Pergamum

Let The Word Of God Remind You Of What Jesus Calls Us To As His Church.

Tim Lundy
Jan 31, 2021    35m
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There are times that it is hard to live to the standards the Word of God calls us to, especially in our private lives. But we can find strength in knowing that Jesus sees and rewards our efforts to fulfill this call. Video recorded at Los Gatos, California.

Transcription
messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

Tim Lundy: 00:25 Well Venture, it is good to be back here on the church campus. We finished our Lundy house quarantine, glad to say no, COVID, nobody struggled with anything, so we are glad that we made it through that. And I've got to tell you, after last weekend and setting it up and all that, makes me really appreciate all the guys we have on our tech team, and all the ones that work so hard to provide this kind of technology for us to bring services like this. And so, I'm thankful for them, I'm thankful for the ways that God has allowed us, during a long 10 months, to continue to have church together, to continue to have our live services, to continue to be able to come to your homes. And so we've got a lot to be thankful for in it.

Tim Lundy: 01:17 I'm also thankful for this series. I don't know about you, as I keep reading through these letters that Jesus wrote to real churches, there's so many connections to what we're going through in the world today. You know, in the series I've been pointing out some famous historical letters. I found one, it's almost laughable, it was written in 1860. Is written by an 11 year old little girl, but it did have quite the impact. In fact, listen to this letter, it's written by a little girl, Grace Bedell, and she wrote it to Abraham Lincoln. She said, "My father just got home from the fair and brought home your picture. I'm a little girl, only 11 years old, but want you should be president of the United States very much. So I hope you won't think me very bold to write such a great man, as you are. She said, I've got four brothers and part of them will vote for you, anyway. And if you let your whiskers grow, I will try and get the rest of them to vote for you. You would look a great deal better, for your face is so thin. All the ladies like whiskers, and they would get their husbands to vote for you, and then you would be president. I love, she says, if I was a man, I would vote for you, but I'll try to get everyone else to as well." Now, Lincoln got the letter, and he actually wrote her back. At first, he said, well, I think if I grew a beard, it might look like I'm just trying to put on airs a little bit, but he actually took her advice. And we know him today, I mean the photographs of Abe Lincoln with the beard, don't know if that's what led to him president. And a year later he visited her hometown, and he pointed her out directly and said it was thanks to her that he grew the beard.

Tim Lundy: 03:10 Now you look at a letter like that, and just the direct way. I love precocious nature of an 11 year old who would write someone who would be president of the United States. You know, I read that in one way and I thought, man, the world's changed for the better, in a lot of ways. Women can vote now, I'm thankful for strides we've made in our country. And yet as much as the world changes, there's some consistent issues that we face, that's what we see in this letter this week that Jesus wrote to a church in a city called Pergamum. And remember these seven churches, they're in real cities, they're real churches, they're real people, with real problems.

Tim Lundy: 03:53 And as Jesus is writing to this city in Pergamum, and remember, we're kind of taking the circle, we went Ephesus, and then Smyrna, and now Pergamum is about 60 miles North of Smyrna. And it's really unique city, it isn't as big as Ephesus or even Smyrna, but it's a very distinct, cultured city, a lot of people called it the Jewel of Asia because of the culture that was there. They had a famous university, had a library with 200,000 volumes in it, second largest library in the world. And you've got to remember, this is a time period with no printing presses, and so these are handwritten volumes, and so you think of the learning and the culture with that. It was also known they had all these temples, they have this huge, massive temple dedicated to Zeus, the Greek God. And Pergamum tried to hold on to the Greek culture, because they saw that as very distinguished and learned. And so they had a temple to Zeus, they had a temple Dionysus, Athena.

Tim Lundy: 04:55 They had a temple to Asclepius, and Asclepius was the God of healing, he was known for the symbol of the serpent. In fact, you can still see the medical symbol that has the staff with the serpent, that comes from Asclepius. And so they had this temple that was there, and it's kind of weird with it, but people would come to be healed. And the temple grounds were covered with all of these non-poisonous snakes, and people would literally lay there and hope that the snakes would crawl over them in order to heal them. I can't think of anything more horrifying, in fact, some of you are having nightmares right now as you think about it, but it gives you a picture of some of the things that were going on. They also had a huge temple dedicated to Caesar, and they were into Caesar worship, and they treated him like a God. Now, in the middle of all of this, you've got this culture, you've got this library, you got all these temples, you got this Caesar worship, you also have this church. And this church is facing a lot, but it's also struggling with some things.

