t understand it.” She was in great turmoil and great anxiety. And she began going through some efforts to relieve her heart and her tension and I do not remember all the details I apologize for that, but somewhere along the line I believe somebody counseled her and said, “Just ask God to speak to you, to show you.” So somehow she began a deliberate prayer, just asking God to somehow communicate to her that it was well with her children. I don’t remember all the little details that transpired in this one event but one night the mother sensed her daughter in her bedroom and somehow in the course of sensing that she did not speak to her or whatever, so the next morning she said, “Were you in my bedroom last night in the middle of the night?” She said, “Yes, I was but you were not awake.” “So what did you come into my bedroom for?” She said, “Well God woke me and He spoke to me,” and I forget the name of the two children, but “He told me to tell you that,” the name of the two babies, Mary and Sue, whatever, “These two babies are with Me and they are building your home. They are guarding My throne and they are building your home.” It was just a little word from the Lord, “they are guarding My throne and building your home.” And the mother thought, “How amazing, those two little insignificant peons are guarding God’s throne?” See there is the place where things have reality, the permanent perfect existence of God and it is only here in this life, it is only in this body that we get to experience the process of saying, “Yes” to the eternal and letting go of the temporal. You can only let go of the temporal now. You cannot let go of it later. When it is gone, you cannot let it go, it is too late. This is the place of the service. I want to impress on your hearts, you cannot minister Jesus Christ to a soul unless you are living and while you are living you constantly find that life being threatened and you keep surrendering it back to God and you keep giving it over. That is just a constant surrender, that is the cross of Jesus Christ. “Always bearing about the dying of the Lord Jesus in the body, always bearing about the dying.” That is the ministry of believers, to bear about the dying. You know what we do? We spend so much incredible time trying to escape it, escape the death. And when it happens we are appalled and we go around from believer to believer, “Can you believe what happened to me? I was doing such and such and so and so and they did this to me, can you? Just the thought of it, I just can’t believe it.” We get ourselves all churned up and we have our stomachs in knots and we are going around telling stories trying to win compatriots. But God has called us to life so He has called us to manifest life by accepting it above this life. We manifest death and we get life. That is the nature of the cross, that is the nature of ministry.

So here parents, here is a verse for you, put your name here, “For you,” for we, put your own name, “For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake. We which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.” And there is the whole key. “We are always delivered to death so the life of Jesus might be manifest in our mortal flesh.” This earthen vessel, this mortal flesh, can manifest the life of Jesus, but this mortal flesh can only manifest the life of Jesus on one premise, that it is accepting death everyday. We are always delivered unto death. Think about it from a Heavenly view. You pray, you say, “O God,” you wake up in the morning, you are all set, you want to have a good day, a spiritual day, you want to serve the Lord, you want to raise your children for God and you just want to do great things for God, “O God, make me a conduit, make me a vessel, I want to serve You today.” If God answers that prayer, He is going to do one thing to you, He is going to touch you right in the place of death. He is going to say, “Ok I want you to manifest some death today because through your death today you are going to manifest some light. So here it is.” We get up and we say, how many times have you heard somebody say, “I prayed for patience, I’ll never do that again because the Lord gave me trouble.” But it is right. God wants to do the work but you know what we want? We want to walk in like this, if you can imagine a pristine white little suit and we want to walk into a circumstance, of course the pristine white little suit represents just how good we are. We want to see a problem and we want to say, “O God deliver this child,” poom, “Oh that’s good, that is fixed now.” Then it is something else and there is another problem, “Oh Lord deliver, boom, oh that is fixed that is great.” That is our little capsulated view of ministry. We just want to keep delivering people out of their turmoils with a zappy powy wowy kabam, the little plug prayer of faith, “I prayed, God answered and we are delivered.” No, I will tell you what God wants to do. He wants to take out of us the love of this life. How is He going to do it? By putting it to death while we are still living it. Have you ever felt like you wished you could die? Now you know what I am talking about? God wants to separate us from the vanity of holding and loving dearly this life which is a temporal life. And so He is calling us to minister Jesus Christ by touching our own bodies, by touching our own circumstances