It’s always a matter of the heart. God wants us to thrive, not just survive.
All-In is our theme. I’m going to do something for these first three weeks. As mentioned, I’m just focused on my contribution. All-In is about John the Baptist. We’re going to have a gap after that, where we have Pastor Lewis and a few other speakers that will be sharing the All-In theme. Then I’m going to come back around and finish with a five-part portion of the series connected to John. I’m pouring out my perspectives in All-In, built around John, who’s known as John the Baptist.
I’ll tell you this, it was weird for me to think about it, but I started doing Bible studies when I was a freshman in high school. That’s when I didn’t know a lot about the Bible, but I was willing to do my best to learn. I knew some things, but started really trying to do that and had a little group that we started. Since that time, it’s been almost 40 years now. 40 years of teaching the scriptures, that’s a long time. In all that time, I actually reflected on it, I’ve never really taught a kind of message series on the life of John the Baptist. It was something I started getting excited about because I started engaging in what the scriptures had to say about John. I realized he is the prototype of a person who’s all-in for God. Filled with questions, identity issues, and things that he was struggling with in terms of his self-worth later on. We’ll see that it doesn’t show up immediately. The Bible has so much to teach us about our lives and what it means to really throw our hearts into play for God.
I want us to keep that in mind. Here’s the thing, all four of the gospels, the four that talk about the life of Christ; Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, those Gospels, each one of them, interestingly enough, contains a reference and some aspect of an account about John. John is actually a very important figure. As each of the Gospels opens up, John is a critical person because he paves the way for Jesus’ coming. He doesn’t know Jesus is the Messiah. He will find that out. That’s going to be fascinating when we see that next week. One of the accounts that I wanted to look at could be helpful because the Gospels give us different insights and different perspectives sometimes about what is happening. They kind of build a collage, or a piece of art that you can look at from different angles and see different things. There’s a lot here for us, not just to learn, but to apply. I want to look at Matthew’s account today. We’re going to just look at 10 verses from Matthew. If you have your Bible, your Bible app, that’s fine, but it’s in the handout as well.
We’re just going to start right in. It says, “In those days, John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea.” We talked about that last week. His message was, “Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” His message was one of reform and repent. The keyword repent is not a word we use as much these days. It is a word though, if you read your Bible, you’ll see it all the time. Repent has to do this idea of making a change, turn it around, shift direction. What John is basically saying is, time to change the direction of your life because God is about to do something remarkable. Whenever you hear the phrase, and Jesus will use it as well, “The kingdom of heaven” or “The kingdom of God is at hand”, it’s talking about the availability of the visitation of God and how close it is. Think about the phrase. Every time you read it in scripture, remember what I’m just about to do.
Your hand. It’s an extension of yourself. The kingdom of God is at hand, it’s right here. It’s happening. It’s both then, and at hand now. He’s saying, God’s about to do something remarkable. John’s message was to prepare for that, that the king himself, the king of the kingdom was on his way. That would change everything. It was a powerful message, challenging people to wake up and prepare for what God was doing. To start acting like the people who followed him with sincerity and action, and not just give Him lip service. As a nation, Israel had always had a faith in God, but at the time of John and Jesus, it was kind of like backsliding. They had forgotten. There wasn’t a vibrancy to the faith. It was very ritualistic. There were a lot of ceremonialisms. People were still engaged in religious things, but not really at a heart level. As a whole, they weren’t really integrating God into their daily lives. There was actually a lot of corruption in the culture.
Even the people who were at home. Remember at the time of Jesus, Israel was ruled as so much of the Middle East. Most of the known world at the time was under Roman domination. The Roman Empire ruled with a fist. In some cultures, they would lay heavy on them. Other people, groups, would often give some more room to maneuver Israel, the Jewish people. Just stay with me on this. They had been given a lot of autonomy compared to other conquered peoples. They were allowed to set up their own government. For the most part, Rome stayed out of its religious activities. Rome said you have to do a couple of things. You have to pay taxes because this has to be financed. The other thing that Rome said was, you also don’t have the ability to exercise capital punishment, that has to go through us. Which by the way, some of you, later on, will see. Remember when they want to bring Jesus and have Him potentially put to death? They can’t do it on their own. The Romans have to decide, that’s why Pilot is brought into it, at that level. He makes the call because they didn’t have the ability to execute that. That created a lot of resentment, but there was also a powerful steering group. For the most part, Israel was ruled by the religious authorities who functioned as a political-religious party over the nation. They were made up of these two parties known as the Sadducees and the Pharisees. The reason I said an issue, they were the religious authorities in Jerusalem, which was sort of the epicenter of Israel. Still in some ways, spiritually speaking.