Tim Lundy: 06:03 Let's look at it as we go through it, remember the same form in all these letters. And the first thing we see is this characteristic of Christ, this characteristic of Christ. Read with me, and you can see it there in Revelation 2 verse 12, “And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: ‘The words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword." Now remember each of these titles, they tell us something about Jesus, they also kind of foreshadow of what's to come in the letter. And in this one in particular, it's this picture of Jesus, and it says he has a sharp two-edged sword. Now the point that we know is, the sword is the Word of God. And anytime you see the sword in scripture, it's pointing to the Word of God. And so we know he's talking about his word, it wasn't collected in the Bible yet in the way that we had it, but it's his word, it's the truth that he would speak.

Tim Lundy: 06:54 And Paul says as much in Ephesians 6:17, when he's telling us about spiritual warfare, he says, "Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit. Notice what he says, "The sword of the spirit, which is the Word of God." And so he's pointing out this two edged sword, that Jesus is the truth, he's the living word and he has his spoken word. And the Bible is unlike any other book because we know it is inspired, it's literally God-breathed. And so, as you think about it, here's the point, the truth of God's Word is both the means of salvation and also the standard of judgment. That Jesus is the truth himself, he says, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." And you remember that that scene where Pilate's looking at him and going, what is truth? And Jesus is sitting right in front of him. He's the truth, he's the truth that brings salvation. But in the same way, truth, it brings salvation, but it also brings the standard, the standard of judgment. Light brings us out of darkness, shines in the darkness, but it also exposes what's wrong. And so when he talks about this two edged sword, we think about the Bible, it's truth for our lives, but it also is truth that speaks into our lives.

Tim Lundy: 08:16 Look how Hebrews puts it in Hebrews 4, he says, "The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart." He says the Word of God, notice, he says, it's like a two-edged sword, it cuts through, it cuts to the core, it speaks to your life. And I'll just, again, I'll call you to this, when you spend time reading through God's Word...You know, right now as a church, we're just taking time to read through the New Testament this year. And as a church, as we walk through it, and right now we're in the book of Matthew. And I don't know about you, but as I keep reading these stories of Jesus, as I keep hearing his direct words, there's days where I go, man, I love that. And then there's other days, it's just like this passage says, it's like a sword and it cuts right into my life, it kind of exposes my heart and the intentions.

Tim Lundy: 09:17 And so Jesus is describing himself to this church as he's writing this letter and he says, I'm not just some random person, I'm the one who actually speaks truth. And not just any truth, penetrating truth. I love the words of Mark Twain, the way he put it. He said, 'Most people are bothered by those scripture passages, which they cannot understand. But for me, the passages in scripture which trouble me the most are those which I do understand." He said the parts that are so abundantly clear, because they're convicting, they speak into our lives.

Tim Lundy: 09:53 Now, look at the compliment that he gives this church, this is a great church, by the way, He's pointing out in particular where they live and what they're up against. He says, "I know where you dwell (and look at this line) where Satan’s throne is. Yet you hold fast my name, and you did not deny my faith even in the days of Antipas my faithful witness, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells." Where Satan dwells, and he puts that two times, he says, where Satan dwells. And what he's pointing out is, they live in an area where Satan's influence and power are evident, there's satanic influence and power, there are strongholds that are there. And I know some people, they study it and they think you can map all that out, I don't know about that. I do know though, Satan loves power, he loves strongholds of power, he loves to corrupt them. And as you look at this, it's not just the people. And so when he says, this is where Satan dwells, he's not saying that there was some temple dedicated to Satan himself. Look what he's done, he's corrupted the religious system that they have. They think they're worshiping these gods, but guys, there are no gods out there, there's no Zeus, and Dionysus, and that. There's only God, and any other form would be a satanic or demonic form, and so the worship of that's been corrupted. He corrupts the educational system, he corrupts their learning and their culture. He corrupt the government in it, and turns it into a form of worship. Satan always takes what's good, and he brings a form of corruption. And we don't need to look behind everything, that we're always looking for a demon. I'm not kind of one of those persons that I'm living in that fear all the time, but we do need to be aware. And when Jesus addresses it this directly, we never want to deny it, we need to recognize it.