and calling us to death in this circumstance and in that circumstance. And it is the circumstances of death that are the occasions of ministry. Where has God called you to die to this life recently? What did you do? Did you create an escape ladder to climb out? Did you deliver yourself? May it never be. But this is what we are called to. “We which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake that the life of Jesus also might be manifest in our mortal flesh.” This is the place of ministry, the life of Jesus in my mortal flesh being manifest out. And it cannot be manifest except when that flesh is called on the carpet to die. I wish I had time to paint the picture because there are 1,000 ways to die in one minute. All of our hopes and dreams and wonders and fears, probably the biggest setback Christians have is this, this little setback: we create a little causal view, we remember the Old Covenant, the Old Covenant said, “If you keep these things, you are going to live,” so we say, “I’m saved and I want to live, I want the blessing of God, what can I do?” We start setting about ourselves to do these things. We want God to bless. We get in there, we are doing these things and all the sudden what do we get? Havoc. The ship cracks and sinks, “Well what happened to my blessing, what happened to my blessing?” Well you forgot which covenant you are under. You are not under the Old Covenant that says, “Do and you shall live.” You are under the covenant that says, “Since you could not do and could not live, I have done and ye shall live. Now let me manifest it in your mortal body. And so death works in us. What does it work in us to do? To pry our little fingers off of the handle of life that is here. That is all it does. It just keeps picking at us, pushing us.

I do not have time to go through all of chapter five but this whole picture of death working in us and life in those that we are ministering to is the pattern so notice verse 13, “We having the same spirit of faith as it is written, ‘I have believed, therefore I have spoken,’ we also believe and therefore speak.” In a practical nutshell, what he is bringing to the forefront of this point is this, at the point at which I have to die, that God is calling me to death so that I might have the life of Christ manifest, at that very point, I must exercise personal faith in Jesus Christ at that moment, that is the place of faith and you face your potential loss. I am going to confess, this stuff is supposed to go on every minute of the day but you and I do not notice it. In fact I have a little pet theory, this is just my theory, but I have a pet theory that it is really easy to do the big thing. It is easy to have grand, horrible thing happen to you, that is easy, it is just when your wife looks funny at you in the morning and you do not feel like being looked funny at in the morning. And so you look funny back to her and off you go, “I do not want to die, so I am going to kill you and you end up both dying.” That little process again and again and again of that work and I must surrender. I know a couple of occasions where I have been troubled. There have been times where I have thought multiple times where it looked like the ministry God had called me to was just going to vaporize and be gone. I remember the absolute victory and joy at that moment because this is what happened, death was working in me and I had to come to the Lord and say, “You know God, if you choose to take away this ministry, it is not because You hate me, it is because You love me and You will have something useful for me if I surrender and Lord I give it up. If You want to take this ministry, it is Yours and You can close it down, it is Yours, take it.” But that happened truly in the heart and that was an act of faith and right at that moment of faith was the manifestation. Now in me what was manifest was peace and joy, immediately peace and joy, immediately peace and joy. It just was produced. I had surrendered my life, I had nothing left to lose and so the peace was there. “So death works in us but life in you, we have the same spirit of faith according as written, ‘I believed therefore I have spoken’.” How many times parents are we speaking without our own faith being engaged. Think about it. You know the old saying that was said when I was a child, “Do what I say, not what I do.” The old dull rule of words. That is not the rule of the cross, that is not the rule of the cross. You do not have a right to speak on behalf of Christ until you have believed on behalf of Christ. It is the fact that you have believed that gives you authenticity and it is your belief by which you can say, “I exhort you, I encourage you, let it go. The Lord reigns, let it go. And I preach what I have already done. I have believed, therefore I have spoken.” It is the conduit effect. Light comes into me, I receive it, it enlightens me and it floods back out because I have received it. It is unavoidable in its flood. It is a simple process. All of this, brothers and sisters, is ministry. Get back to verse 1 of chapter 4, “Seeing we have this ministry as we receive mercy we faint not.” It is a ministry we are about. What do you see here about 12 steps of effective ministry? I do not see a thing. I see death upon death as the key to me learning anything about serving others with life. That is the whole key.

