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Killing the Fat King

Kameron DeVasher


Kameron DeVasher

Director of Sabbath School & Personal Ministries, Michigan Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church



  • December 30, 2011
    6:30 PM
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Once again, good evening, GYC. It’s so quick how you revert to just shyness; I’m so sorry about that. Good evening, GYC. Fantastic. It was a blessing today. Amen? Fantastic. Last evening, we had the opportunity to talk together. We talked about the great purpose of our life, the life that we’ve been given here, this life of probation, this temporary life that we have, has one underlying theme, one central objective, and that is the restoration in the human soul of the image of God. And one of the many passages we looked at was 1 John, chapter 3, and I’d like you to go there tonight or at least bring it to recollection from last night. We read how, “Behold…now we are the children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for,” what reason? What was the reason given why we know we will be like Him when He returns? “For we shall see Him” (how?) “as He is.”


Now look at the following verse, “And everyone who has this hope in Him” (does what?) “purifies himself” (how?) “just as He is pure.” Notice that the hope of seeing Jesus “as He is” compels us to purify ourselves as He is. Of course, as we noticed last night, that harmonizes beautifully with the words of Jesus in Matthew, chapter 5 and verse 8, when He said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” This is the promise that we’ve been given that the high ideal of the Christian walk to become like Christ so that we not merely live to the Second Coming but live through the Second Coming. God has more in mind than simply getting us into Heaven, but He actually wants to fit us into His Kingdom. Can someone say amen?


Our messages these final two evenings of GYC will tackle what I believe is the biblical truth of just what the purity of character looks like in real life. If you noticed, last night was a bit academic; we laid the groundwork. I just wanted you to see a new framework, a new vision for what salvation looks like, not just getting in but fitting in, not just living to but living through. You understand that?


But tonight we’re going to begin to unwrap that over the next two nights, and please don’t think that at the end of tonight is the entirety of the lesson because it continues tomorrow evening. Does that make sense? So we want to unwrap this a little bit and see the truth of God’s Word. So, as we begin a study of His Word, let’s begin with a word of prayer. Please bow your heads.


Dear Heavenly Father, Lord, I thank You for GYC, but not just for the institution, not just for the movement, not for the program, but, Lord, I thank You for the people that You have brought to GYC here in person and on television. Lord, You understand our need. You understand our need better than we understand our need. We don’t even see our need. And, Lord, we need the eye salve that You can offer. Please, Lord, help us to not only see our problem, but through Your grace and by the power of Your Holy Spirit, help us to see our solution is available in Jesus Christ. We pray in His name. Amen.


Please go to Judges, chapter 3, Judges, chapter 3. We’re going to be spending a significant amount of time in Judges, chapter 3, starting with verse 12. Our message tonight is entitled “Killing the Fat King.” I like that title; it’s right on the nose, “Killing the Fat King.” Judges, chapter 3, starting with verse 12, the first few verses give us some context of what we’re talking about. Of course, you know the time of Judges was after the deliverance of Israel, of course, from Egyptian bondage but before there was a monarchy in place is the time of the judges. And Judges, chapter 3 and verse 12, gives us the beginning of a story of one segment of that time period, one segment of their experience.


Starting with verse 12, we read these words, “And the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord. So the Lord strengthened Eglon king of Moab against Israel, because they had done evil in the sight of the Lord. Then he gathered to himself the people of Ammon and Amalek, went and defeated Israel, and took possession of the City of Palms. So the children of Israel served Eglon king of Moab eighteen years.” This is the context of our story this evening, and I want to kind of flesh this out a little bit. Who are these people who are now ruling over God’s people, the Moabites, the Ammonites, the Amalekites or “AM-al-le-kites,” I don’t know the right way to say it, but I’m going to go with some of those. Don’t be thrown off if I mix it up. But you understand, in the text, these are the three powers who united against Israel.


The Moabites and the Ammonites have an infamous history. They have the unique, well, just infamy. They were the descendants of the incestuous relationship, the union, between Lot and his two daughters. Later in their history, it was the Moabites who hired Balaam to put a curse on Israel. And, as we know, the Lord interceded to defend His people, as long as they were faithfully being His people, and thwarted their efforts. Generation after generation they became more and more hardened to the Lord, and their hatred against Israel deepened.


Now, it was the Moabite king Eglon holding God’s people under his, as the Bible is going to tell us, fat thumb. Finally, also aligned with the Moabite king were the Amalekites. They had the unique infamy of being the first people to mount a military campaign against the nation of Israel after their deliverance from the land of bondage in Egypt. And, of course, we know about this first military engagement. This is the one where the Lord told Moses to go up on the hill and hold the staff over his head, and as long as the staff was up, Israel would have victory? You remember the story, and again the Lord intervened to save His people as long as they were being faithfully His people. The Lord intervened and fought their battles for them.


So, here we have three foreign powers who have a pretty sour history with Israel, but now apparently, according to the text, Israel has done evil in the sight of the Lord, so He says, “Okay. You’ve chosen the king you want to have,” and it must have seemed almost absolute that these bitter enemies of Israel were holding power over God’s people. Instead of conquering, they were continually conquered by foreign power, pagan power, and it must have been a very discouraging time for the nation of Israel.


Let’s go to verse 15, “But when the children of Israel cried out to the Lord, the Lord raised up a deliverer for them: Ehud the son of Gera, the Benjamite, a left-handed man. By him the children of Israel sent tribute to Eglon king of Moab.” Now, as for the identity of this Ehud character, the central character in this story, the deliverer of Israel, we actually know very little about him from Scripture. In fact, that’s the only verse that gives us any background on this man, one verse in all of Scripture. And if you type in his name again in the CD-ROM or the app in the Ellen White writings, you’ll come up with one reference, and it’s in a list. It doesn’t even give any details at all. Everything we know about him is found in Judges, chapter 3 and verse 15, so let’s see what we can find out about this guy.