Tim Lundy: 11:50 In fact, this is what Paul says in Ephesians 6, he says, "We do not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers..." He's not talking about physical rulers, he's talking about spiritual rulers. "...against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places." Sometimes we need to stop, and in our culture today, sometimes we dismiss this too quickly. You know, a great book by Cormac McCarthy is No Country For Old Men. And they made a movie great movie with Tommy Lee Jones, and it's that's pretty violent, I'll just tell you that. But in it, you've got Tommy Lee Jones playing this sheriff, this Texas sheriff, and he's wrestling with the fact of what has come of the world. And as he's dealing with this drug case and all this violence that comes with it, and that's the best part of the whole thing, the movie and the book is just his ruminations. There's one part in the book, he doesn't say it in the movie, but in the book, he's talking about his returning to his childhood belief in a real devil. Listen to his words, he said, "I think if you were Satan, and you were sitting around trying to think up something that would just bring the human race to its knees, what you would probably come up with is narcotics, maybe he did. I told that to somebody at breakfast the other morning, and they asked me if I believe in Satan. I said, well, that ain't the point. And they said, I know, but do you? I had to think about that, I guess as a boy, I did. Come the middle years, my belief, I reckon, had waned someway. Now I'm starting to lean back the other way." Listen to this line, I like this, he says, "Satan explains a lot of things that otherwise don't have no explanation, well, not to me they don't."

Tim Lundy: 13:50 I just encourage you as we look at the world, as you look at evil, there's times where it's systematic evil, Satan explains a lot. It explains a lot to just embrace the biblical worldview, and Jesus doesn't diminish this. Jesus says, hey, I know where you guys are, and I know who's behind the trouble. And I know as well, look, that they courageously held onto their faith, even to the point of martyrdom. They courageously held onto their faith, even to the point...And he mentioned by name, Antipas, and we don't know the backstory on Antipas, all we know is that he gave his life being faithful to Christ. So he's writing this church, and he goes, man, you guys...They remind me a lot of the church we looked at last week, Smyrna. Man, this church that's under persecution, this church that's feeling impact of evil, of Satan schemes in the world. And he goes, you guys are faithful, you're faithful even unto death, you're faithful even unto martyrdom. You're faithful even though you live right in the hotspot of it.

Tim Lundy: 15:00 But here's the difference between this church and Smyrna, there's a place where they've let down their guard. Look at his criticism, Revelation 2 verses 14 and 15, he says, "I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality. So also you have some who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans." So he's identified two different groups that are in this church. And notice, he says, you have some, he's not saying this is the majority, he's not saying the whole church is effected, it's very faithful church, but you've got a couple of groups in the church. And particularly, look at the point here, there were groups in the church that taught it was okay to compromise with the culture.

Tim Lundy: 15:55 And he references it, notice the two groups, the first group that he talks about, he talks about, you've got a group that hold to the teaching of Balaam. Now they're not specifically holding all the way back to Balaam, what he's referring to is a story that from the Old Testament, back in the Book of Numbers. When the children of Israel, before they went into the land, they're coming through the land, and the King of Moab had heard how God was blessing, and so he's worried about them coming and taking his land. So he decides to hire a evil prophet, it didn't say he's a false prophet, a guy named Balaam. Balaam was a prophet, he got word from God, but he would sell it, he'd sell his services. And so the King of Moab hires him, he says, hey, I want you to come and curse these people. Now God told Balaam before he left, you only say what I tell you to say, no matter how much they offer you, you only say what I tell you to say. And on the way, I guess Balaam was debating this, because you know, he's got the whole story of his donkey, and the donkey saves his life, and actually talks to him in that.