As he moves on he moves through chapter five and talks about resurrection, issues that we have preached on really recently. But I wanted to move over in chapter 6 real briefly where he says, in verse 1, “We then as workers together with Him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.” Do you see the nature of ministry? We are workers together with Him and our job is to be beseeching. We are to be beseeching about the things that we have already done. Do not receive the grace of God in vain, do not give up, lay a hold of life in Christ, let go of life on earth. That is the path. Do you see this engagement? My whole being is engaged because my desire is not to tell you about Jesus, my desire is to beseech you that you might trust Him just like I have trusted Him in my circumstance. So that beseeching process flows out. I am going to flip back because there is a good verse in chapter 5 that is picturesque at this point, verse 13, “Whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God or whether we be sober it is for your cause.” That is an amazing picture of ministry. I look upon the circumstances that I myself am being forced to go through and I see them as the occasion by which I am going to gain ministry for other people. I am going to be serving outward from what I have learned inward. I realize I am going backwards in the book but if you flip back to the first chapter of 2 Corinthians, there is that incredible picture that Paul places over the whole book when he gives praise to God, “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort who comforts us in all our tribulations that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble by the comfort wherewith we ourselves were comforted of God.” Do you see the conduit? Do you see the picture? I have got to be in trouble before I can find peace in trouble. And when I have been troubled and when I have found peace in trouble, when I have been comforted by God, I am now equipped, I am now able to minister outward to others who are engaged in trouble so I can help them see that trouble as an occasion for their own faith, as an occasion for their own opportunity to serve God. That is the nature of conduit. We are just conduits of light. We do not have any other thing. So what is the greatest plan for evangelism in your family? To be transformed by the trouble God brings to you, to die to every form of self and every vestige of earthly clinging, to let it go, to let it all go so that you can be the conduit, so that you can be a vessel, an earthen vessel by which the light of God shines in and through. And thus we serve. So here we are a bunch of empty vessels all aglow, all aglow. And you know what? It is attractive. When you see an empty vessel glowing, it is just attractive, it just draws attention. What do you have? What is going on here? How can nothing have something when I have something and I have nothing? It is just that very light that draws out. I do not want to quit but I guess I have to eventually, but let me go to verse 3. “Giving no offense in anything that the ministry be not blamed but in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God in much patience and afflictions and necessities and distresses.” He keeps on going, “In stripes and in imprisonments,” and he goes on and on and on, but here is the thing, do you catch this picture here? How do you give an offense? Ask yourself the question, “How do you give an offense to the ministry?” How is it that we who are ministers can have blame laid against our ministry? How is it? Only one way, by refusing the tribulation that God chooses to bring upon us personally so that we might be conduits of the grace of life. We make the ministry blamed when we refuse to be conduits. Notice how he did not have the ministry blamed. He was in all things approving themselves as ministers to God, in patience and in afflictions and in necessities and distresses and on and on and on and on and on. There was this complete testimony of a broken vessel, “This life is not my own, I am not living it to myself,” and the ministry thus was not to blame. There was a death always working in me so that the life of Christ could be manifest and that was the testimony of Paul. That was his testimony. So there is no offense. There is no accusation. I encourage you to read that list. There are so many incredible pictures of trauma and difficulty and victory in those things. Then he says in verse 11, “O you Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged, you are not straightened in us but you are straightened in your own bowels. Now for a recompense in the same, I speak as to my children, be ye also enlarged.” You know what? Good ministry has a tremendous tone of fervor and compassion. There is a movement of intensity of the deep compassions of our soul. You know what I want to suggest this morning, and this is kind of a new thought to me that I am trying to encourage myself to think about, there is not any passion or consideration or value that can grip us deep in our hearts, there is not anything that is not already first gripping the deep heart of God. If you have a passion for good, if you have a concern for some dear soul, that passion did not arise with you, that is the very heart and passion of God. And what we need to be is vessels of His light and with that vessels of His light, we are going to be vessels of His passion and we are going to be passionate for the very things of God and we are going to be moved. If you just look at the words Paul chooses throughout this whole passage, incredible, the tremendous amount of personal impartation from the very depths of his soul to win those he was called to serve. “Our mouth is opened unto you, our