He was left-handed, he was from the tribe of Benjamin, and he had the unenviable job of transporting the tribute – what’s a common, popular word, what’s the modern word for tribute? Tax, right? – the tax of Israel to Eglon, king of the Moabites. Left-handed, Benjamite, tax collector, this is what the Bible records about him. Let’s break these down.


Left-handedness in Scripture is not necessarily something to be…How many here are afflicted with left…We’re people tonight, just let’s talk. How many of there are there? We should have prayer. I understand where you’re coming…We live in a difficult world, you and I. I’m one of you, right? People look at you funny. They want to know if you turn the paper upside down, right? Spiral notebooks, three-ring binders, this world is not our home, right? But as difficult as the persecution and oppression that we face, think about what it must have been in Bible times. And maybe it’s just my paranoia, that I look for left-handedness or right-handedness, but if you notice, the right hand is always good, the left hand is always bad, without exception, except for, perhaps, tonight. The left hand was the hand of cursing, insult, even death, but the right hand was the hand of strength. It was the hand of blessing. He’s going to hold you up with His mighty right…Ah! In the judgment, those represented on God’s left side die. On the right side, they live. It’s not the best thing in Scripture to be left-handed.


But he was from the tribe of Benjamin, right? Let’s break that down a little bit. Benjamin was the youngest son of Jacob. Benjamin was the smallest tribe in Israel. Reuben was the firstborn, right? You know, the tribe of kings was destined to be Judah, and Levi would be the priest, but Benjamin, up until the time of this story, the most famous Benjamite was Benjamin, okay? “I’m from Benjamin.” “Ahh, whatever!” Little, left-handed Benjamite.


But at least he’s got a good job. What’s his job? He’s a tax collector. How does the Bible – how did they like tax collectors in Scripture? Not a big fan of tax collectors. They were notoriously…Remember the nation of Israel was supposed to be God’s chosen people, “You will be the conquerors,” “You will be the blessing to all the world.” Yet their history is repeatedly a succession of being conquered and oppressed, conquered and oppressed. And inside of this nation who’s supposed to be God’s sovereign own, you have this guy who works for the other guy, who takes Israel’s hard-earned money, he goes around with a box, and the coins, or however they did it, collecting tax, collecting tax, collecting tax, and taking it to his Highness.


Left-handed, Benjamite, tax collector. My guess is, sanctified imagination, he was not held in the highest of esteem, this Ehud, amongst his Israelite friends. Left-handed, Benjamite, tax collector. Now, we’re not anywhere near the application portion of our story, but I’m guessing there is a possibility there are some Ehud-feeling people in the congregation tonight. You might actually have a genuine disability of some sort, and you feel like you can’t really be used for God. Or you come from a small place, the smallest school in the conference or maybe the smallest of all schools, the homeschool, and you feel not in place, and these big crowds are overwhelming. You don’t feel you have much to contribute. Or maybe your work an unenviable job. Nobody looks to you with respect, and you think, “What can I offer the Lord?” That’s why Ehud’s in the Bible. You’re going to see something powerful in Ehud tonight. Well, let’s keep reading.


Judges, chapter 3, now verse 16, “Now Ehud made himself a dagger (it was double-edged and a cubit in length) and fastened it under his clothes on his right thigh.” So, he brought the tribute; now, let’s think about this. What’s he going to do with this thing? Well, we’re skipping ahead. He straps it on his right thigh, so you can imagine him, little, left-handed Benjamite, nobody-likes-him guy, and as he goes around collecting the taxes, collecting the taxes, collecting the taxes, I’m sure people don’t like him, and they don’t what his job is. And he just hears a lot of bellyaching and complaining all day long. And he has to go in front of this…Well, the Bible again in a minute is going to call him this fat king, and lay this hard-earned money of Israel…He probably doesn’t like himself so much.


But one day he decided to make himself a sword, and I can imagine him in his little tent garage, you know, with a stone sharpening the other stone, and maybe it was wood, and he was whittling away at it, or whatever you do to make a two-edged sword. And he fits the strap over his leg, and he can imagine him home like, “shi-pow,” practicing to make it smooth. “I’ll put it over here,” “I’ll put it…” And the day he decided to actually the thing must have been a very surreal day for him. “Tax for the king,” “Tax for the king,” but he’s got this sword all day long strapped to his thigh. He’s going to do something.


Let’s continue our story. It goes on, “So he brought the tribute to Eglon king of Moab.” Look what the Bible puts in parentheses. “(Now Eglon was a very fat man.)” I mean, Ehud doesn’t have much said about him, but this guy has even less, and it’s not good. This is all the information you need to know about this guy; he was just big, right? And you can imagine it’s like, just everybody dislikes him. He sits on this big throne, and I would imagine he has to have a crew of people to feed him and stuff. And he sits on this wide throne, a big fat man, and it must have been just…You know, Israel had a health message, right? And this guy is the antithesis of a genuine Israelite.


And he takes Israel’s hard-earned money in that box, and his job was to take it to Eglon personally and lay it at his fat feet. And it must have just disgusted him every time, like, “Lord, why are we doing this?” Eighteen years! Jabba the Hutt looking…If you don’t know that reference, don’t learn it; it’s okay, but for those of you who do, it puts a picture, right? Okay. And Ehud puts it down and walks out, 18 years he puts it down, “Here’s your money.” But one day Ehud grabbed a sword, and he had a plan. He didn’t consult anybody; he just said, “Today, I’m killing the fat king.” And all day long he’s got this sword on his thigh, “Today he’s going to die.”


We keep reading the story. Verse 17, “So he brought the tribute to Eglon king of Moab. (Now Eglon was a very fat man.)” Verse 18, “And when he had finished presenting the tribute, he sent away the people who had carried the tribute.” So apparently his job was not to physically transport; he was the administrator of this crew, and he’s like, “Guys, why don’t you go on ahead this time. I’ll catch up with you in a minute.” He’s setting the stage to kill the fat king. “Guys, why don’t you go on ahead.” He had planned this out. “But he himself,” notice what it says, “turned back.” It’s like he was going with them, “You guys go ahead,” and you almost get the sense that…and then he kind of, “Ah, I can’t do it,” and he turns back, but watch what happens. “But he himself turned back from the stone images that were at Gilgal, and said, ‘I have a secret message for you, O king.’”


