Only Two Paths: Life and Death

Sermon by Gary Sinclair on Jan 13

Proverbs 4:10-27

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If you’d like to take up your Bibles please and turn with me this evening as we continue in our mini-series on the book of Proverbs. This evening we’re going to be reading from a large portion of the chapter of Proverbs chapter 4; so Proverbs chapter 4, which you’ll find on page 529 in your pew Bibles. Proverbs chapter 4. You will remember that last week Cory kicked off this new mini-series that will happen over the next five weeks and we’re basically considering some of the major themes which traverse the book of Proverbs. And so as much as I’m obviously going to be reading a large chunk from Proverbs chapter 4, I’m obviously going to be referencing and reading a number of other verses that are going to support the theme that we’re going to be looking at this evening.

Before we get to the text, Bruce Walker, one of the commentary writers on the book of Proverbs, he writes this. Before he even gets into the text, this is part of his introduction. He writes, “In a world that is bombarded by inane cliches, trivial catchwords and godless soundbites, the expression of true wisdom is in short supply today.” Personally, by and large, I think this is an apt description of the day and age in which we find ourselves living in - men and women trying to post wise statements, things that are going to draw attention to themselves, things that are going to make them seem perhaps larger than life than they are, in the space of 144 characters or less, or a little bit more. All the while, true wisdom is actually to be found in a person and along a way. Trust wisdom is to be found in a person and along a way.

By and large, I think it's safe to say that Proverbs is written for the covenant community and will certainly only be properly accepted and understood by those who fear the Lord. They're not meant to be a series of pithy sayings that if followed in some sort of legalistic fashion will end up with us having health, wealth and prosperity - the good life - as many people would have us believe. No, they are expressions of the richness and the breadth and the depth of the wisdom of God, something that is highlighted and seen in its fullness on the cross of Calvary. It's meant to be a series of statements, of sayings, wise statements that are passed on from one generation to the next. They're designed to be understood, but not just understood but also to be lived out. And then, of course, it's God's way of giving direction to His people as they keep their eye on the end of all things. It's so that we can walk this side of glory all the way until we see Him face to face.

And so these words are from a father to a child. And ultimately it's reflective of our heavenly Father speaking to us as His children who have been adopted into His family. And in these words, we realize that here is our heavenly Father lovingly equipping us for life. He's nurturing us in the way of life and He's assisting us to live according to His objective standard in order that we may cross the finish line and hear those words, "Well done, good and faithful servant." How important this wisdom is as we look at the topic and the theme for this evening that there are only two paths - that of life and death.

And so without further ado, let us turn to God’s Word and let’s read Proverbs chapter 4, starting in verse 10 through to verse 27. Let’s read that together:

“Hear, my son, and accept my words, that the years of your life may be many. I have taught you the way of wisdom; I have led you in the paths of uprightness. When you walk, your step will not be hampered, and if you run, you will not stumble. Keep hold of instruction; do not let go; guard her, for she is your life. Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of the evil. Avoid it; do not go on it; turn away from it and pass on. For they cannot sleep unless they have done wrong; they are robbed of sleep unless they have made someone stumble. For they eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence. But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day. The way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know over what they stumble.

My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh. Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you. Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.”

And then I’d like to read two more verses, one from chapter 14 - so if you’d like to note that down or turn with me - chapter 14 verse 12:

“There is a way that seems right to a man but its end is the way of death.”

And if you turn back one page to chapter 12 and reading verse 28:

 "In the path of righteousness is life, and in its pathway, there is no death."

Let’s bow our heads as we come to the Lord in prayer.

Father, we come to You this morning pleading with You to send forth Your Holy Spirit to prepare our hearts, to prepare our minds that the truth of the Scriptures, the truth of the Gospel, will pierce each and every one of us afresh this evening. Father, use Your Word to encourage us and draw us ever closer to Yourself that we may love the Lord Jesus Christ with greater passion and a greater fervency even this evening. We pray this in Jesus’ name, amen.

Friends, when a professional in their field tells us that something is a matter of life and death I think typically speaking they've got our attention. We want to listen, don't we? A doctor says to you that your heart condition is a matter of life and death. I think at that point you're listening because you obviously want to find out what's happening and "How do I actually take the next step in order to extend my life?" A meteorologist announces over the airwaves and warns that a tornado is coming through - something that we're quite familiar with here in Jackson in Mississippi - but a tornado is coming through and it's a matter of life and death. You'd best take cover right now. Or if a health official declares that an epidemic is circulating and it is something of a matter of life and death. In each one of those situations - and you can probably think of many more - in each of those it is foolish actually to ignore the warnings that are given to us. Naturally, I think we pay attention because we are a people who strive to live. We want to extend our lives as long as we possibly can, naturally speaking.