John comes on to that scene and starts telling everyone that this is a time for all of us to get our hearts right with God. He’s saying that you need to turn and prepare because God’s about to do a new thing. He actually starts breaking down some things very practically and specifically. If you read Luke’s account, you’ll see that what John starts to do is telling people, for example, “Stop hoarding and be more generous.” He says, “You want to know what repentance looks like? One of the things that look like it is, if you have extra and you see someone who doesn’t have a shirt, give them your shirt.” He tells the tax collectors, who are working for Rome, “when you collect taxes, (he didn’t say you have to get out of that system) when you’re in the system, don’t be a cheat in the system. Don’t collect more,” because what they would do a lot of times.
Do you know what’s interesting? Matthew was a tax collector before he started to follow Jesus. John says, “When you collect your taxes from the people, for Rome, don’t collect more.” Because they would collect more and then keep that part for themselves. Everybody won. It was a system built around the graft, except the people of course. John says, “Don’t do that.” To the soldier and the guards, and we would say the police, he says, “Don’t be unjust. Don’t use your authority to take advantage of people. Don’t abuse it. Do what is right in the eyes of God. Don’t extort things from people.” Again, corruption was part of the culture.
John says, “In fact, I’m calling everybody, all of you. Everyone eats, it doesn’t matter where you are on the social scale. I’m calling all of you to prepare your heart for God. I’m asking you to be baptized. In fact, you need to be baptized.” He would take them and baptize them in the water. John used baptism as a way of saying, “I am open to God’s new thing that He is doing, and I’m letting go of things, and I’m opening myself up to God in a fresh new way.” It was a baptism under repentance. He was preaching because he’s saying God is on the move and he’s about to do something and you’re going to see it. He knows it’s coming.
Again, Matthew goes on to say that in this third verse, he says that John essentially sees himself as a way maker, a forerunner, the advanced guard, if you will, of the Messiah, the one who, in fact, he refers to it in verse three. He refers back to the prophet Isaiah and says this, “For this is He who was spoken of by the Prophet Isaiah.” There it is. Isaiah 40. When he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, prepare the way of the Lord, make his path straight.” In other words, make room, He’s coming, get yourself ready. He’s on His way.
In verse four, it says that John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey because he lived in the wilderness. In an era of many types of diets, some of us can relate. It almost sounds like kind of a paleo quality to it, right? He ate out of the wilderness where he lived. You have to remember John’s dress, we think, “Oh!” Even for people in that day, it was odd. It caught people off guard. We think, oh, that’s a New Testament time, in Jesus’s time they wore… No, people didn’t dress like this. He was a man who lived in the Judean desert wilderness. His garments were camel skin and he had a leather belt. If you look closely, you could see little pieces of locus stuck in his teeth, and honey on his beard. I’m kidding, I don’t know about that part. But he comes out, he’s ferocious and his message is unqualified.
It reminds people who were students of the Scriptures of what had been said would happen by the last great prophet. It’s in the last book of the Older Testament, the book of Malachi, where it says there’s going to be someone who’s going to come in the spirit of Elijah. When people saw John come out of the wilderness and start speaking into the culture. Those who knew, remember the way he dressed and the way he talked. His manner reminded them of Elijah, of the Old Testament, who came out of the outside of culture to call a culture to respond to God. In fact, one of the interesting things is, it is the last promise of the older Testament in Malachi. The first promise of the New Testament relates to John coming in the spirit of Elijah. So when people hear him, he’s this charismatic, intense, powerful personality. John just goes at everyone. Word started spreading about this intense prophet of God. Who it may be, who the people are saying, “Messiah is about to come, and he’s the forerunner of it.” Word started spreading. How can I say it? It’d be like something happening today where we would say, “is all the rage.”