So he’s walking out, and he sees these images and these idols and these things that just disgust him, and he said, “Tonight’s the night; today’s the day. I’m killing the fat king,” and he musters his courage, and he turns around and says, “King, before I go, I have a secret message for you.” Why is it secret? Because he wants him alone, right?


Watch what he does. “He said, ‘Keep silence!’ And all who attended him went out from him.” So now, he’s…”Everyone, leave.” I don’t know why I do that [voice]. It helps, you know. “Everyone, leave.” You get the stage is now set. Eglon, Ehud, “King, I have a message.” His people are gone. His people are gone. He’s going to kill the fat king. “So Ehud came to him (now he was sitting upstairs in his cool private chamber). Then Ehud said, ‘I have a message,’” what are the next two words, “‘from God for you.’” It must have interested him because he actually arose from his seat. I’m guessing it’s a very rare feat. He leans in. The stage is set, Ehud, Eglon.


Verse 21, “Then Ehud reached with his left hand, took the dagger from his right thigh” (and what does he do?) “and thrust it into his belly.” You could imagine it was like he’s steeling his nerves, he’s steeling his nerves, “I’m going to do it. I’m going to do it,” ooowah! It’s not like he took it out and was like, “Look at, look at, look at this!” Uh-uh. Once he started taking that sword out, he wasn’t done until he was done. Is that clear? He takes it out, “Ooowah!” Right into his belly.


Verse 22, it’s in the Scriptures. I’m really not trying to milk it. It’s literally word-for-word, okay? “Even the hilt went in after the blade, and the fat closed over the blade, for he did not draw the dagger out of his belly; and his entrails came out.” Can you imagine? I’m guessing he expected some resistance, right? He goes with all his might, “Ooowah!” And the sword just keeps going [makes a noise], and I’m guessing there was a moment when both of their eyes locked, right? And his hand is disappearing, right? I mean, he’s like, “Oh, no, no, no!” He pulls it out, and apparently it closes over it. Maybe you look at it, and you can’t even tell he’s been defeated, but the enemy is defeated even if it doesn’t seem that way. Is that clear?


I love Ehud’s response. Look at verse 23, “Then Ehud went out through the porch and shut the doors of the upper room behind him and locked them.” “You can keep the sword. I’m going to…doo-dee-doo-dee-doo. Just finished up. Good night, guys. How you doin’? Oh, good.” Just walks away.


Let’s dig into the story a little bit. For 18 years, the Israelites have been claiming to be God’s people yet kept paying tax to that fat king. You could imagine how much they must have complained and bellyached that this pagan ruler and his loathsome taxes he inflicts on them were just constantly over their heads, and no doubt poor Ehud had been subjected to so much of this griping and moaning, that by the time we pick up his story here in Judges 3, he had had enough. “I can only take this so long, and I’m the leader in this hypocrisy.” Day after day, you could imagine what the people were saying, “Ah, it’s that little left-handed Benjamite tax collector. Give him his coin,” “You know, you should really do something,” “You get to see him; why don’t you kill that guy?” “Anyway, here’s our coin.” Next house, “Boy, if we had a king over us such as all the other nations have, he would fix this…, Anyway, here’s the tax.” Next house, “I hate that guy…he’s so…and the Moabites and the…you know the history with them. Somebody should really do something, but, anyway, here’s my tax.”


It always seems like we’re waiting for someone else to kill the fat king for us. And finally, Ehud’s like, I mean, “I guess I’m just going to do it.” We are no longer political Israel with a citizenship derived from a common national bond, but we are spiritual Israel with citizenship derived from the common bond of faith in Jesus Christ. Philippians 3, as we looked at it last night, makes it plain, that, unlike these who set their minds on earthly things, our citizenship is where? In Heaven. Though at one time the people of God were both a spiritual and a political organization, today we are no longer under a theocratic form of government where God is the head of the church and the state; they should be separated. We believe in separation of church and state. Amen? Thus, we are no longer expected to be literal Ehuds and bear arms in the defense of a particular nation or to physically execute the judgment of God on the wicked. The Lord will take of that in His time. Is that clear?


So, I want to be absolutely crystal clear. When I call spiritual Israelites to kill the fat king, I am not calling you to go enlist in the army or to raise up a Seventh-day Adventist militia to war against any earthly kingdom, even those who threaten our religious liberties. As Christians, we are to be Christlike. We laid that framework last night. We are not to defend ourselves militarily or violently, even when our most precious interests are at stake.


In John, chapter 18, verse 36, Jesus Himself declared unambiguously that His people are to be peacemakers at all times when in His trial before Pilate, He exclaimed, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.” So, I want to make it clear. I’m not saying, like, “Boy, we should go kill those evil people,” no. But, however, just because the church is not called to be a military power on the world scene does not mean that our citizenship in God’s Kingdom is without conflict. No, indeed, we have a struggle, but as Paul repeatedly declared with militaristic imagery, he borrows military language to describe the fight that we fight. Our war is a fight of faith.


Ephesians, chapter 6, verses 10 through 12, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.” Notice the military language. “Put on the full” (what?) “armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” There is still a fat king, and some of us are right now tonight still under his thumb, paying tax.


First Timothy, chapter 6, verses 11 and 12, “But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of” (what?) “faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” Second Timothy, speaking of himself, chapter 4, starting with verse [7], he says, “I have fought the good fight…I have kept the” (what?) “the faith.”


My friends, the fat king with whom we struggle is the devil himself, and his power over us is sin. In various places, the Bible calls him the ruler of this world, the prince of the power of the air, the ancient serpent who leads the whole world astray, and it even goes so far as to call him the god of this world. It is this power that the Lord warned Cain just before he murdered his brother in Genesis, chapter 4, verse 7, when He said, “Sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” Instead of sin ruling over you, you’re supposed to rule over sin. Is that clear?