Well, as we come to the book of Proverbs, and of course Cory introduced this to us last week, but as we come to the book of Proverbs it really is a matter of life and death. That’s one of the main themes that given to us throughout these chapters. And what you will find is in these chapters there a continual contrast between that of life and death, light and darkness, righteousness and wickedness, wisdom and foolishness. And the author of Proverbs is using this continuous contrast in order to drive home the reality that every single one of us is on those two paths. We cannot escape it. There’s no via media. It’s either one or the other. And so friends, this being the second week of the new year, I think it’s almost a great time for each and every one of us to be asking the Lord, “Lord, show us our hearts. Show us our hearts and show me the way in which my life is being lived out in accordance with Your Word.” So these two spheres that we’re looking at is the sphere of death and the sphere of life. Those are the two that are set before us throughout this book.

The Way of Death

So firstly, I want us to consider the fact that there is a way of death; there is a way of death. And we see this in verse 19 which is a summary statement and it's actually fleshed out in verses 14 through 17 of chapter 4. Before we get to that, as human beings, especially as believers, we understand that death is not part of God's original creation. Don't we? By its very nature, it was in Genesis that we read that the Word gave life to the created order and death was a later intrusion. In fact, Scripture speaks about there being three kinds of death. The first one is that of spiritual death. And immediately when we read of and when we hear of spiritual death, our minds ought to take us back to Genesis chapter 3. Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. And in their act of rebellion, in their act of sinfulness where they ate from the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil their relationship with God was severed, it was broken. And of course, they were asked to leave. They were chased out of the Garden of Eden; ultimately they were being chased away from the tree of life. That which they got to eat of every single day, they no longer could eat of; they were asked to leave. They were declared at that moment spiritually dead. And of course we, as the descendants of Adam, we inherit the sin of Adam and we are born spiritually dead, each and every one of us.

Scripture also speaks of physical death; physical death. It is the death of the body of flesh. It is the consequences for sin. Our body must die and it waits in the grave until the great resurrection.

And then, of course, the third kind of death is that of eternal death. Eternal death is where the sinner is cast into the lake of fire. It's a place of eternal punishment for sin. It's a place of eternal separation from the grace and the kindness and the mercy and the love of God. Those who are cast into the lake of fire will be in the presence of God but they will not know the kindness and the love and the mercy. They will only know the wrath and the anger of God toward their sin and their unrepentant rebellion. And friends, it's not a place that any of us wish for anyone to be one day. Hence the need for us to use the opportunities that God gives us to speak to others about the good news of Jesus.

And so Proverbs, it's a book that continuously and constantly is reminding us that as much as we struggle against the inevitability of physical death, the desire to extend our lives as long as we possibly can humanly speaking, there is a whole way of death that we travel along before our bodies are ultimately placed in the grave. And the reality is, before the Holy Spirit illumines our minds to be able to hear and to listen and to understand the Gospel message of Jesus Christ and to understand that there is another way, the way of life, before that, one of the verses we read this evening - Proverbs 14 verse 12 - it rings true for each and every one of us. Proverbs 14 says, "There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death." That exact same phrase is used in chapter 16 and 25. It's almost as if the father, in communicating to his son, wants to impress that upon him. "Don't think that the way of death is the only way. There is a way of life."

You know as I was thinking through and pondering Proverbs 14 and the implications of it, I wondered if Paul, when he was writing his letter to the Romans, had this verse in the backdrop of his mind. In Romans chapter 3 he writes, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” We’re all spiritually dead. And then three chapters later in chapter 6 he writes, “And the wages of sin is death.” There is a way that seems right to a person, and yet its end is the way of death. “The wages of sin is death.” That way that seems right to a man is the way of sin. It’s our natural inclination because we are spiritually dead. And Proverbs tells us that the nature of sin, the nature of sin is that of deception and it is deadly. Sin deceives us; it deceives us and it sells itself as self-enhancing and beneficial. All the while, the reality is it’s destructive and its end is death.