heart is enlarged.” There is this passion for reaching those that have a need. Now notice, that passion does not back away from the preface. There is this risk, there is this danger, and our children or anyone that we minister to need to be called, need to be called into the counsel of God. That is the whole nature of ministry, you call someone into the counsel of God. There is that instinctive nature of man to push away the counsel of God and to seek rather the counsel of man. If you measure counsel of men versus counsel of God, it is always going to fall in one of two categories I do not care what it is or how it looks, it is going to have exactly one of two forms, the counsel of men will always preserve this life no matter, it is concerned about this life. It might have a little bit of long range concern for this life versus short range concern for this life so it might have a little smell of maturity but it is going to be concerned about this life and that is the counsel of man, preserve life, preserve this life. The counsel of God is always going to be a call to abandon this life, to die to it, to surrender it. There is nothing here that is permanent. There is something far better. So we come to this incredible call, verse 14, of being unequally yoked together with unbelievers.

I am going to close with this verse this morning, “Children, how can you be unequally yoked together with unbelievers?” This very minute, this very day, I want to just point out that this passage is not talking about marriage at all. There is nothing in this passage about marriage. It is a passage on counsel. Where do I draw my counsel from? Now, here is the Scriptural point of reference, if you draw your counsel from those that would save this life, you are unequally yoked, you are unequally yoked. Let me give an illustration of unequal yoking: children inside a home talking together in a back bedroom speaking against their parents and their parents failures, much of which may absolutely be correct, they are clearly failures of the parents and they are speaking against the parents in such a way so as to exclude the bowels of their compassion from calling and hearing and drawing their parents into their counsel and having that counsel minister to them. That is unequal yoking. And as children in your own home you can be guilty of unequal yoking by compatibility with your siblings against your parents. The receiving of false counsel from the lips of our own siblings, that is unequal yoking. What else? You know what else, it does not have to be a sibling does it? It can be a peer? How many times do peers get together and talk about their terrible authorities and plant thoughts in each other’s minds, “I know what I am going to do, as soon as I turn 18, I tell you what, I am out of here, I have had it.” But again it is that same exact course, it is the closing of the bowels from the people that God has put in your life for spiritual counsel and nourishment and you look at the faults and you look at the earthly loss and you say, “I have had it, I am not going to put up with it anymore,” and you are done and you are out of here. That is unequal yoking. Unequal yoking according to Scripture is one thing, whether or not the bowels of my compassion are open to the authorities that God has put in my life for my spiritual being. When I see God in those people that God has put in my life and I see them they are by His hand as a means to my own spiritual advancement, then I seek God through those counselors God has given me. Look at the promise that God has given. I am going to skip down because of time, verse 16, “And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols for ye are the temple of the living God as God has said, ‘I will dwell with them and walk in them and I will be their God and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them and be separate,’ saith the Lord, ‘And touch not the unclean thing and I will receive you and will be a Father unto you and you shall be My sons and daughters,’ saith the Lord Almighty’.” There is the call, there is the picture, there is the absolute incredible promise for us as families, for us in any kind of ministry really. We have the means by which we can draw near to God by receiving those God has put over us for our own good, for our own counsel. We have the promise that when we come out from ungodly counsel, when we separate ourselves from that which is begging us to save this life, when we come out from that counsel, we have this promise that God Himself will receive us as a child and that God will be to us as a Father and that we will be to God as a son, as a daughter. I want you to understand the significance of this whole thing. It is not a question of whether earthly people can perfectly serve you in a right capacity, what is important to understand is that God has chosen a means by which to minister to you, a means by which to give you life and health. And He wants you to open up the bowels of your compassion so that you draw in the counsel of those He has put into your life, your parents, spiritual authority that He has put into your life, etc. It is these people that you go through, you do not go around them, you do not bug out and pick another crew and go somewhere else, you have to go right through because as you draw through to God, God becomes your Father, He becomes engaged in the process of preserving your interests and He acts on your behalf. The greatest deception that Satan puts in the lives of young people is, “Don’t tell my parents.” The privacy by which we separate the bosom of our parents’ compassion for us, we are separated by our own deception and our own lies and our own refusal to receive correction. We