So, if Satan in this story is our Eglon, and his power over us is sin, how are we to be victorious like Ehud? If the power we’re fighting against is spiritual, would it not only stand to reason that the weapon that we’ve been given is also spiritual? Just like Ehud, we’ve been entrusted with a sword designed explicitly for defeating the enemy of souls. We are given multiple assurances that the weapon that we can wield in our battle against Satan, Paul calls it the sword of the…? Spirit, which is the Word of God.


Later in Hebrews, he goes on to explain how the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any what? Double-edged sword. In fact, he goes on, “Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Time and again, we are instructed that the Word of God is the only instrument that can break the power of the devil and set free, truly free, even the weakest of his assumed subjects.


When assailed by the temptations of Satan in the wilderness, Jesus relied continually and exclusively on “It is” (what?) “written.” By giving us this example of faith in God’s Word, we are promised that if we resist the devil, he will flee, not he might, he should, I hope…”He will flee.”


It goes on. Even in the story of Ehud, we can discern that this deliverer of Israel did not consider his physical sword the instrument of their liberation, but rather in his interview with Eglon, he refers to his weapon as a message, specifically a message from the Lord! He didn’t say it like, “I’m the little guy who can…Baaaah!” He understood, “If this is going to happen, it’s not going to be in my power, but it’s going to be by His Spirit. If someone’s going to kill the fat king, it can’t be me. I don’t have it in me, but the Lord can strengthen me. In my weakness, I can be strong.”


Just like Ehud, our sword is a message from the Lord, the Word of God. And, friends, through the power of His Word, we can have victory in Jesus. It’s fascinating, in John, chapter 16, verse 8, the promise of the Holy Spirit is that He will convict the world of sin and righteousness and judgment. He convicts of sin, yet, at the same time, the weapon to defeat sin is the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Isn’t it fascinating that the Holy Spirit’s role in perfecting our character and developing that Christlikeness that we’re supposed to have, is to make us aware of sin and also to give us the victory over sin. It’s a powerful thought.


First Corinthians, chapter 10, look at what the Word of God tells us. First Corinthians, chapter 10, verse 13, “No temptation has seized you except for what is common to man. And God is” (what’s the word?) “faithful.” I feel so sorry for the timidity that has just shattered your existence. The torpor in which you must live your lives; I’m so sorry. But apparently God’s Word says that God is what? Faithful! It’s okay to say it out loud. We should let the devil know we know that. God is faithful. It didn’t say that you are faithful because we’re not! But God is.


God is faithful. “He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted,” notice, “when you are tempted.” It’s not, “Oh, well, if you happen to be living a life, and if temptation happens to be…,” no, no, no, no, no. “When,” it’s a guarantee. “When you are tempted,” don’t think that, “Now, I’m abiding in Christ, floating on cloud nine,” no, no, no. Satan can reach that cloud. “When you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” You get the idea that sin is this oppressive, heavy burden, and without the power of the Holy Spirit in your life, it would crush you. But He said, “But through My Spirit, you can stand up under that thing.”


James, chapter 4, verse 7, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Romans, chapter 8, I love this chapter. Go to it in Scripture, Romans, chapter 8, starting with verse 31, powerful words. You can imagine that Paul has tried to address this issue over and over, and he’s the one that laid out our case the other evening, that character development is the key to great victory in the Christian life, and he wants people to be victorious. And to give them encouragement, he writes with this pastoral fervor. Look at, starting with, verse 31 there, “What, then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” It’s almost like he’s standing on the gates of the wall and saying, “Who’s out there?! Is there anyone here who can beat my God? Who is it?!”


“If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all,” if He’s willing to go that far to save you, “how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.” You don’t justify yourself; you abide in Him, and He fights your battles for you. Verse 34, “Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” and he starts to list them off. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall,” and he starts thinking, “maybe you’re wrestling with this, maybe you’re wrestling with this, but I’m telling you, none of these work.” “Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” He said, “As it is written: ‘For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.’”


Without the power of God, we’re doomed! “But,” he says in the next verse, “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us,” and then he gets just on a roll. He says, “For I am persuaded,” I’m convinced, I’m convicted, “that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” He says, “I’m convinced of it! I’m convicted. I believe it! And you need to know it, too.”


The more I read stories of God’s miraculous deliveries of His people, the more I become convinced that we fall for the devil’s schemes, not because we lack a weapon or even a guarantee of victory, but because we lack the spiritual daring to pick up the Sword of Truth and run it through the old man of sin. Paul, Hebrews, chapter 12 and verse 4, states the problem with these words, “In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.”


I bet the Israelites that Ehud ran into every day by day in his job, they would think they’re at war against Eglon, yet none of them were actually fighting. They didn’t like him. He disgusted them, but what did they keep doing [clucks tongue]. “I hate that guy. Here, pay him.” “He’s the worst! All right, one last time,” [clucks tongue]. “Somebody should really do something, but I just…Look, just for this time,” [clucks tongue]. Eighteen years.


We call ourselves the church militant and sing battle anthems like, “Onward Christian Soldiers,” but how many of us are personally in the fight? Instead of fighting the fight of faith and with the Sword of Truth running through every temptation, we begrudgingly relent to just “one last time,” being his loyal subjects and in our lives keep paying “tax” to the fat king of sin. We hate the devil enough to complain about him but not really enough to actually fight him.


By the way, this is not a rebuke to anyone outside of myself. I’m embarrassed, ashamed, to the point of literal tears when I look over the record of my life, my professedly godly life, my Christian life, my pastoral, whatever, and I claim to be God’s, but I keep paying tax to another king. How often we pray for deliverance and hope that Someone will do it, but we keep paying tax.


You know, that’s the thing about taxes. If they said, like, there’s going to be a 12-dollar gas tax, everybody would be, like, “That’s ridiculous!” But if there’s a 2-cent gas tax, “Oh, right, one last time.” You know what I’m saying? Satan doesn’t come in and be like, “I want you to go kill your parents,” no, that’s not how he works, right? He’s like, “It’s just a little thing. Is this really worth fighting for? We’ve been getting along so well. Just one last time.”