Friends, our attraction to sin is a fatal attraction. We’ve all tasted of it. We all know what the Bible is speaking about. It’s a fatal attraction and its end is death and we have no hope except for the Lord Jesus Christ. Even that which was prayed this evening by Danny, we have no hope except for the Lord Jesus Christ.

So there is a way of death and we need to be asking the question, "So what does this path of death look like?" And for that, I want us to go to our text for this evening, Proverbs chapter 4, and look at verse 19 with me, please. The author of Proverbs, he writes, that the way of the wicked, the way of the sinner, "is like deep darkness. They do not know over what they stumble."

Deep Darkness

How many of you have been into the main atrium of a cave, you know, to go observe the stalactites and the stalagmites, which is essentially being lit up with artificial light to show off the beauty and the grandeur of these edifices. I remember going to the Cango Caves in South Africa in Oudtshoorn and one of the things that struck me was that with every step that you make towards the entrance of that big atrium, as the light ebbs out, so also the color spectrum, even that of your own clothing, begins to fade away as the darker shades of gray basically encroach until there’s complete darkness.

How easy is it, or would it be, to stumble at any point if there were not those tail lights around the atrium or in that cavern? I think that's part of what the author of Proverbs is trying to drive home here. Those who are in spiritual darkness don't even realize the road that they're on and hence they stumble over, sometimes even stumbling over the light that is being shone across their path, to try and get their attention. Ever increasing spiritual darkness - this is the path marked by those who are ignorant of God. It's the path that is marked by those who are ignorant of His objective moral standard to which they will give an account one day which is given to us in God's Word. It is marked by those who are ignorant of the increased sensitivity of their consciences to discern what is right and wrong because they keep on going the way of wickedness, increasingly so. It's those who are marked and who are unaware that life's vitality is slowly but surely being squeezed out of them and the colors, life's color, is ebbing away. An ever-increasing spiritual deep darkness.

There's something else that is very interesting as we look at these verses about the father's description, the father's pleading with his son as he tries to express and explain this path of death, this path of darkness. Verse 16, he says and he writes, "for they cannot sleep unless they have done wrong. They are robbed of sleep unless they have made someone stumble." Do you hear what's going on there? Those on the path of death, those who are trapped in the way of sin in rebellion against God, they reach a point where they're not simply satisfied with their own sin but they need to get to a place where they entice others to join them in their sin. Why would they do that? Friends, when you've got an echo-chamber of people who are of the same persuasion who are engaged in the same sin, what does it do? It justifies your own position. It's a form of self-righteousness. It makes yourself feel okay, that you've got nothing to worry about, because you've got these people all around you who are collaborating with you.  "They've become like their father, the devil," is what one commentator writes. No longer are they just sinners, but they're actually tempters and deceivers getting others to sin alongside with them. That's what Bruce Walker, he calls them - and I love the way he uses these statements just to drive home a point. He says and he calls them, “They become evilholics. They’ve become evilholics.”

In fact verse 17, we see how the father tries to continue to unpack what this path of death looks like. Their very existence, their life is sustained "by eating the bread of wickedness and drinking the wine of violence." They can't sit down to a table unless they have actually caused someone else to trip over and fall because of sin and temptation. It's interesting, bread and wine is actually something you share at the table, isn't it? It's meant to be something you enjoy with friends in fellowship. Perhaps a time of celebration, rejoicing, much laughter, good food, and wine. But here, it's almost as if it's being used for the destructive means. It's in total contradiction to the way God has ordained it.

It’s interesting, this morning we actually had the opportunity to share at the table here, to come and enjoy bread and wine. And this verse, it ought to, for us as Christians be a reminder that it is the Lord Jesus Christ who took the wickedness and the violence of those who perpetrated; He took the sin upon Himself so that we may be able to enjoy the grace and the love and the mercy that extends from our union with Christ, and of course the fellowship that we enjoy as brothers and sisters. Friends, the path of life and the path of death are so starkly different that it ought to cause us to stop in our tracks and really consider the trajectory in which we are on.