just divide ourselves right off, “I don’t want that, keep it a secret, don’t let them know.” From my own experience I have understood an amazing thing, I yet have not known of even one case and I am sure there may be some, I am not trying to say that it is not possible, but I have yet to meet a case where a child has seen God through their parents and said, “I want God to be my God and I am going to go through that temporal and temporary vessel and if necessary I am going to die in the process.” See because that is the same life. If your parents are going to be manifesting the life of Christ through their own death in life, so are the children. And you know what? It takes a little bit of death to go to your parents and say, “I have got some things I am struggling with, I have got some things I have done and I need your counsel and I need your help.” Those words are so precious because they open up the opportunity to engage in holy communion parent to child receiving counsel and the direction from the Lord Himself. That is our opportunity, that is our privilege. You know what? There are two factors. I want to just show you a mathematical equation here, if the parents do what is right, you have half the formula working in the right direction and if the children are working right, you have half the formula working in the right direction. But if the parents join up with God and say, “God by Your help we are going to overcome,” then the parents have multiplied their effort and they have multiplied the spiritual force of their work. Now they have God with them serving and God may do some strange thing to bring to past some necessary lesson to teach the child something. Be prepared for that because He is a God of good purpose. “When it pleased the Lord,” Paul said, “He set me out as a minister of the Gospel.” “When it pleased the Lord.” God has His own timing, God has His own purpose. But then if you take the child and the child is compounding their efforts by receiving the ministry of the Lord, the full-fold ministry in the house is parent times God, child times God and that equation times each other. It is a magnitude of positive benefit. But here is the significant thing, if you will do your part, that is all you are responsible for and if you will do your part, God will be your Father and you will experience life and you will be blessed regardless of whether the other party does their part or not because you have honored God, you have walked by faith and you have secured that place that we have as the very children of God ourselves. So we have this hope. I can have a parent who hates me and God will minister love and life to me through that parent for my good. He will. He has promised it. But you know what we do? Instead of getting the compounded effect of all of these spiritual forces working together for a common goal, you know what we do? We blow up the house and we fragment everybody to their own, parents refuse to go God’s way, the children refuse to go God’s way and they refuse to cooperate and everything fragmentizes and so all that is going on is each party vying for their own living soul, vying for their rights as they see it. So all you have is squabbling, sorrow and disgust. But we have the choice and we have the hope and we have the promise. God is going to meet us at the place of the cross, at the place that we have to lay down our lives. God is going to meet us there and He is going to be to us a Father at that place. Verse 1, chapter 7, “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. Receive us, we have wronged no man, we have corrupted no man, we have defrauded no man. I speak this not to condemn you. I have said before that you are in our hearts to die and to live with you.” There is where it all wraps up. How do you get a spiritual result? We adjust our lives according to the promises, “Having therefore these promises dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit.” Let us cleanse ourselves. We have promises, let us cleanse ourselves. Let us put off our own conniving, our own interests. Let us cleanse ourselves. God has a promise. We can lay a hold of it. I want to make a promise to any young person sitting here this morning that will hear me, take God at His Word and you see your parents as His direct means of ministering His life to you on His terms and you go after your parents with every fiber in your body to give glory to God and to receive from your parents what God has for you. Open yourselves up to them, tell them the secrets of your heart, tell them the places you are angry at them, tell them the places that you are struggling, but go after your parents, go after them as if it is a choice hidden treasure and you do not want to be the one that misses out. If you will, if, if you will, you will find not only your parents there to serve you, but you will find God Himself preserving His every interest in you and there will be a day in your life when you will look back and you will say, “Truly God has been my Father, truly I am a blessed man because God has taken me in and He has filled me up and I lack no good thing.” That is the promise and you can do it. You can do it by the grace of God, by the help of God, by reaching out to Him in the circumstance. You know what it means though? A little bit of humility does it not? A little bit of death to self. But that is ok, that is how spiritual growth happens for us all. A little bit more death to self. But for those of you who still have parents that you can minister and be ministered to, take advantage while you have it, take advantage while you have it. Let God minister to you as He has chosen to, let His promises be reaped because you have walked by faith. Let us pray.