Poor stewardship, some of us are literally robbing our Heavenly Father and using what is rightfully His for our own gain, thereby aiding and abetting the enemy of souls. You’re paying tax to the fat king. Some of you might be singing, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus,” but in your mind, you’re turning to images that are nothing more than a tax to the old man of sin.


Jesus was pretty blunt about this militaristic imagery, too, right? If you’re eye causes you to sin,” put a Band-Aid over it? Wink a lot? What’s He say? “Pluck it out!” Just kill it. “If your hand causes you to sin,” oh, easy solution, “cut it off.” You say, “Whoa, that’s radical,” He’s like, “Yeah, I know. I’m not clowning around. I’m not trying to compromise or mediate a stalemate; I want you to kill him.” “Oh, that’s radical; I…I tell you what, I’ll come up with a plan, and I’ll wean myself off like a patch.” “Keep paying tax if you want, but through My power, we can just kill him today. Is that cool?”


Gossip…By the way, I’m just going to make a list now, and when conviction hits, you don’t have to say it out loud, don’t raise your hand, but, okay…Let’s just be honest. All of us, regardless of our age, are prone to this particular sin, whether it’s in person or on the phone or on our favorite social network sites, clickety-clack, clickety-clack, or, you know, tippety-type, tippety-type, tippety-type.” We love to chat about or peek into the lives of others and then make commentary on them. Many young people in the church, and maybe not even the young people so much anymore, are more likely to think of their phone when I say the word, “text” than the Word of God.


It’s like, now that I’ve called you out, now some of you might be so upset at me, but you’re like, “Oh, yeah, well, I’m going to text about you right now…I don’t care if it’s GYC. I’ll put it on Facebook right now. Say it again. I’ll do it.” And, by the way, don’t even get me started how sin dulls your sense of irony, right? When someone talks about you behind your back, what do you do? You go to your friend, and you go, “I cannot believe how much they gossip,” right? No sense of irony. “Did you see how much they paid in tax?” “Oh, yeah, hey, taxman, here, go ahead…” It doesn’t even cross your mind. They’re mean to you, so what do you do? “I’ll be mean back. They think they can be mean? I’ll show them mean. I’ll out-sin them any day.” It’s like, what? How is this godly living, you know?


I mean, we could go on. I mean, we could make a whole list. Sabbath-breaking, academic dishonesty, young people at GYC, foul language, and I include the veggie swears, too, okay, right, or the alphabet swears, like, “It’s okay, I only say one letter,” right? Come on. We can do better, can’t we? I mean, we can’t but perhaps God living through us might be able to conquer that if we give Him a shot. Or is the problem, we actually kind of like it.


Back to the notes. Poor health habits, in spite of or just to spite the Adventist health message. “They’re crazy. I’m going to eat some meat…” Dishonoring your parents, treating prophecy with contempt, settling for mediocrity at home or work or at school when the Lord asks for excellence in all things. You’ve got an A-plus potential that the Lord God has put in you, and you come home with C’s. You’re paying tax. How about this one, laziness, doing whatever your hand finds to do…later. “I am totally going to knock that out of the park…tomorrow,” right?


We could go on and on and on. Let me tell you something. Like any political uprising, where people are held in oppression by a tyrannical power, the way to break the yoke of spiritual bondage and declare your freedom as subjects of a new King and citizens of a new Kingdom is an old-fashioned tax revolt. We need, amongst the membership of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, a spiritual uprising, a rebellion against the old man of sin. If you want to go out and change your life, if you want to change your church, change your school, and finish this work that God has given us to do on Earth, defect from the kingdom of Satan and stop paying tax.


I mean, think about it. If you want to grind a system to a halt, stop funding it. Picketing and protesting won’t get a government’s attention nearly as fast as withholding your taxes will, right? Would you like a personal emissary from the government to come to your door? Just stop paying taxes. They’ll visit you really quick. You want to take your time, complain and protest, right? Like, “Ah, cute. As long as he pay tax, talk all you want.” “Freedom of speech, love it.”


And, again, let’s be clear. We absolutely must pay our taxes to the government. This isn’t that speech, okay? I’m never going to make that; it’s not my position. The Bible is quite clear; we’re supposed to be good citizens of Earth while we’re still here, but our true citizenship – aren’t we on the same page? Can you say amen? All right.


And, by the way, that works for church government, too. “Oh, my local pastor. I tell you what I’m going to do; I’m going to stop paying…” The tithe is not holy unto the pastor or holy unto the conference; it’s holy unto the Lord. A whole nother sermon. There’s just not time for it.


But let me tell you something, what is needed most desperately at this critical hour are Seventh-day Adventists for whom the Bible is not just a book of beliefs to which we passively agree. “I’m good on state of the dead, Second Coming, Spirit of Prophecy, sanctuary…Sabbath…” The Lord is in need of Seventh-day Adventists who are willing to take hold of the Word of God as a living and active double-edged sword and not by might, nor by power, but by His Spirit, run it through the fat man of sin. The Seventh-day Adventist Church doesn’t need more pastors, doesn’t need more administrators, more policies, more programs or even more money nearly as much as we need Ehuds. We need you.


You know what’s really cool about this story of Ehud is that it doesn’t just stop with the death. Go to verse 24, judges, chapter 3, look at how the story concludes. I love how this story concludes. It says here, “When he had gone out, Eglon’s servants came to look, and to their surprise, the doors of the upper room were locked. So they said, ‘He is probably attending to his needs in the cool chamber.’ So they waited till they were embarrassed, and still he had not opened the doors of the upper room. Therefore, they took the key and opened them. And there was their master, fallen dead on the floor.” Notice he didn’t papercut him; he killed him.


Verse 26, “But Ehud had escaped while they delayed, and passed beyond the stone images and escaped to Seirah. And it happened, when he arrived, that he blew the trumpet in the mountains of Ephraim,” little, left-handed, Benjamite, tax collector. Now he stands like the Old Testament Zacchaeus, but he’s all strong and tall. Now he blows the trumpet in Zion and said, “Good news! The fat king is dead, and there’s victory for you, too!”


