Matt 10:31                             The Church Militant                                   9/30/2007      ßà   

 

 

 

 

#1.       Looking at Our Commander (Matt 10:28, 2King 6:16-17, Ps 34:7, Luk 12:32, Rom 8:31-32)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#2.       Looking at Our Enemy (Matt 7:13-14, Rev 9:16, 13:7-8, 1John 4:3)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#3.       The Goal of the Battle (Gal 4:26, Heb 12:22-24, Rev 21:3, Eph 2:20-22)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please open your Bibles to the Gospel According to Matthew, Matt 10:16 (2X). We are continuing our travel through the Gospel According to Matthew, one chapter each week. And what we have discovered so far is that God’s economy in the NT is not a continuation of the OT, but is a radical departure from God’s program described in the history of the nation of Israel in the OT. For example, two weeks ago we have seen that the theme throughout entire chapter 9 is: “By Grace Alone Are We Children of the Kingdom”. “By grace alone” means “only as a gift from God”. Perhaps you remember that we find in John 1:13 that we are not born as children of God by being born of good Jewish stock, or by the will of the flesh referring to our will, or by the will of our father or mother, but we are born as children of God by His will, which He foreordained before the foundation of the world. But before we know God’s will we first must hear from others what God has said. That is why in chapter 10 the Lord Jesus sent out His disciples two by two, to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom to all Judea and Galilee to infiltrate the kingdom of Satan. And this task of evangelism is not reserved for only the ministers of the church, but this task is for everyone who has become a truly saved individual. Every saint is a soldier in the army of Christ, and our task as soldier is to be an ambassador for Christ. The Lord has committed unto us the ministry of reconciliation. In other words,

This concept is also known as “The Church Militant”. And that is also the title of this sermon, The Church Militant. While on earth we are The Church Militant. And when we enter the NH&NE we will be known as “The Church Triumphant”. We read here in Matt 10:16-39,

Mt 10:16  Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.      But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues;      And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.   But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.

Mt 10:20  For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.

Mt 10:21-22  And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death.       And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.

Mt 10:23  But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.

Mt 10:24  The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord.

Mt 10:25-28  It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?    Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known.    What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops.  And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

Mt 10:29-30  Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.         But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.

Mt 10:31  Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.

Mt 10:32-33  Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.          But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.

Mt 10:34  Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.

Mt 10:35-37  For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.     And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.           He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

Mt 10:38  And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

Mt 10:39  He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

This is what the Lord Jesus told His disciples. And what He told them He also told us through the pen of the apostle Matthew. We too must remember what He said in verse 31, “Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows”. When we are in an army, and ready for battle, there are principally three things that come to our mind concerning our objective, and concerning the battle plan: #1, We are evaluating our readiness for battle and our strength, and especially we are looking at our Commander in Chief, and are waiting for His orders to make our moves. #2, We are evaluating the enemy’s army and their readiness for battle and their strength, and we are evaluating our chances of winning this battle when our enemy appears in much greater number than our army, and why our Commander says we should not fear them. #3, We are reading about the goal we want to achieve with this battle, and we want to know the value of all our efforts, for the sacrifice we will give is great. This then is briefly the outline of the sermon, and we will search the Bible for the answers to all these.

#1.       Looking at Our Commander (Matt 10:28, 2King 6:16-17, Ps 34:7, Luk 12:32, Rom 8:31-32)

Remember that He said to us in Matt 10:28, “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell”. His words are that we should not fear the enemy, but we should Fear Him. Do we fear our Commander in Chief? Should He not rather have used another word, such as honor Him, or obey Him, or worship Him, or respect Him? No! All these things are included in the words, “Fear Him”. Christ is not only our Commander in Chief, but He is also Almighty God whose words must be taken seriously. When He speaks, we listen. If we do not listen, it reflects our contempt for the messenger and for His message. That is why it is disturbing to me when people whisper or talk during the sermon. It not only reflects their contempt for my efforts in preparing the message, but it reflects their contempt for the Word of God that is voiced at that moment. But why should we not fear the enemy? When “the Devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour”, should we not fear that evil lion? No! We should watch where he walks, but we cannot be defeated, for our strength is from God. Please turn for a moment to the prophecy of Second Kings, 2King 6:16 (2X). The prophet Elisha was telling the king of Israel all the moves of the army of the Syrians. Then the king of Syria sent an army to Dothan to capture Elisha. They came by night and surrounded the city of Dothan. And when the servant of Elisha got up and saw this great army he said, “Alas, my master, how shall we do?” Then we read in:

2Ki 6:16  And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.