Lord I feel this morning as if these things are so important as if our families are at such risk for Lord we live in a world that the whole pattern of the world is a disregard for any kind of authority, a despising of parental authority and a preferential standard of rightness in our culture that says, “My pleasure and my wants equal freedom, equal liberty, equal life.” So we live in a world Lord that sets about to please the self, to satisfy individual’s desires and there is nothing Lord in this society to call us to the cross of Christ. I thank You Lord that You love us with that perfect purpose that You have in Jesus Christ and I thank You Lord that there is on Your part a moving, that You are at work, that You deliberately permit trouble to come our way so that we might find in the midst of that trouble the comfort that we need so that our own lives have hope and that that comfort thus can shine right through us and that we might call others to the same comfort. Lord I pray for the parents this morning that You would work in them a repentant heart, that they might have a greater understanding of the precious privilege and the high place of service that You have called them to as parents of their children. Lord that they might see their behavior through a different lens, that their petty squabbles and selfish manifestations, Lord, that they are nothing that speak of You nor draws their children to You, but they are the very seeds of death, fighting and scrapping for our own ways. Give us Lord a real repentance against that wickedness of parenting according to our own whims, according to our own desires, according to our own pleasure and failing to see that we are called to manifest Christ as servants in every case, in every situation. Lord I pray that we would have eyes to see what is it that You today are working as death in us. And as we are alert to that death working in us today Lord, that You might have a testimony in our lives of the life of Christ being manifest through that death so that we are believing, so that we are trusting, so that we have authority to speak because we have believed and that You might draw out of us the deepest compassions of Your very heart for our children and that we might plead with them and beseech them to follow after You and to open their bowels and not be caught up in unequal yoking, receiving counsel that preserves the flesh for a temporary gain. Lord I pray for the young people this morning. It troubles me Lord as I look in so many of their eyes that it seems such hardness exists already in so many and it frightens me Lord because how can they have hope except they yield up that worthless hope of this world? Lord we confess that we parents are absolutely without perfection. But thank You Lord that You have chosen to use the weakness of the parents to minister to the children, not their strength. I pray You would give a spirit of humility to these young people even today, that You would give them a vision for the promises that You have made, that if they will separate themselves from ungodly counsel, if they will separate themselves from that which pleases the flesh and despises the cross, if they would separate themselves, that You Yourself will be to them a God and a Father, that You will receive them even into the bosom of your own heart. Lord that it might be that our children have a passion that You would receive them into Your own heart. Grant that they would have eyes to see the treasure that their parents represent. Lord, open up the doors of communication whereby hearts are opened, the deep secrets of the heart are exposed and confession is made and counsel is given and repentance is granted so that we might preserve our inheritance and Lord that You might receive great glory and great honor. We ask in Christ’s name, amen.

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