Tim Lundy: 17:03 But as you get to the end of the story, and here's the part that Jesus is referring to. Three times he goes, three times the King of Moab says, man, I'll pay you this if you'll curse them, if you'll curse them, if you'll curse them. And every time, Balaam only says what God tells him to say, and he always says a blessing, and he blesses and he blesses. And Balak, the king, is beside himself he's so angry, I'm not going to give you a dime. And then Balaam says, okay, I'm not going to be able to curse him, God's not going to let me do that. But if you can't curse him, if you can't attack them directly, here's what you can do. You can corrupt them, send some of your women down there, your good looking women, get some of their to marry your women. Y'all start integrating culturally, start sharing some of the practices through that. And if you do that, you'll be able to corrupt them. And he was right, the men of Israel started marrying these Moabites, even though they had been told at that time, they started adopting their practices, brought a curse on the people over that. There was a battle in it, ultimately Balaam was killed in the battle as well. He was killed by a sword, ironically, as we think about it.

Tim Lundy: 18:22 Now, in this story, here's what Jesus is pointing back to. That you had a group, the people of God, and they started adopting the practices of the culture around them, especially when it came to sex, and that group is embracing it. The other group was the Nicolaitans, and the Nicolaitans from what we know in history, they kind of had agnostic belief. And what they held was that the body is bad, this physical world, bad, spiritual world, good. So as long as you're spiritually engaged with God, you're never going to really control the body, kind of the body's going to do with the body's going to do. And so you don't worry about that, like that doesn't really even matter to God, all that matters is that you're spiritually right. Do you see how both these groups are compromising? And as you look at it, these groups in that, they believed it was okay to separate your spiritual life from your personal life, that's the core of it. You've got your spiritual life, you come to church, we hold fast, we have the right doctrine, we do the right thing. But in your personal life, you don't meddle with other people's personal life, you let them do what they're going to do. And especially when it came to these standards of sexual ethics and standards with that.

Tim Lundy: 19:42 And guys, I don't know how to impress upon you in that time period, what the actual sexual practices and standards were, they are so beyond anything that we could even fathom in our culture right now. In fact, they crossed the lines that I would, you'd be hard pressed to find anyone in our country that would go, oh, that's okay. Listen to the words of Scott McKnight, he was talking about when he was walking through the roads of ancient Pompeii. Do you remember Pompeii, 79 AD, a volcano goes off and the city literally is frozen in time. So we've got a great picture of what was a Roman city like in that time period. Here's the thing that stood out to McKnight, as he's walking along. He says, "It's not an exaggeration to say the city was swamped with erotic images, explicit pornography, everywhere. The sexual reality across the empire, of which Pompeii was a typical example, was a total lack of sexual inhibition." Now here's what that means, "The normal order in the first century for most men and some women, but mainly men were the one that had this total freedom in it. They had procreational sex with their spouses, you only had sex with your spouse in order to have a child, they had recreational sex with others." This often included young boys or young girls, children who were slaves, and many of them sexual slaves. It crossed all bounds with that, that's why I'm saying, they had practices that anyone in our country today would go that's wrong, that's illegal. And so, as you look at that, I think for all of us, no matter what your religious belief, you'd look at part of that culture and you go, man, they're crossing lines that should not be crossed, and we have laws against that today.

Tim Lundy: 21:32 Now, as Jesus is writing the church, and especially his church, he says, yeah, but you also have biblical lines, a biblical sexual ethic that I'm calling you to. And I'm calling you to live it out, and I'm calling you to address these groups that are compromising this way and telling you it doesn't matter. The reality is, I think for all of us, we live in a culture today where we've drawn some lines that we go that is wrong, and we want to protect the innocent, and we want to protect children, and we want protect anybody from sexual slavery or any of that. The question is where do you draw your lines? And so for a Christian, we allow the scripture, we allow God's word, that truth, that living truth, to be our line. Now, I recognize when I say that, that's hard, especially when the culture's changing so much. So can you imagine how hard it was for this church, when the culture was so much further than anything we can really even fathom?