Look what it says. John was like a superstar of his era. I mean, all of a sudden people started talking about it. Have you heard about that guy? He’s coming. I’m telling you, he’s a prophet of God. He’s got the words of God. He’s intense. Have you seen him? Word starts spreading, everybody’s talking about John. It says here, “Then Jerusalem and all Judea and the entire region around the Jordan started going out to him.” What that is telling us is that word started spreading about this intense guy who’s coming out of the wilderness, who’s talking about God in a way that people haven’t done, and he’s baptizing people. You’ve got to hear him, he’s talking like no one’s talked. This was something that generations ago may have happened, but it’s happening right now. Everybody was in on it.
People started coming to John, people who were rural, country folk, people from the Judean Hills, and from the suburbs of Jerusalem as well, if we can call it that way. People who were urbanized, the more sophisticated and the powerful, even to the extent where, finally, the religious authorities, the Sadducees and the Pharisees, the Jerusalem authorities concluded, they also needed to go out because this was a cultural phenomenon. This guy had to be seen. We need to go see what he’s doing. So they also decided to come and see him. Everybody is coming. Everybody’s talking about him. It’s really important to put that in our minds.
It says in verse 6, “They were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.” Always helpful, when we think about what we are talking about in the scripture. The River Jordan is from the Hebrew word Yarden, it means the descender. The Jordan River, which is the key river of Israel and that region, Jordan, that whole area. That river flows, it starts out from the watershed, from the melting snow. People say “There’s a mountain with snow in that area?” There is, actually, Mount Hermon. At the highest levels at 9,000 feet, there will be snow. When it melts, it comes and flows down into the Sea of Galilee. That’s where so much of the Gospel takes place, the Sea of Galilee. Jesus, fishermen, Peter, that’s where it happens in the Sea of Galilee. You see how the River Jordan flows down, ultimately into the Dead Sea. That’s an idea of what the Jordan River looks like. It probably could have been an even more barren area where John was, but it does let you see how there are about 65 miles between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. If you take into account the curves, it’s about 200 miles. The water itself could be 75 feet deep sometimes, 75 feet wide, and 10 feet deep. It’s not huge, but it’s big enough. You can see it and imagine it with your mind’s eye.
Keeping that in mind, that’s where they’re all coming to. Watch what happens. Everybody’s coming to see John. He’s there. The word is he’s baptizing. He tells everybody, “Are you ready to start afresh with God? It doesn’t matter where you are in life, where’ve you been, who you are, how high you are, how low you are, God’s calling everyone.” When the Pharisees and the Sadducees come, they’re not coming for the same reason everybody else was coming. They’re coming because they have to check this thing out. They have to consider what’s going on. They’re more interested in trying to just look with a more critical eye at what’s going on.
When you read it, you would think, “Wow, these leaders are coming from Jerusalem. John, you hit the big time! They are coming to see you.” When John meets them, “Oh, what an honor that you would come to see me. Thank you. You’ve come all the way from Jerusalem to hear these words. Oh, I’ve got a special section just for you.” No. Everybody must have been in shock because his opening words were not, “so great to see you.” He knew why they had come. Do you know what he says to them? You can look at it. “When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism”, he knew why they were coming and the motive they were coming with. He says to them, “You brood of vipers. You lying brood of vipers, who warned you to flee the wrath that is to come.” You want to talk about, right there, here, we’re on. Oh my, the religious leader. I mean, these were the teachers who ran things. You don’t talk like that to them. Plus they know a lot.
The language he uses is the language of his desert experience. When he says you brood of vipers, he’s got an image in mind. Have you ever seen the wilderness, in the desert, a brood of vipers? Here’s what it looks like. When he says you brood of Vipers, he saw it all the time. It’s probably better to take that down. I know some of you are having a hard time with the brood of vipers going up there, I can tell. For the brood of Vipers, you brood of Vipers, right? He’s stunned. “You need to bear fruit in keeping with repentance.” Again, change your life. Act differently.
“You think you’re exempt. You need to also make a shift. You think because of who you are that you’re above it because of your pedigree or your position. I tell you, even with all of your attention to ritual and ceremony, you also need to be baptized under what God is about to do. I tell you this now, do not resist it. Do not come as the judge from the outside. God is calling you as well.” It’s a powerful moment. You’ve got to remember, John was a son of a priest. His father was a priest, Zachariah. He grew up in the household of a priest. He had been to Jerusalem. He had seen it. He didn’t just go live in the wilderness since the day of his birth. He understood it. He saw the way, he was trained. He would have been a priest himself, but God had another call for him. He heard the voice, and the voice called him into the role of a prophet. He responded to it.