Look what it says here, “And it happened, when he arrived, that he blew the trumpet in the mountains of Ephraim, and the children of Israel went down with him from the mountains; and he led them.” God can take left-handed, Benjamite tax collectors, nobody-feeling people and turn them to leaders if they’re just willing to stand up and fight. “Then he said to them, ‘Follow me’” (why?) “‘for the Lord has delivered your enemies the Moabites into your hand.’ So they went down after him, seized the fords of the Jordan leading to Moab, and did not allow anyone to cross over. And at that time they killed about ten thousand men of Moab, all stout men of valor; not a man escaped.” And notice how it ends, verse 30, “So Moab was subdued that day under the hand of Israel. And the land had rest for eighty years.”


I’m guessing there are some people here tonight who are tired of negotiating with the devil and just wants some rest in their Deliverer Jesus Christ. “I’m tired of those little, incremental…,” insignificant-seeming, but they know in the back of their minds that they are paying tax. Jesus repeatedly said what His goal for this kingdom is: Sin no more. He didn’t say, “Sin less,” He didn’t say “some” or “only on the weekends,” only “on occasions,” or “only when you’re with friends,” or “only when you think it’s small.” “Go and sin no more.” That’s His goal for the universe: Sin no more. He wants no second rebellion. He doesn’t want to have to deal with this again. He wants to be done, and He wants a people who want to be done. “Go and sin no more.”


Now, I’m not saying it’s instantaneous. It might take a few blows, right? But the Lord has promised victory and growth over time. Notice what it says here. As I’ve already mentioned, I know what it’s like to practice one thing and preach another; I understand the hypocrisy, the feeling of it; it stinks when you’re standing before the tax collector and you know you shouldn’t…But you know what’s beautiful about the Lord? He not only promises power for victory, He also gives us pardon if we should fall. First John, chapter 2, verse 1, “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if,” remember temptation was a “when,” but sin, giving in to temptation is an “if,” “And if anyone sins,” even people of GYC, even godly people, even good people, even people who are trying to develop the character of Christ through His strength, even you, “if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” The same One who gives you power is the One who gives you pardon if you should fall.


Hebrews, chapter 4, verses 15 and 16, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then,” because of His sinlessness, not our own inherent works, not our own efforts, not our own ability to overcome, but because of Christ’s victory, “let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence.” Even if you have sinned, especially if you have sinned, don’t hide from God but go into His presence, not on your own merit, you know, Nadab and Abihu style, but covered in the blood of Jesus, you can come confidently before the throne the grace, even if you fall. “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence so that we might receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Of course, 1 John, chapter 1 and verse 9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”



As Seventh-day Adventists, we been commissioned to be the heralds of Christ’s soon return. All that we do in this life, especially at this time in Earth’s history, should be done with one eye locked on the eastern sky. Someday soon, the ruler we live under, the dominion in this world, will be swallowed up when the true King comes to lead us out of captivity into His glorious victory. We are told unequivocally in 2 Peter, chapter 3, verses 10 through 12, “But the day of the Lord will come,” not might or should, but it will come, “like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar, the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and hasten its coming.”


Friends, let’s be faithful. Let’s refuse to submit to the taxing temptations of Satan anymore. Let’s be people who boldly declare our independence from the ruler of this world and pledge allegiance to the true king of Heaven. Let’s be a people who are in our daily lives pick up that sword of truth, and “not by might, not by power, but by My Spirit,” have victory in Jesus.


I want to ask you again tonight, even if you disagree, that it at least makes sense, can you raise your hand? Praise God for clarity. Praise the Lord. Thank you. If this is a principle that you would like to see more instilled in your life, there are some things…you see a smorgasbord of stuff, “You know what? I’m done. I want victory in Jesus,” will you stand with me tonight? Like, “Lord, this is what I want. I want a victorious life. I don’t want just, like, moderation. I want to live on that higher level. I don’t want to just see it. I want to start experiencing citizenship in God’s Kingdom right here tonight.” And I praise the Lord for that commitment, but I want to make a special call tonight.


I’m guessing that there are people who feel like Ehuds and have lived some hypocrisy for a while. I’m not asking you to declare what your problem is or what your issue is, but there are some sins here that we know we like, and we shouldn’t. You might have been with hell from coming down the other night, or maybe other commitments that you should be making in your life because you know that there’s this one thing that’s blocking your walk with Christ, and you know that when the tax collector comes around, you’re too willing, and you’re like, “Lord, I don’t even want to give it up. I like…but, Lord, I don’t want to like it anymore. You said You’re going to give me the desires of my heart. Lord, help me to desire the right things. There’s this one thing that I’ve been struggling with; I just cannot break because I [like] it, I like feeding the beast, but, Lord, change my mind. Change my heart. Transform me into the image of Your Son who hates sin. Help me to hate it. Help me to look at that thing I used to love in disgust now. If it’s up to You, Lord, can you make me more Christlike in that zealotry for righteousness and enmity against sin.”


If there’s a particular thing that you’re struggling with and you want specific prayer, special prayer, and you feel that this issue, whatever it is, whatever the list, or maybe you’ve got your own list, whatever the particular thing is that you want victory in your life that you’ve never experienced before because you know the reason you haven’t, you haven’t really fought. You say, “Lord, I want to start fighting tonight, not by my strength, not in my merit, not in my own efforts, but, Lord, I believe that You are faithful because Your Word says so, not because I feel it, because it declares it, and, ‘It is written,’ and I take Your Word to the bank.” If there’s someone who’s wrestling tonight and says, “Lord, tonight I want to start living that victorious life. Help me to craft the sword. Teach me how to be practical about it, how do I wear it, how do I set my alarm clock for it, how do I make plans for it? Lord, help me to have a strategy to kill the fat king.”