Tim Lundy: 22:37 I like the words of N.T. Wright, listen to how he talks about this. He says, "We need to remind ourselves that the entire biblical sexual ethic is deeply counter-intuitive. All human beings some of the time, and some human beings most of the time, have deep heartfelt longings for kinds of sexual intimacy or gratification (multiple partners, pornography, whatever) which do not reflect the creator’s best intentions for his human creatures, intentions through which new wisdom and flourishing will come to birth." And this is a great line, listen, he says, "Sexual restraint is mandatory for all, difficult for most, extremely challenging for some. God is gracious and merciful but this never means that his creational standards don't really matter after all." And specifically to his people who say this is my standard, this is my truth. Now notice when Jesus writes this, and I think this is important. He's not talking about Pergamum the city, he's not writing them going, man, all those bad people out there, he's writing to his church. And he goes, yeah, of course they're behaving that way, they don't know me, of course their standards are going to be different. And sometimes I think it's real easy for us, we focus so much what's happening in the country, what people are doing out there, and we want to fight groups and all that. When really the attention to this verse is, hey, in the church, these biblical ethics and standards, man, they are hard and they're counterintuitive, and they kind of cross the line for all of us in ways, but this is where you flourish in life. And Jesus calls his church to live this out, so that we can show the rest of the world that there is a different way, there's a better way.

Tim Lundy: 24:38 To do that,l look at the call to action, Revelation 2:16. He says, "Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth." Repent, the first point is repent for not addressing this in the church. And notice he's not writing to the groups, he's not saying, hey, you Nicolaitans, you need to repent, you're bed. You followers of Balaam, you need to repent. No, he's writing to the leaders of the church, he's writing to the ones he commended. And he says, you guys need to own it, because you're letting it happen, because you're not dealing with it, you're not talking about it. And sometimes I can see, when you're in a culture that feels so out there, and you're a church that's trying to survive. You're like, I don't want to make waves, I'm just glad they're here. And he goes, yeah, but you're never going to show the world what it really means to flourish. You're never going to show the world that my way really is life, that truth brings freedom. Guys, God's not against sex, Jesus is not writing this because he's anti-sex. He came up with it, he created it, he knows the standards. And that's what he says, I want you to have a sex life that flourishes, and since I'm the designer of it, I know where the lines really need to be drawn. And I'm calling my church, I don't have any expectation the world's going to live that out, they can't. But I do have an expectation that my people, and my church, you deal with it, you own it, and as leaders you speak into that. Notice what he says, if you won't deal with it, he will. If you won't deal with it, he says, I'm coming, warn them, I'm coming.

Tim Lundy: 26:23 It's kind of like, you know, my kids, especially when they were little, if Lea had had it, if the hammer really needed to come down. Here's the line that always scared him, your father will deal with this when he comes home. And then everybody's like, Ooh. I mean, do you remember that when you're a kid? And it's almost that same sensation that Jesus says, I'm coming. And notice, he says, I'm coming with the sword. That's a pretty strong line, but you got to remember his intent. If I told you, there's a masked man who's coming after you, and he's wielding a knife, and he's going to cut you open. Sounds like a horror movie, doesn't it, unless I give you context. Let's say that masked man is a surgeon, and he's prepared for surgery, and he's holding a scalpel, and he needs to remove a tumor that's in you. I mean, it's the exact same scenario, one is horrifying because it's for destruction, one is life-giving because the person cares about you. Jesus says, I care enough about my church, I care enough about you guys, I can't let this stuff kill you, and so I'll come and bring the truth.

Tim Lundy: 27:42 Look at the promise he gives, the commitment. And I love this, as we finish out Revelation 2:17, "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it." Look at the two promises there. The first promise, he promises sustaining power to those who trust him, he promises them hidden manna. You think about manna, what was manna? It was that bread-like substance that God fed his people as they're going through the wilderness, as they're going through this place where they have nowhere else to go, and God feeds them directly. And he looks at his people and he says, hey, I know you're in a tough place, I know this is a high standard, I know it's hard to live this out, but you can trust me to sustain you. You can trust me the same way Jesus did when he was tempted by Satan, he was tempted around physical desire. Hey, turn that rock into bread, I know you're hungry Jesus. And what did he say? He says, no, man doesn't live by bread alone, man doesn't live by his physical desires, but by the Word of God.