2Ki 6:17  And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.

Does God only protect OT prophets this way? Absolutely not, for God says in Psalm 34:7,

Ps 34:7  The Angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear Him, and delivereth them.

Who are those that fear Him? Every one of the saints fears the Lord. And when we search in the Bible who the Angel of the LORD is, we find that this is Christ who is represented as the Angel of Jehovah. And thus, every one of us who is a truly saved individual should be aware that we are continuously protected by God. Therefore, when we are sent out by the Lord Jesus Christ to witness of His greatness and of His wonderful works, and we are sent out as defenseless sheep in the midst of wolves, we do not fear. Our strength is from God. But that is also why we pray. We pray because God wants us to draw closer to Him. And we pray because God commanded us to lay our problems before Him, and to beseech Him on behalf of others who do not yet have access to Him. And we pray because all our strength and all our achieving is a gift from God. Please turn in your Bibles to the Epistle to the Romans, Rom 8:31 (2X). While you look that up, let me read to you what God says in:

Lu 12:32  Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

Yes, God wants to give us the Kingdom. Nothing shall get in the way when He wants to bestow on us His good pleasure, and that refers to His good pleasure in this life as well as in the life hereafter. God says in Rom 8:31-32, “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” And so, when we fear God it is also included that we trust Him, and that we trust His promise that He shall freely give us all things that we need in this life. It means all things that we need, but not all things that we want. When we look at what God has done for us, and when we look at God’s intent to do this for us from before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:4), and when we look at God moving all the events of world history in the direction of saving and preserving us, His people (Isa 46:10), and when we look at the gift of His only begotten Son who paid the penalty for our sins as a sin-offering for our sins (John 3:16), and when we look at the righteousness of God which demanded that the Lord Jesus pay the full price, the equivalent of an eternity in Hell (Heb 5:7), and when we look at God’s grace of lifting us up from the dunghill and to set us up as us princes in His court and to make us inherit the throne of glory (1Sam 2:8), and when we look at the miracle He has done in our soul by making us born from above and convert us from sinners to saints (John 3:5), and when we look at God’s care for us in this life before and after the moment of our salvation taking care of every detail in our life (Isa 40:12), and when we look at God’s promise to give us the NH&NE where He will dwell with us and in us forever (Rev 21:3), then we stand in utter amazement at the wisdom of God in arranging all these things, and the power of God of making all these things come to pass without fail for every one of those whom He chose from before the foundation of the world. We cannot help but love Him and adore Him, seeing how wonderful and how great He is. And then we meditate on His words given to us before He sends us out into the world, in Matt 10:31  “Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows”. That is a truism, but at the same time we realize that it is a great understatement. What message did the Lord Jesus hereby convey to us? What references did He want us to look up for this? Did He want us to meditate on:

·        The Value of Each One of Our Soldiers? (Matt 10:30-31, Mark 8:36-38, Matt 25:18)

To indicate how great the value is of each of His soldiers the Lord says in the verse just preceding verse 31, Matt 10:30, “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered”. Why did Jesus insert these words in this place? He indicated thereby of how much more value we are than many sparrows. He did not say that the total number of our hairs is known by God. He said “the hairs of your head are all numbered”: #1, #2, #3, #4, and so on. Our whole being is so important to God that He even places great importance to our individual hairs, which are actually dead tissue. Please turn in your Bibles to the Gospel according to Mark, Mark 8:36 (2X). We have here a passage that gives us additional information to the passage in Matt 10:30-33. Indeed we are of more value than many sparrows. But did you know that our souls are of much greater value than our bodies? Can you see the ridiculous situation that most of us get into by spending much more time on our bodies than our souls? We read

Mr 8:36-38  For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?   Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?      Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.