Now please don't think that the way of death is only marked by those who commit heinous crimes, like murder. The Proverbs are full, and they remind us that this road is the road of the sluggard, it's the road of the foolish gossip, the flatterer, the liar, the idolater. You know, let's use the example of the gossip, throws out a hook - a little gossip here to find out if there's going to be any catching on the other side and reel it in. And there's a little bit of pushback and so a little bit of gossip comes back and all of a sudden you're into a full engagement in order to destroy and break down one of your brothers and sisters. Even relationships that ought to be a source of life become a blazing inferno on the path of death. Adultery, in chapter 6 verse 30, is expressed as a form of suicide. It's not just about breaking the relationships in whom God has got you in covenant with, but in actual fact, it's directed toward your own heart; it's a form of suicide. The implications will be with you for many, many years.

Incremental Move

Friends, we must remember that those who are on this path do not wake up one morning making a conscious decision toward self-destruction. It's marked by incremental, careless, foolish, self-focused decisions that we make day in and day out. And incremental move to the right and we get familiar and we get accustomed to this new position and we make another move to the right, and eventually the trajectory is way, far from what we originally intended and what we hoped for. And so death is a state into which each and every one of us is born. It is a path of subtle and overt rebellion against God. And unless life breaks in, unless life breaks in, its end is deep darkness.

And that’s why this father, in speaking to his son, in the midst of his explanation he says this in verse 14. He says, “Do not enter the path of the wicked. Don’t even open that gate. Don’t pry it open. Stay away. And do not walk in the way of the evil. If you open the door, certainly don’t take the first step through it. Avoid it. Do not go on it. Turn away from it and pass on.” Do you hear the father pleading with his son? It’s almost as if he’s pleading from experience. Maybe that’s exactly what’s happening, since this is Solomon. “Don’t go there.” And the reason he can say, “Don’t go there,” is because that’s not the only path. There is another way.

The Way of Life

And that brings us to consider the way of life. The way of life. And we see this in verse 18 as a summary statement which is also fleshed out in some of the details in verses 10 through 13. But let me say this. The way of life is marked and is Jesus Christ. He alone has said in the gospel of John, “I am the way, the truth, and the life and apart from Me there is no other way to the Father.” We are also told in the gospels that He is the door on the path to life. You want to know how to get from the path of death onto the path of life? You must come through Jesus Christ. He is the Shepherd who leads His sheep. Sometimes it’s by taking the shepherd’s crook and putting it around our neck in order to get our attention and drive us away so that we may die to sin and live more faithfully to the Savior. He is the Light who illumines the path by His Word and by the Spirit who dwells within us. He is the Vine who gives new life and who continues to sustain new life with each new day. And friends, when this life is through, we will understand once and for all that He was our safety, He was the Rock of our salvation, and we will see Him and understand that He is our great reward. Those are the great promises that are given to us in Scripture.

But let's turn back to Proverbs. Notice what the father says to the son in chapter 4 verse 10. He says, "Hear my son and accept my words that the years of your life may be many" - that the years of your life may be many. Most commentators understand and are in agreement that "the years of your life" is not simply an expression that is trying to say that this side of the grave you will have many years. No, it's an expression of once you are on the path of life it extends into eternity as well; it's eternal life included. And so when God does a work of grace in our hearts and in our lives, what does that path of life look like? There is a path; what does it look like. Well, three things I just want to point out very quickly.

Thinking

Firstly, eternal life comes to our thinking, to our minds and to our head; there’s wisdom. Chapter 4 verse 4, it is to “keep the father’s commands.” Verse 13, “keep the instructions.” Verse 22, “My words are life to those who find them.” In other words, wisdom, which is this truth, which is this body of truth, wisdom brings life. But it is because God has done the work first and foremost and He changes our thinking. And that is why everything that obscures the truth is so very deadly, brothers and sisters. Everything that obscures the truth is so very deadly. Truth obscured may be the very instrument that is used to distract a person from the way and away from life and away from Jesus Christ. And that’s why I would encourage you - understand what you believe and why you believe and be able to express that and explain it to others so you can defend and teach the faith at some level or degree or another.

Will

The second mark of those on the path of life, eternal life comes to our will. There's righteousness; there's a change in the direction or disposition of our wills because we are clothed in righteousness, but now also it's not just that we are hearing words of wisdom on a Sunday. No, we now are able to walk out the wisdom we have gained - Proverbs 9 verse 6. And again, one of the verses from this evening that we read, Proverbs 12 verse 28, it says "In the path of righteousness is life, and in its pathway, there is no death." There is no death. Let us remember that when the Holy Spirit sets us on the path of life, when He sets us on the path of life, He also enables us to live in a manner that is pleasing and that is glorifying to God. He enables us with the capacity, the Holy Spirit inside of us and the truth of the Gospel, the truth of the Scriptures, to keep the commandments, to keep the instruction, and delight in living for the truth. And when we fail, it's not that we have become perfect but when we fail we have a Savior who invites us back to plead with Him to ask Him to help us die to that sin so that we may live more faithfully to Him.