John’s word to the religious leaders of Jerusalem was, “You are not exempt. Bloodlines and race do not exempt you. Your religious heritage does not exempt you. Your position, power, knowledge, and training do not exempt you.” It’s almost like John knows, right? He knows the move they’re going to make. He already knows what they’re going to say. He already anticipates their move. He knows where they’re going. He’s been around it. He knows what they’re going to do. He knows they’re going to sit with their station and their ecclesiastical pride. He’s aware of it. They have their confidence that they are unqualified descendants of Abraham. Before they could even respond to him, he says this, look at verse 9, “Do not presume to say to yourselves, we have Abraham as our father because I tell you”, and then he points to the stones around him you just saw next to the river bed. “that God can raise up descendants of Abraham from these very rocks. He doesn’t need you.”
Powerful. “Even now the ax is being laid to the root of the tree.” look what he says, “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is going to get cut down. Do you understand? God is moving and you need to open your heart and respond.” It was powerful. Now, again, that was scorching. That was a man ablaze. That was a man on fire. He’s all in. You can’t touch him. I was thinking about this, how does this relate to you and me? How can we engage it? How can we think about all-in and what we just read? How does that apply to us?
Let me put something up for us to be aware of. When it comes to pursuing God, loved ones, let me suggest, let me actually even more than that say that we need to be more than observers. We need to be positively engaged participants. They were curious. They were careful. They were clinical. They were watching. Not as people who needed it. They were watching it to understand. What’s this phenomenon going on here? It was an observer’s approach. John said that’s not enough. You cannot be right with God and watch what he’s doing from afar, the way you’re doing it.
We’re going to get real, even at another layer, I hope. Following the Lord, following God was never meant to be a passive thing. In fact, when it’s passive, it dies a thousand deaths. I’ve noticed over the years looking at my own life with God as a follower of Jesus because I’m a follower of Jesus before I’m ever a pastor, and watching what happens to other people. Over the years, I’ve watched a lot of people following Jesus. I’ve watched people stumble and fall. I’ve watched people fall away. I’ve watched people come to the Lord way more than I would’ve ever envisioned possible. I’ve watched people grow in Christ. One of the things that have become apparent to me as the years have gone by is, everything that John was saying about being a passive observer versus being an engaged participant, it is true. When we’re on the outside of what God is doing, and not willing to give ourselves to it, you know what happens to people? To us? We become critical, just like they were. We focus on the flaw and we miss the fabulous. Instead of getting better, we get bitter. Instead of being healed, our heart gets hard. Do you know what else happens when we stay on the outside? We start undervaluing the gifts that God’s giving us.
When we start undervaluing God-given relationships, we treat them poorly. We don’t value them. We take them for granted and we can lose them. We miss the good thing that God is doing. God’s got something going on, and we’ve got our arms crossed on the outside, just kind of looking at it like they were doing. That’s what I see.
They remind me of another story that Jesus gave us, my favorite in all the Bible, the story of the Prodigal Son. It’s really the story of two lost sons. One son goes out and makes a mess of things. Things he knows and doesn’t know, and he loses everything and comes back to his father’s house, totally broken, a mess. He’s skinny, he’s got nothing left. He’s lost everything. His friends have turned on him. He thinks in his mind, you know what? I’m going to die. If I don’t go back home to my father’s house. I’m just going to ask him if he’ll give me a job. I’m not going to ask him to be his son. Just give me a job. He comes home, Jesus says, and when he’s there, the father runs to him, puts his arms around him, and starts weeping over him. He says, “We’re going to have a party. My son who was lost has been found. Bring out the robe and bring out the best calf. We’re going to rejoice together. He’s come home.”
It’s a picture of God’s heart for us. But Jesus says there was another person in the story. His brother who had been faithful, and when the word comes to him in the field, they say, do you hear the news? Your brother’s come home. He’s been lost all these years. We thought he was dead, but he’s alive. Can you believe it? Your father, he’s going to throw a party. He’s throwing a celebration. Even now, you have to come. You have to hurry. You have to come in and be a part of this. He’s home, your brother’s home. His heart was struck. The older brother, Jesus says, would not go in. “I will not go. He does not deserve to be celebrated.” There’s a lot of stuff there, but he wouldn’t do it.