Let us first address verse 38. Can you see that the value of our soul is tied to our witness in this world? If we do not witness with our words, it means that we are ashamed of belonging to Christ, and this then means that we are still unsaved. If we claim to be soldiers of Christ, then we are also His ambassadors in this sinful world. And if we refuse to be His ambassadors, then we do not belong to Him. Let us now address verses 36 and 37. The Lord Jesus says that one soul is worth more than the entire world. Let us put this in perspective. In this 21st century our world revolves around money. If we want to be clear in our communication to everyone in the world we have to do it in monetary terms. What is our world worth in terms of American dollars? Let us begin with the gross national product (the GNP) of this country. The GNP is the total value of final goods and services produced within this nation within a year. The GNP for the United States was about 11 trillion dollars in the year 2003. By now it is probably one or two trillion dollars higher, but let us work with this number which is a known fact. 11 trillion dollars is 11 followed by 12 zeros, or scientifically written as 11 x 1012 dollars. But the value of all the property in these United States, including ships, and airplanes, and automobiles, and buildings, and roads, and farms, and all other real estate is probably valued 100 times higher than one year of wages. And thus we arrive at the value of this entire United States as 11 x 1014 dollars. Now, what would be the value of the whole world? Well, the US occupies only 7% of the land area of this world. Thus the value of the whole world is probably 10 times the value of the US. And thus we arrive at the value of the whole world as 11 x 1015 dollars. The Lord Jesus said that one soul is worth more than 11 x 1015 dollars. Now let us see how many seconds there are in a human lifetime. There are 60 seconds in a minute. There are 60 minutes in an hour. There are 24 hours in a day. There are 365 days in a year. There are about 70 years on average in a human lifetime. Now multiply 60 x 60 x 24 x 365 x 70, and what do you get? The answer is 2.2 x 109 seconds per lifetime. This is how many seconds there are in an average human lifetime. Now the interesting number is when you divide the value of the whole world by the number of seconds in a lifetime. Divide 11 x 1015 dollars by 2.2 x 109 seconds, and the result is 5 x 106 dollars per second, which is 5 million dollars per second.

What does this mean? If in my entire lifetime I would be instrumental in God’s hand to bring only one soul to a conversion to Jesus Christ, I would have been instrumental in robbing Satan’s treasure chest at the rate of more than 5 million dollars per second, every second, all my life long. That is the meaning of Jesus’ words in Mark 8:36 when He said, “what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” Now we can see the value of an evangelism program, and that is why the Lord Jesus in Mark 8:38 ties this value of the whole world to an evangelism program. And that is also why the Lord was angry at the servant who received one talent, but he hid it in the ground (Matt 25:18). When he could have earned for the Lord Jesus Christ more than 5 million dollars per second, he chose not to do so and leave that enormous sum in Satan’s treasure chest. Many churches abandon their evangelism program if after 10 or 20 years they have been instrumental in bringing only one person to salvation. We can see now that this is a very unwise thing to do. We can also see now that if someone sells his soul to the Devil for a few billion dollars, for example by marrying a rich woman from another faith, he has sold his soul to the Devil very cheap. He should have asked the Devil for 1015 dollars, and he would have received it, for to the Devil this is a bargain. But the Lord Jesus said that if we lose our soul, meaning that if we remain unsaved and die with our soul in the possession of the Devil, we have squandered away our life at the rate of 5 million dollars per second. And parents think of the value of the children you have received. It is an immensely great treasure that the Lord has placed in your custody. Do not squander the Lord’s treasures.

But let us now think of the great value of each of the soldiers in the army of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are in The Church Militant, and the Lord has well equipped each one of us, since He does not want to lose even one of us. And indeed, after this battle is over, looking back we will discover that not one of us was lost to the Devil, for the Lord’s power of His grace is very great. Now that we have evaluated the army we are in, and the strength of it, let us now look at the enemy’s army.