Heart

And then thirdly, eternal life comes to our heart. There’s a fear of the Lord; there’s a fear of the Lord. We see this in chapter 10 verse 27 and in 19 verse 23 and of course Cory referenced it last week from Proverbs chapter 8. Now this fear of the Lord is not some sort of servile terror where we are trembling all the time, but this fear of the Lord actually is a holy appreciation of who God is as the sovereign Creator and Sustainer and Savior and Lord and ultimately that He is our Father who embraces us. It’s a fear because God is so different to us and yet He accepts us into His holy presence. It’s a longing of a renewed heart, of a changed life, to love the Giver of life with greater fervency. And so friends it is wisdom, it’s righteousness, it’s holy fear - those are some of the marks of the way of life which, and look at verse 18 with me, which is like the morning sun shining brighter to the full light of day.

And of course, that's in contrast to the deep darkness that we see in verse 19. You know one of the images - I had a discussion this past week - and one of the images that we were knocking around and speaking about was two people, two friends walking along a path heading into the sunset. And one of the friends decides to walk ahead. And as they walk ahead quicker and quicker and quicker it's almost as if they fade away in light of the blazing glory of this fiery ball. That's what it's like for us. The longer we are on the path of life, it's almost as if we become more and more like the Lord Jesus Christ. We die and it's less of us and we become more and more like Him. And of course from that comes springs of life because it seems to overflow into the lives and conversations of those that we come into contact with every new day.

So there is a path of life. These are some of the marks of life, but the question that still stands and still remains to be answered is, "What can we do to get onto the path of life?" And some of that was actually discussed in our children's catechism between last week and this week. Jesus is the one who said to Nicodemus in John chapter 3, "You must be born again. You must be born again." But still, the question is, "How?" Well, this evening we learned from the children's catechism that we can be praying that the Holy Spirit would actually open our eyes and do the work within us. But from our side, we can follow what Peter and Paul also gave to the crowds as they spoke to them on different occasions, on various occasions. They said that "You must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. You must repent and believe on the Lord Jesus in order to know new life."

And so for those of you who are still on the path of death, come. The invitation is “Come.” Come to the Lord Jesus Christ, behold Him in His glory. Understand that what He did on Calvary He did for all who will come to Him. Come this evening and be embraced by the Father’s love once again.

A Warning

And then finally, just briefly, to those of you who are on the path of life, there is an encouragement but there's also a warning in these verses. To those of you who are on the path of life, there is an encouragement and a warning. It doesn't matter if you've been walking with the Lord for a week or whether it's been three, four, five, or six decades, there is an encouragement and a warning here. Verses 20 through 27 - it's interesting how the father in verses 20 through 22, he implores his son to once again "be attentive" to his words and to "keep them within your heart." Why? "For they are life." They are life. Friends, I don't know about you - I forget. I forget more than I'd like to admit at times. I need to be reminded weekly of the Gospel truths of what the Lord Jesus Christ has done in my place. I need to be reminded daily so that these words can be stored up within my heart in order to guide and constrain me along this path of life.

And then he says in verse 23 to his son, “Above all else, keep - guard - your heart with all vigilance. Guard your heart with all vigilance.” What is he getting at here? Now we know that the heart is obviously not the place of sentimentality and emotion. It’s the place of our will; it’s our reasoning, it’s our mind. If you want, for lack of any other phrase, it’s the real you. It’s the real you. So when the author instructs us to guard our hearts, it’s because it is the most valuable possession that’s been given to you. Nothing in this world you can take with you; nothing in this world. Guard your heart because life and death - it’s a matter of that.

So how do we perform heart diagnostics on that part of our being when in natural fact we cannot see? Well, look at the text. And I'm not going to go into details here because this is going to be expounded in the weeks that lie ahead, but verse 24 he says, "Guard your mouth." Friends, the content of your speech is a great indicator of what's really going on in the inner recesses of your heart. And when you hear yourself saying certain things that are going to break down others or are in contradiction with what God's Word is saying it's a good indicator that maybe you need to go before the Lord in prayer and ask Him to search your heart.