Rembrandt captures that parable in his amazing picture of the Prodigal Son moment. He has the older brother with his hands like this, watching aloof as the father embraces the son, the poor, lost one. It’s a powerful juxtaposition. One who will not celebrate, staying on the outside. When we do that, our heart shrinks. We miss our blessings. The critical spirit misses the blessing. Purge that thing out. Whatever spirit of the Pharisee is there, we don’t need it, it’s not good for us. We need to lean positive and be big-hearted, not negative and small-hearted. Maybe for some of us, this is the exact position we need to take. We need to lean positively. Always find reasons, say what’s wrong with this? Or what’s wrong with that? Or why I’m not going to do this? Or what are they doing? That’s just killing your spirit, just killing it. That’s what they were doing with John. You know, God isn’t going to be in that. How could he be in that? This guy, they’re people, they get duped all the time, they’re always caught up in something. They were missing what God was doing. God says, “Join the celebration, come on in.” But you have to come in, you’ve got to decide.
I’ll fold it out a different way. Let’s choose to be, and we’ll put it up there. Remember, we need to be more than religious. We need to humble ourselves before God. The Jerusalem leadership felt their religious status and pedigree exempted them from having to submit to what God was doing. Remember this, John’s baptism; you need to be baptized in the Jordan, in light of what God is about to do. John’s baptism was under repentance. It was kind of a cleansing, but it was also a humbling thing. In my mind’s eye, I think some of them were together. I think as they’re listening, I think some of them actually, their heart is stirred. I think they feel drawn. I want to, but I can’t.
What are my friends going to think? The people are going to think I am submitting to this guy? I’m the leader. I’m the trained one, we’re the trained ones. I have a reputation. I can’t humble myself like that. I can’t do that. I can’t submit to that. John said, “You have to submit to that to be a part of what God’s doing.” I can’t do it, but part of him wants to. You think about it, that’s the same issue Jesus is going to have later. Right? Think about what happens in one of the great chapters of the Bible, John 3. There’s that moment where it says, one of the Pharisees, a man named Nicodemus, started believing Jesus. But he didn’t know what to do because he didn’t want his friends to know. So he came to Jesus in the night, under the cloak of darkness for a conversation.
Out of that conversation, we are given a gift because that’s when Jesus says, “You know you must be born again. It doesn’t matter how much you know about God. I’m talking about a relationship with God.” Jesus says, and out of that conversation is what comes the great verse, right? “For God so loved this world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” God did not send his son Nicodemus into this world to condemn it. But that the world through him might be saved. Do you understand this? Are you a teacher in Israel? Do you understand this? That conversation comes as a result of someone who was a Pharisee, who was coming to Jesus because his heart was being drawn, but he was afraid of what it would cost him at a reputation level. That’s what John saw going on here.
They might have been moved but they had to humble themselves. To humble yourself when you have a lot of pride when that matters to you… Now we’re talking about where the real battle is going on. Do you see in that format, how blessed is the poor, according to what Jesus said? Do you understand what he was getting at a little bit? Do we? This is a roadblock, and John knew it. He hit them as hard as he could to get their attention to their true need. God will do that with us. Do you know what God wants? He wants a heart that is opened and broken to him. The broken in the contrite spirit, Solomon says, he will not despise.
James writes, “God resists the proud, but He gives grace to the humble.” It’s not about being perfect, it’s about being real, humble, and open. Last night, I was thinking about the message. I was thinking about humbling ourselves before God. I was reminded of another story that Jesus gave. I won’t go long into it. I just want to submit it to you. It’s what we call The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector, the Pharisee, and the Publican. In Luke 18, “Then Jesus told the story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness, and scorned everyone else.” Jesus said this, “Two men went to the temple to pray.” Went to church. “One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and he prayed this prayer, Jesus says, ‘I thank you, God, That I am not a sinner like everyone else. For, I do not cheat. I don’t sin. I don’t commit adultery. I’m certainly not like that tax collector over there. I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of all my income.'”