If you want that help, and you’d like special prayer, would you come down front as we sing our closing song? There’s something in your life, say, “Lord, I’m done with it. I want to stop it tonight. At least I want to learn how to stop it. I want You to give me ways to stop it. I want You to train me in the art of sword-making. I want You to teach me how to…Lord, show me the way. I hunger for that higher place. I want the Spirit of the living God to fall afresh on me,” come down front, friends. You understand that this is a specific appeal. I praise the Lord for the numbers. That’s not what we’re looking for. I want quality more than quantity. Amen? But if there is a struggle, and you know this is the hindrance, this is your opportunity to come down front. There’s not only power, my friends, there is also pardon if you sin. No condemnation, just come to the throne in confidence that He’s been there, He understands your weakness, and He is strong when you are weak. Praise the Lord.


As the people are coming, we’re going to sing this song together. Let this be our prayer tonight: Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me. Sing it like you mean it.




Lord, God in Heaven, Lord, in the quiet of this moment, we ask for Your pardon if we have fallen and paid tax to a king who is not our king. And, Lord, we know in our walk we have battles, genuine spiritual conflict to face. We fight not against flesh and blood but against spiritual powers, and, Lord, we know that in our own strength we are absolutely inadequate for the fight. We have no weapon. We have no strength. We have no ability of our own, but also believe in Your Word, not by a feeling but by faith alone that Jesus is our victorious King. And, Lord, we ask, through the power of Your Holy Spirit, to live out that victory in our own lives. Send Your Holy Spirit not only to give us the conviction of sin but also to give us the power through Your strength to conquer and to go from glory to glory, from character to character, so that slowly and gradually, perhaps even quickly, however it is You lead us, Lord, that You lead us in a path of righteousness. We don’t want to be citizens of this world anymore. We’re tired of paying taxes to the fat king. Lord, give us victory, give us power, give us pardon, most importantly, give us the Christlikeness that You want us to have. Help us to reflect Your image to the world.


And, Lord, again we pray that Your coming may be soon so that we can truly see You face-to-face and not be ashamed. We ask that that day be soon, but most importantly, Lord, before the timing, Lord, help us to worry about our fitness, and it is my prayer tonight that when Jesus comes, that not one person here be missing. We all pray this in the name of Jesus, our Victorious King. Amen.


Please stay right where you are. We’re going to have a season of prayer led in just a moment.


WOMAN SPEAKING: Elder Mark Finley has been a tremendous supporter of GYC over the years, and we always enjoy his presence with us every year. Unfortunately, he is unable to be with us this year because of an injury he sustained in Africa. But we do have the pleasure of speaking with him over Skype, so, welcome, Elder Mark Finley.


MARK FINLEY: Thank you very much. I am feeling much better, just had my stitches out from a knee operation this last week and would love to be with you, but I’m glad that, for the sermon I just heard, that Pastor DeVasher’s sermon really moved my own heart, that sermon on victory in Jesus, that sermon that speaks about the power of the Holy Spirit. So, thank you, Pastor. I can just sense the Spirit, and I knew that God was moving.


As we go into prayer tonight, I want to look with you very briefly at three aspects of prayer. The first aspect of prayer is the deeper dimension of prayer. The real purpose of prayer is not to get from God what we want but to find out from God what He wants. And that’s really summarized in the life of Jesus in Matthew, chapter 26 and verse 39, where Jesus was facing the cross, and He prayed, “Father, if it’s possible, let this cup pass from Me.” And then in verse 39, Jesus said, “Nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”


So the essence of Christ’s prayer life was Jesus entered into such a meaningful relationship with the Father, such a oneness with the Father, that all Jesus wanted was what the Father wanted. All Jesus desired was to know the Father’s will. And it’s interesting, there’s a comment in The Desire of Ages that says that as Christ battles in Gethsemane with the forces of hell, surrendering His will to the Father’s will, that the Father sent an angel to strengthen Him. So, here’s the question: What is it in your life that you’re struggling with tonight? If there’s some area in your life not in harmony with the Father’s will, have you surrendered every area of your life to the will of the Father? No matter what the struggle is, no matter how great the temptation is, when we surrender our will to God’s will, heavenly beings come to strengthen us. Heavenly beings come to empower us. Heavenly beings come, the Holy Spirit and angels come, to give us strength to enable us that victory over that thing that we’ve stumbled on.


Tonight, in this first portion of prayer, I’d like you to kneel wherever you are and say, “Lord, whatever in my life is not in harmony with Your will, I want to surrender it to You right now. Whatever in my life that is not in harmony with Your will, I want You to come and take it.” And as you are making that commitment, the Holy Spirit may bring into your mind something very specific. Surrender that to God and have the absolute assurance that just as the Father sent an angel to Jesus, that angels are coming by your side. They will strengthen you in victory.


So let’s kneel right now, and after we’ve prayed just for a few moments, then Cassandra will finish this portion of prayer before we go into the next portion. So let’s pray quietly on our own just now.


CASSANDRA: Heavenly Father, we confess that there are so many things within us that are dirty and unclean, Lord, that are unpleasing to You. We just pray that You search us, that You find those things and that You cleanse us. We desire to be like Your Son, Lord, to desire the things that You desire, to see the world the way that You see it, Lord, to be more like Christ. We pray that You would come into our lives. We surrender everything to You, Lord, and just pray that You would draw closer and closer to You, that we would love our time with You, that we would love our ministry for You, Lord. We pray all these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.


MARK FINLEY: As we make that surrender, to surrender our will to God’s will, He promises to use us in a powerful way. One of my favorite passages in Scripture on witnessing has to do with witnessing and angels. It’s found in Hebrews, the first chapter, and here in Hebrews, chapter 1, the Bible talks about witnessing and angels, and it says, referring to the angels, Hebrews 1:14, “Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?” In other words, angels are heavenly beings that Jesus sends from the throne of God in the Most Holy Place of the sanctuary to touch hearts, to open minds, and to lead people to salvation.