Verse 25, he says, “Guard your eyes.” Friends, the allurements of this world dim the glory of Christ. This world’s allurements dim the glory of Christ. Proverbs 27 says, “The eyes, once indulged, are never satisfied.” The eyes, once indulged, are never satisfied. We know each and every one of us what the Proverb writer is getting at here.

Verse 26, he says guard your feet - “Do not swerve to the right or to the left for the distractions they are evil.” There you’ve got three diagnostic tools to help you understand what’s going on in your heart to guard your heart.

One of the world’s most beautiful natural wonders - and I’m not biased in saying this - is nestled on the southern tip of the African continent - Table Mountain. Some of you have been there; some of you have seen it. And every year about a million people visit Table Mountain and actually ascend it and enjoy the spectacular beauty that you can see 360 degrees around. In all its beauty, it’s also responsible for taking more lives every year than those who go up Mount Everest. It might come as a bit of a shock. Here’s what one investigative reporter noted. He said, “Most of them die from a range of things like accidental falls when taking selfies or from dehydration after having taken the wrong route.”

Eyes Fixed on Jesus

And I read this and I thought, “Gosh, there is a beautiful spiritual example here.” When we are on the path of life, we are to keep our eyes fixed on the Lord Jesus Christ on all occasions. Friends, when we take our eyes off of Jesus and place it upon ourselves to have a selfie, or whether we take a slight deviation from the path and end up on a course that leads to dehydration, it can have severe consequences not just for this life but for the one to come as well. Guard your heart. Guard your heart is to be aware of your speech, it’s to be aware of your sight, and of course the path of your feet. And friends, when you become aware of your faculties dipping into, extracting from the path of death, it’s the grace of God that’s alerting you to what’s going on in the inner recesses. It’s the grace of God that’s calling you back to Himself to repent and to ask Him to help you die to that so that you can continue to live along the path that is set before us. It’s His grace that is drawing you back so that you may eat of the tree of life and drink from the fountains of the water of life. It’s His grace that is calling you back to repent and to be satisfied and to be satisfied only in Him. And so Christian, the way of life is like what Eugene Peterson has called. He’s noted, it’s “a long obedience in the same direction.” It’s a long obedience in the same direction and it’s continuous course correction so that we come back to the safety of this path that’s set before us.

Let me close with this. In South Africa, I have a brother-in-law who, many years ago, worked in the K-9 bomb squad in the South African police. And on occasions they as a group were invited to go up into Angola, which is to the northwest of South Africa. And the purpose of the mission of going up there was for the dogs to sniff out the landmines that had been left behind after the two-decade-long war that devastated the country. The one thing that he stressed and that he impressed upon me is this - You only tred where the dog has been and cleared as being safe. Now how does that relate to what we're looking at here? Well, Christ has gone before us. Christ has shown and given us wisdom for the path of life. And to deviate, ever so slightly, it has consequences. Whether you're still on the path of death - you have not tasted of the path of life this evening - or whether you're on the path of life dabbling in the path of death, brothers and sisters God is calling us, every single one of us, He's calling us to walk in the way of wisdom, righteousness, and fear of the Lord. He's calling each of us to come back to fresh repentance and to fresh belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. May the Spirit work in us, even this evening, so that we may have this fresh understanding and knowledge and life flowing through us once again.

Let's go to the Lord in prayer, shall we? Let's pray.

Let’s have a moment of silence as we use this time just to confess sin that perhaps the Lord has pressed upon us.

Father, we thank You that in Your great love and mercy You gave us Jesus Christ - the way, the truth, and the life. Father, thank You for rescuing and saving so many of us from the path of death, the path of destruction, and bringing us so that we may taste and enjoy of the tree of life and the water of life. And Father, we just get to taste a little bit in this life. Father, we pray that in some way or another You would give us an understanding that what we taste of here is just a trickle of what awaits for us when we see Christ face to face in all His spectacular glory. Father, keep us on the path of life. Keep us faithful to You - not by our own strength but Lord, as we seek for You to lead and guide us day by day until we are taken home. Father, thank You for Your mercy. Thank You for Jesus Christ's love for us. Continue to do the work that You have ordained and planned to do in us and may we be willing ambassadors, seeking to love You with heart, soul, mind, and strength with each new day. We do ask this and we do pray this in Jesus Christ's name. Amen.

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