Tim Lundy: 28:57 And in the same way Jesus said, hey, I know this is a hard truth I'm calling you too, I know it's hard to live this out. And I want to say this in the church, especially when you're talking about living out a biblical sexual ethic, man, it's harder for some people in the church than it is others. I mean, you think about it as a married person, that's not as hard, that doesn't mean there's not standards we're called to. But when I think of the impact of what this means for single adults, and especially those of you who are living that out and how costly and hard that is. When I think of some, I know, man, you love Jesus, but you struggle with same-sex temptation, but you've chosen to live out the biblical sexual ethic, that's hard, and costly, and lonely. And you're going to struggle, and you'll fail at times in it, and Jesus knows this. He says to his church, and he says to his followers, and he says to people in a way that some of this stuff, I could look at it and go, I don't see how all this is fair. Parts of it, I don't understand, but here's what I do know, he knows. And he knows you, and he said, you can trust me. I love that [inaudible] hidden manna, I'll give enough to sustain you, to nourish you, where you need it.

Tim Lundy: 30:30 Look at the second promise that comes with that, and this one is awesome as well. For all of us, he says, I promise a reward that symbolizes both victory and intimacy. He says, I'm going to give you this white stone. We're not sure as commentators, most people though, often the victors in sporting contests, they were given a white jewel or a white stone, almost like a Pearl, and so it's that symbol of victory. And Jesus said, I'm going to give you a white stone, and then notice what he says, I'm going to put a name on it. And anytime you see naming and scripture, it always speaks to identity, it speaks to ownership in that. And he says, it's a name, nobody else is going to know it, just you and me, you'll each have your individual name that I'll give to you.

Tim Lundy: 31:13 As I think about getting that new name, I remember when I was in junior high, our football coach at our high school...And I grew up in the South, and so football is the king. And so the head football coach of a local school, I mean like he is the highest of people, just everybody looked up to him. It's funny, now, if you go through the South, the highest paid public employee in any state in the South, is always the football coach of the biggest university, so kind of gives you some context of how important that is. And the football coach, he was such a big deal at our school, he usually didn't have to teach PE classes, but every so often he would substitute and they'd be in there. And I always remember, he would, as we were doing different exercises and that, he would give people nicknames. And he'd come up to them, alright, come on slick, let's see what you can do. Alright, we've got superstar here. Alright, oh, we got us a Rocky Balboa. He would always have these different nicknames with it, and if you notice the nicknames were usually always for the athletes or the football players. And you know, I was a skinny, late bloomer, little kid. And I always, man, I want him to notice me, I want a nickname. And here's all I would ever get, hed go, alright now, you, why don't you come on down? And I remember that feeling, going, you? I want to be slick or superstar.

Tim Lundy: 32:40 And really what it was speaking to, and it's true about all of us, all of us have a longing in our heart that we want to be noticed by somebody important. We want to be noticed by somebody that matters, feel like we matter. I love this promise as he comes to the end of this, he says, I know what I'm calling you to, it's hard, I know the culture's against you. I know I'm calling you to truth, but I'll nourish you, and I notice you. And I've got a name for you, I've got a name that nobody else knows, just you and me. Because the King of the universe gives you and me this promise, that we matter, and we matter so much that individually he'll put our name on a white stone. And he goes, hey, this is just between us because I see you, and I see what you've done. I don't know about you, I can serve a God like that. I don't know about you, that even in the hard stuff, the stuff I don't understand, the stuff that cuts to my soul and spirit, even in those things, I go, okay, Lord, give me the sustainment, give me what I need today, call me to your truth because I know that you notice, and even my obedience matters to you. Hold on to that today, trust in that. Some of you in particular need to hear that, and believe that's true about you.

Tim Lundy: 34:34 Let's pray. God, I thank you, I thank you for the truth of your word, I thank you for how you have just sustained me through hard times in life, Lord, to know that you care about each of us, that you notice us individually, that you got names for us, that we will have that kind of victory, but also intimacy with you. Lord. I love that, and I love you, Lord, I pray for anybody who's hearing this, they're struggling out there, maybe they're struggling to live up to the standards you've called us to? Would you give them hope in that, would they know that there's grace, and that as a church we carry this together and we struggle together. Lord, I pray for anyone who, today, they need to just know they matter and they matter to you, I pray, they'd feel that and believe that and they would recognize how much you love us. We pray these things in Christ' name. Amen.



Recorded in Los Gatos, California.
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