#2.       Looking at Our Enemy (Matt 7:13-14, Rev 9:16, 13:7-8, 1John 4:3)

While the Lord Jesus said that we should fear Him, He also said we should not fear our enemy. But the enemy’s army is very great in number. The Lord Jesus said in Matt 7:13-14,

Mt 7:13-14  Enter ye in at the strait (narrow) gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:   Because strait (narrow) is the gate, and narrow (troubled) is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

All those who are on the broad way are on the way to Hell, and are enrolled in this life in the army of Satan. They are in the enemy’s camp. Moreover all the fallen angels are also in the camp of Satan. Please turn in your Bibles to the Revelation of Jesus Christ, Rev 9:16 (2X). We have here a passage where the Lord is warning us for the great apostacy of the last days. Perhaps you remember that as we approach the end of time Satan will be no longer bound with stupidity, but he will be loosed for a little season, so that he will again be as powerful in the entire world as before the Lord Jesus came on the scene. In these last days Satan is shifting his strategy from persecution of the church to joining the church. And we can already see that he is very successful in doing that. We read in Rev 9:16,

Re 9:16  And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them.  (Two hundred thousand thousand is literally 200 million)

We know that this army cannot consist of two hundred million literal horsemen. First of all, horses are no longer used in earthly battles. They would be blown to pieces in an instant by a small artillery of our days. Secondly, there are not that many horses in any nation today. Thirdly, no nation in the world can bring up an army of 200 million horsemen and be successful. That is simply out of the question. But like so many other statements in this prophecy of Revelation we must understand these words in their spiritual meaning. Simply put, the enemy’s army consisting of 200 million demons is now released upon the earth. They are no longer bound since the time of the cross with chains of stupidity, but they are now released with all the fury and all the intellect of their former state of angels. And their description that follows in this chapter must be understood spiritually, for they are out to kill spiritually the third part of men, and we know that the third part associates with the church. They are infiltrating the churches, and they bring spiritual death to many people who follow their false doctrines. We can see their results in Rev 13. Please turn a few pages to your right, to Rev 13:7 (2X). In this chapter we see a beast rising up out of the sea of mankind having seven heads and ten horns, his shape almost identical to the dragon, Satan. Here again we should not interpret this as a literal beast, but spiritually, for this beast is identified as Antichrist. Then we read in Rev 13:7-8,

Re 13:7  And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.   And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

All who are not the elect of God, and that is the majority of the world, shall worship Antichrist. But in addition, Antichrist shall make war with the saints and shall overcome the saints by silencing them. The true Gospel will be silenced. Now we know that Antichrist is the embodiment of Satan in human form. But we should realize that Antichrist is not one single human being. God already told us that in 1John 4:3. The precise wording of 1John 4:3 is as follows, “And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world”. In other words, the spirit of Antichrist was already in the world and was residing in many individuals who preached heresy at the time of John the apostle. And so we see that near the end of time the enemy’s army is very great, and the enemy has overpowered the church so that the true Gospel is silenced. We have already seen that the demons in the army of Satan are fierce, and powerful. Let us now also consider the strength of the human beings that are in Satan’s army. And now we will see a totally different picture.

Please turn in your Bibles to the Prophecy of Isaiah, Isa 40:15 (2X). While you look that up, let me read to you what God says of the nations of the world who rebel against Him. God says in Psalm 2:9, “Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel”. The metaphor is that of God as the heavenly Potter and people as the clay whom He molds into vessels unto honor and vessels unto dishonor. God knows that these vessels unto dishonor are going to rebel against Him. But all the heathen nations of the world are no match for God. He shall cast al these rebels into Hell because they are worthless vessels. We read in Isa 40:15-17,

Isa 40:15-17  Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing.    

And Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, nor the beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt offering.    

All nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity.

First God says how insignificant these rebellious nations are. They are like a drop in a bucket of water. They are like the dust on a balance, not amounting to anything. Secondly, their sins are so great that Lebanon is not sufficient to supply all the wood and all the animals for burnt offerings for their sins. Thirdly, God says that all these rebellious nations are counted to Him as less than nothing and emptiness. Therefore, while we are in this life we see that we are only a remnant out of all the nations of the world. We are a minority. But when the Last Day has arrived God values His elect greatly, each one more than all the value of the whole world, but God will value the great masses of the unsaved as less than nothing. Satan will not have a big prize by ensnaring the majority of all mankind. Satan will hold a basket full of worthless cockroaches. The big prize really goes to the Lord Jesus Christ, for He will receive His Bride into glory, to be with Him forever. Therefore if God is on my side we are no longer a minority, but a majority. The remnant chosen by grace is a spiritual majority. And the value of the enemy’s soldiers: is worthless.