One thing is for certain, when you read the book of Acts, here in the book of Acts, angels were actively involved with committed men and women to lead others to the cross. For example, Peter’s praying and as Peter prays, the Holy Spirit impresses him with the need to witness to Cornelius. Cornelius is praying, and he is impressed that Peter is going to come to him. Angels lead Peter to Cornelius. Or think Philip, Philip prays, and angels lead him to the Ethiopian eunuch who is the treasurer of the entire country, and a whole country and a whole continent of Africa is open to the gospel in the first century.


Here’s the point: Ellen White says in The Acts of the Apostles, page 109, that, “All over the world men and women are looking wistfully to heaven,” earnestly praying for light and truth. As we surrender our will to God and open our hearts to Him, He will use us in incredibly powerful ways, and He will lead us to other people just like He led Peter to Cornelius, just like He led Philip to the Ethiopian eunuch. God’s going to lead you to somebody this week. God is going to lead you to somebody whose heart is open, somebody whose mind is open, somebody who needs to know Him and love Him.


Just now in this section of our prayer, as we kneel together, I’d like you to pray a prayer something like this. Just in your heart by yourself right now, “Dear Lord, lead me this week to that person who’s open to the gospel. Lord, help me to be sensitive that they’re open.” Maybe it’s on a plane ride home you’ll sit next to somebody. Maybe you’ll go back, and you’ll start school second semester, and you’ll find that there is somebody there sitting next to you that has a real need to know Jesus. Maybe it’s in your workplace. God has somebody for you to witness to. The angels are going to lead you to somebody, that special person.


Right now, as we pray, let’s take a couple minutes and pray that God will open our eyes to see, open our ears to hear, open our hearts to comprehend, and let’s pray that God will lead us this week, next week, to that special person whose heart is open by the gospel, that we will, too, be led like angels. Let’s pray that for the next couple of minutes, and then Ezra will conclude that portion of the prayer.


EZRA: Dear Father, we ask You, Lord, that You may grant us divine appointment, that as we’ve heard this good news, that as we leave this place, and we go back to our homes, that we may be witnesses and preach the good news of Jesus Christ. Just like John the Baptist, just like the Acts of the Apostles tells us, after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, may You fill us that we may become Christ’s ambassadors. Grant us Thy will and Thy power. Lead us to the people who are open and give us divine appointments from now until forevermore. For we ask all this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


MARK FINLEY: God is going to use you in a powerful way. God is going to lead you to that very person who’s open and who you have the key to touch their heart.


Now, one last aspect about prayer. You know, when Peter was in prison in Rome, he wrote to the church of Colosse, and in Colossians, chapter 4, Paul wrote these words. He said, “Pray that God would open a door for me for the proclamation of the gospel, although I’m in these chains.” Paul was in the center of hedonism, really, in Rome, one of the most difficult places to proclaim the gospel. And Paul prayed that a door would be opened for him in Rome.


As a group of young people, you are part of the world church, part of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, 17 million members strong around the world, a church that is in well over 200 different countries. The Seventh-day Adventist Church is growing rapidly; about 3,000 people are being baptized every single day into the Adventist Church and fellowship. I just praise God for what He’s doing through this church, but there are some very challenging place, the Middle East, places like Iraq, Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, our work grows so slowly there, and many of these places it’s against the law to publicly proclaim the gospel.


And then I think of secular New York, how difficult some of those cities are to reach with the gospel, and I think of the great cities of America. I would like us to get into groups of two or three and do two things: One, pray that God will miraculously open doors quickly and rapidly for the proclamation of the gospel in difficult places of the world. You know, who would have dreamed many, many years ago, 50 years ago, that almost overnight God would open the door in the former Soviet Union and the Berlin Wall would fall. I’m praying that God opens the door in places like North Korea, that He’ll open the door in places like China, that He’ll open the door in places like the Middle East. Will you join me in that prayer tonight? As young people, thousands and thousands paying that God will open the door in tough places. Secondly, ask God if He wants you to be a missionary in some of the tough places in the earth, that He would impress your heart with that, and inspire you to get the right training to do it.


I’m convinced that just before Jesus comes, there will be scores of young people that leave home, leave family and friends, make the ultimate sacrifice to go out to the ends of the earth to proclaim the gospel like the early Adventist pioneers did. So, let’s pray together in groups of two, or, at the most, three, and we’re praying in this prayer, as we close our prayer session, for two things. We’re praying first that God will open miraculous doors in some of the real difficult places, that God will work miracles beyond what we can imagine.


And secondly, that if we are to be involved in something special for God, and I can believe that a night like tonight, when young people are on their knees, God can touch some heart, God can touch some young person, and He can impress you, “I want you to be a missionary for Me.” We’re all missionaries in our families, all missionaries around our homes, all missionaries in our university, but God is going to touch some young people to make unusual sacrifices in the tough places of the earth, and I know that some of you tonight, God’s going to move on in unusual ways. So let’s kneel and pray in groups of two or three, and then when I sense that we have prayed together, then I’ll conclude this prayer session.


Father in Heaven, as we bring this prayer season to a close tonight, there are still some praying, and I know You’re moving in their lives, that You’ve touched our hearts tonight. Thank You that when, like Jesus, we commit to do Your will, You come and empower us by heavenly angels, that You give us the strength to carry out Your will. Thank You that You will open doors of opportunity for us to be witnesses for You. And, Father, tonight we’re praying for the difficult places of the earth, China, North Korea, the Middle East. We’re praying for the great Buddhist countries and the Muslim countries and the secular world, Europe, Australia, the United States, the great cities. We pray that You would arrange world affairs and world events, that in the divine drama of destiny, that You would open doors so that the gospel can go quickly so Jesus can come.


And, Lord, I know that there are young people tonight here in Houston that are making decisions for You, and that You are going to use them in the closing work. I pray for every young person, that they see a plan bigger than themselves, may they see life’s larger purpose, and may they dedicate themselves to being witnesses for You, either in their homes, neighborhoods, their cities, their communities, or in some special overseas assignment.


So, thank You, Lord, that You’ve been with us, and Thank You that, as we give our lives for You, You’ll use us in a power way. In Christ’s name. Amen. God bless each of you tonight as you serve Him.


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