Those were all good things, the right things. But the tax collector, Jesus said, you know what? “The tax collector, he stood at a distance. He didn’t even dare to lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed.” Instead, Jesus said, “He beat his chest in sorrow saying, ‘Oh God, be merciful to me for I am a sinner.’ And I tell you this.” Jesus said, “I tell you this sinner” not the Pharisee! “This sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God, for those who exalt themselves will be humbled. Those who humble themselves in my kingdom will be exalted.”
Wow. There is no substitute for humility. It’s not about how good we are. I want to be better, okay? I want to be better. I want to honor a God with a life well-lived for him. But in the end, it’s not about how good I am. Just like Jesus is saying, you know what? It’s like you saying to me, “Hey, you know what Lord? You know, I’m so good. You’d be lucky to have me in your kingdom. Right? Because I’m good, I’m a pretty good guy.” Versus another person who says, “I have flaws, I have sin in me. I know that. I asked you to help me, God, but I need your mercy in my life.” Jesus says I don’t need you, I want your honesty. I can help.
Last thing I’ll say, and we’ll leave it here. We need to do more than believe. We need to bear fruit, good fruit. Put it up there. We need to do more than believe. We need to bear good fruit. John says you need to bear good fruit. You’re not bearing fruit. My friends, you are very religious, but you need to bear good fruit. You need to see what God is doing. You need to respond. You need to act. You see the thing is, we also need to put our faith into action. It’s not a dabble, it’s meant to be a life, an all-in kind of life, a vibrant life, a vibrant faith life. We have to challenge ourselves. It’s not a spectator thing. It’s about participation. It means we fail, we struggle at times, and we’re going to wrestle with things in God’s Word. We’re going to get stretched, and that’s okay because we’re going to grow.
Here’s what Jesus said. This will be the last verse I show. He wrote this in Luke. He says, “If anyone will come after Me, let them deny themselves, take up their cross daily and follow Me. For whoever would save their life.” Jesus says, “Live it for your own self, you’ll lose it. But if you’re willing to lose it for me and live it for me, you’ll find it. For I tell you, what shall it profit a man? What does it profit any person? If they gain the whole world and lose their soul. Nothing is taken with us. There is no full security.”
I exercise, I do all the things I’m supposed to do. There are no guarantees. Work hard to accumulate as much as I can to be a blessing. Nothing’s coming with me. The only thing going with me is what’s sent ahead. That’s the truth, according to Jesus. Here’s the final thing. That’s the final verse, here’s the final thing. Right here. Two thoughts. You guys can put them up there for them. There should always be something we should be dying for when it comes to following Jesus, and always something we should be living for.
I asked you a question this new year. Is there something you are asking the Lord to help you die for, that’s either holding us back, we need to let go, we’re wrestling with it, we’re trying to die, so that other things can live. What is it? We should think about that. We should know it. Are there some areas that we’re trying to die for? Are there some other areas that we’re pursuing that God is saying, this is what I want you to pursue? Our year will look a lot like what I’m willing to let go of and what I’m willing to pursue. Do you see that? Because remember this, the goal is not to survive. It’s to thrive. It’s bearing good fruit. It’s prevailing, right?
That’s what God wants. He wants us to flourish and abound unto every good work. Let’s not give Him leftovers. The easy play that costs us nothing. Remember one time when they were bringing, God has this moment where He tells Israel, because they’re bringing him offerings, and through the prophet, he says, “You guys are cheating me.” They say, “What do you mean? We’re bringing our offerings.” He says, “Yeah, you’re bringing your offerings. You’re bringing the leftovers and the sickly ones that you don’t want anyway. Then you sacrifice them unto me. Keep your offering. If you can’t give me the heart, keep your offering. If that’s what it is.” I want your heart all-in.
Let’s pray. Lord, I ask that you would speak to us about these things. You know what we need to hear. Our hearts are open before you. Just ask that as we close our time out, getting ready for next week, which is going to be a wonderful thing for us as a church Sunday, we pray for it in advance, but I just pray for our own hearts, Lord, to be soft before you. Stay humble, not resistant, not proud, or critical. Lord keep us like that one who just can say, Lord have mercy on me. I’m a sinner, but I accept your love for me too. I want to follow you better. So help us, Lord. Speak to us. Speak to us in these closing minutes as well. We finished with this song. In Jesus’ name, I pray, amen.