#3.       The Goal of the Battle (Gal 4:26, Heb 12:22-24, Rev 21:3, Eph 2:20-22)

What is the goal of our battle with the forces of Satan? Here is the goal: The Church Triumphant. Please turn in your Bibles to the Epistle to the Hebrews, Heb 12:22 (2X). When we finally are entering the NH&NE as citizens of the New Jerusalem, we will experience the glory of being The Church Triumphant. Through God’s grace, and through Christ’s atonement, we glory in the cross of Jesus Christ. God has told us this all along when He said in Gal 4:26, “But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all”. Sarah, who represents the Jerusalem that is above, is the mother of all of us believers in Jesus Christ. And what is that heavenly Jerusalem? We read in Heb 12:22-24,

Heb 12:22-24  But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,           To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,          And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.

Already in this life we, who have become saved, have become citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. We are the church of the firstborn, for Christ is the Firstborn from the dead, and since we are the Bride of Christ we too are called firstborn. And our names are written in heaven because our names were already written in the mind of God from before the foundation of the world. And we have come to Jesus the Mediator of the New Covenant, which is the Last Will and Testament of God, which the Lord Jesus unlocked by His death on the cross, in order that we might receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. His blood speaks of better things than that of Abel, for the blood of Abel cries out for vengeance, whereas the blood of Christ opens to us the glorious New Covenant. The New Covenant promises us The Church Triumphant. And thus we have no fear for the enemy which comes to us in such great numbers, but is actually a defeated foe. Please turn in your Bibles to the Revelation of Jesus Christ, Rev 21:3 (2X). In the last two chapters of Revelation God portrays before us in symbolic language our life of glory throughout all eternity. We are going to be with Him as the wife of Christ and He will be in us forever. The wedding feast may last for an eternity, for there will be no more sense of time. We will live in a timeless eternity. We read in Rev 21:3, “And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God”. And thus when God speaks of a NH&NE we should not imagine a heaven where God dwells and a new earth where we dwell. That is not so. God says that He will dwell with us. And thus the NH&NE must be understood as one universe where God dwells with man and where only righteousness dwells. There will be no entropy there, for there will be no death or decay. And thus it will be a totally new universe. Wherever we look to the farthest corners of our universe there is always the decay of entropy, and there are always the same 92 elements that this world is made of, and the same laws of physics apply there as they apply here. And so, we look forward to that new condition of timeless eternity in a new universe where Christ is inseparably with us for all eternity. This then is our goal in our battle in this life, so that we can be in glory with Him as The Church Triumphant. Now we have to ask, What is:

What is the value of the battle we are engaged in presently, in this life, as The Church Militant? And what is the value of the outcome of this battle, since God already assured us of its outcome? To appreciate the value of all these things we need to understand the goal that God has set before He started to create the first speck of dust. God was already infinitely glorious from all eternity past. God did not need this creation to increase His glory, for it was already perfect. But when we look at the end result in eternity future, we can grasp the goal that God had in mind in the beginning. Simply put, “The Father Chose a Bride for His Son”. This is what God had in mind from the beginning, for this is what God shows us as the end result. And thus the entire history of this creation reflects the Father’s program to select the Bride for His Son. Everything that came to pass in history, including the first and second world wars, served to select and preserve the individuals whom the Father chose to become the Bride for His Son. This is why election exists. This is why election was necessary to accomplish salvation through the cross of Christ for some, and to leave others in their rebellion against God. And since the Father chose to select this Bride from the low ends of humanity, from the greatest rebels of mankind, God allowed Satan to tempt Adam and Eve so that this earth ended up as a breeding ground for rebels. It was in this cesspool of humanity that Christ came to suffer and die on a cross for those whom the Father chose to be the Bride of Christ, and He passed by all others. And so, when we see all this in perspective, we admire the wisdom of God in what He has done with this entire creation; the wisdom whereby He has made all things to work together for the good of those whom He elected unto salvation. Now we understand that all our sufferings in our battle as The Church Militant were necessary, for in His love for us God would not have us suffer needlessly. Our suffering served to give glory to Christ, and for this we need to thank Him that we could in some small way be of service to Christ. We love Him and adore Him for who He is, the great Creator who designed this wonderful program of salvation.       AMEN.            Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.